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


instinct, that was the way to make her repulse me with double
scorn, thereby re-exciting every turbulent impulse of my nature.

I would fain exercise some better faculty than that of fierce
speaking; fain find nourishment for some less fiendish feeling than
that of sombre indignation. I took a book-some Arabian tales; I sat
down and endeavoured to read. I could make no sense of the
subject; my own thoughts swam always between me and the page I
had usually found fascinating. I opened the glass-door in the
breakfastroom: the shrubbery was quite still: the black frost
reigned, unbroken by sun or breeze, through the grounds. I
covered my head and arms with the skirt of my frock, and went
out to walk in a part of the plantation which was quite sequestered;
but I found no pleasure in the silent trees, the falling fir-cones, the
congealed relics of autumn, russet leaves, swept by past winds in
heaps, and now stiffened together. I leaned against a gate, and
looked into an empty field where no sheep were feeding, where
the short grass was nipped and blanched. It was a very grey day; a
most opaque sky, ‘onding on snaw,’ canopied all; thence flakes fell
at intervals, which settled on the hard path and on the hoary lea
without melting. I stood, a wretched child enough, whispering to
myself over and over again, ‘What shall I do?- what shall I do?’ All
at once I heard a clear voice call, ‘Miss Jane! where are you? Come
to lunch!’ It was Bessie, I knew well enough; but I did not stir; her
light step came tripping down the path.

‘You naughty little thing!’ she said. ‘Why don’t you come when
you are called?’ Bessie’s presence, compared with the thoughts
over which I had been brooding, seemed cheerful; even though, as
usual, she was somewhat cross. The fact is, after my conflict with
and victory over Mrs. Reed, I was not disposed to care much for
the nursemaid’s transitory anger; and I was disposed to bask in her
youthful lightness of heart. I just put my two arms round her and
said, ‘Come, Bessie! don’t scold.’ The action was more frank and
fearless than any I was habituated to indulge in: somehow it
pleased her.

‘You are a strange child, Miss Jane,’ she said, as she looked down
at me; ‘a little roving, solitary thing: and you are going to school, I
suppose?’ I nodded.

‘And won’t you be sorry to leave poor Bessie?’ ‘What does Bessie
care for me? She is always scolding me.’ ‘Because you’re such a
queer, frightened, shy little thing. You should be bolder.’ ‘What! to
get more knocks?’ ‘Nonsense! But you are rather put upon, that’s
certain. My mother said, when she came to see me last week, that
she would not like a little one of her own to be in your place.-
Now, come in, and I’ve some good news for you.’ ‘I don’t think
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