Support the Monkey! Tell All your Friends and Teachers
prevented me from distinguishing. With a loud long knock, the
newcomer appealed to the door.
‘Is it you, Mr. St. John?’ cried Hannah.
‘Yes-yes; open quickly.’ ‘Well, how wet and cold you must be,
such a wild night as it is! Come inyour sisters are quite uneasy
about you, and I believe there are bad folks about.
There has been a beggar-woman-I declare she is not gone yet!- laid
Get up! for shame! Move off, I say!’ ‘Hush, Hannah! I have a word
to say to the woman. You have done your duty in excluding, now
let me do mine in admitting her. I was near, and listened to both
you and her. I think this is a peculiar case-I must at least examine
Young woman, rise, and pass before me into the house.’ With
difficulty I obeyed him. Presently I stood within that clean, bright
kitchen-on the very hearth-trembling, sickening; conscious of an
aspect in the last degree ghastly, wild, and weather-beaten. The
two ladies, their brother, Mr.
St. John, the old servant, were all gazing at me.
‘St. John, who is it?’ I heard one ask.
‘I cannot tell: I found her at the door,’ was the reply.
‘She does look white,’ said Hannah.
‘As white as clay or death,’ was responded. ‘She will fall: let her
sit.’ And indeed my head swam: I dropped, but a chair received
me. I still possessed my senses, though just now I could not speak.
‘Perhaps a little water would restore her. Hannah, fetch some. But
she is worn to nothing. How very thin, and how very bloodless!’ ‘A
mere spectre!’ ‘Is she ill, or only famished?’ ‘Famished, I think.
Hannah, is that milk? Give it me, and a piece of bread.’ Diana (I
knew her by the long curls which I saw drooping between me and
the fire as she bent over me) broke some bread, dipped it in milk,
and put it to my lips. Her face was near mine: I saw there was pity
in it, and I felt sympathy in her hurried breathing. In her simple
words, too, the same balm-like emotion spoke: ‘Try to eat.’ ‘Yes-
try,’ repeated Mary gently; and Mary’s hand removed my sodden
bonnet and lifted my head. I tasted what they offered me: feebly at
first, eagerly soon.
‘Not too much at first-restrain her,’ said the brother; ‘she has had
enough.’ And he withdrew the cup of milk and the plate of bread.
‘A little more, St. John-look at the avidity in her eyes.’ ‘No more at
present, sister. Try if she can speak now-ask her her name.’ I felt I
could speak, and I answered-‘My name is Jane Elliott.’ Anxious as
ever to avoid discovery, I had before resolved to assume an alias.
‘And where do you live? Where are your friends?’ I was silent.