Jane Eyre (Chapter 8, page 1 of 7)


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Chapter 8

Ere the half-hour ended, five o'clock struck; school was dismissed,
and all were gone into the refectory to tea. I now ventured to
descend: it was deep dusk; I retired into a corner and sat down on
the floor. The spell by which I had been so far supported began to
dissolve; reaction took place, and soon, so overwhelming was the
grief that seized me, I sank prostrate with my face to the ground.
Now I wept: Helen Burns was not here; nothing sustained me; left to
myself I abandoned myself, and my tears watered the boards. I had
meant to be so good, and to do so much at Lowood: to make so many
friends, to earn respect and win affection. Already I had made
visible progress: that very morning I had reached the head of my
class; Miss Miller had praised me warmly; Miss Temple had smiled
approbation; she had promised to teach me drawing, and to let me
learn French, if I continued to make similar improvement two months
longer: and then I was well received by my fellow-pupils; treated
as an equal by those of my own age, and not molested by any; now,
here I lay again crushed and trodden on; and could I ever rise more?

"Never," I thought; and ardently I wished to die. While sobbing out
this wish in broken accents, some one approached: I started up--
again Helen Burns was near me; the fading fires just showed her
coming up the long, vacant room; she brought my coffee and bread.

"Come, eat something," she said; but I put both away from me,
feeling as if a drop or a crumb would have choked me in my present
condition. Helen regarded me, probably with surprise: I could not
now abate my agitation, though I tried hard; I continued to weep
aloud. She sat down on the ground near me, embraced her knees with
her arms, and rested her head upon them; in that attitude she
remained silent as an Indian. I was the first who spoke "Helen, why do you stay with a girl whom everybody believes to be a
liar?"

"Everybody, Jane? Why, there are only eighty people who have heard
you called so, and the world contains hundreds of millions."

"But what have I to do with millions? The eighty, I know, despise
me."

"Jane, you are mistaken: probably not one in the school either
despises or dislikes you: many, I am sure, pity you much."

"How can they pity me after what Mr. Brocklehurst has said?"

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