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


‘You see she is yet young; you observe she possesses the ordinary
form of childhood; God has graciously given her the shape that He
has given to all of us; no signal deformity points her out as a
marked character. Who would think that the Evil One had already
found a servant and agent in her? Yet such, I grieve to say, is the
case.’ A pause-in which I began to steady the palsy of my nerves,
and to feel that the Rubicon was passed; and that the trial, no
longer to be shirked, must be firmly sustained.

‘My dear children,’ pursued the black marble clergyman, with
pathos, ‘this is a sad, a melancholy occasion; for it becomes my
duty to warn you, that this girl, who might be one of God’s own
lambs, is a little castaway: not a member of the true flock, but
evidently an interloper and an alien. You must be on your guard
against her; you must shun her example; if necessary, avoid her
company, exclude her from your sports, and shut her out from
your converse. Teachers, you must watch her: keep your eyes on
her movements, weigh well her words, scrutinise her actions,
punish her body to save her soul: if, indeed, such salvation be
possible, for (my tongue falters while I tell it) this girl, this child,
the native of a Christian land, worse than many a little heathen
who says its prayers to Brahma and kneels before Juggernaut-this
girl is-a liar!’ Now came a pause of ten minutes, during which I,
by this time in perfect possession of my wits, observed all the
female Brocklehursts produce their pockethandkerchiefs and apply
them to their optics, while the elderly lady swayed herself to and
fro, and the two younger ones whispered, ‘How shocking!’ Mr.
Brocklehurst resumed.

‘This I learned from her benefactress; from the pious and charitable
lady who adopted her in her orphan state, reared her as her own
daughter, and whose kindness, whose generosity the unhappy girl
repaid by an ingratitude so bad, so dreadful, that at last her
excellent patroness was obliged to separate her from her own
young ones, fearful lest her vicious example should contaminate
their purity: she has sent her here to be healed, even as the Jews of
old sent their diseased to the troubled pool of Bethesda; and,
teachers, superintendent, I beg of you not to allow the waters to
stagnate round her.’ With this sublime conclusion, Mr.
Brocklehurst adjusted the top button of his surtout, muttered
something to his family, who rose, bowed to Miss Temple, and
then all the great people sailed in state from the room. Turning at
the door, my judge said-‘Let her stand half an hour longer on that
stool, and let no one speak to her during the remainder of the day.’
There was I, then, mounted aloft; I, who had said I could not bear
the shame of standing on my natural feet in the middle of the
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