Jane Eyre (Chapter 2, page 2 of 6)


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Chapter 2

"What we tell you is for your good," added Bessie, in no harsh
voice, "you should try to be useful and pleasant, then, perhaps, you
would have a home here; but if you become passionate and rude,
Missis will send you away, I am sure."

"Besides," said Miss Abbot, "God will punish her: He might strike
her dead in the midst of her tantrums, and then where would she go?
Come, Bessie, we will leave her: I wouldn't have her heart for
anything. Say your prayers, Miss Eyre, when you are by yourself;
for if you don't repent, something bad might be permitted to come
down the chimney and fetch you away."

They went, shutting the door, and locking it behind them.

The red-room was a square chamber, very seldom slept in, I might say
never, indeed, unless when a chance influx of visitors at Gateshead
Hall rendered it necessary to turn to account all the accommodation
it contained: yet it was one of the largest and stateliest chambers
in the mansion. A bed supported on massive pillars of mahogany,
hung with curtains of deep red damask, stood out like a tabernacle
in the centre; the two large windows, with their blinds always drawn
down, were half shrouded in festoons and falls of similar drapery;
the carpet was red; the table at the foot of the bed was covered
with a crimson cloth; the walls were a soft fawn colour with a blush
of pink in it; the wardrobe, the toilet-table, the chairs were of
darkly polished old mahogany. Out of these deep surrounding shades
rose high, and glared white, the piled-up mattresses and pillows of
the bed, spread with a snowy Marseilles counterpane. Scarcely less
prominent was an ample cushioned easy-chair near the head of the
bed, also white, with a footstool before it; and looking, as I
thought, like a pale throne.

This room was chill, because it seldom had a fire; it was silent,
because remote from the nursery and kitchen; solemn, because it was
known to be so seldom entered. The house-maid alone came here on
Saturdays, to wipe from the mirrors and the furniture a week's quiet
dust: and Mrs. Reed herself, at far intervals, visited it to review
the contents of a certain secret drawer in the wardrobe, where were
stored divers parchments, her jewel-casket, and a miniature of her
deceased husband; and in those last words lies the secret of the
red-room--the spell which kept it so lonely in spite of its
grandeur.

Mr. Reed had been dead nine years: it was in this chamber he
breathed his last; here he lay in state; hence his coffin was borne
by the undertaker's men; and, since that day, a sense of dreary
consecration had guarded it from frequent intrusion.

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