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


On the evening of the day on which I had seen Miss Scatcherd flog
her pupil, Burns, I wandered as usual among the forms and tables
and laughing groups without a companion, yet not feeling lonely:
when I passed the windows, I now and then lifted a blind, and
looked out; it snowed fast, a drift was already forming against the
lower panes; putting my ear close to the window, I could
distinguish from the gleeful tumult within, the disconsolate moan
of the wind outside.

Probably, if I had lately left a good home and kind parents, this
would have been the hour when I should most keenly have
regretted the separation; that wind would then have saddened my
heart, this obscure chaos would have disturbed my peace! as it
was, I derived from both a strange excitement, and reckless and
feverish, I wished the wind to howl more wildly, the gloom to
deepen to darkness, and the confusion to rise to clamour.

Jumping over forms, and creeping under tables, I made my way to
one of the fire-places; there, kneeling by the high wire fender, I
found Burns, absorbed, silent, abstracted from all round her by the
companionship of a book, which she read by the dim glare of the

‘Is it still Rasselas?’ I asked, coming behind her.
‘Yes,’ she said, ‘and I have just finished it.’ And in five minutes
more she shut it up. I was glad of this.

‘Now,’ thought I, ‘I can perhaps get her to talk.’ I sat down by her
on the floor.

‘What is your name besides Burns?’ ‘Helen.’ ‘Do you come a long
way from here?’ ‘I come from a place farther north, quite on the
borders of Scotland.’ ‘Will you ever go back?’ ‘I hope so; but
nobody can be sure of the future.’ ‘You must wish to leave
Lowood?’ ‘No! why should I? I was sent to Lowood to get an
education; and it would be of no use going away until I have
attained that object.’ ‘But that teacher, Miss Scatcherd, is so cruel to
you?’ ‘Cruel? Not at all! She is severe: she dislikes my faults.’

‘And if I were in your place I should dislike her; I should resist her.
If she struck me with that rod, I should get it from her hand; I
should break it under her nose.’ ‘Probably you would do nothing
of the sort: but if you did, Mr. Brocklehurst would expel you from
the school; that would be a great grief to your relations. It is far
better to endure patiently a smart which nobody feels but yourself,
than to commit a hasty action whose evil consequences will extend
to all connected with you; and besides, the Bible bids us return
good for evil.’ ‘But then it seems disgraceful to be flogged, and to
be sent to stand in the middle of a room full of people; and you are
such a great girl: I am far younger than you, and I could not bear
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