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


sufferings and resentments. Bitter and truculent when excited, I
spoke as I felt, without reserve or softening.

Helen heard me patiently to the end: I expected she would then
make a remark, but she said nothing.

‘Well,’ I asked impatiently, ‘is not Mrs. Reed a hard-hearted, bad
woman?’ ‘She has been unkind to you, no doubt; because you see,
she dislikes your cast of character, as Miss Scatcherd does mine;
but how minutely you remember all she has done and said to you!
What a singularly deep impression her injustice seems to have
made on your heart! No ill-usage so brands its record on my
feelings. Would you not be happier if you tried to forget her
severity, together with the passionate emotions it excited? Life
appears to me too short to be spent in nursing animosity or
registering wrongs. We are, and must be, one and all, burdened
with faults in this world: but the time will soon come when, I trust,
we shall put them off in putting off our corruptible bodies; when
debasement and sin will fall from us with this cumbrous frame of
flesh, and only the spark of the spirit will remain,- the impalpable
principle of light and thought, pure as when it left the Creator to
inspire the creature: whence it came it will return; perhaps again to
be communicated to some being higher than man-perhaps to pass
through gradations of glory, from the pale human soul to brighten
to the seraph! Surely it Will never, on the contrary, be suffered to
degenerate from man to fiend? No; I cannot believe that: I hold
another creed: which no one ever taught me, and which I seldom
mention; but in which I delight, and to which I cling: for it extends
hope to all: it makes Eternity a rest-a mighty home, not a terror
and an abyss. Besides, with this creed, I can so clearly distinguish
between the criminal and his crime; I can so sincerely forgive the
first while I abhor the last: with this creed revenge never worries
my heart, degradation never too deeply disgusts me, injustice
never crushes me too low: I live in calm, looking to the end.’
Helen’s head, always drooping, sank a little lower as she finished
this sentence. I saw by her look she wished no longer to talk to me,
but rather to converse with her own thoughts. She was not allowed
much time for meditation: a monitor, a great rough girl, presently
came up, exclaiming in a strong Cumberland accent-‘Helen Burns,
if you don’t go and put your drawer in order, and fold up your
work this minute, I’ll tell Miss Scatcherd to come and look at it!’
Helen sighed as her reverie fled, and getting up, obeyed the
monitor without reply as without delay.
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