Support the Monkey! Tell All your Friends and Teachers
THERE was no possibility of taking a walk that day. We had been
wandering, indeed, in the leafless shrubbery an hour in the
morning; but since dinner (Mrs.Reed, when there was no company,
dined early) the cold winter wind had brought with it clouds so
sombre, and a rain so penetrating, that further outdoor exercise
was now out of the question.
I was glad of it: I never liked long walks, especially on chilly
afternoons:dreadful to me was the coming home in the raw
twilight, with nipped fingers and toes, and a heart saddened by the
chidings of Bessie, the nurse, and humbled by the consciousness of
my physical inferiority to Eliza, John, and Georgiana Reed.
The said Eliza, John, and Georgiana were now clustered round
their mama in the drawing-room: she lay reclined on a sofa by the
fireside, and with her darlings about her (for the time neither
quarrelling nor crying) looked perfectly happy. Me, she had
dispensed from joining the group; saying, ‘She regretted to be
under the necessity of keeping me at a distance; but that until she
heard from Bessie, and could discover by her own observation, that
I was endeavouring in good earnest to acquire a more sociable and
childlike disposition, a more attractive and sprightly manner-
something lighter, franker, more natural, as it were-she really
must exclude me from privileges intended only for contented,
happy, little children.’ ‘What does Bessie say I have done?’ I
asked.‘Jane, I don’t like cavillers or questioners; besides, there is
something truly forbidding in a child taking up her elders in that
manner. Be seated somewhere; and until you can speak pleasantly,
remain silent.’ A small breakfast-room adjoined the drawing-room,
I slipped in there. It contained a bookcase: I soon possessed myself
of a volume, taking care that it should be one stored with pictures.
I mounted into the window-seat: gathering up my feet, I sat cross-
legged, like a Turk; and, having drawn the red moreen curtain
nearly close, I was shrined in double retirement.
Folds of scarlet drapery shut in my view to the right hand; to the
left were the clear panes of glass, protecting, but not separating me
from the drear November day. At intervals, while turning over the
leaves of my book, I studied the aspect of that winter afternoon.
Afar, it offered a pale blank of mist and cloud; near a scene of wet
lawn and storm-beat shrub, with ceaseless rain sweeping away
wildly before a long and lamentable blast.