My Brocklehurst’s visit and its results(5)

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?

Chapter Five: My Brocklehurst’s visit and its results

It was difficult for me to get used to the school rules at Lowood, and
to the hard physical conditions. In January, February and March there
was deep snow, but we still had to spend an hour outside every day.

We had no boots or gloves, and my hands and feet ached badly. We were
growing children, and needed more food than was provided.

Sometimes the big girls bullied us little ones and made us hand over our
teatime bread or evening biscuit. One afternoon, when I had been at
Lowood for three weeks, a visitor arrived.

All the teachers and pupils stood respectfully as he entered the
schoolroom. I looked up.

There, next to Miss Temple, stood the same black column which had
frowned on me in the breakfast-room at Gateshead. I had been afraid he
would come.

I remembered only too well Mrs Reed’s description of my character, and
the promise he had given her to warn teachers at Lowood about my
wickedness. Now they would consider me a bad child for ever.

At first Mr Brocklehurst spoke in a murmur to Miss Temple. I could just
hear because I was in the front of the class.

‘Tell the housekeeper she must count the needles, and only give out one
at a time to the girls, they lose them so easily! And Miss Temple,
please make sure the girls stockings are mended more carefully. Some of
them have a lot of holes.’

‘I shall follow your instruction, sir,’ said Miss Temple. ‘And another
thing which surprises me, I find that a lunch of bread and cheese has
been served to the girls recently.

What is this? There is nothing about it in the rules! Who is
responsible?’ ‘I myself, sir,’ answered Miss Temple.

‘The breakfast was so badly cooked that the girls couldn’t possibly eat
it, so they were hungry.’ ‘Madam, listen to me for a moment.

You know that I am trying to bring up these girls to be strong, patient
and unselfish. If some little luxury is not available, do not replace it
with something else, but tell them to be brave and suffer, like Christ
Himself.

Remember what the Bible says, man shall not live by bread alone, but by
the word of God! Madam, when you put bread into these children’s mouths,
you feed their bodies but you starve, their souls!’

Miss Temple did not reply. She looked straight in front of her, and her
face was as cold and hard as marble.

Mr Brocklehurst, on the other hand, now looked round at the girls, and
almost jumped in surprise. ‘Who — what is that girl with red hair, with
curls, madam, with curls everywhere?’

‘That is Julia Severn,’ said Miss Temple quietly. ‘Her hair curls
naturally, you see.’ ‘Naturally! Yes, but it is God we obey, not
nature!’

Miss Temple, that girl’s hair must be cut off. I have said again and
again that hair must be arranged modestly and plainly.

I see other girls here with too much hair. Yes, I shall send someone
tomorrow to cut all the girls’ hair.’

‘Mr Brocklehurst…’ began Miss Temple. ‘No, Miss Temple, I insist.

To please God these girls must have short, straight hair and plain,
simple clothes…’ He was interrupted by the arrival of three ladies,
who had unfortunately not heard his comments on dress and hair.

They all wore the most expensive clothes and had beautiful, long, curly
hair. I heard Miss Temple greet them as the wife and daughters of Mr
Brocklehurst.

I had hoped to hide my face behind my slate while Mr Blocklehurst was
talking, so that he would not recognized me, but suddenly the slate fell
from my hand and broke in two on the hard floor.

I knew only too well what would happen next. ‘A careless girl!’ said Mr
Brocklehurst quietly, almost to himself.

‘The new girl, I see. I must not forget to say something to the whole
school about her.’ and then to me, aloud, ‘Come here, child.’

I was too frightened to move, but two big girls pushed me towards him.
Miss Temple whispered kindly in my ear, ‘Don’t be afraid, Jane. I saw it
was an accident.’

Her kindness touched me, but I knew that soon she would hear the lies
about me, and then she would hate me! ‘Put the child on that chair,’
said Mr Blocklehurst.

Someone lifted me up on to a high, so that I was close to his nose.
Frightened and shaking, I felt everyone’s eyes on me.

‘You see this girl?’ began the black marble column. ‘She is young, she
books like an ordinary child.

Nothing about her tells you she is evil. But she is all wickedness!
Children, don’t talk to her, stay away from her.

Teachers, watch her, punish her body to save her soul — if indeed she
has a soul, because this Child… I can hardly say it… this child is a
liar!’

‘How shocking!’ said the two Brocklehurst daughters, each wiping a tear
or two from their eyes. ‘I learned this fact,’ continued the great man,
‘from Mrs Reed,

the kind lady who took care of her after parents’ death and brought her
up as a member of the family. In the end Mrs Reed was so afraid of this
child’s evil influence on her own children that she had to send her
here.

Teachers, watch her carefully!’ The Brocklehurst family stood up and
moved slowly out of the schoolroom.

At the door, my judge turned and said, ‘She must stand half an hour
longer on that chair, and nobody may speak to her for the rest of the
day.’

So there I was, high up on the chair, publicly displayed as an ugly
example of evil. Feelings of shame and anger boiled up inside me,

but just as I felt I could not bear it any longer, Helen Burns walked
past me and lifted her eyes to mine. Her look calmed me. What a smile
she had!

I was an intelligent, brave smile, lighting up her thin face and tired
grey eyes. When all the girls left the schoolroom at five o’clock, I
climbed down from the floor.

I no longer felt strong ot calm, and I began to cry bitterly. I had
wanted so much to make friends at Lowood, to deserve praise.

Now nobody would believe me or perhaps even speak to me. Could I ever
start a new life after this?

‘Never!’ I cried. ‘I wish I were dead!’ Just then Helen arrived,
bringing my coffee and bread.

I was too upset to eat or drink, but she sat with me for some time,
talking gently to me, wiping away my tears, and helping me to recover.
When Miss Temple came to look for me, she found us sitting quietly
together.

‘Come up to my room, both of you,’ she said. We went to her warm,
comfortable room upstairs.

‘Now tell me the truth, Jane.’ she said. ‘You have been accused, and you
must have the chance to defend yourself.’

And so I told her the whole story of my lonely childhood with the Reed
family, and of my terrible experience in the red room. ‘I know Dr Lloyd,
who saw you when you were ill,’ she said.

‘I’ll write to him and see if he agrees with what you say. If he does, I
shall publicly tell the school you are not a liar.

I believe you now, Jane.’ And she kissed me. She turned to Helen. ‘How
are you tonight? Have you coughed a lot today?’

‘Not very much, ma’am.’ ‘And the pain in your chest?’

‘It’s a little better, I think.’ Miss Temple examined Helen carefully,
and signed a little. Then she gave us some tea and toast.

For a while I felt I was in heaven, eating and drinking in the warm,
pretty room, with kind Miss Temple and Helen. But when we reached our
bedroom, Miss Scatcherd was checking the drawers.

‘Burns!’ she said. ‘Yours is far too untidy! Tomorrow, all day, you will
wear a notice on your forehead saying UNTIDY!’

Helen said Miss Scatchered was quite right, and wore the notice all the
day But I was furious, and at the end of the afternoon, tore it off her
head and threw it in the fire.

When Miss Temple received a letter from Dr Lloyed, agreeing that I had
said was true, she told the whole school that I had been wrongly accused
and was not a liar.

From that moment, I felt I was accepted, and set to work to learn as
much as I could, and make as many friends as possible.

Chapter Five: Mr Brownlow

When Oliver arrived at Mr Brownlow’s house he was very ill. He almost
died. For many days he lay in a clean bed in a sunny room. Mr Brownlow’s
housekeeper took care of him. Her name was Mrs Bedwin. She and Mr
Brownlow were very kind to the little boy.

There was a picture of a lady near Oliver’s bed. “What a beautiful
lady!”

he said. “But her eyes are very sad!”

When Mr Brownlow came to see Oliver he said, “Mrs Bedwin, look at the
picture on the wall and look at Oliver. The head, the eyes, the mouth –
they are the same! I can’t believe this!” He looked at Oliver and then
looked at the picture many times.

When Oliver was better he sat on a chair near his bed. Mr Brownlow had
tears in his eyes when he looked at him.

A long time passed and Oliver was finally well. Mr Brownlow and Mrs
Bedwin loved little Oliver. Mr Brownlow bought him new clothes. For the
first time in his life Oliver was happy. He liked his new home very
much.

One day Mr Brownlow asked Oliver, “Do you like it here?”

Oliver said, “I’m very happy, sir. You are so kind to me. I want to stay
here. Please don’t send me away.”

Mr Brownlow said, “Of course you can stay here!”

Mr Brownlow showed him his library. Oliver was interested in the books.

“I want to send you to a good school, Oliver. Then you can read these
books.”

One sunny day Mr Brownlow said, “Oliver, can you please take these books
to the bookshop? Give this £5 note to the man in the shop.”

“I am happy to do this for you,” said Oliver smiling. He took the books
and walked happily down the street.

Nancy was standing in a small street. When he walked into the small
street Nancy saw him. She put her arms around him. “Oh, my dear brother!
I found you! You must come home with me now. You are a bad boy!”

Oliver cried, “Help! Help!”

Just then Bill Sikes arrived. He said, “It’s young Oliver! Come home
with us. Mother is waiting for us.”

Sikes and Nancy pulled Oliver to Fagin’s shop.

When they arrived at Fagin’s shop he said, “Oliver, I’m happy to see
you!”

Charley Bates took Oliver’s new clothes. Sikes took the five pound note
and Fagin took the books.

“You can keep me here all my life.” cried Oliver, “But please return
these books and the five pound note to Mr Brownlow. Please! He mustn’t
think I am a thief.”

“Oh, yes, he must!” said Fagin. Everyone laughed at Oliver.

Oliver jumped up and ran to the door. Fagin hit Oliver with a big stick.

Nancy pulled the stick out of Fagin’s hand. She threw it in the fire.

“Don’t hit the boy again!” she said.

Sikes pushed Nancy to the floor and Fagin laughed. Then they locked
Oliver in a dark room.

It was night time at Mr Brownlow’s house. He and Mrs Bedwin waited for
Oliver all night, but he never came home. Mr Brownlow was very sad and
worried. Where was Oliver?

Chapter Six: The Crime

One rainy night Fagin went to see Bill Sikes. “I want to talk about that
big house outside London. There are many precious things to steal! It’s
perfect for us!” He was very excited.

“Yes, it’s a very rich house,” said Sikes. “But it will be difficult.
The house is completely closed at night. There’s one small window at the
back. It’s easy to open, but only a small boy can enter.” “Oliver is the
boy for you, Sikes,”said Fagin. “He must start working for his bread.”

The next morning Oliver found a new pair of shoes near his bed. He was
very happy.

“Tonight you must go to see Bill Sikes,” said Fagin.

“Why?” asked Oliver.

“Sikes can tell you. Be careful, Oliver, he’s a cruel man. Do what he
tells you,” Fagin said.

Oliver was afraid. He prayed God to help him.

Nancy came and took Oliver to Sikes. “Be good and quiet. Give me your
hand,” she said.

When Sikes saw Oliver he put a pistol to his head. “Do what I say or
I’ll shoot you! Do you hear me?” Oliver heard him and was terrified . He
didn’t say a word.

“Now come with me!” said Sikes.

Sikes and Oliver walked together in the cold fog. After some time they
arrived in the country. They met another thief called Toby Crackit.
Oliver walked between the two thieves. Soon they climbed a wall and saw
a big country house. The night was cold and foggy.

When Oliver saw the country house he understood their terrible plan. He
fell to his knees and said, “Please let me go! I don’t want to steal! I
prefer to die here.”

Toby Crackit put his hand over Oliver’s mouth. Sikes opened the small
window at the back of the house. Then he put a pistol to Oliver’s head
and whispered , “Listen! Go in through this small window. Then go to the
front door. Open it and we will enter the house. Remember, I’m watching
you and I have a pistol!”

Oliver went in through the window. He wanted to warn the family, so he
started going up the stairs.

Sikes cried, “Come back!” Suddenly there was a light. Oliver saw two men
at the top of the stairs. There was a loud noise, a light and some smoke
from a pistol. Oliver felt a terrible pain! He was terrified and ran
back to the small window.

Sikes put his arm through the window. He pulled Oliver quickly through
the window.

“Oliver is hurt,” said Sikes. “Look at the blood!” He carried Oliver to
the garden wall. Oliver was very cold, and then he saw and heard no
more.

“Hurry!” said Toby Crackit. “The men and their dogs are following us!”

Sikes left Oliver at the garden wall. He ran away with Toby Crackit. Two
men and their dogs followed them. They were servants of the country
house.

“Do you see anyone, Giles?” asked Mr Brittles. “It’s too dark. I can’t
see anything,” said Mr Giles. The two men returned to the country house.
They didn’t see Oliver’s body.

Oliver stayed on the cold wet ground all night.

‘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.

简爱

‘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-

Part Five: Mr Rochester Proposes 

Later that day, I received a letter which greatly surprised me. Mrs
Reed,

my aunt, was dying, and she wanted me to go and visit her. I set off at
once on a long journey to her home.

When I got there, I was told that my cousin John had died. My aunt was
very ill. At first she could not speak to me. But one day, as I was
sitting by her bed, she showed me a letter. It was from my father’s
brother, who lived in Madeira. This is what it said.

Dear Mrs Reed,

I am looking for my brother’s daughter, Jane Eyre. I am now a rich man,

and I have no children of my own. I want Jane Eyre to live with me. Can
you help me to find my niece?

Yours sincerely,

John Eyre I looked at the date on the letter. ‘But Mrs Reed,’ I said,
‘this letter was sent three years ago. Why didn’t you tell me about it
before?’

‘I never liked you, Jane Eyre,’ my aunt replied. ‘I wrote a letter to
your uncle, and I told him that you were dead. I told him you died at
Lowood School. Now go away and leave me.’

A few days afterwards , Mrs Reed died. I felt sad that she had disliked
me until her death, and I felt glad to leave her house and return to
Thornfield Hall.

It was summer, and the fields around Thornfield were very green and full
of flowers. For me, it was the most beautiful place in the world,
because it was now my home.

‘I know that Adele will be pleased to see me,’ I thought. ‘But what
about Mr Rochester? I want to see him so much, but how does he feel
about me?

Perhaps he is already married to Blanche Ingram? What if they are going
to marry soon? What will I do?’ I felt unhappy when I thought about Mr
Rochester and Blanche Ingram. ‘I can’t stay here when they are
married,’I thought. ‘I must leave this house, which I love, and I will
never see Mr Rochester again.’

When I came near the house, I saw Mr Rochester. He was pleased to see
me, and so were Mrs Fairfax and Adele. I really felt that I had come
back home.

One evening, a few weeks afterwards, I went for a walk in the garden
after I had finished teaching Adele. Mr Rochester saw me there. ‘Come
and talk to me, Jane,’ he said.

‘He’s going to tell me that he is going to marry Blanche Ingram,’ I
thought.

‘Are you happy here, Jane?’ he asked.

‘Yes, Mr Rochester, I am very happy,’ I replied.

‘You’ll be sad to leave here,’ he said.

I could not look at him. ‘He is going to tell me that I must leave
because he’s getting married,’ I thought.

‘Yes, I will be very sad to leave,’ I said.

‘But you must leave, Jane,’ Mr Rochester said.

‘Must I?’ I asked. ‘Will it be soon?’ ‘Yes, it will be soon,’ He said.

‘Is it because you are going to get married?’ I asked.

‘Yes, Jane, I am going to get married. Adele must go to school, and you
must find a new job. I will help you. It will be far from here, though,
my little friend.’

‘Then I shall never see you again?’ I cried.

‘You’ll soon forget me when you are far away,’ he answered.

‘But I will never forget you,’ I thought. ‘You may forget me, when I am
not here, but I will never forget you, Mr Rochester.’

I could hardly speak. Tears were in my eyes, and all that I could say
was,

‘Never!’

He looked at me for a long time, and then, at last, he spoke. ‘Perhaps
you don’t need to go,’ he said. ‘Perhaps you can stay here when I am
married.’

I felt angry now. Did this man think I was made of stone ? Did he not
know how I felt? Did he even care how much his words hurt me?

‘I could never stay,’ I told him. ‘When Miss Ingram is your wife, I must
go.

I know that I am not rich and beautiful like her. I am poor and
unimportant.

But I still feel sadness. If you marry Miss Ingram, I must leave here.’

I was surprised when Mr Rochester smiled. ‘But I don’t want you to
go,Jane,’ he said. ‘I am not going to marry Miss Ingram. Please stay
here with me, because it’s you I want to marry.’

I heard what he said but I could not believe it. ‘You are laughing at
me,’ I said. ‘How can you be so cruel?’

‘I am not laughing at you, Jane,’ he answered. ‘It is you I want to
marry,

and not Miss Ingram. Jane, will you marry me?’

He looked at me so tenderly that I had to believe him. Mr Rochester
really did want to marry me! He wanted me, Jane Eyre, to be his wife!

‘Yes,’ I said quietly, ‘I will marry you.’

‘We will be happy, Jane. No one is going to stop us,’ he told me, with a
strange look in his eyes, which I did not quite understand. But I was
too happy at that moment to think about it for long.

It began to get dark. The weather changed, and a strong wind started to
blow. Rain started to fall as we walked back to the house together.

‘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 around you; as it is, the greater number would
offer you sympathy if they dared.

Teachers and pupils may look coldly on you for a day or two, but
friendly feelings are concealed in their hearts; and if you persevere in
doing well, these feelings will ere long appear so much the more
evidently for their temporary suppression. Besides, Jane’- she paused.

‘Well, Helen?’ said I, putting my hand into hers: she chafed my fingers
gently to warm them, and went on-‘If all the world hated you, and
believed you wicked, while your own conscience approved you, and
absolved you from guilt, you would not be without friends.’

‘No; I know I should think well of myself; but that is not enough: if
others don’t love me I would rather die than live- I cannot bear to be
solitary and hated, Helen. Look here; to gain some real affection from
you, or Miss Temple, or any other whom I truly love, I would willingly
submit to have the bone of my arm broken, or to let a bull toss me, or
to stand behind a kicking horse, and let it dash its hoof at my chest-‘

‘Hush, Jane! you think too much of the love of human beings; you are too
impulsive, too vehement; the sovereign hand that created your frame, and
put life into it, has provided you with other resources than your feeble
self, or than creatures feeble as you.

Besides this earth, and besides the race of men, there is an invisible
world and a kingdom of spirits: that world is round us, for it is
everywhere; and those spirits watch us, for they are commissioned to
guard us; and if we were dying in pain and shame, if scorn smote us on
all sides, and hatred crushed us, angels see our tortures, recognise our
innocence (if innocent we be: as I know you are of this chargewhich Mr.
Brocklehurst has weakly and pompously repeated at secondhand from Mrs.
Reed; for I read a sincere nature in your ardent eyes and on your clear
front), and God waits only the separation of spirit from flesh to crown
us with a full reward. Why, then, should we ever sink overwhelmed with
distress, when life is so soon over, and death is so certain an entrance
to happiness- to glory?’

I was silent; Helen had calmed me; but in the tranquillity she imparted
there was an alloy of inexpressible sadness. I felt the impression of
woe as she spoke, but I could not tell whence it came; and when, having
done speaking, she breathed a little fast and coughed a short cough, I
momentarily forgot my own sorrows to yield to a vague concern for her.

Resting my head on Helen’s shoulder, I put my arms round her waist; she
drew me to her, and we reposed in silence. We had not sat long thus,
when another person came in. Some heavy clouds, swept from the sky by a
rising wind, had left the moon bare; and her light, streaming in through
a window near, shone full both on 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 side.

‘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.’