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



I CONTINUED the labours of the village-school as actively and
faithfully as I could. It was truly hard work at first. Some time
elapsed before, with all my efforts, I could comprehend my
scholars and their nature. Wholly untaught, with faculties quite
torpid, they seemed to me hopelessly dull; and, at first sight, all
dull alike: but I soon found I was mistaken. There was a difference
amongst them as amongst the educated; and when I got to know
them, and they me, this difference rapidly developed itself. Their
amazement at me, my language, my rules, and ways, once
subsided, I found some of these heavy-looking, gaping rustics
wake up into sharp-witted girls enough. Many showed themselves
obliging, and amiable too; and I discovered amongst them not a
few examples of natural politeness, and innate self-respect, as well
as of excellent capacity, that won both my good-will and my
admiration. These soon took a pleasure in doing their work well, in
keeping their persons neat, in learning their tasks regularly, in
acquiring quiet and orderly manners. The rapidity of their
progress, in some instances, was even surprising; and an honest
and happy pride I took in it: besides, I began personally to like
some of the best girls; and they liked me. I had amongst my
scholars several farmers’ daughters: young women grown, almost.
These could already read, write, and sew; and to them I taught the
elements of grammar, geography, history, and the finer kinds of
needlework. I found estimable characters amongst them-characters
desirous of information and disposed for improvement-with
whom I passed many a pleasant evening hour in their own homes.
Their parents then (the farmer and his wife) loaded me with
attentions. There was an enjoyment in accepting their simple
kindness, and in repaying it by a consideration-a scrupulous
regard to their feelings-to which they were not, perhaps, at all
times accustomed, and which both charmed and benefited them;
because, while it elevated them in their own eyes, it made them
emulous to merit the deferential treatment they received.

I felt I became a favourite in the neighbourhood. Whenever I went
out, I heard on all sides cordial salutations, and was welcomed
with friendly smiles. To live amidst general regard, though it be
but the regard of working people, is like ‘sitting in sunshine, calm
and sweet’; serene inward feelings bud and bloom under the ray.
At this period of my life, my heart far oftener swelled with
thankfulness than sank with dejection: and yet, reader, to tell you
all, in the midst of this calm, this useful existence-after a day
passed in honourable exertion amongst my scholars, an evening
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