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up with them. They will have a great deal of money, and you will
have none: it is your place to be humble, and to try to make
yourself agreeable to them.’ ‘What we tell you is for your good,’
added Bessie, in no harsh voice; ‘you should try to be useful and
pleasant, then, perhaps, you would have a home here; but if you
become passionate and rude, Missis will send you away, I am
sure.’ ‘Besides,’ said Miss Abbot, ‘God will punish her: He might
strike her dead in the midst of her tantrums, and then where
would she go? Come, Bessie, we will leave her: I wouldn’t have her
heart for anything. Say your prayers, Miss Eyre, when you are by
yourself; for if you don’t repent, something bad might be permitted
to come down the chimney and fetch you away.’ They went,
shutting the door, and locking it behind them.

The red-room was a square chamber, very seldom slept in, I might
say never, indeed, unless when a chance influx of visitors at
Gateshead Hall rendered it necessary to turn to account all the
accommodation it contained: yet it was one of the largest and
stateliest chambers in the mansion. A bed supported on massive
pillars of mahogany, hung with curtains of deep red damask, stood
out like a tabernacle in the centre; the two large windows, with
their blinds always drawn down, were half shrouded in festoons
and falls of similar drapery; the carpet was red; the table at the foot
of the bed was covered with a crimson cloth; the walls were a soft
fawn colour with a blush of pink in it; the wardrobe, the toilet-
table, the chairs were of darkly polished old mahogany. Out of
these deep surrounding shades rose high, and glared white, the
piled-up mattresses and pillows of the bed, spread with a snowy
Marseilles counterpane. Scarcely less prominent was an ample
cushioned easy-chair near the head of the bed, also white, with a
footstool before it; and looking, as I thought, like a pale throne.
This room was chill, because it seldom had a fire; it was silent,
because remote from the nursery and kitchen; solemn, because it
was known to be so seldom entered. The housemaid alone came
here on Saturdays, to wipe from the mirrors and the furniture a
week’s quiet dust: and Mrs. Reed herself, at far intervals, visited it
to review the contents of a certain secret drawer in the wardrobe,
where were stored divers parchments, her jewel-casket, and a
miniature of her deceased husband; and in those last words lies the
secret of the red-room-the spell which kept it so lonely in spite of
its grandeur.

Mr. Reed had been dead nine years: it was in this chamber he
breathed his last; here he lay in state; hence his coffin was borne by
the undertaker’s men; and, since that day, a sense of dreary
consecration had guarded it from frequent intrusion.
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