chapter vii my first quarter at lowood seemed an age;and not the golden age either; it comprised an irksome struggle with difficulties inhabituating myself to new rules and unwonted tasks. the fear of failure in these pointsharassed me worse than the physical hardships of my lot; though these were notrifles. during january, february, and part ofmarch, 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 everyday in the open air. our clothing was insufficient to protect usfrom 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 irritationi endured from this cause every evening, when my feet inflamed; and the torture ofthrusting the swelled, raw, and stiff toes into my shoes in the morning. then the scanty supply of food wasdistressing: with the keen appetites of growing children, we had scarcelysufficient to keep alive a delicate
invalid. from this deficiency of nourishmentresulted an abuse, which pressed hardly on the younger pupils: whenever the famishedgreat girls had an opportunity, they would coax or menace the little ones out of theirportion. many a time i have shared between twoclaimants the precious morsel of brown bread distributed at tea-time; and afterrelinquishing to a third half the contents of my mug of coffee, i have swallowed the remainder with an accompaniment of secrettears, forced from me by the exigency of hunger.sundays were dreary days in that wintry
season. we had to walk two miles to brocklebridgechurch, where our patron officiated. we set out cold, we arrived at churchcolder: during the morning service we became almost paralysed. it was too far to return to dinner, and anallowance of cold meat and bread, in the same penurious proportion observed in ourordinary meals, was served round between the services. at the close of the afternoon service wereturned by an exposed and hilly road, where the bitter winter wind, blowing overa range of snowy summits to the north,
almost flayed the skin from our faces. i can remember miss temple walking lightlyand rapidly along our drooping line, her plaid cloak, which the frosty windfluttered, gathered close about her, and encouraging us, by precept and example, to keep up our spirits, and march forward, asshe said, "like stalwart soldiers." the other teachers, poor things, weregenerally themselves too much dejected to attempt the task of cheering others. how we longed for the light and heat of ablazing fire when we got back! but, to the little ones at least, this wasdenied: each hearth in the schoolroom was
immediately surrounded by a double row ofgreat girls, and behind them the younger children crouched in groups, wrapping theirstarved arms in their pinafores. a little solace came at tea-time, in theshape of a double ration of bread--a whole, instead of a half, slice--with thedelicious addition of a thin scrape of butter: it was the hebdomadal treat to which we all looked forward from sabbath tosabbath. i generally contrived to reserve a moietyof this bounteous repast for myself; but the remainder i was invariably obliged topart 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 irrepressibleyawns attested her weariness. a frequent interlude of these performanceswas 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 thefourth form, and be taken up half dead. the remedy was, to thrust them forward intothe centre of the schoolroom, and oblige them to stand there till the sermon wasfinished. sometimes their feet failed them, and theysank 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 thefirst month after my arrival; perhaps prolonging his stay with his friend thearchdeacon: his absence was a relief to me. i need not say that i had my own reasonsfor dreading his coming: but come he did at last. one afternoon (i had then been three weeksat lowood), as i was sitting with a slate in my hand, puzzling over a sum in longdivision, my eyes, raised in abstraction to the window, caught sight of a figure just passing: i recognised almost instinctivelythat 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 whoseentrance they thus greeted. a long stride measured the schoolroom, andpresently beside miss temple, who herself had risen, stood the same black columnwhich had frowned on me so ominously from the hearthrug of gateshead. i now glanced sideways at this piece ofarchitecture. 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 atthis apparition; too well i remembered the
perfidious hints given by mrs. reed aboutmy disposition, &c.; the promise pledged by mr. brocklehurst to apprise miss temple andthe teachers of my vicious nature. all along i had been dreading thefulfilment 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 badchild for ever: now there he was. he stood at miss temple's side; he wasspeaking low in her ear: i did not doubt he was making disclosures of my villainy; andi watched her eye with painful anxiety, expecting every moment to see its dark orb turn on me a glance of repugnance andcontempt.
i listened too; and as i happened to beseated quite at the top of the room, i caught most of what he said: its importrelieved me from immediate apprehension. "i suppose, miss temple, the thread ibought at lowton will do; it struck me that it would be just of the quality for thecalico chemises, and i sorted the needles to match. you may tell miss smith that i forgot tomake a memorandum of the darning needles, but she shall have some papers sent in nextweek; 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 tobe careless and lose them.
and, o ma'am! i wish the woollen stockings were betterlooked to!--when i was here last, i went into the kitchen-garden and examined theclothes drying on the line; there was a quantity of black hose in a very bad state of repair: from the size of the holes inthem 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 laundresstells me some of the girls have two clean tuckers in the week: it is too much; therules limit them to one."
"i think i can explain that circumstance,sir. agnes and catherine johnstone were invitedto take tea with some friends at lowton last thursday, and i gave them leave to puton clean tuckers for the occasion." mr. brocklehurst nodded. "well, for once it may pass; but please notto let the circumstance occur too often. and there is another thing which surprisedme; i find, in settling accounts with the housekeeper, that a lunch, consisting ofbread 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 thecircumstance, sir," replied miss temple: "the breakfast was so ill prepared that thepupils could not possibly eat it; and i dared not allow them to remain fasting tilldinner-time." "madam, allow me an instant. you are aware that my plan in bringing upthese girls is, not to accustom them to habits of luxury and indulgence, but torender them hardy, patient, self-denying. should any little accidental disappointmentof the appetite occur, such as the spoiling
of a meal, the under or the over dressingof a dish, the incident ought not to be neutralised by replacing with something more delicate the comfort lost, thuspampering the body and obviating the aim of this institution; it ought to be improvedto the spiritual edification of the pupils, by encouraging them to evince fortitudeunder temporary privation. a brief address on those occasions wouldnot be mistimed, wherein a judicious instructor would take the opportunity ofreferring to the sufferings of the primitive christians; to the torments of martyrs; to the exhortations of our blessedlord himself, calling upon his disciples to
take up their cross and follow him; to hiswarnings that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of god; to his divineconsolations, "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 feedtheir vile bodies, but you little think how you starve their immortal souls!" mr. brocklehurst again paused--perhapsovercome by his feelings. miss temple had looked down when he firstbegan 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, closedas if it would have required a sculptor's chisel to open it, and her brow settledgradually into petrified severity. meantime, mr. brocklehurst, standing on thehearth with his hands behind his back, majestically surveyed the whole school. suddenly his eye gave a blink, as if it hadmet something that either dazzled or shocked its pupil; turning, he said in morerapid accents than he had hitherto used-- "miss temple, miss temple, what--what isthat girl with curled hair?
red hair, ma'am, curled--curled all over?" and extending his cane he pointed to theawful 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 andprinciple of this house, does she conform to the world so openly--here in anevangelical, charitable establishment--as to wear her hair one mass of curls?" "julia's hair curls naturally," returnedmiss temple, still more quietly.
"naturally! yes, but we are not to conform to nature; iwish these girls to be the children of grace: and why that abundance? i have again and again intimated that idesire the hair to be arranged closely, modestly, plainly. miss temple, that girl's hair must be cutoff entirely; i will send a barber to- morrow: and i see others who have far toomuch of the excrescence--that tall girl, tell her to turn round. tell all the first form to rise up anddirect their faces to the wall."
miss temple passed her handkerchief overher lips, as if to smooth away the involuntary smile that curled them; shegave the order, however, and when the first class could take in what was required ofthem, they obeyed. leaning a little back on my bench, i couldsee the looks and grimaces with which they commented on this manoeuvre: it was a pitymr. brocklehurst could not see them too; he would perhaps have felt that, whatever he might do with the outside of the cup andplatter, the inside was further beyond his interference than he imagined. he scrutinised the reverse of these livingmedals 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 toserve whose kingdom is not of this world: my mission is to mortify in these girls thelusts of the flesh; to teach them to clothe themselves with shame-facedness and sobriety, not with braided hair and costlyapparel; and each of the young persons before us has a string of hair twisted inplaits 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 tohave heard his lecture on dress, for they were splendidly attired in velvet, silk,and furs. the two younger of the trio (fine girls ofsixteen and seventeen) had grey beaver hats, then in fashion, shaded with ostrichplumes, and from under the brim of this graceful head-dress fell a profusion of light tresses, elaborately curled; theelder lady was enveloped in a costly velvet shawl, trimmed with ermine, and she wore afalse front of french curls.
these ladies were deferentially received bymiss temple, as mrs. and the misses brocklehurst, and conducted to seats ofhonour at the top of the room. it seems they had come in the carriage withtheir reverend relative, and had been conducting a rummaging scrutiny of the roomupstairs, while he transacted business with the housekeeper, questioned the laundress,and lectured the superintendent. they now proceeded to address diversremarks and reproofs to miss smith, who was charged with the care of the linen and theinspection of the dormitories: but i had no time to listen to what they said; other matters called off and enchanted myattention.
hitherto, while gathering up the discourseof mr. brocklehurst and miss temple, i had not, at the same time, neglectedprecautions to secure my personal safety; which i thought would be effected, if icould only elude observation. to this end, i had sat well back on theform, and while seeming to be busy with my sum, had held my slate in such a manner asto conceal my face: i might have escaped notice, had not my treacherous slate somehow happened to slip from my hand, andfalling with an obtrusive crash, directly drawn every eye upon me; i knew it was allover now, and, as i stooped to pick up the two fragments of slate, i rallied my forcesfor 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 notforget i have a word to say respecting her."then aloud: how loud it seemed to me! "let the child who broke her slate comeforward!" of my own accord i could not have stirred;i was paralysed: but the two great girls who sit on each side of me, set me on mylegs and pushed me towards the dread judge, and then miss temple gently assisted me to
his very feet, and i caught her whisperedcounsel-- "don't be afraid, jane, i saw it was anaccident; you shall not be punished." the kind whisper went to my heart like adagger. "another minute, and she will despise mefor 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'tknow: i was in no condition to note
particulars; i was only aware that they hadhoisted me up to the height of mr. brocklehurst's nose, that he was within a yard of me, and that a spread of shotorange and purple silk pelisses and a cloud of silvery plumage extended and waved belowme. 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 eyesdirected like burning-glasses against my scorched skin.
"you see she is yet young; you observe shepossesses the ordinary form of childhood; god has graciously given her the shape thathe has given to all of us; no signal deformity points her out as a markedcharacter. who would think that the evil one hadalready found a servant and agent in her? yet such, i grieve to say, is the case." a pause--in which i began to steady thepalsy of my nerves, and to feel that the rubicon was passed; and that the trial, nolonger to be shirked, must be firmly sustained. "my dear children," pursued the blackmarble clergyman, with pathos, "this is a
sad, a melancholy occasion; for it becomesmy 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 trueflock, but evidently an interloper and an alien. you must be on your guard against her; youmust 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 youreyes on her movements, weigh well her words, scrutinise her actions, punish herbody to save her soul: if, indeed, such salvation be possible, for (my tongue
falters while i tell it) this girl, thischild, the native of a christian land, worse than many a little heathen who saysits prayers to brahma and kneels before juggernaut--this girl is--a liar!" now came a pause of ten minutes, duringwhich i, by this time in perfect possession of my wits, observed all the femalebrocklehursts produce their pocket- handkerchiefs and apply them to their optics, while the elderly lady swayedherself to and fro, and the two younger ones whispered, "how shocking!"mr. brocklehurst resumed. "this i learned from her benefactress; fromthe pious and charitable lady who adopted
her in her orphan state, reared her as herown daughter, and whose kindness, whose generosity the unhappy girl repaid by an ingratitude so bad, so dreadful, that atlast 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 oldsent their diseased to the troubled pool of bethesda; and, teachers, superintendent, ibeg 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 fromthe room. turning at the door, my judge said-- "let her stand half-an-hour longer on thatstool, and let no one speak to her during the remainder of the day." there was i, then, mounted aloft; i, whohad said i could not bear the shame of standing on my natural feet in the middleof the room, was now exposed to general view on a pedestal of infamy. what my sensations were no language candescribe; but just as they all rose,
stifling my breath and constricting mythroat, 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 aslave or victim, and imparted strength in the transit. i mastered the rising hysteria, lifted upmy head, and took a firm stand on the stool. helen burns asked some slight questionabout her work of miss smith, was chidden
for the triviality of the inquiry, returnedto her place, and smiled at me as she again went by. what a smile! i remember it now, and i know that it wasthe 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 herarm "the untidy badge;" scarcely an hour ago i had heard her condemned by missscatcherd to a dinner of bread and water on the morrow because she had blotted anexercise in copying it out.
such is the imperfect nature of man! suchspots are there on the disc of the clearest planet; and eyes like miss scatcherd's canonly see those minute defects, and are blind to the full brightness of the orb. > chapter viii ere the half-hour ended, five o'clockstruck; school was dismissed, and all were gone into the refectory to tea. i now ventured to descend: it was deepdusk; i retired into a corner and sat down on the floor.
the spell by which i had been so farsupported began to dissolve; reaction took place, and soon, so overwhelming was thegrief 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 theboards. i had meant to be so good, and to do somuch at lowood: to make so many friends, to earn respect and win affection. already i had made visible progress: thatvery 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 makesimilar 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; andcould i ever rise more? "never," i thought; and ardently i wishedto die. while sobbing out this wish in brokenaccents, some one approached: i started up- -again helen burns was near me; the fadingfires just showed her coming up the long, vacant room; she brought my coffee andbread.
"come, eat something," she said; but i putboth away from me, feeling as if a drop or a crumb would have choked me in my presentcondition. 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 attitudeshe remained silent as an indian. i was the first who spoke-- "helen, why do you stay with a girl whomeverybody believes to be a liar?" "everybody, jane?
why, there are only eighty people who haveheard 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 onein 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 heeven a great and admired man: he is little liked here; he never took steps to makehimself liked. had he treated you as an especialfavourite, you would have found enemies,
declared or covert, all around you; as itis, the greater number would offer you sympathy if they dared. teachers and pupils may look coldly on youfor a day or two, but friendly feelings are concealed in their hearts; and if youpersevere in doing well, these feelings will ere long appear so much the moreevidently for their temporary suppression. besides, jane"--she paused. "well, helen?" said i, putting my hand intohers: she chafed my fingers gently to warm them, and went on-- "if all the world hated you, and believedyou 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--icannot bear to be solitary and hated, helen. look here; to gain some real affection fromyou, or miss temple, or any other whom i truly love, i would willingly submit tohave 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 mychest--" "hush, jane! you think too much of the loveof human beings; you are too impulsive, too
vehement; the sovereign hand that createdyour frame, and put life into it, has provided you with other resources than your feeble self, or than creatures feeble asyou. besides this earth, and besides the race ofmen, 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 andshame, 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 pompouslyrepeated at second-hand from mrs. reed; for i read a sincere nature in your ardent eyesand on your clear front), and god waits only the separation of spirit from flesh tocrown us with a full reward. why, then, should we ever sink overwhelmedwith distress, when life is so soon over, and death is so certain an entrance tohappiness--to glory?" i was silent; helen had calmed me; but inthe 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 alittle fast and coughed a short cough, i
momentarily forgot my own sorrows to yieldto a vague concern for her. resting my head on helen's shoulder, i putmy arms round her waist; she drew me to her, and we reposed in silence. we had not sat long thus, when anotherperson came in. some heavy clouds, swept from the sky by arising wind, had left the moon bare; and her light, streaming in through a windownear, shone full both on us and on the approaching figure, which we at oncerecognised 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'sguidance, we had to thread some intricate passages, and mount a staircase before wereached her apartment; it contained a good fire, and looked cheerful. miss temple told helen burns to be seatedin a low arm-chair on one side of the hearth, and herself taking another, shecalled me to her side. "is it all over?" she asked, looking downat my face. "have you cried your grief away?""i am afraid i never shall do that." "why?" "because i have been wrongly accused; andyou, 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 youwill 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 ownaccord?"
"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 hedied that she would always keep me." "well now, jane, you know, or at least iwill tell you, that when a criminal is accused, he is always allowed to speak inhis own defence. you have been charged with falsehood;defend yourself to me as well as you can. say whatever your memory suggests is true;but add nothing and exaggerate nothing." i resolved, in the depth of my heart, thati would be most moderate--most correct; and, having reflected a few minutes inorder to arrange coherently what i had to say, i told her all the story of my sadchildhood.
exhausted by emotion, my language was moresubdued than it generally was when it developed that sad theme; and mindful ofhelen's warnings against the indulgence of resentment, i infused into the narrative far less of gall and wormwood thanordinary. thus restrained and simplified, it soundedmore credible: i felt as i went on that miss temple fully believed me. in the course of the tale i had mentionedmr. 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 nothingcould 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 thedark and haunted chamber. i had finished: miss temple regarded me afew minutes in silence; she then said-- "i know something of mr. lloyd; i shallwrite to him; if his reply agrees with your statement, you shall be publicly clearedfrom every imputation; to me, jane, you are clear now." she kissed me, and still keeping me at herside (where i was well contented to stand, for i derived a child's pleasure from thecontemplation of her face, her dress, her
one or two ornaments, her white forehead, her clustered and shining curls, andbeaming 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 andexamined her pulse; then she returned to her own seat: as she resumed it, i heardher sigh low. she was pensive a few minutes, then rousingherself, she said cheerfully--
"but you two are my visitors to-night; imust treat you as such." she rang her bell. "barbara," she said to the servant whoanswered it, "i have not yet had tea; bring the tray and place cups for these two youngladies." and a tray was soon brought. how pretty, to my eyes, did the china cupsand 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 wasbeginning to be hungry) discerned only a
very small portion: miss temple discernedit too. "barbara," said she, "can you not bring alittle 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 thehousekeeper: a woman after mr. brocklehurst's own heart, made up of equalparts of whalebone and iron. "oh, very well!" returned miss temple; "wemust 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 thisonce." having invited helen and me to approach thetable, and placed before each of us a cup of tea with one delicious but thin morselof toast, she got up, unlocked a drawer, and taking from it a parcel wrapped in paper, disclosed presently to our eyes agood-sized seed-cake. "i meant to give each of you some of thisto 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 andambrosia; and not the least delight of the
entertainment was the smile ofgratification with which our hostess regarded us, as we satisfied our famished appetites on the delicate fare sheliberally supplied. tea over and the tray removed, she againsummoned us to the fire; we sat one on each side of her, and now a conversationfollowed between her and helen, which it was indeed a privilege to be admitted tohear. miss temple had always something ofserenity in her air, of state in her mien, of refined propriety in her language, whichprecluded deviation into the ardent, the excited, the eager: something which
chastened the pleasure of those who lookedon her and listened to her, by a controlling sense of awe; and such was myfeeling 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 allthese, something in her own unique mind, had roused her powers within her. they woke, they kindled: first, they glowedin the bright tint of her cheek, which till this hour i had never seen but pale andbloodless; then they shone in the liquid lustre of her eyes, which had suddenly
acquired a beauty more singular than thatof miss temple's--a beauty neither of fine colour nor long eyelash, nor pencilledbrow, but of meaning, of movement, of radiance. then her soul sat on her lips, and languageflowed, from what source i cannot tell. has a girl of fourteen a heart largeenough, vigorous enough, to hold the swelling spring of pure, full, fervideloquence? such was the characteristic of helen'sdiscourse on that, to me, memorable evening; her spirit seemed hastening tolive within a very brief span as much as many live during a protracted existence.
they conversed of things i had never heardof; of nations and times past; of countries far away; of secrets of nature discoveredor guessed at: they spoke of books: how many they had read! what stores of knowledge they possessed! then they seemed so familiar with frenchnames and french authors: but my amazement reached its climax when miss temple askedhelen if she sometimes snatched a moment to recall the latin her father had taught her, and taking a book from a shelf, bade herread and construe a page of virgil; and helen obeyed, my organ of venerationexpanding at every sounding line.
she had scarcely finished ere the bellannounced 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: shelet her go more reluctantly; it was helen her eye followed to the door; it was forher she a second time breathed a sad sigh; for her she wiped a tear from her cheek. on reaching the bedroom, we heard the voiceof miss scatcherd: she was examining drawers; she had just pulled out helenburns's, and when we entered helen was greeted with a sharp reprimand, and told
that to-morrow she should have half-a-dozenof untidily folded articles pinned to her shoulder. "my things were indeed in shamefuldisorder," murmured helen to me, in a low voice: "i intended to have arranged them,but i forgot." next morning, miss scatcherd wrote inconspicuous characters on a piece of pasteboard the word "slattern," and boundit like a phylactery round helen's large, mild, intelligent, and benign-lookingforehead. she wore it till evening, patient,unresentful, regarding it as a deserved punishment.
the moment miss scatcherd withdrew afterafternoon school, i ran to helen, tore it off, and thrust it into the fire: the furyof which she was incapable had been burning in my soul all day, and tears, hot and large, had continually been scalding mycheek; for the spectacle of her sad resignation gave me an intolerable pain atthe heart. about a week subsequently to the incidentsabove 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 wholeschool, announced that inquiry had been
made into the charges alleged against janeeyre, and that she was most happy to be able to pronounce her completely clearedfrom every imputation. the teachers then shook hands with me andkissed me, and a murmur of pleasure ran through the ranks of my companions. thus relieved of a grievous load, i fromthat hour set to work afresh, resolved to pioneer my way through every difficulty: itoiled hard, and my success was proportionate to my efforts; my memory, not naturally tenacious, improved withpractice; 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 verbetre, and sketched my first cottage (whose walls, by-the- bye, outrivalled inslope those of the leaning tower of pisa), on the same day. that night, on going to bed, i forgot toprepare in imagination the barmecide supper of hot roast potatoes, or white bread andnew milk, with which i was wont to amuse my inward cravings: i feasted instead on the spectacle of ideal drawings, which i saw inthe 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, ofbirds picking at ripe cherries, of wren's nests enclosing pearl-like eggs, wreathedabout with young ivy sprays. i examined, too, in thought, thepossibility of my ever being able to translate currently a certain little frenchstory which madame pierrot had that day shown me; nor was that problem solved to mysatisfaction ere i fell sweetly asleep. well has solomon said--"better is a dinnerof herbs where love is, than a stalled ox and hatred therewith." i would not now have exchanged lowood withall its privations for gateshead and its
daily luxuries. chapter ix but the privations, or rather thehardships, of lowood lessened. spring drew on: she was indeed alreadycome; the frosts of winter had ceased; its snows were melted, its cutting windsameliorated. my wretched feet, flayed and swollen tolameness by the sharp air of january, began to heal and subside under the gentlerbreathings of april; the nights and mornings no longer by their canadian temperature froze the very blood in ourveins; we could now endure the play-hour
passed in the garden: sometimes on a sunnyday 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 morningbrighter traces of her steps. flowers peeped out amongst the leaves;snow-drops, crocuses, purple auriculas, and golden-eyed pansies. on thursday afternoons (half-holidays) wenow took walks, and found still sweeter flowers opening by the wayside, under thehedges. i discovered, too, that a great pleasure,an enjoyment which the horizon only
bounded, lay all outside the high andspike-guarded walls of our garden: this pleasure consisted in prospect of noble summits girdling a great hill-hollow, richin verdure and shadow; in a bright beck, full of dark stones and sparkling eddies. how different had this scene looked when iviewed it laid out beneath the iron sky of winter, stiffened in frost, shrouded withsnow!--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, turbidand curbless: it tore asunder the wood, and sent a raving sound through the air, oftenthickened with wild rain or whirling sleet; and for the forest on its banks, thatshowed only ranks of skeletons. april advanced to may: a bright serene mayit was; days of blue sky, placid sunshine, and soft western or southern gales filledup 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 ofmoss filled its hollows, and it made a
strange ground-sunshine out of the wealthof its wild primrose plants: i have seen their pale gold gleam in overshadowed spotslike 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 acause, to which it now becomes my task to advert. have i not described a pleasant site for adwelling, when i speak of it as bosomed in hill and wood, and rising from the verge ofa stream? assuredly, pleasant enough: but whetherhealthy or not is another question. that forest-dell, where lowood lay, was thecradle of fog and fog-bred pestilence;
which, quickening with the quickeningspring, crept into the orphan asylum, breathed typhus through its crowded schoolroom and dormitory, and, ere mayarrived, transformed the seminary into an hospital. semi-starvation and neglected colds hadpredisposed most of the pupils to receive infection: forty-five out of the eightygirls lay ill at one time. classes were broken up, rules relaxed. the few who continued well were allowedalmost unlimited license; because the medical attendant insisted on the necessityof frequent exercise to keep them in
health: and had it been otherwise, no onehad leisure to watch or restrain them. miss temple's whole attention was absorbedby the patients: she lived in the sick- room, never quitting it except to snatch afew hours' rest at night. the teachers were fully occupied withpacking up and making other necessary preparations for the departure of thosegirls who were fortunate enough to have friends and relations able and willing toremove them from the seat of contagion. many, already smitten, went home only todie: some died at the school, and were buried quietly and quickly, the nature ofthe malady forbidding delay. while disease had thus become an inhabitantof lowood, and death its frequent visitor;
while there was gloom and fear within itswalls; while its rooms and passages steamed with hospital smells, the drug and the pastille striving vainly to overcome theeffluvia of mortality, that bright may shone unclouded over the bold hills andbeautiful woodland out of doors. its garden, too, glowed with flowers:hollyhocks had sprung up tall as trees, lilies had opened, tulips and roses were inbloom; the borders of the little beds were gay with pink thrift and crimson double daisies; the sweetbriars gave out, morningand evening, their scent of spice and apples; and these fragrant treasures wereall useless for most of the inmates of
lowood, except to furnish now and then a handful of herbs and blossoms to put in acoffin. 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: welived better too. mr. brocklehurst and his family never camenear lowood now: household matters were not scrutinised into; the cross housekeeper wasgone, driven away by the fear of infection; her successor, who had been matron at the lowton dispensary, unused to the ways ofher new abode, provided with comparative
liberality. besides, there were fewer to feed; the sickcould eat little; our breakfast-basins were better filled; when there was no time toprepare a regular dinner, which often happened, she would give us a large piece of cold pie, or a thick slice of bread andcheese, and this we carried away with us to the wood, where we each chose the spot weliked best, and dined sumptuously. my favourite seat was a smooth and broadstone, rising white and dry from the very middle of the beck, and only to be got atby wading through the water; a feat i accomplished barefoot.
the stone was just broad enough toaccommodate, comfortably, another girl and me, at that time my chosen comrade--onemary ann wilson; a shrewd, observant personage, whose society i took pleasure in, partly because she was witty andoriginal, and partly because she had a manner which set me at my ease. some years older than i, she knew more ofthe world, and could tell me many things i liked to hear: with her my curiosity foundgratification: to my faults also she gave ample indulgence, never imposing curb orrein on anything i said. she had a turn for narrative, i foranalysis; 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 mentionedwas inferior to my first acquaintance: she could only tell me amusing stories, andreciprocate any racy and pungent gossip i chose to indulge in; while, if i have spoken truth of helen, she was qualified togive those who enjoyed the privilege of her
converse a taste of far higher things. true, reader; and i knew and felt this: andthough i am a defective being, with many faults and few redeeming points, yet inever tired of helen burns; nor ever ceased to cherish for her a sentiment of attachment, as strong, tender, andrespectful as any that ever animated my heart. how could it be otherwise, when helen, atall times and under all circumstances, evinced for me a quiet and faithfulfriendship, which ill-humour never soured, nor irritation never troubled?
but helen was ill at present: for someweeks she had been removed from my sight to i knew not what room upstairs. she was not, i was told, in the hospitalportion of the house with the fever patients; for her complaint wasconsumption, not typhus: and by consumption i, in my ignorance, understood something mild, which time and care would be sure toalleviate. i was confirmed in this idea by the fact ofher once or twice coming downstairs on very warm sunny afternoons, and being taken bymiss temple into the garden; but, on these occasions, i was not allowed to go and
speak to her; i only saw her from theschoolroom window, and then not distinctly; for she was much wrapped up, and sat at adistance under the verandah. one evening, in the beginning of june, ihad stayed out very late with mary ann in the wood; we had, as usual, separatedourselves 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 manand woman lived, who looked after a herd of half-wild swine that fed on the mast in thewood. when we got back, it was after moonrise: apony, which we knew to be the surgeon's, was standing at the garden door.
mary ann remarked that she supposed someone 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 afew minutes to plant in my garden a handful of roots i had dug up in the forest, andwhich 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 graveeast.
i was noting these things and enjoying themas a child might, when it entered my mind as it had never done before:-- "how sad to be lying now on a sick bed, andto be in danger of dying! this world is pleasant--it would be drearyto be called from it, and to have to go who knows where?" and then my mind made its first earnesteffort to comprehend what had been infused into it concerning heaven and hell; and forthe first time it recoiled, baffled; and for the first time glancing behind, on each side, and before it, it saw all round anunfathomed gulf: it felt the one point
where it stood--the present; all the restwas formless cloud and vacant depth; and it shuddered at the thought of tottering, andplunging amid that chaos. while pondering this new idea, i heard thefront door open; mr. bates came out, and with him was a nurse. after she had seen him mount his horse anddepart, 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 hearingyesterday, would have only conveyed the notion that she was about to be removed tonorthumberland, to her own home. i should not have suspected that it meantshe was dying; but i knew instantly now! it opened clear on my comprehension thathelen burns was numbering her last days in this world, and that she was going to betaken to the region of spirits, if such region there were. i experienced a shock of horror, then astrong thrill of grief, then a desire--a necessity to see her; and i asked in whatroom she lay. "she is in miss temple's room," said thenurse.
"may i go up and speak to her?""oh no, child! it is not likely; and now it is time foryou 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 inby the side entrance which led to the schoolroom: i was just in time; it was nineo'clock, and miss miller was calling the pupils to go to bed. it might be two hours later, probably neareleven, when i--not having been able to fall asleep, and deeming, from the perfectsilence of the dormitory, that my companions were all wrapt in profound
repose--rose softly, put on my frock overmy night-dress, and, without shoes, crept from the apartment, and set off in quest ofmiss 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 andthere at passage windows, enabled me to find it without difficulty. an odour of camphor and burnt vinegarwarned me when i came near the fever room: and i passed its door quickly, fearful lestthe nurse who sat up all night should hear i dreaded being discovered and sent back;for i must see helen,--i must embrace her before she died,--i must give her one lastkiss, exchange with her one last word.
having descended a staircase, traversed aportion of the house below, and succeeded in opening and shutting, without noise, twodoors, i reached another flight of steps; these i mounted, and then just opposite tome was miss temple's room. a light shone through the keyhole and fromunder the door; a profound stillness pervaded the vicinity. coming near, i found the door slightlyajar; probably to admit some fresh air into the close abode of sickness. indisposed to hesitate, and full ofimpatient impulses--soul and senses quivering with keen throes--i put it backand looked in.
my eye sought helen, and feared to finddeath. close by miss temple's bed, and halfcovered with its white curtains, there stood a little crib. i saw the outline of a form under theclothes, but the face was hid by the hangings: the nurse i had spoken to in thegarden sat in an easy-chair asleep; an unsnuffed candle burnt dimly on the table. miss temple was not to be seen: i knewafterwards 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 thatmy fear was instantly dissipated. "can it be you, jane?" she asked, in herown gentle voice. "oh!" i thought, "she is not going to die; theyare mistaken: she could not speak and look so calmly if she were."
i got on to her crib and kissed her: herforehead 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 itstrike some minutes since." "i came to see you, helen: i heard you werevery ill, and i could not sleep till i had spoken to you." "you came to bid me good-bye, then: you arejust 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 ofcoughing seized helen; it did not, however, wake the nurse; when it was over, she laysome minutes exhausted; then she whispered- - "jane, your little feet are bare; lie downand cover yourself with my quilt." i did so: she put her arm over me, and inestled close to her. after a long silence, she resumed, stillwhispering-- "i am very happy, jane; and when you hearthat i am dead, you must be sure and not grieve: there is nothing to grieve about.
we all must die one day, and the illnesswhich 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 haveonly 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 myway 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 destroywhat he created. i rely implicitly on his power, and confidewholly in his goodness: i count the hours till that eventful one arrives which shallrestore me to him, reveal him to me." "you are sure, then, helen, that there issuch a place as heaven, and that our souls can get to it when we die?" "i am sure there is a future state; ibelieve 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 idie?" "you will come to the same region ofhappiness: be received by the same mighty, universal parent, no doubt, dear jane." again i questioned, but this time only inthought. "where is that region?does it exist?" and i clasped my arms closer round helen;she seemed dearer to me than ever; i felt as if i could not let her go; i lay with myface 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: butdon't leave me, jane; i like to have you near me." "i'll stay with you, dear helen: no oneshall 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 unusualmovement roused me; i looked up; i was in
somebody's arms; the nurse held me; she wascarrying 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 manyquestions; but a day or two afterwards i learned that miss temple, on returning to her own room at dawn, had found me laid inthe 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 agrey marble tablet marks the spot,
inscribed with her name, and the word"resurgam." chapter x hitherto i have recorded in detail theevents of my insignificant existence: to the first ten years of my life i have givenalmost as many chapters. but this is not to be a regularautobiography. i am only bound to invoke memory where iknow her responses will possess some degree of interest; therefore i now pass a spaceof eight years almost in silence: a few lines only are necessary to keep up thelinks of connection. when the typhus fever had fulfilled itsmission of devastation at lowood, it
gradually disappeared from thence; but nottill its virulence and the number of its victims had drawn public attention on theschool. inquiry was made into the origin of thescourge, and by degrees various facts came out which excited public indignation in ahigh degree. the unhealthy nature of the site; thequantity and quality of the children's food; the brackish, fetid water used in itspreparation; the pupils' wretched clothing and accommodations--all these things were discovered, and the discovery produced aresult mortifying to mr. brocklehurst, but beneficial to the institution.
several wealthy and benevolent individualsin the county subscribed largely for the erection of a more convenient building in abetter situation; new regulations were made; improvements in diet and clothing introduced; the funds of the school wereintrusted to the management of a committee. mr. brocklehurst, who, from his wealth andfamily connections, could not be overlooked, still retained the post oftreasurer; but he was aided in the discharge of his duties by gentlemen of rather more enlarged and sympathisingminds: his office of inspector, too, was shared by those who knew how to combinereason with strictness, comfort with
economy, compassion with uprightness. the school, thus improved, became in time atruly useful and noble institution. i remained an inmate of its walls, afterits regeneration, for eight years: six as pupil, and two as teacher; and in bothcapacities i bear my testimony to its value and importance. during these eight years my life wasuniform: but not unhappy, because it was not inactive. i had the means of an excellent educationplaced within my reach; a fondness for some of my studies, and a desire to excel inall, together with a great delight in
pleasing my teachers, especially such as i loved, urged me on: i availed myself fullyof the advantages offered me. in time i rose to be the first girl of thefirst class; then i was invested with the office of teacher; which i discharged withzeal for two years: but at the end of that time i altered. miss temple, through all changes, had thusfar continued superintendent of the seminary: to her instruction i owed thebest part of my acquirements; her friendship and society had been my continual solace; she had stood me in thestead of mother, governess, and, latterly,
companion. at this period she married, removed withher husband (a clergyman, an excellent man, almost worthy of such a wife) to a distantcounty, and consequently was lost to me. from the day she left i was no longer thesame: with her was gone every settled feeling, every association that had madelowood in some degree a home to me. i had imbibed from her something of hernature and much of her habits: more harmonious thoughts: what seemed betterregulated feelings had become the inmates of my mind. i had given in allegiance to duty andorder; i was quiet; i believed i was
content: to the eyes of others, usuallyeven 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 apost-chaise, shortly after the marriage ceremony; i watched the chaise mount the hill and disappear beyond its brow; andthen retired to my own room, and there spent in solitude the greatest part of thehalf-holiday granted in honour of the occasion. i walked about the chamber most of thetime.
i imagined myself only to be regretting myloss, and thinking how to repair it; but when my reflections were concluded, and ilooked up and found that the afternoon was gone, and evening far advanced, another discovery dawned on me, namely, that in theinterval i had undergone a transforming process; that my mind had put off all ithad borrowed of miss temple--or rather that she had taken with her the serene atmosphere i had been breathing in hervicinity--and that now i was left in my natural element, and beginning to feel thestirring of old emotions. it did not seem as if a prop werewithdrawn, but rather as if a motive were
gone: it was not the power to be tranquilwhich 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 realworld was wide, and that a varied field of hopes and fears, of sensations and excitements, awaited those who had courageto 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 onthose most remote, the blue peaks; it was those i longed to surmount; all withintheir boundary of rock and heath seemed prison-ground, exile limits. i traced the white road winding round thebase of one mountain, and vanishing in a gorge between two; how i longed to followit farther! i recalled the time when i had travelledthat very road in a coach; i remembered descending that hill at twilight; an ageseemed to have elapsed since the day which brought me first to lowood, and i had neverquitted it since.
my vacations had all been spent at school:mrs. reed had never sent for me to gateshead; neither she nor any of herfamily had ever been to visit me. i had had no communication by letter ormessage 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; itired 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 humblersupplication; for change, stimulus: that petition, too, seemed swept off into vaguespace: "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 interruptedchain of my reflections till bedtime: even then a teacher who occupied the same roomwith me kept me from the subject to which i longed to recur, by a prolonged effusion ofsmall talk. how i wished sleep would silence her. it seemed as if, could i but go back to theidea which had last entered my mind as i
stood at the window, some inventivesuggestion would rise for my relief. miss gryce snored at last; she was a heavywelshwoman, and till now her habitual nasal strains had never been regarded by me inany other light than as a nuisance; to- night i hailed the first deep notes with satisfaction; i was debarrassed ofinterruption; 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 doesnot sound too sweet; it is not like such words as liberty, excitement, enjoyment:
delightful sounds truly; but no more thansounds for me; and so hollow and fleeting that it is mere waste of time to listen tothem. but servitude! that must be matter of fact.any one may serve: i have served here eight years; now all i want is to serveelsewhere. 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 ferretout the means of attaining it." i sat up in bed by way of arousing thissaid brain: it was a chilly night; i
covered my shoulders with a shawl, and theni 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 thisbecause 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 theirresource?"
i could not tell: nothing answered me; ithen ordered my brain to find a response, and quickly. it worked and worked faster: i felt thepulses throb in my head and temples; but for nearly an hour it worked in chaos; andno result came of its efforts. feverish with vain labour, i got up andtook a turn in the room; undrew the curtain, noted a star or two, shivered withcold, and again crept to bed. a kind fairy, in my absence, had surelydropped the required suggestion on my pillow; for as i lay down, it came quietlyand naturally to my mind.--"those who want situations advertise; you must advertise inthe ---shire herald."
"how? i know nothing about advertising."replies rose smooth and prompt now:-- "you must enclose the advertisement and themoney to pay for it under a cover directed to the editor of the herald; you must putit, the first opportunity you have, into the post at lowton; answers must be addressed to j.e., at the post-officethere; you can go and inquire in about a week after you send your letter, if any arecome, and act accordingly." this scheme i went over twice, thrice; itwas then digested in my mind; i had it in a clear practical form: i felt satisfied, andfell asleep. with earliest day, i was up: i had myadvertisement written, enclosed, and
directed before the bell rang to rouse theschool; it ran thus:-- "a young lady accustomed to tuition" (had inot been a teacher two years?) "is desirous of meeting with a situation ina private family where the children are under fourteen (i thought that as i wasbarely eighteen, it would not do to undertake the guidance of pupils nearer myown age). she is qualified to teach the usualbranches of a good english education, together with french, drawing, and music"(in those days, reader, this now narrow catalogue of accomplishments, would havebeen held tolerably comprehensive). "address, j.e., post-office, lowton, ---shire."
this document remained locked in my drawerall day: after tea, i asked leave of the new superintendent to go to lowton, inorder 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 eveningwas wet, but the days were still long; i visited a shop or two, slipped the letterinto the post-office, and came back through heavy rain, with streaming garments, butwith a relieved heart. the succeeding week seemed long: it came toan end at last, however, like all sublunary things, and once more, towards the close ofa 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, thanof the charms of lea and water. my ostensible errand on this occasion wasto get measured for a pair of shoes; so i discharged that business first, and when itwas done, i stepped across the clean and quiet little street from the shoemaker's to the post-office: it was kept by an olddame, 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, andthen she opened a drawer and fumbled among its contents for a long time, so long thatmy hopes began to falter. at last, having held a document before herglasses 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 itin my pocket and turned my face homeward:
i could not open it then; rules obliged me tobe 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 readprayers; 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 ofcandle in our candlestick, and i dreaded lest she should talk till it was all burnt out; fortunately, however, the heavy suppershe had eaten produced a soporific effect:
she was already snoring before i hadfinished undressing. there still remained an inch of candle: inow took out my letter; the seal was an initial f.; i broke it; the contents werebrief. "if j.e., who advertised in the ---shireherald of last thursday, possesses the acquirements mentioned, and if she is in aposition to give satisfactory references as to character and competency, a situation can be offered her where there is but onepupil, a little girl, under ten years of age; and where the salary is thirty poundsper annum. j.e. is requested to send references, name,address, and all particulars to the
direction:--"mrs. fairfax, thornfield, near millcote, --shire." i examined the document long: the writingwas old-fashioned and rather uncertain, like that of an elderly lady. this circumstance was satisfactory: aprivate 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 badingredient 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 nameof her house: a neat orderly spot, i was sure; though i failed in my efforts toconceive a correct plan of the premises. millcote, ---shire; i brushed up myrecollections of the map of england, yes, i saw it; both the shire and the town. ---shire was seventy miles nearer londonthan the remote county where i now resided: that was a recommendation to me.
i longed to go where there was life andmovement: millcote was a large manufacturing town on the banks of the a-;a busy place enough, doubtless: so much the better; it would be a complete change atleast. not that my fancy was much captivated bythe 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, andthe wick went out. next day new steps were to be taken; myplans could no longer be confined to my own breast; i must impart them in order toachieve their success. having sought and obtained an audience ofthe superintendent during the noontide
recreation, i told her i had a prospect ofgetting a new situation where the salary would be double what i now received (for at lowood i only got 15 pounds per annum); andrequested she would break the matter for me to mr. brocklehurst, or some of thecommittee, and ascertain whether they would permit me to mention them as references. she obligingly consented to act asmediatrix 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 naturalguardian. a note was accordingly addressed to thatlady, who returned for answer, that "i
might do as i pleased: she had longrelinquished 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 tobetter my condition if i could; and an assurance added, that as i had always conducted myself well, both as teacher andpupil, at lowood, a testimonial of character and capacity, signed by theinspectors of that institution, should forthwith be furnished me. this testimonial i accordingly received inabout 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 herhouse. i now busied myself in preparations: thefortnight passed rapidly. i had not a very large wardrobe, though itwas adequate to my wants; and the last day sufficed to pack my trunk,--the same i hadbrought 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 myselfwas 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 thatno article was left behind; and now having nothing more to do, i sat down and tried torest. i could not; though i had been on foot allday, i could not now repose an instant; i was too much excited. a phase of my life was closing to-night, anew one opening to-morrow: impossible to slumber in the interval; i must watchfeverishly while the change was being accomplished.
"miss," said a servant who met me in thelobby, where i was wandering like a troubled spirit, "a person below wishes tosee you." "the carrier, no doubt," i thought, and randownstairs 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 oneran out-- "it's her, i am sure!--i could have toldher anywhere!" cried the individual who stopped my progress and took my hand. i looked: i saw a woman attired like awell-dressed servant, matronly, yet still young; very good-looking, with black hairand eyes, and lively complexion.
"well, who is it?" she asked, in a voiceand with a smile i half recognised; "you've not quite forgotten me, i think, missjane?" in another second i was embracing andkissing her rapturously: "bessie! bessie! bessie!" that was all i said; whereat shehalf 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 bessiedirectly. "then you are married, bessie?"
"yes; nearly five years since to robertleaven, the coachman; and i've a little girl besides bobby there, that i'vechristened jane." "and you don't live at gateshead?" "i live at the lodge: the old porter hasleft." "well, and how do they all get on? tell me everything about them, bessie: butsit down first; and, bobby, come and sit on my knee, will you?" but bobby preferredsidling over to his mother. "you're not grown so very tall, miss jane,nor so very stout," continued mrs. leaven. "i dare say they've not kept you too wellat school: miss reed is the head and
shoulders taller than you are; and missgeorgiana would make two of you in breadth." "georgiana is handsome, i suppose, bessie?""very. she went up to london last winter with hermama, and there everybody admired her, and a young lord fell in love with her: but hisrelations were against the match; and--what do you think?--he and miss georgiana made it up to run away; but they were found outand stopped. it was miss reed that found them out: ibelieve she was envious; and now she and her sister lead a cat and dog lifetogether; they are always quarrelling--"
"well, and what of john reed?" "oh, he is not doing so well as his mamacould wish. he went to college, and he got--plucked, ithink they call it: and then his uncles wanted him to be a barrister, and study thelaw: 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 suchthick lips." "and mrs. reed?" "missis looks stout and well enough in theface, but i think she's not quite easy in
her mind: mr. john's conduct does notplease her--he spends a deal of money." "did she send you here, bessie?" "no, indeed: but i have long wanted to seeyou, and when i heard that there had been a letter from you, and that you were going toanother part of the country, i thought i'd just set off, and get a look at you beforeyou were quite out of my reach." "i am afraid you are disappointed in me,bessie." i said this laughing: i perceived thatbessie's glance, though it expressed regard, did in no shape denote admiration. "no, miss jane, not exactly: you aregenteel 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 feltthat it was correct, but i confess i was not quite indifferent to its import: ateighteen most people wish to please, and the conviction that they have not an exterior likely to second that desirebrings anything but gratification. "i dare say 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 andopened it, and then asked me to sit down
and give her a tune: i played a waltz ortwo, and she was charmed. "the miss reeds could not play as well!"said she exultingly. "i always said you would surpass them inlearning: and can you draw?" "that is one of my paintings over thechimney-piece." it was a landscape in water colours, ofwhich i had made a present to the superintendent, in acknowledgment of herobliging mediation with the committee on my behalf, and which she had framed andglazed. "well, that is beautiful, miss jane! it is as fine a picture as any miss reed'sdrawing-master could paint, let alone the
young ladies themselves, who could not comenear it: and have you learnt french?" "yes, bessie, i can both read it and speakit." "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 onwhether 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 theywere poor and quite despicable: and they
may be poor; but i believe they are as muchgentry as the reeds are; for one day, nearly seven years ago, a mr. eyre came to gateshead and wanted to see you; mississaid you were at school fifty miles off; he seemed so much disappointed, for he couldnot stay: he was going on a voyage to a foreign country, and the ship was to sailfrom london in a day or two. he looked quite a gentleman, and i believehe was your father's brother." "what foreign country was he going to,bessie?" "an island thousands of miles off, wherethey 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 thehouse: missis was very high with him; she called him afterwards a 'sneakingtradesman.' my robert believes he was a wine-merchant." "very likely," i returned; "or perhapsclerk or agent to a wine-merchant." bessie and i conversed about old times anhour longer, and then she was obliged to leave me: i saw her again for a few minutesthe next morning at lowton, while i was waiting for the coach.
we parted finally at the door of thebrocklehurst arms there: each went her separate way; she set off for the brow oflowood fell to meet the conveyance which was to take her back to gateshead, i mounted the vehicle which was to bear me tonew duties and a new life in the unknown environs of millcote. chapter xi a new chapter in a novel is something likea new scene in a play; and when i draw up the curtain this time, reader, you mustfancy you see a room in the george inn at millcote, with such large figured papering
on the walls as inn rooms have; such acarpet, such furniture, such ornaments on the mantelpiece, such prints, including aportrait of george the third, and another of the prince of wales, and arepresentation of the death of wolfe. all this is visible to you by the light ofan oil lamp hanging from the ceiling, and by that of an excellent fire, near which isit in my cloak and bonnet; my muff and umbrella lie on the table, and i am warming away the numbness and chill contracted bysixteen hours' exposure to the rawness of an october day: i left lowton at fouro'clock a.m., and the millcote town clock is now just striking eight.
reader, though i look comfortablyaccommodated, i am not very tranquil in my mind. i thought when the coach stopped here therewould be some one to meet me; i looked anxiously round as i descended the woodensteps the "boots" placed for my convenience, expecting to hear my name pronounced, and to see some description ofcarriage waiting to convey me to thornfield. nothing of the sort was visible; and when iasked a waiter if any one had been to inquire after a miss eyre, i was answeredin 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 ofdoubts and fears are troubling my thoughts. it is a very strange sensation toinexperienced youth to feel itself quite alone in the world, cut adrift from everyconnection, uncertain whether the port to which it is bound can be reached, and prevented by many impediments fromreturning to that it has quitted. the charm of adventure sweetens thatsensation, the glow of pride warms it; but then the throb of fear disturbs it; andfear 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, andhastened 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 wasa sort of car, and then i got in; before he shut me up, i asked him how far it was tothornfield. "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 hisown seat outside, and we set off. our progress was leisurely, and gave meample 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 meditatedmuch at my ease. "i suppose," thought i, "judging from theplainness of the servant and carriage, mrs. fairfax is not a very dashing person: somuch the better; i never lived amongst fine people but once, and i was very miserablewith them. i wonder if she lives alone except thislittle girl; if so, and if she is in any degree amiable, i shall surely be able toget on with her; i will do my best; it is a pity that doing one's best does not alwaysanswer. at lowood, indeed, i took that resolution,kept it, and succeeded in pleasing; but
with mrs. reed, i remember my best wasalways spurned with scorn. i pray god mrs. fairfax may not turn out asecond mrs. reed; but if she does, i am not bound to stay with her! let the worst cometo 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 ofconsiderable magnitude, much larger than lowton. we were now, as far as i could see, on asort of common; but there were houses scattered all over the district; i felt wewere in a different region to lowood, more
populous, less picturesque; more stirring,less romantic. the roads were heavy, the night misty; myconductor let his horse walk all the way, and the hour and a half extended, i verilybelieve, 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 achurch; i saw its low broad tower against the sky, and its bell was tolling aquarter; i saw a narrow galaxy of lights too, on a hillside, marking a village orhamlet. about ten minutes after, the driver gotdown and opened a pair of gates: we passed
through, and they clashed to behind us. we now slowly ascended a drive, and cameupon the long front of a house: candlelight gleamed from one curtained bow-window; allthe rest were dark. the car stopped at the front door; it wasopened by a maid-servant; i alighted and went in. "will you walk this way, ma'am?" said thegirl; and i followed her across a square hall with high doors all round: she usheredme into a room whose double illumination of fire and candle at first dazzled me, contrasting as it did with the darkness towhich my eyes had been for two hours
inured; when i could see, however, a cosyand agreeable picture presented itself to my view. a snug small room; a round table by acheerful fire; an arm-chair high- backed and old-fashioned, wherein sat the neatestimaginable 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 catsat demurely at her feet; nothing in short was wanting to complete the beau-ideal ofdomestic comfort.
a more reassuring introduction for a newgoverness could scarcely be conceived; there was no grandeur to overwhelm, nostateliness to embarrass; and then, as i entered, the old lady got up and promptlyand 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 thenbegan to remove my shawl and untie my bonnet-strings; i begged she would not giveherself so much trouble.
"oh, it is no trouble; i dare say your ownhands are almost numbed with cold. leah, make a little hot negus and cut asandwich or two: here are the keys of the storeroom." and she produced from her pocket a mosthousewifely 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; ianticipated only coldness and stiffness: this is not like what i have heard of thetreatment of governesses; but i must not exult too soon." she returned; with her own hands clearedher knitting apparatus and a book or two from the table, to make room for the traywhich leah now brought, and then herself handed me the refreshments. i felt rather confused at being the objectof more attention than i had ever before received, and, that too, shown by myemployer and superior; but as she did not
herself seem to consider she was doing anything out of her place, i thought itbetter to take her civilities quietly. "shall i have the pleasure of seeing missfairfax to-night?" i asked, when i had partaken of what sheoffered 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 itwas not polite to ask too many questions: besides, i was sure to hear in time. "i am so glad," she continued, as she satdown opposite to me, and took the cat on her knee; "i am so glad you are come; itwill be quite pleasant living here now with a companion. to be sure it is pleasant at any time; forthornfield is a fine old hall, rather neglected of late years perhaps, but stillit is a respectable place; yet you know in
winter-time one feels dreary quite alone inthe best quarters. i say alone--leah is a nice girl to besure, and john and his wife are very decent people; but then you see they are onlyservants, and one can't converse with them on terms of equality: one must keep them at due distance, for fear of losing one'sauthority. i'm sure last winter (it was a very severeone, if you recollect, and when it did not snow, it rained and blew), not a creaturebut the butcher and postman came to the house, from november till february; and i really got quite melancholy with sittingnight after night alone; i had leah in to
read to me sometimes; but i don't think thepoor 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 thecommencement of this autumn, little adela varens came and her nurse: a child makes a house alive all at once; and now you arehere i shall be quite gay." my heart really warmed to the worthy ladyas i heard her talk; and i drew my chair a little nearer to her, and expressed mysincere 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 travellingall day: you must feel tired. if you have got your feet well warmed, i'llshow you your bedroom. i've had the room next to mine prepared foryou; it is only a small apartment, but i thought you would like it better than oneof the large front chambers: to be sure they have finer furniture, but they are so dreary and solitary, i never sleep in themmyself." 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 herfrom the room. first she went to see if the hall-door wasfastened; having taken the key from the lock, she led the way upstairs. the steps and banisters were of oak; thestaircase window was high and latticed; both it and the long gallery into which thebedroom doors opened looked as if they belonged to a church rather than a house. a very chill and vault-like air pervadedthe stairs and gallery, suggesting cheerless ideas of space and solitude; andi 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 kindgood-night, and i had fastened my door, gazed leisurely round, and in some measureeffaced the eerie impression made by that wide hall, that dark and spacious staircase, and that long, cold gallery, bythe livelier aspect of my little room, i remembered that, after a day of bodilyfatigue 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 sofrankly offered me before it was earned. my couch had no thorns in it that night; mysolitary room no fears. at once weary and content, i slept soon andsoundly: when i awoke it was broad day. the chamber looked such a bright littleplace to me as the sun shone in between the gay blue chintz window curtains, showingpapered walls and a carpeted floor, so unlike the bare planks and stained plaster of lowood, that my spirits rose at theview. 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 itsflowers and pleasures, as well as its
thorns and toils. my faculties, roused by the change ofscene, the new field offered to hope, seemed all astir. i cannot precisely define what theyexpected, but it was something pleasant: not perhaps that day or that month, but atan indefinite future period. i rose; i dressed myself with care: obligedto 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 ofappearance or careless of the impression i
made: on the contrary, i ever wished tolook as well as i could, and to please as much as my want of beauty would permit. i sometimes regretted that i was nothandsomer; i sometimes wished to have rosy cheeks, a straight nose, and small cherrymouth; 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 notthen distinctly say it to myself; yet i had
a reason, and a logical, natural reasontoo. however, when i had brushed my hair verysmooth, and put on my black frock--which, quakerlike as it was, at least had themerit 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 seenthat i left all things straight and neat on the toilet table, i ventured forth. traversing the long and matted gallery, idescended the slippery steps of oak; then i
gained the hall: i halted there a minute; ilooked at some pictures on the walls (one, i remember, represented a grim man in a cuirass, and one a lady with powdered hairand a pearl necklace), at a bronze lamp pendent from the ceiling, at a great clockwhose case was of oak curiously carved, and ebon black with time and rubbing. everything appeared very stately andimposing 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 sunshone serenely on embrowned groves and
still green fields; advancing on to thelawn, i looked up and surveyed the front of the mansion. it was three storeys high, of proportionsnot vast, though considerable: a gentleman's manor-house, not a nobleman'sseat: battlements round the top gave it a picturesque look. its grey front stood out well from thebackground of a rookery, whose cawing tenants were now on the wing: they flewover the lawn and grounds to alight in a great meadow, from which these were separated by a sunk fence, and where anarray of mighty old thorn trees, strong,
knotty, and broad as oaks, at onceexplained the etymology of the mansion's designation. farther off were hills: not so lofty asthose round lowood, nor so craggy, nor so like barriers of separation from the livingworld; but yet quiet and lonely hills enough, and seeming to embrace thornfield with a seclusion i had not expected to findexistent so near the stirring locality of millcote. a little hamlet, whose roofs were blentwith trees, straggled up the side of one of these hills; the church of the districtstood nearer thornfield: its old tower-top
looked over a knoll between the house andgates. i was yet enjoying the calm prospect andpleasant fresh air, yet listening with delight to the cawing of the rooks, yetsurveying 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 anaffable 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; buti fear it will be getting out of order, unless mr. rochester should take it intohis head to come and reside here permanently; or, at least, visit it rather oftener: great houses and fine groundsrequire the presence of the proprietor." "mr. rochester!"i exclaimed. "who is he?" "the owner of thornfield," she respondedquietly. "did you not know he was called rochester?" of course i did not--i had never heard ofhim before; but the old lady seemed to
regard his existence as a universallyunderstood fact, with which everybody must be acquainted by instinct. "i thought," i continued, "thornfieldbelonged 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 therochesters 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 nearthe gates was his.
the present mr. rochester's mother was afairfax, and second cousin to my husband: but i never presume on the connection--infact, 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; hecommissioned me to find a governess for her.he intended to have her brought up in --- shire, i believe. here she comes, with her 'bonne,' as shecalls her nurse."
the enigma then was explained: this affableand kind little widow was no great dame; but a dependant like myself. i did not like her the worse for that; onthe 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 wasall the freer. as i was meditating on this discovery, alittle girl, followed by her attendant, came running up the lawn. i looked at my pupil, who did not at firstappear to notice me: she was quite a child,
perhaps seven or eight years old, slightlybuilt, with a pale, small-featured face, and a redundancy of hair falling in curlsto her waist. "good morning, miss adela," said mrs.fairfax. "come and speak to the lady who is to teachyou, and to make you a clever woman some day."she approached. "c'est la ma gouverante!" said she,pointing to me, and addressing her nurse; who answered--"mais oui, certainement." "are they foreigners?" i inquired, amazed at hearing the frenchlanguage.
"the nurse is a foreigner, and adela wasborn on the continent; and, i believe, never left it till within six months ago. when she first came here she could speak noenglish; now she can make shift to talk it a little: i don't understand her, she mixesit so with french; but you will make out her meaning very well, i dare say." fortunately i had had the advantage ofbeing taught french by a french lady; and as i had always made a point of conversingwith madame pierrot as often as i could, and had besides, during the last seven years, learnt a portion of french by heartdaily--applying myself to take pains with
my accent, and imitating as closely aspossible the pronunciation of my teacher, i had acquired a certain degree of readiness and correctness in the language, and wasnot likely to be much at a loss with mademoiselle adela. she came and shook hand with me when sheheard that i was her governess; and as i led her in to breakfast, i addressed somephrases to her in her own tongue: she replied briefly at first, but after we were seated at the table, and she had examinedme some ten minutes with her large hazel eyes, she suddenly commenced chatteringfluently.
"ah!" cried she, in french, "you speak mylanguage as well as mr. rochester does: i can talk to you as i can to him, and so cansophie. she will be glad: nobody here understandsher: madame fairfax is all english. sophie is my nurse; she came with me overthe 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 apretty 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 housesand 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 theland, and sophie came after, and we all got into a coach, which took us to a beautifullarge house, larger than this and finer, called an hotel. we stayed there nearly a week: i and sophieused to walk every day in a great green
place full of trees, called the park; andthere were many children there besides me, and a pond with beautiful birds in it, thati fed with crumbs." "can you understand her when she runs on sofast?" asked mrs. fairfax. i understood her very well, for i had beenaccustomed to the fluent tongue of madame pierrot. "i wish," continued the good lady, "youwould ask her a question or two about her parents: i wonder if she remembers them?" "adele," i inquired, "with whom did youlive 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 tosee 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 ipermitted her to give a specimen of her accomplishments. descending from her chair, she came andplaced 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 asong 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 herattendant 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 hasaffected her. the subject seemed strangely chosen for aninfant singer; but i suppose the point of the exhibition lay in hearing the notes oflove and jealousy warbled with the lisp of childhood; and in very bad taste that pointwas: 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 andsaid, "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 anattention to punctuation and emphasis, a flexibility of voice and an appropriatenessof gesture, very unusual indeed at her age, and which proved she had been carefullytrained. "was it your mama who taught you thatpiece?" "yes, and she just used to say it in thisway: '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 whomdid you live then?" "with madame frederic and her husband: shetook 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 togo and live with him in england, and i said
yes; for i knew mr. rochester before i knewmadame 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 hehas brought me to england, and now he is gone back again himself, and i never seehim." after breakfast, adele and i withdrew tothe library, which room, it appears, mr. rochester had directed should be used asthe schoolroom. most of the books were locked up behindglass doors; but there was one bookcase left open containing everything that couldbe needed in the way of elementary works, and several volumes of light literature,
poetry, biography, travels, a few romances,&c. i suppose he had considered that these wereall the governess would require for her private perusal; and, indeed, theycontented me amply for the present; compared with the scanty pickings i had now and then been able to glean at lowood, theyseemed to offer an abundant harvest of entertainment and information. in this room, too, there was a cabinetpiano, 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 anykind. i felt it would be injudicious to confineher too much at first; so, when i had talked to her a great deal, and got her tolearn a little, and when the morning had advanced to noon, i allowed her to returnto her nurse. i then proposed to occupy myself tilldinner-time in drawing some little sketches for her use. as i was going upstairs to fetch myportfolio and pencils, mrs. fairfax called to me: "your morning school-hours are overnow, i suppose," said she. she was in a room the folding-doors ofwhich stood open: i went in when she
addressed me. it was a large, stately apartment, withpurple chairs and curtains, a turkey carpet, walnut-panelled walls, one vastwindow rich in slanted glass, and a lofty ceiling, nobly moulded. mrs. fairfax was dusting some vases of finepurple 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 alittle air and sunshine; for everything
gets so damp in apartments that are seldominhabited; the drawing-room yonder feels like a vault." she pointed to a wide arch corresponding tothe window, and hung like it with a tyrian- dyed curtain, now looped up. mounting to it by two broad steps, andlooking through, i thought i caught a glimpse of a fairy place, so bright to mynovice-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 laidbrilliant garlands of flowers; both ceiled with snowy mouldings of white grapes and
vine-leaves, beneath which glowed in richcontrast crimson couches and ottomans; while the ornaments on the pale parianmantelpiece were of sparkling bohemian glass, ruby red; and between the windows large mirrors repeated the general blendingof snow and fire. "in what order you keep these rooms, mrs.fairfax!" said i. "no dust, no canvas coverings: except thatthe air feels chilly, one would think they were inhabited daily." "why, miss eyre, though mr. rochester'svisits here are rare, they are always sudden and unexpected; and as i observedthat it put him out to find everything
swathed up, and to have a bustle of arrangement on his arrival, i thought itbest to keep the rooms in readiness." "is mr. rochester an exacting, fastidioussort of man?" "not particularly so; but he has agentleman's tastes and habits, and he expects to have things managed inconformity 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 justand 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, isuppose. he is rather peculiar, perhaps: he hastravelled a great deal, and seen a great deal of the world, i should think.i dare say 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 surewhether he is in jest or earnest, whether he is pleased or the contrary; you don't thoroughly understand him, in short--atleast, 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 notionof sketching a character, or observing and
describing salient points, either inpersons 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 hereyes; a gentleman, a landed proprietor-- nothing more: she inquired and searched nofurther, and evidently wondered at my wish to gain a more definite notion of hisidentity. when we left the dining-room, she proposedto 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 thoughtespecially grand: and some of the third-
storey rooms, though dark and low, wereinteresting from their air of antiquity. the furniture once appropriated to thelower apartments had from time to time been removed here, as fashions changed: and theimperfect light entering by their narrow casement showed bedsteads of a hundred years old; chests in oak or walnut,looking, with their strange carvings of palm branches and cherubs' heads, liketypes of the hebrew ark; rows of venerable chairs, high-backed and narrow; stools still more antiquated, on whose cushionedtops were yet apparent traces of half- effaced embroideries, wrought by fingersthat for two generations had been coffin-
dust. all these relics gave to the third storeyof thornfield hall the aspect of a home of the past: a shrine of memory. i liked the hush, the gloom, the quaintnessof these retreats in the day; but i by no means coveted a night's repose on one ofthose wide and heavy beds: shut in, some of them, with doors of oak; shaded, others, with wrought old english hangings crustedwith thick work, portraying effigies of strange flowers, and stranger birds, andstrangest human beings,--all which would have looked strange, indeed, by the pallidgleam of moonlight.
"do the servants sleep in these rooms?"i asked. "no; they occupy a range of smallerapartments to the back; no one ever sleeps here: one would almost say that, if therewere 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 theirtime: perhaps, though, that is the reason
they rest tranquilly in their graves now." "yes--'after life's fitful fever they sleepwell,'" i muttered. "where are you going now, mrs. fairfax?"for she was moving away. "on to the leads; will you come and see theview from thence?" i followed still, up a very narrowstaircase to the attics, and thence by a ladder and through a trap-door to the roofof the hall. i was now on a level with the crow colony,and could see into their nests. leaning over the battlements and lookingfar down, i surveyed the grounds laid out like a map: the bright and velvet lawnclosely girdling the grey base of the
mansion; the field, wide as a park, dotted with its ancient timber; the wood, dun andsere, divided by a path visibly overgrown, greener with moss than the trees were withfoliage; the church at the gates, the road, the tranquil hills, all reposing in the autumn day's sun; the horizon bounded by apropitious sky, azure, marbled with pearly white.no feature in the scene was extraordinary, but all was pleasing. when i turned from it and repassed thetrap-door, i could scarcely see my way down the ladder; the attic seemed black as avault compared with that arch of blue air
to which i had been looking up, and to that sunlit scene of grove, pasture, and greenhill, of which the hall was the centre, and over which i had been gazing with delight. mrs. fairfax stayed behind a moment tofasten the trap-door; i, by drift of groping, found the outlet from the attic,and proceeded to descend the narrow garret staircase. i lingered in the long passage to whichthis led, separating the front and back rooms of the third storey: narrow, low, anddim, with only one little window at the far end, and looking, with its two rows of
small black doors all shut, like a corridorin some bluebeard's castle. while i paced softly on, the last sound iexpected 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 aninstant; it began again, louder: for at first, though distinct, it was very low. it passed off in a clamorous peal thatseemed 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," sheanswered: "perhaps grace poole." "did you hear it?"i again inquired. "yes, plainly: i often hear her: she sewsin one of these rooms. sometimes leah is with her; they arefrequently noisy together." the laugh was repeated in its low, syllabictone, and terminated in an odd murmur. "grace!" exclaimed mrs. fairfax.
i really did not expect any grace toanswer; 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 neitherscene 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 servantcame 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 ghostlycould 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 assistleah in her housemaid's work," continued the widow; "not altogether unobjectionablein some points, but she does well enough. by-the-bye, how have you got on with yournew 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 usin mrs. fairfax's room.