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


‘The Miss Reeds could not play as well!’ said she exultingly. ‘I
always said you would surpass them in learning: and can you
draw?’ ‘That is one of my paintings over the chimney-piece.’ It was
a landscape in water colours, of which I had made a present to the
superintendent, in acknowledgment of her obliging mediation with
the committee on my behalf, and which she had framed and

‘Well, that is beautiful, Miss Jane! It is as fine a picture as any Miss
Reed’s drawing-master could paint, let alone the young ladies
themselves, who could not come near it: and have you learnt
French?’ ‘Yes, Bessie, I can both read it and speak it.’ ‘And you can
work on muslin and canvas?’

‘I can.’ ‘Oh, you are quite a lady, Miss Jane! I knew you would be:
you will get on whether your relations notice you or not. There was
something I wanted to ask you. Have you ever heard anything
from your father’s kinsfolk, the Eyres?’ ‘Never in my life.’ ‘Well,
you know, Missis always said they were poor and quite despicable:
and they may be poor; but I believe they are as much gentry as the
Reeds are; for one day, nearly seven years ago, a Mr. Eyre came to
Gateshead and wanted to see you; Missis said you were at school
fifty miles off; he seemed so much disappointed, for he could not
stay: he was going on a voyage to a foreign country, and the ship
was to sail from London in a day or two. He looked quite a
gentleman, and I believe he was your father’s brother.’ ‘What
foreign country was he going to, Bessie?’ ‘An island thousands of
miles off, where they make wine-the butler did tell me-’
‘Madeira?’ I suggested.

‘Yes, that is it-that is the very word.’ ‘So he went?’
‘Yes; he did not stay many minutes in the house: Missis was very
high with him; she called him afterwards a “sneaking tradesman.”
My Robert believes he was a wine-merchant.’ ‘Very likely,’ I
returned; ‘or perhaps clerk or agent to a wine-merchant.’ Bessie
and I conversed about old times an hour longer, and then she was
obliged to leave me: I saw her again for a few minutes the next
morning at Lowton, while I was waiting for the coach. We parted
finally at the door of the Brocklehurst Arms there, each went her
separate way; she set off for the brow of Lowood Fell to meet the
conveyance which was to take her back to Gateshead, I mounted
the vehicle which was to bear me to new duties and a new life in
the unknown environs of Millcote.
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