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  • Jane Eyre - Reading - Chapter 1 - Charlotte Bronte - British English Pronunciation - JANE EYRE AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY

  • by CHARLOTTE BRONTË

  • April 13th, 1848. CHAPTER I

  • There was no possibility of taking a walk that day. We had been wandering, indeed, in

  • the leafless shrubbery an hour in the morning; but since dinner (Mrs. Reed, when there was

  • no company, dined early) the cold winter wind had brought with it clouds so sombre, and

  • a rain so penetrating, that further out-door exercise was now out of the question.

  • I was glad of it: I never liked long walks, especially on chilly afternoons: dreadful

  • to me was the coming home in the raw twilight, with nipped fingers and toes, and a heart

  • saddened by the chidings of Bessie, the nurse, and humbled by the consciousness of my physical

  • inferiority to Eliza, John, and Georgiana Reed.

  • The said Eliza, John, and Georgiana were now clustered round their mama in the drawing-room:

  • she lay reclined on a sofa by the fireside, and with her darlings about her (for the time

  • neither quarrelling nor crying) looked perfectly happy. Me, she had dispensed from joining

  • the group; saying, “She regretted to be under the necessity of keeping me at a distance;

  • but that until she heard from Bessie, and could discover by her own observation, that

  • I was endeavouring in good earnest to acquire a more sociable and childlike disposition,

  • a more attractive and sprightly mannersomething lighter, franker, more natural, as it wereshe

  • really must exclude me from privileges intended only for contented, happy, little children.”

  • What does Bessie say I have done?” I asked.

  • Jane, I don’t like cavillers or questioners; besides, there is something truly forbidding

  • in a child taking up her elders in that manner. Be seated somewhere; and until you can speak

  • pleasantly, remain silent.” A breakfast-room adjoined the drawing-room,

  • I slipped in there. It contained a bookcase: I soon possessed myself of a volume, taking

  • care that it should be one stored with pictures. I mounted into the window-seat: gathering

  • up my feet, I sat cross-legged, like a Turk; and, having drawn the red moreen curtain nearly

  • close, I was shrined in double retirement. Folds of scarlet drapery shut in my view to

  • the right hand; to the left were the clear panes of glass, protecting, but not separating

  • me from the drear November day. At intervals, while turning over the leaves of my book,

  • I studied the aspect of that winter afternoon. Afar, it offered a pale blank of mist and

  • cloud; near a scene of wet lawn and storm-beat shrub, with ceaseless rain sweeping away wildly

  • before a long and lamentable blast. I returned to my bookBewick’s History

  • of British Birds: the letterpress thereof I cared little for, generally speaking; and

  • yet there were certain introductory pages that, child as I was, I could not pass quite

  • as a blank. They were those which treat of the haunts of sea-fowl; ofthe solitary

  • rocks and promontoriesby them only inhabited; of the coast of Norway, studded with isles

  • from its southern extremity, the Lindeness, or Naze, to the North Cape

  • Where the Northern Ocean, in vast whirls, Boils round the naked, melancholy isles

  • Of farthest Thule; and the Atlantic surge Pours in among the stormy Hebrides.”

  • Nor could I pass unnoticed the suggestion of the bleak shores of Lapland, Siberia, Spitzbergen,

  • Nova Zembla, Iceland, Greenland, withthe vast sweep of the Arctic Zone, and those forlorn

  • regions of dreary space,—that reservoir of frost and snow, where firm fields of ice,

  • the accumulation of centuries of winters, glazed in Alpine heights above heights, surround

  • the pole, and concentre the multiplied rigours of extreme cold.” Of these death-white realms

  • I formed an idea of my own: shadowy, like all the half-comprehended notions that float

  • dim through children’s brains, but strangely impressive. The words in these introductory

  • pages connected themselves with the succeeding vignettes, and gave significance to the rock

  • standing up alone in a sea of billow and spray; to the broken boat stranded on a desolate

  • coast; to the cold and ghastly moon glancing through bars of cloud at a wreck just sinking.

  • I cannot tell what sentiment haunted the quite solitary churchyard, with its inscribed headstone;

  • its gate, its two trees, its low horizon, girdled by a broken wall, and its newly-risen

  • crescent, attesting the hour of eventide. The two ships becalmed on a torpid sea, I

  • believed to be marine phantoms. The fiend pinning down the thief’s pack

  • behind him, I passed over quickly: it was an object of terror.

  • So was the black horned thing seated aloof on a rock, surveying a distant crowd surrounding

  • a gallows. Each picture told a story; mysterious often

  • to my undeveloped understanding and imperfect feelings, yet ever profoundly interesting:

  • as interesting as the tales Bessie sometimes narrated on winter evenings, when she chanced

  • to be in good humour; and when, having brought her ironing-table to the nursery hearth, she

  • allowed us to sit about it, and while she got up Mrs. Reed’s lace frills, and crimped

  • her nightcap borders, fed our eager attention with passages of love and adventure taken

  • from old fairy tales and other ballads; or (as at a later period I discovered) from the

  • pages of Pamela, and Henry, Earl of Moreland. With Bewick on my knee, I was then happy:

  • happy at least in my way. I feared nothing but interruption, and that came too soon.

  • The breakfast-room door opened. “Boh! Madam Mope!” cried the voice of

  • John Reed; then he paused: he found the room apparently empty.

  • Where the dickens is she!” he continued. “Lizzy! Georgy! (calling to his sisters)

  • Joan is not here: tell mama she is run out into the rainbad animal!”

  • It is well I drew the curtain,” thought I; and I wished fervently he might not discover

  • my hiding-place: nor would John Reed have found it out himself; he was not quick either

  • of vision or conception; but Eliza just put her head in at the door, and said at once

  • She is in the window-seat, to be sure, Jack.”

  • And I came out immediately, for I trembled at the idea of being dragged forth by the

  • said Jack. “What do you want?” I asked, with awkward

  • diffidence. “Say, ‘What do you want, Master Reed?’”

  • was the answer. “I want you to come here;” and seating himself in an arm-chair, he intimated

  • by a gesture that I was to approach and stand before him.

  • John Reed was a schoolboy of fourteen years old; four years older than I, for I was but

  • ten: large and stout for his age, with a dingy and unwholesome skin; thick lineaments in

  • a spacious visage, heavy limbs and large extremities. He gorged himself habitually at table, which

  • made him bilious, and gave him a dim and bleared eye and flabby cheeks. He ought now to have

  • been at school; but his mama had taken him home for a month or two, “on account of

  • his delicate health.” Mr. Miles, the master, affirmed that he would do very well if he

  • had fewer cakes and sweetmeats sent him from home; but the mother’s heart turned from

  • an opinion so harsh, and inclined rather to the more refined idea that John’s sallowness

  • was owing to over-application and, perhaps, to pining after home.

  • John had not much affection for his mother and sisters, and an antipathy to me. He bullied

  • and punished me; not two or three times in the week, nor once or twice in the day, but

  • continually: every nerve I had feared him, and every morsel of flesh in my bones shrank

  • when he came near. There were moments when I was bewildered by the terror he inspired,

  • because I had no appeal whatever against either his menaces or his inflictions; the servants

  • did not like to offend their young master by taking my part against him, and Mrs. Reed

  • was blind and deaf on the subject: she never saw him strike or heard him abuse me, though

  • he did both now and then in her very presence, more frequently, however, behind her back.

  • Habitually obedient to John, I came up to his chair: he spent some three minutes in

  • thrusting out his tongue at me as far as he could without damaging the roots: I knew he

  • would soon strike, and while dreading the blow, I mused on the disgusting and ugly appearance

  • of him who would presently deal it. I wonder if he read that notion in my face; for, all

  • at once, without speaking, he struck suddenly and strongly. I tottered, and on regaining

  • my equilibrium retired back a step or two from his chair.

  • That is for your impudence in answering mama awhile since,” said he, “and for

  • your sneaking way of getting behind curtains, and for the look you had in your eyes two

  • minutes since, you rat!” Accustomed to John Reed’s abuse, I never

  • had an idea of replying to it; my care was how to endure the blow which would certainly

  • follow the insult. “What were you doing behind the curtain?”

  • he asked. “I was reading.”

  • Show the book.” I returned to the window and fetched it thence.

  • You have no business to take our books; you are a dependent, mama says; you have no

  • money; your father left you none; you ought to beg, and not to live here with gentlemen’s

  • children like us, and eat the same meals we do, and wear clothes at our mama’s expense.

  • Now, I’ll teach you to rummage my bookshelves: for they are mine; all the house belongs to

  • me, or will do in a few years. Go and stand by the door, out of the way of the mirror

  • and the windows.” I did so, not at first aware what was his

  • intention; but when I saw him lift and poise the book and stand in act to hurl it, I instinctively

  • started aside with a cry of alarm: not soon enough, however; the volume was flung, it

  • hit me, and I fell, striking my head against the door and cutting it. The cut bled, the

  • pain was sharp: my terror had passed its climax; other feelings succeeded.

  • Wicked and cruel boy!” I said. “You are like a murdereryou are like a slave-driveryou

  • are like the Roman emperors!” I had read Goldsmith’s History of Rome,

  • and had formed my opinion of Nero, Caligula, etc. Also I had drawn parallels in silence,

  • which I never thought thus to have declared aloud.

  • What! what!” he cried. “Did she say that to me? Did you hear her, Eliza and Georgiana?

  • Won’t I tell mama? but first—” He ran headlong at me: I felt him grasp my

  • hair and my shoulder: he had closed with a desperate thing. I really saw in him a tyrant,

  • a murderer. I felt a drop or two of blood from my head trickle down my neck, and was

  • sensible of somewhat pungent suffering: these sensations for the time predominated over

  • fear, and I received him in frantic sort. I don’t very well know what I did with my

  • hands, but he called meRat! Rat!” and bellowed out aloud. Aid was near him: Eliza

  • and Georgiana had run for Mrs. Reed, who was gone upstairs: she now came upon the scene,

  • followed by Bessie and her maid Abbot. We were parted: I heard the words

  • Dear! dear! What a fury to fly at Master John!”

  • Did ever anybody see such a picture of passion!”

  • Then Mrs. Reed subjoined— “Take her away to the red-room, and lock

  • her in there.” Four hands were immediately laid upon me, and I was borne upstairs.

  • Jane Eyre - Reading - Chapter 1 - Charlotte Bronte - British English Pronunciation

Jane Eyre - Reading - Chapter 1 - Charlotte Bronte - British English Pronunciation - JANE EYRE AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY

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B2 H-INT UK reed mama john bessie eliza georgiana

Jane Eyre – British Reading – Chapter 1 – Charlotte Bronte – British English Pronunciation

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