Chapter 1

Therewasnopossibilityoftakingawalkthatday.Wehadbeenwandering,indeed,intheleaflessshrubberyanhourinthemorning;butsincedinner(Mrs.Reed,whentherewasnocompany,dinedearly)thecoldwinterwindhadbroughtwithitcloudssosombre,andarainsopenetrating,thatfurtherout-doorexercisewasnowoutofthequestion.

Iwasgladofit:Ineverlikedlongwalks,especiallyonchillyafternoons:dreadfultomewasthecominghomeintherawtwilight,withnippedfingersandtoes,andaheartsaddenedbythechidingsofBessie,thenurse,andhumbledbytheconsciousnessofmyphysicalinferioritytoEliza,John,andGeorgianaReed.

ThesaidEliza,John,andGeorgianawerenowclusteredroundtheirmamainthedrawing-room:shelayreclinedonasofabythefireside,andwithherdarlingsabouther(forthetimeneitherquarrellingnorcrying)lookedperfectlyhappy.Me,shehaddispensedfromjoiningthegroup;saying,“Sheregrettedtobeunderthenecessityofkeepingmeatadistance;butthatuntilsheheardfromBessie,andcoulddiscoverbyherownobservation,thatIwasendeavouringingoodearnesttoacquireamoresociableandchildlikedisposition,amoreattractiveandsprightlymannersomethinglighter,franker,morenatural,asitwereshereallymustexcludemefromprivilegesintendedonlyforcontented,happy,littlechildren.”

“WhatdoesBessiesayIhavedone?”Iasked.

“Jane,Idon’tlikecavillersorquestioners;besides,thereissomethingtrulyforbiddinginachildtakinguphereldersinthatmanner.Beseatedsomewhere;anduntilyoucanspeakpleasantly,remainsilent.”

Abreakfast-roomadjoinedthedrawing-room,Islippedinthere.

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