Jane Eyre HTML version

Chapter 32
I continued the labours of the village-school as actively and faithfully as I could. It
was truly hard work at first. Some time elapsed before, with all my efforts, I could
comprehend my scholars and their nature. Wholly untaught, with faculties quite
torpid, they seemed to me hopelessly dull; and, at first sight, all dull alike: but I
soon found I was mistaken. There was a difference amongst them as amongst
the educated; and when I got to know them, and they me, this difference rapidly
developed itself. Their amazement at me, my language, my rules, and ways,
once subsided, I found some of these heavy-looking, gaping rustics wake up into
sharp-witted girls enough. Many showed themselves obliging, and amiable too;
and I discovered amongst them not a few examples of natural politeness, and
innate self-respect, as well as of excellent capacity, that won both my goodwill
and my admiration. These soon took a pleasure in doing their work well, in
keeping their persons neat, in learning their tasks regularly, in acquiring quiet and
orderly manners. The rapidity of their progress, in some instances, was even
surprising; and an honest and happy pride I took in it: besides, I began personally
to like some of the best girls; and they liked me. I had amongst my scholars
several farmers' daughters: young women grown, almost. These could already
read, write, and sew; and to them I taught the elements of grammar, geography,
history, and the finer kinds of needlework. I found estimable characters amongst
them--characters desirous of information and disposed for improvement--with
whom I passed many a pleasant evening hour in their own homes. Their parents
then (the farmer and his wife) loaded me with attentions. There was an
enjoyment in accepting their simple kindness, and in repaying it by a
consideration--a scrupulous regard to their feelings--to which they were not,
perhaps, at all times accustomed, and which both charmed and benefited them;
because, while it elevated them in their own eyes, it made them emulous to merit
the deferential treatment they received.
I felt I became a favourite in the neighbourhood. Whenever I went out, I heard on
all sides cordial salutations, and was welcomed with friendly smiles. To live
amidst general regard, though it be but the regard of working people, is like
"sitting in sunshine, calm and sweet;" serene inward feelings bud and bloom
under the ray. At this period of my life, my heart far oftener swelled with
thankfulness than sank with dejection: and yet, reader, to tell you all, in the midst
of this calm, this useful existence--after a day passed in honourable exertion
amongst my scholars, an evening spent in drawing or reading contentedly alone-
-I used to rush into strange dreams at night: dreams many-coloured, agitated, full
of the ideal, the stirring, the stormy--dreams where, amidst unusual scenes,
charged with adventure, with agitating risk and romantic chance, I still again and
again met Mr. Rochester, always at some exciting crisis; and then the sense of
being in his arms, hearing his voice, meeting his eye, touching his hand and
cheek, loving him, being loved by him--the hope of passing a lifetime at his side,
would be renewed, with all its first force and fire. Then I awoke. Then I recalled
where I was, and how situated. Then I rose up on my curtainless bed, trembling