Jane Eyre (Chapter 1, page 2 of 5)


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Chapter 1

"Where the Northern Ocean, in vast whirls,
Boils round the naked, melancholy isles
Of farthest Thule; and the Atlantic surge
Pours in among the stormy Hebrides."

Nor could I pass unnoticed the suggestion of the bleak shores of
Lapland, Siberia, Spitzbergen, Nova Zembla, Iceland, Greenland, with
"the vast sweep of the Arctic Zone, and those forlorn regions of
dreary space,--that reservoir of frost and snow, where firm fields
of ice, the accumulation of centuries of winters, glazed in Alpine
heights above heights, surround the pole, and concentre the
multiplied rigours of extreme cold." Of these death-white realms I
formed an idea of my own: shadowy, like all the half-comprehended
notions that float dim through children's brains, but strangely
impressive. The words in these introductory pages connected
themselves with the succeeding vignettes, and gave significance to
the rock standing up alone in a sea of billow and spray; to the
broken boat stranded on a desolate coast; to the cold and ghastly
moon glancing through bars of cloud at a wreck just sinking.

I cannot tell what sentiment haunted the quite solitary churchyard,
with its inscribed headstone; its gate, its two trees, its low
horizon, girdled by a broken wall, and its newly-risen crescent,
attesting the hour of eventide.

The two ships becalmed on a torpid sea, I believed to be marine
phantoms.

The fiend pinning down the thief's pack behind him, I passed over
quickly: it was an object of terror.

So was the black horned thing seated aloof on a rock, surveying a
distant crowd surrounding a gallows.

Each picture told a story; mysterious often to my undeveloped
understanding and imperfect feelings, yet ever profoundly
interesting: as interesting as the tales Bessie sometimes narrated
on winter evenings, when she chanced to be in good humour; and when,
having brought her ironing-table to the nursery hearth, she allowed
us to sit about it, and while she got up Mrs. Reed's lace frills,
and crimped her nightcap borders, fed our eager attention with
passages of love and adventure taken from old fairy tales and other
ballads; or (as at a later period I discovered) from the pages of
Pamela, and Henry, Earl of Moreland.

With Bewick on my knee, I was then happy: happy at least in my way.
I feared nothing but interruption, and that came too soon. The
breakfast-room door opened.

"Boh! Madam Mope!" cried the voice of John Reed; then he paused:
he found the room apparently empty.

"Where the dickens is she!" he continued. "Lizzy! Georgy! (calling
to his sisters) Joan is not here: tell mama she is run out into the
rain--bad animal!"

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