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


and almost alone: for this unwonted liberty and pleasure there was
a cause, to which it now becomes my task to advert.

Have I not described a pleasant site for a dwelling, when I speak of
it as bosomed in hill and wood, and rising from the verge of a
stream? Assuredly, pleasant enough: but whether healthy or not is
another question.

That forest-dell, where Lowood lay, was the cradle of fog and fog-
bred pestilence; which, quickening with the quickening spring,
crept into the Orphan Asylum, breathed typhus through its
crowded schoolroom and dormitory, and, ere May arrived,
transformed the seminary into an hospital.

Semi-starvation and neglected colds had predisposed most of the
pupils to receive infection: forty-five out of the eighty girls lay ill at
one time. Classes were broken up, rules relaxed. The few who
continued well were allowed almost unlimited license; because the
medical attendant insisted on the necessity of frequent exercise to
keep them in health: and had it been otherwise, no one had leisure
to watch or restrain them. Miss Temple’s whole attention was
absorbed by the patients: she lived in the sick-room, never quitting
it except to snatch a few hours’ rest at night. The teachers were
fully occupied with packing up and making other necessary
preparations for the departure of those girls who were fortunate
enough to have friends and relations able and willing to remove
them from the seat of contagion. Many, already smitten, went
home only to die: some died at the school, and were buried quietly
and quickly, the nature of the malady forbidding delay.

While disease had thus become an inhabitant of Lowood, and
death its frequent visitor; while there was gloom and fear within its
walls; while its rooms and passages steamed with hospital smells,
the drug and the pastille striving vainly to overcome the effluvia of
mortality, that bright May shone unclouded over the bold hills and
beautiful woodland out of doors. Its garden, too, glowed with
flowers: hollyhocks had sprung up tall as trees, lilies had opened,
tulips and roses were in bloom; the borders of the little beds were
gay with pink thrift and crimson double daisies; the sweetbriars
gave out, morning and evening, their scent of spice and apples;
and these fragrant treasures were all useless for most of the
inmates of Lowood, except to furnish now and then a handful of
herbs and blossoms to put in a coffin.

But I, and the rest who continued well, enjoyed fully the beauties
of the scene and season; they let us ramble in the wood, like
gipsies, from morning till night; we did what we liked, went where
we liked: we lived better too. Mr. Brocklehurst and his family
never came near Lowood now: household matters were not
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