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



THE library looked tranquil enough as I entered it, and the Sibyl-if
Sibyl she were-was seated snugly enough in an easy-chair at the
chimney-corner. She had on a red cloak and a black bonnet: or
rather, a broad-brimmed gipsy hat, tied down with a striped
handkerchief under her chin. An extinguished candle stood on the
table; she was bending over the fire, and seemed reading in a little
black book, like a prayer-book, by the light of the blaze: she
muttered the words to herself, as most old women do, while she
read; she did not desist immediately on my entrance: it appeared
she wished to finish a paragraph.

I stood on the rug and warmed my hands, which were rather cold
with sitting at a distance from the drawing-room fire. I felt now as
composed as ever I did in my life: there was nothing indeed in the
gipsy’s appearance to trouble one’s calm.

She shut her book and slowly looked up; her hat-brim partially
shaded her face, yet I could see, as she raised it, that it was a
strange one. It looked all brown and black: elf-locks bristled out
from beneath a white band which passed under her chin, and came
half over her cheeks, or rather jaws: her eye confronted me at once,
with a bold and direct gaze.

‘Well, and you want your fortune told?’ she said, in a voice as
decided as her glance, as harsh as her features.

‘I don’t care about it, mother; you may please yourself: but I ought
to warn you, I have no faith.’

‘It’s like your impudence to say so: I expected it of you; I heard it in
your step as you crossed the threshold.’ ‘Did you? You’ve a quick
ear.’ ‘I have; and a quick eye and a quick brain.’ ‘You need them all
in your trade.’ ‘I do; especially when I’ve customers like you to
deal with. Why don’t you tremble?’ ‘I’m not cold.’ ‘Why don’t you
turn pale?’ ‘I am not sick.’ ‘Why don’t you consult my art?’ ‘I’m not
silly.’ The old crone ‘nichered’ a laugh under her bonnet and
bandage; she then drew out a short black pipe, and lighting it
began to smoke. Having indulged a while in this sedative, she
raised her bent body, took the pipe from her lips, and while gazing
steadily at the fire, said very deliberately‘You are cold; you are
sick; and you are silly.’ ‘Prove it,’ I rejoined.

‘I will, in few words. You are cold, because you are alone: no
contact strikes the fire from you that is in you. You are sick;
because the best of feelings, the highest and the sweetest given to
man, keeps far away from you. You are silly, because, suffer as you
may, you will not beckon it to approach, nor will you stir one step
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