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



THE next thing I remember is, waking up with a feeling as if I had
had a frightful nightmare, and seeing before me a terrible red
glare, crossed with thick black bars. I heard voices, too, speaking
with a hollow sound, and as if muffled by a rush of wind or water:
agitation, uncertainty, and an all-predominating sense of terror
confused my faculties. Ere long, I became aware that some one was
handling me; lifting me up and supporting me in a sitting posture,
and that more tenderly than I had ever been raised or upheld
before. I rested my head against a pillow or an arm, and felt easy.
In five minutes more the cloud of bewilderment dissolved: I knew
quite well that I was in my own bed, and that the red glare was the
nursery fire. It was night: a candle burnt on the table; Bessie stood
at the bed-foot with a basin in her hand, and a gentleman sat in a
chair near my pillow, leaning over me.

I felt an inexpressible relief, a soothing conviction of protection and
security, when I knew that there was a stranger in the room, an
individual not belonging to Gateshead, and not related to Mrs.
Reed. Turning from Bessie (though her presence was far less
obnoxious to me than that of Abbot, for instance, would have
been), I scrutinised the face of the gentleman: I knew him; it was
Mr. Lloyd, an apothecary, sometimes called in by Mrs. Reed when
the servants were ailing: for herself and the children she employed
a physician.

‘Well, who am I?’ he asked.
I pronounced his name, offering him at the same time my hand: he
took it, smiling and saying, ‘We shall do very well by and by.’
Then he laid me down, and addressing Bessie, charged her to be
very careful that I was not disturbed during the night. Having
given some further directions, and intimated that he should call
again the next day, he departed; to my grief: I felt so sheltered and
befriended while he sat in the chair near my pillow; and as he
closed the door after him, all the room darkened and my heart
again sank: inexpressible sadness weighed it down.

‘Do you feel as if you should sleep, Miss?’ asked Bessie, rather

Scarcely dared I answer her; for I feared the next sentence might be
rough. ‘I will try.’ ‘Would you like to drink, or could you eat
anything?’ ‘No, thank you, Bessie.’ ‘Then I think I shall go to bed,
for it is past twelve o’clock; but you may call me if you want
anything in the night.’ Wonderful civility this! It emboldened me to
ask a question.
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