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<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library - Digital Library-Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte


My head still ached and bled with the blow and fall I had received:
no one had reproved John for wantonly striking me; and because I
had turned against him to avert farther irrational violence, I was
loaded with general opprobrium.

‘Unjust!- unjust!’ said my reason, forced by the agonising stimulus
into precocious though transitory power: and Resolve, equally
wrought up, instigated some strange expedient to achieve escape
from insupportable oppression-as running away, or, if that could
not be effected, never eating or drinking more, and letting myself

What a consternation of soul was mine that dreary afternoon! How
all my brain was in tumult, and all my heart in insurrection! Yet in
what darkness, what dense ignorance, was the mental battle
fought! I could not answer the ceaseless inward question-why I
thus suffered; now, at the distance of-I will not say how many
years, I see it clearly.

I was a discord in Gateshead Hall: I was like nobody there; I had
nothing in harmony with Mrs. Reed or her children, or her chosen
vassalage. If they did not love me, in fact, as little did I love them.
They were not bound to regard with affection a thing that could
not sympathise with one amongst them; a heterogeneous thing,
opposed to them in temperament, in capacity, in propensities; a
useless thing, incapable of serving their interest, or adding to their
pleasure; a noxious thing, cherishing the germs of indignation at
their treatment, of contempt of their judgment. I know that had I
been a sanguine, brilliant, careless, exacting, handsome, romping
child-though equally dependent and friendless-Mrs. Reed would
have endured my presence more complacently; her children would
have entertained for me more of the cordiality of fellow-feeling; the
servants would have been less prone to make me the scapegoat of
the nursery.

Daylight began to forsake the red-room; it was past four o’clock,
and the beclouded afternoon was tending to drear twilight. I heard
the rain still beating continuously on the staircase window, and the
wind howling in the grove behind the hall; I grew by degrees cold
as a stone, and then my courage sank. My habitual mood of
humiliation, self-doubt, forlorn depression, fell damp on the
embers of my decaying ire. All said I was wicked, and perhaps I
might be so; what thought had I been but just conceiving of
starving myself to death? That certainly was a crime: and was I fit
to die? Or was the vault under the chancel of Gateshead Church an
inviting bourne? In such vault I had been told did Mr. Reed lie
buried; and led by this thought to recall his idea, I dwelt on it with
gathering dread. I could not remember him; but I knew that he was
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