小说搜索     点击排行榜   最新入库
首页 » 经典英文小说 » Jane Eyre简爱 » Chapter 4
选择底色: 选择字号:【大】【中】【小】
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 w with my doll on my knee till the fire got low, glancing round occasionally to make sure that nothing worse than myself haunted the shadowy room; and when the embers sank to a dull red, I undressed hastily, tugging at knots and strings as I best might, and sought shelter from cold and darkness in my crib. To this crib I always took my doll; human beings must love something, and, in the dearth of worthier objects of affection, v?粥which had stirred my corruption before, he thought it better to desist, and ran from me uttering 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 her.'

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 it.

'My Uncle Reed is in heaven, and can see all you do and think; and so can papa and mama: they know how you shut me up all day long, and how you wish me dead.'Mrs. Reed soon rallied her spirits: she shook me most soundly, she boxed both my ears, and then left me without a word. Bessie supplied the hiatus by a homily of an hour's length, in which she proved beyond a doubt that I was the most wicked and abandoned child ever reared under a roof. I half believed her; for I felt indeed only bad feelings surging in my breast.

November, December, and half of January passed away. Christmas and the New Year had been celebrated at Gateshead with the usual festive cheer; presents had been interchanged, dinners and evening parties given. From every enjoyment I was, of course, excluded: my share of the gaiety consisted in witnessing the daily apparelling of Eliza and Georgiana, and seeing them descend to the drawing-room, dressed out in thin muslin frocks and scarlet sashes, with hair elaborately ringleted; and afterwards, in listening to the sound of the piano or the harp played below, to the passing to and fro of the butler and footman, to the jingling of glass and china as refreshments were handed, to the broken hum of conversation as the drawing-room door opened and closed. When tired of this occupation, I would retire from the stair-head to the solitary and silent nursery:there, though somewhat sad, I was not miserable. To speak truth, I had not the least wish to go into company, for in company I was very rarely noticed; and if Bessie had but been kind and companionable, I should have deemed it a treat to spend the evenings quietly with her, instead of passing them under the formidable eye of Mrs.

Reed, in a room full of ladies and gentlemen. But Bessie, as soon as she had dressed her young ladies, used to take herself off to the lively regions of the kitchen and housekeeper's room, generally bearing the candle along with her. I then sat with my doll on my knee till the fire got low, glancing round occasionally to make sure that nothing worse than myself haunted the shadowy room; and when the embers sank to a dull red, I undressed hastily, tugging at knots and strings as I best might, and sought shelter from cold and darkness in my crib. To this crib I always took my doll; human beings must love something, and, in the dearth of worthier objects of affection, I contrived to find a pleasure in loving and cherishing a faded graven image, shabby as a miniature scarecrow. It puzzles me now to remember with what absurd sincerity I doated on this little toy, half fancying it alive and capable of sensation. I could not sleep unless it was folded in my night-gown; and when it lay there safe and warm, I was comparatively happy, believing it to be happy likewise.

Long did the hours seem while I waited the departure of the company, and listened for the sound of Bessie's step on the stairs: sometimes she would come up in the interval to seek her thimble or her scissors, or perhaps to bring me something by way of supper- a bun or a cheese-cake- then she would sit on the bed while I ate it, and when I had finished, she would tuck the clothes round me, and twice she kissed me, and said, 'Good night, Miss Jane.' When thus gentle, Bessie seemed to me the best, prettiest, kindest being in the world; and I wished most intensely that she would always be so pleasant and amiable, and never push me about, or scold, or task me unreasonably, as she was too often wont to do. Bessie, Lee must, I think, have been a girl of good natural capacity, for she was smart in all she did, and had a remarkable knack of narrative; so, at least, I judge from the impression made on me by her nursery tales. She was pretty too, if my recollections of her face and person are correct. I remember her as a slim young woman, with black hair, dark eyes, very nice features, and good, clear complexion; but she had a capricious and hasty temper, and indifferent ideas of principle or justice:

still, such as she was, I preferred her to any one else at Gateshead Hall.

It was the fifteenth of January, about nine o'clock in the morning:

Bessie was gone down to breakfast; my cousins had not yet been summoned to their mama; Eliza was putting on her bonnet and warm garden-coat to go and feed her poultry, an occupation of which she was fond: and not less so of selling the eggs to the housekeeper and hoarding up the money she thus obtained. She had a turn for traffic, and a marked propensity for saving; shown not only in the vending of eggs and chickens, but also in driving hard bargains with the gardener about flower-roots, seeds, and slips of plants; that functionary having orders from Mrs. Reed to buy of his young lady all the products of her parterre she wished to sell: and Eliza would have sold the hair off her head if she could have made a handsome profit thereby. As to her money, she first secreted it in odd corners, wrapped in a rag or an old curl-paper; but some of these hoards having been discovered by the housemaid, Eliza, fearful of one day losing her valued treasure, consented to intrust it to her mother, at a usurious rate of interest- fifty or sixty per cent.; which interest she exacted every quarter, keeping her accounts in a little book with anxious accuracy.

Georgiana sat on a high stool, dressing her hair at the glass, and interweaving her curls with artificial flowers and faded feathers, of which she had found a store in a drawer in the attic. I was making my bed, having received strict orders from Bessie to get it arranged before she returned, (for Bessie now frequently employed me as a sort of under-nurserymaid, to tidy the room, dust the chairs, etc.). Having spread the quilt and folded my night-dress, I went to the window-seat to put in order some picture-books and doll's house furniture scattered there; an abrupt command from Georgiana to let her playthings alone (for the tiny chairs and mirrors, the fairy plates and cups, were her property) stopped my proceedings; and then, for lack of other occupation, I fell to breathing on the frost-flowers with which the window was fretted, and thus clearing a space in the glass through which I might look out on the grounds, where all was still and petrified under the influence of a hard frost.

From this window were visible the porter's lodge and the carriage-road, and just as I had dissolved so much of the silver-white foliage veiling the panes as left room to look out, I saw the gates thrown open and a carriage roll through. I watched it ascending the drive with indifference; carriages often came to Gateshead, but none ever brought visitors in whom I was interested; it stopped in front of the house, the door-bell rang loudly, the new-comer was admitted.

All this being nothing to me, my vacant attention soon found livelier attraction in the spectacle of a little hungry robin, which came and chirruped on the twigs of the leafless cherry-tree nailed against the wall near the casement. The remains of my breakfast of bread and milk stood on the table, and having crumbled a morsel of roll, I was tugging at the sash to put out the crumbs on the window-sill, when Bessie came running upstairs into the nursery.

'Miss Jane, take off your pinafore; what are you doing there? Have you washed your hands and face this morning?' I gave another tug before I answered, for I wanted the bird to be secure of its bread: the sash yielded; I scattered the crumbs, some on the stone sill, some on the cherry-tree bough, then, closing the window, I replied-'No, Bessie; I have only just finished dusting.'

'Troublesome, careless child! and what are you doing now? You look quite red, as if you have been about some mischief: what were you opening the window for?'

I was spared the trouble of answering, for Bessie seemed in too great a hurry to listen to explanations; she hauled me to the washstand, inflicted a merciless, but happily brief  scrub on my face and hands with soap, water, and a coarse towel; disciplined my head with a bristly brush, denuded me of my pinafore, and then hurrying me to the top of the stairs, bid me go down directly, as I was wanted in the breakfast-room.

I would have asked who wanted me: I would have demanded if Mrs. Reed was there; but Bessie was already gone, and had closed the nursery-door upon me. I slowly descended. For nearly three months, I had never been called to Mrs. Reed's presence; restricted so long to the nursery, the breakfast, dining, and drawing-rooms were become for me awful regions, on which it dismayed me to intrude.

I now stood in the empty hall; before me was the breakfast-room door, and I stopped, intimidated and trembling. What a miserable little poltroon had fear, engendered of unjust punishment, made of me in those days! I feared to return to the nursery, and feared to go forward to the parlour; ten minutes I stood in agitated hesitation; the vehement ringing of the breakfast-room bell decided me; I must enter.

'Who could want me?' I asked inwardly, as with both hands I turned the stiff door-handle, which, for a second or two, resisted my efforts. 'What should I see besides Aunt Reed in the apartment?- a man or a woman?' The handle turned, the door unclosed, and passing through and curtseying low, I looked up at- a black pillar!- such, at least, appeared to me, at first sight, the straight, narrow, sable-clad shape standing erect on the rug: the grim face at the top was like a carved mask, placed above the shaft by way of capital.

Mrs. Reed occupied her usual seat by the fireside; she made a signal to me to approach; I did so, and she introduced me to the stony stranger with the words: 'This is the little girl respecting whom I applied to you.'

He, for it was a man, turned his head slowly towards where I stood, and having examined me with the two inquisitive-looking grey eyes which twinkled under a pair of bushy brows, said solemnly, and in a bass voice, 'Her size is small: what is her age?'

'Ten years.'

'So much?' was the doubtful answer; and he prolonged his scrutiny for some minutes. Presently he addressed me- 'Your name, little girl?'

'Jane Eyre, sir.'

In uttering these words I looked up: he seemed to me a tall gentleman; but then I was very little; his features were large, and they and all the lines of his frame were equally harsh and prim.

'Well, Jane Eyre, and are you a good child?'

Impossible to reply to this in the affirmative: my little world held a contrary opinion: I was silent. Mrs. Reed answered for me by an expressive shake of the head, adding soon, 'Perhaps the less said on that subject the better, Mr. Brocklehurst.'

'Sorry indeed to hear it! she and I must have some talk;' and bending from the perpendicular, he installed his person in the arm-chair opposite Mrs. Reed's. 'Come here,' he said.

I stepped across the rug; he placed me square and straight before him. What a face he had, now that it was almost on a level with mine! what a great nose! and what a mouth! and what large prominent teeth!

'No sight so sad as that of a naughty child,' he began, 'especially a naughty little girl. Do you know where the wicked go after death?'

'They go to hell,' was my ready and orthodox answer.

'And what is hell? Can you tell me that?'

'A pit full of fire.'

'And should you like to fall into that pit, and to be burning there for ever?'

'No, sir.'

'What must you do to avoid it?'

I deliberated a moment; my answer, when it did come, was objectionable: 'I must keep in good health, and not die.'

'How can you keep in good health? Children younger than you die daily. I buried a little child of five years old only a day or two since,- a good little child, whose soul is now in heaven. It is to be feared the same could not be said of you were you to be called hence.'

Not being in a condition to remove his doubt, I only cast my eyes down on the two large feet planted on the rug, and sighed, wishing myself far enough away.

'I hope that sigh is from the heart, and that you repent of ever having been the occasion of discomfort to your excellent benefactress.'

'Benefactress! benefactress!' said I inwardly: 'they all call  Mrs. Reed my benefactress; if so, a benefactress is a disagreeable thing.'

'Do you say your prayers night and morning?' continued my interrogator.

'Yes, sir.'

'Do you read your Bible?'

'Sometimes.'

'With pleasure? Are you fond of it?'

'I like Revelations, and the book of Daniel, and Genesis and Samuel, and a little bit of Exodus, and some parts of Kings and Chronicles, and Job and Jonah.'

'And the Psalms? I hope you like them?'

'No, sir.'

'No? oh, shocking! I have a little boy, younger than you, who knows six Psalms by heart: and when you ask him which he would rather have, a gingerbread-nut to eat or a verse of a Psalm to learn, he says: "Oh! the verse of a Psalm! angels sing Psalms;" says he, "I wish to be a little angel here below;" he then gets two nuts in recompense for his infant piety.'

'Psalms are not interesting,' I remarked.

'That proves you have a wicked heart; and you must pray to God to change it: to give you a new and clean one: to take away your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.'

I was about to propound a question, touching the manner in which that operation of changing my heart was to be performed, when Mrs. Reed interposed, telling me to sit down; she then proceeded to carry on the conversation herself.

'Mr. Brocklehurst, I believe I intimated in the letter which I wrote to you three weeks ago, that this little girl has not quite the character and disposition I could wish: should you admit her into Lowood school, I should be glad if the superintendent and teachers were requested to keep a strict eye on her, and, above all, to guard against her worst fault, a tendency to deceit. I mention this in your hearing, Jane, that you may not attempt to impose on Mr. Brocklehurst.'

Well might I dread, well might I dislike Mrs. Reed; for it was her nature to wound me cruelly; never was I happy in her presence; however carefully I obeyed, however strenuously I strove to please her, my efforts were still repulsed and repaid by such sentences as the above. Now, uttered before a stranger, the accusation cut me to the heart; I dimly perceived that she was already obliterating hope from the new phase of existence which she destined me to enter; I felt, though I could not have expressed the feeling, that she was sowing aversion and unkindness along my future path; I saw myself transformed under Mr. Brocklehurst's eye into an artful, noxious child, and what could I do to remedy the injury?

'Nothing, indeed,' thought I, as I struggled to repress a sob, and hastily wiped away some tears, the impotent evidences of my anguish.

'Deceit is, indeed, a sad fault in a child,' said Mr. Brocklehurst; 'it is akin to falsehood, and all liars will have their portion in the lake burning with fire and

brimstone; she shall, however, be watched, Mrs. Reed. I will speak to Miss Temple and the teachers.'

'I should wish her to be brought up in a manner suiting her prospects,' continued my benefactress; 'to be made useful, to be kept humble: as for the vacations, she will, with your permission, spend them always at Lowood.'

'Your decisions are perfectly judicious, madam,' returned Mr. Brocklehurst. 'Humility is a Christian grace, and one peculiarly appropriate toonhmine, her fingers at the same time suspended their nimble movements.

'Go out of the room; return to the nursery,' was her marride; and, only the other day, I had a pleasing proof of my success. My second daughter, Augusta, went with her mama to visit the school, and on her return she exclaimed: "Oh, dear papa, how quiet and plain all the girls at Lowood look, with their hair combed behind their ears, and their long pinafores, and those little holland pockets outside their frocks- they are almost like poor people's children! and," said she, "they looked at my dress and mama's, as if they had never seen a silk gown before."'

'This is the state of things I quite approve,' returned Mrs. Reed; 'had I sought all England over, I could scarcely have found a system more exactly fitting a child like Jane Eyre. Consistency, my dear Mr. Brocklehurst; I advocate consistency in all things.'

'Consistency, madam, is the first of Christian duties; and it has been observed in every arrangement connected with the establishment of Lowood: plain fare, simple attire, unsophisticated accommodations, hardy and active habits; such is the order of the day in the house and its inhabitants.'

'Quite right, sir. I may then depend upon this child being received as a pupil at Lowood, and there being trained in conformity to her position and prospects?'

'Madam, you may: she shall be placed in that nursery of chosen plants, and I trust she will show herself grateful for the inestimable privilege of her election.'

'I will send her, then, as soon as possible, Mr. Brocklehurst; for, I assure you, I feel anxious to be relieved of a responsibility that was becoming too irksome.'

'No doubt, no doubt, madam; and now I wish you good morning. I shall return to Brocklehurst Hall in the course of a week or two: my good friend, the Archdeacon, will not permit me to leave him sooner. I shall send Miss Temple notice that she is to expect a new girl, so that there will be no difficulty about receiving her. Good-bye.'

'Good-bye, Mr. Brocklehurst; remember me to Mrs. and Miss Brocklehurst, and to Augusta and Theodore, and Master Broughton Brocklehurst.'

'I will, madam. Little girl, here is a book entitled the Child's Guide; read it with prayer, especially that part containing "An addicted to falsehood and deceit."'

With these words Mr. Brocklehurst put into my hand a thin pamphlet sewn in a cover, and having rung for his carriage, he departed.

Mrs. Reed and I were left alone: some minutes passed in silence; she was sewing, I was watching her. Mrs. Reed might be at that time some six or seven and thirty; she was a woman of robust frame, square-shouldered and strong-limbed, not tall, and, though stout, not obese: she had a somewhat large face, the under jaw being much developed and very solid; her brow was low, her chin large and prominent, mouth and nose sufficiently regular; under her light eyebrows glimmered an eye devoid of ruth; her skin was dark and opaque, her hair nearly flaxen; her constitution was sound as a bell- illness never came near her; she was an exact, clever manager; her household and tenantry were thoroughly under her control; her children only at times defied her authority and laughed it to scorn; she dressed well, and had a presence and port calculated to set off handsome attire.

Sitting on a low stool, a few yards from her arm-chair, I examined her figure; I perused her features. In my hand I held the tract containing the sudden death of the Liar, to which narrative my attention had been pointed as to an appropriate warning. What had just passed; what Mrs. Reed had said concerning me to Mr. Brocklehurst; the whole tenor of their conversation, was recent, raw, and stinging in my mind; I had felt every word as acutely as I had heard it plainly, and a passion of resentment fomented now within me.

Mrs. Reed looked up from her work; her eye settled on mine, her fingers at the same time suspended their nimble movements.

'Go out of the room; return to the nursery,' was her mandate. My look or something else must have struck her as offensive, for she spoke with extreme though suppressed irritation. I got up, I went to the door; I came back again; I walked to the window, across the room, then close up to her.

Speak I must: I had been trodden on severely, and must turn: but how? What strength had I to dart retaliation at my antagonist? I gathered my energies and launched them in this blunt sentence- 'I am not deceitful: if I were, I should say I loved you; but I declare I do not love you: I dislike you the worst of anybody in the world except John Reed; and this book about the liar, you may give to your girl, Georgiana, for it is she who tells lies, and not I.'

Mrs. Reed's hands still lay on her work inactive: her eye of ice continued to dwell freezingly on mine.

'What more have you to say?' she asked, rather in the tone in which a person might address an opponent of adult age than such as is ordinarily used to a child.

That eye of hers, that voice stirred every antipathy I had. Shaking from head to foot, thrilled with ungovernable excitement, I continued- 'I am glad you are no relation of mine: I will never call you aunt again so long as I live. I will never come to see you when I am grown up; and if any one asks me how I liked you, and how you treated me, I will say the very thought of you makes me sick, and that you treated me with miserable cruelty.'

'How dare you affirm that, Jane Eyre?'

'How dare I, Mrs. Reed? How dare I? Because it is the truth. You think I have no feelings, and that I can do without one bit of love or kindness; but I cannot live so: and you have no pity. I shall remember how you thrust me back- roughly and violently thrust me back- into the red-room, and locked me up there, to my dying day; though I was in agony; though I cried out, while suffocating with distress, "Have mercy! Have mercy, Aunt Reed!" And that punishment you made me suffer because your wicked boy struck me- knocked me down for nothing.

I will tell anybody who asks me questions, this exact tale. People think you a good woman, but you are bad, hard-hearted. You are deceitful!'

Ere I had finished this reply, my soul began to expand, to exult, with the strangest sense of freedom, of triumph, I ever felt. It seemed as if an invisible bond had burst, and that I had struggled out into unhoped-for liberty. Not without cause was this sentiment: Mrs. Reed looked frightened; her work had slipped from her knee; she was lifting up her hands, rocking herself to and fro, and even twisting her face as if she would cry.

'Jane, you are under a mistake: what is the matter with you? Why do you tremble so violently? Would you like to drink some water?'

'No, Mrs. Reed.'

'Is there anything else you wish for, Jane? I assure you, I desire to be your friend.'

'Not you. You told Mr. Brocklehurst I had a bad character, a deceitful disposition; and I'll let everybody at Lowood know what you are, and what you have done.'

'Jane, you don't understand these things: children must be corrected for their faults.'

'Deceit is not my fault!' I cried out in a savage, high voice.

'But you are passionate, Jane, that you must allow: and now return to the nursery- there's a dear- and lie down a little.'

'I am not your dear; I cannot lie down: send me to school soon, Mrs. Reed, for I hate to live here.'

'I will indeed send her to school soon,' murmured Mrs. Reed sotto voce; and gathering up her work, she abruptly quitted the apartment.

I was left there alone- winner of the field. It was the hardest battle I had fought, and the first victory I had gained: I stood awhile on the rug, where Mr.

Brocklehurst had stood, and I enjoyed my conqueror's solitude. First, I smiled to myself and felt elate; but this fierce pleasure subsided in me as fast as did the accelerated throb of my pulses. A child cannot quarrel with its elders, as I had done; cannot give its furious feelings uncontrolled play, as I had given mine, without experiencing afterwards the pang of remorse and the chill of reaction. A ridge of lighted heath, alive, glancing, devouring, would have been a meet emblem of my mind when I accused and menaced Mrs. Reed: the same ridge, black and blasted after the flames are dead, would have represented as meetly my subsequent condition, when half an hour's silence and reflection had shown me the madness of my conduct, and the dreariness of my hated and hating position.

Something of vengeance I had tasted for the first time; as aromatic wine it seemed, on swallowing, warm and racy: its after-flavour, metallic and corroding, gave me a sensation as if I had been poisoned.

Willingly would I now have gone and asked Mrs. Reed's pardon; but I knew, partly from experience and partly from instinct, that was the way to make her repulse me with double scorn, thereby re-exciting every turbulent impulse of my nature.

I would fain exercise some better faculty than that of fierce speaking; fain find nourishment for some less fiendish feeling than that of sombre indignation. I took a book- some Arabian tales; I sat down and endeavoured to read. I could make no sense of the subject; my own thoughts swam always between me and the page I had usually found fascinating. I opened the glass-door in the breakfast-room: the shrubbery was quite still: the black frost reigned, unbroken by sun or breeze, through the grounds. I covered my head and arms with the skirt of my frock, and went out to walk in a part of the plantation which was quite sequestered; but I found no pleasure in the silent trees, the falling fir-cones, the congealed relics of autumn, russet leaves, swept by past winds in heaps, and now stiffened together. I leaned against a gate, and looked into an empty field where no sheep were feeding, where the short grass was nipped and blanched. It was a very grey day; a most opaque sky, 'onding on snaw,' canopied all; thence flakes fell at intervals, which settled on the hard path and on the hoary lea without melting. I stood, a wretched child enough, whispering to myself over and over again, 'What shall I do?- what shall I do?'

All at once I heard a clear voice call, 'Miss Jane! where are you? Come to lunch!'

It was Bessie, I knew well enough; but I did not stir; her light step came tripping down the path.

'You naughty little thing!' she said. 'Why don't you come when you are called?'

Bessie's presence, compared with the thoughts over which I had been brooding, seemed cheerful; even though, as usual, she was somewhat cross. The fact is, after my conflict with and victory over Mrs. Reed, I was not disposed to care much for the nursemaid's transitory anger; and I was disposed to bask in her youthful lightness of heart. I just put my two arms round her and said, 'Come, Bessie! don't scold.'

The action was more frank and fearless than any I was habituated to indulge in: somehow it pleased her.

'You are a strange child, Miss Jane,' she said, as she looked down at me; 'a little roving, solitary thing: and you are going to school, I suppose?'

I nodded.

'And won't you be sorry to leave poor Bessie?'

'What does Bessie care for me? She is always scolding me.'

'Because you're such a queer, frightened, shy little thing. You should be bolder.'

'What! to get more knocks?'

'Nonsense! But you are rather put upon, that's certain. My mother said, when she came to see me last week, that she would not like a little one of her own to be in your place.- Now, come in, and I've some good news for you.'

'I don't think you have, Bessie.'

'Child! what do you mean? What sorrowful eyes you fix on me! Well, but Missis and the young ladies and Master John are going out to tea this afternoon, and you shall have tea with me. I'll ask cook to bake you a little cake, and then you shall help me to look over your drawers; for I am soon to pack your trunk. Missis intends you to leave Gateshead in a day or two, and you shall choose what toys you like to take with you.'

'Bessie, you must promise not to scold me any more till I go.'

'Well, I will; but mind you are a very good girl, and don't be afraid of me. Don't start when I chance to speak rather sharply; it's so provoking.'

'I don't think I shall ever be afraid of you again, Bessie, because I have got used to you, and I shall soon have another set of people to dread.'

'If you dread them they'll dislike you.'

'As you do, Bessie?'

'I don't dislike you, Miss: I believe I am fonder of you than of all the others.'

'You don't show it.'

'You little sharp thing! you've got quite a new way of talking. What makes you so venturesome and hardy?'

'Why, I shall soon be away from you, and besides'- I was going to say something about what had passed between me and Mrs. Reed, but on second thoughts I considered it better to remain silent on that head.

'And so you're glad to leave me?'

'Not at all, Bessie; indeed, just now I'm rather sorry.'

'Just now! and rather! How coolly my little lady says it! I daresay now if I were to ask you for a kiss you wouldn't give it me: you'd say you'd rather not.'

'I'll kiss you and welcome: bend your head down.' Bessie stooped;

we mutually embraced, and I followed her into the house quite comforted. That afternoon lapsed in peace and harmony; and in the evening Bessie told me some of her most enchaining stories, and sang me some of her sweetest songs. Even for me life had its gleams of sunshine.


我同劳埃德先生的一番交谈,以及上回所述贝茜和艾博特之间的议论,使我信心倍增,动力十足,盼着自己快些好起来。看来,某种变动已近在眼前,我默默地期待着。然而,它迟迟未来。一天天、一周周过去了、我已体健如旧,但我朝思暮想的那件事,却并没有重新提起。里德太太有时恶狠狠地打量我,但很少理睬我。自我生病以来,她已把我同她的孩子截然分开,指定我独自睡一个小房间,罚我单独用餐,整天呆在保育室里,而我的表兄妹们却经常在客厅玩耍。她没有丝毫暗示要送我上学,但我有一种很有把握的直觉,她不会长期容忍我与她同在一个屋檐下生活。因为她把目光投向我时,眼神里越来越表露出一种无法摆脱、根深蒂固的厌恶。

伊丽莎和乔治亚娜分明是按吩咐行事,尽量少同我搭讪。而约翰一见我就装鬼脸,有—回竟还想对我动武。像上次一样,我怒不可遏、忍无可忍,激起了一种犯罪的本性,顿时扑了上去。他一想还是住手的好,便逃离了我,一边破口大骂,诬赖我撕裂了他的鼻子。我的拳头确实瞄准了那个隆起的器官,出足力气狠狠一击。当我看到这一招或是我的目光使他吓破了胆时,我真想乘胜追击,达到目的,可是他已经逃到他妈妈那里了。我听他哭哭啼啼,开始讲述“那个讨厌的简.爱”如何像疯猫一样扑向他的故事。但他的哭诉立即被厉声喝住了。

别跟我提起她了,约翰。我同你说过不要与她接近,她不值得理睬。我不愿意你或者你妹妹同她来往,”

这时,我扑出栏杆,突然不假思索地大叫了一声:

“他们还不配同我交往呢。”

尽管里德太太的体态有些臃肿,但—听见我这不可思议的大胆宣告,便利索地登登登跑上楼梯,一阵风似地把我拖进保育室,按倒在小床的床沿上,气势汹汹地说,谅我那天再也不敢从那里爬起来,或是再吭一声了。

“要是里德先生还活着,他会同你说什么?”我几乎无意中问了这个问题。我说几乎无意,是因为我的舌头仿佛不由自主地吐出了这句话,完全是随意倾泻,不受控制。

“什么,”里德太太咕哝着说。她平日冷漠平静的灰色眸子显得惶惶不安,露出了近乎恐惧的神色。她从我的胳膊中抽回手,死死盯着我,仿佛真的弄不明白我究竟是个孩童还是魔鬼。这时,我骑虎难下了。

“里德舅舅在天堂里,你做的和想的,他都看得清清楚楚。我爸爸妈妈也看得清清楚楚。他们知道你把我关了一整天,还巴不得我死掉。”

里德太太很快便定下神来,狠命推搡我,扇我耳光,随后二话没说扔下我就走。在留下的空隙里,贝茜喋喋不休进行了长达一个小时的说教,证实我无疑是家里养大的最坏、最放任的孩子,弄得我也有些半信半疑。因为我确实觉得,在我胸膛里翻腾的只有恶感。

十一月、十二月和一月的上半月转眼已逝去。在盖茨黑德,圣诞节和元旦照例喜气洋洋地庆祝一番,相互交换礼物,举行圣诞晚餐和晚会,当然,这些享受一概与我无缘,我的那份乐趣是每天眼睁睁瞧着伊丽莎和乔治亚娜的装束,看她们着薄纱上衣,系大红腰带,披着精心制作的卷发下楼到客厅去。随后倾听楼下弹奏钢琴和竖琴的声音,管家和仆人来来往往的脚步声,上点心时杯盘磕碰的叮咚声,随着客厅门启闭时断时续传来的谈话声,听腻了。我会离开楼梯口,走进孤寂的保育室。那里尽管也有些许 悲哀,但心里并不难受,说实话,我绝对无意去凑热闹,因为就是去了,也很少有人理我,要是贝茜肯好好陪我,我觉得与她相守,安静地度过多夜晚倒也一种享受,强似在满屋少爷小姐、太太先生中间、里德太太令人生畏的目光下,挨过那些时刻,但是,贝茜往往把小姐们一打扮停当,便抽身上厨房、女管家室等热闹场所去了,还总把蜡烛也带走。随后,我把玩偶放在膝头枯坐着,直至炉火渐渐暗淡,还不时东张西望,弄清楚除了我没有更可怕的东西光顾这昏暗的房间,待到余烬褪为暗红色,我便急急忙忙、拿出吃奶的劲来,宽衣解带,钻进小床,躲避寒冷与黑暗,我常把玩偶随身带到床上,人总得爱点什么,在缺乏更值得爱的东西的时候,我便设想以珍爱一个褪了色的布偶来获得愉快,尽管这个玩偶已经破烂不堪,活像个小小的稻草人,此刻忆起这件往事,也令我迷惑不解,当时,我是带着何等荒谬的虔诚来溺爱这小玩具的呀!我还有点相信它有血有肉有感觉,只有把它裹进了睡袍我才能入睡,一旦它暖融融安然无恙地躺在那里,我便觉得愉快多了,而且这玩偶也有同感。

我似乎要等很久很久客人们才散去,才候着贝茜上楼的脚步声,有时她会在中间上楼来,找顶针或剪刀,或者端上一个小面包、奶酪饼什么的当作我的晚餐。她会坐在床上看我吃。我一吃完,她会替我把被子塞好,亲了我两下,说:“晚安,简小姐。”贝茜和颜悦色的时候,我就觉得她是人世间最好、最漂亮、最善良的人,我热切希望她会总是那么讨人喜欢,那么和蔼可亲,不要老是支使我,骂我,无理责备我,我现在想来,贝茜.李一定是位很有天赋的姑娘,因为她干什么都在行,还有善讲故事的惊人诀窍,至少保育室故事留给我的印象,让我可以作出这样的判断。如果我对她的脸蛋和身材没有记错,那她还长得很漂亮。在我的记忆中,她是个身材苗条的少妇,有着墨色的头发,乌黑的眸子,端正的五官和光洁的皮肤,但她任性急躁,缺乏原则性和正义感。尽管加此,在盖茨黑德府的人中、我最喜欢她。

那是一月十五日早上九点。贝茜已下楼去用早餐,我的表兄妹们还没有被叫唤到他们妈妈身边。伊丽莎正戴上宽边帽,穿上暖和的园艺服,出喂她的家禽。这活儿她百做不厌,并不逊于把鸡鱼类给女管家,把所得钱藏匿起来,她有做买卖的才干,有突出的聚财癖,不仅表现在兜售鸡蛋和鸡方面,而且也在跟园艺工就花茎、花籽和插枝而拼命讨价还价上显露出来,里德太太曾吩咐园艺工,凡是伊丽莎想卖掉的花圃产品,他都得统统买下。而要是能赚大钱,伊丽莎连出售自己的头发也心甘情愿。至于所得的钱,起初她用破布或陈旧的卷发纸包好,藏在偏僻的角落里。但后来其中一些秘藏物被女佣所发现,她深怕有一天丢失她值钱的宝藏,同意由她母亲托管,收取近乎高利贷的利息——百分之五十或六十,一个季度索讨一次。她还把帐记在一个小本子上,算得分毫不差。

乔治亚娜坐在一条高脚凳上,对镜梳理着自己的头发。她把一朵朵人造花和一根根褪色的羽毛插到卷发上,这些东西是她在阁楼上的一个抽屉里找到的。我正在铺床,因为根据贝茜的严格指令,我得在她回来之前把一切都收拾停当(贝茜现在常常把我当作保育室女佣下手来使唤,吩咐我整理房间、擦掉椅子上的灰尘等等),我摊开被子,叠好睡衣后,便走向窗台,正把散乱的图画书和玩偶家具放好,却突然传来了乔治亚娜指手划脚的吆喝不许我动她的玩具(因为这些椅子、镜子、小盘子和小杯子都是她的财产),于是只好歇手。一时无所事事,便开始往凝结在窗上的霜花哈气,在玻璃上化开了一小块地方,透过它可以眺望外面 的院落,那里的一切在严霜的威力之下,仿佛凝固了似的寂然不动。

从这扇窗子后得清门房和马车道。我在蒙着—簇簇银白色霜花的窗玻璃上,正哈出—块可以往外窥视的地方时,只见大门开了,一辆马车驶了进来,我毫不在意地看着它爬上小道,因为尽管马车经常光临盖茨黑德府,却从未进来一位我所感兴趣的客人。这辆车在房子前面停下,门铃大作,来客被请进了门,既然这种事情与我无关,百无聊赖之中,我便被一种更有生气的景象所吸引了。那是一只小小的、饿坏了的知更鸟,从什么地方飞来,落 在紧贴靠窗的墙上一棵光秃秃的樱桃树枝头,叽叽喳喳叫个不停。这时,桌上放着我早饭吃剩的牛奶和面包,我把一小块面包弄碎,并正推窗把它放到窗沿上时,贝茜奔上楼梯,走进了保育室。

“简小姐、把围涎脱掉。你在那儿干什么呀?今天早上抹了脸,洗了手了吗?”

我先没有回答,顾自又推了一下窗子,因为我要让这鸟儿万无一失地吃到面包。窗子终于松动了,我撒出了面包屑,有的落在石头窗沿上,有的落在樱桃树枝上。随后我关好窗,一面回答说:

“没有呢,贝茜,我才掸好灰尘。”

“你这个粗心大意的淘气鬼!这会儿在干什么呀?你的脸通红通红,好像干了什么坏事似的,你开窗干啥?”

贝茜似乎很匆忙,已等不及听我解释,省却了我回答的麻烦。她将我一把拖到洗脸架前,不由分说往我脸上、手上擦了肥皂,抹上水,用一块粗糙的毛巾一揩,虽然重手重脚,倒也干脆爽快。

她又用一把粗毛刷子,把我的头清理了一番,脱下我的围涎,急急忙忙把我带到楼梯口,嘱我径直下楼去,说是早餐室有人找我。

我本想问她是谁在找我,打听一下里德太太是不是在那里。可是贝茜己经走了,还在我身后关上了保育室的门,我慢吞吞地走下楼梯。近三个月来,我从未被叫到里德太太跟前。由于在保育室里禁锢了那么久,早餐室、餐室和客厅都成了令我心寒的地方,一跨进去便惶惶不安。

此刻,我站在空空荡荡的大厅里,面前就是餐室的门。我停住了脚步,吓得直打哆嗦,可怜的胆小鬼,那时候不公的惩罚竟使她怕成了这付样子!我既不敢退后返回保育室,又怕往前走向客厅。我焦虑不安、犹犹豫豫地站了十来分钟,直到早餐室一阵喧闹的铃声使我横下了心来:我非进去不可了。

“谁会找我呢?”我心里有些纳闷,一面用两只手去转动僵硬的门把手,足有一两秒钟,那把手纹丝不动,“除了里德舅妈之外,我还会在客厅里见到谁呢?——男人还是女人?”把手转动了一下,门开了。我进去行了一个低低的屈膝礼,抬起来头竟看见了一根黑色的柱子!至少猛一看来是这样。那笔直、狭小裹着貂皮的东西直挺挺立在地毯上,那张凶神恶煞般的脸,像是雕刻成的假面,置于柱子顶端当作柱顶似的。

里德太太坐在壁炉旁往常所坐的位置上,她示意我走近她。我照着做了。她用这样的话把我介绍给那个毫无表情的陌生人:“这就是我跟你谈起过的小女孩。”

他——因为是个男人——缓缓地把头转向我站立的地方,用他那双浓眉下闪着好奇的目光的灰色眼睛审视着我,随后响起了他严肃的男低音:

“她个子很小,几岁了?”

“十岁。”

“这么大了,”他满腹狐疑地问道。随后又细细打量了我几分钟,马上跟我说起话来。

“你叫什么名字,小姑娘?”

“简.爱,先生。”

说完,我抬起头来,我觉得他是位身材高大的斗士,不过,那时我自己是个小不点。他的五官粗大、每个部位以及骨架上的每根线条,都是同样的粗糙和刻板。

“瞧,简.爱,你是个好孩子吗?”

我不可能回答说“是的”,我那个小天地里的人都持有相反的意见,于是我沉默不语。里德太太使劲摇了一下头,等于是替我作了回答,并立即补充说:“这个话题也许还是少谈为炒。布罗克赫斯特先生。”

“很遗憾听你这么说:我同她必须谈一谈。”他俯下原本垂直的身子,一屁股坐进里德太太对面的扶手椅里。“过来,”他说。

我走过地毯,他让我面对面笔直站在他面前,这时他的脸与我的几乎处在同一个水平面上,那是一张多怪的脸呀!多大的鼻子,多难看的嘴巴!还有那一口的大板牙?

“一个淘气孩子的模样最让人痛心,”他开始说,“尤其是不听话的小姑娘。你知道坏人死后到哪里去吗?”

“他们下地狱,”我的回答既现成又正统。

“地狱是什么地方?能告诉我吗?”

“是个火坑。”

“你愿意落到那个火坑里,永远被火烤吗?”

“不,先生。”

“那你必须怎样才能避免呢?”

我细细思忖了一会,终于作出了令人讨厌的回答:“我得保持健康,不要死掉。”

“你怎么可能保持健康呢?比你年纪小的孩子,每天都有死掉的。一两天前我才埋葬过一个只有五岁的孩子,一个好孩子,现在他的灵魂已经上了天,要是你被召唤去的话,恐怕很难说能同他一样了。”

我无法消除他的疑虑,便只好低下头去看他那双站立在地毯上的大脚,还叹了一口气,
巴不得自己离得远一些。

“但愿你的叹息是发自内心的,但愿你已后悔不该给你的大恩人带来烦恼。”

“恩人!恩人!”我心里嘀咕着,“他们都说里德太太是我的恩人,要真是这样,那么
恩人倒是个讨厌的家伙。”

“你早晚都祷告吗?”我的询问者继续说。

“是的,先生。”

“你读《圣经》吗?”

“有时候读。”

“高兴读吗?喜欢不喜欢?”

“我喜欢《启示录》、《但以理书》、《创世纪》和《撒母耳记》,《出埃及记》的一
小部分,《列王记》和《历代志》的几个部分,还有《约伯》和《约拿书》。”

“还有《诗篇》呢?我想你也喜欢吧。”

“不喜欢,先生。”

“不喜欢?哎呀,真让人吃惊!有个小男孩,比你年纪还小,却能背六首赞美诗。你要是问他,愿意吃姜饼呢,不是背一首赞美诗,他会就‘啊,背赞美诗!因为天使也唱。’还说‘我真希望

当一个人间的小天使,’随后他得到了两块姜饼,作为他小小年纪就那么虔诚的报偿。”

“赞美诗很乏味,”我说。

“这说明你心很坏,你应当祈求上帝给你换一颗新的纯洁的心,把那颗石头般的心取走,赐给你一颗血肉之心。”

我正要问他换心的手术怎样做时,里德太太插嘴了,吩咐我坐下来,随后她接着话题谈了下去。

“布罗克赫斯特先生,我相信三个星期以前我给你的信中曾经提到,这个小姑娘缺乏我所期望的人品与气质。如果你准许她进罗沃德学校,我乐意恭请校长和教师们对她严加看管,尤其要提防她身上最大的毛病,一种爱说谎的习性。我当着你的面说这件事,简,目的是让你不好再瞒骗布罗克赫斯特先生。”

我满有理由害怕里德太太,讨厌她,因为她生性就爱刻毒地伤害我,在她面前我从来不会愉快。不管我怎样陪着小心顺从好,千方百计讨她喜心,我的努力仍然受到鄙夷,并被报之以上述这类言词。她当着陌生人的面,竟如此指控我,实在伤透了我的心。我依稀感到,她抹去了我对新生活所怀的希望,这种生活是她特意为我安排的。尽管我不能表露自己的感情,但我感到,她在通向我未来的道路上,播下了反感和无情的种子。我看到自己在布罗克赫斯特先生的眼睛里,已变成了一个工于心计、令人讨厌的孩子,我还能有什么办法来弥合这种伤痕呢?

“说实在,没有,”我思忖道。一面竭力忍住哭泣,急忙擦掉几滴泪水,我无可奈何的痛苦的见证。

“在孩子身上,欺骗是一种可悲的缺点,”布罗克赫斯特先生说,“它近乎于说谎,而所有的说谎者,都有份儿落到燃烧着硫磺烈火的湖里。不过,我们会对她严加看管的,我要告诉坦普尔小姐和教师们。”

“我希望根据她的前程来培育她,”我的恩人继续说,“使她成为有用之材,永远保持谦卑。至于假期嘛,要是你许可,就让她一直在罗沃德过吧。”

“你的决断无比英明,太太,”布罗克赫斯特先生回答。谦恭是基督教徒的美德,对罗沃德的学生尤其适用。为此我下了指令,要特别注重在学生中培养这种品质。我己经探究过如何最有效地抑制他们世俗的骄情。前不久,我还得到了可喜的依据,证明我获得了成功。我的第二个女儿奥古斯塔随同她妈妈访问了学校,一回来她就嚷嚷着说:‘啊,亲爱的爸爸,罗沃德学校的姑娘都显得好文静,好朴实呀!头发都梳到了耳后,都戴着长长的围涎,上衣外面都有一个用亚麻细布做的小口袋,他们几乎就同穷人家的孩子一样!还有’,她说,‘她们都瞧着我和妈妈的装束,好像从来没有看到过一件丝裙似的。”

“这种状况我十分赞赏,”里德太太回答道,“就是找遍整个英国,也很难找到一个更适合像简.爱这样孩子呆的机构了。韧性,我亲爱的布罗克赫斯特先生,我主张干什么都要有韧性。”

“夫人,韧性是基督徒的首要职责。它贯串于罗沃德学校的一切安排之中:吃得简单,穿得朴实,住得随便,养成吃苦耐劳、做事巴结的习惯。在学校里,在寄宿者中间,这一切都已蔚然成风。”

“说得很对,先生。那我可以相信这孩子已被罗沃德学校收为学生,并根据她的地位和前途加以训导了,是吗?”

“太太、你可以这么说。她将被放在培植精选花草的苗圃里,我相信她会因为无比荣幸地被选中而感激涕零的。”

“既然这样,我会尽快送她来的,布罗克赫斯特先生,因为说实在,我急于开卸掉这付令人厌烦的担子呢。”

“的确,的确是这样,太太。现在我就向你告辞了。一两周之后我才回到布罗克赫斯特府去,我的好朋友一位副主教不让我早走。我会通知坦普尔小姐,一位新来的姑娘要到。这样,接待她也不会有什么困难了。再见。”

“再见,布罗克赫斯特先生。请向布罗克赫斯特太太和小姐,向奥古斯塔、西奥多和布劳顿.布罗克赫斯特少爷问好。”

“一定,太太。小姑娘,这里有本书,题目叫《儿童指南》,祷告后再读,尤其要注意那个部分,说的是‘一个满口谎言、欺骗成性的淘气鬼,玛莎.格××暴死的经过’。"

说完,布罗克赫斯特先生把一本装有封皮的薄薄小册子塞进我手里,打铃让人备好马车,便离去了。

房间里只剩下了里德太太和我,在沉默中过了几分钟。她在做针钱活,我在打量着她,当时里德太太也许才三十六七岁光景,是个体魄强健的女人,肩膀宽阔,四肢结实,个子不高,身体粗壮但并不肥胖,她的下鄂很发达也很壮实,所以她的脸也就有些大了。她的眉毛很低,下巴又大又突出,嘴巴和鼻子倒是十分匀称的。在她浅色的眉毛下,闪动着一双没有同情心的眼睛。她的皮肤黝黑而灰暗,头发近乎亚麻色。她的体格很好,疾病从不染身。她是一位精明干练的总管,家庭和租赁的产业都由她一手控制。只有她的孩子间或蔑视她的权威,嗤之以鼻。她穿着讲究,她的风度和举止有助于衬托出她漂亮的服饰。

我坐在一条矮凳上,离她的扶手椅有几码远、打量着她的身材。仔细端详着她的五宫。我手里拿着那本记述说谎者暴死经过的小册子,他们曾把这个故事作为一种恰当的警告引起我注意。刚才发生的一幕,里德太太跟布罗克赫斯特先生所说的关于我的话,他们谈话的内容,仍在耳边回响,刺痛劳我的心扉。每句话都听得明明白白,每句话都那么刺耳。此刻,我的内心正燃起一腔不满之情。

里德太太放下手头的活儿,抬起头来,眼神与我的目光相遇,她的手指也同时停止了飞针走线的活动。

“出去,回到保育室去,”她命令道。我的神情或者别的什么想必使她感到讨厌,因为她说话时尽管克制着,却仍然极其恼怒。我立起身来,走到门边,却又返回,穿过房间到了窗前,一直走到她面前。

我非讲不可,我被践踏得够了,我必须反抗。可是怎么反抗呢,我有什么力量来回击对手呢?我鼓足勇气,直截了当地发动了进攻:

“我不骗人,要是我骗,我会说我爱你。但我声明,我不爱你,除了约翰.里德,你是世上我最不喜欢的人,这本写说谎者的书,你尽可以送给你的女儿乔治亚娜,因为说谎的是她,不是我。”

里德太太的手仍一动不动地放在她的活儿上,冷冰冰的目光,继续阴丝丝地凝视着我。

“你还有什么要说?”她问,那种口气仿佛是对着一个成年对手在讲话,对付孩子通常是不会使用的。

她的眸子和嗓音,激起了我极大的反感,我激动得难以抑制,直打哆嗦,继续说了下去:

“我很庆幸你不是我亲戚,今生今世我再也不会叫你舅妈了。长大了我也永远不会来看你,要是有人问起我喜欢不喜欢你,你怎样待我,我会说,一想起你就使我讨厌,我会说,你对我冷酷得到了可耻的地步。”

“你怎么敢说这话,简.爱?”

“我怎么敢,里德太太,我怎么敢,因为这是事实,你以为我没有情感,以为我不需要一点抚爱或亲情就可以打发日子,可是我不能这么生活。还有,你没有怜悯之心,我会记住你怎么推搡我,粗暴地把我弄进红房子,锁在里面,我到死都不会忘记,尽管我很痛苦,尽管我一面泣不成声,一面叫喊,‘可怜可怜吧!可怜可怜我吧,里德舅妈!’还有你强加于我的惩罚。完全是因为你那可恶的孩子打了我,无缘无故把我打倒在地,我要把事情的经过,原原本本告诉每个问我的人。人们满以为你是个好女人,其实你很坏,你心肠很狠。你自己才骗人呢!”

我还没有回答完,内心便已开始感到舒畅和喜悦了,那是一种前所未有的奇怪的自由感和胜利感,无形的束缚似乎己被冲破,我争得了始料未及的自由,这种情感不是无故泛起的,因为里德太太看来慌了神,活儿从她的膝头滑落,她举起双手,身子前后摇晃着,甚至连脸也扭曲了,她仿佛要哭出来了。

“简,你搞错了,你怎么了?怎么抖得那么厉害?想喝水吗?”

“不,里德太太。”

“你想要什么别的吗,简,说实在的,我希望成为你的朋友。”

“你才不会呢。你对布罗克赫斯待先生说我品质恶劣,欺骗成性,那我就要让罗沃德的每个人都知道你的为人和你干的好事。”

“简,这些事儿你不理解,孩子们有缺点应该得到纠正。”

“欺骗不是我的缺点!”我发疯似的大叫一声。

“但是你好意气用事,简,这你必须承认。现在回到保育室去吧,乖乖,躺一会儿。”

“我不是你乖乖,我不能躺下,快些送我到学校去吧,里德太太,因为我讨厌住在这儿。”

“我真的要快送她去上学了,”里德太太轻声嘀咕着,收拾好针线活,蓦地走出出了房间。

我孤零零地站那里,成了战场上的胜利者。这是我所经历的最艰难的—场战斗,也是我第一次获得胜利。我在布罗克赫斯特先生站站过的地毯上站了一会,沉缅于征服者的孤独。我先是暗自发笑,感到十分得意。但是这种狂喜犹如一时加快的脉膊会迅速递减一样,很快就消退了。一个孩子像我这样跟长辈斗嘴,像我这样毫无顾忌地发泄自己的怒气,事后必定要感到悔恨和寒心。我在控诉和恐吓里德太太时,内心恰如一片点燃了的荒野,火光闪烁,来势凶猛,但经过半小时的沉默和反思,深感自己行为的疯狂和自己恨人又被人嫉恨的处境的悲凉时,我内心的这片荒地,便已灰飞烟灭,留下的只有黑色的焦土了。

我第一次尝到了复仇的滋味。犹如芬芳的美酒,喝下时热辣辣好受,但回味起来却又苦又涩,给人有中了毒的感觉。此刻,我很乐意去求得里德太太的宽恕,但经验和直觉告诉我,那只会使她以加倍的蔑视讨厌我,因而会重又激起我天性中不安份的冲动。

我愿意发挥比说话刻薄更高明的才能,也愿意培养比郁愤更好的情感。我取了一本阿拉伯故事书,坐下来很想看看,却全然不知所云,我的思绪飘忽在我自己与平日感到引人入胜的书页之间。

我打开早餐室的玻璃门,只见灌木丛中一片—沉寂,虽然风和日丽,严霜却依然覆盖着大地。我撩起衣裙裹住脑袋和胳膊,走出门去,漫步在一片僻静的树林里。但是沉寂的树木、掉下的杉果,以及那凝固了的秋天的遗物,被风吹成一堆如今又冻结了的行褐色树叶,都没有给我带来愉快。我倚在一扇大门上,凝望着空空的田野,那里没有觅食的羊群,只有冻坏了的苍白的浅草。这是一个灰蒙蒙的日子,降雪前的天空一片混沌,间或飘下一些雪片。落在坚硬的小径上,从在灰白的草地上,没有融化。我站立着,一付可怜巴巴的样子,一遍又一遍悄悄对自己说:“我怎么办呢?我怎么办呢?”

我愿意发挥比说话刻薄更高明的才能,也愿意培养比郁愤更好的情感。我取了一本阿拉伯故事书,坐下来很想看看,却全然不知所云,我的思绪飘忽在我自己与平日感到引人入胜的书页之间。

我打开早餐室的玻璃门,只见灌木丛中一片—沉寂,虽然风和日丽,严霜却依然覆盖着大地。我撩起衣裙裹住脑袋和胳膊,走出门去,漫步在一片僻静的树林里。但是沉寂的树木、掉下的杉果,以及那凝固了的秋天的遗物,被风吹成一堆如今又冻结了的行褐色树叶,都没有给我带来愉快。我倚在一扇大门上,凝望着空空的田野,那里没有觅食的羊群,只有冻坏了的苍白的浅草。这是一个灰蒙蒙的日子,降雪前的天空一片混沌,间或飘下一些雪片。落在坚硬的小径上,从在灰白的草地上,没有融化。我站立着,一付可怜巴巴的样子,一遍又一遍悄悄对自己说:“我怎么办呢?我怎么办呢?”

突然我听一个清晰的嗓音在叫唤,“简小姐,你在哪儿?快来吃中饭!”

是贝茜在叫,我心里很明白,不过我没有动弹。她步履轻盈地沿小径走来。

“你这个小淘气!”她说,“叫你为什么不来?”

比之刚才萦回脑际的念头,贝茜的到来似乎是令人愉快的,尽管她照例又有些生气。其实,同里德太太发生冲突。并占了上风之后,我并不太在乎保姆一时的火气,倒是希望分享她那充满活力、轻松愉快的心情。我只是用胳膊抱住了她,说:“得啦,贝茜别骂我了。”

这个动作比我往常所纵情的任何举动都要直率大胆,不知怎地,倒使贝茜高兴了。

“你是个怪孩子,简小姐,”她说,低头看着我:“一个喜欢独来独往的小东西。你要去上学了,我想是不是?”

我点了点头。

“离开可怜的贝茜你不难过吗?”

“贝茜在乎我什么呢?她老是骂我。”

“谁叫你是那么个古怪、胆小、怕难为情的小东西,你应该胆大一点。”

“什么!好多挨几顿打?”

“瞎说!不过你常受欺侮,那倒是事实。上星期我母亲来看我的时候说,她希望自己哪一个小家伙也不要像你一样。好吧,进去吧,我有个好消息告诉你,”

“我想你没有,贝茜。”

“孩子!你这是什么意思?你盯着我的那双眼睛多么忧郁!瞧!太太、小姐和约翰少爷今天下午都出去用茶点了,你可以跟我一起吃茶点。我会叫厨师给你烘一个小饼,随后你要帮我检查一下你抽屉,因为我马上就要为你整理箱子了。太太想让你一两天内离开盖茨黑德,你可以拣你喜欢的玩具随身带走。”

“贝茜,你得答应我在走之前不再骂我了。”

“好吧,我答应你,不过别忘了做个好孩子,而且也别怕我。要是我偶然说话尖刻了些,你别吓一大跳,因为那很使人恼火。”

“我想我再也不怕你了,贝茜,因为我已经习惯了,很快我又有另外一批人要怕了。”

“如果你怕他们,他们会不喜欢你的。”

“像你一样吗,贝茜?”

“我并不是不喜欢你,小姐,我相信,我比其他人都要喜欢你。”

“你没有表现出来。”

“你这狡猾的小东西:你说话的口气不一样了,怎么会变得那么大胆和鲁莽呢?”

“呵,我不久就要离开你了,再说——”我正想谈谈我与里德太太之间发生的事,但转念一想,还是不说为好。

“那么你是乐意离开我了?”

“没有那回事,贝茜,说真的,现在我心里有些难过。”

“‘现在’,‘有些’,我的小姐说得多冷静!我想要是我现在要求吻你一下,你是不会答应的,你会说,还是不要吧。”

“我来吻你,而且我很乐意,把你的头低下来。”贝茜弯下了腰,我们相互拥抱着,我跟着她进了屋子,得到了莫大安慰。下午在和谐平静中过去了。晚上,贝茜给我讲了一些最动人的故事,给我唱了几支她最动听的歌,即便是对我这样的人来说,生活中也毕竟还有几缕阳光呢。



欢迎访问英文小说网http://novel.tingroom.com

©英文小说网 2005-2010

有任何问题,请给我们留言,管理员邮箱:tinglishi@gmail.com  站长QQ :点击发送消息和我们联系56065533

鲁ICP备05031204号