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


she lay on her placid deathbed, and whispered her longing to be
restored to her divine Father’s bosom-when a feeble voice
murmured from the couch behind: ‘Who is that?’ I knew Mrs. Reed
had not spoken for days: was she reviving? I went up to her.

‘It is I, Aunt Reed.’ ‘Who-I?’ was her answer. ‘Who are you?’
looking at me with surprise and a sort of alarm, but still not wildly.
‘You are quite a stranger to me-where is Bessie?’ ‘She is at the
lodge, aunt.’ ‘Aunt,’ she repeated. ‘Who calls me aunt? You are not
one of the Gibsons; and yet I know you-that face, and the eyes and
forehead, are quite familiar to me: you are like-why, you are like
Jane Eyre!’ I said nothing: I was afraid of occasioning some shock
by declaring my identity.

‘Yet,’ said she, ‘I am afraid it is a mistake: my thoughts deceive me.
I wished to see Jane Eyre, and I fancy a likeness where none exists:
besides, in eight years she must be so changed.’ I now gently
assured her that I was the person she supposed and desired me to
be: and seeing that I was understood, and that her senses were
quite collected, I explained how Bessie had sent her husband to
fetch me from Thornfield.

‘I am very ill, I know,’ she said ere long. ‘I was trying to turn
myself a few minutes since, and find I cannot move a limb. It is as
well I should ease my mind before I die: what we think little of in
health, burdens us at such an hour as the present is to me. Is the
nurse here? or is there no one in the room but you?’ I assured her
we were alone.

‘Well, I have twice done you a wrong which I regret now. One was
in breaking the promise which I gave my husband to bring you up
as my own child; the other-’ she stopped. ‘After all, it is of no great
importance, perhaps,’ she murmured to herself: ‘and then I may
get better; and to humble myself so to her is painful.’ She made an
effort to alter her position, but failed: her face changed; she seemed
to experience some inward sensation-the precursor, perhaps, of
the last pang.

‘Well, I must get it over. Eternity is before me: I had better tell her.-
Go to my dressing-case, open it, and take out a letter you will see
there.’ I obeyed her directions. ‘Read the letter,’ she said.

It was short, and thus conceived:- -
‘MADAM, Will you have the goodness to send me the address of
my niece, Jane Eyre, and to tell me how she is? It is my intention to
write shortly and desire her to come to me at Madeira. Providence
has blessed my endeavours to secure a competency; and as I am
unmarried and childless, I wish to adopt her during my life, and
bequeath her at my death whatever I may have to leave. I am,
Madam, etc., etc.,
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