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



PRESENTIMENTS are strange things! and so are sympathies; and
so are signs; and the three combined make one mystery to which
humanity has not yet found the key. I never laughed at
presentiments in my life, because I have had strange ones of my
own. Sympathies, I believe, exist (for instance, between fardistant,
long-absent, wholly estranged relatives asserting, notwithstanding
their alienation, the unity of the source to which each traces his
origin) whose workings baffle mortal comprehension. And signs,
for aught we know, may be but the sympathies of Nature with

When I was a little girl, only six years old, I one night heard Bessie
Leaven say to Martha Abbot that she had been dreaming about a
little child; and that to dream of children was a sure sign of trouble,
either to one’s self or one’s kin. The saying might have worn out of
my memory, had not a circumstance immediately followed which
served indelibly to fix it there. The next day Bessie was sent for
home to the deathbed of her little sister.

Of late I had often recalled this saying and this incident; for during
the past week scarcely a night had gone over my couch that had
not brought with it a dream of an infant, which I sometimes
hushed in my arms, sometimes dandled on my knee, sometimes
watched playing with daisies on a lawn, or again, dabbling its
hands in running water. It was a wailing child this night, and a
laughing one the next: now it nestled close to me, and now it ran
from me; but whatever mood the apparition evinced, whatever
aspect it wore, it failed not for seven successive nights to meet me
the moment I entered the land of slumber.

I did not like this iteration of one idea-this strange recurrence of
one image, and I grew nervous as bedtime approached and the
hour of the vision drew near.

It was from companionship with this baby-phantom I had been
roused on that moonlight night when I heard the cry; and it was on
the afternoon of the day following I was summoned downstairs by
a message that some one wanted me in Mrs. Fairfax’s room. On
repairing thither, I found a man waiting for me, having the
appearance of a gentleman’s servant: he was dressed in deep
mourning, and the hat he held in his hand was surrounded with a
crape band.

‘I daresay you hardly remember me, Miss,’ he said, rising as I
entered; ‘but my name is Leaven: I lived coachman with Mrs. Reed
when you were at Gateshead, eight or nine years since, and I live
there still.’ ‘Oh, Robert! how do you do? I remember you very well:
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