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


‘That is hardly likely,’ was the reply. ‘You will find she is some
young lady who has had a misunderstanding with her friends, and
has probably injudiciously left them. We may, perhaps, succeed in
restoring her to them, if she is not obstinate: but I trace lines of
force in her face which make me sceptical of her tractability.’ He
stood considering me some minutes; then added, ‘She looks
sensible, but not at all handsome.’ ‘She is so ill, St. John.’ ‘Ill or
well, she would always be plain. The grace and harmony of beauty
are quite wanting in those features.’ On the third day I was better;
on the fourth, I could speak, move, rise in bed, and turn. Hannah
had brought me some gruel and dry toast, about, as I supposed, the
dinner-hour. I had eaten with relish: the food was good-void of
the feverish flavour which had hitherto poisoned what I had
swallowed. When she left me, I felt comparatively strong and
revived: ere long satiety of repose and desire for action stirred me.
I wished to rise; but what could I put on? Only my damp and
bemired apparel; in which I had slept on the ground and fallen in
the marsh. I felt ashamed to appear before my benefactors so clad. I
was spared the humiliation.

On a chair by the bedside were all my own things, clean and dry.
My black silk frock hung against the wall. The traces of the bog
were removed from it; the creases left by the wet smoothed out: it
was quite decent. My very shoes and stockings were purified and
rendered presentable. There were the means of washing in the
room, and a comb and brush to smooth my hair. After a weary
process, and resting every five minutes, I succeeded in dressing
myself. My clothes hung loose on me; for I was much wasted, but I
covered deficiencies with a shawl, and once more, clean and
respectable looking-no speck of the dirt, no trace of the disorder I
so hated, and which seemed so to degrade me, left-I crept down a
stone staircase with the aid of the banisters, to a narrow low
passage, and found my way presently to the kitchen.

It was full of the fragrance of new bread and the warmth of a
generous fire.

Hannah was baking. Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult
to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or
fertilised by education: they grow there, firm as weeds among
stones. Hannah had been cold and stiff, indeed, at the first: latterly
she had begun to relent a little; and when she saw me come in tidy
and well-dressed, she even smiled.

‘What, you have got up!’ she said. ‘You are better, then. You may
sit you down in my chair on the hearthstone, if you will.’ She
pointed to the rocking-chair: I took it. She bustled about,
examining me every now and then with the corner of her eye.
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