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Jane Eyre eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 567 pages of information about Jane Eyre.

CHAPTER XXXI

My home, then, when I at last find a home, —­ is a cottage; a little room with whitewashed walls and a sanded floor, containing four painted chairs and a table, a clock, a cupboard, with two or three plates and dishes, and a set of tea-things in delf.  Above, a chamber of the same dimensions as the kitchen, with a deal bedstead and chest of drawers; small, yet too large to be filled with my scanty wardrobe:  though the kindness of my gentle and generous friends has increased that, by a modest stock of such things as are necessary.

It is evening.  I have dismissed, with the fee of an orange, the little orphan who serves me as a handmaid.  I am sitting alone on the hearth.  This morning, the village school opened.  I had twenty scholars.  But three of the number can read:  none write or cipher.  Several knit, and a few sew a little.  They speak with the broadest accent of the district.  At present, they and I have a difficulty in understanding each other’s language.  Some of them are unmannered, rough, intractable, as well as ignorant; but others are docile, have a wish to learn, and evince a disposition that pleases me.  I must not forget that these coarsely-clad little peasants are of flesh and blood as good as the scions of gentlest genealogy; and that the germs of native excellence, refinement, intelligence, kind feeling, are as likely to exist in their hearts as in those of the best-born.  My duty will be to develop these germs:  surely I shall find some happiness in discharging that office.  Much enjoyment I do not expect in the life opening before me:  yet it will, doubtless, if I regulate my mind, and exert my powers as I ought, yield me enough to live on from day to day.

Was I very gleeful, settled, content, during the hours I passed in yonder bare, humble schoolroom this morning and afternoon?  Not to deceive myself, I must reply —­ No:  I felt desolate to a degree.  I felt —­ yes, idiot that I am —­ I felt degraded.  I doubted I had taken a step which sank instead of raising me in the scale of social existence.  I was weakly dismayed at the ignorance, the poverty, the coarseness of all I heard and saw round me.  But let me not hate and despise myself too much for these feelings; I know them to be wrong —­ that is a great step gained; I shall strive to overcome them.  To-morrow, I trust, I shall get the better of them partially; and in a few weeks, perhaps, they will be quite subdued.  In a few months, it is possible, the happiness of seeing progress, and a change for the better in my scholars may substitute gratification for disgust.

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