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名著:简·爱 JANE EYRE

[日期:2014-04-22] 来源:  作者: [字体: ]
                          CHAPTER I
   
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
      THERE was no possibility of taking a walk that day. We had been
    wandering, indeed, in the leafless shrubbery an hour in the morning;
    but since dinner (Mrs. Reed, when there was no company, dined early)
    the cold winter wind had brought with it clouds so sombre, and a
    rain so penetrating, that further outdoor exercise was now out of
    the question.
      I was glad of it: I never liked long walks, especially on chilly
    afternoons: dreadful to me was the coming home in the raw twilight,
    with nipped fingers and toes, and a heart saddened by the chidings
    of Bessie, the nurse, and humbled by the consciousness of my
    physical inferiority to Eliza, John, and Georgiana Reed.
      The said Eliza, John, and Georgiana were now clustered round
    their mama in the drawing-room: she lay reclined on a sofa by the
    fireside, and with her darlings about her (for the time neither
    quarrelling nor crying) looked perfectly happy. Me, she had
    dispensed from joining the group; saying, 'She regretted to be under
    the necessity of keeping me at a distance; but that until she heard
    from Bessie, and could discover by her own observation, that I was
    endeavouring in good earnest to acquire a more sociable and
    childlike disposition, a more attractive and sprightly manner-
    something lighter, franker, more natural, as it were- she really
    must exclude me from privileges intended only for contented, happy,
    little children.'
      'What does Bessie say I have done?' I asked.
      'Jane, I don't like cavillers or questioners; besides, there is
    something truly forbidding in a child taking up her elders in that
    manner. Be seated somewhere; and until you can speak pleasantly,
    remain silent.'
      A small breakfast-room adjoined the drawing-room, I slipped in
    there. It contained a bookcase: I soon possessed myself of a volume,
    taking care that it should be one stored with pictures. I mounted into
    the window-seat: gathering up my feet, I sat cross-legged, like a
    Turk; and, having drawn the red moreen curtain nearly close, I was
    shrined in double retirement.
      Folds of scarlet drapery shut in my view to the right hand; to
    the left were the clear panes of glass, protecting, but not separating
    me from the drear November day. At intervals, while turning over the
    leaves of my book, I studied the aspect of that winter afternoon.
    Afar, it offered a pale blank of mist and cloud; near a scene of wet
    lawn and storm-beat shrub, with ceaseless rain sweeping away wildly
    before a long and lamentable blast.
      I returned to my book- Bewick's History of British Birds: the
    letterpress thereof I cared little for, generally speaking; and yet
    there were certain introductory pages that, child as I was, I could
    not pass quite as a blank. They were those which treat of the haunts
    of sea-fowl; of 'the solitary rocks and promontories' by them only
    inhabited; of the coast of Norway, studded with isles from its
    southern extremity, the Lindeness, or Naze, to the North Cape-
     
     
              'Where the Northern Ocean, in vast whirls,
                Boils round the naked, melancholy isles
                Of farthest Thule; and the Atlantic surge
                Pours in among the stormy Hebrides.'
     
     
    Nor could I pass unnoticed the suggestion of the bleak shores of
    Lapland, Siberia, Spitzbergen, Nova Zembla, Iceland, Greenland, with
    'the vast sweep of the Arctic Zone, and those forlorn regions of
    dreary space,- that reservoir of frost and snow, where firm fields
    of ice, the accumulation of centuries of winters, glazed in Alpine
    heights above heights, surround the pole and concentre the
    multiplied rigours of extreme cold.' Of these death-white realms I
    formed an idea of my own: shadowy, like all the half-comprehended
    notions that float dim through children's brains, but strangely
    impressive. The words in these introductory pages connected themselves
    with the succeeding vignettes, and gave significance to the rock
    standing up alone in a sea of billow and spray; to the broken boat
    stranded on a desolate coast; to the cold and ghastly moon glancing
    through bars of cloud at a wreck just sinking.
      I cannot tell what sentiment haunted the quite solitary churchyard,
    with its inscribed headstone; its gate, its two trees, its low
    horizon, girdled by a broken wall, and its newly-risen crescent,
    attesting the hour of eventide.
      The two ships becalmed on a torpid sea, I believed to be marine
    phantoms.
      The fiend pinning down the thief's pack behind him, I passed over
    quickly: it was an object of terror.
      So was the black horned thing seated aloof on a rock, surveying a
    distant crowd surrounding a gallows.
      Each picture told a story; mysterious often to my undeveloped
    understanding and imperfect feelings, yet ever profoundly interesting:
    as interesting as the tales Bessie sometimes narrated on winter
    evenings, when she chanced to be in good humour; and when, having
    brought her ironing-table to the nursery hearth, she allowed us to sit
    about it, and while she got up Mrs. Reed's lace frills, and crimped
    her nightcap borders, fed our eager attention with passages of love
    and adventure taken from old fairy tales and other ballads; or (as
    at a later period I discovered) from the pages of Pamela, and Henry,
    Earl of Moreland.
      With Bewick on my knee, I was then happy: happy at least in my way.
    I feared nothing but interruption, and that came too soon. The
    breakfast-room door opened.
      'Boh! Madam Mope!' cried the voice of John Reed; then he paused: he
    found the room apparently empty.
      'Where the dickens is she!' he continued. 'Lizzy! Georgy!
    (calling to his sisters) Joan is not here: tell mama she is run out
    into the rain- bad animal!'
      'It is well I drew the curtain,' thought I; and I wished
    fervently he might not discover my hiding-place: nor would John Reed
    have found it out himself; he was not quick either of vision or
    conception; but Eliza just put her head in at the door, and said at
    once-
      'She is in the window-seat, to be sure, Jack.'
      And I came out immediately, for I trembled at the idea of being
    dragged forth by the said Jack.
      'What do you want?' I asked, with awkward diffidence.
      'Say, "What do you want, Master Reed?"' was the answer. 'I want you
    to come here;' and seating himself in an armchair, he intimated by a
    gesture that I was to approach and stand before him.
      John Reed was a schoolboy of fourteen years old; four years older
    than I, for I was but ten: large and stout for his age, with a dingy
    and unwholesome skin; thick lineaments in a spacious visage, heavy
    limbs and large extremities. He gorged himself habitually at table,
    which made him bilious, and gave him a dim and bleared eye and
    flabby cheeks. He ought now to have been at school; but his mama had
    taken him home for a month or two, 'on account of his delicate
    health.' Mr. Miles, the master, affirmed that he would do very well if
    he had fewer cakes and sweetmeats sent him from home; but the mother's
    heart turned from an opinion so harsh, and inclined rather to the more
    refined idea that John's sallowness was owing to over-application and,
    perhaps, to pining after home.
      John had not much affection for his mother and sisters, and an
    antipathy to me. He bullied and punished me; not two or three times in
    the week, nor once or twice in the day, but continually: every nerve I
    had feared him, and every morsel of flesh in my bones shrank when he
    came near. There were moments when I was bewildered by the terror he
    inspired, because I had no appeal whatever against either his
    menaces or his inflictions; the servants did not like to offend
    their young master by taking my part against him, and Mrs. Reed was
    blind and deaf on the subject: she never saw him strike or heard him
    abuse me, though he did both now and then in her very presence, more
    frequently, however, behind her back.
      Habitually obedient to John, I came up to his chair: he spent
    some three minutes in thrusting out his tongue at me as far as he
    could without damaging the roots: I knew he would soon strike, and
    while dreading the blow, I mused on the disgusting and ugly appearance
    of him who would presently deal it. I wonder if he read that notion in
    my face; for, all at once, without speaking, he struck suddenly and
    strongly. I tottered, and on regaining my equilibrium retired back a
    step or two from his chair.
      'That is for your impudence in answering mama awhile since,' said
    he, 'and for your sneaking way of getting behind curtains, and for the
    look you had in your eyes two minutes since, you rat!'
      Accustomed to John Reed's abuse, I never had an idea of replying to
    it; my care was how to endure the blow which would certainly follow
    the insult.
      'What were you doing behind the curtain?' he asked.
      'I was reading.'
      'Show the book.'
      I returned to the window and fetched it thence.
      'You have no business to take our books; you are a dependant,
    mama says; you have no money; your father left you none; you ought
    to beg, and not to live here with gentlemen's children like us, and
    eat the same meals we do, and wear clothes at our mama's expense. Now,
    I'll teach you to rummage my bookshelves: for they are mine; all the
    house belongs to me, or will do in a few years. Go and stand by the
    door, out of the way of the mirror and the windows.'
      I did so, not at first aware what was his intention; but when I saw
    him lift and poise the book and stand in act to hurl it, I
    instinctively started aside with a cry of alarm: not soon enough,
    however; the volume was flung, it hit me, and I fell, striking my head
    against the door and cutting it. The cut bled, the pain was sharp:
    my terror had passed its climax; other feelings succeeded.
      'Wicked and cruel boy!' I said. 'You are like a murderer- you are
    like a slave-driver- you are like the Roman emperors!'
      I had read Goldsmith's History of Rome, and had formed my opinion
    of Nero, Caligula, etc. Also I had drawn parallels in silence, which I
    never thought thus to have declared aloud.
      'What! what!' he cried. 'Did she say that to me? Did you hear
    her, Eliza and Georgiana? Won't I tell mama? but first-'
      He ran headlong at me: I felt him grasp my hair and my shoulder: he
    had closed with a desperate thing. I really saw in him a tyrant, a
    murderer. I felt a drop or two of blood from my head trickle down my
    neck, and was sensible of somewhat pungent suffering: these sensations
    for the time predominated over fear, and I received him in frantic
    sort. I don't very well know what I did with my hands, but he called
    me 'Rat! Rat!' and bellowed out aloud. Aid was near him: Eliza and
    Georgiana had run for Mrs. Reed, who was gone upstairs: she now came
    upon the scene, followed by Bessie and her maid Abbot. We were parted:
    I heard the words-
      'Dear! dear! What a fury to fly at Master John!'
      'Did ever anybody see such a picture of passion!'
      Then Mrs. Reed subjoined-
      'Take her away to the red-room, and lock her in there.' Four
    hands were immediately laid upon me, and I was borne upstairs.
   
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                              CHAPTER II
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
      I RESISTED all the way: a new thing for me, and a circumstance
    which greatly strengthened the bad opinion Bessie and Miss Abbot
    were disposed to entertain of me. The fact is, I was a trifle beside
    myself; or rather out of myself, as the French would say: I was
    conscious that a moment's mutiny had already rendered me liable to
    strange penalties, and, like any other rebel slave, I felt resolved,
    in my desperation, to go all lengths.
      'Hold her arms, Miss Abbot: she's like a mad cat.'
      'For shame! for shame!' cried the lady's-maid. 'What shocking
    conduct, Miss Eyre, to strike a young gentleman, your benefactress's
    son! Your young master.'
      'Master! How is he my master? Am I a servant?'
      'No; you are less than a servant, for you do nothing for your keep.
    There, sit down, and think over your wickedness.'
      They had got me by this time into the apartment indicated by Mrs.
    Reed, and had thrust me upon a stool: my impulse was to rise from it
    like a spring; their two pair of hands arrested me instantly.
      'If you don't sit still, you must be tied down,' said Bessie. 'Miss
    Abbot, lend me your garters; she would break mine directly.'
      Miss Abbot turned to divest a stout leg of the necessary
    ligature. This preparation for bonds, and the additional ignominy it
    inferred, took a little of the excitement out of me.
      'Don't take them off,' I cried; 'I will not stir.'
      In guarantee whereof, I attached myself to my seat by my hands.
      'Mind you don't,' said Bessie; and when she had ascertained that
    I was really subsiding, she loosened her hold of me; then she and Miss
    Abbot stood with folded arms, looking darkly and doubtfully on my
    face, as incredulous of my sanity.
      'She never did so before,' at last said Bessie, turning to the
    Abigail.
      'But it was always in her,' was the reply. 'I've told Missis
    often my opinion about the child, and Missis agreed with me. She's
    an underhand little thing: I never saw a girl of her age with so
    much cover.'
      Bessie answered not; but ere long, addressing me, she said-
      'You ought to be aware, Miss, that you are under obligations to
    Mrs. Reed: she keeps you: if she were to turn you off, you would
    have to go to the poorhouse.'
      I had nothing to say to these words: they were not new to me: my
    very first recollections of existence included hints of the same kind.
    This reproach of my dependence had become a vague sing-song in my ear:
    very painful and crushing, but only half intelligible. Miss Abbot
    joined in-
      'And you ought not to think yourself on an equality with the Misses
    Reed and Master Reed, because Missis kindly allows you to be brought
    up with them. They will have a great deal of money, and you will
    have none: it is your place to be humble, and to try to make
    yourself agreeable to them.'
      'What we tell you is for your good,' added Bessie, in no harsh
    voice; 'you should try to be useful and pleasant, then, perhaps, you
    would have a home here; but if you become passionate and rude,
    Missis will send you away, I am sure.'
      'Besides,' said Miss Abbot, 'God will punish her: He might strike
    her dead in the midst of her tantrums, and then where would she go?
    Come, Bessie, we will leave her: I wouldn't have her heart for
    anything. Say your prayers, Miss Eyre, when you are by yourself; for
    if you don't repent, something bad might be permitted to come down the
    chimney and fetch you away.'
      They went, shutting the door, and locking it behind them.
      The red-room was a square chamber, very seldom slept in, I might
    say never, indeed, unless when a chance influx of visitors at
    Gateshead Hall rendered it necessary to turn to account all the
    accommodation it contained: yet it was one of the largest and
    stateliest chambers in the mansion. A bed supported on massive pillars
    of mahogany, hung with curtains of deep red damask, stood out like a
    tabernacle in the centre; the two large windows, with their blinds
    always drawn down, were half shrouded in festoons and falls of similar
    drapery; the carpet was red; the table at the foot of the bed was
    covered with a crimson cloth; the walls were a soft fawn colour with a
    blush of pink in it; the wardrobe, the toilet-table, the chairs were
    of darkly polished old mahogany. Out of these deep surrounding
    shades rose high, and glared white, the piled-up mattresses and
    pillows of the bed, spread with a snowy Marseilles counterpane.
    Scarcely less prominent was an ample cushioned easy-chair near the
    head of the bed, also white, with a footstool before it; and
    looking, as I thought, like a pale throne.
      This room was chill, because it seldom had a fire; it was silent,
    because remote from the nursery and kitchen; solemn, because it was
    known to be so seldom entered. The housemaid alone came here on
    Saturdays, to wipe from the mirrors and the furniture a week's quiet
    dust: and Mrs. Reed herself, at far intervals, visited it to review
    the contents of a certain secret drawer in the wardrobe, where were
    stored divers parchments, her jewel-casket, and a miniature of her
    deceased husband; and in those last words lies the secret of the
    red-room- the spell which kept it so lonely in spite of its grandeur.
      Mr. Reed had been dead nine years: it was in this chamber he
    breathed his last; here he lay in state; hence his coffin was borne by
    the undertaker's men; and, since that day, a sense of dreary
    consecration had guarded it from frequent intrusion.
      My seat, to which Bessie and the bitter Miss Abbot had left me
    riveted, was a low ottoman near the marble chimney-piece; the bed rose
    before me; to my right hand there was the high, dark wardrobe, with
    subdued, broken reflections varying the gloss of its panels; to my
    left were the muffled windows; a great looking-glass between them
    repeated the vacant majesty of the bed and room. I was not quite
    sure whether they had locked the door; and when I dared move, I got up
    and went to see. Alas! yes: no jail was ever more secure. Returning, I
    had to cross before the looking-glass; my fascinated glance
    involuntarily explored the depth it revealed. All looked colder and
    darker in that visionary hollow than in reality: and the strange
    little figure there gazing at me, with a white face and arms
    specking the gloom, and glittering eyes of fear moving where all
    else was still, had the effect of a real spirit: I thought it like one
    of the tiny phantoms, half fairy, half imp, Bessie's evening stories
    represented as coming out of lone, ferny dells in moors, and appearing
    before the eyes of belated travellers. I returned to my stool.
      Superstition was with me at that moment; but it was not yet her
    hour for complete victory: my blood was still warm; the mood of the
    revolted slave was still bracing me with its bitter vigour; I had to
    stem a rapid rush of retrospective thought before I quailed to the
    dismal present.
      All John Reed's violent tyrannies, all his sisters' proud
    indifference, all his mother's aversion, all the servants' partiality,
    turned up in my disturbed mind like a dark deposit in a turbid well.
    Why was I always suffering, always browbeaten, always accused, for
    ever condemned? Why could I never please? Why was it useless to try to
    win any one's favour? Eliza, who, was headstrong and selfish, was
    respected. Georgiana, who had a spoiled temper, a very acrid spite,
    a captious and insolent carriage, was universally indulged. Her
    beauty, her pink cheeks and golden curls, seemed to give delight to
    all who, looked at her, and to purchase indemnity for every fault.
    John no one thwarted, much less punished; though he twisted the
    necks of the pigeons, killed the little pea-chicks, set the dogs at
    the sheep, stripped the hothouse vines of their fruit, and broke the
    buds off the choicest plants in the conservatory: he called his mother
    'old girl,' too; sometimes reviled her for her dark skin, similar to
    his own; bluntly disregarded her wishes; not unfrequently tore and
    spoiled her silk attire; and he was still 'her own darling.' I dared
    commit no fault: I strove to fulfil every duty; and I was termed
    naughty and tiresome, sullen and sneaking, from morning to noon, and
    from noon to night.
      My head still ached and bled with the blow and fall I had received:
    no one had reproved John for wantonly striking me; and because I had
    turned against him to avert farther irrational violence, I was
    loaded with general opprobrium.
      'Unjust!- unjust!' said my reason, forced by the agonising stimulus
    into precocious though transitory power: and Resolve, equally
    wrought up, instigated some strange expedient to achieve escape from
    insupportable oppression- as running away, or, if that could not be
    effected, never eating or drinking more, and letting myself die.
      What a consternation of soul was mine that dreary afternoon! How
    all my brain was in tumult, and all my heart in insurrection! Yet in
    what darkness, what dense ignorance, was the mental battle fought! I
    could not answer the ceaseless inward question- why I thus suffered;
    now, at the distance of- I will not say how many years, I see it
    clearly.
      I was a discord in Gateshead Hall: I was like nobody there; I had
    nothing in harmony with Mrs. Reed or her children, or her chosen
    vassalage. If they did not love me, in fact, as little did I love
    them. They were not bound to regard with affection a thing that
    could not sympathise with one amongst them; a heterogeneous thing,
    opposed to them in temperament, in capacity, in propensities; a
    useless thing, incapable of serving their interest, or adding to their
    pleasure; a noxious thing, cherishing the germs of indignation at
    their treatment, of contempt of their judgment. I know that had I been
    a sanguine, brilliant, careless, exacting, handsome, romping child-
    though equally dependent and friendless- Mrs. Reed would have
    endured my presence more complacently; her children would have
    entertained for me more of the cordiality of fellow-feeling; the
    servants would have been less prone to make me the scapegoat of the
    nursery.
      Daylight began to forsake the red-room; it was past four o'clock,
    and the beclouded afternoon was tending to drear twilight. I heard the
    rain still beating continuously on the staircase window, and the
    wind howling in the grove behind the hall; I grew by degrees cold as a
    stone, and then my courage sank. My habitual mood of humiliation,
    self-doubt, forlorn depression, fell damp on the embers of my decaying
    ire. All said I was wicked, and perhaps I might be so; what thought
    had I been but just conceiving of starving myself to death? That
    certainly was a crime: and was I fit to die? Or was the vault under
    the chancel of Gateshead Church an inviting bourne? In such vault I
    had been told did Mr. Reed lie buried; and led by this thought to
    recall his idea, I dwelt on it with gathering dread. I could not
    remember him; but I knew that he was my own uncle- my mother's
    brother- that he had taken me when a parentless infant to his house;
    and that in his last moments he had required a promise of Mrs. Reed
    that she would rear and maintain me as one of her own children. Mrs.
    Reed probably considered she had kept this promise; and so she had,
    I dare say, as well as her nature would permit her; but how could
    she really like an interloper not of her race, and unconnected with
    her, after her husband's death, by any tie? It must have been most
    irksome to find herself bound by a hard-wrung pledge to stand in the
    stead of a parent to a strange child she could not love, and to see an
    uncongenial alien permanently intruded on her own family group.
      A singular notion dawned upon me. I doubted not- never doubted-
    that if Mr. Reed had been alive he would have treated me kindly; and
    now, as I sat looking at the white bed and overshadowed walls-
    occasionally also turning a fascinated eye towards the dimly
    gleaming mirror- I began to recall what I had heard of dead men,
    troubled in their graves by the violation of their last wishes,
    revisiting the earth to punish the perjured and avenge the
    oppressed; and I thought Mr. Reed's spirit, harassed by the wrongs
    of his sister's child, might quit its abode- whether in the church
    vault or in the unknown world of the departed- and rise before me in
    this chamber. I wiped my tears and hushed my sobs, fearful lest any
    sign of violent grief might waken a preternatural voice to comfort me,
    or elicit from the gloom some haloed face, bending over me with
    strange pity. This idea, consolatory in theory, I felt would be
    terrible if realised: with all my might I endeavoured to stifle it-
    I endeavoured to be firm. Shaking my hair from my eyes, I lifted my
    head and tried to look boldly round the dark room; at this moment a
    light gleamed on the wall. Was it, I asked myself, a ray from the moon
    penetrating some aperture in the blind? No; moonlight was still, and
    this stirred; while I gazed, it glided up to the ceiling and
    quivered over my head. I can now conjecture readily that this streak
    of light was, in all likelihood, a gleam from a lantern carried by
    some one across the lawn: but then, prepared as my mind was for
    horror, shaken as my nerves were by agitation, I thought the swift
    darting beam was a herald of some coming vision from another world. My
    heart beat thick, my head grew hot; a sound filled my ears, which I
    deemed the rushing of wings; something seemed near me; I was
    oppressed, suffocated: endurance broke down; I rushed to the door
    and shook the lock in desperate effort. Steps came running along the
    outer passage; the key turned, Bessie and Abbot entered.
      'Miss Eyre, are you ill?' said Bessie.
      'What a dreadful noise! it went quite through me!' exclaimed Abbot.
      'Take me out! Let me go into the nursery!' was my cry.
      'What for? Are you hurt? Have you seen something?' again demanded
    Bessie.
      'Oh! I saw a light, and I thought a ghost would come.' I had now
    got hold of Bessie's hand, and she did not snatch it from me.
      'She has screamed out on purpose,' declared Abbot, in some disgust.
    'And what a scream! If she had been in great pain one would have
    excused it, but she only wanted to bring us all here: I know her
    naughty tricks.'
      'What is all this?' demanded another voice peremptorily; and Mrs.
    Reed came along the corridor, her cap flying wide, her gown rustling
    stormily. 'Abbot and Bessie, I believe I gave orders that Jane Eyre
    should be left in the red-room till I came to her myself.'
      'Miss Jane screamed so loud, ma'am,' pleaded Bessie.
      'Let her go,' was the only answer. 'Loose Bessie's hand, child: you
    cannot succeed in getting out by these means, be assured. I abhor
    artifice, particularly in children; it is my duty to show you that
    tricks will not answer: you will now stay here an hour longer, and
    it is only on condition of perfect submission and stillness that I
    shall liberate you then.'
      'O aunt! have pity! forgive me! I cannot endure it- let me be
    punished some other way! I shall be killed if-'
      'Silence! This violence is all most repulsive:' and so, no doubt,
    she felt it. I was a precocious actress in her eyes; she sincerely.
    looked on me as a compound of virulent passions, mean spirit, and
    dangerous duplicity.
      Bessie and Abbot having retreated, Mrs. Reed, impatient of my now
    frantic anguish and wild sobs, abruptly thrust me back and locked me
    in, without farther parley. I heard her sweeping away; and soon
    after she was gone, I suppose I had a species of fit:
    unconsciousness closed the scene.
   
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                            CHAPTER III
   
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
      THE next thing I remember is, waking up with a feeling as if I
    had had a frightful nightmare, and seeing before me a terrible red
    glare, crossed with thick black bars. I heard voices, too, speaking
    with a hollow sound, and as if muffled by a rush of wind or water:
    agitation, uncertainty, and an all-predominating sense of terror
    confused my faculties. Ere long, I became aware that some one was
    handling me; lifting me up and supporting me in a sitting posture, and
    that more tenderly than I had ever been raised or upheld before. I
    rested my head against a pillow or an arm, and felt easy.
      In five minutes more the cloud of bewilderment dissolved: I knew
    quite well that I was in my own bed, and that the red glare was the
    nursery fire. It was night: a candle burnt on the table; Bessie
    stood at the bed-foot with a basin in her hand, and a gentleman sat in
    a chair near my pillow, leaning over me.
      I felt an inexpressible relief, a soothing conviction of protection
    and security, when I knew that there was a stranger in the room, an
    individual not belonging to Gateshead, and not related to Mrs. Reed.
    Turning from Bessie (though her presence was far less obnoxious to
    me than that of Abbot, for instance, would have been), I scrutinised
    the face of the gentleman: I knew him; it was Mr. Lloyd, an
    apothecary, sometimes called in by Mrs. Reed when the servants were
    ailing: for herself and the children she employed a physician.
      'Well, who am I?' he asked.
      I pronounced his name, offering him at the same time my hand: he
    took it, smiling and saying, 'We shall do very well by and by.' Then
    he laid me down, and addressing Bessie, charged her to be very careful
    that I was not disturbed during the night. Having given some further
    directions, and intimated that he should call again the next day, he
    departed; to my grief: I felt so sheltered and befriended while he sat
    in the chair near my pillow; and as he closed the door after him,
    all the room darkened and my heart again sank: inexpressible sadness
    weighed it down.
      'Do you feel as if you should sleep, Miss?' asked Bessie, rather
    softly.
      Scarcely dared I answer her; for I feared the next sentence might
    be rough. 'I will try.'
      'Would you like to drink, or could you eat anything?'
      'No, thank you, Bessie.'
      'Then I think I shall go to bed, for it is past twelve o'clock; but
    you may call me if you want anything in the night.'
      Wonderful civility this! It emboldened me to ask a question.
      'Bessie, what is the matter with me? Am I ill?'
      'You fell sick, I suppose, in the red-room with crying; you'll be
    better soon, no doubt.'
      Bessie went into the housemaid's apartment, which was near. I heard
    her say-
      'Sarah, come and sleep with me in the nursery; I daren't for my
    life be alone with that poor child tonight: she might die; it's such a
    strange thing she should have that fit: I wonder if she saw
    anything. Missis was rather too hard.'
      Sarah came back with her; they both went to bed; they were
    whispering together for half an hour before they fell asleep. I caught
    scraps of their conversation, from which I was able only too
    distinctly to infer the main subject discussed.
      'Something passed her, all dressed in white, and vanished'- 'A
    great black dog behind him'- 'Three loud raps on the chamber door'-
    'A light in the churchyard just over his grave,' etc., etc.
      At last both slept: the fire and the candle went out. For me, the
    watches of that long night passed in ghastly wakefulness; ear, eye,
    and mind were alike strained by dread: such dread as children only can
    feel.
      No severe or prolonged bodily illness followed this incident of the
    red-room; it only gave my nerves a shock of which I feel the
    reverberation to this day. Yes, Mrs. Reed, to you I owe some fearful
    pangs of mental suffering, but I ought to forgive you, for you knew
    not what you did: while rending my heart-strings, you thought you were
    only uprooting my bad propensities.
      Next day, by noon, I was up and dressed, and sat wrapped in a shawl
    by the nursery hearth. I felt physically weak and broken down: but
    my worse ailment was an unutterable wretchedness of mind: a
    wretchedness which kept drawing from me silent tears; no sooner had
    I wiped one salt drop from my cheek than another followed. Yet, I
    thought, I ought to have been happy, for none of the Reeds were there,
    they were all gone out in the carriage with their mama. Abbot, too,
    was sewing in another room, and Bessie, as she moved hither and
    thither, putting away toys and arranging drawers, addressed to me
    every now and then a word of unwonted kindness. This state of things
    should have been to me a paradise of peace, accustomed as I was to a
    life of ceaseless reprimand and thankless fagging; but, in fact, my
    racked nerves were now in such a state that no calm could soothe,
    and no pleasure excite them agreeably.
      Bessie had been down into the kitchen, and she brought up with
    her a tart on a certain brightly painted china plate, whose bird of
    paradise, nestling in a wreath of convolvuli and rosebuds, had been
    wont to stir in me a most enthusiastic sense of admiration; and
    which plate I had often petitioned to be allowed to take in my hand in
    order to examine it more closely, but had always hitherto been
    deemed unworthy of such a privilege. This precious vessel was now
    placed on my knee, and I was cordially invited to eat the circlet of
    delicate pastry upon it. Vain favour! coming, like most other
    favours long deferred and often wished for, too late! I could not
    eat the tart; and the plumage of the bird, the tints of the flowers,
    seemed strangely faded: I put both plate and tart away. Bessie asked
    if I would have a book: the word book acted as a transient stimulus,
    and I begged her to fetch Gulliver's Travels from the library. This
    book I had again and again perused with delight. I considered it a
    narrative of facts, and discovered in it a vein of interest deeper
    than what I found in fairy tales: for as to the elves, having sought
    them in vain among fox-glove leaves and bells, under mushrooms and
    beneath the ground-ivy mantling old wall-nooks, I had at length made
    up my mind to the sad truth, that they were all gone out of England to
    some savage country where the woods were wilder and thicker, and the
    population more scant; whereas, Lilliput and Brobdingnag being, in
    my creed, solid parts of the earth's surface, I doubted not that I
    might one day, by taking a long voyage, see with my own eyes the
    little fields, houses, and trees, the diminutive people, the tiny
    cows, sheep, and birds of the one realm; and the corn-fields,
    forest-high, the mighty mastiffs, the monster cats, the tower-like men
    and women, of the other. Yet, when this cherished volume was now
    placed in my hand- when I turned over its leaves, and sought in its
    marvellous pictures the charm I had, till now, never failed to find-
    all was eerie and dreary; the giants were gaunt goblins, the pigmies
    malevolent and fearful imps, Gulliver a most desolate wanderer in most
    dread and dangerous regions. I closed the book, which I dared no
    longer peruse, and put it on the table, beside the untasted tart.
      Bessie had now finished dusting and tidying the room, and having
    washed her hands, she opened a certain little drawer, full of splendid
    shreds of silk and satin, and began making a new bonnet for
    Georgiana's doll. Meantime she sang: her song was-
     
     
                    'In the days when we were gipsying,
                            A long time ago.'
     
     
      I had often heard the song before, and always with lively
    delight; for Bessie had a sweet voice,- at least, I thought so. But
    now, though her voice was still sweet, I found in its melody an
    indescribable sadness. Sometimes, preoccupied with her work, she
    sang the refrain very low, very lingeringly; 'A long time ago' came
    out like the saddest cadence of a funeral hymn. She passed into
    another ballad, this time a really doleful one.
     
     
      'My feet they are sore, and my limbs they are weary;
        Long is the way, and the mountains are wild;
      Soon will the twilight close moonless and dreary
        Over the path of the poor orphan child.
     
     
      Why did they send me so far and so lonely,
        Up where the moors spread and grey rocks are piled?
      Men are hard-hearted, and kind angels only
        Watch o'er the steps of a poor orphan child.
     
     
      Yet distant and soft the night breeze is blowing,
        Clouds there are none, and clear stars beam mild,
      God, in His mercy, protection is showing,
        Comfort and hope to the poor orphan child.
     
     
      Ev'n should I fall o'er the broken bridge passing,
        Or stray in the marshes, by false lights beguiled,
      Still will my Father, with promise and blessing,
        Take to His bosom the poor orphan child.
     
     
      There is a thought that for strength should avail me,
        Though both of shelter and kindred despoiled;
      Heaven is a home, and a rest will not fail me;
        God is a friend to the poor orphan child.'
     
     
      'Come, Miss Jane, don't cry,' said Bessie as she finished. She
    might as well have said to the fire, 'don't burn!' but how could she
    divine the morbid suffering to which I was a prey? In the course of
    the morning Mr. Lloyd came again.
      'What, already up!' said he, as he entered the nursery. 'Well,
    nurse, how is she?'
      Bessie answered that I was doing very well.
      'Then she ought to look more cheerful. Come here, Mis Jane: your
    name is Jane, is it not?'
      'Yes, sir, Jane Eyre.'
      'Well, you have been crying, Miss Jane Eyre; can you tell me what
    about? Have you any pain?'
      'No, sir.'
      'Oh! I daresay she is crying because she could not go out with
    Missis in the carriage,' interposed Bessie.
      'Surely not! why, she is too old for such pettishness.'
      I thought so too; and my self-esteem being wounded by the false
    charge, I answered promptly, 'I never cried for such a thing in my
    life: I hate going out in the carriage. I cry because I am miserable.'
      'Oh fie, Miss!' said Bessie.
      The good apothecary appeared a little puzzled. I was standing
    before him; he fixed his eyes on me very steadily: his eyes were small
    and grey; not very bright, but I daresay I should think them shrewd
    now: he had a hard-featured yet good-natured looking face. Having
    considered me at leisure, he said-
      'What made you ill yesterday?'
      'She had a fall,' said Bessie, again putting in her word.
      'Fall! why, that is like a baby again! Can't she manage to walk
    at her age? She must be eight or nine years old.'
      'I was knocked down,' was the blunt explanation, jerked out of me
    by another pang of mortified pride; 'but that did not make me ill,'
    I added; while Mr. Lloyd helped himself to a pinch of snuff.
      As he was returning the box to his waistcoat pocket, a loud bell
    rang for the servants' dinner; he knew what it was. 'That's for you,
    nurse,' said he; 'you can go down; I'll give Miss Jane a lecture
    till you come back.'
      Bessie would rather have stayed, but she was obliged to go, because
    punctuality at meals was rigidly enforced at Gates-head Hall.
      'The fall did not make you ill; what did, then?' pursued Mr.
    Lloyd when Bessie was gone.
      'I was shut up in a room where there is a ghost till after dark.'
      I saw Mr. Lloyd smile and frown at the same time. 'Ghost! What, you
    are a baby after all! You are afraid of ghosts?'
      'Of Mr. Reed's ghost I am: he died in that room, and was laid out
    there. Neither Bessie nor any one else will go into it at night, if
    they can help it; and it was cruel to shut me up alone without a
    candle,- so cruel that I think I shall never forget it.'
      'Nonsense! And is it that makes you so miserable? Are you afraid
    now in daylight?'
      'No: but night will come again before long: and besides,- I am
    unhappy,- very unhappy, for other things.'
      'What other things? Can you tell me some of them?'
      How much I wished to reply fully to this question! How difficult it
    was to frame any answer! Children can feel, but they cannot analyse
    their feelings; and if the analysis is partially effected in
    thought, they know not how to express the result of the process in
    words. Fearful, however, of losing this first and only opportunity
    of relieving my grief by imparting it, I, after a disturbed pause,
    contrived to frame a meagre, though, as far as it went, true response.
      'For one thing, I have no father or mother, brothers or sisters.'
      'You have a kind aunt and cousins.'
      Again I paused; then bunglingly enounced-
      'But John Reed knocked me down, and my aunt shut me up in the
    red-room.'
      Mr. Lloyd a second time produced his snuff-box.
      'Don't you think Gateshead Hall a very beautiful house?' asked
    he. 'Are you not very thankful to have such a fine place to live at?'
      'It is not my house, sir; and Abbot says I have less right to be
    here than a servant.'
      'Pooh! you can't be silly enough to wish to leave such a splendid
    place?'
      'If I had anywhere else to go, I should be glad to leave it; but
    I can never get away from Gateshead till I am a woman.'
      'Perhaps you may- who knows? Have you any relations besides Mrs.
    Reed?'
      'I think not, sir.'
      'None belonging to your father?'
      'I don't know: I asked Aunt Reed once, and she said possibly I
    might have some poor, low relations called Eyre, but she knew
    nothing about them.'
      'If you had such, would you like to go to them?'
      I reflected. Poverty looks grim to grown people; still more so to
    children: they have not much idea of industrious, working, respectable
    poverty; they think of the word only as connected with ragged clothes,
    scanty food, fireless grates, rude manners, and debasing vices:
    poverty for me was synonymous with degradation.
      'No; I should not like to belong to poor people,' was my reply.
      'Not even if they were kind to you?'
      I shook my head: I could not see how poor people had the means of
    being kind; and then to learn to speak like them, to adopt their
    manners, to be uneducated, to grow up like one of the poor women I saw
    sometimes nursing their children or washing their clothes at the
    cottage doors of the village of Gateshead: no, I was not heroic enough
    to purchase liberty at the price of caste.
      'But are your relatives so very poor? Are they working people?'
      '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.
      'I should indeed like to go to school,' was the audible
    conclusion of my musings.
      'Well, well! who knows what may happen?' said Mr. Lloyd, as he
    got up. 'The child ought to have change of air and scene,' he added,
    speaking to himself; 'nerves not in a good state.'
      Bessie now returned; at the same moment the carriage was heard
    rolling up the gravel-walk.
      'Is that your mistress, nurse?' asked Mr. Lloyd. 'I should like
    to speak to her before I go.'
      Bessie invited him to walk into the breakfast-room, and led the way
    out. In the interview which followed between him and Mrs. Reed, I
    presume, from after-occurrences, that the apothecary ventured to
    recommend my being sent to school; and the recommendation was no doubt
    readily enough adopted; for as Abbot said, in discussing the subject
    with Bessie when both sat sewing in the nursery one night, after I was
    in bed, and, as they thought, asleep, 'Missis was, she dared say, glad
    enough to get rid of such a tiresome, ill-conditioned child, who
    always looked as if she were watching everybody, and scheming plots
    underhand.' Abbot, I think, gave me credit for being a sort of
    infantine Guy Fawkes.
      On that same occasion I learned, for the first time, from Miss
    Abbot's communications to Bessie, that my father had been a poor
    clergyman; that my mother had married him against the wishes of her
    friends, who considered the match beneath her; that my grandfather
    Reed was so irritated at her disobedience, he cut her off without a
    shilling; that after my mother and father had been married a year, the
    latter caught the typhus fever while visiting among the poor of a
    large manufacturing town where his curacy was situated, and where that
    disease was then prevalent: that my mother took the infection from
    him, and both died within a month of each other.
      Bessie, when she heard this narrative, sighed and said, 'Poor
    Miss Jane is to be pitied too, Abbot.'
      'Yes,' responded Abbot; 'if she were a nice, pretty child, one
    might compassionate her forlornness; but one really cannot care for
    such a little toad as that.'
      'Not a great deal, to be sure,' agreed Bessie: 'at any rate, a
    beauty like Miss Georgiana would be more moving in the same
    condition.'
      'Yes, I doat on Miss Georgiana!' cried the fervent Abbot. 'Little
    darling!- with her long curls and her blue eyes, and such a sweet
    colour as she has; just as if she were painted!- Bessie, I could fancy
    a Welsh rabbit for supper.'
      'So could I- with a roast onion. Come, we'll go down.' They went.
   
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                              CHAPTER IV
   
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
      FROM my discourse with Mr. Lloyd, and from the above reported
    conference between Bessie and Abbot, I gathered enough of hope to
    suffice as a motive for wishing to get well: a change seemed near,-
    I desired and waited it in silence. It tarried, however: days and
    weeks passed: I had regained my normal state of health, but no new
    allusion was made to the subject over which I brooded. Mrs. Reed
    surveyed me at times with a severe eye, but seldom addressed me: since
    my illness, she had drawn a more marked line of separation than ever
    between me and her own children; appointing me a small closet to sleep
    in by myself, condemning me to take my meals alone, and pass all my
    time in the nursery, while my cousins were constantly in the
    drawing-room. Not a hint, however, did she drop about sending me to
    school: still I felt an instinctive certainty that she would not
    long endure me under the same roof with her; for her glance, now
    more than ever, when turned on me, expressed an insuperable and rooted
    aversion.
      Eliza and Georgiana, evidently acting according to orders, spoke to
    me as little as possible: John thrust his tongue in his cheek whenever
    he saw me, and once attempted chastisement; but as I instantly
    turned against him, roused by the same sentiment of deep ire and
    desperate revolt which had stirred my corruption before, he thought it
    better to desist, and ran from me uttering execrations, and vowing I
    had burst his nose. I had indeed levelled at that prominent feature as
    hard a blow as my knuckles could inflict; and when I saw that either
    that or my look daunted him, I had the greatest inclination to
    follow up my advantage to purpose; but he was already with his mama. I
    heard him in a blubbering tone commence the tale of how 'that nasty
    Jane Eyre' had flown at him like a mad cat: he was stopped rather
    harshly-
      'Don't talk to me about her, John: I told you not to go near her;
    she is not worthy of notice; I do not choose that either you or your
    sisters should associate with her.'
      Here, leaning over the banister, I cried out suddenly, and
    without at all deliberating on my words-
      'They are not fit to associate with me.'
      Mrs. Reed was rather a stout woman; but, on hearing this strange
    and audacious declaration, she ran nimbly up the stair, swept me
    like a whirlwind into the nursery, and crushing me down on the edge of
    my crib, dared me in an emphatic voice to rise from that place, or
    utter one syllable during the remainder of the day.
      'What would Uncle Reed say to you, if he were alive?' was my
    scarcely voluntary demand. I say scarcely voluntary, for it seemed
    as if my tongue pronounced words, without my will consenting to
    their utterance: something spoke out of me over which I had no
    control.
      'What?' said Mrs. Reed under her breath: her usually cold
    composed grey eye became troubled with a look like fear; she took
    her hand from my arm, and gazed at me as if she really did not know
    whether I were child or fiend. I was now in for it.
      'My Uncle Reed is in heaven, and can see all you do and think;
    and so can papa and mama: they know how you shut me up all day long,
    and how you wish me dead.'
      Mrs. Reed soon rallied her spirits: she shook me most soundly,
    she boxed both my ears, and then left me without a word. Bessie
    supplied the hiatus by a homily of an hour's length, in which she
    proved beyond a doubt that I was the most wicked and abandoned child
    ever reared under a roof. I half believed her; for I felt indeed
    only bad feelings surging in my breast.
      November, December, and half of January passed away. Christmas
    and the New Year had been celebrated at Gateshead with the usual
    festive cheer; presents had been interchanged, dinners and evening
    parties given. From every enjoyment I was, of course, excluded: my
    share of the gaiety consisted in witnessing the daily apparelling of
    Eliza and Georgiana, and seeing them descend to the drawing-room,
    dressed out in thin muslin frocks and scarlet sashes, with hair
    elaborately ringleted; and afterwards, in listening to the sound of
    the piano or the harp played below, to the passing to and fro of the
    butler and footman, to the jingling of glass and china as refreshments
    were handed, to the broken hum of conversation as the drawing-room
    door opened and closed. When tired of this occupation, I would
    retire from the stair-head to the solitary and silent nursery:
    there, though somewhat sad, I was not miserable. To speak truth, I had
    not the least wish to go into company, for in company I was very
    rarely noticed; and if Bessie had but been kind and companionable, I
    should have deemed it a treat to spend the evenings quietly with
    her, instead of passing them under the formidable eye of Mrs. Reed, in
    a room full of ladies and gentlemen. But Bessie, as soon as she had
    dressed her young ladies, used to take herself off to the lively
    regions of the kitchen and housekeeper's room, generally bearing the
    candle along with her. I then sat with my doll on my knee till the
    fire got low, glancing round occasionally to make sure that nothing
    worse than myself haunted the shadowy room; and when the embers sank
    to a dull red, I undressed hastily, tugging at knots and strings as
    I best might, and sought shelter from cold and darkness in my crib. To
    this crib I always took my doll; human beings must love something,
    and, in the dearth of worthier objects of affection, I contrived to
    find a pleasure in loving and cherishing a faded graven image,
    shabby as a miniature scarecrow. It puzzles me now to remember with
    what absurd sincerity I doated on this little toy, half fancying it
    alive and capable of sensation. I could not sleep unless it was folded
    in my night-gown; and when it lay there safe and warm, I was
    comparatively happy, believing it to be happy likewise.
      Long did the hours seem while I waited the departure of the
    company, and listened for the sound of Bessie's step on the stairs:
    sometimes she would come up in the interval to seek her thimble or her
    scissors, or perhaps to bring me something by way of supper- a bun
    or a cheese-cake- then she would sit on the bed while I ate it, and
    when I had finished, she would tuck the clothes round me, and twice
    she kissed me, and said, 'Good night, Miss Jane.' When thus gentle,
    Bessie seemed to me the best, prettiest, kindest being in the world;
    and I wished most intensely that she would always be so pleasant and
    amiable, and never push me about, or scold, or task me unreasonably,
    as she was too often wont to do. Bessie, Lee must, I think, have
    been a girl of good natural capacity, for she was smart in all she
    did, and had a remarkable knack of narrative; so, at least, I judge
    from the impression made on me by her nursery tales. She was pretty
    too, if my recollections of her face and person are correct. I
    remember her as a slim young woman, with black hair, dark eyes, very
    nice features, and good, clear complexion; but she had a capricious
    and hasty temper, and indifferent ideas of principle or justice:
    still, such as she was, I preferred her to any one else at Gateshead
    Hall.
      It was the fifteenth of January, about nine o'clock in the morning:
    Bessie was gone down to breakfast; my cousins had not yet been
    summoned to their mama; Eliza was putting on her bonnet and warm
    garden-coat to go and feed her poultry, an occupation of which she was
    fond: and not less so of selling the eggs to the housekeeper and
    hoarding up the money she thus obtained. She had a turn for traffic,
    and a marked propensity for saving; shown not only in the vending of
    eggs and chickens, but also in driving hard bargains with the gardener
    about flower-roots, seeds, and slips of plants; that functionary
    having orders from Mrs. Reed to buy of his young lady all the products
    of her parterre she wished to sell: and Eliza would have sold the hair
    off her head if she could have made a handsome profit thereby. As to
    her money, she first secreted it in odd corners, wrapped in a rag or
    an old curl-paper; but some of these hoards having been discovered
    by the housemaid, Eliza, fearful of one day losing her valued
    treasure, consented to intrust it to her mother, at a usurious rate of
    interest- fifty or sixty per cent.; which interest she exacted every
    quarter, keeping her accounts in a little book with anxious accuracy.
      Georgiana sat on a high stool, dressing her hair at the glass,
    and interweaving her curls with artificial flowers and faded feathers,
    of which she had found a store in a drawer in the attic. I was
    making my bed, having received strict orders from Bessie to get it
    arranged before she returned, (for Bessie now frequently employed me
    as a sort of under-nurserymaid, to tidy the room, dust the chairs,
    etc.). Having spread the quilt and folded my night-dress, I went to
    the window-seat to put in order some picture-books and doll's house
    furniture scattered there; an abrupt command from Georgiana to let her
    playthings alone (for the tiny chairs and mirrors, the fairy plates
    and cups, were her property) stopped my proceedings; and then, for
    lack of other occupation, I fell to breathing on the frost-flowers
    with which the window was fretted, and thus clearing a space in the
    glass through which I might look out on the grounds, where all was
    still and petrified under the influence of a hard frost.
      From this window were visible the porter's lodge and the
    carriage-road, and just as I had dissolved so much of the silver-white
    foliage veiling the panes as left room to look out, I saw the gates
    thrown open and a carriage roll through. I watched it ascending the
    drive with indifference; carriages often came to Gateshead, but none
    ever brought visitors in whom I was interested; it stopped in front of
    the house, the door-bell rang loudly, the new-comer was admitted.
    All this being nothing to me, my vacant attention soon found
    livelier attraction in the spectacle of a little hungry robin, which
    came and chirruped on the twigs of the leafless cherry-tree nailed
    against the wall near the casement. The remains of my breakfast of
    bread and milk stood on the table, and having crumbled a morsel of
    roll, I was tugging at the sash to put out the crumbs on the
    window-sill, when Bessie came running upstairs into the nursery.
      'Miss Jane, take off your pinafore; what are you doing there?
    Have you washed your hands and face this morning?' I gave another
    tug before I answered, for I wanted the bird to be secure of its
    bread: the sash yielded; I scattered the crumbs, some on the stone
    sill, some on the cherry-tree bough, then, closing the window, I
    replied-
      'No, Bessie; I have only just finished dusting.'
      'Troublesome, careless child! and what are you doing now? You
    look quite red, as if you have been about some mischief: what were you
    opening the window for?'
      I was spared the trouble of answering, for Bessie seemed in too
    great a hurry to listen to explanations; she hauled me to the
    washstand, inflicted a merciless, but happily brief scrub on my face
    and hands with soap, water, and a coarse towel; disciplined my head
    with a bristly brush, denuded me of my pinafore, and then hurrying
    me to the top of the stairs, bid me go down directly, as I was
    wanted in the breakfast-room.
      I would have asked who wanted me: I would have demanded if Mrs.
    Reed was there; but Bessie was already gone, and had closed the
    nursery-door upon me. I slowly descended. For nearly three months, I
    had never been called to Mrs. Reed's presence; restricted so long to
    the nursery, the breakfast, dining, and drawing-rooms were become
    for me awful regions, on which it dismayed me to intrude.
      I now stood in the empty hall; before me was the breakfast-room
    door, and I stopped, intimidated and trembling. What a miserable
    little poltroon had fear, engendered of unjust punishment, made of
    me in those days! I feared to return to the nursery, and feared to
    go forward to the parlour; ten minutes I stood in agitated hesitation;
    the vehement ringing of the breakfast-room bell decided me; I must
    enter.
      'Who could want me?' I asked inwardly, as with both hands I
    turned the stiff door-handle, which, for a second or two, resisted
    my efforts. 'What should I see besides Aunt Reed in the apartment?-
    a man or a woman?' The handle turned, the door unclosed, and passing
    through and curtseying low, I looked up at- a black pillar!- such,
    at least, appeared to me, at first sight, the straight, narrow,
    sable-clad shape standing erect on the rug: the grim face at the top
    was like a carved mask, placed above the shaft by way of capital.
      Mrs. Reed occupied her usual seat by the fireside; she made a
    signal to me to approach; I did so, and she introduced me to the stony
    stranger with the words: 'This is the little girl respecting whom I
    applied to you.'
      He, for it was a man, turned his head slowly towards where I stood,
    and having examined me with the two inquisitive-looking grey eyes
    which twinkled under a pair of bushy brows, said solemnly, and in a
    bass voice, 'Her size is small: what is her age?'
      'Ten years.'
      'So much?' was the doubtful answer; and he prolonged his scrutiny
    for some minutes. Presently he addressed me-
      'Your name, little girl?'
      'Jane Eyre, sir.'
      In uttering these words I looked up: he seemed to me a tall
    gentleman; but then I was very little; his features were large, and
    they and all the lines of his frame were equally harsh and prim.
      'Well, Jane Eyre, and are you a good child?'
      Impossible to reply to this in the affirmative: my little world
    held a contrary opinion: I was silent. Mrs. Reed answered for me by an
    expressive shake of the head, adding soon, 'Perhaps the less said on
    that subject the better, Mr. Brocklehurst.'
      'Sorry indeed to hear it! she and I must have some talk;' and
    bending from the perpendicular, he installed his person in the
    arm-chair opposite Mrs. Reed's. 'Come here,' he said.
      I stepped across the rug; he placed me square and straight before
    him. What a face he had, now that it was almost on a level with
    mine! what a great nose! and what a mouth! and what large prominent
    teeth!
      'No sight so sad as that of a naughty child,' he began, 'especially
    a naughty little girl. Do you know where the wicked go after death?'
      'They go to hell,' was my ready and orthodox answer.
      'And what is hell? Can you tell me that?'
      'A pit full of fire.'
      'And should you like to fall into that pit, and to be burning there
    for ever?'
      'No, sir.'
      'What must you do to avoid it?'
      I deliberated a moment; my answer, when it did come, was
    objectionable: 'I must keep in good health, and not die.'
      'How can you keep in good health? Children younger than you die
    daily. I buried a little child of five years old only a day or two
    since,- a good little child, whose soul is now in heaven. It is to
    be feared the same could not be said of you were you to be called
    hence.'
      Not being in a condition to remove his doubt, I only cast my eyes
    down on the two large feet planted on the rug, and sighed, wishing
    myself far enough away.
      'I hope that sigh is from the heart, and that you repent of ever
    having been the occasion of discomfort to your excellent
    benefactress.'
      'Benefactress! benefactress!' said I inwardly: 'they all call
    Mrs. Reed my benefactress; if so, a benefactress is a disagreeable
    thing.'
      'Do you say your prayers night and morning?' continued my
    interrogator.
      'Yes, sir.'
      'Do you read your Bible?'
      'Sometimes.'
      'With pleasure? Are you fond of it?'
      'I like Revelations, and the book of Daniel, and Genesis and
    Samuel, and a little bit of Exodus, and some parts of Kings and
    Chronicles, and Job and Jonah.'
      'And the Psalms? I hope you like them?'
      'No, sir.'
      'No? oh, shocking! I have a little boy, younger than you, who knows
    six Psalms by heart: and when you ask him which he would rather
    have, a gingerbread-nut to eat or a verse of a Psalm to learn, he
    says: "Oh! the verse of a Psalm! angels sing Psalms;" says he, "I wish
    to be a little angel here below;" he then gets two nuts in
    recompense for his infant piety.'
      'Psalms are not interesting,' I remarked.
      'That proves you have a wicked heart; and you must pray to God to
    change it: to give you a new and clean one: to take away your heart of
    stone and give you a heart of flesh.'
      I was about to propound a question, touching the manner in which
    that operation of changing my heart was to be performed, when Mrs.
    Reed interposed, telling me to sit down; she then proceeded to carry
    on the conversation herself.
      'Mr. Brocklehurst, I believe I intimated in the letter which I
    wrote to you three weeks ago, that this little girl has not quite
    the character and disposition I could wish: should you admit her
    into Lowood school, I should be glad if the superintendent and
    teachers were requested to keep a strict eye on her, and, above all,
    to guard against her worst fault, a tendency to deceit. I mention this
    in your hearing, Jane, that you may not attempt to impose on Mr.
    Brocklehurst.'
      Well might I dread, well might I dislike Mrs. Reed; for it was
    her nature to wound me cruelly; never was I happy in her presence;
    however carefully I obeyed, however strenuously I strove to please
    her, my efforts were still repulsed and repaid by such sentences as
    the above. Now, uttered before a stranger, the accusation cut me to
    the heart; I dimly perceived that she was already obliterating hope
    from the new phase of existence which she destined me to enter; I
    felt, though I could not have expressed the feeling, that she was
    sowing aversion and unkindness along my future path; I saw myself
    transformed under Mr. Brocklehurst's eye into an artful, noxious
    child, and what could I do to remedy the injury?
      'Nothing, indeed,' thought I, as I struggled to repress a sob,
    and hastily wiped away some tears, the impotent evidences of my
    anguish.
      'Deceit is, indeed, a sad fault in a child,' said Mr. Brocklehurst;
    'it is akin to falsehood, and all liars will have their portion in the
    lake burning with fire and brimstone; she shall, however, be
    watched, Mrs. Reed. I will speak to Miss Temple and the teachers.'
      'I should wish her to be brought up in a manner suiting her
    prospects,' continued my benefactress; 'to be made useful, to be
    kept humble: as for the vacations, she will, with your permission,
    spend them always at Lowood.'
      'Your decisions are perfectly judicious, madam,' returned Mr.
    Brocklehurst. 'Humility is a Christian grace, and one peculiarly
    appropriate to the pupils of Lowood; I, therefore, direct that
    especial care shall be bestowed on its cultivation amongst them. I
    have studied how best to mortify in them the worldly sentiment of
    pride; and, only the other day, I had a pleasing proof of my
    success. My second daughter, Augusta, went with her mama to visit
    the school, and on her return she exclaimed: "Oh, dear papa, how quiet
    and plain all the girls at Lowood look, with their hair combed
    behind their ears, and their long pinafores, and those little
    holland pockets outside their frocks- they are almost like poor
    people's children! and," said she, "they looked at my dress and
    mama's, as if they had never seen a silk gown before."'
      'This is the state of things I quite approve,' returned Mrs.
    Reed; 'had I sought all England over, I could scarcely have found a
    system more exactly fitting a child like Jane Eyre. Consistency, my
    dear Mr. Brocklehurst; I advocate consistency in all things.'
      'Consistency, madam, is the first of Christian duties; and it has
    been observed in every arrangement connected with the establishment of
    Lowood: plain fare, simple attire, unsophisticated accommodations,
    hardy and active habits; such is the order of the day in the house and
    its inhabitants.'
      'Quite right, sir. I may then depend upon this child being received
    as a pupil at Lowood, and there being trained in conformity to her
    position and prospects?'
      'Madam, you may: she shall be placed in that nursery of chosen
    plants, and I trust she will show herself grateful for the inestimable
    privilege of her election.'
      'I will send her, then, as soon as possible, Mr. Brocklehurst; for,
    I assure you, I feel anxious to be relieved of a responsibility that
    was becoming too irksome.'
      'No doubt, no doubt, madam; and now I wish you good morning. I
    shall return to Brocklehurst Hall in the course of a week or two: my
    good friend, the Archdeacon, will not permit me to leave him sooner. I
    shall send Miss Temple notice that she is to expect a new girl, so
    that there will be no difficulty about receiving her. Good-bye.'
      'Good-bye, Mr. Brocklehurst; remember me to Mrs. and Miss
    Brocklehurst, and to Augusta and Theodore, and Master Broughton
    Brocklehurst.'
      'I will, madam. Little girl, here is a book entitled the Child's
    Guide; read it with prayer, especially that part containing "An
    addicted to falsehood and deceit."'
      With these words Mr. Brocklehurst put into my hand a thin
    pamphlet sewn in a cover, and having rung for his carriage, he
    departed.
      Mrs. Reed and I were left alone: some minutes passed in silence;
    she was sewing, I was watching her. Mrs. Reed might be at that time
    some six or seven and thirty; she was a woman of robust frame,
    square-shouldered and strong-limbed, not tall, and, though stout,
    not obese: she had a somewhat large face, the under jaw being much
    developed and very solid; her brow was low, her chin large and
    prominent, mouth and nose sufficiently regular; under her light
    eyebrows glimmered an eye devoid of ruth; her skin was dark and
    opaque, her hair nearly flaxen; her constitution was sound as a
    bell- illness never came near her; she was an exact, clever manager;
    her household and tenantry were thoroughly under her control; her
    children only at times defied her authority and laughed it to scorn;
    she dressed well, and had a presence and port calculated to set off
    handsome attire.
      Sitting on a low stool, a few yards from her arm-chair, I
    examined her figure; I perused her features. In my hand I held the
    tract containing the sudden death of the Liar, to which narrative my
    attention had been pointed as to an appropriate warning. What had just
    passed; what Mrs. Reed had said concerning me to Mr. Brocklehurst; the
    whole tenor of their conversation, was recent, raw, and stinging in my
    mind; I had felt every word as acutely as I had heard it plainly,
    and a passion of resentment fomented now within me.
      Mrs. Reed looked up from her work; her eye settled on mine, her
    fingers at the same time suspended their nimble movements.
      'Go out of the room; return to the nursery,' was her mandate. My
    look or something else must have struck her as offensive, for she
    spoke with extreme though suppressed irritation. I got up, I went to
    the door; I came back again; I walked to the window, across the
    room, then close up to her.
      Speak I must: I had been trodden on severely, and must turn: but
    how? What strength had I to dart retaliation at my antagonist? I
    gathered my energies and launched them in this blunt sentence-
      'I am not deceitful: if I were, I should say I loved you; but I
    declare I do not love you: I dislike you the worst of anybody in the
    world except John Reed; and this book about the liar, you may give
    to your girl, Georgiana, for it is she who tells lies, and not I.'
      Mrs. Reed's hands still lay on her work inactive: her eye of ice
    continued to dwell freezingly on mine.
      'What more have you to say?' she asked, rather in the tone in which
    a person might address an opponent of adult age than such as is
    ordinarily used to a child.
      That eye of hers, that voice stirred every antipathy I had. Shaking
    from head to foot, thrilled with ungovernable excitement, I continued-
      'I am glad you are no relation of mine: I will never call you
    aunt again so long as I live. I will never come to see you when I am
    grown up; and if any one asks me how I liked you, and how you
    treated me, I will say the very thought of you makes me sick, and that
    you treated me with miserable cruelty.'
      'How dare you affirm that, Jane Eyre?'
      'How dare I, Mrs. Reed? How dare I? Because it is the truth. You
    think I have no feelings, and that I can do without one bit of love or
    kindness; but I cannot live so: and you have no pity. I shall remember
    how you thrust me back- roughly and violently thrust me back- into the
    red-room, and locked me up there, to my dying day; though I was in
    agony; though I cried out, while suffocating with distress, "Have
    mercy! Have mercy, Aunt Reed!" And that punishment you made me
    suffer because your wicked boy struck me- knocked me down for nothing.
    I will tell anybody who asks me questions, this exact tale. People
    think you a good woman, but you are bad, hard-hearted. You are
    deceitful!'
      Ere I had finished this reply, my soul began to expand, to exult,
    with the strangest sense of freedom, of triumph, I ever felt. It
    seemed as if an invisible bond had burst, and that I had struggled out
    into unhoped-for liberty. Not without cause was this sentiment: Mrs.
    Reed looked frightened; her work had slipped from her knee; she was
    lifting up her hands, rocking herself to and fro, and even twisting
    her face as if she would cry.
      'Jane, you are under a mistake: what is the matter with you? Why do
    you tremble so violently? Would you like to drink some water?'
      'No, Mrs. Reed.'
      'Is there anything else you wish for, Jane? I assure you, I
    desire to be your friend.'
      'Not you. You told Mr. Brocklehurst I had a bad character, a
    deceitful disposition; and I'll let everybody at Lowood know what
    you are, and what you have done.'
      'Jane, you don't understand these things: children must be
    corrected for their faults.'
      'Deceit is not my fault!' I cried out in a savage, high voice.
      'But you are passionate, Jane, that you must allow: and now
    return to the nursery- there's a dear- and lie down a little.'
      'I am not your dear; I cannot lie down: send me to school soon,
    Mrs. Reed, for I hate to live here.'
      'I will indeed send her to school soon,' murmured Mrs. Reed sotto
    voce; and gathering up her work, she abruptly quitted the apartment.
      I was left there alone- winner of the field. It was the hardest
    battle I had fought, and the first victory I had gained: I stood
    awhile on the rug, where Mr. Brocklehurst had stood, and I enjoyed
    my conqueror's solitude. First, I smiled to myself and felt elate; but
    this fierce pleasure subsided in me as fast as did the accelerated
    throb of my pulses. A child cannot quarrel with its elders, as I had
    done; cannot give its furious feelings uncontrolled play, as I had
    given mine, without experiencing afterwards the pang of remorse and
    the chill of reaction. A ridge of lighted heath, alive, glancing,
    devouring, would have been a meet emblem of my mind when I accused and
    menaced Mrs. Reed: the same ridge, black and blasted after the
    flames are dead, would have represented as meetly my subsequent
    condition, when half an hour's silence and reflection had shown me the
    madness of my conduct, and the dreariness of my hated and hating
    position.
      Something of vengeance I had tasted for the first time; as aromatic
    wine it seemed, on swallowing, warm and racy: its after-flavour,
    metallic and corroding, gave me a sensation as if I had been poisoned.
    Willingly would I now have gone and asked Mrs. Reed's pardon; but I
    knew, partly from experience and partly from instinct, that was the
    way to make her repulse me with double scorn, thereby re-exciting
    every turbulent impulse of my nature.
      I would fain exercise some better faculty than that of fierce
    speaking; fain find nourishment for some less fiendish feeling than
    that of sombre indignation. I took a book- some Arabian tales; I sat
    down and endeavoured to read. I could make no sense of the subject; my
    own thoughts swam always between me and the page I had usually found
    fascinating. I opened the glass-door in the breakfast-room: the
    shrubbery was quite still: the black frost reigned, unbroken by sun or
    breeze, through the grounds. I covered my head and arms with the skirt
    of my frock, and went out to walk in a part of the plantation which
    was quite sequestered; but I found no pleasure in the silent trees,
    the falling fir-cones, the congealed relics of autumn, russet
    leaves, swept by past winds in heaps, and now stiffened together. I
    leaned against a gate, and looked into an empty field where no sheep
    were feeding, where the short grass was nipped and blanched. It was
    a very grey day; a most opaque sky, 'onding on snaw,' canopied all;
    thence flakes fell at intervals, which settled on the hard path and on
    the hoary lea without melting. I stood, a wretched child enough,
    whispering to myself over and over again, 'What shall I do?- what
    shall I do?'
      All at once I heard a clear voice call, 'Miss Jane! where are
    you? Come to lunch!'
      It was Bessie, I knew well enough; but I did not stir; her light
    step came tripping down the path.
      'You naughty little thing!' she said. 'Why don't you come when
    you are called?'
      Bessie's presence, compared with the thoughts over which I had been
    brooding, seemed cheerful; even though, as usual, she was somewhat
    cross. The fact is, after my conflict with and victory over Mrs. Reed,
    I was not disposed to care much for the nursemaid's transitory
    anger; and I was disposed to bask in her youthful lightness of
    heart. I just put my two arms round her and said, 'Come, Bessie! don't
    scold.'
      The action was more frank and fearless than any I was habituated to
    indulge in: somehow it pleased her.
      'You are a strange child, Miss Jane,' she said, as she looked
    down at me; 'a little roving, solitary thing: and you are going to
    school, I suppose?'
      I nodded.
      'And won't you be sorry to leave poor Bessie?'
      'What does Bessie care for me? She is always scolding me.'
      'Because you're such a queer, frightened, shy little thing. You
    should be bolder.'
      'What! to get more knocks?'
      'Nonsense! But you are rather put upon, that's certain. My mother
    said, when she came to see me last week, that she would not like a
    little one of her own to be in your place.- Now, come in, and I've
    some good news for you.'
      'I don't think you have, Bessie.'
      'Child! what do you mean? What sorrowful eyes you fix on me!
    Well, but Missis and the young ladies and Master John are going out to
    tea this afternoon, and you shall have tea with me. I'll ask cook to
    bake you a little cake, and then you shall help me to look over your
    drawers; for I am soon to pack your trunk. Missis intends you to leave
    Gateshead in a day or two, and you shall choose what toys you like
    to take with you.'
      'Bessie, you must promise not to scold me any more till I go.'
      'Well, I will; but mind you are a very good girl, and don't be
    afraid of me. Don't start when I chance to speak rather sharply;
    it's so provoking.'
      'I don't think I shall ever be afraid of you again, Bessie, because
    I have got used to you, and I shall soon have another set of people to
    dread.'
      'If you dread them they'll dislike you.'
      'As you do, Bessie?'
      'I don't dislike you, Miss: I believe I am fonder of you than of
    all the others.'
      'You don't show it.'
      'You little sharp thing! you've got quite a new way of talking.
    What makes you so venturesome and hardy?'
      'Why, I shall soon be away from you, and besides'- I was going to
    say something about what had passed between me and Mrs. Reed, but on
    second thoughts I considered it better to remain silent on that head.
      'And so you're glad to leave me?'
      'Not at all, Bessie; indeed, just now I'm rather sorry.'
      'Just now! and rather! How coolly my little lady says it! I daresay
    now if I were to ask you for a kiss you wouldn't give it me: you'd say
    you'd rather not.'
      'I'll kiss you and welcome: bend your head down.' Bessie stooped;
    we mutually embraced, and I followed her into the house quite
    comforted. That afternoon lapsed in peace and harmony; and in the
    evening Bessie told me some of her most enchaining stories, and sang
    me some of her sweetest songs. Even for me life had its gleams of
    sunshine.
   
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                              CHAPTER V
   
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
      FIVE o'clock had hardly struck on the morning of the 19th of
    January, when Bessie brought a candle into my closet and found me
    already up and nearly dressed. I had risen half an hour before her
    entrance, and had washed my face, and put on my clothes by the light
    of a half-moon just setting, whose rays streamed through the narrow
    window near my crib. I was to leave Gateshead that day by a coach
    which passed the lodge gates at six A.M. Bessie was the only person
    yet risen; she had lit a fire in the nursery, where she now
    proceeded to make my breakfast. Few children can eat when excited with
    the thoughts of a journey; nor could I. Bessie, having pressed me in
    vain to take a few spoonfuls of the boiled milk and bread she had
    prepared for me, wrapped up some biscuits in a paper and put them into
    my bag; then she helped me on with my pelisse and bonnet, and wrapping
    herself in a shawl, she and I left the nursery. As we passed Mrs.
    Reed's bedroom, she said, 'Will you go in and bid Missis good-bye?'
      'No, Bessie: she came to my crib last night when you were gone down
    to supper, and said I need not disturb her in the morning, or my
    cousins either; and she told me to remember that she had always been
    my best friend, and to speak of her and be grateful to her
    accordingly.'
      'What did you say, Miss?'
      'Nothing: I covered my face with the bedclothes, and turned from
    her to the wall.'
      'That was wrong, Miss Jane.'
      'It was quite right, Bessie. Your Missis has not been my friend:
    she has been my foe.'
      'O Miss Jane! don't say so!'
      'Good-bye to Gateshead!' cried I, as we passed through the hall and
    went out at the front door.
      The moon was set, and it was very dark; Bessie carried a lantern,
    whose light glanced on wet steps and gravel road sodden by a recent
    thaw. Raw and chill was the winter morning: my teeth chattered as I
    hastened down the drive. There was a light in the porter's lodge: when
    we reached it, we found the porter's wife just kindling her fire: my
    trunk, which had been carried down the evening before, stood corded at
    the door. It wanted but a few minutes of six, and shortly after that
    hour had struck, the distant roll of wheels announced the coming
    coach; I went to the door and watched its lamps approach rapidly
    through the gloom.
      'Is she going by herself?' asked the porter's wife.
      'Yes.'
      'And how far is it?'
      'Fifty miles.'
      'What a long way! I wonder Mrs. Reed is not afraid to trust her
    so far alone.'
      The coach drew up; there it was at the gates with its four horses
    and its top laden with passengers: the guard and coachman loudly urged
    haste; my trunk was hoisted up; I was taken from Bessie's neck, to
    which I clung with kisses.
      'Be sure and take good care of her,' cried she to the guard, as
    he lifted me into the inside.
      'Ay, ay!' was the answer: the door was slapped to, a voice
    exclaimed 'All right,' and on we drove. Thus was I severed from Bessie
    and Gateshead; thus whirled away to unknown, and, as I then deemed,
    remote and mysterious regions.
      I remember but little of the journey; I only know that the day
    seemed to me of a preternatural length, and that we appeared to travel
    over hundreds of miles of road. We passed through several towns, and
    in one, a very large one, the coach stopped; the horses were taken
    out, and the passengers alighted to dine. I was carried into an inn,
    where the guard wanted me to have some dinner; but, as I had no
    appetite, he left me in an immense room with a fireplace at each
    end, a chandelier pendent from the ceiling, and a little red gallery
    high up against the wall filled with musical instruments. Here I
    walked about for a long time, feeling very strange, and mortally
    apprehensive of some one coming in and kidnapping me; for I believed
    in kidnappers, their exploits having frequently figured in Bessie's
    fireside chronicles. At last the guard returned; once more I was
    stowed away in the coach, my protector mounted his own seat, sounded
      The afternoon came on wet and somewhat misty: as it waned into
    dusk, I began to feel that we were getting very far indeed from
    Gateshead: we ceased to pass through towns; the country changed; great
    grey hills heaved up round the horizon: as twilight deepened, we
    descended a valley, dark with wood, and long after night had
    overclouded the prospect, I heard a wild wind rushing amongst trees.
      Lulled by the sound, I at last dropped asleep; I had not long
    slumbered when the sudden cessation of motion awoke me; the coach-door
    was open, and a person like a servant was standing at it: I saw her
    face and dress by the light of the lamps.
      'Is there a little girl called Jane Eyre here?' she asked. I
    answered 'Yes', and was then lifted out; my trunk was handed down, and
    the coach instantly drove away.
      I was stiff with long sitting, and bewildered with the noise and
    motion of the coach: gathering my faculties, I looked about me.
    Rain, wind, and darkness filled the air; nevertheless, I dimly
    discerned a wall before me and a door open in it; through this door
    I passed with my new guide: she shut and locked it behind her. There
    was now visible a house or houses- for the building spread far- with
    many windows, and lights burning in some; we went up a broad pebbly
    path, splashing wet, and were admitted at a door; then the servant led
    me through a passage into a room with a fire, where she left me alone.
      I stood and warmed my numbed fingers over the blaze, then I
    looked round; there was no candle, but the uncertain light from the
    hearth showed, by intervals, papered walls, carpet, curtains,
    shining mahogany furniture: it was a parlour, not so spacious or
    splendid as the drawing-room at Gateshead, but comfortable enough. I
    was puzzling to make out the subject of a picture on the wall, when
    the door opened, and an individual carrying a light entered; another
    followed close behind.
      The first was a tall lady with dark hair, dark eyes, and a pale and
    large forehead; her figure was partly enveloped in a shawl, her
    countenance was grave, her bearing erect.
      'The child is very young to be sent alone,' said she, putting her
    candle down on the table. She considered me attentively for a minute
    or two, then further added-
      'She had better be put to bed soon; she looks tired: are you
    tired?' she asked, placing her hand on my shoulder.
      'A little, ma'am.'
      'And hungry too, no doubt: let her have some supper before she goes
    to bed, Miss Miller. Is this the first time you have left your parents
    to come to school, my little girl?'
      I explained to her that I had no parents. She inquired how long
    they had been dead: then how old I was, what was my name, whether I
    could read, write, and sew a little: then she touched my cheek
    gently with her forefinger, and saying, 'She hoped I should be a
    good child,' dismissed me along with Miss Miller.
      The lady I had left might be about twenty-nine; the one who went
    with me appeared some years younger: the first impressed me by her
    voice, look, and air. Miss Miller was more ordinary; ruddy in
    complexion, though of a careworn countenance; hurried in gait and
    action, like one who had always a multiplicity of tasks on hand: she
    looked, indeed, what I afterwards found she really was, an
    under-teacher. Led by her, I passed from compartment to compartment,
    from passage to passage, of a large and irregular building; till,
    emerging from the total and somewhat dreary silence pervading that
    portion of the house we had traversed, we came upon the hum of many
    voices, and presently entered a wide, long room, with great deal
    tables, two at each end, on each of which burnt a pair of candles, and
    seated all round on benches, a congregation of girls of every age,
    from nine or ten to twenty. Seen by the dim light of the dips, their
    number to me appeared countless, though not in reality exceeding
    eighty; they were uniformly dressed in brown stuff frocks of quaint
    fashion, and long holland pinafores. It was the hour of study; they
    were engaged in conning over their to-morrow's task, and the hum I had
    heard was the combined result of their whispered repetitions.
      Miss Miller signed to me to sit on a bench near the door, then
    walking up to the top of the long room she cried out-
      'Monitors, collect the lesson-books and put them away!'
      Four tall girls arose from different tables, and going round,
    gathered the books and removed them. Miss Miller again gave the word
    of command-
      'Monitors, fetch the supper-trays!'
      The tall girls went out and returned presently, each bearing a
    tray, with portions of something, I knew not what, arranged thereon,
    and a pitcher of water and mug in the middle of each tray. The
    portions were handed round; those who liked took a draught of the
    water, the mug being common to all. When it came to my turn, I
    drank, for I was thirsty, but did not touch the food, excitement and
    fatigue rendering me incapable of eating; I now saw, however, that
    it was a thin oaten cake shared into fragments.
      The meal over, prayers were read by Miss Miller, and the classes
    filed off, two and two, upstairs. Overpowered by this time with
    weariness, I scarcely noticed what sort of a place the bedroom was,
    except that, like the schoolroom, I saw it was very long. To-night I
    was to be Miss Miller's bed-fellow; she helped me to undress: when
    laid down I glanced at the long rows of beds, each of which was
    quickly filled with two occupants; in ten minutes the single light was
    extinguished, and amidst silence and complete darkness I fell asleep.
      The night passed rapidly: I was too tired even to dream; I only
    once awoke to hear the wind rave in furious gusts, and the rain fall
    in torrents, and to be sensible that Miss Miller had taken her place
    by my side. When I again unclosed my eyes, a loud bell was ringing;
    the girls were up and dressing; day had not yet begun to dawn, and a
    rushlight or two burned in the room. I too rose reluctantly; it was
    bitter cold, and I dressed as well as I could for shivering, and
    washed when there was a basin at liberty, which did not occur soon, as
    there was but one basin to six girls, on the stands down the middle of
    the room. Again the bell rang; all formed in file, two and two, and in
    that order descended the stairs and entered the cold and dimly lit
    schoolroom: here prayers were read by Miss Miller; afterwards she
    called out-
      'Form classes!'
      A great tumult succeeded for some minutes, during which Miss Miller
    repeatedly exclaimed, 'Silence!' and 'Order!' When it subsided, I
    saw them all drawn up in four semicircles, before four chairs,
    placed at the four tables; all held books in their hands, and a
    great book, like a Bible, lay on each table, before the vacant seat. A
    pause of some seconds succeeded, filled up by the low, vague hum of
    numbers; Miss Miller walked from class to class, hushing this
    indefinite sound.
      A distant bell tinkled: immediately three ladies entered the
    room, each walked to a table and took her seat; Miss Miller assumed
    the fourth vacant chair, which was that nearest the door, and around
    which the smallest of the children were assembled: to this inferior
    class I was called, and placed at the bottom of it.
      Business now began: the day's Collect was repeated, then certain
    texts of Scripture were said, and to these succeeded a protracted
    reading of chapters in the Bible, which lasted an hour. By the time
    that exercise was terminated, day had fully dawned. The
    indefatigable bell now sounded for the fourth time: the classes were
    marshalled and marched into another room to breakfast: how glad I
    was to behold a prospect of getting something to eat! I was now nearly
    sick from inanition, having taken so little the day before.
      The refectory was a great, low-ceiled, gloomy room; on two long
    tables smoked basins of something hot, which, however, to my dismay,
    sent forth an odour far from inviting. I saw a universal manifestation
    of discontent when the fumes of the repast met the nostrils of those
    destined to swallow it; from the van of the procession, the tall girls
    of the first class, rose the whispered words-
      'Disgusting! The porridge is burnt again!'
      'Silence!' ejaculated a voice; not that of Miss Miller, but one
    of the upper teachers, a little and dark personage, smartly dressed,
    but of somewhat morose aspect, who installed herself at the top of one
    table, while a more buxom lady presided at the other. I looked in vain
    for her I had first seen the night before; she was not visible: Miss
    Miller occupied the foot of the table where I sat, and a strange,
    foreign-looking, elderly lady, the French teacher, as I afterwards
    found, took the corresponding seat at the other board. A long grace
    was said and a hymn sung; then a servant brought in some tea for the
    teachers, and the meal began.
      Ravenous, and now very faint, I devoured a spoonful or two of my
    portion without thinking of its taste; but the first edge of hunger
    blunted, I perceived I had got in hand a nauseous mess; burnt porridge
    is almost as bad as rotten potatoes; famine itself soon sickens over
    it. The spoons were moved slowly: I saw each girl taste her food and
    try to swallow it; but in most cases the effort was soon relinquished.
    Breakfast was over, and none had breakfasted. Thanks being returned
    for what we had not got, and a second hymn chanted, the refectory
    was evacuated for the schoolroom. I was one of the last to go out, and
    in passing the tables, I saw one teacher take a basin of the
    porridge and taste it; she looked at the others; all their
    countenances expressed displeasure, and one of them, the stout one,
    whispered-
      'Abominable stuff! How shameful!'
      A quarter of an hour passed before lessons again began, during
    which the schoolroom was in a glorious tumult; for that space of
    time it seemed to be permitted to talk loud and more freely, and
    they used their privilege. The whole conversation ran on the
    breakfast, which one and all abused roundly. Poor things! it was the
    sole consolation they had. Miss Miller was now the only teacher in the
    room: a group of great girls standing about her spoke with serious and
    sullen gestures. I heard the name of Mr. Brocklehurst pronounced by
    some lips; at which Miss Miller shook her head disapprovingly; but she
    made no great effort to check the general wrath; doubtless she
    shared in it.
      A clock in the schoolroom struck nine; Miss Miller left her circle,
    and standing in the middle of the room, cried-
      'Silence! To your seats!'
      Discipline prevailed: in five minutes the confused throng was
    resolved into order, and comparative silence quelled the Babel clamour
    of tongues. The upper teachers now punctually resumed their posts: but
    still, all seemed to wait. Ranged on benches down the sides of the
    room, the eighty girls sat motionless and erect; a quaint assemblage
    they appeared, all with plain locks combed from their faces, not a
    curl visible; in brown dresses, made high and surrounded by a narrow
    tucker about the throat, with little pockets of holland (shaped
    something like a Highlander's purse) tied in front of their frocks,
    and destined to serve the purpose of a work-bag: all, too, wearing
    woollen stockings and country-made shoes, fastened with brass buckles.
    Above twenty of those clad in this costume were full-grown girls, or
    rather young women; it suited them ill, and gave an air of oddity even
    to the prettiest.
      I was still looking at them, and also at intervals examining the
    teachers- none of whom precisely pleased me; for the stout one was a
    little coarse, the dark one not a little fierce, the foreigner harsh
    and grotesque, and Miss Miller, poor thing! looked purple,
    weather-beaten, and over-worked- when, as my eye wandered from face to
    face, the whole school rose simultaneously, as if moved by a common
    spring.
      What was the matter? I had heard no order given: I was puzzled. Ere
    I had gathered my wits, the classes were again seated: but as all eyes
    were now turned to one point, mine followed the general direction, and
    encountered the personage who had received me last night. She stood at
    the bottom of the long room, on the hearth; for there was a fire at
    each end; she surveyed the two rows of girls silently and gravely.
    Miss Miller, approaching, seemed to ask her a question, and having
    received her answer, went back to her place, and said aloud-
      'Monitor of the first class, fetch the globes!'
      While the direction was being executed, the lady consulted moved
    slowly up the room. I suppose I have a considerable organ of
    veneration, for I retain yet the sense of admiring awe with which my
    eyes traced her steps. Seen now, in broad day-light, she looked
    tall, fair, and shapely; brown eyes with a benignant light in their
    irids, and a fine pencilling of long lashes round, relieved the
    whiteness of her large front; on each of her temples her hair, of a
    very dark brown, was clustered in round curls, according to the
    fashion of those times, when neither smooth bands nor long ringlets
    were in vogue; her dress, also in the mode of the day, was of purple
    cloth, relieved by a sort of Spanish trimming of black velvet; a
    gold watch (watches were not so common then as now) shone at her
    girdle. Let the reader add, to complete the picture, refined features;
    a complexion, if pale, clear; and a stately air and carriage, and he
    will have, at least, as clearly as words can give it, a correct idea
    of the exterior of Miss Temple- Maria Temple, as I afterwards saw
    the name written in a prayer-book intrusted to me to carry to church.
      The superintendent of Lowood (for such was this lady) having
    taken her seat before a pair of globes placed on one of the tables,
    summoned the first class round her, and commenced giving a lesson on
    geography; the lower classes were called by the teachers:
    repetitions in history, grammar, etc., went on for an hour; writing
    and arithmetic succeeded, and music lessons were given by Miss
    Temple to some of the elder girls. The duration of each lesson was
    measured by the clock, which at last struck twelve. The superintendent
    rose-
      'I have a word to address to the pupils,' said she.
      The tumult of cessation from lessons was already breaking forth,
    but it sank at her voice. She went on-
      'You had this morning a breakfast which you could not eat; you must
    be hungry:- I have ordered that a lunch of bread and cheese shall be
    served to all.'
      The teachers looked at her with a sort of surprise.
      'It is to be done on my responsibility,' she added, in an
    explanatory tone to them, and immediately afterwards left the room.
      The bread and cheese was presently brought in and distributed, to
    the high delight and refreshment of the whole school. The order was
    now given 'To the garden!' Each put on a coarse straw bonnet, with
    strings of coloured calico, and a cloak of grey frieze, I was
    similarly equipped, and, following the stream, I made my way into
    the open air.
      The garden was a wide enclosure, surrounded with walls so high as
    to exclude every glimpse of prospect; a covered verandah ran down
    one side, and broad walks bordered a middle space divided into
    scores of little beds: these beds were assigned as gardens for the
    pupils to cultivate, and each bed had an owner. When full of flowers
    they would doubtless look pretty; but now, at the latter end of
    January, all was wintry blight and brown decay. I shuddered as I stood
    and looked round me: it was an inclement day for outdoor exercise; not
    positively rainy, but darkened by a drizzling yellow fog; all under
    foot was still soaking wet with the floods of yesterday. The
    stronger among the girls ran about and engaged in active games, but
    sundry pale and thin ones herded together for shelter and warmth in
    the verandah; and amongst these, as the dense mist penetrated to their
    shivering frames, I heard frequently the sound of a hollow cough.
      As yet I had spoken to no one, nor did anybody seem to take
    notice of me; I stood lonely enough: but to that feeling of
    isolation I was accustomed; it did not oppress me much. I leant
    against a pillar of the verandah, drew my grey mantle close about
    me, and, trying to forget the cold which nipped me without, and the
    unsatisfied hunger which gnawed me within, delivered myself up to
    the employment of watching and thinking. My reflections were too
    undefined and fragmentary to merit record: I hardly yet knew where I
    was; Gateshead and my past life seemed floated away to an immeasurable
    distance; the present was vague and strange, and of the future I could
    form no conjecture. I looked round the convent-like garden, and then
    up at the house- a large building, half of which seemed grey and
    old, the other half quite new. The new part, containing the schoolroom
    and dormitory, was lit by mullioned and latticed windows, which gave
    it a church-like aspect; a stone tablet over the door bore this
    inscription-
    Brocklehurst, of Brocklehurst Hall, in this county.' 'Let your light
    so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify
    your Father which is in heaven.'- St. Matt. v. 16.
      I read these words over and over again: I felt that an
    explanation belonged to them, and was unable fully to penetrate
    their import. I was still pondering the signification of
    'Institution', and endeavouring to make out a connection between the
    first words and the verse of Scripture, when the sound of a cough
    close behind me made me turn my head. I saw a girl sitting on a
    stone bench near; she was bent over a book, on the perusal of which
    she seemed intent: from where I stood I could see the title- it was
    Rasselas; a name that struck me as strange, and consequently
    attractive. In turning a leaf she happened to look up, and I said to
    her directly-
      'Is your book interesting?' I had already formed the intention of
    asking her to lend it to me some day.
      'I like it,' she answered, after a pause of a second or two, during
    which she examined me.
      'What is it about?' I continued. I hardly know where I found the
    hardihood thus to open a conversation with a stranger; the step was
    contrary to my nature and habits: but I think her occupation touched a
    chord of sympathy somewhere; for I too liked reading, though of a
    frivolous and childish kind; I could not digest or comprehend the
    serious or substantial.
      'You may look at it,' replied the girl, offering me the book.
      I did so; a brief examination convinced me that the contents were
    less taking than the title: Rasselas looked dull to my trifling taste;
    I saw nothing about fairies, nothing about genii; no bright variety
    seemed spread over the closely-printed pages. I returned it to her;
    she received it quietly, and without saying anything she was about
    to relapse into her former studious mood: again I ventured to
    disturb her-
      'Can you tell me what the writing on that stone over the door
    means? What is Lowood Institution?'
      'This house where you are come to live.'
      'And why do they call it Institution? Is it in any way different
    from other schools?'
      'It is partly a charity-school: you and I, and all the rest of
    us, are charity-children. I suppose you are an orphan: are not
    either your father or your mother dead?'
      'Both died before I can remember.'
      'Well, all the girls here have lost either one or both parents, and
    this is called an institution for educating orphans.'
      'Do we pay no money? Do they keep us for nothing?'
      'We pay, or our friends pay, fifteen pounds a year for each.'
      'Then why do they call us charity-children?'
      'Because fifteen pounds is not enough for board and teaching, and
    the deficiency is supplied by subscription.'
      'Who subscribes?'
      'Different benevolent-minded ladies and gentlemen in this
    neighbourhood and in London.'
      'Who was Naomi Brocklehurst?'
      'The lady who built the new part of this house as that tablet
    records, and whose son overlooks and directs everything here.'
      'Why?'
      'Because he is treasurer and manager of the establishment.'
      'Then this house does not belong to that tall lady who wears a
    watch, and who said we were to have some bread and cheese?'
      'To Miss Temple? Oh, no! I wish it did: she has to answer to Mr.
    Brocklehurst for all she does. Mr. Brocklehurst buys all our food
    and all our clothes.'
      'Does he live here?'
      'No- two miles off, at a large hall.'
      'Is he a good man?'
      'He is a clergyman, and is said to do a great deal of good.'
      'Did you say that tall lady was called Miss Temple?'
      'Yes.'
      'And what are the other teachers called?'
      'The one with red cheeks is called Miss Smith; she attends to the
    work, and cuts out- for we make our own clothes, our frocks, and
    pelisses, and everything; the little one with black hair is Miss
    Scatcherd; she teaches history and grammar, and hears the second class
    repetitions; and the one who wears a shawl, and has a
    pocket-handkerchief tied to her side with a yellow ribband, is
    Madame Pierrot: she comes from Lisle, in France, and teaches French.'
      'Do you like the teachers?'
      'Well enough.'
      'Do you like the little black one, and the Madame-? -I cannot
    pronounce her name as you do.'
      'Miss Scatcherd is hasty- you must take care not to offend her;
    Madame Pierrot is not a bad sort of person.'
      'But Miss Temple is the best- isn't she?'
      'Miss Temple is very good and very clever; she is above the rest,
    because she knows far more than they do.'
      'Have you been long here?'
      'Two years.'
      'Are you an orphan?'
      'My mother is dead.'
      'Are you happy here?'
      'You ask rather too many questions. I have given you answers enough
    for the present: now I want to read.'
      But at that moment the summons sounded for dinner; all re-entered
    the house. The odour which now filled the refectory was scarcely
    more appetising than that which had regaled our nostrils at breakfast:
    the dinner was served in two huge tin-plated vessels, whence rose a
    strong steam redolent of rancid fat. I found the mess to consist of
    indifferent potatoes and strange shreds of rusty meat, mixed and
    cooked together. Of this preparation a tolerably abundant plateful was
    apportioned to each pupil. I ate what I could, and wondered within
    myself whether every day's fare would be like this.
      After dinner, we immediately adjourned to the schoolroom: lessons
    recommenced, and were continued till five o'clock.
      The only marked event of the afternoon was, that I saw the girl
    with whom I had conversed in the verandah dismissed in disgrace by
    Miss Scatcherd from a history class, and sent to stand in the middle
    of the large schoolroom. The punishment seemed to me in a high
    degree ignominious, especially for so great a girl- she looked
    thirteen or upwards. I expected she would show signs of great distress
    and shame; but to my surprise she neither wept nor blushed:
    composed, though grave, she stood, the central mark of all eyes.
    'How can she bear it so quietly- so firmly?' I asked of myself.
    'Were I in her place, it seems to me I should wish the earth to open
    and swallow me up. She looks as if she were thinking of something
    beyond her punishment- beyond her situation: of something not round
    her nor before her. I have heard of day-dreams- is she in a
    day-dream now? Her eyes are fixed on the floor, but I am sure they
    do not see it- her sight seems turned in, gone down into her heart:
    she is looking at what she can remember, I believe; not at what is
    really present. I wonder what sort of a girl she is- whether good or
    naughty.'
      Soon after five P.M. we had another meal, consisting of a small mug
    of coffee, and half a slice of brown bread. I devoured my bread and
    drank my coffee with relish; but I should have been glad of as much
    more- I was still hungry. Half an hour's recreation succeeded, then
    study; then the glass of water and the piece of oat-cake, prayers, and
    bed. Such was my first day at Lowood.
   
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                              CHAPTER VI
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
      THE next day commenced as before, getting up and dressing by
    rushlight; but this morning we were obliged to dispense with the
    ceremony of washing; the water in the pitchers was frozen. A change
    had taken place in the weather the preceding evening, and a keen
    north-east wind, whistling through the crevices of our bedroom windows
    all night long, had made us shiver in our beds, and turned the
    contents of the ewers to ice.
      Before the long hour and a half of prayers and Bible-reading was
    over, I felt ready to perish with cold. Breakfast-time came at last,
    and this morning the porridge was not burnt; the quality was
    eatable, the quantity small. How small my portion seemed! I wished
    it had been doubled.
      In the course of the day I was enrolled a member of the fourth
    class, and regular tasks and occupations were assigned me: hitherto, I
    had only been a spectator of the proceedings at Lowood; I was now to
    become an actor therein. At first, being little accustomed to learn by
    heart, the lessons appeared to me both long and difficult; the
    frequent change from task to task, too, bewildered me; and I was
    glad when, about three o'clock in the afternoon, Miss Smith put into
    my hands a border of muslin two yards long, together with needle,
    thimble, etc., and sent me to sit in a quiet corner of the schoolroom,
    with directions to hem the same. At that hour most of the others
    were sewing likewise; but one class still stood round Miss Scatcherd's
    chair reading, and as all was quiet, the subject of their lessons
    could be heard, together with the manner in which each girl
    acquitted herself, and the animadversions or commendations of Miss
    Scatcherd on the performance. It was English history: among the
    readers I observed my acquaintance of the verandah: at the
    commencement of the lesson, her place had been at the top of the
    class, but for some error of pronunciation, or some inattention to
    stops, she was suddenly sent to the very bottom. Even in that
    obscure position, Miss Scatcherd continued to make her an object of
    constant notice; she was continually addressing to her such phrases as
    the following:-
      'Burns' (such it seems was her name: the girls here were all called
    by their surnames, as boys are elsewhere), 'Burns, you are standing on
    the side of your shoe; turn your toes out immediately.' 'Burns, you
    poke your chin most unpleasantly; draw it in.' 'Burns, I insist on
    your holding your head up; I will not have you before me in that
    attitude,' etc. etc.
      A chapter having been read through twice, the books were closed and
    the girls examined. The lesson had comprised part of the reign of
    Charles I, and there were sundry questions about tonnage and
    poundage and ship-money, which most of them appeared unable to answer;
    still, every little difficulty was solved instantly when it reached
    Burns: her memory seemed to have retained the substance of the whole
    lesson, and she was ready with answers on every point. I kept
    expecting that Miss Scatcherd would praise her attention; but, instead
    of that, she suddenly cried out-
      'You dirty, disagreeable girl! you have never cleaned your nails
    this morning!'
      Burns made no answer: I wondered at her silence.
      'Why,' thought I, 'does she not explain that she could neither
    clean her nails nor wash her face, as the water was frozen?'
      My attention was now called off by Miss Smith desiring me to hold a
    skein of thread: while she was winding it, she talked to me from
    time to time, asking whether I had ever been at school before, whether
    I could mark, stitch, knit, etc.; till she dismissed me, I could not
    pursue my observations on Miss Scatcherd's movements. When I
    returned to my seat, that lady was just delivering an order of which I
    did not catch the import; but Burns immediately left the class, and
    going into the small inner room where the books were kept, returned in
    half a minute, carrying in her hand a bundle of twigs tied together at
    one end. This ominous tool she presented to Miss Scatcherd with a
    respectful curtsey; then she quietly, and without being told, unloosed
    her pinafore, and the teacher instantly and sharply inflicted on her
    neck a dozen strokes with the bunch of twigs. Not a tear rose to
    Burns's eye; and, while I paused from my sewing, because my fingers
    quivered at this spectacle with a sentiment of unavailing and impotent
    anger, not a feature of her pensive face altered its ordinary
    expression.
      'Hardened girl!' exclaimed Miss Scatcherd; 'nothing can correct you
    of your slatternly habits: carry the rod away.'
      Burns obeyed: I looked at her narrowly as she emerged from the
    book-closet; she was just putting back her handkerchief into her
    pocket, and the trace of a tear glistened on her thin cheek.
      The play-hour in the evening I thought the pleasantest fraction
    of the day at Lowood: the bit of bread, the draught of coffee
    swallowed at five o'clock had revived vitality, if it had not
    satisfied hunger: the long restraint of the day was slackened; the
    schoolroom felt warmer than in the morning- its fires being allowed to
    burn a little more brightly, to supply, in some measure, the place
    of candles, not yet introduced: the ruddy gloaming, the licensed
    uproar, the confusion of many voices gave one a welcome sense of
    liberty.
      On the evening of the day on which I had seen Miss Scatcherd flog
    her pupil, Burns, I wandered as usual among the forms and tables and
    laughing groups without a companion, yet not feeling lonely: when I
    passed the windows, I now and then lifted a blind, and looked out;
    it snowed fast, a drift was already forming against the lower panes;
    putting my ear close to the window, I could distinguish from the
    gleeful tumult within, the disconsolate moan of the wind outside.
      Probably, if I had lately left a good home and kind parents, this
    would have been the hour when I should most keenly have regretted
    the separation; that wind would then have saddened my heart, this
    obscure chaos would have disturbed my peace! as it was, I derived from
    both a strange excitement, and reckless and feverish, I wished the
    wind to howl more wildly, the gloom to deepen to darkness, and the
    confusion to rise to clamour.
      Jumping over forms, and creeping under tables, I made my way to one
    of the fire-places; there, kneeling by the high wire fender, I found
    Burns, absorbed, silent, abstracted from all round her by the
    companionship of a book, which she read by the dim glare of the
    embers.
      'Is it still Rasselas?' I asked, coming behind her.
      'Yes,' she said, 'and I have just finished it.'
      And in five minutes more she shut it up. I was glad of this.
      'Now,' thought I, 'I can perhaps get her to talk.' I sat down by
    her on the floor.
      'What is your name besides Burns?'
      'Helen.'
      'Do you come a long way from here?'
      'I come from a place farther north, quite on the borders of
    Scotland.'
      'Will you ever go back?'
      'I hope so; but nobody can be sure of the future.'
      'You must wish to leave Lowood?'
      'No! why should I? I was sent to Lowood to get an education; and it
    would be of no use going away until I have attained that object.'
      'But that teacher, Miss Scatcherd, is so cruel to you?'
      'Cruel? Not at all! She is severe: she dislikes my faults.'
      'And if I were in your place I should dislike her; I should
    resist her. If she struck me with that rod, I should get it from her
    hand; I should break it under her nose.'
      'Probably you would do nothing of the sort: but if you did, Mr.
    Brocklehurst would expel you from the school; that would be a great
    grief to your relations. It is far better to endure patiently a
    smart which nobody feels but yourself, than to commit a hasty action
    whose evil consequences will extend to all connected with you; and
    besides, the Bible bids us return good for evil.'
      'But then it seems disgraceful to be flogged, and to be sent to
    stand in the middle of a room full of people; and you are such a great
    girl: I am far younger than you, and I could not bear it.'
      'Yet it would be your duty to bear it, if you could not avoid it:
    it is weak and silly to say you cannot bear what it is your fate to be
    required to bear.'
      I heard her with wonder: I could not comprehend this doctrine of
    endurance; and still less could I understand or sympathise with the
    forbearance she expressed for her chastiser. Still I felt that Helen
    Burns considered things by a light invisible to my eyes. I suspected
    she might be right and I wrong; but I would not ponder the matter
    deeply; like Felix, I put it off to a more convenient season.
      'You say you have faults, Helen: what are they? To me you seem very
    good.'
      'Then learn from me, not to judge by appearances: I am, as Miss
    Scatcherd said, slatternly; I seldom put, and never keep, things in
    order; I am careless; I forget rules; I read when I should learn my
    lessons; I have no method; and sometimes I say, like you, I cannot
    bear to be subjected to systematic arrangements. This is all very
    provoking to Miss Scatcherd, who is naturally neat, punctual, and
    particular.'
      'And cross and cruel,' I added; but Helen Burns would not admit
    my addition: she kept silence.
      'Is Miss Temple as severe to you as Miss Scatcherd?'
      At the utterance of Miss Temple's name, a soft smile flitted over
    her grave face.
      'Miss Temple is full of goodness; it pains her to be severe to
    any one, even the worst in the school: she sees my errors, and tells
    me of them gently; and if I do anything worthy of praise, she gives me
    my meed liberally. One strong proof of my wretchedly defective
    nature is, that even her expostulations, so mild, so rational, have no
    influence to cure me of my faults; and even her praise, though I value
    it most highly, cannot stimulate me to continued care and foresight.'
      'That is curious,' said I, 'it is so easy to be careful.'
      'For you I have no doubt it is. I observed you in your class this
    morning, and saw you were closely attentive: your thoughts never
    seemed to wander while Miss Miller explained the lesson and questioned
    you. Now, mine continually rove away; when I should be listening to
    Miss Scatcherd, and collecting all she says with assiduity, often I
    lose the very sound of her voice; I fall into a sort of dream.
    Sometimes I think I am in Northumberland, and that the noises I hear
    round me are the bubbling of a little brook which runs through
    Deepden, near our house;- then, when it comes to my turn to reply, I
    have to be awakened; and having heard nothing of what was read for
    listening to the visionary brook, I have no answer ready.'
      'Yet how well you replied this afternoon.'
      'It was mere chance; the subject on which we had been reading had
    interested me. This afternoon, instead of dreaming of Deepden, I was
    wondering how a man who wished to do right could act so unjustly and
    unwisely as Charles the First sometimes did; and I thought what a pity
    it was that, with his integrity and conscientiousness, he could see no
    farther than the prerogatives of the crown. If he had but been able to
    look to a distance, and see how what they call the spirit of the age
    was tending! Still, I like Charles- I respect him- I pity him, poor
    murdered king! Yes, his enemies were the worst: they shed blood they
    had no right to shed. How dared they kill him!'
      Helen was talking to herself now: she had forgotten I could not
    very well understand her- that I was ignorant, or nearly so, of the
    subject she discussed. I recalled her to my level.
      'And when Miss Temple teaches you, do your thoughts wander then?'
      'No, certainly, not often: because Miss Temple has generally
    something to say which is newer than my own reflections; her
    language is singularly agreeable to me, and the information she
    communicates is often just what I wished to gain.'
      'Well, then, with Miss Temple you are good?'
      'Yes, in a passive way: I make no effort; I follow as inclination
    guides me. There is no merit in such goodness.'
      'A great deal: you are good to those who are good to you. It is all
    I ever desire to be. If people were always kind and obedient to
    those who are cruel and unjust, the wicked people would have it all
    their own way: they would never feel afraid, and so they would never
    alter, but would grow worse and worse. When we are struck at without a
    reason, we should strike back again very hard; I am sure we should- so
    hard as to teach the person who struck us never to do it again.'
      'You will change your mind, I hope, when you grow older: as yet you
    are but a little untaught girl.'
      'But I feel this, Helen; I must dislike those who, whatever I do to
    please them, persist in disliking me; I must resist those who punish
    me unjustly. It is as natural as that I should love those who show
    me affection, or submit to punishment when I feel it is deserved.'
      'Heathens and savage tribes hold that doctrine, but Christians
    and civilised nations disown it.'
      'How? I don't understand.'
      'It is not violence that best overcomes hate- nor vengeance that
    most certainly heals injury.'
      'What then?'
      'Read the New Testament, and observe what Christ says, and how He
    acts; make His word your rule, and His conduct your example.'
      'What does He say?'
      'Love your enemies; bless them that curse you; do good to them that
    hate you and despitefully use you.'
      'Then I should love Mrs. Reed, which I cannot do; I should bless
    her son John, which is impossible.'
      In her turn, Helen Burns asked me to explain, and I proceeded
    forthwith to pour out, in my own way, the tale of my sufferings and
    resentments. Bitter and truculent when excited, I spoke as I felt,
    without reserve or softening.
      Helen heard me patiently to the end: I expected she would then make
    a remark, but she said nothing.
      'Well,' I asked impatiently, 'is not Mrs. Reed a hard-hearted,
    bad woman?'
      'She has been unkind to you, no doubt; because you see, she
    dislikes your cast of character, as Miss Scatcherd does mine; but
    how minutely you remember all she has done and said to you! What a
    singularly deep impression her injustice seems to have made on your
    heart! No ill-usage so brands its record on my feelings. Would you not
    be happier if you tried to forget her severity, together with the
    passionate emotions it excited? Life appears to me too short to be
    spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs. We are, and must be,
    one and all, burdened with faults in this world: but the time will
    soon come when, I trust, we shall put them off in putting off our
    corruptible bodies; when debasement and sin will fall from us with
    this cumbrous frame of flesh, and only the spark of the spirit will
    remain,- the impalpable principle of light and thought, pure as when
    it left the Creator to inspire the creature: whence it came it will
    return; perhaps again to be communicated to some being higher than
    man- perhaps to pass through gradations of glory, from the pale
    human soul to brighten to the seraph! Surely it Will never, on the
    contrary, be suffered to degenerate from man to fiend? No; I cannot
    believe that: I hold another creed: which no one ever taught me, and
    which I seldom mention; but in which I delight, and to which I
    cling: for it extends hope to all: it makes Eternity a rest- a
    mighty home, not a terror and an abyss. Besides, with this creed, I
    can so clearly distinguish between the criminal and his crime; I can
    so sincerely forgive the first while I abhor the last: with this creed
    revenge never worries my heart, degradation never too deeply
    disgusts me, injustice never crushes me too low: I live in calm,
    looking to the end.'
      Helen's head, always drooping, sank a little lower as she
    finished this sentence. I saw by her look she wished no longer to talk
    to me, but rather to converse with her own thoughts. She was not
    allowed much time for meditation: a monitor, a great rough girl,
    presently came up, exclaiming in a strong Cumberland accent-
      'Helen Burns, if you don't go and put your drawer in order, and
    fold up your work this minute, I'll tell Miss Scatcherd to come and
    look at it!'
      Helen sighed as her reverie fled, and getting up, obeyed the
    monitor without reply as without delay.
   
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                            CHAPTER VII
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
      MY first quarter at Lowood seemed an age; and not the golden age
    either; it comprised an irksome struggle with difficulties in
    habituating myself to new rules and unwonted tasks. The fear of
    failure in these points harassed me worse than the physical
    hardships of my lot; though these were no trifles.
      During January, February, and part of March, the deep snows, and,
    after their melting, the almost impassable roads, prevented our
    stirring beyond the garden walls, except to go to church; but within
    these limits we had to pass an hour every day in the open air. Our
    clothing was insufficient to protect us from the severe cold: we had
    no boots, the snow got into our shoes and melted there: our ungloved
    hands became numbed and covered with chilblains, as were our feet: I
    remember well the distracting irritation I endured from this cause
    every evening, when my feet inflamed; and the torture of thrusting the
    swelled, raw, and stiff toes into my shoes in the morning. Then the
    scanty supply of food was distressing: with the keen appetites of
    growing children, we had scarcely sufficient to keep alive a
    delicate invalid. From this deficiency of nourishment resulted an
    abuse, which pressed hardly on the younger pupils: whenever the
    famished great girls had an opportunity, they would coax or menace the
    little ones out of their portion. Many a time I have shared between
    two claimants the precious morsel of brown bread distributed at
    teatime; and after relinquishing to a third half the contents of my
    mug of coffee, I have swallowed the remainder with an accompaniment of
    secret tears, forced from me by the exigency of hunger.
      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.
      A little solace came at tea-time, in the shape of a double ration
    of bread- a whole, instead of a half, slice- with the delicious
    addition of a thin scrape of butter: it was the hebdomadal treat to
    which we all looked forward from Sabbath to Sabbath. I generally
    contrived to reserve a moiety of this bounteous repast for myself; but
    the remainder I was invariably obliged to part with.
      The Sunday evening was spent in repeating, by heart, the Church
    Catechism, and the fifth, sixth, and seventh chapters of St.
    Matthew; and in listening to a long sermon, read by Miss Miller, whose
    irrepressible yawns attested her weariness. A frequent interlude of
    these performances was the enactment of the part of Eutychus by some
    half-dozen of little girls, who, overpowered with sleep, would fall
    down, if not out of the third loft, yet off the fourth form, and be
    taken up half dead. The remedy was, to thrust them forward into the
    centre of the schoolroom, and oblige them to stand there till the
    sermon was finished. Sometimes their feet failed them, and they sank
    together in a heap; they were then propped up with the monitors'
    high stools.
      I have not yet alluded to the visits of Mr. Brocklehurst; and
    indeed that gentleman was from home during the greater part of the
    first month after my arrival; perhaps prolonging his stay with his
    friend the archdeacon: his absence was a relief to me. I need not
    say that I had my own reasons for dreading his coming: but come he did
    at last.
      One afternoon (I had then been three weeks at Lowood), as I was
    sitting with a slate in my hand, puzzling over a sum in long division,
    my eyes, raised in abstraction to the window, caught sight of a figure
    just passing: I recognised almost instinctively that gaunt outline;
    and when, two minutes after, all the school, teachers included, rose
    en masse, it was not necessary for me to look up in order to ascertain
    whose entrance they thus greeted. A long stride measured the
    schoolroom, and presently beside Miss Temple, who herself had risen,
    stood the same black column which had frowned on me so ominously
    from the hearthrug of Gateshead. I now glanced sideways at this
    piece of architecture. Yes, I was right: it was Mr. Brocklehurst,
    buttoned up in a surtout, and looking longer, narrower, and more rigid
    than ever.
      I had my own reasons for being dismayed at this apparition; too
    well I remembered the perfidious hints given by Mrs. Reed about my
    disposition, etc.; the promise pledged by Mr. Brocklehurst to
    apprise Miss Temple and the teachers of my vicious nature. All along I
    had been dreading the fulfilment of this promise,- I had been
    looking out daily for the 'Coming Man,' whose information respecting
    my past life and conversation was to brand me as a bad child for ever:
    now there he was.
      He stood at Miss Temple's side; he was speaking low in her ear: I
    did not doubt he was making disclosures of my villainy; and I
    watched her eye with painful anxiety, expecting every moment to see
    its dark orb turn on me a glance of repugnance and contempt. I
    listened too; and as I happened to be seated quite at the top of the
    room, I caught most of what he said: its import relieved me from
    immediate apprehension.
      'I suppose, Miss Temple, the thread I bought at Lowton will do;
    it struck me that it would be just of the quality for the calico
    chemises, and I sorted the needles to match. You may tell Miss Smith
    that I forgot to make a memorandum of the darning needles, but she
    shall have some papers sent in next week; and she is not, on any
    account, to give out more than one at a time to each pupil: if they
    have more, they are apt to be careless and lose them. And, O ma'am!
    I wish the woollen stockings were better looked to!- when I was here
    last, I went into the kitchen-garden and examined the clothes drying
    on the line; there was a quantity of black hose in a very bad state of
    repair: from the size of the holes in them I was sure they had not
    been well mended from time to time.'
      He paused.
      'Your directions shall be attended to, sir,' said Miss Temple.
      'And, ma'am,' he continued, 'the laundress tells me some of the
    girls have two clean tuckers in the week: it is too much; the rules
    limit them to one.'
      'I think I can explain that circumstance, sir. Agnes and
    Catherine Johnstone were invited to take tea with some friends at
    Lowton last Thursday, and I gave them leave to put on clean tuckers
    for the occasion.'
      Mr. Brocklehurst nodded.
      'Well, for once it may pass; but please not to let the circumstance
    occur too often. And there is another thing which surprised me; I
    find, in settling accounts with the housekeeper, that a lunch,
    consisting of bread and cheese, has twice been served out to the girls
    during the past fortnight. How is this? I looked over the regulations,
    and I find no such meal as lunch mentioned. Who introduced this
    innovation? and by what authority?'
      'I must be responsible for the circumstance, sir,' replied Miss
    Temple: 'the breakfast was so ill prepared that the pupils could not
    possibly eat it; and I dared not allow them to remain fasting till
    dinner-time.'
      'Madam, allow me an instant. You are aware that my plan in bringing
    up these girls is, not to accustom them to habits of luxury and
    indulgence, but to render them hardy, patient, self-denying. Should
    any little accidental disappointment of the appetite occur, such as
    the spoiling of a meal, the under or the over dressing of a dish,
    the incident ought not to be neutralised by replacing with something
    more delicate the comfort lost, thus pampering the body and
    obviating the aim of this institution; it ought to be improved to
    the spiritual edification of the pupils, by encouraging them to evince
    fortitude under the temporary privation. A brief address on those
    occasions would not be mistimed, wherein a judicious instructor
    would take the opportunity of referring to the sufferings of the
    primitive Christians; to the torments of martyrs; to the
    exhortations of our blessed Lord Himself, calling upon His disciples
    to take up their cross and follow Him; to His warnings that man
    shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out
    of the mouth of God; to His divine consolations, "If ye suffer
    hunger or thirst for My sake, happy are ye." Oh, madam, when you put
    bread and cheese, instead of burnt porridge, into these children's
    mouths, you may indeed feed their vile bodies, but you little think
    how you starve their immortal souls!'
      Mr. Brocklehurst again paused- perhaps overcome by his feelings.
    Miss Temple had looked down when he first began to speak to her; but
    she now gazed straight before her, and her face, naturally pale as
    marble, appeared to be assuming also the coldness and fixity of that
    material; especially her mouth, closed as if it would have required
    a sculptor's chisel to open it, and her brow settled gradually into
    petrified severity.
      Meantime, Mr. Brocklehurst, standing on the hearth with his hands
    behind his back, majestically surveyed the whole school. Suddenly
    his eye gave a blink, as if it had met something that either dazzled
    or shocked its pupil; turning, he said in more rapid accents than he
    had hitherto used-
      'Miss Temple, Miss Temple, what- what is that girl with curled
    hair? Red hair, ma'am, curled- curled all over?' And extending his
    cane he pointed to the awful object, his hand shaking as he did so.
      'It is Julia Severn,' replied Miss Temple, very quietly.
      'Julia Severn, ma'am! And why has she, or any other, curled hair?
    Why, in defiance of every precept and principle of this house, does
    she conform to the world so openly- here in an evangelical, charitable
    establishment- as to wear her hair one mass of curls?'
      'Julia's hair curls naturally,' returned Miss Temple, still more
    quietly.
      'Naturally! Yes, but we are not to conform to nature; I wish
    these girls to be the children of Grace: and why that abundance? I
    have again and again intimated that I desire the hair to be arranged
    closely, modestly, plainly. Miss Temple, that girl's hair must be
    cut off entirely; I will send a barber tomorrow: and I see others
    who have far too much of the excrescence- that tall girl, tell her
    to turn round. Tell all the first form to rise up and direct their
    faces to the wall.'
      Miss Temple passed her handkerchief over her lips, as if to
    smooth away the involuntary smile that curled them; she gave the
    order, however, and when the first class could take in what was
    required of them, they obeyed. Leaning a little back on my bench, I
    could see the looks and grimaces with which they commented on this
    manoeuvre: it was a pity Mr. Brocklehurst could not see them too; he
    would perhaps have felt that, whatever he might do with the outside of
    the cup and platter, the inside was further beyond his interference
    than he imagined.
      He scrutinised the reverse of these living medals some five
    minutes, then pronounced sentence. These words fell like the knell
    of doom-
      'All those top-knots must be cut off.'
      Miss Temple seemed to remonstrate.
      'Madam,' he pursued, 'I have a Master to serve whose kingdom is not
    of this world: my mission is to mortify in these girls the lusts of
    the flesh; to teach them to clothe themselves with shame-facedness and
    sobriety, not with braided hair and costly apparel; and each of the
    young persons before us has a string of hair twisted in plaits which
    vanity itself might have woven; these, I repeat, must be cut off;
    think of the time wasted, of-'
      Mr. Brocklehurst was here interrupted: three other visitors,
    ladies, now entered the room. They ought to have come a little
    sooner to have heard his lecture on dress, for they were splendidly
    attired in velvet, silk, and furs. The two younger of the trio (fine
    girls of sixteen and seventeen) had grey beaver hats, then in fashion,
    shaded with ostrich plumes, and from under the brim of this graceful
    head-dress fell a profusion of light tresses, elaborately curled;
    the elder lady was enveloped in a costly velvet shawl, trimmed with
    ermine, and she wore a false front of French curls.
      These ladies were deferentially received by Miss Temple, as Mrs.
    and the Misses Brocklehurst, and conducted to seats of honour at the
    top of the room. It seems they had come in the carriage with their
    reverend relative, and had been conducting a rummaging scrutiny of the
    room upstairs, while he transacted business with the housekeeper,
    questioned the laundress, and lectured the superintendent. They now
    proceeded to address divers remarks and reproofs to Miss Smith, who
    was charged with the care of the linen and the inspection of the
    dormitories: but I had no time to listen to what they said; other
    matters called off and enchained my attention.
      Hitherto, while gathering up the discourse of Mr. Brocklehurst
    and Miss Temple, I had not, at the same time, neglected precautions to
    secure my personal safety; which I thought would be effected, if I
    could only elude observation. To this end, I had sat well back on
    the form, and while seeming to be busy with my sum, had held my
    slate in such a manner as to conceal my face: I might have escaped
    notice, had not my treacherous slate somehow happened to slip from
    my hand, and falling with an obtrusive crash, directly drawn every eye
    upon me; I knew it was all over now, and, as I stooped to pick up
    the two fragments of slate, I rallied my forces for the worst. It
    came.
      'A careless girl!' said Mr. Brocklehurst, and immediately after-
    'It is the new pupil, I perceive.' And before I could draw breath,
    'I must not forget I have a word to say respecting her.' Then aloud:
    how loud it seemed to me! 'Let the child who broke her slate come
    forward!'
      Of my own accord I could not have stirred; I was paralysed: but the
    two great girls who sat on each side of me, set me on my legs and
    pushed me towards the dread judge, and then Miss Temple gently
    assisted me to his very feet, and I caught her whispered counsel-
      'Don't be afraid, Jane, I saw it was an accident; you shall not
    be punished.'
      The kind whisper went to my heart like a dagger.
      'Another minute, and she will despise me for a hypocrite,'
    thought I; and an impulse of fury against Reed, Brocklehurst, and
    Co. bounded in my pulses at the conviction. I was no Helen Burns.
      'Fetch that stool,' said Mr. Brocklehurst, pointing to a very
    high one from which a monitor had just risen: it was brought.
      'Place the child upon it.'
      And I was placed there, by whom I don't know: I was in no condition
    to note particulars; I was only aware that they had hoisted me up to
    the height of Mr. Brocklehurst's nose, that he was within a yard of
    me, and that a spread of shot orange and purple silk pelisses and a
    cloud of silvery plumage extended and waved below me.
      Mr. Brocklehurst hemmed.
      'Ladies,' said he, turning to his family, 'Miss Temple, teachers,
    and children, you all see this girl?'
      Of course they did; for I felt their eyes directed like
    burning-glasses against my scorched skin.
      'You see she is yet young; you observe she possesses the ordinary
    form of childhood; God has graciously given her the shape that He
    has given to all of us; no signal deformity points her out as a marked
    character. Who would think that the Evil One had already found a
    servant and agent in her? Yet such, I grieve to say, is the case.'
      A pause- in which I began to steady the palsy of my nerves, and
    to feel that the Rubicon was passed; and that the trial, no longer
    to be shirked, must be firmly sustained.
      'My dear children,' pursued the black marble clergyman, with
    pathos, 'this is a sad, a melancholy occasion; for it becomes my
    duty to warn you, that this girl, who might be one of God's own lambs,
    is a little castaway: not a member of the true flock, but evidently an
    interloper and an alien. You must be on your guard against her; you
    must shun her example; if necessary, avoid her company, exclude her
    from your sports, and shut her out from your converse. Teachers, you
    must watch her: keep your eyes on her movements, weigh well her words,
    scrutinise her actions, punish her body to save her soul: if,
    indeed, such salvation be possible, for (my tongue falters while I
    tell it) this girl, this child, the native of a Christian land,
    worse than many a little heathen who says its prayers to Brahma and
    kneels before Juggernaut- this girl is- a liar!'
      Now came a pause of ten minutes, during which I, by this time in
    perfect possession of my wits, observed all the female Brocklehursts
    produce their pocket-handkerchiefs and apply them to their optics,
    while the elderly lady swayed herself to and fro, and the two
    younger ones whispered, 'How shocking!'
      Mr. Brocklehurst resumed.
      'This I learned from her benefactress; from the pious and
    charitable lady who adopted her in her orphan state, reared her as her
    own daughter, and whose kindness, whose generosity the unhappy girl
    repaid by an ingratitude so bad, so dreadful, that at last her
    excellent patroness was obliged to separate her from her own young
    ones, fearful lest her vicious example should contaminate their
    purity: she has sent her here to be healed, even as the Jews of old
    sent their diseased to the troubled pool of Bethesda; and, teachers,
    superintendent, I beg of you not to allow the waters to stagnate round
    her.'
      With this sublime conclusion, Mr. Brocklehurst adjusted the top
    button of his surtout, muttered something to his family, who rose,
    bowed to Miss Temple, and then all the great people sailed in state
    from the room. Turning at the door, my judge said-
      'Let her stand half an hour longer on that stool, and let no one
    speak to her during the remainder of the day.'
      There was I, then, mounted aloft; I, who had said I could not
    bear the shame of standing on my natural feet in the middle of the
    room, was now exposed to general view on a pedestal of infamy. What my
    sensations were, no language can describe; but just as they all
    rose, stifling my breath and constricting my throat, a girl came up
    and passed me: in passing, she lifted her eyes. What a strange light
    inspired them! What an extraordinary sensation that ray sent through
    me! How the new feeling bore me up! It was as if a martyr, a hero, had
    passed a slave or victim, and imparted strength in the transit. I
    mastered the rising hysteria, lifted up my head, and took a firm stand
    on the stool. Helen Burns asked some slight questions about her work
    of Miss Smith, was chidden for the triviality of the inquiry, returned
    to her place, and smiled at me as she again went by. What a smile! I
    remember it now, and I know that it was the effluence of fine
    intellect, of true courage; it lit up her marked lineaments, her
    thin face, her sunken grey eye, like a reflection from the aspect of
    an angel. Yet at that moment Helen Burns wore on her arm 'the untidy
    badge;' scarcely an hour ago I had heard her condemned by Miss
    Scatcherd to a dinner of bread and water on the morrow because she had
    blotted an exercise in copying it out. Such is the imperfect nature of
    man! such spots are there on the disc of the clearest planet; and eyes
    like Miss Scatcherd's can only see those minute defects, and are blind
    to the full brightness of the orb.
   
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                            CHAPTER VIII
   
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
      ERE the half-hour ended, five o'clock struck; school was dismissed,
    and all were gone into the refectory to tea. I now ventured to
    descend: it was deep dusk; I retired into a corner and sat down on the
    floor. The spell by which I had been so far supported began to
    dissolve; reaction took place, and soon, so overwhelming was the grief
    that seized me, I sank prostrate with my face to the ground. Now I
    wept: Helen Burns was not here; nothing sustained me; left to myself I
    abandoned myself, and my tears watered the boards. I had meant to be
    so good, and to do so much at Lowood: to make so many friends, to earn
    respect and win affection. Already I had made visible progress; that
    very morning I had reached the head of my class; Miss Miller had
    praised me warmly; Miss Temple had smiled approbation; she had
    promised to teach me drawing, and to let me learn French, if I
    continued to make similar improvement two months longer: and then I
    was well received by my fellow-pupils; treated as an equal by those of
    my own age, and not molested by any; now, here I lay again crushed and
    trodden on; and could I ever rise more?
      'Never,' I thought; and ardently I wished to die. While sobbing out
    this wish in broken accents, some one approached: I started up-
    again Helen Burns was near me; the fading fires just showed her coming
    up the long, vacant room; she brought my coffee and bread.
      'Come, eat something,' she said; but I put both away from me,
    feeling as if a drop or a crumb would have choked me in my present
    condition. Helen regarded me, probably with surprise: I could not
    now abate my agitation, though I tried hard; I continued to weep
    aloud. She sat down on the ground near me, embraced her knees with her
    arms, and rested her head upon them; in that attitude she remained
    silent as an Indian. I was the first who spoke-
      'Helen, why do you stay with a girl whom everybody believes to be a
    liar?'
      'Everybody, Jane? Why, there are only eighty people who have
    heard you called so, and the world contains hundreds of millions.'
      'But what have I to do with millions? The eighty, I know, despise
    me.'
      'Jane, you are mistaken: probably not one in the school either
    despises or dislikes you: many, I am sure, pity you much.'
      'How can they pity me after what Mr. Brocklehurst has said?'
      'Mr. Brocklehurst is not a god: nor is he even a great and
    admired man; he is little liked here; he never took steps to make
    himself liked. Had he treated you as an especial favourite, you
    would have found enemies, declared or covert, all around you; as it
    is, the greater number would offer you sympathy if they dared.
    Teachers and pupils may look coldly on you for a day or two, but
    friendly feelings are concealed in their hearts; and if you
    persevere in doing well, these feelings will ere long appear so much
    the more evidently for their temporary suppression. Besides, Jane'-
    she paused.
      'Well, Helen?' said I, putting my hand into hers: she chafed my
    fingers gently to warm them, and went on-
      'If all the world hated you, and believed you wicked, while your
    own conscience approved you, and absolved you from guilt, you would
    not be without friends.'
      'No; I know I should think well of myself; but that is not
    enough: if others don't love me I would rather die than live- I cannot
    bear to be solitary and hated, Helen. Look here; to gain some real
    affection from you, or Miss Temple, or any other whom I truly love,
    I would willingly submit to have the bone of my arm broken, or to
    let a bull toss me, or to stand behind a kicking horse, and let it
    dash its hoof at my chest-'
      'Hush, Jane! you think too much of the love of human beings; you
    are too impulsive, too vehement; the sovereign hand that created
    your frame, and put life into it, has provided you with other
    resources than your feeble self, or than creatures feeble as you.
    Besides this earth, and besides the race of men, there is an invisible
    world and a kingdom of spirits: that world is round us, for it is
    everywhere; and those spirits watch us, for they are commissioned to
    guard us; and if we were dying in pain and shame, if scorn smote us on
    all sides, and hatred crushed us, angels see our tortures, recognise
    our innocence (if innocent we be: as I know you are of this charge
    which Mr. Brocklehurst has weakly and pompously repeated at secondhand
    from Mrs. Reed; for I read a sincere nature in your ardent eyes and on
    your clear front), and God waits only the separation of spirit from
    flesh to crown us with a full reward. Why, then, should we ever sink
    overwhelmed with distress, when life is so soon over, and death is
    so certain an entrance to happiness- to glory?'
      I was silent; Helen had calmed me; but in the tranquillity she
    imparted there was an alloy of inexpressible sadness. I felt the
    impression of woe as she spoke, but I could not tell whence it came;
    and when, having done speaking, she breathed a little fast and coughed
    a short cough, I momentarily forgot my own sorrows to yield to a vague
    concern for her.
      Resting my head on Helen's shoulder, I put my arms round her waist;
    she drew me to her, and we reposed in silence. We had not sat long
    thus, when another person came in. Some heavy clouds, swept from the
    sky by a rising wind, had left the moon bare; and her light, streaming
    in through a window near, shone full both on us and on the approaching
    figure, which we at once recognised as Miss Temple.
      'I came on purpose to find you, Jane Eyre,' said she; 'I want you
    in my room; and as Helen Burns is with you, she may come too.'
      We went; following the superintendent's guidance, we had to
    thread some intricate passages, and mount a staircase before we
    reached her apartment; it contained a good fire, and looked
    cheerful. Miss Temple told Helen Burns to be seated in a low arm-chair
    on one side of the hearth, and herself taking another, she called me
    to her side.
      'Is it all over?' she asked, looking down at my face. 'Have you
    cried your grief away?'
      'I am afraid I never shall do that.'
      'Why?'
      'Because I have been wrongly accused; and you, ma'am, and everybody
    else, will now think me wicked.'
      'We shall think you what you prove yourself to be, my child.
    Continue to act as a good girl, and you will satisfy us.'
      'Shall I, Miss Temple?'
      'You will,' said she, passing her arm round me. 'And now tell me
    who is the lady whom Mr. Brocklehurst called your benefactress?'
      'Mrs. Reed, my uncle's wife. My uncle is dead, and he left me to
    her care.'
      'Did she not, then, adopt you of her own accord?'
      'No, ma'am; she was sorry to have to do it: but my uncle, as I have
    often heard the servants say, got her to promise before he died that
    she would always keep me.'
      'Well now, Jane, you know, or at least I will tell you, that when a
    criminal is accused, he is always allowed to speak in his own defence.
    You have been charged with falsehood; defend yourself to me as well as
    you can. Say whatever your memory suggests as true; but add nothing
    and exaggerate nothing.'
      I resolved, in the depth of my heart, that I would be most
    moderate- most correct; and, having reflected a few minutes in order
    to arrange coherently what I had to say, I told her all the story of
    my sad childhood. Exhausted by emotion, my language was more subdued
    than it generally was when it developed that sad theme; and mindful of
    Helen's warnings against the indulgence of resentment, I infused
    into the narrative far less of gall and wormwood than ordinary. Thus
    restrained and simplified, it sounded more credible: I felt as I
    went on that Miss Temple fully believed me.
      In the course of the tale I had mentioned Mr. Lloyd as having
    come to see me after the fit: for I never forgot the, to me, frightful
    episode of the red-room: in detailing which, my excitement was sure,
    in some degree, to break bounds; for nothing could soften in my
    recollection the spasm of agony which clutched my heart when Mrs. Reed
    spurned my wild supplication for pardon, and locked me a second time
    in the dark and haunted chamber.
      I had finished: Miss Temple regarded me a few minutes in silence;
    she then said-
      'I know something of Mr. Lloyd; I shall write to him; if his
    reply agrees with your statement, you shall be publicly cleared from
    every imputation; to me, Jane, you are clear now.'
      She kissed me, and still keeping me at her side (where I was well
    contented to stand for I derived a child's pleasure from the
    contemplation of her face, her dress, her one or two ornaments, her
    white forehead, her clustered and shining curls, and beaming dark
    eyes), she proceeded to address Helen Burns.
      'How are you to-night, Helen? Have you coughed much to-day?'
      'Not quite so much, I think, ma'am.'
      'And the pain in your chest?'
      'It is a little better.'
      Miss Temple got up, took her hand and examined her pulse; then
    she returned to her own seat: as she resumed it, I heard her sigh low.
    She was pensive a few minutes, then rousing herself, she said
    cheerfully-
      'But you two are my visitors to-night; I must treat you as such.'
    She rang her bell.
      'Barbara,' she said to the servant who answered it, 'I have not yet
    had tea; bring the tray and place cups for these two young ladies.'
      And a tray was soon brought. How pretty, to my eyes, did the
    china cups and bright teapot look, placed on the little round table
    near the fire! How fragrant was the steam of the beverage, and the
    scent of the toast! of which, however, I, to my dismay (for I was
    beginning to be hungry), discerned only a very small portion: Miss
    Temple discerned it too.
      'Barbara,' said she, 'can you not bring a little more bread and
    butter? There is not enough for three.'
      Barbara went out: she returned soon-
      'Madam, Mrs. Harden says she has sent up the usual quantity.'
      Mrs. Harden, be it observed, was the housekeeper: a woman after Mr.
    Brocklehurst's own heart, made up of equal parts of whalebone and
    iron.
      'Oh, very well!' returned Miss Temple; 'we must make it do,
    Barbara, I suppose.' And as the girl withdrew she added, smiling,
    'Fortunately, I have it in my power to supply deficiencies for this
    once.'
      Having invited Helen and me to approach the table, and placed
    before each of us a cup of tea with one delicious but thin morsel of
    toast, she got up, unlocked a drawer, and taking from it a parcel
    wrapped in paper, disclosed presently to our eyes a good-sized
    seed-cake.
      'I meant to give each of you some of this to take with you,' said
    she, 'but as there is so little toast, you must have it now,' and
    she proceeded to cut slices with a generous hand.
      We feasted that evening as on nectar and ambrosia; and not the
    least delight of the entertainment was the smile of gratification with
    which our hostess regarded us, as we satisfied our famished
    appetites on the delicate fare she liberally supplied.
      Tea over and the tray removed, she again summoned us to the fire;
    we sat one on each side of her, and now a conversation followed
    between her and Helen, which it was indeed a privilege to be
    admitted to hear.
      Miss Temple had always something of serenity in her air, of state
    in her mien, of refined propriety in her language, which precluded
    deviation into the ardent, the excited, the eager: something which
    chastened the pleasure of those who looked on her and listened to her,
    by a controlling sense of awe; and such was my feeling now: but as
    to Helen Burns, I was struck with wonder.
      The refreshing meal, the brilliant fire, the presence and
    kindness of her beloved instructress, or, perhaps, more than all
    these, something in her own unique mind, had roused her powers
    within her. They woke, they kindled: first, they glowed in the
    bright tint of her cheek, which till this hour I had never seen but
    pale and bloodless; then they shone in the liquid lustre of her
    eyes, which had suddenly acquired a beauty more singular than that
    of Miss Temple's- a beauty neither of fine colour nor long eyelash,
    nor pencilled brow, but of meaning, of movement, of radiance. Then her
    soul sat on her lips, and language flowed, from what source I cannot
    tell. Has a girl of fourteen a heart large enough, vigorous enough, to
    hold the swelling spring of pure, full, fervid eloquence? Such was the
    characteristic of Helen's discourse on that, to me, memorable evening;
    her spirit seemed hastening to live within a very brief span as much
    as many live during a protracted existence.
      They conversed of things I had never heard of; of nations and times
    past; of countries far away; of secrets of nature discovered or
    guessed at: they spoke of books: how many they had read! What stores
    of knowledge they possessed! Then they seemed so familiar with
    French names and French authors: but my amazement reached its climax
    when Miss Temple asked Helen if she sometimes snatched a moment to
    recall the Latin her father had taught her, and taking a book from a
    shelf, bade her read and construe a page of Virgil; and Helen
    obeyed, my organ of veneration expanding at every sounding line. She
    had scarcely finished ere the bell announced bedtime! no delay could
    be admitted; Miss Temple embraced us both, saying, as she drew us to
    her heart-
      'God bless you, my children!'
      Helen she held a little longer than me: she let her go more
    reluctantly; it was Helen her eye followed to the door; it was for her
    she a second time breathed a sad sigh; for her she wiped a tear from
    her cheek.
      On reaching the bedroom, we heard the voice of Miss Scatcherd:
    she was examining drawers; she had just pulled out Helen Burns's,
    and when we entered Helen was greeted with a sharp reprimand, and told
    that to-morrow she should have half a dozen of untidily folded
    articles pinned to her shoulder.
      'My things were indeed in shameful disorder,' murmured Helen to me,
    in a low voice: 'I intended to have arranged them, but I forgot.'
      Next morning, Miss Scatcherd wrote in conspicuous characters on a
    piece of pasteboard the word 'Slattern,' and bound it like a
    phylactery round Helen's large, mild, intelligent, and
    benign-looking forehead. She wore it till evening, patient,
    unresentful, regarding it as a deserved punishment. The moment Miss
    Scatcherd withdrew after afternoon school, I ran to Helen, tore it
    off, and thrust it into the fire: the fury of which she was
    incapable had been burning in my soul all day, and tears, hot and
    large, had continually been scalding my cheek; for the spectacle of
    her sad resignation gave me an intolerable pain at the heart.
      About a week subsequently to the incidents above narrated, Miss
    Temple, who had written to Mr. Lloyd, received his answer: it appeared
    that what he said went to corroborate my account. Miss Temple,
    having assembled the whole school, announced that inquiry had been
    made into the charges alleged against Jane Eyre, and that she was most
    happy to be able to pronounce her completely cleared from every
    imputation. The teachers then shook hands with me and kissed me, and a
    murmur of pleasure ran through the ranks of my companions.
      Thus relieved of a grievous load, I from that hour set to work
    afresh, resolved to pioneer my way through every difficulty: I
    toiled hard, and my success was proportionate to my efforts; my
    memory, not naturally tenacious, improved with practice; exercise
    sharpened my wits; in a few weeks I was promoted to a higher class; in
    less than two months I was allowed to commence French and drawing. I
    learned the first two tenses of the verb Etre, and sketched my first
    cottage (whose walls, by the bye, outrivalled in slope those of the
    leaning tower of Pisa), on the same day. That night, on going to
    bed, I forgot to prepare in imagination the Barmecide supper of hot
    roast potatoes, or white bread and new milk, with which I was wont
    to amuse my inward cravings: I feasted instead on the spectacle of
    ideal drawings, which I saw in the dark; all the work of my own hands:
    freely pencilled houses and trees, picturesque rocks and ruins,
    Cuyp-like groups of cattle, sweet paintings of butterflies hovering
    over unblown roses, of birds picking at ripe cherries, of wrens' nests
    enclosing pearl-like eggs, wreathed about with young ivy sprays. I
    examined, too, in thought, the possibility of my ever being able to
    translate currently a certain little French story which Madame Pierrot
    had that day shown me; nor was that problem solved to my
    satisfaction ere I fell sweetly asleep.
      Well has Solomon said- 'Better is a dinner of herbs where love
    is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith.'
      I would not now have exchanged Lowood with all its privations for
    Gateshead and its daily luxuries.
   
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                              CHAPTER IX
   
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
      BUT the privations, or rather the hardships, of Lowood lessened.
    Spring drew on: she was indeed already come; the frosts of winter
    had ceased; its snows were melted, its cutting winds ameliorated. My
    wretched feet, flayed and swollen to lameness by the sharp air of
    January, began to heal and subside under the gentler breathings of
    April; the nights and mornings no longer by their Canadian temperature
    froze the very blood in our veins; we could now endure the play-hour
    passed in the garden: sometimes on a sunny day it began even to be
    pleasant and genial, and a greenness grew over those brown beds,
    which, freshening daily, suggested the thought that Hope traversed
    them at night, and left each morning brighter traces of her steps.
    Flowers peeped out amongst the leaves; snowdrops, crocuses, purple
    auriculas, and golden-eyed pansies. On Thursday afternoons
    (half-holidays) we now took walks, and found still sweeter flowers
    opening by the wayside, under the hedges.
      I discovered, too, that a great pleasure, an enjoyment which the
    horizon only bounded, lay all outside the high and spike-guarded walls
    of our garden: this pleasure consisted in prospect of noble summits
    girdling a great hill-hollow, rich in verdure and shadow; in a
    bright beck, full of dark stones and sparkling eddies. How different
    had this scene looked when I viewed it laid out beneath the iron sky
    of winter, stiffened in frost, shrouded with snow!- when mists as
    chill as death wandered to the impulse of east winds along those
    purple peaks, and rolled down 'ing' and holm till they blended with
    the frozen fog of the beck! That beck itself was then a torrent,
    turbid and curbless: it tore asunder the wood, and sent a raving sound
    through the air, often thickened with wild rain or whirling sleet; and
    for the forest on its banks, that showed only ranks of skeletons.
      April advanced to May: a bright, serene May it was; days of blue
    sky, placid sunshine, and soft western or southern gales filled up its
    duration. And now vegetation matured with vigour; Lowood shook loose
    its tresses; it became all green, all flowery; its great elm, ash, and
    oak skeletons were restored to majestic life; woodland plants sprang
    up profusely in its recesses; unnumbered varieties of moss filled
    its hollows, and it made a strange ground-sunshine out of the wealth
    of its wild primrose plants: I have seen their pale gold gleam in
    overshadowed spots like scatterings of the sweetest lustre. All this I
    enjoyed often and fully, free, unwatched, and almost alone: for this
    unwonted liberty and pleasure there was a cause, to which it now
    becomes my task to advert.
      Have I not described a pleasant site for a dwelling, when I speak
    of it as bosomed in hill and wood, and rising from the verge of a
    stream? Assuredly, pleasant enough: but whether healthy or not is
    another question.
      That forest-dell, where Lowood lay, was the cradle of fog and
    fog-bred pestilence; which, quickening with the quickening spring,
    crept into the Orphan Asylum, breathed typhus through its crowded
    schoolroom and dormitory, and, ere May arrived, transformed the
    seminary into an hospital.
      Semi-starvation and neglected colds had predisposed most of the
    pupils to receive infection: forty-five out of the eighty girls lay
    ill at one time. Classes were broken up, rules relaxed. The few who
    continued well were allowed almost unlimited license; because the
    medical attendant insisted on the necessity of frequent exercise to
    keep them in health: and had it been otherwise, no one had leisure
    to watch or restrain them. Miss Temple's whole attention was
    absorbed by the patients: she lived in the sick-room, never quitting
    it except to snatch a few hours' rest at night. The teachers were
    fully occupied with packing up and making other necessary preparations
    for the departure of those girls who were fortunate enough to have
    friends and relations able and willing to remove them from the seat of
    contagion. Many, already smitten, went home only to die: some died
    at the school, and were buried quietly and quickly, the nature of
    the malady forbidding delay.
      While disease had thus become an inhabitant of Lowood, and death
    its frequent visitor; while there was gloom and fear within its walls;
    while its rooms and passages steamed with hospital smells, the drug
    and the pastille striving vainly to overcome the effluvia of
    mortality, that bright May shone unclouded over the bold hills and
    beautiful woodland out of doors. Its garden, too, glowed with flowers:
    hollyhocks had sprung up tall as trees, lilies had opened, tulips
    and roses were in bloom; the borders of the little beds were gay
    with pink thrift and crimson double daisies; the sweetbriars gave out,
    morning and evening, their scent of spice and apples; and these
    fragrant treasures were all useless for most of the inmates of Lowood,
    except to furnish now and then a handful of herbs and blossoms to
    put in a coffin.
      But I, and the rest who continued well, enjoyed fully the
    beauties of the scene and season; they let us ramble in the wood, like
    gipsies, from morning till night; we did what we liked, went where
    we liked: we lived better too. Mr. Brocklehurst and his family never
    came near Lowood now: household matters were not scrutinised into; the
    cross housekeeper was gone, driven away by the fear of infection;
    her successor, who had been matron at the Lowton Dispensary, unused to
    the ways of her new abode, provided with comparative liberality.
    Besides, there were fewer to feed; the sick could eat little; our
    breakfast-basins were better filled; when there was no time to prepare
    a regular dinner, which often happened, she would give us a large
    piece of cold pie, or a thick slice of bread and cheese, and this we
    carried away with us to the wood, where we each chose the spot we
    liked best, and dined sumptuously.
      My favourite seat was a smooth and broad stone, rising white and
    dry from the very middle of the beck, and only to be got at by
    wading through the water; a feat I accomplished barefoot. The stone
    was just broad enough to accommodate, comfortably, another girl and
    me, at that time my chosen comrade- one Mary Ann Wilson; a shrewd,
    observant personage, whose society I took pleasure in, partly
    because she was witty and original, and partly because she had a
    manner which set me at my ease. Some years older than I, she knew more
    of the world, and could tell me many things I liked to hear: with
    her my curiosity found gratification: to my faults also she gave ample
    indulgence, never imposing curb or rein on anything I said. She had
    a turn for narrative, I for analysis; she liked to inform, I to
    question; so we got on swimmingly together, deriving much
    entertainment, if not much improvement, from our mutual intercourse.
      And where, meantime, was Helen Burns? Why did I not spend these
    sweet days of liberty with her? Had I forgotten her? or was I so
    worthless as to have grown tired of her pure society? Surely the
    Mary Ann Wilson I have mentioned was inferior to my first
    acquaintance: she could only tell me amusing stories, and
    reciprocate any racy and pungent gossip I chose to indulge in;
    while, if I have spoken truth of Helen, she was qualified to give
    those who enjoyed the privilege of her converse a taste of far
    higher things.
      True, reader; and I knew and felt this: and though I am a defective
    being, with many faults and few redeeming points, yet I never tired of
    Helen Burns; nor ever ceased to cherish for her a sentiment of
    attachment, as strong, tender, and respectful as any that ever
    animated my heart. How could it be otherwise, when Helen, at all times
    and under all circumstances, evinced for me a quiet and faithful
    friendship, which ill-humour never soured, nor irritation never
    troubled? But Helen was ill at present: for some weeks she had been
    removed from my sight to I knew not what room upstairs. She was not, I
    was told, in the hospital portion of the house with the fever
    patients; for her complaint was consumption, not typhus: and by
    consumption I, in my ignorance, understood something mild, which
    time and care would be sure to alleviate.
      I was confirmed in this idea by the fact of her once or twice
    coming downstairs on very warm sunny afternoons, and being taken by
    Miss Temple into the garden; but, on these occasions, I was not
    allowed to go and speak to her; I only saw her from the schoolroom
    window, and then not distinctly; for she was much wrapped up, and
    sat at a distance under the verandah.
      One evening, in the beginning of June, I had stayed out very late
    with Mary Ann in the wood; we had, as usual, separated ourselves
    from the others, and had wandered far; so far that we lost our way,
    and had to ask it at a lonely cottage, where a man and woman lived,
    who looked after a herd of half-wild swine that fed on the mast in the
    wood. When we got back, it was after moonrise: a pony, which we knew
    to be the surgeon's, was standing at the garden door. Mary Ann
    remarked that she supposed some one must be very ill, as Mr. Bates had
    been sent for at that time of the evening. She went into the house;
    I stayed behind a few minutes to plant in my garden a handful of roots
    I had dug up in the forest, and which I feared would wither if I
    left them till the morning. This done, I lingered yet a little longer:
    the flowers smelt so sweet as the dew fell; it was such a pleasant
    evening, so serene, so warm; the still glowing west promised so fairly
    another fine day on the morrow; the moon rose with such majesty in the
    grave east. I was noting these things and enjoying them as a child
    might, when it entered my mind as it had never done before:-
      'How sad to be lying now on a sick bed, and to be in danger of
    dying! This world is pleasant- it would be dreary to be called from
    it, and to have to go who knows where?'
      And then my mind made its first earnest effort to comprehend what
    had been infused into it concerning heaven and hell; and for the first
    time it recoiled, baffled; and for the first time glancing behind,
    on each side, and before it, it saw all round an unfathomed gulf: it
    felt the one point where it stood- the present; all the rest was
    formless cloud and vacant depth; and it shuddered at the thought of
    tottering, and plunging amid that chaos. While pondering this new
    idea, I heard the front door open; Mr. Bates came out, and with him
    was a nurse. After she had seen him mount his horse and depart, she
    was about to close the door, but I ran up to her.
      'How is Helen Burns?'
      'Very poorly,' was the answer.
      'Is it her Mr. Bates has been to see?'
      'Yes.'
      'And what does he say about her?'
      'He says she'll not be here long.'
      This phrase, uttered in my hearing yesterday, would have only
    conveyed the notion that she was about to be removed to
    Northumberland, to her own home. I should not have suspected that it
    meant she was dying; but I knew instantly now! It opened clear on my
    comprehension that Helen Burns was numbering her last days in this
    world, and that she was going to be taken to the region of spirits, if
    such region there were. I experienced a shock of horror, then a strong
    thrill of grief, then a desire- a necessity to see her; and I asked in
    what room she lay.
      'She is in Miss Temple's room,' said the nurse.
      'May I go up and speak to her?'
      'Oh no, child! It is not likely; and now it is time for you to come
    in; you'll catch the fever if you stop out when the dew is falling.'
      The nurse closed the front door; I went in by the side entrance
    which led to the schoolroom: I was just in time; it was nine
    o'clock, and Miss Miller was calling the pupils to go to bed.
      It might be two hours later, probably near eleven, when I- not
    having been able to fall asleep, and deeming, from the perfect silence
    of the dormitory, that my companions were all wrapt in profound
    repose- rose softly, put on my frock over my night-dress, and, without
    shoes, crept from the apartment, and set off in quest of Miss Temple's
    room. It was quite at the other end of the house; but I knew my way;
    and the light of the unclouded summer moon, entering here and there at
    passage windows, enabled me to find it without difficulty. An odour of
    camphor and burnt vinegar warned me when I came near the fever room:
    and I passed its door quickly, fearful lest the nurse who sat up all
    night should hear me. I dreaded being discovered and sent back; for
    I must see Helen,- I must embrace her before she died,- I must give
    her one last kiss, exchange with her one last word.
      Having descended a staircase, traversed a portion of the house
    below, and succeeded in opening and shutting, without noise, two
    doors, I reached another flight of steps; these I mounted, and then
    just opposite to me was Miss Temple's room. A light shone through
    the keyhole and from under the door; a profound stillness pervaded the
    vicinity. Coming near, I found the door slightly ajar; probably to
    admit some fresh air into the close abode of sickness. Indisposed to
    hesitate, and full of impatient impulses- soul and senses quivering
    with keen throes- I put it back and looked in. My eye sought Helen,
    and feared to find death.
      Close by Miss Temple's bed, and half covered with its white
    curtains, there stood a little crib. I saw the outline of a form under
    the clothes, but the face was hid by the hangings: the nurse I had
    spoken to in the garden sat in an easy-chair asleep; an unsnuffed
    candle burnt dimly on the table. Miss Temple was not to be seen: I
    knew afterwards that she had been called to a delirious patient in the
    fever-room. I advanced; then paused by the crib side: my hand was on
    the curtain, but I preferred speaking before I withdrew it. I still
    recoiled at the dread of seeing a corpse.
      'Helen!' I whispered softly, 'are you awake?'
      She stirred herself, put back the curtain, and I saw her face,
    pale, wasted, but quite composed: she looked so little changed that my
    fear was instantly dissipated.
      'Can it be you, Jane?' she asked, in her own gentle voice.
      'Oh!' I thought, 'she is not going to die; they are mistaken: she
    could not speak and look so calmly if she were.'
      I got on to her crib and kissed her: her forehead was cold, and her
    cheek both cold and thin, and so were her hand and wrist; but she
    smiled as of old.
      'Why are you come here, Jane? It is past eleven o'clock: I heard it
    strike some minutes since.'
      'I came to see you, Helen: I heard you were very ill, and I could
    not sleep till I had spoken to you.'
      'You came to bid me good-bye, then: you are just in time probably.'
      'Are you going somewhere, Helen? Are you going home?'
      'Yes; to my long home- my last home.'
      'No, no, Helen!' I stopped, distressed. While I tried to devour
    my tears, a fit of coughing seized Helen; it did not, however, wake
    the nurse; when it was over, she lay some minutes exhausted; then
    she whispered-
      'Jane, your little feet are bare; lie down and cover yourself
    with my quilt.'
      I did so: she put her arm over me, and I nestled close to her.
    After a long silence, she resumed, still whispering-
      'I am very happy, Jane; and when you hear that I am dead, you
    must be sure and not grieve: there is nothing to grieve about. We
    all must die one day, and the illness which is removing me is not
    painful; it is gentle and gradual: my mind is at rest. I leave no
    one to regret me much: I have only a father; and he is lately married,
    and will not miss me. By dying young, I shall escape great sufferings.
    I had not qualities or talents to make my way very well in the
    world: I should have been continually at fault.'
      'But where are you going to, Helen? Can you see? Do you know?'
      'I believe; I have faith: I am going to God.'
      'Where is God? What is God?'
      'My Maker and yours, who will never destroy what He created. I rely
    implicitly on His power, and confide wholly in His goodness: I count
    the hours till that eventful one arrives which shall restore me to
    Him, reveal Him to me.'
      'You are sure, then, Helen, that there is such a place as heaven,
    and that our souls can get to it when we die?'
      'I am sure there is a future state; I believe God is good; I can
    resign my immortal part to Him without any misgiving. God is my
    father; God is my friend: I love Him; I believe He loves me.'
      'And shall I see you again, Helen, when I die?'
      'You will come to the same region of happiness: be received by
    the same mighty, universal Parent, no doubt, dear Jane.'
      Again I questioned, but this time only in thought. 'Where is that
    region? Does it exist?' And I clasped my arms closer around Helen; she
    seemed dearer to me than ever; I felt as if I could not let her go;
    I lay with my face hidden on her neck. Presently she said, in the
    sweetest tone-
      'How comfortable I am! That last fit of coughing has tired me a
    little; I feel as if I could sleep: but don't leave me, Jane; I like
    to have you near me.'
      'I'll stay with you, dear Helen: no one shall take me away.'
      'Are you warm, darling?'
      'Yes.'
      'Good-night, Jane.'
      'Good-night, Helen.'
      She kissed me, and I her, and we both soon slumbered.
      When I awoke it was day: an unusual movement roused me; I looked
    up; I was in somebody's arms; the nurse held me; she was carrying me
    through the passage back to the dormitory. I was not reprimanded for
    leaving my bed; people had something else to think about; no
    explanation was afforded then to my many questions; but a day or two
    afterwards I learned that Miss Temple, on returning to her own room at
    dawn, had found me laid in the little crib; my face against Helen
    Burns's shoulder, my arms round her neck. I was asleep, and Helen was-
    dead.
      Her grave is in Brocklebridge churchyard: for fifteen years after
    her death it was only covered by a grassy mound; but now a grey marble
    tablet marks the spot, inscribed with her name, and the word
    'Resurgam.'
   
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                              CHAPTER X
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
      HITHERTO I have recorded in detail the events of my insignificant
    existence: to the first ten years of my life I have given almost as
    many chapters. But this is not to be a regular autobiography: I am
    only bound to invoke Memory where I know her responses will possess
    some degree of interest; therefore I now pass a space of eight years
    almost in silence: a few lines only are necessary to keep up the links
    of connection.
      When the typhus fever had fulfilled its mission of devastation at
    Lowood, it gradually disappeared from thence; but not till its
    virulence and the number of its victims had drawn public attention
    on the school. Inquiry was made into the origin of the scourge, and by
    degrees various facts came out which excited public indignation in a
    high degree. The unhealthy nature of the site; the quantity and
    quality of the children's food; the brackish, fetid water used in
    its preparation; the pupils' wretched clothing and accommodations- all
    these things were discovered, and the discovery produced a result
    mortifying to Mr. Brocklehurst, but beneficial to the institution.
      Several wealthy and benevolent individuals in the county subscribed
    largely for the erection of a more convenient building in a better
    situation; new regulations were made; improvements in diet and
    clothing introduced; the funds of the school were intrusted to the
    management of a committee. Mr. Brocklehurst, who, from his wealth
    and family connections, could not be overlooked, still retained the
    post of treasurer; but he was aided in the discharge of his duties
    by gentlemen of rather more enlarged and sympathising minds: his
    office of inspector, too, was shared by those who knew how to
    combine reason with strictness, comfort with economy, compassion
    with uprightness. The school, thus improved, became in time a truly
    useful and noble institution. I remained an inmate of its walls, after
    its regeneration, for eight years: six as pupil, and two as teacher;
    and in both capacities I bear my testimony to its value and
    importance.
      During these eight years my life was uniform: but not unhappy,
    because it was not inactive. I had the means of an excellent education
    placed within my reach; a fondness for some of my studies, and a
    desire to excel in all, together with a great delight in pleasing my
    teachers, especially such as I loved, urged me on: I availed myself
    fully of the advantages offered me. In time I rose to be the first
    girl of the first class; then I was invested with the office of
    teacher; which I discharged with zeal for two years: but at the end of
    that time I altered.
      Miss Temple, through all changes, had thus far continued
    superintendent of the seminary: to her instruction I owed the best
    part of my acquirements; her friendship and society had been my
    continual solace; she had stood me in the stead of mother,
    governess, and, latterly, companion. At this period she married,
    removed with her husband (a clergyman, an excellent man, almost worthy
    of such a wife) to a distant county, and consequently was lost to me.
      From the day she left I was no longer the same: with her was gone
    every settled feeling, every association that had made Lowood in
    some degree a home to me. I had imbibed from her something of her
    nature and much of her habits: more harmonious thoughts: what seemed
    better regulated feelings had become the inmates of my mind. I had
    given in allegiance to duty and order; I was quiet; I believed I was
    content: to the eyes of others, usually even to my own, I appeared a
    disciplined and subdued character.
      But destiny, in the shape of the Rev. Mr. Nasmyth, came between
    me and Miss Temple: I saw her in her travelling dress step into a
    post-chaise, shortly after the marriage ceremony; I watched the chaise
    mount the hill and disappear beyond its brow; and then retired to my
    own room, and there spent in solitude the greatest part of the
    half-holiday granted in honour of the occasion.
      I walked about the chamber most of the time. I imagined myself only
    to be regretting my loss, and thinking how to repair it; but when my
    reflections were concluded, and I looked up and found that the
    afternoon was gone, and evening far advanced, another discovery dawned
    on me, namely, that in the interval I had undergone a transforming
    process; that my mind had put off all it had borrowed of Miss
    Temple- or rather that she had taken with her the serene atmosphere
    I had been breathing in her vicinity- and that now I was left in my
    natural element, and beginning to feel the stirring of old emotions.
    It did not seem as if a prop were withdrawn, but rather as if a motive
    were gone: it was not the power to be tranquil which had failed me,
    but the reason for tranquillity was no more. My world had for some
    years been in Lowood: my experience had been of its rules and systems;
    now I remembered that the real world was wide, and that a varied field
    of hopes and fears, of sensations and excitements, awaited those who
    had courage to go forth into its expanse, to seek real knowledge of
    life amidst its perils.
      I went to my window, opened it, and looked out. There were the
    two wings of the building; there was the garden; there were the skirts
    of Lowood; there was the hilly horizon. My eye passed all other
    objects to rest on those most remote, the blue peaks; it was those I
    longed to surmount; all within their boundary of rock and heath seemed
    prison-ground, exile limits. I traced the white road winding round the
    base of one mountain, and vanishing in a gorge between two; how I
    longed to follow it farther! I recalled the time when I had
    travelled that very road in a coach; I remembered descending that hill
    at twilight; an age seemed to have elapsed since the day which brought
    me first to Lowood, and I had never quitted it since. My vacations had
    all been spent at school: Mrs. Reed had never sent for me to
    Gateshead; neither she nor any of her family had ever been to visit
    me. I had had no communication by letter or message with the outer
    world: school-rules, school-duties, school-habits and notions, and
    voices, and faces, and phrases, and costumes, and preferences, and
    antipathies- such was what I knew of existence. And now I felt that it
    was not enough; I tired of the routine of eight years in one
    afternoon. I desired liberty; for liberty I gasped; for liberty I
    uttered a prayer; it seemed scattered on the wind then faintly
    blowing. I abandoned it and framed a humbler supplication; for change,
    stimulus: that petition, too, seemed swept off into vague space:
    'Then,' I cried, half desperate, 'grant me at least a new servitude!'
      Here a bell, ringing the hour of supper, called me downstairs.
      I was not free to resume the interrupted chain of my reflections
    till bedtime: even then a teacher who occupied the same room with me
    kept me from the subject to which I longed to recur, by a prolonged
    effusion of small talk. How I wished sleep would silence her. It
    seemed as if, could I but go back to the idea which had last entered
    my mind as I stood at the window, some inventive suggestion would rise
    for my relief.
      Miss Gryce snored at last; she was a heavy Welsh-woman, and till
    now her habitual nasal strains had never been regarded by me in any
    other light than as a nuisance; to-night I hailed the first deep notes
    with satisfaction; I was debarrassed of interruption; my
    half-effaced thought instantly revived.
      'A new servitude! There is something in that,' I soliloquised
    (mentally, be it understood; I did not talk aloud). 'I know there
    is, because it does not sound too sweet; it is not like such words
    as Liberty, Excitement, Enjoyment: delightful sounds truly; but no
    more than sounds for me; and so hollow and fleeting that it is mere
    waste of time to listen to them. But Servitude! That must be matter of
    fact. Any one may serve: I have served here eight years; now all I
    want is to serve elsewhere. Can I not get so much of my own will? Is
    not the thing feasible? Yes- yes- the end is not so difficult; if I
    had only a brain active enough to ferret out the means of attaining
    it.'
      I sat up in bed by way of arousing this said brain: it was a chilly
    night; I covered my shoulders with a shawl, and then I proceeded to
    think again with all my might.
      'What do I want? A new place, in a new house, amongst new faces,
    under new circumstances: I want this because it is of no use wanting
    anything better. How do people do to get a new place? They apply to
    friends, I suppose: I have no friends. There are many others who
    have no friends, who must look about for themselves and be their own
    helpers; and what is their resource?'
      I could not tell: nothing answered me; I then ordered my brain to
    find a response, and quickly. It worked and worked faster: I felt
    the pulses throb in my head and temples; but for nearly an hour it
    worked in chaos; and no result came of its efforts. Feverish with vain
    labour, I got up and took a turn in the room; undrew the curtain,
    noted a star or two, shivered with cold, and again crept to bed.
      A kind fairy, in my absence, had surely dropped the required
    suggestion on my pillow; for as I lay down, it came quietly and
    naturally to my mind:- 'Those who want situations advertise; you
      'How? I know nothing about advertising.'
      Replies rose smooth and prompt now:-
      'You must enclose the advertisement and the money to pay for it
    under a cover directed to the editor of the Herald; you must put it,
    the first opportunity you have, into the post at Lowton; answers
    must be addressed to J. E., at the post-office there; you can go and
    inquire in about a week after you send your letter, if any are come,
    and act accordingly.'
      This scheme I went over twice, thrice; it was then digested in my
    mind; I had it in a clear practical form: I felt satisfied, and fell
    asleep.
      With earliest day, I was up: I had my advertisement written,
    enclosed, and directed before the bell rang to rouse the school; it
    ran thus:-
      'A young lady accustomed to tuition' (had I not been a teacher
    two years?) 'is desirous of meeting with a situation in a private
    family where the children are under fourteen' (I thought that as I was
    barely eighteen, it would not do to undertake the guidance of pupils
    nearer my own age). 'She is qualified to teach the usual branches of a
    good English education, together with French, Drawing, and Music'
    (in those days, reader, this now narrow catalogue of
    accomplishments, would have been held tolerably comprehensive).
      This document remained locked in my drawer all day: after tea, I
    asked leave of the new superintendent to go to Lowton, in order to
    perform some small commissions for myself and one or two of my
    fellow-teachers; permission was readily granted; I went. It was a walk
    of two miles, and the evening was wet, but the days were still long; I
    visited a shop or two, slipped the letter into the post-office, and
    came back through heavy rain, with streaming garments, but with a
    relieved heart.
      The succeeding week seemed long: it came to an end at last,
    however, like all sublunary things, and once more, towards the close
    of a pleasant autumn day, I found myself afoot on the road to
    Lowton. A picturesque track it was, by the way; lying along the side
    of the beck and through the sweetest curves of the dale: but that
    day I thought more of the letters, that might or might not be awaiting
    me at the little burgh whither I was bound, than of the charms of
    lea and water.
      My ostensible errand on this occasion was to get measured for a
    pair of shoes; so I discharged that business first, and when it was
    done, I stepped across the clean and quiet little street from the
    shoemaker's to the post-office: it was kept by an old dame, who wore
    horn spectacles on her nose, and black mittens on her hands.
      'Are there any letters for J. E.?' I asked.
      She peered at me over her spectacles, and then she opened a
    drawer and fumbled among its contents for a long time, so long that my
    hopes began to falter. At last, having held a document before her
    glasses for nearly five minutes, she presented it across the
    counter, accompanying the act by another inquisitive and mistrustful
    glance- it was for J. E.
      'Is there only one?' I demanded.
      'There are no more,' said she; and I put it in my pocket and turned
    my face homeward: I could not open it then; rules obliged me to be
    back by eight, and it was already half-past seven.
      Various duties awaited me on my arrival: I had to sit with the
    girls during their hour of study; then it was my turn to read prayers;
    to see them to bed: afterwards I supped with the other teachers.
    Even when we finally retired for the night, the inevitable Miss
    Gryce was still my companion: we had only a short end of candle in our
    candlestick, and I dreaded lest she should talk till it was all
    burnt out; fortunately, however, the heavy supper she had eaten
    produced a soporific effect: she was already snoring before I had
    finished undressing. There still remained an inch of candle: I now
    took out my letter; the seal was an initial F.; I broke it; the
    contents were brief.
    Thursday, possesses the acquirements mentioned, and if she is in a
    position to give satisfactory references as to character and
    competency, a situation can be offered her where there is but one
    pupil, a little girl, under ten years of age; and where the salary
    is thirty pounds per annum. J. E. is requested to send references,
    name, address, and all particulars to the direction:-
      I examined the document long: the writing was old-fashioned and
    rather uncertain, like that of an elderly lady. This circumstance
    was satisfactory: a private fear had haunted me, that in thus acting
    for myself, and by my own guidance, I ran the risk of getting into
    some scrape; and, above all things, I wished the result of my
    endeavours to be respectable, proper, en regle. I now felt that an
    elderly lady was no bad ingredient in the business I had on hand. Mrs.
    Fairfax! I saw her in a black gown and widow's cap; frigid, perhaps,
    but not uncivil: a model of elderly English respectability.
    Thornfield! that, doubtless, was the name of her house: a neat orderly
    spot, I was sure; though I failed in my efforts to conceive a
    recollections of the map of England; yes, I saw it; both the shire and
    county where I now resided: that was a recommendation to me. I
    longed to go where there was life and movement: Millcote was a large
    doubtless: so much the better; it would be a complete change at least.
    Not that my fancy was much captivated by the idea of long chimneys and
    clouds of smoke- 'but,' I argued, 'Thornfield will, probably, be a
    good way from the town.'
      Here the socket of the candle dropped, and the wick went out.
      Next day new steps were to be taken; my plans could no longer be
    confined to my own breast; I must impart them in order to achieve
    their success. Having sought and obtained an audience of the
    superintendent during the noontide recreation, I told her I had a
    prospect of getting a new situation where the salary would be double
    what I now received (for at Lowood I only got L15 per annum); and
    requested she would break the matter for me to Mr. Brocklehurst, or
    some of the committee, and ascertain whether they would permit me to
    mention them as references. She obligingly consented to act as
    mediatrix in the matter. The next day she laid the affair before Mr.
    Brocklehurst, who said that Mrs. Reed must be written to, as she was
    my natural guardian. A note was accordingly addressed to that lady,
    who returned for answer, that 'I might do as I pleased: she had long
    relinquished all interference in my affairs.' This note went the round
    of the committee, and at last, after what appeared to me most
    tedious delay, formal leave was given me to better my condition if I
    could; and an assurance added, that as I had always conducted myself
    well, both as teacher and pupil, at Lowood, a testimonial of character
    and capacity, signed by the inspectors of that institution, should
    forthwith be furnished me.
      This testimonial I accordingly received in about a month, forwarded
    a copy of it to Mrs. Fairfax, and got that lady's reply, stating
    that she was satisfied, and fixing that day fortnight as the period
    for my assuming the post of governess in her house.
      I now busied myself in preparations: the fortnight passed
    rapidly. I had not a very large wardrobe, though it was adequate to my
    wants; and the last day sufficed to pack my trunk,- the same I had
    brought with me eight years ago from Gateshead.
      The box was corded, the card nailed on. In half an hour the carrier
    was to call for it to take it to Lowton, whither I myself was to
    repair at an early hour the next morning to meet the coach. I had
    brushed my black stuff travelling-dress, prepared my bonnet, gloves,
    and muff; sought in all my drawers to see that no article was left
    behind; and now having nothing more to do, I sat down and tried to
    rest. I could not; though I had been on foot all day, I could not
    now repose an instant; I was too much excited. A phase of my life
    was closing tonight, a new one opening to-morrow: impossible to
    slumber in the interval; I must watch feverishly while the change
    was being accomplished.
      'Miss,' said a servant who met me in the lobby, where I was
    wandering like a troubled spirit, 'a person below wishes to see you.'
      'The carrier, no doubt,' I thought, and ran downstairs without
    inquiry. I was passing the back-parlour or teachers' sitting-room, the
    door of which was half open, to go to the kitchen, when some one ran
    out-
      'It's her, I am sure!- I could have told her anywhere!' cried the
    individual who stopped my progress and took my hand.
      I looked: I saw a woman attired like a well-dressed servant,
    matronly, yet still young; very good-looking, with black hair and
    eyes, and lively complexion.
      'Well, who is it?' she asked, in a voice and with a smile I half
    recognised; 'you've not quite forgotten me, I think, Miss Jane?'
      In another second I was embracing and kissing her rapturously:
    'Bessie! Bessie! Bessie!' that was all I said; whereat she half
    laughed, half cried, and we both went into the parlour. By the fire
    stood a little fellow of three years old, in plaid frock and trousers.
      'That is my little boy,' said Bessie directly.
      'Then you are married, Bessie?'
      'Yes; nearly five years since to Robert Leaven, the coachman; and
    I've a little girl besides Bobby there, that I've christened Jane.'
      'And you don't live at Gateshead?'
      'I live at the lodge: the old porter has left.'
      'Well, and how do they all get on? Tell me everything about them,
    Bessie: but sit down first; and, Bobby, come and sit on my knee,
    will you?' but Bobby preferred sidling over to his mother.
      'You're not grown so very tall, Miss Jane, nor so very stout,'
    continued Mrs. Leaven. 'I daresay they've not kept you too well at
    school: Miss Reed is the head and shoulders taller than you are; and
    Miss Georgiana would make two of you in breadth.'
      'Georgiana is handsome, I suppose, Bessie?'
      'Very. She went up to London last winter with her mama, and there
    everybody admired her, and a young lord fell in love with her: but his
    relations were against the match; and- what do you think?- he and Miss
    Georgiana made it up to run away; but they were found out and stopped.
    It was Miss Reed that found them out: I believe she was envious; and
    now she and her sister lead a cat and dog life together; they are
    always quarrelling.'
      'Well, and what of John Reed?'
      'Oh, he is not doing so well as his mama could wish. He went to
    college, and he got- plucked, I think they call it: and then his
    uncles wanted him to be a barrister, and study the law: but he is such
    a dissipated young man, they will never make much of him, I think.'
      'What does he look like?'
      'He is very tall: some people call him a fine-looking young man;
    but he has such thick lips.'
      'And Mrs. Reed?'
      'Missis looks stout and well enough in the face, but I think
    she's not quite easy in her mind: Mr. John's conduct does not please
    her- he spends a deal of money.'
      'Did she send you here, Bessie?'
      'No, indeed: but I have long wanted to see you, and when I heard
    that there had been a letter from you, and that you were going to
    another part of the country, I thought I'd just set off, and get a
    look at you before you were quite out of my reach.'
      'I am afraid you are disappointed in me, Bessie.' I said this
    laughing: I perceived that Bessie's glance, though it expressed
    regard, did in no shape denote admiration.
      'No, Miss Jane, not exactly: you are genteel enough; you look
    like a lady, and it is as much as ever I expected of you: you were
    no beauty as a child.'
      I smiled at Bessie's frank answer: I felt that it was correct,
    but I confess I was not quite indifferent to its import: at eighteen
    most people wish to please, and the conviction that they have not an
    exterior likely to second that desire brings anything but
    gratification.
      'I daresay you are clever, though,' continued Bessie, by way of
    solace. 'What can you do? Can you play on the piano?'
      'A little.'
      There was one in the room; Bessie went and opened it, and then
    asked me to sit down and give her a tune: I played a waltz or two, and
    she was charmed.
      'The Miss Reeds could not play as well!' said she exultingly. 'I
    always said you would surpass them in learning: and can you draw?'
      'That is one of my paintings over the chimney-piece.' It was a
    landscape in water colours, of which I had made a present to the
    superintendent, in acknowledgment of her obliging mediation with the
    committee on my behalf, and which she had framed and glazed.
      'Well, that is beautiful, Miss Jane! It is as fine a picture as any
    Miss Reed's drawing-master could paint, let alone the young ladies
    themselves, who could not come near it: and have you learnt French?'
      'Yes, Bessie, I can both read it and speak it.'
      'And you can work on muslin and canvas?'
      'I can.'
      'Oh, you are quite a lady, Miss Jane! I knew you would be: you will
    get on whether your relations notice you or not. There was something I
    wanted to ask you. Have you ever heard anything from your father's
    kinsfolk, the Eyres?'
      'Never in my life.'
      'Well, you know, Missis always said they were poor and quite
    despicable: and they may be poor; but I believe they are as much
    gentry as the Reeds are; for one day, nearly seven years ago, a Mr.
    Eyre came to Gateshead and wanted to see you; Missis said you were
    at school fifty miles off; he seemed so much disappointed, for he
    could not stay: he was going on a voyage to a foreign country, and the
    ship was to sail from London in a day or two. He looked quite a
    gentleman, and I believe he was your father's brother.'
      'What foreign country was he going to, Bessie?'
      'An island thousands of miles off, where they make wine- the butler
    did tell me-'
      'Madeira?' I suggested.
      'Yes, that is it- that is the very word.'
      'So he went?'
      'Yes; he did not stay many minutes in the house: Missis was very
    high with him; she called him afterwards a "sneaking tradesman." My
    Robert believes he was a wine-merchant.'
      'Very likely,' I returned; 'or perhaps clerk or agent to a
    wine-merchant.'
      Bessie and I conversed about old times an hour longer, and then she
    was obliged to leave me: I saw her again for a few minutes the next
    morning at Lowton, while I was waiting for the coach. We parted
    finally at the door of the Brocklehurst Arms there, each went her
    separate way; she set off for the brow of Lowood Fell to meet the
    conveyance which was to take her back to Gateshead, I mounted the
    vehicle which was to bear me to new duties and a new life in the
    unknown environs of Millcote.
   
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                              CHAPTER XI
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
      A NEW chapter in a novel is something like a new scene in a play;
    and when I draw up the curtain this time, reader, you must fancy you
    see a room in the George Inn at Millcote, with such large figured
    papering on the walls as inn rooms have; such a carpet, such
    furniture, such ornaments on the mantel-piece, such prints,
    including a portrait of George the Third, and another of the Prince of
    Wales, and a representation of the death of Wolfe. All this is visible
    to you by the light of an oil lamp hanging from the ceiling, and by
    that of an excellent fire, near which I sit in my cloak and bonnet; my
    muff and umbrella lie on the table, and I am warming away the numbness
    and chill contracted by sixteen hours' exposure to the rawness of an
    October day: I left Lowton at four o'clock A.M., and the Millcote town
    clock is now just striking eight.
      Reader, though I look comfortably accommodated, I am not very
    tranquil in my mind. I thought when the coach stopped here there would
    be some one to meet me; I looked anxiously round as I descended the
    wooden steps the 'boots' placed for my convenience, expecting to
    hear my name pronounced, and to see some description of carriage
    waiting to convey me to Thornfield. Nothing of the sort was visible;
    and when I asked a waiter if any one had been to inquire after a
    Miss Eyre, I was answered in the negative: so I had no resource but to
    request to be shown into a private room: and here I am waiting,
    while all sorts of doubts and fears are troubling my thoughts.
      It is a very strange sensation to inexperienced youth to feel
    itself quite alone in the world, cut adrift from every connection,
    uncertain whether the port to which it is bound can be reached, and
    prevented by many impediments from returning to that it has quitted.
    The charm of adventure sweetens that sensation, the glow of pride
    warms it; but then the throb of fear disturbs it; and fear with me
    became predominant when half an hour elapsed and still I was alone.
    I bethought myself to ring the bell.
      'Is there a place in this neighbourhood called Thornfield?' I asked
    of the waiter who answered the summons.
      'Thornfield? I don't know, ma'am; I'll inquire at the bar.' He
    vanished, but reappeared instantly-
      'Is your name Eyre, Miss?'
      'Yes.'
      'Person here waiting for you.'
      I jumped up, took my muff and umbrella, and hastened into the
    inn-passage: a man was standing by the open door, and in the
    lamp-lit street I dimly saw a one-horse conveyance.
      'This will be your luggage, I suppose?' said the man rather
    abruptly when he saw me, pointing to my trunk in the passage.
      'Yes.' He hoisted it on to the vehicle, which was a sort of car,
    and then I got in; before he shut me up, I asked him how far it was to
    Thornfield.
      'A matter of six miles.'
      'How long shall we be before we get there?'
      'Happen an hour and a half.'
      He fastened the car door, climbed to his own seat outside, and we
    set off. Our progress was leisurely, and gave me ample time to
    reflect; I was content to be at length so near the end of my
    journey; and as I leaned back in the comfortable though not elegant
    conveyance, I meditated much at my ease.
      'I suppose,' thought I, 'judging from the plainness of the
    servant and carriage, Mrs. Fairfax is not a very dashing person: so
    much the better; I never lived amongst fine people but once, and I was
    very miserable with them. I wonder if she lives alone except this
    little girl; if so, and if she is in any degree amiable, I shall
    surely be able to get on with her; I will do my best; it is a pity
    that doing one's best does not always answer. At Lowood, indeed, I
    took that resolution, kept it, and succeeded in pleasing; but with
    Mrs. Reed, I remember my best was always spurned with scorn. I pray
    God Mrs. Fairfax may not turn out a second Mrs. Reed; but if she does,
    I am not bound to stay with her! let the worst come to the worst, I
    can advertise again. How far are we on our road now, I wonder?'
      I let down the window and looked out; Millcote was behind us;
    judging by the number of its lights, it seemed a place of considerable
    magnitude, much larger than Lowton. We were now, as far as I could
    see, on a sort of common; but there were houses scattered all over the
    district; I felt we were in a different region to Lowood, more
    populous, less picturesque; more stirring, less romantic.
      The roads were heavy, the night misty; my conductor let his horse
    walk all the way, and the hour and a half extended, I verily
    believe, to two hours; at last he turned in his seat and said-
      'You're noan so far fro' Thornfield now.'
      Again I looked out: we were passing a church; I saw its low broad
    tower against the sky, and its bell was tolling a quarter; I saw a
    narrow galaxy of lights too, on a hillside, marking a village or
    hamlet. About ten minutes after, the driver got down and opened a pair
    of gates: we passed through, and they clashed to behind us. We now
    slowly ascended a drive, and came upon the long front of a house:
    candlelight gleamed from one curtained bow-window; all the rest were
    dark. The car stopped at the front door; it was opened by a
    maid-servant; I alighted and went in.
      'Will you walk this way, ma'am?' said the girl; and I followed
    her across a square hall with high doors all round: she ushered me
    into a room whose double illumination of fire and candle at first
    dazzled me, contrasting as it did with the darkness to which my eyes
    had been for two hours inured; when I could see, however, a cosy and
    agreeable picture presented itself to my view.
      A snug small room; a round table by a cheerful fire; an arm-chair
    high-backed and old-fashioned, wherein sat the neatest imaginable
    little elderly lady, in widow's cap, black silk gown, and snowy muslin
    apron; exactly like what I had fancied Mrs. Fairfax, only less stately
    and milder looking. She was occupied in knitting; a large cat sat
    demurely at her feet; nothing in short was wanting to complete the
    beau-ideal of domestic comfort. A more reassuring introduction for a
    new governess could scarcely be conceived; there was no grandeur to
    overwhelm, no stateliness to embarrass; and then, as I entered, the
    old lady got up and promptly and kindly came forward to meet me.
      'How do you do, my dear? I am afraid you have had a tedious ride;
    John drives so slowly; you must be cold, come to the fire.'
      'Mrs. Fairfax, I suppose?' said I.
      'Yes, you are right: do sit down.'
      She conducted me to her own chair, and then began to remove my
    shawl and untie my bonnet-strings; I begged she would not give herself
    so much trouble.
      'Oh, it is no trouble; I daresay your own hands are almost numbed
    with cold. Leah, make a little hot negus and cut a sandwich or two:
    here are the keys of the storeroom.'
      And she produced from her pocket a most housewifely bunch of
    keys, and delivered them to the servant.
      'Now, then, draw nearer to the fire,' she continued. 'You've
    brought your luggage with you, haven't you, my dear?'
      'Yes, ma'am.'
      'I'll see it carried into your room,' she said, and bustled out.
      'She treats me like a visitor,' thought I. 'I little expected
    such a reception; I anticipated only coldness and stiffness: this is
    not like what I have heard of the treatment of governesses; but I must
    not exult too soon.'
      She returned; with her own hands cleared her knitting apparatus and
    a book or two from the table, to make room for the tray which Leah now
    brought, and then herself handed me the refreshments. I felt rather
    confused at being the object of more attention than I had ever
    before received, and, that too, shown by my employer and superior; but
    as she did not herself seem to consider she was doing anything out
    of her place, I thought it better to take her civilities quietly.
      'Shall I have the pleasure of seeing Miss Fairfax to-night?' I
    asked, when I had partaken of what she offered me.
      'What did you say, my dear? I am a little deaf,' returned the
    good lady, approaching her ear to my mouth.
      I repeated the question more distinctly.
      'Miss Fairfax? Oh, you mean Miss Varens! Varens is the name of your
    future pupil.'
      'Indeed! Then she is not your daughter?'
      'No,- I have no family.'
      I should have followed up my first inquiry, by asking in what way
    Miss Varens was connected with her; but I recollected it was not
    polite to ask too many questions: besides, I was sure to hear in time.
      'I am so glad,' she continued, as she sat down opposite to me,
    and took the cat on her knee; 'I am so glad you are come; it will be
    quite pleasant living here now with a companion. To be sure it is
    pleasant at any time; for Thornfield is a fine old hall, rather
    neglected of late years perhaps, but still it is a respectable
    place; yet you know in winter-time one feels dreary quite alone in the
    best quarters. I say alone- Leah is a nice girl to be sure, and John
    and his wife are very decent people; but then you see they are only
    servants, and one can't converse with them on terms of equality: one
    must keep them at due distance, for fear of losing one's authority.
    I'm sure last winter (it was a very severe one, if you recollect,
    and when it did not snow, it rained and blew), not a creature but
    the butcher and postman came to the house, from November till
    February; and I really got quite melancholy with sitting night after
    night alone; I had Leah in to read to me sometimes; but I don't
    think the poor girl liked the task much: she felt it confining. In
    spring and summer one got on better: sunshine and long days make
    such a difference; and then, just at the commencement of this
    autumn, little Adela Varens came and her nurse: a child makes a
    house alive all at once; and now you are here I shall be quite gay.'
      My heart really warmed to the worthy lady as I heard her talk;
    and I drew my chair a little nearer to her, and expressed my sincere
    wish that she might find my company as agreeable as she anticipated.
      'But I'll not keep you sitting up late to-night,' said she; 'it
    is on the stroke of twelve now, and you have been travelling all
    day: you must feel tired. If you have got your feet well warmed,
    I'll show you your bedroom. I've had the room next to mine prepared
    for you; it is only a small apartment, but I thought you would like it
    better than one of the large front chambers: to be sure they have
    finer furniture, but they are so dreary and solitary, I never sleep in
    them myself.'
      I thanked her for her considerate choice, and as I really felt
    fatigued with my long journey, expressed my readiness to retire. She
    took her candle, and I followed her from the room. First she went to
    see if the hall-door was fastened; having taken the key from the lock,
    she led the way upstairs. The steps and banisters were of oak; the
    staircase window was high and latticed; both it and the long gallery
    into which the bedroom doors opened looked as if they belonged to a
    church rather than a house. A very chill and vault-like air pervaded
    the stairs and gallery, suggesting cheerless ideas of space and
    solitude; and I was glad, when finally ushered into my chamber, to
    find it of small dimensions, and furnished in ordinary, modern style.
      When Mrs. Fairfax had bidden me a kind good-night, and I had
    fastened my door, gazed leisurely round, and in some measure effaced
    the eerie impression made by that wide hall, that dark and spacious
    staircase, and that long, cold gallery, by the livelier aspect of my
    little room, I remembered that, after a day of bodily fatigue and
    mental anxiety, I was now at last in safe haven. The impulse of
    gratitude swelled my heart, and I knelt down at the bedside, and
    offered up thanks where thanks were due; not forgetting, ere I rose,
    to implore aid on my further path, and the power of meriting the
    kindness which seemed so frankly offered me before it was earned. My
    couch had no thorns in it that night; my solitary room no fears. At
    once weary and content, I slept soon and soundly: when I awoke it
    was broad day.
      The chamber looked such a bright little place to me as the sun
    shone in between the gay blue chintz window curtains, showing
    papered walls and a carpeted floor, so unlike the bare planks and
    stained plaster of Lowood, that my spirits rose at the view. Externals
    have a great effect on the young: I thought that a fairer era of
    life was beginning for me- one that was to have its flowers and
    pleasures, as well as its thorns and toils. My faculties, roused by
    the change of scene, the new field offered to hope, seemed all
    astir. I cannot precisely define what they expected, but it was
    something pleasant: not perhaps that day or that month, but at an
    indefinite future period.
      I rose; I dressed myself with care: obliged to be plain- for I
    had no article of attire that was not made with extreme simplicity-
    I was still by nature solicitous to be neat. It was not my habit to be
    disregardful of appearance or careless of the impression I made: on
    the contrary, I ever wished to look as well as I could, and to
    please as much as my want of beauty would permit. I sometimes
    regretted that I was not handsomer; I sometimes wished to have rosy
    cheeks, a straight nose, and small cherry mouth; I desired to be tall,
    stately, and finely developed in figure; I felt it a misfortune that I
    was so little, so pale, and had features so irregular and so marked.
    And why had I these aspirations and these regrets? It would be
    difficult to say: I could not then distinctly say it to myself; yet
    I had a reason, and a logical, natural reason too. However, when I had
    brushed my hair very smooth, and put on my black frock- which,
    Quakerlike as it was, at least had the merit of fitting to a nicety-
    and adjusted my clean white tucker, I thought I should do
    respectably enough to appear before Mrs. Fairfax, and that my new
    pupil would not at least recoil from me with antipathy. Having
    opened my chamber window, and seen that I left all things straight and
    neat on the toilet table, I ventured forth.
      Traversing the long and matted gallery, I descended the slippery
    steps of oak; then I gained the hall: I halted there a minute; I
    looked at some pictures on the walls (one, I remember, represented a
    grim man in a cuirass, and one a lady with powdered hair and a pearl
    necklace), at a bronze lamp pendent from the ceiling, at a great clock
    whose case was of oak curiously carved, and ebon black with time and
    rubbing. Everything appeared very stately and imposing to me; but then
    I was so little accustomed to grandeur. The hall-door, which was
    half of glass, stood open; I stepped over the threshold. It was a fine
    autumn morning; the early sun shone serenely on embrowned groves and
    still green fields; advancing on to the lawn, I looked up and surveyed
    the front of the mansion. It was three storeys high, of proportions
    not vast, though considerable: a gentleman's manor-house, not a
    nobleman's seat: battlements round the top gave it a picturesque look.
    Its grey front stood out well from the background of a rookery,
    whose cawing tenants were now on the wing: they flew over the lawn and
    grounds to alight in a great meadow, from which these were separated
    by a sunk fence, and where an array of mighty old thorn trees, strong,
    knotty, and broad as oaks, at once explained the etymology of the
    mansion's designation. Farther off were hills: not so lofty as those
    round Lowood, nor so craggy, nor so like barriers of separation from
    the living world; but yet quiet and lonely hills enough, and seeming
    to embrace Thornfield with a seclusion I had not expected to find
    existent so near the stirring locality of Millcote. A little hamlet,
    whose roofs were blent with trees, straggled up the side of one of
    these hills; the church of the district stood nearer Thornfield: its
    old tower-top looked over a knoll between the house and gates.
      I was yet enjoying the calm prospect and pleasant fresh air, yet
    listening with delight to the cawing of the rooks, yet surveying the
    wide, hoary front of the hall, and thinking what a great place it
    was for one lonely little dame like Mrs. Fairfax to inhabit, when that
    lady appeared at the door.
      'What! out already?' said she. 'I see you are an early riser.' I
    went up to her, and was received with an affable kiss and shake of the
    hand.
      'How do you like Thornfield?' she asked. I told her I liked it very
    much.
      'Yes,' she said, 'it is a pretty place; but I fear it will be
    getting out of order, unless Mr. Rochester should take it into his
    head to come and reside here permanently; or, at least, visit it
    rather oftener: great houses and fine grounds require the presence
    of the proprietor.'
      'Mr. Rochester!' I exclaimed. 'Who is he?'
      'The owner of Thornfield,' she responded quietly. 'Did you not know
    he was called Rochester?'
      Of course I did not- I had never heard of him before; but the old
    lady seemed to regard his existence as a universally understood
    fact, with which everybody must be acquainted by instinct.
      'I thought,' I continued, 'Thornfield belonged to you.'
      'To me? Bless you, child; what an idea! To me! I am only the
    housekeeper- the manager. To be sure I am distantly related to the
    Rochesters by the mother's side, or at least my husband was; he was
    a clergyman, incumbent of Hay- that little village yonder on the hill-
    and that church near the gates was his. The present Mr. Rochester's
    mother was a Fairfax, second cousin to my husband: but I never presume
    on the connection- in fact, it is nothing to me; I consider myself
    quite in the light of an ordinary housekeeper: my employer is always
    civil, and I expect nothing more.'
      'And the little girl- my pupil!'
      'She is Mr. Rochester's ward; he commissioned me to find a
    believe. Here she comes, with her "bonne," as she calls her nurse.'
    The enigma then was explained: this affable and kind little widow
    was no great dame; but a dependant like myself. I did not like her the
    worse for that; on the contrary, I felt better pleased than ever.
    The equality between her and me was real; not the mere result of
    condescension on her part: so much the better- my position was all the
    freer.
      As I was meditating on this discovery, a little girl, followed by
    her attendant, came running up the lawn. I looked at my pupil, who did
    not at first appear to notice me: she was quite a child, perhaps seven
    or eight years old, slightly built, with a pale, small-featured
    face, and a redundancy of hair falling in curls to her waist.
      'Good morning, Miss Adela,' said Mrs. Fairfax. 'Come and speak to
    the lady who is to teach you, and to make you a clever woman some
    day.' She approached.
      'C'est la ma gouvernante!' said she, pointing to me, and addressing
    her nurse; who answered-
      'Mais oui, certainement.'
      'Are they foreigners?' I inquired, amazed at hearing the French
    language.
      'The nurse is a foreigner, and Adela was born on the Continent;
    and, I believe, never left it till within six months ago. When she
    first came here she could speak no English; now she can make shift
    to talk it a little: I don't understand her, she mixes it so with
    French; but you will make out her meaning very well, I daresay.'
      Fortunately I had had the advantage of being taught French by a
    French lady; and as I had always made a point of conversing with
    Madame Pierrot as often as I could, and had besides, during the last
    seven years, learnt a portion of French by heart daily- applying
    myself to take pains with my accent, and imitating as closely as
    possible the pronunciation of my teacher, I had acquired a certain
    degree of readiness and correctness in the language, and was not
    likely to be much at a loss with Mademoiselle Adela. She came and
    shook hands with me when she heard that I was her governess; and as
    I led her in to breakfast, I addressed some phrases to her in her
    own tongue: she replied briefly at first, but after we were seated
    at the table, and she had examined me some ten minutes with her
    large hazel eyes, she suddenly commenced chattering fluently.
      'Ah!' cried she, in French, 'you speak my language as well as Mr.
    Rochester does: I can talk to you as I can to him, and so can
    Sophie. She will be glad: nobody here understands her: Madame
    Fairfax is all English. Sophie is my nurse; she came with me over
    the sea in a great ship with a chimney that smoked- how it did smoke!-
    and I was sick, and so was Sophie, and so was Mr. Rochester. Mr.
    Rochester lay down on a sofa in a pretty room called the salon, and
    Sophie and I had little beds in another place. I nearly fell out of
    mine; it was like a shelf. And Mademoiselle- what is your name?'
      'Eyre- Jane Eyre.'
      'Aire? Bah! I cannot say it. Well, our ship stopped in the morning,
    before it was quite daylight, at a great city- a huge city, with
    very dark houses and all smoky; not at all like the pretty clean
    town I came from; and Mr. Rochester carried me in his arms over a
    plank to the land, and Sophie came after, and we all got into a coach,
    which took us to a beautiful large house, larger than this and
    finer, called an hotel. We stayed there nearly a week: I and Sophie
    used to walk every day in a great green place full of trees, called
    the Park; and there were many children there besides me, and a pond
    with beautiful birds in it, that I fed with crumbs.'
      'Can you understand her when she runs on so fast?' asked Mrs.
    Fairfax.
      I understood her very well, for I had been accustomed to the fluent
    tongue of Madame Pierrot.
      'I wish,' continued the good lady, 'you would ask her a question or
    two about her parents: I wonder if she remembers them?'
      'Adele,' I inquired, 'with whom did you live when you were in
    that pretty clean town you spoke of?'
      'I lived long ago with mama; but she is gone to the Holy Virgin.
    Mama used to teach me to dance and sing, and to say verses. A great
    many gentlemen and ladies came to see mama, and I used to dance before
    them, or to sit on their knees and sing to them: I liked it. Shall I
    let you hear me sing now?'
      She had finished her breakfast, so I permitted her to give a
    specimen of her accomplishments. Descending from her chair, she came
    and placed herself on my knee; then, folding her little hands demurely
    before her, shaking back her curls and lifting her eyes to the
    ceiling, she commenced singing a song from some opera. It was the
    strain of a forsaken lady, who, after bewailing the perfidy of her
    lover, calls pride to her aid; desires her attendant to deck her in
    her brightest jewels and richest robes, and resolves to meet the false
    one that night at a ball, and prove to him, by the gaiety of her
    demeanour, how little his desertion has affected her.
      The subject seemed strangely chosen for an infant singer; but I
    suppose the point of the exhibition lay in hearing the notes of love
    and jealousy warbled with the lisp of childhood; and in very bad taste
    that point was: at least I thought so.
      Adele sang the canzonette tunefully enough, and with the naivete of
    her age. This achieved, she jumped from my knee and said, 'Now,
    Mademoiselle, I will repeat you some poetry.'
      Assuming an attitude, she began 'La Ligue des Rats: fable de La
    Fontaine.' She then declaimed the little piece with an attention to
    punctuation and emphasis, a flexibility of voice and an
    appropriateness of gesture, very unusual indeed at her age, and
    which proved she had been carefully trained.
      'Was it your mama who taught you that piece?' I asked.
      'Yes, and she just used to say it in this way: "Qu'avez vous
    donc? lui dit un de ces rats; parlez!" She made me lift my hand- so-
    to remind me to raise my voice at the question. Now shall I dance
    for you?'
      'No, that will do: but after your mama went to the Holy Virgin,
    as you say, with whom did you live then?'
      'With Madame Frederic and her husband: she took care of me, but she
    is nothing related to me. I think she is poor, for she had not so fine
    a house as mama. I was not long there. Mr. Rochester asked me if I
    would like to go and live with him in England, and I said yes; for I
    knew Mr. Rochester before I knew Madame Frederic, and he was always
    kind to me and gave me pretty dresses and toys: but you see he has not
    kept his word, for he has brought me to England, and now he is gone
    back again himself, and I never see him.'
      After breakfast, Adele and I withdrew to the library, which room,
    it appears, Mr. Rochester had directed should be used as the
    schoolroom. Most of the books were locked up behind glass doors; but
    there was one bookcase left open containing everything that could be
    needed in the way of elementary works, and several volumes of light
    literature, poetry, biography, travels, a few romances, etc. I suppose
    he had considered that these were all the governess would require
    for her private perusal; and, indeed, they contented me amply for
    the present; compared with the scanty pickings I had now and then been
    able to glean at Lowood, they seemed to offer an abundant harvest of
    entertainment and information. In this room, too, there was a
    cabinet piano, quite new and of superior tone; also an easel for
    painting and a pair of globes.
      I found my pupil sufficiently docile, though disinclined to
    apply: she had not been used to regular occupation of any kind. I felt
    it would be injudicious to confine her too much at first; so, when I
    had talked to her a great deal, and got her to learn a little, and
    when the morning had advanced to noon, I allowed her to return to
    her nurse. I then proposed to occupy myself till dinner-time in
    drawing some little sketches for her use.
      As I was going upstairs to fetch my portfolio and pencils, Mrs.
    Fairfax called to me: 'Your morning school-hours are over now, I
    suppose,' said she. She was in a room the folding doors of which stood
    open: I went in when she addressed me. It was a large, stately
    apartment, with purple chairs and curtains, a Turkey carpet,
    walnut-panelled walls, one vast window rich in stained glass, and a
    lofty ceiling, nobly moulded. Mrs. Fairfax was dusting some vases of
    fine purple spar, which stood on a sideboard.
      'What a beautiful room!' I exclaimed, as I looked round; for I
    had never before seen any half so imposing.
      'Yes; this is the dining-room. I have just opened the window, to
    let in a little air and sunshine; for everything gets so damp in
    apartments that are seldom inhabited; the drawing-room yonder feels
    like a vault.'
      She pointed to a wide arch corresponding to the window, and hung
    like it with a Tyrian-dyed curtain, now looped up. Mounting to it by
    two broad steps, and looking through, I thought I caught a glimpse
    of a fairy place, so bright to my novice-eyes appeared the view
    beyond. Yet it was merely a very pretty drawing-room, and within it
    a boudoir, both spread with white carpets, on which seemed laid
    brilliant garlands of flowers; both ceiled with snowy mouldings of
    white grapes and vine-leaves, beneath which glowed in rich contrast
    crimson couches and ottomans; while the ornaments on the pale Parian
    mantelpiece were of sparkling Bohemian glass, ruby red; and between
    the windows large mirrors repeated the general blending of snow and
    fire.
      'In what order you keep these rooms, Mrs. Fairfax!' said I. 'No
    dust, no canvas coverings: except that the air feels chilly, one would
    think they were inhabited daily.'
      'Why, Miss Eyre, though Mr. Rochester's visits here are rare,
    they are always sudden and unexpected; and as I observed that it put
    him out to find everything swathed up, and to have a bustle of
    arrangement on his arrival, I thought it best to keep the rooms in
    readiness.'
      'Is Mr. Rochester an exacting, fastidious sort of man?'
      'Not particularly so; but he has a gentleman's tastes and habits,
    and he expects to have things managed in conformity to them.'
      'Do you like him? Is he generally liked?'
      'Oh, yes; the family have always been respected here. Almost all
    the land in this neighbourhood, as far as you can see, has belonged to
    the Rochesters time out of mind.'
      'Well, but, leaving his land out of the question, do you like
    him? Is he liked for himself?'
      'I have no cause to do otherwise than like him; and I believe he is
    considered a just and liberal landlord by his tenants: but he has
    never lived much amongst them.'
      'But has he no peculiarities? What, in short, is his character?'
      'Oh! his character is unimpeachable, I suppose. He is rather
    peculiar, perhaps: he has travelled a great deal, and seen a great
    deal of the world, I should think. I daresay he is clever, but I never
    had much conversation with him.'
      'In what way is he peculiar?'
      'I don't know- it is not easy to describe- nothing striking, but
    you feel it when he speaks to you; you cannot be always sure whether
    he is in jest or earnest, whether he is pleased or the contrary; you
    don't thoroughly understand him, in short- at least, I don't: but it
    is of no consequence, he is a very good master.'
      This was all the account I got from Mrs. Fairfax of her employer
    and mine. There are people who seem to have no notion of sketching a
    character, or observing and describing salient points, either in
    persons or things: the good lady evidently belonged to this class;
    my queries puzzled, but did not draw her out. Mr. Rochester was Mr.
    Rochester in her eyes; a gentleman, a landed proprietor- nothing more:
    she inquired and searched no further, and evidently wondered at my
    wish to gain a more definite notion of his identity.
      When we left the dining-room she proposed to show me over the
    rest of the house; and I followed her upstairs and downstairs,
    admiring as I went; for all was well arranged and handsome. The
    large front chambers I thought especially grand: and some of the
    third-storey rooms, though dark and low, were interesting from their
    air of antiquity. The furniture once appropriated to the lower
    apartments had from time to time been removed here, as fashions
    changed: and the imperfect light entering by their narrow casement
    showed bed-steads of a hundred years old; chests in oak or walnut,
    looking, with their strange carvings of palm branches and cherubs'
    heads, like types of the Hebrew ark; rows of venerable chairs,
    high-backed and narrow; stools still more antiquated, on whose
    cushioned tops were yet apparent traces of half-effaced
    embroideries, wrought by fingers that for two generations had been
    coffin-dust. All these relics gave to the third storey of Thornfield
    Hall the aspect of a home of the past: a shrine of memory. I liked the
    hush, the gloom, the quaintness of these retreats in the day; but I by
    no means coveted a night's repose on one of those wide and heavy beds:
    shut in, some of them, with doors of oak; shaded, others, with wrought
    old English hangings crusted with thick work, portraying effigies of
    strange flowers, and stranger birds, and strangest human beings,-
    all which would have looked strange, indeed, by the pallid gleam of
    moonlight.
      'Do the servants sleep in these rooms?' I asked.
      'No; they occupy a range of smaller apartments to the back; no
    one ever sleeps here: one would almost say that, if there were a ghost
    at Thornfield Hall, this would be its haunt.'
      'So I think: you have no ghost, then?'
      'None that I ever heard of,' returned Mrs. Fairfax, smiling.
      'Nor any traditions of one? no legends or ghost stories?'
      'I believe not. And yet it is said the Rochesters have been
    rather a violent than a quiet race in their time: perhaps, though,
    that is the reason they rest tranquilly in their graves now.'
      'Yes- "after life's fitful fever they sleep well,"' I muttered.
    'Where are you going now, Mrs. Fairfax?' for she was moving away.
      'On to the leads; will you come and see the view from thence?' I
    followed still, up a very narrow staircase to the attics, and thence
    by a ladder and through a trap-door to the roof of the hall. I was now
    on a level with the crow colony, and could see into their nests.
    Leaning over the battlements and looking far down, I surveyed the
    grounds laid out like a map: the bright and velvet lawn closely
    girdling the grey base of the mansion; the field, wide as a park,
    dotted with its ancient timber; the wood, dun and sere, divided by a
    path visibly overgrown, greener with moss than the trees were with
    foliage; the church at the gates, the road, the tranquil hills, all
    reposing in the autumn day's sun; the horizon bounded by a
    propitious sky, azure, marbled with pearly white. No feature in the
    scene was extraordinary, but all was pleasing. When I turned from it
    and repassed the trap-door, I could scarcely see my way down the
    ladder; the attic seemed black as a vault compared with that arch of
    blue air to which I had been looking up, and to that sunlit scene of
    grove, pasture, and green hill, of which the hall was the centre,
    and over which I had been gazing with delight.
      Mrs. Fairfax stayed behind a moment to fasten the trap-door; I,
    by dint of groping, found the outlet from the attic, and proceeded
    to descend the narrow garret staircase. I lingered in the long passage
    to which this led, separating the front and back rooms of the third
    storey: narrow, low, and dim, with only one little window at the far
    end, and looking, with its two rows of small black doors all shut,
    like a corridor in some Bluebeard's castle.
      While I paced softly on, the last sound I expected to hear in so
    still a region, a laugh, struck my ear. It was a curious laugh;
    distinct, formal, mirthless. I stopped: the sound ceased, only for
    an instant; it began again, louder: for at first, though distinct,
    it was very low. It passed off in a clamorous peal that seemed to wake
    an echo in every lonely chamber; though it originated but in one,
    and I could have pointed out the door whence the accents issued.
      'Mrs. Fairfax!' I called out: for I now heard her descending the
    great stairs. 'Did you hear that loud laugh? Who is it?'
      'Some of the servants, very likely,' she answered: 'perhaps Grace
    Poole.'
      'Did you hear it?' I again inquired.
      'Yes, plainly: I often hear her: she sews in one of these rooms.
    Sometimes Leah is with her; they are frequently noisy together.'
      The laugh was repeated in its low, syllabic tone, and terminated in
    an odd murmur.
      'Grace!' exclaimed Mrs. Fairfax.
      I really did not expect any Grace to answer; for the laugh was as
    tragic, as preternatural a laugh as any I ever heard; and, but that it
    was high noon, and that no circumstance of ghostliness accompanied the
    curious cachinnation; but that neither scene nor season favoured fear,
    I should have been superstitiously afraid. However, the event showed
    me I was a fool for entertaining a sense even of surprise.
      The door nearest me opened, and a servant came out,- a woman of
    between thirty and forty; a set, square-made figure, red-haired, and
    with a hard, plain face: any apparition less romantic or less
    ghostly could scarcely be conceived.
      'Too much noise, Grace,' said Mrs. Fairfax. 'Remember
    directions!' Grace curtseyed silently and went in.
      'She is a person we have to sew and assist Leah in her
    housemaid's work,' continued the widow; 'not altogether
    unobjectionable in some points, but she does well enough. By the
    bye, how have you got on with your new pupil this morning?'
      The conversation, thus turned on Adele, continued till we reached
    the light and cheerful region below. Adele came running to meet us
    in the hall, exclaiming-
      'Mesdames, vous etes servies!' adding, 'J'ai bien faim, moi!'
      We found dinner ready, and waiting for us in Mrs. Fairfax's room.
   
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                            CHAPTER XII
   
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
      THE promise of a smooth career, which my first calm introduction to
    Thornfield Hall seemed to pledge, was not belied on a longer
    acquaintance with the place and its inmates. Mrs. Fairfax turned out
    to be what she appeared, a placid-tempered, kind-natured woman, of
    competent education and average intelligence. My pupil was a lively
    child, who had been spoilt and indulged, and therefore was sometimes
    wayward; but as she was committed entirely to my care, and no
    injudicious interference from any quarter ever thwarted my plans for
    her improvement, she soon forgot her little freaks, and became
    obedient and teachable. She had no great talents, no marked traits
    of character, no peculiar development of feeling or taste which raised
    her one inch above the ordinary level of childhood; but neither had
    she any deficiency or vice which sunk her below it. She made
    reasonable progress, entertained for me a vivacious, though perhaps
    not very profound, affection; and by her simplicity, gay prattle,
    and efforts to please, inspired me, in return, with a degree of
    attachment sufficient to make us both content in each other's society.
      This, par parenthese, will be thought cool language by persons
    who entertain solemn doctrines about the angelic nature of children,
    and the duty of those charged with their education to conceive for
    them an idolatrous devotion: but I am not writing to flatter
    parental egotism, to echo cant, or prop up humbug; I am merely telling
    the truth. I felt a conscientious solicitude for Adele's welfare and
    progress, and a quiet liking for her little self: just as I
    cherished towards Mrs. Fairfax a thankfulness for her kindness, and
    a pleasure in her society proportionate to the tranquil regard she had
    for me, and the moderation of her mind and character.
      Anybody may blame me who likes, when I add further, that, now and
    then, when I took a walk by myself in the grounds; when I went down to
    the gates and looked through them along the road; or when, while Adele
    played with her nurse, and Mrs. Fairfax made jellies in the storeroom,
    I climbed the three staircases, raised the trap-door of the attic, and
    having reached the leads, looked out afar over sequestered field and
    hill, and along dim sky-line- that then I longed for a power of vision
    which might overpass that limit; which might reach the busy world,
    towns, regions full of life I had heard of but never seen- that then I
    desired more of practical experience than I possessed; more of
    intercourse with my kind, of acquaintance with variety of character,
    than was here within my reach. I valued what was good in Mrs. Fairfax,
    and what was good in Adele; but I believed in the existence of other
    and more vivid kinds of goodness, and what I believed in I wished to
    behold.
      Who blames me? Many, no doubt; and I shall be called
    discontented. I could not help it: the restlessness was in my
    nature; it agitated me to pain sometimes. Then my sole relief was to
    walk along the corridor of the third storey, backwards and forwards,
    safe in the silence and solitude of the spot, and allow my mind's
    eye to dwell on whatever bright visions rose before it- and,
    certainly, they were many and glowing; to let my heart be heaved by
    the exultant movement, which, while it swelled it in trouble, expanded
    it with life; and, best of all, to open my inward ear to a tale that
    was never ended- a tale my imagination created, and narrated
    continuously; quickened with all of incident, life, fire, feeling,
    that I desired and had not in my actual existence.
      It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with
    tranquillity: they must have action; and they will make it if they
    cannot find it. Millions are condemned to a stiller doom than mine,
    and millions are in silent revolt against their lot. Nobody knows
    how many rebellions besides political rebellions ferment in the masses
    of life which people earth. Women are supposed to be very calm
    generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for
    their faculties, and a field for their efforts, as much as their
    brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a
    stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded
    in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to
    confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to
    playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to
    condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn
    more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.
      When thus alone, I not unfrequently heard Grace Poole's laugh:
    the same peal, the same low, slow ha! ha! which, when first heard, had
    thrilled me: I heard, too, her eccentric murmurs; stranger than her
    laugh. There were days when she was quite silent; but there were
    others when I could not account for the sounds she made. Sometimes I
    saw her: she would come out of her room with a basin, or a plate, or a
    tray in her hand, go down to the kitchen and shortly return, generally
    (oh, romantic reader, forgive me for telling the plain truth!) bearing
    a pot of porter. Her appearance always acted as a damper to the
    curiosity raised by her oral oddities: hard-featured and staid, she
    had no point to which interest could attach. I made some attempts to
    draw her into conversation, but she seemed a person of few words: a
    monosyllabic reply usually cut short every effort of that sort.
      The other members of the household, viz., John and his wife, Leah
    the housemaid, and Sophie the French nurse, were decent people; but in
    no respect remarkable; with Sophie I used to talk French, and
    sometimes I asked her questions about her native country; but she
    was not of a descriptive or narrative turn, and generally gave such
    vapid and confused answers as were calculated rather to check than
    encourage inquiry.
      October, November, December passed away. One afternoon in
    January, Mrs. Fairfax had begged a holiday for Adele, because she
    had a cold; and, as Adele seconded the request with an ardour that
    reminded me how precious occasional holidays had been to me in my
    own childhood, I accorded it, deeming that I did well in showing
    pliability on the point. It was a fine, calm day, though very cold;
    I was tired of sitting still in the library through a whole long
    morning: Mrs. Fairfax had just written a letter which was waiting to
    be posted, so I put on my bonnet and cloak and volunteered to carry it
    to Hay; the distance, two miles, would be a pleasant winter
    afternoon walk. Having seen Adele comfortably seated in her little
    chair by Mrs. Fairfax's parlour fireside, and given her her best wax
    doll (which I usually kept enveloped in silver paper in a drawer) to
    play with, and a story-book for a change of amusement; and having
    replied to her 'Revenez bientot, ma bonne amie, ma chere Mdlle.
    Jeannette,' with a kiss I set out.
      The ground was hard, the air was still, my road was lonely; I
    walked fast till I got warm, and then I walked slowly to enjoy and
    analyse the species of pleasure brooding for me in the hour and
    situation. It was three o'clock; the church bell tolled as I passed
    under the belfry: the charm of the hour lay in its approaching
    dimness, in the low-gliding and pale-beaming sun. I was a mile from
    Thornfield, in a lane noted for wild roses in summer, for nuts and
    blackberries in autumn, and even now possessing a few coral
    treasures in hips and haws, but whose best winter delight lay in its
    utter solitude and leafless repose. If a breath of air stirred, it
    made no sound here; for there was not a holly, not an evergreen to
    rustle, and the stripped hawthorn and hazel bushes were as still as
    the white, worn stones which causewayed the middle of the path. Far
    and wide, on each side, there were only fields, where no cattle now
    browsed; and the little brown birds, which stirred occasionally in the
    hedge, looked like single russet leaves that had forgotten to drop.
      This lane inclined up-hill all the way to Hay; having reached the
    middle, I sat down on a stile which led thence into a field. Gathering
    my mantle about me, and sheltering my hands in my muff, I did not feel
    the cold, though it froze keenly; as was attested by a sheet of ice
    covering the causeway, where a little brooklet, now congealed, had
    overflowed after a rapid thaw some days since. From my seat I could
    look down on Thornfield: the grey and battlemented hall was the
    principal object in the vale below me; its woods and dark rookery rose
    against the, west. I lingered till the sun went down amongst the
    trees, and sank crimson and clear behind them. I then turned eastward.
      On the hill-top above me sat the rising moon; pale yet as a
    cloud, but brightening momentarily, she looked over Hay, which, half
    lost in trees, sent up a blue smoke from its few chimneys: it was
    yet a mile distant, but in the absolute hush I could hear plainly
    its thin murmurs of life. My ear, too, felt the flow of currents; in
    what dales and depths I could not tell: but there were many hills
    beyond Hay, and doubtless many becks threading their passes. That
    evening calm betrayed alike the tinkle of the nearest streams, the
    sough of the most remote.
      A rude noise broke on these fine ripplings and whisperings, at once
    so far away and so clear: a positive tramp, tramp, a metallic clatter,
    which effaced the soft wave-wanderings; as, in a picture, the solid
    mass of a crag, or the rough boles of a great oak, drawn in dark and
    strong on the foreground, efface the aerial distance of azure hill,
    sunny horizon, and blended clouds where tint melts into tint.
      The din was on the causeway: a horse was coming; the windings of
    the lane yet hid it, but it approached. I was just leaving the
    stile; yet, as the path was narrow, I sat still to let it go by. In
    those days I was young, and all sorts of fancies bright and dark
    tenanted my mind: the memories of nursery stories were there amongst
    other rubbish; and when they recurred, maturing youth added to them
    a vigour and vividness beyond what childhood could give. As this horse
    approached, and as I watched for it to appear through the dusk, I
    remembered certain of Bessie's tales, wherein figured a
    North-of-England spirit called a 'Gytrash,' which, in the form of
    horse, mule, or large dog, haunted solitary ways, and sometimes came
    upon belated travellers, as this horse was now coming upon me.
      It was very near, but not yet in sight; when, in addition to the
    tramp, tramp, I heard a rush under the hedge, and close down by the
    hazel stems glided a great dog, whose black and white colour made
    him a distinct object against the trees. It was exactly one form of
    Bessie's Gytrash- a lion-like creature with long hair and a huge head:
    it passed me, however, quietly enough; not staying to look up, with
    strange pretercanine eyes, in my face, as I half expected it would.
    The horse followed,- a tall steed, and on its back a rider. The man,
    the human being, broke the spell at once. Nothing ever rode the
    Gytrash: it was always alone; and goblins, to my notions, though
    they might tenant the dumb carcasses of beasts, could scarce covet
    shelter in the commonplace human form. No Gytrash was this,- only a
    traveller taking the short cut to Millcote. He passed, and I went
    on; a few steps, and I turned: a sliding sound and an exclamation of
    'What the deuce is to do now?' and a clattering tumble, arrested my
    attention. Man and horse were down; they had slipped on the sheet of
    ice which glazed the causeway. The dog came bounding back, and
    seeing his master in a predicament, and hearing the horse groan,
    barked till the evening hills echoed the sound, which was deep in
    proportion to his magnitude. He snuffed round the prostrate group, and
    then he ran up to me; it was all he could do,- there was no other help
    at hand to summon. I obeyed him, and walked down to the traveller,
    by this time struggling himself free of his steed. His efforts were so
    vigorous, I thought he could not be much hurt; but I asked him the
    question-
      'Are you injured, sir?'
      I think he was swearing, but am not certain; however, he was
    pronouncing some formula which prevented him from replying to me
    directly.
      'Can I do anything?' I asked again.
      'You must just stand on one side,' he answered as he rose, first to
    his knees, and then to his feet. I did; whereupon began a heaving,
    stamping, clattering process, accompanied by a barking and baying
    which removed me effectually some yards' distance; but I would not
    be driven quite away till I saw the event. This was finally fortunate;
    the horse was re-established, and the dog was silenced with a 'Down,
    Pilot!' The traveller now, stooping, felt his foot and leg, as if
    trying whether they were sound; apparently something ailed them, for
    he halted to the stile whence I had just risen, and sat down.
      I was in the mood for being useful, or at least officious, I think,
    for I now drew near him again.
      'If you are hurt, and want help, sir, I can fetch some one either
    from Thornfield Hall or from Hay.'
      'Thank you: I shall do: I have no broken bones,- only a sprain;'
    and again he stood up and tried his foot, but the result extorted an
    involuntary 'Ugh!'
      Something of daylight still lingered, and the moon was waxing
    bright: I could see him plainly. His figure was enveloped in a
    riding cloak, fur collared and steel clasped; its details were not
    apparent, but I traced the general points of middle height and
    considerable breadth of chest. He had a dark face, with stern features
    and a heavy brow; his eyes and gathered eyebrows looked ireful and
    thwarted just now; he was past youth, but had not reached
    middle-age; perhaps he might be thirty-five. I felt no fear of him,
    and but little shyness. Had he been a handsome, heroic-looking young
    gentleman, I should not have dared to stand thus questioning him
    against his will, and offering my services unasked. I had hardly
    ever seen a handsome youth; never in my life spoken to one. I had a
    theoretical reverence and homage for beauty, elegance, gallantry,
    fascination; but had I met those qualities incarnate in masculine
    shape, I should have known instinctively that they neither had nor
    could have sympathy with anything in me, and should have shunned
    them as one would fire, lightning, or anything else that is bright but
    antipathetic.
      If even this stranger had smiled and been good-humoured to me
    when I addressed him; if he had put off my offer of assistance gaily
    and with thanks, I should have gone on my way and not felt any
    vocation to renew inquiries: but the frown, the roughness of the
    traveller, set me at my ease: I retained my station when he waved to
    me to go, and announced-
      'I cannot think of leaving you, sir, at so late an hour, in this
    solitary lane, till I see you are fit to mount your horse.'
      He looked at me when I said this; he had hardly turned his eyes
    in my direction before.
      'I should think you ought to be at home yourself,' said he, 'if you
    have a home in this neighbourhood: where do you come from?'
      'From just below; and I am not at all afraid of being out late when
    it is moonlight: I will run over to Hay for you with pleasure, if
    you wish it: indeed, I am going there to post a letter.'
      'You live just below- do you mean at that house with the
    battlements?' pointing to Thornfield Hall, on which the moon cast a
    hoary gleam, bringing it out distinct and pale from the woods, that,
    by contrast with the western sky, now seemed one mass of shadow.
      'Yes, sir.'
      'Whose house is it?'
      'Mr. Rochester's.'
      'Do you know Mr. Rochester?'
      'No, I have never seen him.'
      'He is not resident, then?'
      'No.'
      'Can you tell me where he is?'
      'I cannot.'
      'You are not a servant at the hall, of course. You are-' He
    stopped, ran his eye over my dress, which, as usual, was quite simple:
    a black merino cloak, a black beaver bonnet; neither of them half fine
    enough for a lady's-maid. He seemed puzzled to decide what I was; I
    helped him.
      'I am the governess.'
      'Ah, the governess!' he repeated; 'deuce take me, if I had not
    forgotten! The governess!' and again my raiment underwent scrutiny. In
    two minutes he rose from the stile: his face expressed pain when he
    tried to move.
      'I cannot commission you to fetch help,' he said; 'but you may help
    me a little yourself, if you will be so kind.'
      'Yes, sir.'
      'You have not an umbrella that I can use as a stick?'
      'No.'
      'Try to get hold of my horse's bridle and lead him to me: you are
    not afraid?'
      I should have been afraid to touch a horse when alone, but when
    told to do it, I was disposed to obey. I put down my muff on the
    stile, and went up to the tall steed; I endeavoured to catch the
    bridle, but it was a spirited thing, and would not let me come near
    its head; I made effort on effort, though in vain: meantime, I was
    mortally afraid of its trampling forefeet. The traveller waited and
    watched for some time, and at last he laughed.
      'I see,' he said, 'the mountain will never be brought to Mahomet,
    so all you can do is to aid Mahomet to go to the mountain; I must
    beg of you to come here.'
      I came. 'Excuse me,' he continued: 'necessity compels me to make
    you useful.' He laid a heavy hand on my shoulder, and leaning on me
    with some stress, limped to his horse. Having once caught the
    bridle, he mastered it directly and sprang to his saddle; grimacing
    grimly as he made the effort, for it wrenched his sprain.
      'Now,' said he, releasing his under lip from a hard bite, 'just
    hand me my whip; it lies there under the hedge.'
      I sought it and found it.
      'Thank you; now make haste with the letter to Hay, and return as
    fast as you can.'
      A touch of a spurred heel made his horse first start and rear,
    and then bound away; the dog rushed in his traces; all three vanished,
     
     
     
     
                    'Like heath that, in the wilderness,
                      The wild wind whirls away.'
     
     
      I took up my muff and walked on. The incident had occurred and
    was gone for me: it was an incident of no moment, no romance, no
    interest in a sense; yet it marked with change one single hour of a
    monotonous life. My help had been needed and claimed; I had given
    it: I was pleased to have done something; trivial, transitory though
    the deed was, it was yet an active thing, and I was weary of an
    existence all passive. The new face, too, was like a new picture
    introduced to the gallery of memory; and it was dissimilar to all
    the others hanging there: firstly, because it was masculine; and,
    secondly, because it was dark, strong, and stern. I had it still
    before me when I entered Hay, and slipped the letter into the
    post-office; I saw it as I walked fast down-hill all the way home.
    When I came to the stile, I stopped a minute, looked round and
    listened, with an idea that a horse's hoofs might ring on the causeway
    again, and that a rider in a cloak, and a Gytrash-like Newfoundland
    dog, might be again apparent: I saw only the hedge and a pollard
    willow before me, rising up still and straight to meet the
    moonbeams; I heard only the faintest waft of wind roaming fitful among
    the trees round Thornfield, a mile distant; and when I glanced down in
    the direction of the murmur, my eye, traversing the hall-front, caught
    a light kindling in a window: it reminded me that I was late, and I
    hurried on.
      I did not like re-entering Thornfield. To pass its threshold was to
    return to stagnation; to cross the silent hall, to ascend the darksome
    staircase, to seek my own lonely little room, and then to meet
    tranquil Mrs. Fairfax, and spend the long winter evening with her, and
    her only, was to quell wholly the faint excitement wakened by my
    walk,- to slip again over my faculties the viewless fetters of an
    uniform and too still existence; of an existence whose very privileges
    of security and ease I was becoming incapable of appreciating. What
    good it would have done me at that time to have been tossed in the
    storms of an uncertain struggling life, and to have been taught by
    rough and bitter experience to long for the calm amidst which I now
    repined! Yes, just as much good as it would do a man tired of
    sitting still in a 'too easy chair' to take a long walk: and just as
    natural was the wish to stir, under my circumstances, as it would be
    under his.
      I lingered at the gates; I lingered on the lawn; I paced
    backwards and forwards on the pavement; the shutters of the glass door
    were closed; I could not see into the interior; and both my eyes and
    spirit seemed drawn from the gloomy house- from the grey hollow filled
    with rayless cells, as it appeared to me- to that sky expanded
    before me,- a blue sea absolved from taint of cloud; the moon
    ascending it in solemn march; her orb seeming to look up as she left
    the hill-tops, from behind which she had come, far and farther below
    her, and aspired to the zenith, midnight dark in its fathomless
    depth and measureless distance; and for those trembling stars that
    followed her course; they made my heart tremble, my veins glow when
    I viewed them. Little things recall us to earth; the clock struck in
    the hall; that sufficed; I turned from moon and stars, opened a
    side-door, and went in.
      The hall was not dark, nor yet was it lit, only by the high-hung
    bronze lamp; a warm glow suffused both it and the lower steps of the
    oak staircase. This ruddy shine issued from the great dining-room,
    whose two-leaved door stood open, and showed a genial fire in the
    grate, glancing on marble hearth and brass fire-irons, and revealing
    purple draperies and polished furniture, in the most pleasant
    radiance. It revealed, too, a group near the mantelpiece: I had
    scarcely caught it, and scarcely become aware of a cheerful mingling
    of voices, amongst which I seemed to distinguish the tones of Adele,
    when the door closed.
      I hastened to Mrs. Fairfax's room; there was a fire there too,
    but no candle, and no Mrs. Fairfax. Instead, all alone, sitting
    upright on the rug, and gazing with gravity at the blaze, I beheld a
    great black and white long-haired dog, just like the Gytrash of the
    lane. It was so like it that I went forward and said- 'Pilot,' and the
    thing got up and came to me and snuffed me. I caressed him, and he
    wagged his great tail; but he looked an eerie creature to be alone
    with, and I could not tell whence he had come. I rang the bell, for
    I wanted a candle; and I wanted, too, to get an account of this
    visitant. Leah entered.
      'What dog is this?'
      'He came with master.'
      'With whom?'
      'With master- Mr. Rochester- he is just arrived.'
      'Indeed! and is Mrs. Fairfax with him?'
      'Yes, and Miss Adele; they are in the dining-room, and John is gone
    for a surgeon; for master has had an accident; his horse fell and
    his ankle is sprained.'
      'Did the horse fall in Hay Lane?'
      'Yes, coming down-hill; it slipped on some ice.'
      'Ah! Bring me a candle, will you, Leah?'
      Leah brought it; she entered, followed by Mrs. Fairfax, who
    repeated the news; adding that Mr. Carter the surgeon was come, and
    was now with Mr. Rochester: then she hurried out to give orders
    about tea, and I went upstairs to take off my things.
   
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                            CHAPTER XIII
   
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
      MR. ROCHESTER, it seems, by the surgeon's orders, went to bed early
    that night; nor did he rise soon next morning. When he did come
    down, it was to attend to business: his agent and some of his
    tenants were arrived, and waiting to speak with him.
      Adele and I had now to vacate the library: it would be in daily
    requisition as a reception-room for callers. A fire was lit in an
    apartment upstairs, and there I carried our books, and arranged it for
    the future schoolroom. I discerned in the course of the morning that
    Thornfield Hall was a changed place: no longer silent as a church,
    it echoed every hour or two to a knock at the door, or a clang of
    the bell: steps, too, often traversed the hall, and new voices spoke
    in different keys below; a rill from the outer world was flowing
    through it; it had a master: for my part, I liked it better.
      Adele was not easy to teach that day; she could not apply: she kept
    running to the door and looking over the banisters to see if she could
    get a glimpse of Mr. Rochester; then she coined pretexts to go
    downstairs, in order, as I shrewdly suspected, to visit the library,
    where I knew she was not wanted; then, when I got a little angry,
    and made her sit still, she continued to talk incessantly of her 'ami,
    Monsieur Edouard Fairfax de Rochester,' as she dubbed him (I had not
    before heard his prenomens), and to conjecture what presents he had
    brought her: for it appears he had intimated the night before, that
    when his luggage came from Millcote, there would be found amongst it a
    little box in whose contents she had an interest.
      'Et cela doit signifier,' said she, 'qu'il y aura la dedans un
    cadeau pour moi, et peut-etre pour vous aussi, mademoiselle.
    Monsieur a parle de vous: il m'a demande le nom de ma gouvernante,
    et si elle n'etait pas une petite personne, assez mince et un peu
    pale. J'ai dit qu'oui: car c'est vrai, n'est-ce pas, mademoiselle?'
      I and my pupil dined as usual in Mrs. Fairfax's parlour; the
    afternoon was wild and snowy, and we passed it in the schoolroom. At
    dark I allowed Adele to put away books and work, and to run
    downstairs; for, from the comparative silence below, and from the
    cessation of appeals to the door-bell, I conjectured that Mr.
    Rochester was now at liberty. Left alone, I walked to the window;
    but nothing was to be seen thence: twilight and snowflakes together
    thickened the air, and hid the very shrubs on the lawn. I let down the
    curtain and went back to the fireside.
      In the clear embers I was tracing a view, not unlike a picture I
    remembered to have seen of the castle of Heidelberg, on the Rhine,
    when Mrs. Fairfax came in, breaking up by her entrance the fiery
    mosaic I had been piecing together, and scattering too some heavy
    unwelcome thoughts that were beginning to throng on my solitude.
      'Mr. Rochester would be glad if you and your pupil would take tea
    with him in the drawing-room this evening,' said she: 'he has been
    so much engaged all day that he could not ask to see you before.'
      'When is his tea-time?' I inquired.
      'Oh, at six o'clock: he keeps early hours in the country. You had
    better change your frock now; I will go with you and fasten it. Here
    is a candle.'
      'Is it necessary to change my frock?'
      'Yes, you had better: I always dress for the evening when Mr.
    Rochester is here.'
      This additional ceremony seemed somewhat stately; however, I
    repaired to my room, and, with Mrs. Fairfax's aid, replaced my black
    stuff dress by one of black silk; the best and the only additional one
    I had, except one of light grey, which, in my Lowood notions of the
    toilette, I thought too fine to be worn, except on first-rate
    occasions.
      'You want a brooch,' said Mrs. Fairfax. I had a single little pearl
    ornament which Miss Temple gave me as a parting keepsake: I put it on,
    and then we went downstairs. Unused as I was to strangers, it was
    rather a trial to appear thus formally summoned in Mr. Rochester's
    presence. I let Mrs. Fairfax precede me into the dining-room, and kept
    in her shade as we crossed that apartment; and, passing the arch,
    whose curtain was now dropped, entered the elegant recess beyond.
      Two wax candles stood lighted on the table, and two on the
    mantelpiece; basking in the light and heat of a superb fire, lay
    Pilot- Adele knelt near him. Half reclined on a couch appeared Mr.
    Rochester, his foot supported by the cushion; he was looking at
    Adele and the dog: the fire shone full on his face. I knew my
    traveller with his broad and jetty eyebrows; his square forehead, made
    squarer by the horizontal sweep of his black hair. I recognised his
    decisive nose, more remarkable for character than beauty; his full
    nostrils, denoting, I thought, choler; his grim mouth, chin, and
    jaw- yes, all three were very grim, and no mistake. His shape, now
    divested of cloak, I perceived harmonised in squareness with his
    physiognomy: I suppose it was a good figure in the athletic sense of
    the term- broad chested and thin flanked, though neither tall nor
    graceful.
      Mr. Rochester must have been aware of the entrance of Mrs.
    Fairfax and myself; but it appeared he was not in the mood to notice
    us, for he never lifted his head as we approached.
      'Here is Miss Eyre, sir,' said Mrs. Fairfax, in her quiet way. He
    bowed, still not taking his eyes from the group of the dog and child.
      'Let Miss Eyre be seated,' said he: and there was something in
    the forced stiff bow, in the impatient yet formal tone, which seemed
    further to express, 'What the deuce is it to me whether Miss Eyre be
    there or not? At this moment I am not disposed to accost her.'
      I sat down quite disembarrassed. A reception of finished politeness
    would probably have confused me: I could not have returned or repaid
    it by answering grace and elegance on my part; but harsh caprice
    laid me under no obligation; on the contrary, a decent quiescence,
    under the freak of manner, gave me the advantage. Besides, the
    eccentricity of the proceeding was piquant: I felt interested to see
    how he would go on.
      He went on as a statue would, that is, he neither spoke nor
    moved. Mrs. Fairfax seemed to think it necessary that some one
    should be amiable, and she began to talk. Kindly, as usual- and, as
    usual, rather trite- she condoled with him on the pressure of business
    he had had all day; on the annoyance it must have been to him with
    that painful sprain: then she commended his patience and
    perseverance in going through with it.
      'Madam, I should like some tea,' was the sole rejoinder she got.
    She hastened to ring the bell; and when the tray came, she proceeded
    to arrange the cups, spoons, etc., with assiduous celerity. I and
    Adele went to the table; but the master did not leave his couch.
      'Will you hand Mr. Rochester's cup?' said Mrs. Fairfax to me;
    'Adele might perhaps spill it.'
      I did as requested. As he took the cup from my hand, Adele,
    thinking the moment propitious for making a request in my favour,
    cried out-
      'N'est-ce pas, monsieur, qu'il y a un cadeau pour Mademoiselle Eyre
    dans votre petit coffre?'
      'Who talks of cadeaux?' said he gruffly. 'Did you expect a present,
    Miss Eyre? Are you fond of presents?' and he searched my face with
    eyes that I saw were dark, irate, and piercing.
      'I hardly know, sir; I have little experience of them: they are
    generally thought pleasant things.'
      'Generally thought? But what do you think?'
      'I should be obliged to take time, sir, before I could give you
    an answer worthy of your acceptance: a present has many faces to it,
    has it not? and one should consider all, before pronouncing an opinion
    as to its nature.'
      'Miss Eyre, you are not so unsophisticated as Adele: she demands
    a "cadeau," clamorously, the moment she sees me: you beat about the
    bush.'
      'Because I have less confidence in my deserts than Adele has: she
    can prefer the claim of old acquaintance, and the right too of custom;
    for she says you have always been in the habit of giving her
    playthings; but if I had to make out a case I should be puzzled, since
    I am a stranger, and have done nothing to entitle me to an
    acknowledgment.'
      'Oh, don't fall back on over-modesty! I have examined Adele, and
    find you have taken great pains with her: she is not bright, she has
    no talents; yet in a short time she has made much improvement.'
      'Sir, you have now given me my "cadeau"; I am obliged to you: it is
    the meed teachers most covet-praise of their pupils' progress.'
      'Humph!' said Mr. Rochester, and he took his tea in silence.
      'Come to the fire,' said the master, when the tray was taken
    away, and Mrs. Fairfax had settled into a corner with her knitting;
    while Adele was leading me by the hand round the room, showing me
    the beautiful books and ornaments on the consoles and chiffonnieres.
    We obeyed, as in duty bound; Adele wanted to take a seat on my knee,
    but she was ordered to amuse herself with Pilot.
      'You have been resident in my house three months?'
      'Yes, sir.'
      'And you came from-?'
      'Ah! a charitable concern. How long were you there?'
      'Eight years.'
      'Eight years! you must be tenacious of life. I thought half the
    time in such a place would have done up any constitution! No wonder
    you have rather the look of another world. I marvelled where you had
    got that sort of face. When you came on me in Hay Lane last night, I
    thought unaccountably of fairy tales, and had half a mind to demand
    whether you had bewitched my horse: I am not sure yet. Who are your
    parents?'
      'I have none.'
      'Nor ever had, I suppose: do you remember them?'
      'No.'
      'I thought not. And so you were waiting for your people when you
    sat on that stile?'
      'For whom, sir?'
      'For the men in green: it was a proper moonlight evening for
    them. Did I break through one of your rings, that you spread that
    damned ice on the causeway?'
      I shook my head. 'The men in green all forsook England a hundred
    years ago,' said I, speaking as seriously as he had done. 'And not
    even in Hay Lane, or the fields about it, could you find a trace of
    them. I don't think either summer or harvest, or winter moon, will
    ever shine on their revels more.'
      Mrs. Fairfax had dropped her knitting, and, with raised eyebrows,
    seemed wondering what sort of talk this was.
      'Well,' resumed Mr. Rochester, 'if you disown parents, you must
    have some sort of kinsfolk: uncles and aunts?'
      'No; none that I ever saw.'
      'And your home?'
      'I have none.'
      'Where do your brothers and sisters live?'
      'I have no brothers or sisters.'
      'Who recommended you to come here?'
      'I advertised, and Mrs. Fairfax answered my advertisement.'
      'Yes,' said the good lady, who now knew what ground we were upon,
    'and I am daily thankful for the choice Providence led me to make.
    Miss Eyre has been an invaluable companion to me, and a kind and
    careful teacher to Adele.'
      'Don't trouble yourself to give her a character,' returned Mr.
    Rochester: 'eulogiums will not bias me; I shall judge for myself.
    She began by felling my horse.'
      'Sir?' said Mrs. Fairfax.
      'I have to thank her for this sprain.'
      The widow looked bewildered.
      'Miss Eyre, have you ever lived in a town?'
      'No, sir.'
      'Have you seen much society?'
      'None but the pupils and teachers of Lowood, and now the inmates of
    Thornfield.'
      'Have you read much?'
      'Only such books as came in my way; and they have not been numerous
    or very learned.'
      'You have lived the life of a nun: no doubt you are well drilled in
    religious forms;- Brocklehurst, who I understand directs Lowood, is
    a parson, is he not?'
      'Yes, sir.'
      'And you girls probably worshipped him, as a convent full of
    religieuses would worship their director.'
      'Oh, no.'
      'You are very cool! No! What! a novice not worship her priest! That
    sounds blasphemous.'
      'I disliked Mr. Brocklehurst; and I was not alone in the feeling.
    He is a harsh man; at once pompous and meddling; he cut off our
    hair; and for economy's sake bought us bad needles and thread, with
    which we could hardly sew.'
      'That was very false economy,' remarked Mrs. Fairfax, who now again
    caught the drift of the dialogue.
      'And was that the head and front of his offending?' demanded Mr.
    Rochester.
      'He starved us when he had the sole superintendence of the
    provision department, before the committee was appointed; and he bored
    us with long lectures once a week, and with evening readings from
    books of his own inditing, about sudden deaths and judgments, which
    made us afraid to go to bed.'
      'What age were you when you went to Lowood?'
      'About ten.'
      'And you stayed there eight years: you are now, then, eighteen?'
      I assented.
      'Arithmetic, you see, is useful; without its aid, I should hardly
    have been able to guess your age. It is a point difficult to fix where
    the features and countenance are so much at variance as in your
    case. And now what did you learn at Lowood? Can you play?'
      'A little.'
      'Of course: that is the established answer. Go into the library-
    I mean, if you please.- (Excuse my tone of command; I am used to
    say, "Do this," and it is done: I cannot alter my customary habits for
    one new inmate.)- Go, then, into the library; take a candle with
    you; leave the door open; sit down to the piano, and play a tune.'
      I departed, obeying his directions.
      'Enough!' he called out in a few minutes. 'You play a little, I
    see; like any other English school-girl; perhaps rather better than
    some, but not well.'
      I closed the piano and returned. Mr. Rochester continued-
      'Adele showed me some sketches this morning, which she said were
    yours. I don't know whether they were entirely of your doing; probably
    a master aided you?'
      'No, indeed!' I interjected.
      'Ah! that pricks pride. Well, fetch me your portfolio, if you can
    vouch for its contents being original; but don't pass your word unless
    you are certain: I can recognise patchwork.'
      'Then I will say nothing, and you shall judge for yourself, sir.'
      I brought the portfolio from the library.
      'Approach the table,' said he; and I wheeled it to his couch. Adele
    and Mrs. Fairfax drew near to see the pictures.
      'No crowding,' said Mr. Rochester: 'take the drawings from my
    hand as I finish with them; but don't push your faces up to mine.'
      He deliberately scrutinised each sketch and painting. Three he laid
    aside; the others, when he had examined them, he swept from him.
      'Take them off to the other table, Mrs. Fairfax,' said he, 'and
    look at them with Adele;- you' (glancing at me) 'resume your seat, and
    answer my questions. I perceive those pictures were done by one
    hand: was that hand yours?'
      'Yes.'
      'And when did you find time to do them? They have taken much
    time, and some thought.'
      'I did them in the last two vacations I spent at Lowood, when I had
    no other occupation.'
      'Where did you get your copies?'
      'Out of my head.'
      'That head I see now on your shoulders?'
      'Yes, sir.'
      'Has it other furniture of the same kind within?'
      'I should think it may have: I should hope- better.'
      He spread the pictures before him, and again surveyed them
    alternately.
      While he is so occupied, I will tell you, reader, what they are:
    and first, I must premise that they are nothing wonderful. The
    subjects had, indeed, risen vividly on my mind. As I saw them with the
    spiritual eye, before I attempted to embody them, they were
    striking; but my hand would not second my fancy, and in each case it
    had wrought out but a pale portrait of the thing I had conceived.
      These pictures were in water-colours. The first represented
    clouds low and livid, rolling over a swollen sea: all the distance was
    in eclipse; so, too, was the foreground; or rather, the nearest
    billows, for there was no land. One gleam of light lifted into
    relief a half-submerged mast, on which sat a cormorant, dark and
    large, with wings flecked with foam; its beak held a gold bracelet set
    with gems, that I had touched with as brilliant tints as my palette
    could yield, and as glittering distinctness as my pencil could impart.
    Sinking below the bird and mast, a drowned corpse glanced through
    the green water; a fair arm was the only limb clearly visible,
    whence the bracelet had been washed or torn.
      The second picture contained for foreground only the dim peak of
    a hill, with grass and some leaves slanting as if by a breeze.
    Beyond and above spread an expanse of sky, dark blue as at twilight:
    rising into the sky was a woman's shape to the bust, portrayed in
    tints as dusk and soft as I could combine. The dim forehead was
    crowned with a star; the lineaments below were seen as through the
    suffusion of vapour; the eyes shone dark and wild; the hair streamed
    shadowy, like a beamless cloud torn by storm or by electric travail.
    On the neck lay a pale reflection like moonlight; the same faint
    lustre touched the train of thin clouds from which rose and bowed this
    vision of the Evening Star.
      The third showed the pinnacle of an iceberg piercing a polar winter
    sky: a muster of northern lights reared their dim lances, close
    serried, along the horizon. Throwing these into distance, rose, in the
    foreground, a head,- a colossal head, inclined towards the iceberg,
    and resting against it. Two thin hands, joined under the forehead, and
    supporting it, drew up before the lower features a sable veil; a
    brow quite bloodless, white as bone, and an eye hollow and fixed,
    blank of meaning but for the glassiness of despair, alone were
    visible. Above the temples, amidst wreathed turban folds of black
    drapery, vague in its character and consistency as cloud, gleamed a
    ring of white flame, gemmed with sparkles of a more lurid tinge.
    This pale crescent was 'the likeness of a kingly crown'; what it
    diademed was 'the shape which shape had none.'
      'Were you happy when you painted these pictures?' asked Mr.
    Rochester presently.
      'I was absorbed, sir: yes, and I was happy. To paint them, in
    short, was to enjoy one of the keenest pleasures I have ever known.'
      'That is not saying much. Your pleasures, by your own account, have
    been few; but I daresay you did exist in a kind of artist's
    dreamland while you blent and arranged these strange tints. Did you
    sit at them long each day?'
      'I had nothing else to do, because it was the vacation, and I sat
    at them from morning till noon, and from noon till night: the length
    of the midsummer days favoured my inclination to apply.'
      'And you felt self-satisfied with the result of your ardent
    labours?'
      'Far from it. I was tormented by the contrast between my idea and
    my handiwork: in each case I had imagined something which I was
    quite powerless to realise.'
      'Not quite: you have secured the shadow of your thought; but no
    more, probably. You had not enough of the artist's skill and science
    to give it full being: yet the drawings are, for a school-girl,
    peculiar. As to the thoughts, they are elfish. These eyes in the
    Evening Star you must have seen in a dream. How could you make them
    look so clear, and yet not at all brilliant? for the planet above
    quells their rays. And what meaning is that in their solemn depth? And
    who taught you to paint wind? There is a high gale in that sky, and on
    this hill-top. Where did you see Latmos? For that is Latmos. There!
    put the drawings away!'
      I had scarce tied the strings of the portfolio, when, looking at
    his watch, he said abruptly-
      'It is nine o'clock: what are you about, Miss Eyre, to let Adele
    sit up so long? Take her to bed!'
      Adele went to kiss him before quitting the room: he endured the
    caress, but scarcely seemed to relish it more than Pilot would have
    done, nor so much.
      'I wish you all good-night, now,' said he, making a movement of the
    hand towards the door, in token that he was tired of our company,
    and wished to dismiss us. Mrs. Fairfax folded up her knitting: I
    took my portfolio: we curtseyed to him, received a frigid bow in
    return, and so withdrew.
      'You said Mr. Rochester was not strikingly peculiar, Mrs. Fairfax,'
    I observed, when I rejoined her in her room, after putting Adele to
    bed.
      'Well, is he?'
      'I think so: he is very changeful and abrupt.'
      'True: no doubt he may appear so to a stranger, but I am so
    accustomed to his manner, I never think of it; and then, if he has
    peculiarities of temper, allowance should be made.'
      'Why?'
      'Partly because it is his nature- and we can none of us help our
    nature; and partly because he has painful thoughts, no doubt, to
    harass him, and make his spirits unequal.'
      'What about?'
      'Family troubles, for one thing.'
      'But he has no family.'
      'Not now, but he has had- or, at least, relatives. He lost his
    elder brother a few years since.'
      'His elder brother?'
      'Yes. The present Mr. Rochester has not been very long in
    possession of the property; only about nine years.'
      'Nine years is a tolerable time. Was he so very fond of his brother
    as to be still inconsolable for his loss?'
      'Why, no- perhaps not. I believe there were some
    misunderstandings between them. Mr. Rowland Rochester was not quite
    just to Mr. Edward; and perhaps he prejudiced his father against
    him. The old gentleman was fond of money, and anxious to keep the
    family estate together. He did not like to diminish the property by
    division, and yet he was anxious that Mr. Edward should have wealth,
    too, to keep up the consequence of the name; and, soon after he was of
    age, some steps were taken that were not quite fair, and made a
    great deal of mischief. Old Mr. Rochester and Mr. Rowland combined
    to bring Mr. Edward into what he considered a painful position, for
    the sake of making his fortune: what the precise nature of that
    position was I never clearly knew, but his spirit could not brook what
    he had to suffer in it. He is not very forgiving: he broke with his
    family, and now for many years he has led an unsettled kind of life. I
    don't think he has ever been resident at Thornfield for a fortnight
    together, since the death of his brother without a will left him
    master of the estate; and, indeed, no wonder he shuns the old place.'
      'Why should he shun it?'
      'Perhaps he thinks it gloomy.'
      The answer was evasive. I should have liked something clearer;
    but Mrs. Fairfax either could not, or would not, give me more explicit
    information of the origin and nature of Mr. Rochester's trials. She
    averred they were a mystery to herself, and that what she knew was
    chiefly from conjecture. It was evident, indeed, that she wished me to
    drop the subject, which I did accordingly.
   
    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
   
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