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



ERE the half-hour ended, five o’clock struck; school was dismissed,
and all were gone into the refectory to tea. I now ventured to
descend: it was deep dusk; I retired into a corner and sat down on
the floor. The spell by which I had been so far supported began to
dissolve; reaction took place, and soon, so overwhelming was the
grief that seized me, I sank prostrate with my face to the ground.
Now I wept: Helen Burns was not here; nothing sustained me; left
to myself I abandoned myself, and my tears watered the boards. I
had meant to be so good, and to do so much at Lowood: to make so
many friends, to earn respect and win affection. Already I had
made visible progress; that very morning I had reached the head of
my class; Miss Miller had praised me warmly; Miss Temple had
smiled approbation; she had promised to teach me drawing, and to
let me learn French, if I continued to make similar improvement
two months longer: and then I was well received by my fellow-
pupils; treated as an equal by those of my own age, and not
molested by any; now, here I lay again crushed and trodden on;
and could I ever rise more? ‘Never,’ I thought; and ardently I
wished to die. While sobbing out this wish in broken accents, some
one approached: I started up-again Helen Burns was near me; the
fading fires just showed her coming up the long, vacant room; she
brought my coffee and bread.

‘Come, eat something,’ she said; but I put both away from me,
feeling as if a drop or a crumb would have choked me in my
present condition. Helen regarded me, probably with surprise: I
could not now abate my agitation, though I tried hard; I continued
to weep aloud. She sat down on the ground near me, embraced her
knees with her arms, and rested her head upon them; in that
attitude she remained silent as an Indian. I was the first who
spoke‘Helen, why do you stay with a girl whom everybody
believes to be a liar?’ ‘Everybody, Jane? Why, there are only eighty
people who have heard you called so, and the world contains
hundreds of millions.’ ‘But what have I to do with millions? The
eighty, I know, despise me.’ ‘Jane, you are mistaken: probably not
one in the school either despises or dislikes you: many, I am sure,
pity you much.’ ‘How can they pity me after what Mr.
Brocklehurst has said?’ ‘Mr. Brocklehurst is not a god: nor is he
even a great and admired man; he is little liked here; he never took
steps to make himself liked. Had he treated you as an especial
favourite, you would have found enemies, declared or covert, all
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