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


us and on the approaching figure, which we at once recognised as
Miss Temple.

‘I came on purpose to find you, Jane Eyre,’ said she; ‘I want you in
my room; and as Helen Burns is with you, she may come too.’ We
went; following the superintendent’s guidance, we had to thread
some intricate passages, and mount a staircase before we reached
her apartment; it contained a good fire, and looked cheerful. Miss
Temple told Helen Burns to be seated in a low arm-chair on one
side of the hearth, and herself taking another, she called me to her

‘Is it all over?’ she asked, looking down at my face. ‘Have you cried
your grief away?’ ‘I am afraid I never shall do that.’ ‘Why?’
‘Because I have been wrongly accused; and you, ma’am, and
everybody else, will now think me wicked.’ ‘We shall think you
what you prove yourself to be, my child. Continue to act as a good
girl, and you will satisfy us.’ ‘Shall I, Miss Temple?’ ‘You will,’ said
she, passing her arm round me. ‘And now tell me who is the lady
whom Mr. Brocklehurst called your benefactress?’ ‘Mrs. Reed, my
uncle’s wife. My uncle is dead, and he left me to her care.’ ‘Did she
not, then, adopt you of her own accord?’ ‘No, ma’am; she was
sorry to have to do it: but my uncle, as I have often heard the
servants say, got her to promise before he died that she would
always keep me.’ ‘Well now, Jane, you know, or at least I will tell
you, that when a criminal is accused, he is always allowed to speak
in his own defence. You have been charged with falsehood; defend
yourself to me as well as you can. Say whatever your memory
suggests as true; but add nothing and exaggerate nothing.’

I resolved, in the depth of my heart, that I would be most
moderate-most correct; and, having reflected a few minutes in
order to arrange coherently what I had to say, I told her all the
story of my sad childhood. Exhausted by emotion, my language
was more subdued than it generally was when it developed that
sad theme; and mindful of Helen’s warnings against the
indulgence of resentment, I infused into the narrative far less of
gall and wormwood than ordinary. Thus restrained and simplified,
it sounded more credible: I felt as I went on that Miss Temple fully
believed me.

In the course of the tale I had mentioned Mr. Lloyd as having come
to see me after the fit: for I never forgot the, to me, frightful episode
of the red-room: in detailing which, my excitement was sure, in
some degree, to break bounds; for nothing could soften in my
recollection the spasm of agony which clutched my heart when
Mrs. Reed spurned my wild supplication for pardon, and locked
me a second time in the dark and haunted chamber.
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