Five o'clock had hardly struck on the morning of the 19th of January, when
Bessie brought a candle into my closet and found me already up and nearly
dressed. I had risen half-an-hour before her entrance, and had washed my face,
and put on my clothes by the light of a half-moon just setting, whose rays
streamed through the narrow window near my crib. I was to leave Gateshead
that day by a coach which passed the lodge gates at six a.m. Bessie was the
only person yet risen; she had lit a fire in the nursery, where she now proceeded
to make my breakfast. Few children can eat when excited with the thoughts of a
journey; nor could I. Bessie, having pressed me in vain to take a few spoonfuls of
the boiled milk and bread she had prepared for me, wrapped up some biscuits in
a paper and put them into my bag; then she helped me on with my pelisse and
bonnet, and wrapping herself in a shawl, she and I left the nursery. As we passed
Mrs. Reed's bedroom, she said, "Will you go in and bid Missis good-bye?"
"No, Bessie: she came to my crib last night when you were gone down to supper,
and said I need not disturb her in the morning, or my cousins either; and she told
me to remember that she had always been my best friend, and to speak of her
and be grateful to her accordingly."
"What did you say, Miss?"
"Nothing: I covered my face with the bedclothes, and turned from her to the wall."
"That was wrong, Miss Jane."
"It was quite right, Bessie. Your Missis has not been my friend: she has been my
"O Miss Jane! don't say so!"
"Good-bye to Gateshead!" cried I, as we passed through the hall and went out at
the front door.
The moon was set, and it was very dark; Bessie carried a lantern, whose light
glanced on wet steps and gravel road sodden by a recent thaw. Raw and chill
was the winter morning: my teeth chattered as I hastened down the drive. There
was a light in the porter's lodge: when we reached it, we found the porter's wife
just kindling her fire: my trunk, which had been carried down the evening before,
stood corded at the door. It wanted but a few minutes of six, and shortly after that
hour had struck, the distant roll of wheels announced the coming coach; I went to
the door and watched its lamps approach rapidly through the gloom.
"Is she going by herself?" asked the porter's wife.
"And how far is it?"
"What a long way! I wonder Mrs. Reed is not afraid to trust her so far alone."
The coach drew up; there it was at the gates with its four horses and its top laden
with passengers: the guard and coachman loudly urged haste; my trunk was
hoisted up; I was taken from Bessie's neck, to which I clung with kisses.
"Be sure and take good care of her," cried she to the guard, as he lifted me into