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  • CHAPTER ELEVEN of Jane Eyre This is a Librivox recording.

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  • Recording by Elizabeth Klett Jane Eyre by Charlotte BRONTË Chapter Eleven

  • A new chapter in a novel is something like a new scene in a play; and

  • when I draw up the curtain this time, reader, you must fancy you see a

  • room in the George Inn at Millcote, with such large figured papering on

  • the walls as inn rooms have; such a carpet, such furniture, such

  • ornaments on the mantelpiece, such prints, including a portrait of George

  • the Third, and another of the Prince of Wales, and a representation of

  • the death of Wolfe.

  • All this is visible to you by the light of an oil

  • lamp hanging from the ceiling, and by that of an excellent fire, near

  • which I sit in my cloak and bonnet; my muff and umbrella lie on the

  • table, and I am warming away the numbness and chill contracted by sixteen

  • hours' exposure to the rawness of an October day: I left Lowton at four

  • o'clock a.m., and the Millcote town clock is now just striking eight.

  • Reader, though I look comfortably accommodated, I am not very tranquil in

  • my mind.

  • I thought when the coach stopped here there would be some one

  • to meet me; I looked anxiously round as I descended the wooden steps the

  • "boots" placed for my convenience, expecting to hear my name pronounced,

  • and to see some description of carriage waiting to convey me to

  • Thornfield.

  • Nothing of the sort was visible; and when I asked a waiter

  • if any one had been to inquire after a Miss Eyre, I was answered in the

  • negative: so I had no resource but to request to be shown into a private

  • room: and here I am waiting, while all sorts of doubts and fears are

  • troubling my thoughts.

  • It is a very strange sensation to inexperienced youth to feel itself

  • quite alone in the world, cut adrift from every connection, uncertain

  • whether the port to which it is bound can be reached, and prevented by

  • many impediments from returning to that it has quitted.

  • The charm of adventure sweetens that sensation, the glow

  • of pride warms it; but then the throb of fear disturbs it; and fear with

  • me became predominant when half-an-hour elapsed and still I was alone.

  • I bethought myself to ring the bell.

  • "Is there a place in this neighbourhood called Thornfield?"

  • I asked of the waiter who answered the summons.

  • "Thornfield?

  • I don't know, ma'am; I'll inquire at the bar."

  • He vanished, but reappeared instantly--

  • "Is your name Eyre, Miss?"

  • "Yes."

  • "Person here waiting for you."

  • I jumped up, took my muff and umbrella, and hastened into the

  • inn-passage: a man was standing by the open door, and in the lamp-lit

  • street I dimly saw a one-horse conveyance.

  • "This will be your luggage, I suppose?" said the man rather abruptly when

  • he saw me, pointing to my trunk in the passage.

  • "Yes."

  • He hoisted it on to the vehicle, which was a sort of car, and

  • then I got in; before he shut me up, I asked him how far it was to

  • Thornfield.

  • "A matter of six miles."

  • "How long shall we be before we get there?"

  • "Happen an hour and a half."

  • He fastened the car door, climbed to his own seat outside, and we set

  • off.

  • Our progress was leisurely, and gave me ample time to reflect; I

  • was content to be at length so near the end of my journey; and as I

  • leaned back in the comfortable though not elegant conveyance, I meditated

  • much at my ease.

  • "I suppose," thought I, "judging from the plainness of the servant and

  • carriage, Mrs. Fairfax is not a very dashing person: so much the better;

  • I never lived amongst fine people but once, and I was very miserable with

  • them.

  • I wonder if she lives alone except this little girl; if so, and if

  • she is in any degree amiable, I shall surely be able to get on with her;

  • I will do my best; it is a pity that doing one's best does not always

  • answer.

  • At Lowood, indeed, I took that resolution, kept it, and

  • succeeded in pleasing; but with Mrs. Reed, I remember my best was always

  • spurned with scorn.

  • I pray God Mrs. Fairfax may not turn out a second

  • Mrs. Reed; but if she does, I am not bound to stay with her!

  • let the worst come to the worst, I can advertise again.

  • How far are we on our road now, I wonder?"

  • I let down the window and looked out; Millcote was behind us; judging by

  • the number of its lights, it seemed a place of considerable magnitude,

  • much larger than Lowton.

  • We were now, as far as I could see, on a sort of common; but there were houses scattered

  • all over the district; I felt we were in a different region to Lowood, more

  • populous, less picturesque; more stirring, less romantic.

  • The roads were heavy, the night misty; my conductor let his horse walk

  • all the way, and the hour and a half extended, I verily believe, to two

  • hours; at last he turned in his seat and said--

  • "You're noan so far fro' Thornfield now."

  • Again I looked out: we were passing a church; I saw its low broad tower

  • against the sky, and its bell was tolling a quarter; I saw a narrow

  • galaxy of lights too, on a hillside, marking a village or hamlet.

  • About ten minutes after, the driver got down and

  • opened a pair of gates: we passed through, and they clashed to behind

  • us.

  • We now slowly ascended a drive, and came upon the long front of a house:

  • candlelight gleamed from one curtained bow-window; all the rest were

  • dark.

  • The car stopped at the front door; it was opened by a maid-servant;

  • I alighted and went in.

  • "Will you walk this way, ma'am?" said the girl; and I followed her across

  • a square hall with high doors all round: she ushered me into a room whose

  • double illumination of fire and candle at first dazzled me, contrasting

  • as it did with the darkness to which my eyes had been for two hours

  • inured; when I could see, however, a cosy and agreeable picture presented

  • itself to my view.

  • A snug small room; a round table by a cheerful fire; an arm-chair high-

  • backed and old-fashioned, wherein sat the neatest imaginable little

  • elderly lady, in widow's cap, black silk gown, and snowy muslin apron;

  • exactly like what I had fancied Mrs. Fairfax, only less stately and

  • milder looking.

  • She was occupied in knitting; a large cat sat demurely

  • at her feet; nothing in short was wanting to complete the beau-ideal of

  • domestic comfort.

  • A more reassuring introduction for a new governess could scarcely be conceived; there was no

  • grandeur to overwhelm, no stateliness to embarrass; and then, as I entered,

  • the old lady got up and promptly and kindly came forward to meet me.

  • "How do you do, my dear?

  • I am afraid you have had a tedious ride; John drives so slowly; you must be cold, come to

  • the fire."

  • "Mrs. Fairfax, I suppose?" said I.

  • "Yes, you are right: do sit down."

  • She conducted me to her own chair, and then began to remove my shawl and

  • untie my bonnet-strings; I begged she would not give herself so much

  • trouble.

  • "Oh, it is no trouble; I dare say your own hands are almost numbed with

  • cold.

  • Leah, make a little hot negus and cut a sandwich or two: here are

  • the keys of the storeroom."

  • And she produced from her pocket a most housewifely bunch of keys, and

  • delivered them to the servant.

  • "Now, then, draw nearer to the fire," she continued.

  • "You've brought your luggage with you, haven't you, my dear?"

  • "Yes, ma'am."

  • "I'll see it carried into your room," she said, and bustled out.

  • "She treats me like a visitor," thought I. "I little expected such a

  • reception; I anticipated only coldness and stiffness: this is not like

  • what I have heard of the treatment of governesses; but I must not exult

  • too soon."

  • She returned; with her own hands cleared her knitting apparatus and a

  • book or two from the table, to make room for the tray which Leah now

  • brought, and then herself handed me the refreshments.

  • I felt rather confused at being the object of more attention

  • than I had ever before received, and, that too, shown by my employer

  • and superior; but as she did not herself seem to consider she was doing

  • anything out of her place, I thought it better to take her civilities

  • quietly.

  • "Shall I have the pleasure of seeing Miss Fairfax to-night?"

  • I asked, when I had partaken of what she offered me.

  • "What did you say, my dear?

  • I am a little deaf," returned the good lady, approaching her ear to my mouth.

  • I repeated the question more distinctly.

  • "Miss Fairfax?

  • Oh, you mean Miss Varens!

  • Varens is the name of your future pupil."

  • "Indeed!

  • Then she is not your daughter?"

  • "No,--I have no family."

  • I should have followed up my first inquiry, by asking in what way Miss

  • Varens was connected with her; but I recollected it was not polite to ask

  • too many questions: besides, I was sure to hear in time.

  • "I am so glad," she continued, as she sat down opposite to me, and took

  • the cat on her knee; "I am so glad you are come; it will be quite

  • pleasant living here now with a companion.

  • To be sure it is pleasant at any time; for Thornfield is a fine old hall,

  • rather neglected of late years perhaps, but still it is a respectable

  • place; yet you know in winter-time one feels dreary quite alone in

  • the best quarters.

  • I say alone--Leah is a nice girl to be sure, and