Support the Monkey! Tell All your Friends and Teachers
nothing. I will tell anybody who asks me questions, this exact tale.
People think you a good woman, but you are bad, hard-hearted.
You are deceitful!’ Ere I had finished this reply, my soul began to
expand, to exult, with the strangest sense of freedom, of triumph, I
ever felt. It seemed as if an invisible bond had burst, and that I had
struggled out into unhoped-for liberty. Not without cause was this
sentiment: Mrs. Reed looked frightened; her work had slipped
from her knee; she was lifting up her hands, rocking herself to and
fro, and even twisting her face as if she would cry.
‘Jane, you are under a mistake: what is the matter with you? Why
do you tremble so violently? Would you like to drink some water?’
‘No, Mrs. Reed.’ ‘Is there anything else you wish for, Jane? I assure
you, I desire to be your friend.’ ‘Not you. You told Mr.
Brocklehurst I had a bad character, a deceitful disposition; and I’ll
let everybody at Lowood know what you are, and what you have
done.’ ‘Jane, you don’t understand these things: children must be
corrected for their faults.’ ‘Deceit is not my fault!’ I cried out in a
savage, high voice.
‘But you are passionate, Jane, that you must allow: and now return
to the nursery-there’s a dear-and lie down a little.’ ‘I am not your
dear; I cannot lie down: send me to school soon, Mrs. Reed, for I
hate to live here.’ ‘I will indeed send her to school soon,’
murmured Mrs. Reed sotto voce; and gathering up her work, she
abruptly quitted the apartment.
I was left there alone-winner of the field. It was the hardest battle I
had fought, and the first victory I had gained: I stood awhile on the
rug, where Mr. Brocklehurst had stood, and I enjoyed my
conqueror’s solitude. First, I smiled to myself and felt elate; but this
fierce pleasure subsided in me as fast as did the accelerated throb
of my pulses. A child cannot quarrel with its elders, as I had done;
cannot give its furious feelings uncontrolled play, as I had given
mine, without experiencing afterwards the pang of remorse and
the chill of reaction. A ridge of lighted heath, alive, glancing,
devouring, would have been a meet emblem of my mind when I
accused and menaced Mrs. Reed: the same ridge, black and blasted
after the flames are dead, would have represented as meetly my
subsequent condition, when half an hour’s silence and reflection
had shown me the madness of my conduct, and the dreariness of
my hated and hating position.
Something of vengeance I had tasted for the first time; as aromatic
wine it seemed, on swallowing, warm and racy: its after-flavour,
metallic and corroding, gave me a sensation as if I had been
poisoned. Willingly would I now have gone and asked Mrs. Reed’s
pardon; but I knew, partly from experience and partly from