Jane Eyre (Chapter 6, page 1 of 10)


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Chapter 6

The next day commenced as before, getting up and dressing by
rushlight; but this morning we were obliged to dispense with the
ceremony of washing; the water in the pitchers was frozen. A change
had taken place in the weather the preceding evening, and a keen
north-east wind, whistling through the crevices of our bedroom
windows all night long, had made us shiver in our beds, and turned
the contents of the ewers to ice.

Before the long hour and a half of prayers and Bible-reading was
over, I felt ready to perish with cold. Breakfast-time came at
last, and this morning the porridge was not burnt; the quality was
eatable, the quantity small. How small my portion seemed! I wished
it had been doubled.

In the course of the day I was enrolled a member of the fourth
class, and regular tasks and occupations were assigned me:
hitherto, I had only been a spectator of the proceedings at Lowood;
I was now to become an actor therein. At first, being little
accustomed to learn by heart, the lessons appeared to me both long
and difficult; the frequent change from task to task, too,
bewildered me; and I was glad when, about three o'clock in the
afternoon, Miss Smith put into my hands a border of muslin two yards
long, together with needle, thimble, &c., and sent me to sit in a
quiet corner of the schoolroom, with directions to hem the same. At
that hour most of the others were sewing likewise; but one class
still stood round Miss Scatcherd's chair reading, and as all was
quiet, the subject of their lessons could be heard, together with
the manner in which each girl acquitted herself, and the
animadversions or commendations of Miss Scatcherd on the
performance. It was English history: among the readers I observed
my acquaintance of the verandah: at the commencement of the lesson,
her place had been at the top of the class, but for some error of
pronunciation, or some inattention to stops, she was suddenly sent
to the very bottom. Even in that obscure position, Miss Scatcherd
continued to make her an object of constant notice: she was
continually addressing to her such phrases as the following:"Burns" (such it seems was her name: the girls here were all called
by their surnames, as boys are elsewhere), "Burns, you are standing
on the side of your shoe; turn your toes out immediately." "Burns,
you poke your chin most unpleasantly; draw it in." "Burns, I insist
on your holding your head up; I will not have you before me in that
attitude," &c. &c.

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