Jane Eyre (Chapter 7, page 1 of 11)


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Chapter 7

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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