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


skirts of Lowood; there was the hilly horizon. My eye passed all
other objects to rest on those most remote, the blue peaks; it was
those I longed to surmount; all within their boundary of rock and
heath seemed prison-ground, exile limits. I traced the white road
winding round the base of one mountain, and vanishing in a gorge
between two; how I longed to follow it farther! I recalled the time
when I had travelled that very road in a coach; I remembered
descending that hill at twilight; an age seemed to have elapsed
since the day which brought me first to Lowood, and I had never
quitted it since. My vacations had all been spent at school: Mrs.
Reed had never sent for me to Gateshead; neither she nor any of
her family had ever been to visit me. I had had no communication
by letter or message with the outer world: schoolrules, school-
duties, school-habits and notions, and voices, and faces, and
phrases, and costumes, and preferences, and antipathies-such was
what I knew of existence. And now I felt that it was not enough; I
tired of the routine of eight years in one afternoon. I desired
liberty; for liberty I gasped; for liberty I uttered a prayer; it seemed
scattered on the wind then faintly blowing. I abandoned it and
framed a humbler supplication; for change, stimulus: that petition,
too, seemed swept off into vague space: ‘Then,’ I cried, half
desperate, ‘grant me at least a new servitude!’

Here a bell, ringing the hour of supper, called me downstairs.
I was not free to resume the interrupted chain of my reflections till
bedtime: even then a teacher who occupied the same room with me
kept me from the subject to which I longed to recur, by a prolonged
effusion of small talk. How I wished sleep would silence her. It
seemed as if, could I but go back to the idea which had last entered
my mind as I stood at the window, some inventive suggestion
would rise for my relief.

Miss Gryce snored at last; she was a heavy Welsh-woman, and till
now her habitual nasal strains had never been regarded by me in
any other light than as a nuisance; to-night I hailed the first deep
notes with satisfaction; I was debarrassed of interruption; my half-
effaced thought instantly revived.

‘A new servitude! There is something in that,’ I soliloquised
(mentally, be it understood; I did not talk aloud). ‘I know there is,
because it does not sound too sweet; it is not like such words as
Liberty, Excitement, Enjoyment: delightful sounds truly; but no
more than sounds for me; and so hollow and fleeting that it is mere
waste of time to listen to them. But Servitude! That must be matter
of fact.

Any one may serve: I have served here eight years; now all I want
is to serve elsewhere. Can I not get so much of my own will? Is not
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