Jane Eyre HTML version

Chapter 12
The promise of a smooth career, which my first calm introduction to Thornfield
Hall seemed to pledge, was not belied on a longer acquaintance with the place
and its inmates. Mrs. Fairfax turned out to be what she appeared, a placid-
tempered, kind-natured woman, of competent education and average
intelligence. My pupil was a lively child, who had been spoilt and indulged, and
therefore was sometimes wayward; but as she was committed entirely to my
care, and no injudicious interference from any quarter ever thwarted my plans for
her improvement, she soon forgot her little freaks, and became obedient and
teachable. She had no great talents, no marked traits of character, no peculiar
development of feeling or taste which raised her one inch above the ordinary
level of childhood; but neither had she any deficiency or vice which sunk her
below it. She made reasonable progress, entertained for me a vivacious, though
perhaps not very profound, affection; and by her simplicity, gay prattle, and
efforts to please, inspired me, in return, with a degree of attachment sufficient to
make us both content in each other's society.
This, par parenthèse, will be thought cool language by persons who entertain
solemn doctrines about the angelic nature of children, and the duty of those
charged with their education to conceive for them an idolatrous devotion: but I
am not writing to flatter parental egotism, to echo cant, or prop up humbug; I am
merely telling the truth. I felt a conscientious solicitude for Adele's welfare and
progress, and a quiet liking for her little self: just as I cherished towards Mrs.
Fairfax a thankfulness for her kindness, and a pleasure in her society
proportionate to the tranquil regard she had for me, and the moderation of her
mind and character.
Anybody may blame me who likes, when I add further, that, now and then, when
I took a walk by myself in the grounds; when I went down to the gates and looked
through them along the road; or when, while Adele played with her nurse, and
Mrs. Fairfax made jellies in the storeroom, I climbed the three staircases, raised
the trap-door of the attic, and having reached the leads, looked out afar over
sequestered field and hill, and along dim sky-line--that then I longed for a power
of vision which might overpass that limit; which might reach the busy world,
towns, regions full of life I had heard of but never seen--that then I desired more
of practical experience than I possessed; more of intercourse with my kind, of
acquaintance with variety of character, than was here within my reach. I valued
what was good in Mrs. Fairfax, and what was good in Adele; but I believed in the
existence of other and more vivid kinds of goodness, and what I believed in I
wished to behold.
Who blames me? Many, no doubt; and I shall be called discontented. I could not
help it: the restlessness was in my nature; it agitated me to pain sometimes.
Then my sole relief was to walk along the corridor of the third storey, backwards
and forwards, safe in the silence and solitude of the spot, and allow my mind's
eye to dwell on whatever bright visions rose before it--and, certainly, they were
many and glowing; to let my heart be heaved by the exultant movement, which,