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


importune her? A neighbour or two came in; my chair was
evidently wanted. I took leave.

I passed up the street, looking as I went at all the houses to the
right hand and to the left; but I could discover no pretext, nor see
an inducement to enter any. I rambled round the hamlet, going
sometimes to a little distance and returning again, for an hour or
more. Much exhausted, and suffering greatly now for want of food,
I turned aside into a lane and sat down under the hedge. Ere many
minutes had elapsed, I was again on my feet, however, and again
searching something-a resource, or at least an informant. A pretty
little house stood at the top of the lane, with a garden before it,
exquisitely neat and brilliantly blooming. I stopped at it. What
business had I to approach the white door or touch the glittering
knocker? In what way could it possibly be the interest of the
inhabitants of that dwelling to serve me? Yet I drew near and
knocked. A mild-looking, cleanlyattired young woman opened the
door. In such a voice as might be expected from a hopeless heart
and fainting frame-a voice wretchedly low and faltering-I asked if
a servant was wanted here? ‘No,’ said she; ‘we do not keep a
servant.’ ‘Can you tell me where I could get employment of any
kind?’ I continued. ‘I am a stranger, without acquaintance in this
place. I want some work: no matter what.’ But it was not her
business to think for me, or to seek a place for me: besides, in her
eyes, how doubtful must have appeared my character, position,
tale. She shook her head, she ‘was sorry she could give me no
information,’ and the white door closed, quite gently and civilly:
but it shut me out. If she had held it open a little longer, I believe I
should have begged a piece of bread; for I was now brought low.

I could not bear to return to the sordid village, where, besides, no
prospect of aid was visible. I should have longed rather to deviate
to a wood I saw not far off, which appeared in its thick shade to
offer inviting shelter; but I was so sick, so weak, so gnawed with
nature’s cravings, instinct kept me roaming round abodes where
there was a chance of food. Solitude would be no solitude-rest no
restwhile the vulture, hunger, thus sank beak and talons in my

I drew near houses; I left them, and came back again, and again I
wandered away: always repelled by the consciousness of having
no claim to ask-no right to expect interest in my isolated lot.
Meantime, the afternoon advanced, while I thus wandered about
like a lost and starving dog. In crossing a field, I saw the church
spire before me: I hastened towards it. Near the churchyard, and in
the middle of a garden, stood a well-built though small house,
which I had no doubt was the parsonage. I remembered that
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