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Chapter 2

I RESISTED all the way: a new thing for me, and a circumstance which greatly strengthened the bad opinion Bessie and Miss Abbot were disposed to entertain of me. The fact is, I was a trifle beside myself; or rather out of myself, as the French would say: I was conscious that a moment's mutiny had already rendered me liable to strange penalties, and, like any other rebel slave, I felt resolved, in my desperation, to go all lengths.
'Hold her arms, Miss Abbot: she's like a mad cat.'

'For shame! for shame!' cried the lady's-maid. 'What shocking conduct, Miss Eyre, to strike a young gentleman, your benefactress's son! Your young master.''Master! How is he my master? Am I a servant?'

'No; you are less than a servant, for you do nothing for your keep. There, sit down, and think over your wickedness.'

They had got me by this time into the apartment indicated by Mrs. Reed, and had thrust me upon a stool: my impulse was to rise from it like a spring; their two pair of hands arrested me instantly.

'If you don't sit still, you must be tied down,' said Bessie. 'Miss Abbot, lend me your garters; she would break mine directly.'

Miss Abbot turned to divest a stout leg of the necessary ligature. This preparation for bonds, and the additional ignominy it inferred, took a little of the excitement out of me.

'Don't take them off,' I cried; 'I will not stir.'

In guarantee whereof, I attached myself to my seat by my hands.

'Mind you don't,' said Bessie; and when she had ascertained that I was really subsiding, she loosened her hold of me; then she and Miss Abbot stood with folded arms, looking darkly and doubtfully on my face, as incredulous of my sanity.

'She never did so before,' at last said Bessie, turning to the Abigail.

'But it was always in her,' was the reply. 'I've told Missis often my opinion about the child, and Missis agreed with me. She's an underhand little thing: I never saw a girl of her age with so much cover.'

Bessie answered not; but ere long, addressing me, she said- 'You ought to be aware, Miss, that you are under obligations to Mrs. Reed: she keeps you: if she were to turn you off, you would have to go to the poorhouse.'

I had nothing to say to these words: they were not new to me: my very first recollections of existence included hints of the same kind.

This reproach of my dependence had become a vague sing-song in my ear: very painful and crushing, but only half intelligible. Miss Abbot joined in-

'And you ought not to think yourself on an equality with the Misses Reed and Master Reed, because Missis kindly allows you to be brought up with them. They will have a great deal of money, and you will have none: it is your place to be humble, and to try to make yourself agreeable to them.'

'What we tell you is for your good,' added Bessie, in no harsh voice; 'you should try to be useful and pleasant, then, perhaps, you would have a home here; but if you become passionate and rude, Missis will send you away, I am sure.'

'Besides,' said Miss Abbot, 'God will punish her: He might strike her dead in the midst of her tantrums, and then where would she go? Come, Bessie, we will leave her: I wouldn't have her heart for anything. Say your prayers, Miss Eyre, when you are by yourself; for if you don't repent, something bad might be permitted to come down the chimney and fetch you away.'

They went, shutting the door, and locking it behind them. The red-room was a square chamber, very seldom slept in, I might say never, indeed, unless when a chance influx of visitors at Gateshead Hall rendered it necessary to turn to account all the accommodation it contained: yet it was one of the largest and stateliest chambers in the mansion. A bed supported on massive pillars of mahogany, hung with curtains of deep red damask, stood out like a tabernacle in the centre; the two large windows, with their blinds always drawn down, were half shrouded in festoons and falls of similar drapery; the carpet was red; the table at the foot of the bed was covered with a crimson cloth; the walls were a soft fawn colour with a blush of pink in it; the wardrobe, the toilet-table, the chairs were of darkly polished old mahogany. Out of these deep surrounding shades rose high, and glared white, the piled-up mattresses and pillows of the bed, spread with a snowy Marseilles counterpane. Scarcely less prominent was an ample cushioned easy-chair near the head of the bed, also white, with a footstool before it; and looking, as I thought, like a pale throne.

This room was chill, because it seldom had a fire; it was silent, because remote from the nursery and kitchen; solemn, because it was known to be so seldom entered. The housemaid alone came here on Saturdays, to wipe from the mirrors and the furniture a week's quiet dust: and Mrs. Reed herself, at far intervals, visited it to review the contents of a certain secret drawer in the wardrobe, where were stored divers parchments, her jewel-casket, and a miniature of her deceased husband; and in those last words lies the secret of the red-room- the spell which kept it so lonely in spite of its grandeur.

Mr. Reed had been dead nine years: it was in this chamber he breathed his last; here he lay in state; hence his coffin was borne by   the undertaker's men; and, since that day, a sense of dreary consecration had guarded it from frequent intrusion.

My seat, to which Bessie and the bitter Miss Abbot had left me riveted, was a low ottoman near the marble chimney-piece; the bed rose before me; to my right hand there was the high, dark wardrobe, with subdued, broken reflections varying the gloss of its panels; to my left were the muffled windows; a great looking-glass between them repeated the vacant majesty of the bed and room. I was not quite sure whether they had locked the door; and when I dared move, I got up and went to see. Alas! yes: no jail was ever more secure. Returning, I had to cross before the looking-glass; my fascinated glance involuntarily explored the depth it revealed. All looked colder and darker in that visionary hollow than in reality: and the strange little figure there gazing at me, with a white face and arms specking the gloom, and glittering eyes of fear moving where all else was still, had the effect of a real spirit: I thought it like one of the tiny phantoms, half fairy, half imp, Bessie's evening stories represented as coming out of lone, ferny dells in moors, and appearing before the eyes of belated travellers. I returned to my stool.

Superstition was with me at that moment; but it was not yet her hour for complete victory: my blood was still warm; the mood of the revolted slave was still bracing me with its bitter vigour; I had to stem a rapid rush of retrospective thought before I quailed to the dismal present.

All John Reed's violent tyrannies, all his sisters' proud indifference, all his mother's aversion, all the servants' partiality, turned up in my disturbed mind like a dark deposit in a turbid well.

Why was I always suffering, always browbeaten, always accused, for ever condemned? Why could I never please? Why was it useless to try to win any one's favour? Eliza, who, was headstrong and selfish, was respected. Georgiana, who had a spoiled temper, a very acrid spite, a captious and insolent carriage, was universally indulged. Her beauty, her pink cheeks and golden curls, seemed to give delight to all who, looked at her, and to purchase indemnity for every fault.

John no one thwarted, much less punished; though he twisted the necks of the pigeons, killed the little pea-chicks, set the dogs at the sheep, stripped the hothouse vines of their fruit, and broke the buds off the choicest plants in the conservatory: he called his mother 'old girl,' too; sometimes reviled her for her dark skin, similar to his own; bluntly disregarded her wishes; not unfrequently tore and spoiled her silk attire; and he was still 'her own darling.' I dared commit no fault: I strove to fulfil every duty; and I was termed naughty and tiresome, sullen and sneaking, from morning to noon, and from noon to night.

My head still ached and bled with the blow and fall I had received:

no one had reproved John for wantonly striking me; and because I had turned against him to avert farther irrational violence, I was loaded with general opprobrium.

'Unjust!- unjust!' said my reason, forced by the agonising stimulus into precocious though transitory power: and Resolve, equally wrought up, instigated some strange expedient to achieve escape from insupportable oppression- as running away, or, if that could not be effected, never eating or drinking more, and letting myself die.

What a consternation of soul was mine that dreary afternoon! How all my brain was in tumult, and all my heart in insurrection! Yet in what darkness, what dense ignorance, was the mental battle fought! I could not answer the ceaseless inward question- why I thus suffered; now, at the distance of- I will not say how many years, I see it clearly.

I was a discord in Gateshead Hall: I was like nobody there; I had nothing in harmony with Mrs. Reed or her children, or her chosen vassalage. If they did not love me, in fact, as little did I love them. They were not bound to regard with affection a thing that could not sympathise with one amongst them; a heterogeneous thing, opposed to them in temperament, in capacity, in propensities; a useless thing, incapable of serving their interest, or adding to their pleasure; a noxious thing, cherishing the germs of indignation at their treatment, of contempt of their judgment. I know that had I been a sanguine, brilliant, careless, exacting, handsome, romping child- though equally dependent and friendless- Mrs. Reed would have endured my presence more complacently; her children would have entertained for me more of the cordiality of fellow-feeling; the servants would have been less prone to make me the scapegoat of the nursery.

Daylight began to forsake the red-room; it was past four o'clock, and the beclouded afternoon was tending to drear twilight. I heard the rain still beating continuously on the staircase window, and the wind howling in the grove behind the hall; I grew by degrees cold as a stone, and then my courage sank. My habitual mood of humiliation, self-doubt, forlorn depression, fell damp on the embers of my decaying ire. All said I was wicked, and perhaps I might be so; what thought had I been but just conceiving of starving myself to death? That certainly was a crime: and was I fit to die? Or was the vault under the chancel of Gateshead Church an inviting bourne? In such vault I had been told did Mr. Reed lie buried; and led by this thought to recall his idea, I dwelt on it with gathering  dread. I could not remember him; but I knew that he was my own uncle- my mother's brother- that he had taken me when a parentless infant to his house; and that in his last moments he had required a promise of Mrs. Reed that she would rear and maintain me as one of her own children. Mrs. Reed probably considered she had kept this promise; and so she had, I dare say, as well as her nature would permit her; but how could she really like an interloper not of her race, and unconnected with her, after her husband's death, by any tie? It must have been most irksome to find herself bound by a hard-wrung pledge to stand in the stead of a parent to a strange child she could not love, and to see an uncongenial alien permanently intruded on her own family group.

A singular notion dawned upon me. I doubted not- never doubted-that if Mr. Reed had been alive he would have treated me kindly; and now, as I sat looking at the white bed and overshadowed walls-occasionally also turning a fascinated eye towards the dimly gleaming mirror- I began to recall what I had heard of dead men, troubled in their graves by the violation of their last wishes, revisiting the earth to punish the perjured and avenge the oppressed; and I thought Mr. Reed's spirit, harassed by the wrongs of his sister's child, might quit its abode- whether in the church vault or in the unknown world of the departed- and rise before me in this chamber. I wiped my tears and hushed my sobs, fearful lest any sign of violent grief might waken a preternatural voice to comfort me, or elicit from the gloom some haloed face, bending over me with strange pity. This idea, consolatory in theory, I felt would be terrible if realised: with all my might I endeavoured to stifle it-I endeavoured to be firm. Shaking my hair from my eyes, I lifted my head and tried to look boldly round the dark room; at this moment a light gleamed on the wall. Was it, I asked myself, a ray from the moon penetrating some aperture in the blind? No; moonlight was still, and this stirred; while I gazed, it glided up to the ceiling and quivered over my head. I can now conjecture readily that this streak of light was, in all likelihood, a gleam from a lantern carried by some one across the lawn: but then, prepared as my mind was for horror, shaken as my nerves were by agitation, I thought the swift darting beam was a herald of some coming vision from another world. My heart beat thick, my head grew hot; a sound filled my ears, which I deemed the rushing of wings; something seemed near me; I was oppressed, suffocated: endurance broke down; I rushed to the door and shook the lock in desperate effort. Steps came running along the outer passage; the key turned, Bessie and Abbot entered.

'Miss Eyre, are you ill?' said Bessie.

'What a dreadful noise! it went quite through me!' exclaimed Abbot.

'Take me out! Let me go into the nursery!' was my cry.

'What for? Are you hurt? Have you seen something?' again demanded Bessie.

'Oh! I saw a light, and I thought a ghost would come.' I had now got hold of Bessie's hand, and she did not snatch it from me.

'She has screamed out on purpose,' declared Abbot, in some disgust.

'And what a scream! If she had been in great pain one would have excused it, but she only wanted to bring us all here: I know her naughty tricks.'

'What is all this?' demanded another voice peremptorily; and Mrs. Reed came along the corridor, her cap flying wide, her gown rustling stormily. 'Abbot and Bessie, I believe I gave orders that Jane Eyre should be left in the red-room till I came to her myself.'

'Miss Jane screamed so loud, ma'am,' pleaded Bessie.

'Let her go,' was the only answer. 'Loose Bessie's hand, child: you cannot succeed in getting out by these means, be assured. I abhor artifice, particularly in children; it is my duty to show you that tricks will not answer: you will now stay here an hour longer, and it is only on condition of perfect submission and stillness that I shall liberate you then.'

'O aunt! have pity! forgive me! I cannot endure it- let me be punished some other way! I shall be killed if-' 'Silence! This violence is all most repulsive:' and so, no doubt, she felt it. I was a precocious actress in her eyes; she sincerely.

looked on me as a compound of virulent passions, mean spirit, and dangerous duplicity.

Bessie and Abbot having retreated, Mrs. Reed, impatient of my now frantic anguish and wild sobs, abruptly thrust me back and locked me in, without farther parley. I heard her sweeping away; and soon after she was gone, I suppose I had a species of fit: unconsciousness closed the scene.


我一路反抗,在我,这还是破天荒第一次。于是大大加深了贝茜和艾博特小姐对我的恶感。我确实有点儿难以自制,或者如法国人所说,失常了。我意识到,因为一时的反抗,会不得不遭受古怪离奇的惩罚。于是,像其他造反的奴隶一样,我横下一条心,决计不顾一切了。

“抓住她的胳膊,艾博特小姐,她像一只发了疯的猫。”

“真丢脸!真丢脸!”这位女主人的侍女叫道,“多可怕的举动,爱小姐,居然打起小少爷来了,他是你恩人的儿子:你的小主人!”

“主人,他怎么会是我主人,难道我是仆人不成?”

“不,你连仆人都不如。你不干事,吃白食。喂,坐下来,好好想一想你有多坏。”

这时候她们已把我拖进了里德太太所指的房间,推操到一条矮凳上,我不由自主地像弹簧一样跳起来,但立刻被两双手按住了。

“要是你不安安稳稳坐着,我们可得绑住你了,”贝茜说,“艾博特小姐,把你的袜带借给我,我那付会被她一下子绷断的。”

艾博特小姐转而从她粗壮的腿上,解下那条必不可少的带子。捆绑前的准备工作以及由此而额外蒙受的耻辱,略微消解了我的激动情绪。

“别解啦,”我叫道,“我不动就是了。”

作为保证,我让双手紧挨着凳子。

“记住别动,”贝茜说,知道我确实已经平静下去,便松了手。随后她和艾博特小姐抱臂而立,沉着脸,满腹狐疑地瞪着我,不相信我的神经还是正常似的。

“她以前从来没有这样过,”末了,贝茜转身对那位艾比盖尔说。

“不过她生性如此,”对方回答,“我经常跟太太说起我对这孩子的看法,太太也同意。这小东西真狡猾,从来没见过像她这样年纪的小姑娘,有那么多鬼心眼的。”

贝茜没有搭腔,但不一会便对我说:

“小姐,你该明白,你受了里德太太的恩惠,是她养着你的。要是她把你赶走,你就得进贫民院了。”

对她们这番活,我无话可说,因为听起来并不新鲜。我生活的最早记忆中就包含着类似的暗示,这些责备我赖别人过活的话,己成了意义含糊的老调,叫人痛苦,让人难受,但又不太好懂。艾博特小姐答话了:

“你不能因为太太好心把你同里德小姐和少爷一块抚养大,就以为自己与他们平等了。他们将来会有很多很多钱,而你却一个子儿也不会有。你得学谦恭些,尽量顺着他们,这才是你的本份。”

“我们同你说的全是为了你好,”贝茜补充道,口气倒并不严厉,“你做事要巴结些,学得乖一点,那样也许可以把这当个家住下去,要是你意气用事,粗暴无礼,我敢肯定,太太会把你撵走。”

“另外,”艾博特小姐说,“上帝会惩罚她,也许会在她耍啤气时,把她处死,死后她能上哪儿呢,来,贝茜,咱们走吧,随她去。反正我是无论如何打动不了她啦。爱小姐,你独个儿呆着的时候,祈祷吧。要是你不忏悔,说不定有个坏家伙会从烟囱进来,把你带走。”

她们走了,关了门,随手上了锁。

红房子是间空余的卧房,难得有人在里面过夜。其实也许可以说,从来没有。除非盖茨黑德府上偶而拥进一大群客人时,才有必要动用全部房间。但府里的卧室,数它最宽敞、最堂皇了。—张红木床赫然立于房间正中,粗大的床柱上,罩着深红色锦缎帐幔,活像一个帐篷。两扇终日窗帘紧闭的大窗,半掩在清一色织物制成的流苏之中。地毯是红的,床脚边的桌子上铺着深红色的台布,墙呈柔和的黄褐色,略带粉红。大橱、梳妆台和椅子都是乌黑发亮的红木做的。床上高高地叠着褥垫和枕头,上面铺着雪白的马赛布床罩,在周围深色调陈设的映衬下,白得眩目。几乎同样显眼的是床头边一把铺着坐垫的大安乐椅,一样的白色,前面还放着一只脚凳,在我看来,它像一个苍白的宝座。

房子里难得生火,所以很冷;因为远离保育室和厨房,所以很静;又因为谁都知道很少有人进去,所以显得庄严肃穆。只有女佣每逢星期六上这里来,把一周内静悄悄落在镜子上和家具上的灰尘抹去。还有里德太太本人,隔好久才来一次,查看大橱里某个秘密抽屉里的东西。这里存放着各类羊皮文件,她的首饰盒,以及她已故丈夫的肖像。上面提到的最后几句话,给红房子带来了一种神秘感,一种魔力,因而它虽然富丽堂皇,却显得分外凄清。

里德先生死去已经九年了,他就是在这间房子里咽气的,他的遗体在这里让人瞻仰,他的棺材由殡葬工人从这里抬走。从此之后,这里便始终弥漫着一种阴森森的祭奠氛围,所以不常有人闯进来。

里德先生死去已经九年了,他就是在这间房子里咽气的,他的遗体在这里让人瞻仰,他的棺材由殡葬工人从这里抬走。从此之后,这里便始终弥漫着一种阴森森的祭奠氛围,所以不常有人闯进来。

贝茜和刻薄的艾博特小姐让我一动不动坐着的,是一条软垫矮凳,摆在靠近大理石壁炉的地方。我面前是高耸的床,我右面是黑漆漆的大橱,橱上柔和、斑驳的反光,使镶板的光泽摇曳变幻。

我左面是关得严严实实的窗子,两扇窗子中间有一面大镜子,映照出床和房间的空旷和肃穆。我吃不准他们锁了门没有,等到敢于走动时,便起来看个究竟。哎呀,不错,比牢房锁得还紧呐。

返回原地时,我必须经过大镜子跟前。我的目光被吸引住了,禁不住探究起镜中的世界来。在虚幻的映像中,一切都显得比现实中更冷落、更阴沉。那个陌生的小家伙瞅着我,白白的脸上和胳膊上都蒙上了斑驳的阴影,在—切都凝滞时,唯有那双明亮恐惧的眼睛在闪动,看上去真像是一个幽灵。我觉得她像那种半仙半人的小精灵,恰如贝茵在夜晚的故事中所描绘的那样,从沼泽地带山蕨丛生的荒谷中冒出来,现身于迟归的旅行者眼前。我回到丁我的矮凳上。

这时候我相信起迷信来了,但并没有到了完全听凭摆布的程度,我依然热血沸腾,反叛的奴隶那种苦涩情绪依然激励着我。往事如潮、在我脑海中奔涌,如果我不加以遏制,我就不会对阴暗的现实屈服。

约翰.里德的专横霸道、他姐妹的高傲冷漠、他母亲的厌恶、仆人们的偏心,像一口混沌的水井中黑色的沉淀物,一古脑儿泛起在我烦恼不安的心头。

为什么我总是受苦,总是遭人白眼,总是让人告状,永远受到责备呢?为什么我永远不能讨人喜欢?为什么我尽力博取欢心,却依然无济于事呢?伊丽莎自私任性,却受到尊敬;乔治亚娜好使性子,心肠又毒,而且强词夺理目空一切,偏偏得到所有人的纵容。她的美貌,她红润的面颊,金色的卷发,使得她人见人爱,一俊便可遮百丑。至于约翰,没有人同他顶撞,更不用说教训他了,虽然他什么坏事都干:捻断鸽子的头颈,弄死小孔雀,放狗去咬羊,采摘温室中的葡萄,掐断暖房上等花木的嫩芽。有时还叫他母亲“老姑娘”,又因为她皮肤黝黑像他自己而破口大骂。

他蛮横地与母亲作对,经常撕毁她的丝绸服装,而他却依然是“她的宝贝蛋”。而我不敢有丝毫闪失,干什么都全力以赴,人家还是骂我淘气鬼,讨厌坯,骂我阴丝丝,贼溜溜,从早上骂到下午,从下午骂到晚上。

我因为挨了打、跌了交,头依然疼痛,依然流着血。约翰肆无忌惮地打我,却不受责备,而我不过为了免遭进一步无理殴打,反抗了一下,便成了众矢之的。

“不公呵,不公!”我的理智呼喊着。在痛苦的刺激下我的理智变得早熟,化作了一种短暂的力量。决心也同样鼓动起来,激发我去采取某种奇怪的手段,来摆脱难以忍受的压迫,譬如逃跑,要是不能奏效,那就不吃不喝,活活饿死。

那个阴沉的下午,我心里多么惶恐不安!我的整个脑袋如一团乱麻,我的整颗心在反抗:然而那场内心斗争又显得多么茫然,多么无知啊!我无法回答心底那永无休止的问题——为什么我要如此受苦。此刻,在相隔——我不说多少年以后,我看清楚了。

我在盖茨黑德府上格格不入。在那里我跟谁都不像。同里德太太、她的孩子、她看中的家仆,都不融洽。他们不爱我,说实在我也一样不爱他们。他们没有必要热情对待一个与自已合不来的家伙,一个无论是个性、地位,还是嗜好都同他们泾渭分明的异己;一个既不能为他们效劳,也不能给他们增添欢乐的废物;一个对自己的境界心存不满而又蔑视他们想法的讨厌家伙。我明白,如果我是一个聪明开朗、漂亮顽皮、不好侍候的孩子,即使同样是寄人篱下,同样是无亲无故,里德太太也会对我的处境更加宽容忍让;她的孩子们也会对我亲切热情些;佣人们也不会一再把我当作保育室的替罪羊了。

红房子里白昼将尽。时候已是四点过后,暗沉沉的下午正转为凄凉的黄昏。我听见雨点仍不停地敲打着楼梯的窗户,狂风在门厅后面的树丛中怒号。我渐渐地冷得像块石头,勇气也烟消云 散。往常那种屈辱感,那种缺乏自信、孤独沮丧的情绪,浇灭了我将消未消的怒火,谁都说我坏,也许我确实如此吧。我不是一心谋划着让自己饿死吗?这当然是一种罪过。而且我该不该死呢?

或者,盖茨黑德教堂圣坛底下的墓穴是个令人向往的归宿吗?听说里德先生就长眠在这样的墓穴里。这一念头重又勾起了我对他的回忆,而越往下细想,就越害怕起来。我已经不记得他了,只知道他是我舅父——我母亲的哥哥——他收养了我这个襁褓中的孤儿,而且在弥留之际,要里德太太答应,把我当作她自己的孩子来抚养。里德太太也许认为自己是信守诺言的。而我想就她本性而论,也确是实践了当初的许诺。可是她怎么能真心喜欢一个不属于她家的外姓、一个在丈夫死后同她已了却一切干系的人呢?她发现自己受这勉为其难的保证的约束,充当一个自己所无法喜爱的陌生孩子的母亲,眼睁睁看着一位不相投合的外人永远硬挤在自己的家人中间。对她来说,这想必是件最恼人的事情了。

我忽然闪过一个古怪的念头。我不怀疑—一也从来没有怀疑过——里德先生要是在世,一定会待我很好。此刻,我坐着,一面打量着白白的床和影影绰绰的墙,不时还用经不住诱惑的目光,瞟一眼泛着微光的镜子,不由得忆起了关于死人的种种传闻。据说由于人们违背了他们临终的嘱托,他们在坟墓里非常不安,于是便重访人间,严惩发假誓的人,并为受压者报仇。我思忖,里德先生的幽灵为外甥女的冤屈所动,会走出居所,不管那是教堂的墓穴,还是死者无人知晓的世界,来到这间房子,站在我面前。我抹去眼泪,忍住哭泣,担心嚎啕大哭会惊动什么不可知的声音来抚慰我,或者在昏暗中召来某些带光环的面孔,露出奇异怜悯的神色,俯身对着我。这念头听起来很令人欣慰,不过要是真的做起来,想必会非常可怕。我使劲不去想它,抬起头来,大着胆子环顾了一下暗洞洞的房间。就在这时,墙上闪过一道亮光。我问自己,会不会是一缕月光,透过百叶窗的缝隙照了进来?不,月光是静止的,而这透光却是流动的。停晴一看,这光线滑到了天花板上,在我头顶上抖动起来。现在我会很自然地联想到,那很可能是有人提着灯笼穿过草地时射进来的光。但那会儿,我脑子里尽往恐怖处去想,我的神经也由于激动而非常紧张,我认为那道飞快掠过的光,是某个幽灵从另一个世界到来的先兆。我的心怦怦乱跳,头脑又热又胀,耳朵里呼呼作响,以为那是翅膀拍击声,好像什么东西已经逼近我了。我感到压抑,感到窒息,我的忍耐力崩溃了,禁不住发疯似地大叫了一声,冲向大门,拼命摇着门锁。外面们廊上响起了飞跑而来的脚步声,钥匙转动了,贝茜和艾博特走进房间。

“啊!我看到了一道光,想必是鬼来了。”这时,我拉住了贝茜的手,而她并没有抽回去。

“她是故意乱叫乱嚷的,”艾博特厌烦地当着我的面说,“而且叫得那么凶!要是真痛得厉害,倒还可以原谅,可她只不过要把我们骗到这里来,我知道她的诡计。”

“到底是怎么回事?”一个咄咄逼人的声音问道。随后,里德太太从走廊里走过来,帽子飘忽着被风鼓得大大的,睡袍悉悉簌簌响个不停。“艾博特,贝茜,我想我吩咐过,让简.爱呆在红房子里,由我亲自来过问。”

“简小姐叫得那么响,夫人,”贝茵恳求着。

“放开她,”这是唯一的回答。“松开贝茵的手,孩子。你尽可放心,靠这些办法,是出不去的,我讨厌耍花招,尤其是小孩子,我有责任让你知道,鬼把戏不管用。现在你要在这里多呆一个小时,而且只有服服贴贴,一动不动,才放你出来。”

“啊,舅妈,可怜可怜我吧:饶恕我吧!我实在受不了啦,用别的办法惩罚我吧!我会憋死的,要是——”

“住嘴!这么闹闹嚷嚷讨厌透了。”她无疑就是这么感觉的。在她眼里我是个早熟的演员,她打心底里认为,我是个本性恶毒、灵魂卑劣、为人阴险的货色。

贝茜和艾博特退了出去。里德太太对我疯也似的痛苦嚎叫很不耐烦,无意再往下谈了,蓦地把我往后一推,锁上了门。我听见她堂而皇之地走了。她走后不久,我猜想我便一阵痉挛,昏了过去,结束了这场吵闹。



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