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intent: from where I stood I could see the title-it was Rasselas; a
name that struck me as strange, and consequently attractive. In
turning a leaf she happened to look up, and I said to her directly‘Is
your book interesting?’ I had already formed the intention of
asking her to lend it to me some day.

‘I like it,’ she answered, after a pause of a second or two, during
which she examined me.

‘What is it about?’ I continued. I hardly know where I found the
hardihood thus to open a conversation with a stranger; the step
was contrary to my nature and habits: but I think her occupation
touched a chord of sympathy somewhere; for I too liked reading,
though of a frivolous and childish kind; I could not digest or
comprehend the serious or substantial.

‘You may look at it,’ replied the girl, offering me the book.
I did so; a brief examination convinced me that the contents were
less taking than the title: Rasselas looked dull to my trifling taste; I
saw nothing about fairies, nothing about genii; no bright variety
seemed spread over the closely-printed pages. I returned it to her;
she received it quietly, and without saying anything she was about
to relapse into her former studious mood: again I ventured to
disturb her‘Can you tell me what the writing on that stone over the
door means? What is Lowood Institution?’ ‘This house where you
are come to live.’ ‘And why do they call it Institution? Is it in any
way different from other schools?’ ‘It is partly a charity-school: you
and I, and all the rest of us, are charity-children. I suppose you are
an orphan: are not either your father or your mother dead?’ ‘Both
died before I can remember.’ ‘Well, all the girls here have lost
either one or both parents, and this is called an institution for
educating orphans.’ ‘Do we pay no money? Do they keep us for
nothing?’ ‘We pay, or our friends pay, fifteen pounds a year for
each.’ ‘Then why do they call us charity-children?’ ‘Because fifteen
pounds is not enough for board and teaching, and the deficiency is
supplied by subscription.’ ‘Who subscribes?’

‘Different benevolent-minded ladies and gentlemen in this
neighbourhood and in London.’ ‘Who was Naomi Brocklehurst?’
‘The lady who built the new part of this house as that tablet
records, and whose son overlooks and directs everything here.’
‘Why?’ ‘Because he is treasurer and manager of the establishment.’
‘Then this house does not belong to that tall lady who wears a
watch, and who said we were to have some bread and cheese?’ ‘To
Miss Temple? Oh, no! I wish it did: she has to answer to Mr.
Brocklehurst for all she does. Mr. Brocklehurst buys all our food
and all our clothes.’ ‘Does he live here?’ ‘No-two miles off, at a
large hall.’ ‘Is he a good man?’ ‘He is a clergyman, and is said to do
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