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Chapter 4
From my discourse with Mr. Lloyd, and from the above reported conference
between Bessie and Abbot, I gathered enough of hope to suffice as a motive for
wishing to get well: a change seemed near,--I desired and waited it in silence. It
tarried, however: days and weeks passed: I had regained my normal state of
health, but no new allusion was made to the subject over which I brooded. Mrs.
Reed surveyed me at times with a severe eye, but seldom addressed me: since
my illness, she had drawn a more marked line of separation than ever between
me and her own children; appointing me a small closet to sleep in by myself,
condemning me to take my meals alone, and pass all my time in the nursery,
while my cousins were constantly in the drawing-room. Not a hint, however, did
she drop about sending me to school: still I felt an instinctive certainty that she
would not long endure me under the same roof with her; for her glance, now
more than ever, when turned on me, expressed an insuperable and rooted
Eliza and Georgiana, evidently acting according to orders, spoke to me as little
as possible: John thrust his tongue in his cheek whenever he saw me, and once
attempted chastisement; but as I instantly turned against him, roused by the
same sentiment of deep ire and desperate revolt which had stirred my corruption
before, he thought it better to desist, and ran from me tittering execrations, and
vowing I had burst his nose. I had indeed levelled at that prominent feature as
hard a blow as my knuckles could inflict; and when I saw that either that or my
look daunted him, I had the greatest inclination to follow up my advantage to
purpose; but he was already with his mama. I heard him in a blubbering tone
commence the tale of how "that nasty Jane Eyre" had flown at him like a mad
cat: he was stopped rather harshly -
"Don't talk to me about her, John: I told you not to go near her; she is not worthy
of notice; I do not choose that either you or your sisters should associate with
Here, leaning over the banister, I cried out suddenly, and without at all
deliberating on my words -
"They are not fit to associate with me."
Mrs. Reed was rather a stout woman; but, on hearing this strange and audacious
declaration, she ran nimbly up the stair, swept me like a whirlwind into the
nursery, and crushing me down on the edge of my crib, dared me in an emphatic
voice to rise from that place, or utter one syllable during the remainder of the day.
"What would Uncle Reed say to you, if he were alive?" was my scarcely
voluntary demand. I say scarcely voluntary, for it seemed as if my tongue
pronounced words without my will consenting to their utterance: something spoke
out of me over which I had no control.
"What?" said Mrs. Reed under her breath: her usually cold composed grey eye
became troubled with a look like fear; she took her hand from my arm, and gazed
at me as if she really did not know whether I were child or fiend. I was now in for