Jane Eyre eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 567 pages of information about Jane Eyre.
than man —­ perhaps to pass through gradations of glory, from the pale human soul to brighten to the seraph!  Surely it will never, on the contrary, be suffered to degenerate from man to fiend?  No; I cannot believe that:  I hold another creed:  which no one ever taught me, and which I seldom mention; but in which I delight, and to which I cling:  for it extends hope to all:  it makes Eternity a rest —­ a mighty home, not a terror and an abyss.  Besides, with this creed, I can so clearly distinguish between the criminal and his crime; I can so sincerely forgive the first while I abhor the last:  with this creed revenge never worries my heart, degradation never too deeply disgusts me, injustice never crushes me too low:  I live in calm, looking to the end.”

Helen’s head, always drooping, sank a little lower as she finished this sentence.  I saw by her look she wished no longer to talk to me, but rather to converse with her own thoughts.  She was not allowed much time for meditation:  a monitor, a great rough girl, presently came up, exclaiming in a strong Cumberland accent —

“Helen Burns, if you don’t go and put your drawer in order, and fold up your work this minute, I’ll tell Miss Scatcherd to come and look at it!”

Helen sighed as her reverie fled, and getting up, obeyed the monitor without reply as without delay.

CHAPTER VII

My first quarter at Lowood seemed an age; and not the golden age either; it comprised an irksome struggle with difficulties in habituating myself to new rules and unwonted tasks.  The fear of failure in these points harassed me worse than the physical hardships of my lot; though these were no trifles.

During January, February, and part of March, the deep snows, and, after their melting, the almost impassable roads, prevented our stirring beyond the garden walls, except to go to church; but within these limits we had to pass an hour every day in the open air.  Our clothing was insufficient to protect us from the severe cold:  we had no boots, the snow got into our shoes and melted there:  our ungloved hands became numbed and covered with chilblains, as were our feet:  I remember well the distracting irritation I endured from this cause every evening, when my feet inflamed; and the torture of thrusting the swelled, raw, and stiff toes into my shoes in the morning.  Then the scanty supply of food was distressing:  with the keen appetites of growing children, we had scarcely sufficient to keep alive a delicate invalid.  From this deficiency of nourishment resulted an abuse, which pressed hardly on the younger pupils:  whenever the famished great girls had an opportunity, they would coax or menace the little ones out of their portion.  Many a time I have shared between two claimants the precious morsel of brown bread distributed at tea-time; and after relinquishing to a third half the contents of my mug of coffee, I have swallowed the remainder with an accompaniment of secret tears, forced from me by the exigency of hunger.

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Jane Eyre from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.