Jane Eyre (Chapter 9, page 2 of 11)


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Chapter 9

April advanced to May: a bright serene May it was; days of blue
sky, placid sunshine, and soft western or southern gales filled up
its duration. And now vegetation matured with vigour; Lowood shook
loose its tresses; it became all green, all flowery; its great elm,
ash, and oak skeletons were restored to majestic life; woodland
plants sprang up profusely in its recesses; unnumbered varieties of
moss filled its hollows, and it made a strange ground-sunshine out
of the wealth of its wild primrose plants: I have seen their pale
gold gleam in overshadowed spots like scatterings of the sweetest
lustre. All this I enjoyed often and fully, free, unwatched, and
almost alone: for this unwonted liberty and pleasure there was a
cause, to which it now becomes my task to advert.

Have I not described a pleasant site for a dwelling, when I speak of
it as bosomed in hill and wood, and rising from the verge of a
stream? Assuredly, pleasant enough: but whether healthy or not is
another question.

That forest-dell, where Lowood lay, was the cradle of fog and fog-
bred pestilence; which, quickening with the quickening spring, crept
into the Orphan Asylum, breathed typhus through its crowded
schoolroom and dormitory, and, ere May arrived, transformed the
seminary into an hospital.

Semi-starvation and neglected colds had predisposed most of the
pupils to receive infection: forty-five out of the eighty girls lay
ill at one time. Classes were broken up, rules relaxed. The few
who continued well were allowed almost unlimited license; because
the medical attendant insisted on the necessity of frequent exercise
to keep them in health: and had it been otherwise, no one had
leisure to watch or restrain them. Miss Temple's whole attention
was absorbed by the patients: she lived in the sick-room, never
quitting it except to snatch a few hours' rest at night. The
teachers were fully occupied with packing up and making other
necessary preparations for the departure of those girls who were
fortunate enough to have friends and relations able and willing to
remove them from the seat of contagion. Many, already smitten, went
home only to die: some died at the school, and were buried quietly
and quickly, the nature of the malady forbidding delay.

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