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简爱CHAPTER V

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CHAPTER V  

FIVE o'clock had hardly struck on the morning of the 19th of January, when Bessie brought a candle into my closet and found me already up and nearly dressed. I had risen half an hour before her entrance, and had washed my face, and put on my clothes by the light of a half-moon just setting, whose rays streamed through the narrow window near my crib. I was to leave Gateshead that day by a coach which passed the lodge gates at six A.M. Bessie was the only person yet risen; she had lit a fire in the nursery, where she now proceeded to make my breakfast. Few children can eat when excited with the thoughts of a journey; nor could I. Bessie, having pressed me in vain to take a few spoonfuls of the boiled milk and bread she had prepared for me, wrapped up some biscuits in a paper and put them into my bag; then she helped me on with my pelisse and bonnet, and wrapping herself in a shawl, she and I left the nursery. As we passed Mrs. Reed's bedroom, she said, 'Will you go in and bid Missis good-bye?'
'No, Bessie: she came to my crib last night when you were gone down to supper, and said I need not disturb her in the morning, or my cousins either; and she told me to remember that she had always been my best friend, and to speak of her and be grateful to her accordingly.'

'What did you say, Miss?'

'Nothing: I covered my face with the bedclothes, and turned from her to the wall.'

'That was wrong, Miss Jane.'

'It was quite right, Bessie. Your Missis has not been my friend: she has been my foe.'

'O Miss Jane! don't say so!'

'Good-bye to Gateshead!' cried I, as we passed through the hall and went out at the front door.

The moon was set, and it was very dark; Bessie carried a lantern, whose light glanced on wet steps and gravel road sodden by a recent thaw. Raw and chill was the winter morning: my teeth chattered as I hastened down the drive. There was a light in the porter's lodge: when we reached it, we found the porter's wife just kindling her fire: my trunk, which had been carried down the evening before, stood corded at the door. It wanted but a few minutes of six, and shortly after that hour had struck, the distant roll of wheels announced the coming coach; I went to the door and watched its lamps approach rapidly through the gloom.

'Is she going by herself?' asked the porter's wife.

'Yes.'

'And how far is it?'

'Fifty miles.'

'What a long way! I wonder Mrs. Reed is not afraid to trust her so far alone.'

The coach drew up; there it was at the gates with its four horses and its top laden with passengers: the guard and coachman loudly urged haste; my trunk was hoisted up; I was taken from Bessie's neck, to which I clung with kisses.

'Be sure and take good care of her,' cried she to the guard, as he lifted me into the inside.

'Ay, ay!' was the answer: the door was slapped to, a voice exclaimed 'All right,' and on we drove. Thus was I severed from Bessie and Gateshead; thus whirled away to unknown, and, as I then deemed, remote and mysterious regions.

I remember but little of the journey; I only know that the day seemed to me of a preternatural length, and that we appeared to travel over hundreds of miles of road. We passed through several towns, and in one, a very large one, the coach stopped; the horses were taken out, and the passengers alighted to dine. I was carried into an inn, where the guard wanted me to have some dinner; but, as I had no appetite, he left me in an immense room with a fireplace at each end, a chandelier pendent from the ceiling, and a little red gallery high up against the wall filled with musical instruments. Here I walked about for a long time, feeling very strange, and mortally apprehensive of some one coming in and kidnapping me; for I believed in kidnappers, their exploits having frequently figured in Bessie's fireside chronicles. At last the guard returned; once more I was stowed away in the coach, my protector mounted his own seat, sounded The afternoon came on wet and somewhat misty: as it waned into dusk, I began to feel that we were getting very far indeed from Gateshead: we ceased to pass through towns; the country changed; great grey hills heaved up round the horizon: as twilight deepened, we descended a valley, dark with wood, and long after night had overclouded the prospect, I heard a wild wind rushing amongst trees.

Lulled by the sound, I at last dropped asleep; I had not long slumbered when the sudden cessation of motion awoke me; the coach-door was open, and a person like a servant was standing at it: I saw her face and dress by the light of the lamps.

'Is there a little girl called Jane Eyre here?' she asked. I answered 'Yes', and was then lifted out; my trunk was handed down, and the coach instantly drove away.

I was stiff with long sitting, and bewildered with the noise and motion of the coach: gathering my faculties, I looked about me.

Rain, wind, and darkness filled the air; nevertheless, I dimly discerned a wall before me and a door open in it; through this door I passed with my new guide: she shut and locked it behind her. There was now visible a house or houses- for the building spread far- with many windows, and lights burning in some; we went up a broad pebbly path, splashing wet, and were admitted at a door; then the servant led me through a passage into a room with a fire, where she left me alone.

I stood and warmed my numbed fingers over the blaze, then I looked round; there was no candle, but the uncertain light from the hearth showed, by intervals, papered walls, carpet, curtains, shining mahogany furniture: it was a parlour, not so spacious or splendid as the drawing-room at Gateshead, but comfortable enough. I was puzzling to make out the subject of a picture on the wall, when the door opened, and an individual carrying a light entered; another followed close behind.

The first was a tall lady with dark hair, dark eyes, and a pale and large forehead; her figure was partly enveloped in a shawl, her countenance was grave, her bearing erect.

'The child is very young to be sent alone,' said she, putting her candle down on the table. She considered me attentively for a minute or two, then further added-

'She had better be put to bed soon; she looks tired: are you tired?' she asked, placing her hand on my shoulder.

'A little, ma'am.'

'And hungry too, no doubt: let her have some supper before she goes to bed, Miss Miller. Is this the first time you have left your parents to come to school, my little girl?'

I explained to her that I had no parents. She inquired how long they had been dead: then how old I was, what was my name, whether I could read, write, and sew a little: then she touched my cheek gently with her forefinger, and saying, 'She hoped I should be a good child,' dismissed me along with Miss Miller.

The lady I had left might be about twenty-nine; the one who went with me appeared some years younger: the first impressed me by her voice, look, and air. Miss Miller was more ordinary; ruddy in complexion, though of a careworn countenance; hurried in gait and action, like one who had always a multiplicity of tasks on hand: she looked, indeed, what I afterwards found she really was, an under-teacher. Led by her, I passed from compartment to compartment, from passage to passage, of a large and irregular building; till, emerging from the total and somewhat dreary silence pervading that portion of the house we had traversed, we came upon the hum of many voices, and presently entered a wide, long room, with great deal tables, two at each end, on each of which burnt a pair of candles, and seated all round on benches, a congregation of girls of every age, from nine or ten to twenty. Seen by the dim light of the dips, their number to me appeared countless, though not in reality exceeding eighty; they were uniformly dressed in brown stuff frocks of quaint fashion, and long holland pinafores. It was the hour of study; they were engaged in conning over their to-morrow's task, and the hum I had heard was the combined result of their whispered repetitions.

Miss Miller signed to me to sit on a bench near the door, then walking up to the top of the long room she cried out- 'Monitors, collect the lesson-books and put them away!'

Four tall girls arose from different tables, and going round, gathered the books and removed them. Miss Miller again gave the word of command-

'Monitors, fetch the supper-trays!'

The tall girls went out and returned presently, each bearing a tray, with portions of something, I knew not what, arranged thereon, and a pitcher of water and mug in the middle of each tray. The portions were handed round; those who liked took a draught of the water, the mug being common to all. When it came to my turn, I drank, for I was thirsty, but did not touch the food, excitement and fatigue rendering me incapable of eating; I now saw, however, that it was a thin oaten cake shared into fragments.

The meal over, prayers were read by Miss Miller, and the classes filed off, two and two, upstairs. Overpowered by this time with weariness, I scarcely noticed what sort of a place the bedroom was, except that, like the schoolroom, I saw it was very long. To-night I was to be Miss Miller's bed-fellow; she helped me to undress: when laid down I glanced at the long rows of beds, each of which was quickly filled with two occupants; in ten minutes the single light was extinguished, and amidst silence and complete darkness I fell asleep.

The night passed rapidly: I was too tired even to dream; I only once awoke to hear the wind rave in furious gusts, and the rain fall in torrents, and to be sensible that Miss Miller had taken her place by my side. When I again unclosed my eyes, a loud bell was ringing; the girls were up and dressing; day had not yet begun to dawn, and a rushlight or two burned in the room. I too rose reluctantly; it was bitter cold, and I dressed as well as I could for shivering, and washed when there was a basin at liberty, which did not occur soon, as there was but one basin to six girls, on the stands down the middle of the room. Again the bell rang; all formed in file, two and two, and in that order descended the stairs and entered the cold and dimly lit schoolroom: here prayers were read by Miss Miller; afterwards she called out-

'Form classes!'

A great tumult succeeded for some minutes, during which Miss Miller repeatedly exclaimed, 'Silence!' and 'Order!' When it subsided, I saw them all drawn up in four semicircles, before four chairs, placed at the four tables; all held books in their hands, and a great book, like a Bible, lay on each table, before the vacant seat. A pause of some seconds succeeded, filled up by the low, vague hum of numbers; Miss Miller walked from class to class, hushing this indefinite sound.

A distant bell tinkled: immediately three ladies entered the room, each walked to a table and took her seat; Miss Miller assumed the fourth vacant chair, which was that nearest the door, and around which the smallest of the children were assembled: to this inferior class I was called, and placed at the bottom of it.

Business now began: the day's Collect was repeated, then certain texts of Scripture were said, and to these succeeded a protracted reading of chapters in the Bible, which lasted an hour. By the time that exercise was terminated, day had fully dawned. The indefatigable bell now sounded for the fourth time: the classes were marshalled and marched into another room to breakfast: how glad I was to behold a prospect of getting something to eat! I was now nearly sick from inanition, having taken so little the day before.

The refectory was a great, low-ceiled, gloomy room; on two long tables smoked basins of something hot, which, however, to my dismay, sent forth an odour far from inviting. I saw a universal manifestation of discontent when the fumes of the repast met the nostrils of those destined to swallow it; from the van of the procession, the tall girls of the first class, rose the whispered words- 'Disgusting! The porridge is burnt again!'

'Silence!' ejaculated a voice; not that of Miss Miller, but one of the upper teachers, a little and dark personage, smartly dressed, but of somewhat morose aspect, who installed herself at the top of one table, while a more buxom lady presided at the other. I looked in vain for her I had first seen the night before; she was not visible: Miss Miller occupied the foot of the table where I sat, and a strange, foreign-looking, elderly lady, the French teacher, as I afterwards found, took the corresponding seat at the other board. A long grace was said and a hymn sung; then a servant brought in some tea for the teachers, and the meal began.

Ravenous, and now very faint, I devoured a spoonful or two of my portion without thinking of its taste; but the first edge of hunger blunted, I perceived I had got in hand a nauseous mess; burnt porridge is almost as bad as rotten potatoes; famine itself soon sickens over it. The spoons were moved slowly: I saw each girl taste her food and try to swallow it; but in most cases the effort was soon relinquished.

Breakfast was over, and none had breakfasted. Thanks being returned for what we had not got, and a second hymn chanted, the refectory was evacuated for the schoolroom. I was one of the last to go out, and in passing the tables, I saw one teacher take a basin of the porridge and taste it; she looked at the others; all their countenances expressed displeasure, and one of them, the stout one, whispered-

'Abominable stuff! How shameful!'

A quarter of an hour passed before lessons again began, during which the schoolroom was in a glorious tumult; for that space of time it seemed to be permitted to talk loud and more freely, and they used their privilege. The whole conversation ran on the breakfast, which one and all abused roundly. Poor things! it was the sole consolation they had. Miss Miller was now the only teacher in the room: a group of great girls standing about her spoke with serious and sullen gestures. I heard the name of Mr. Brocklehurst pronounced by some lips; at which Miss Miller shook her head disapprovingly; but she made no great effort to check the general wrath; doubtless she shared in it.

A clock in the schoolroom struck nine; Miss Miller left her circle, and standing in the middle of the room, cried-

'Silence! To your seats!'

Discipline prevailed: in five minutes the confused throng was resolved into order, and comparative silence quelled the Babel clamour of tongues. The upper teachers now punctually resumed their posts: but still, all seemed to wait. Ranged on benches down the sides of the room, the eighty girls sat motionless and erect; a quaint assemblage they appeared, all with plain locks combed from their faces, not a curl visible; in brown dresses, made high and surrounded by a narrow tucker about the throat, with little pockets of holland (shaped something like a Highlander's purse) tied in front of their frocks, and destined to serve the purpose of a work-bag: all, too, wearing woollen stockings and country-made shoes, fastened with brass buckles.

Above twenty of those clad in this costume were full-grown girls, or rather young women; it suited them ill, and gave an air of oddity even to the prettiest.

I was still looking at them, and also at intervals examining the teachers- none of whom precisely pleased me; for the stout one was a little coarse, the dark one not a little fierce, the foreigner harsh and grotesque, and Miss Miller, poor thing! looked purple, weather-beaten, and over-worked- when, as my eye wandered from face to face, the whole school rose simultaneously, as if moved by a common spring.

What was the matter? I had heard no order given: I was puzzled. Ere I had gathered my wits, the classes were again seated: but as all eyes were now turned to one point, mine followed the general direction, and encountered the personage who had received me last night. She stood at the bottom of the long room, on the hearth; for there was a fire at each end; she surveyed the two rows of girls silently and gravely.

Miss Miller, approaching, seemed to ask her a question, and having received her answer, went back to her place, and said aloud- 'Monitor of the first class, fetch the globes!'

While the direction was being executed, the lady consulted moved slowly up the room. I suppose I have a considerable organ of veneration, for I retain yet the sense of admiring awe with which my eyes traced her steps. Seen now, in broad day-light, she looked tall, fair, and shapely; brown eyes with a benignant light in their irids, and a fine pencilling of long lashes round, relieved the whiteness of her large front; on each of her temples her hair, of a very dark brown, was clustered in round curls, according to the fashion of those times, when neither smooth bands nor long ringlets were in vogue; her dress, also in the mode of the day, was of purple cloth, relieved by a sort of Spanish trimming of black velvet; a gold watch (watches were not so common then as now) shone at her girdle. Let the reader add, to complete the picture, refined features; a complexion, if pale, clear; and a stately air and carriage, and he will have, at least, as clearly as words can give it, a correct idea of the exterior of Miss Temple- Maria Temple, as I afterwards saw the name written in a prayer-book intrusted to me to carry to church.

The superintendent of Lowood (for such was this lady) having taken her seat before a pair of globes placed on one of the tables, summoned the first class round her, and commenced giving a lesson on geography; the lower classes were called by the teachers:

repetitions in history, grammar, etc., went on for an hour; writing and arithmetic succeeded, and music lessons were given by Miss Temple to some of the elder girls. The duration of each lesson was measured by the clock, which at last struck twelve. The superintendent rose-

'I have a word to address to the pupils,' said she.

The tumult of cessation from lessons was already breaking forth, but it sank at her voice. She went on-

'You had this morning a breakfast which you could not eat; you must be hungry:- I have ordered that a lunch of bread and cheese shall be served to all.'

The teachers looked at her with a sort of surprise.

'It is to be done on my responsibility,' she added, in an explanatory tone to them, and immediately afterwards left the room.

The bread and cheese was presently brought in and distributed, to the high delight and refreshment of the whole school. The order was now given 'To the garden!' Each put on a coarse straw bonnet, with strings of coloured calico, and a cloak of grey frieze, I was similarly equipped, and, following the stream, I made my way into the open air.

The garden was a wide enclosure, surrounded with walls so high as to exclude every glimpse of prospect; a covered verandah ran down one side, and broad walks bordered a middle space divided into scores of little beds: these beds were assigned as gardens for the pupils to cultivate, and each bed had an owner. When full of flowers they would doubtless look pretty; but now, at the latter end of January, all was wintry blight and brown decay. I shuddered as I stood and looked round me: it was an inclement day for outdoor exercise; not positively rainy, but darkened by a drizzling yellow fog; all under foot was still soaking wet with the floods of yesterday. The stronger among the girls ran about and engaged in active games, but sundry pale and thin ones herded together for shelter and warmth in the verandah; and amongst these, as the dense mist penetrated to their shivering frames, I heard frequently the sound of a hollow cough.

As yet I had spoken to no one, nor did anybody seem to take notice of me; I stood lonely enough: but to that feeling of isolation I was accustomed; it did not oppress me much. I leant against a pillar of the verandah, drew my grey mantle close about me, and, trying to forget the cold which nipped me without, and the unsatisfied hunger which gnawed me within, delivered myself up to the employment of watching and thinking. My reflections were too undefined and fragmentary to merit record: I hardly yet knew where I was; Gateshead and my past life seemed floated away to an immeasurable distance; the present was vague and strange, and of the future I could form no conjecture. I looked round the convent-like garden, and then up at the house- a large building, half of which seemed grey and old, the other half quite new. The new part, containing the schoolroom and dormitory, was lit by mullioned and latticed windows, which gave it a church-like aspect; a stone tablet over the door bore this inscription-

Brocklehurst, of Brocklehurst Hall, in this county.' 'Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.'- St. Matt. v. 16.

I read these words over and over again: I felt that an explanation belonged to them, and was unable fully to penetrate their import. I was still pondering the signification of 'Institution', and endeavouring to make out a connection between the first words and the verse of Scripture, when the sound of a cough close behind me made me turn my head. I saw a girl sitting on a stone bench near; she was bent over a book, on the perusal of  which she seemed intent: from where I stood I could see the title- it was Rasselas; a name that struck me as strange, and consequently attractive. In turning a leaf she happened to look up, and I said to her directly-

'Is your book interesting?' I had already formed the intention of asking her to lend it to me some day.

'I like it,' she answered, after a pause of a second or two, during which she examined me.

'What is it about?' I continued. I hardly know where I found the hardihood thus to open a conversation with a stranger; the step was contrary to my nature and habits: but I think her occupation touched a chord of sympathy somewhere; for I too liked reading, though of a frivolous and childish kind; I could not digest or comprehend the serious or substantial.

'You may look at it,' replied the girl, offering me the book.

I did so; a brief examination convinced me that the contents were less taking than the title: Rasselas looked dull to my trifling taste;

I saw nothing about fairies, nothing about genii; no bright variety seemed spread over the closely-printed pages. I returned it to her;

she received it quietly, and without saying anything she was about to relapse into her former studious mood: again I ventured to disturb her-

'Can you tell me what the writing on that stone over the door means? What is Lowood Institution?'

'This house where you are come to live.'

'And why do they call it Institution? Is it in any way different from other schools?'

'It is partly a charity-school: you and I, and all the rest of us, are charity-children. I suppose you are an orphan: are not either your father or your mother dead?'

'Both died before I can remember.'

'Well, all the girls here have lost either one or both parents, and this is called an institution for educating orphans.'

'Do we pay no money? Do they keep us for nothing?'

'We pay, or our friends pay, fifteen pounds a year for each.'

'Then why do they call us charity-children?'

'Because fifteen pounds is not enough for board and teaching, and the deficiency is supplied by subscription.'

'Who subscribes?'

'Different benevolent-minded ladies and gentlemen in this neighbourhood and in London.'

'Who was Naomi Brocklehurst?'

'The lady who built the new part of this house as that tablet records, and whose son overlooks and directs everything here.'

'Why?'

'Because he is treasurer and manager of the establishment.'

'Then this house does not belong to that tall lady who wears a watch, and who said we were to have some bread and cheese?'

'To Miss Temple? Oh, no! I wish it did: she has to answer to Mr. Brocklehurst for all she does. Mr. Brocklehurst buys all our food and all our clothes.'

'Does he live here?'

'No- two miles off, at a large hall.'

'Is he a good man?'

'He is a clergyman, and is said to do a great deal of good.'

'Did you say that tall lady was called Miss Temple?'

'Yes.'

'And what are the other teachers called?'

'The one with red cheeks is called Miss Smith; she attends to the work, and cuts out- for we make our own clothes, our frocks, and pelisses, and everything; the little one with black hair is Miss Scatcherd; she teaches history and grammar, and hears the second class repetitions; and the one who wears a shawl, and has a pocket-handkerchief tied to her side with a yellow ribband, is Madame Pierrot: she comes from Lisle, in France, and teaches French.'

'Do you like the teachers?'

'Well enough.'

'Do you like the little black one, and the Madame-? -I cannot pronounce her name as you do.'

'Miss Scatcherd is hasty- you must take care not to offend her; Madame Pierrot is not a bad sort of person.'

'But Miss Temple is the best- isn't she?'

'Miss Temple is very good and very clever; she is above the rest, because she knows far more than they do.'

'Have you been long here?'

'Two years.'

'Are you an orphan?'

'My mother is dead.'

'Are you happy here?'

'You ask rather too many questions. I have given you answers enough for the present: now I want to read.'

But at that moment the summons sounded for dinner; all re-entered the house. The odour which now filled the refectory was scarcely more appetising than that which had regaled our nostrils at breakfast: the dinner was served in two huge tin-plated vessels, whence rose a strong steam redolent of rancid fat. I found the mess to consist of indifferent potatoes and strange shreds of rusty meat, mixed and cooked together. Of this preparation a tolerably abundant plateful was apportioned to each pupil. I ate what I could, and wondered within myself whether every day's fare would be like this.

After dinner, we immediately adjourned to the schoolroom: lessons recommenced, and were continued till five o'clock.

The only marked event of the afternoon was, that I saw the girl with whom I had conversed in the verandah dismissed in disgrace by Miss Scatcherd from a history class, and sent to stand in the middle of the large schoolroom. The punishment seemed to me in a high degree ignominious, especially for so great a girl- she looked thirteen or upwards. I expected she would show signs of great distress and shame; but to my surprise she neither wept nor blushed: composed, though grave, she stood, the central mark of all eyes.

'How can she bear it so quietly- so firmly?' I asked of myself.

'Were I in her place, it seems to me I should wish the earth to open and swallow me up. She looks as if she were thinking of something beyond her punishment- beyond her situation: of something not round her nor before her. I have heard of day-dreams- is she in a day-dream now? Her eyes are fixed on the floor, but I am sure they do not see it- her sight seems turned in, gone down into her heart:

she is looking at what she can remember, I believe; not at what is really present. I wonder what sort of a girl she is- whether good or naughty.'

Soon after five P.M. we had another meal, consisting of a small mug of coffee, and half a slice of brown bread. I devoured my bread and drank my coffee with relish; but I should have been glad of as much more- I was still hungry. Half an hour's recreation succeeded, then study; then the glass of water and the piece of oat-cake, prayers, and bed. Such was my first day at Lowood. 
 
 

第五章
 
 
 
一月十九日早晨,还没到五点钟贝茜就端了蜡烛来到我房间,看见我己经起身,并差不多梳理完毕。她进来之前半小时,我就已起床。一轮半月正在下沉、月光从床边狭窄的窗户泻进房间,我借着月光洗了脸,穿好了衣服,那天我就要离开盖茨黑德,乘坐早晨六点钟经过院子门口的马车,只有贝茜己经起来了。她在保育室里生了火,这会儿正动手给我做早饭。孩子们想到出门而兴奋不已,是很少能吃得下饭的,我也是如此,贝茜硬劝我吃几口为我准备的热牛奶和面包,但白费工夫,只得用纸包了些饼干,塞进了我兜里。随后她帮我穿上长外衣,戴上宽边帽,又用披巾把她自己包裹好,两人便离开了保育室,经过里德太太卧房时,她说:“想进去同太太说声再见吗。”

“算啦,贝茜,昨天晚上你下楼去吃晚饭的时候,她走到我床边,说是早晨我不必打搅她或表妹们了,她让我记住,她永远是我最好的朋友,让我以后这么谈起她,对她感激万分。”

“你怎么回答她呢,小姐?”

“我什么也没说,只是用床单蒙住脸,转过身去对着墙壁,”

“那就是你的不是了,简小姐。”

“我做得很对,贝茜。你的太太向来不是我的朋友,她是我的敌人。”

“简小姐!别这样说!”

“再见了盖茨黑德!”我路过大厅走出前门时说。

月亮已经下沉,天空一片漆黑。贝茜打着灯,灯光闪烁在刚刚解冻而湿漉漉的台阶和砂石路上。冬天的清晨阴湿寒冷。我匆匆沿着车道走去,牙齿直打哆棘,看门人的卧室亮着灯光。到了那里,只见他妻子正在生火。前一天晚上我的箱子就已经拿下楼,捆好绳子放在门边。这时离六点还差几分。不一会钟响了,远处传来辚辚的车声,宣告马车已经到来。我走到门边,凝望着车灯迅速冲破黑暗,渐渐靠近。

“她一个人走吗?”门房的妻子问。

“是呀。”

“离这儿多远?”

“五十英里。”

“多远??!真奇怪,里德太太竟让她一个人走得那么远,却一点也不担心。”

马车停了下来,就在大门口,由四匹马拖着,车顶上坐满了乘客。车夫和护车的大声催促我快些上车,我的箱子给递了上去,我自己则从贝茜的脖子上被拖下来带走,因为我正贴着她脖子亲吻呢。

“千万好好照应她呀,”护车人把我提起来放进车里时,贝茜对他说。

“行啊,行??!”那人回答。车门关上了,“好啦,”一声大叫,我们便上路了。就这样我告别了贝茜和盖茨黑德,一阵风似地被卷往陌生的、当时看来遥远和神秘的地方。

一路行程,我已记得不多。只知道那天长得出奇,而且似乎赶了几百里路。我们经过几个城镇,在其中很大的一个停了下来。车夫卸了马,让乘客们下车吃饭。我被带进一家客找,护车人要我吃些中饭,我却没有胃口,他便扔下我走了,让我留在—个巨大无比的房间里,房间的两头都有一个火炉,天花板上悬挂着一盏枝形吊灯,高高的墙上有一个小小的红色陈列窗,里面放满了乐器。我在房间里来回走了很久,心里很不自在,害怕有人会进来把我拐走。我相信确有拐子,他们所干的勾当常常出现在贝茜火炉旁所讲的故事中?;こ等酥沼诨乩戳?,我再次被塞进马车,我的?;と说巧献?,吹起了闷声闷气的号角,车子一阵丁当,驶过了L镇的“石子街”。

下午,天气潮湿,雾气迷蒙。白昼溶入黄昏时,我开始感到离开盖茨黑德真的很远了。我们再也没有路过城镇,乡村的景色也起了变化,一座座灰色的大山耸立在地平线上。暮色渐浓,车子驶进一个山谷,那里长着黑乎乎一片森林。夜幕遮盖了一切景物之后很久,我听见狂风在林中呼啸。

那声音仿佛像催眠曲,我终于倒头睡着了。没过多久,车子突然停了下来,我被惊醒了。马车的门开着,一个仆人模样的人站在门边。藉着灯光,我看得清她的面容和衣装。

“有个叫简.爱的小姑娘吗?”她问。我回答了,声“有”之后便被抱了出去,箱子也卸了下来,随后马车立即驶走了。

因为久坐,我身子都发僵了,马车的喧声和震动弄得我迷迷糊糊,我定下神来,环顾左右。只见雨在下,风在刮,周围一片黑暗。不过我隐约看到面前有一堵墙,墙上有一扇门,新来的向导领我进去,把门关上,随手上了锁。这时看得见一间,也许是几间房子,因为那建筑物铺展得很开,上面有很多窗子,其中几扇里亮着灯。我们踏上一条水沫飞溅的宽阔石子路,后来又进了一扇门。接着仆人带我穿过一条过道,进了一个生着火的房间,撇下我走了。

我站着,在火上烘着冻僵了的手指。我举目四顾,房间里没有蜡烛,壁炉中摇曳的火光,间或照出了糊过壁纸的墙、地毯、窗帘、闪光的红木家具。这是一间客厅,虽不及盖茨黑德客厅宽敞堂皇,却十分舒服。我正迷惑不解地猜测着墙上一幅画的画意时,门开了,进来了一个人,手里提着一盏灯,后面紧跟着另一个人。

先进门的是个高个子女人、黑头发,黑眼睛,白皙宽大的额角。她半个身子裹在披巾里,神情严肃,体态挺直。

“这孩子年纪这么小,真不该让她独个儿来,”她说着,把蜡烛放在桌子上,细细端详了我一两分钟,随后补充道。

“还是快点送她上床吧,她看来累了,你累吗?”她把手放在我肩上问道。

“有点累,太太。”

“肯定也饿了。米勒小姐,让她睡前吃些晚饭。你是第一次离开父母来上学吗,我的小姑娘?”

我向她解释说我没有父母。她问我他们去世多久了,还问我自已几岁,叫什么名字,会不会一点读、写和缝纫,随后用食指轻轻碰了碰我脸颊说,但愿我是一个好孩子,说完便打发我与米勒小姐走了。

那位刚离开的小姐约摸二十九岁,跟我一起走的那位比她略小几岁,前者的腔调、目光和神态给我印象很深,而米勒小姐比较平淡无奇,显得身心交瘁,但面色却还红润。她的步态和动作十分匆忙,仿佛手头总有忙不完的事情。说真的好看上去像个助理教师,后来我发现果真如此,我被她领着在一个形状不规则的大楼里,走过一个又一个房间,穿过一条又一条过道,这些地方都是那么悄无声息,甚至还有几分凄切。后来我们突然听到嗡嗡的嘈杂的人声,顷刻之间便走进了一个又阔又长的房间,两头各摆着两张大木板桌。每张桌子上点着两支蜡烛,一群年龄在九岁、十岁到二十岁之间的姑娘,围着桌子坐在长凳上。在昏暗的烛光下,我感到她们似乎多得难以计数,尽管实际上不会超过八十人。她们清一色地穿着式样古怪的毛料上衣,系着长长的亚麻细布围涎。那正是学习时间,他们正忙于默记第二天的功课,我所听的的嗡嗡之声,正是集体小声读书所发出来的。

米勒小姐示意我坐在门边的长凳上,随后走到这个长房间的头上,大声嚷道:

“班长们,收好书本,放到一边!”

四位个子很高的姑娘从各张桌子旁站起来,兜了一圈,把书收集起来放好。米勒小姐再次发布命令。

“班长们,去端晚饭盘子!”

高个子姑娘们走了出去,很快又回来了,每人端了个大盘子, 盘子里放着一份份不知什么东西,中间是一大罐水和一只大杯子。那一份份东西都分发了出去,高兴喝水的人还喝了口水,那大杯子是公用的。轮到我的时候,因为口渴,我喝了点水、但没有去碰食品,激动和疲倦已使我胃口全无。不过我倒是看清楚了,那是一个薄薄的燕麦饼,平均分成了几小块。

吃完饭,米勒小姐念了祷告,各班鱼贯而出,成双成对走上楼梯。这时我己经疲惫不堪,几乎没有注意到寝室的模样,只看清了它像教室一样很长。今晚我同米勒小姐同睡一张床,她帮我脱掉衣服,并让我躺下。这时我瞥了一眼一长排一长排床,每张床很快睡好了两个人,十分钟后那仅有的灯光也熄灭了,在寂静无声与一片漆黑中,我沉沉睡去。

夜很快逝去了,我累得连梦也没有做,只醒来过一次,听见狂风阵阵,大雨倾盆,还知道米勒小姐睡在我身边。我再次睁开眼睛时,只听见铃声喧嚷,姑娘们已穿衣起身。天色未明,房间里燃着一两支灯心草蜡烛。我也无可奈何地起床了。天气冷得刺骨,我颤抖着尽力把衣服穿好,等脸盆空着时洗了脸。但我并没有马上等到,因为六个姑娘才合一个脸盆,摆在楼下房间正中的架子上。铃声再次响起,大家排好队,成双成对地走下搂梯,进了冷飕飕暗洞洞的教室。米勒小姐读了祷告,随后便大声唱:

“按班级集中!”

接着引起了一阵几分钟的大骚动,米勒小姐反复叫喊着:“不要作声!”“遵守秩序!”喧闹声平息下来之后,我看到她们排成了四个半园形,站在四把椅子前面,这四把椅子分别放在四张桌子旁边。每人手里都拿着书,有一本《圣经》模样的大书,搁在空椅子跟前的每张桌子上。几秒钟肃静之后,响起了低沉而含糊的嗡嗡声,米勒小姐从—个班兜到另一个班,把这种模糊的喧声压下去。

远处传来了叮咚的铃声,立刻有三位小姐进了房间,分别走向一张桌子,并在椅子上就座。米勒小姐坐了靠门最近的第四把空椅子,椅子周围是一群年龄最小的孩子,我被叫到了这个低级班,安排在末位。

这时,功课开始了。先是反复念诵那天的短祷告、接着读了几篇经文,最后是慢声朗读《圣经》的章节,用了一个小时。这项议程结束时,天色已经大亮,不知疲倦的钟声第四次响起,各个班级整好队伍,大步走进另一个房间去吃早饭。想到马上有东西可以裹腹,我是何等高兴??!由于前一天吃得大少,这时我简直饿坏了。

饭厅是个又低又暗的大房间,两张长桌上放着两大盆热气腾腾的东西。但令人失望的是,散发出来的气味却并不诱人,它一钻进那些非嘟?,这块地被分割成几十个小小的苗圃,算是花园,分配给学生们培植?uacute;?,每个苗圃都有一个主人,鲜花怒放时节,这些苗圃一定十分标致,但眼下一月将尽,一片冬日枯黄凋零的景象。我站在那里,环顾四周,不觉打了个寒噤,这天的户外活动,天气恶劣,其实并没有下雨,但浙浙沥沥的黄色雾霭,使天色变得灰暗;脚下因为昨天的洪水依然水湿,身体比较健壮的几位姑娘窜来奔去,异?;钤?;但所有苍白瘦弱的姑娘都挤在走廊上躲雨和?or;?。浓雾渗透进了她们颤抖着的躯体,我不时听见一声声空咳?br>
我没有同人说过话,也似乎没有人注意到我。我孤零零地站着,但己经习惯于那种孤独感,并不觉得十分压抑,我倚在游廊的柱子上,将灰色的斗篷拉得紧紧地裹着自己,竭力忘却身外刺骨的严寒,忘却肚子里折磨着我的饥馑,全身心去观察和思考。我的思索含含糊糊,零零碎碎,不值得落笔。我几乎不知道自己身居何处。盖茨黑德和往昔的生活似乎已经流逝,与现时现地已有天壤之隔。现实既模糊又离奇,而未来又不是我所能想象。我朝四周看了看修道院一般的花园,又抬头看了看建筑。这是幢大楼,一半似乎灰暗古旧,另一半却很新。新的襴Q监卸鞯桓?,对我们没有得到的东西表示感谢,同时还唱了第二首赞美诗,接着便离开餐厅到教室去。我是最后一批走的,经过餐桌时,看见一位教?sigma;艘煌胫?,尝了一尝,又看了看其他人,她们脸上都露出了不快的神色,其中一个胖胖的教?lambda;担?br>
“讨厌的东西!真丢脸?”

一刻钟以后才又开始上课。这一刻钟,教室里沸沸扬扬,乱成了一团。在这段时间里,似乎允许自由自在地大声说话,大家便利用了这种特殊待遇,整个谈话的内容都围绕着早餐,个个都狠狠骂了一通??闪娜硕?!这就是她们仅有的安慰。此刻米勒小姐是教室里唯一的一位教师,一群大姑娘围着她,悻悻然做着手势同她在说话。我听见有人提到了布罗克赫斯特先生的名字,米勒小姐一听便不以为然地摇了摇头,但她无意去遏制这种普遍的愤怒,无疑她也有同感。

教室里的钟敲到了九点,米勒小姐离开了她的圈子,站到房间正中叫道:

“安静下来,回到你们自己的位置上去!”

纪律起了作用。五分钟工夫,混乱的人群便秩序井然了。相对的安静镇住了嘈杂的人声。高级教师们都准时就位,不过似乎所有的人都仍在等待着。八十个姑娘坐在屋子两边的长凳上,身子笔直,一动不动。她们似是一群聚集在一起的怪人,头发都平平淡淡地从脸上梳到后头,看不见一绺卷发。穿的是褐色衣服,领子很高,脖子上围着一个窄窄的拆卸领,罩衣前胸都系着一个亚麻布做的口袋,形状如同苏格兰高地人的钱包,用作工作口袋,所有的人都穿着羊毛长袜和乡下人做的鞋子,鞋上装着铜扣。二十多位这身打扮的人已完全是大姑娘了,或者颇像少女。这套装束对她们极不相称,因此即使是最漂亮的样子也很怪。

我仍旧打量着她们,间或也仔细审视了一下教师——确切地说没有一个使人赏心悦目。胖胖的一位有些粗俗;黑黑的那个很凶;那位外国人苛刻而怪僻;而米勒小姐呢,真可怜,脸色发紫,一付饱经风霜、劳累过度的样子,我的目光正从一张张脸上飘过时,全校学生仿佛被同一个弹簧带动起来似的,都同时起立了。

这是怎回事,并没有听到谁下过命令,真把人搞糊涂了。我还没有定下神来,各个班级又再次坐下。不过所有的眼睛都转向了一点,我的目光也跟踪大伙所注意的方向,看到了第一天晚上接待我的人,她站在长房子顶端的壁炉边上,房子的两头都生了火,她一声不吭神情严肃地审视着两排姑娘。米勒小姐走近她,好像问了个问题,得到了回答后,又回到原来的地方,人声说道:

“第一班班长,去把地球仪拿来!”

这个指示正在执行的时候,那位被请示过的小姐馒慢地从房间的一头走过来。我猜想自己专司敬重的器言特别发达,因为我至今仍保持着一种敬畏之情,当时带着这种心情我的目光尾随着她的脚步。这会儿大白天,她看上去高挑个子,皮肤白皙,身材匀称,棕色的眸子透出慈祥的目光、细长似画的睫毛,衬托出了她又白又大的前额,两鬓的头发呈暗棕色,按一流行式洋、束成圆圆的卷发,当时光滑的发辫和长长的卷发,并没有成为时尚。她的服装,也很时髦,紫颜色布料,用一种黑丝绒西班牙饰边加以烘托。一只金表(当时手表不像如今这么普通)在她腰带上闪光。要使这幅画像更加完整,读者们还尽可补充:她面容清丽,肤色苍白却明澈,仪态端庄。这样至少有文字所能清楚表达的范围内,可以得出了坦普尔小姐外貌的正确印象了。也就是玛丽亚.坦普尔,这个名字,后来我是在让我送到教党去的祈祷书上看到的。

这位罗沃德学校的校长(这就是这个女士的职务)在放在一张桌上的两个地球仪前面坐了下来,把第一班的人叫到她周围,开始上起地理课来。低班学生被其他教师叫走,反复上历史呀,语法呀等课程,上了一个小时。接着是写作和数学,坦普尔小姐还给大一点的姑娘教了音乐,每堂课是以钟点来计算的,那钟终于敲了十二下,校长站了起来。

“我有话要跟学生们讲,”她说。

课一结束,骚动便随之而来,但她的话音刚落,全校又复归平静,她继续说:

“今天早晨的早饭,你们都吃不下去,大家一定饿坏了,我己经吩咐给大家准备了面包和乳酪当点心,”

教师们带着某种惊异的目光看着她。

“这事由我负责,”她带着解释的口气向她们补充道。随后马上走了出去。

面包和乳酪立刻端了进来,分发给大家,全校都欢欣鼓舞,精神振奋。这时来了命令,“到花园里去!”每个人都戴上一个粗糙的草帽,帽子上拴着用染色白布做成的带子,同时还披上了黑粗绒料子的斗篷。我也是一付同样的装束,跟着人流,迈步走向户外。

这花园是一大片圈起来的场地,四周围墙高耸,看不到外面的景色。一边有—条带顶的回廓,还有些宽阔的走道,与中间的一块地相接,这块地被分割成几十个小小的苗圃,算是花园,分配给学生们培植花草,每个苗圃都有一个主人,鲜花怒放时节,这些苗圃一定十分标致,但眼下一月将尽,一片冬日枯黄凋零的景象。我站在那里,环顾四周,不觉打了个寒噤,这天的户外活动,天气恶劣,其实并没有下雨,但浙浙沥沥的黄色雾霭,使天色变得灰暗;脚下因为昨天的洪水依然水湿,身体比较健壮的几位姑娘窜来奔去,异?;钤?;但所有苍白瘦弱的姑娘都挤在走廊上躲雨和取暖。浓雾渗透进了她们颤抖着的躯体,我不时听见一声声空咳。

我没有同人说过话,也似乎没有人注意到我。我孤零零地站着,但己经习惯于那种孤独感,并不觉得十分压抑,我倚在游廊的柱子上,将灰色的斗篷拉得紧紧地裹着自己,竭力忘却身外刺骨的严寒,忘却肚子里折磨着我的饥馑,全身心去观察和思考。我的思索含含糊糊,零零碎碎,不值得落笔。我几乎不知道自己身居何处。盖茨黑德和往昔的生活似乎已经流逝,与现时现地已有天壤之隔。现实既模糊又离奇,而未来又不是我所能想象。我朝四周看了看修道院一般的花园,又抬头看了看建筑。这是幢大楼,一半似乎灰暗古旧,另一半却很新。新的一半里安排了教室和寝室,直棂格子窗里灯火通明,颇有教堂气派。门上有一块石头牌子,上面刻着这样的文字:

“罗沃德学校——这部份由本郡布罗克赫斯特府的内奥米.布罗克赫斯特重建于公元××××年。”“你们的光也当这样照在人前,叫他们看见你们的好行为,便将荣耀归给你们在天上的父。”——《马太福音》第五章第十六节。

我一遍遍读着这些字,觉得它们应该有自己的解释,却无法充分理解其内涵。我正在思索“学校”一字的含义,竭力要找出开首几个字与经文之间的联系,却听得身后一声咳嗽,便回过头去,看到一位姑娘坐在近处的石凳上,正低头聚精会神地细读着一本书。从我站着的地方可以看到,这本书的书名是《拉塞拉斯》。这名字听来有些陌生,因而也就吸引了彩缤纷我。她翻书的时候,碰巧抬起头来,于是我直截了当地说:

“你这本书有趣吗?”我己经起了某一天向她借书的念头。

“我是喜欢的,”她顿了一两秒钟,打量了我一下后回答道。

“它说些什么?”我继续问。我自己也不知道哪里来的胆子,居然同一个陌生人说起话来。这回我的性格与积习相悖,不过她的专注兴许打动了我,因为我也喜欢读书,尽管是浅薄幼稚的一类。对那些主题严肃内存充实的书,我是无法消化或理解的。

“你可以看一下,”这姑娘回答说,一面把书递给我。

我看了看。粗粗—翻,我便确信书的内容不像书名那么吸引人。以我那种琐细的口味来说,“拉塞拉斯”显得很枯燥。我看不到仙女,也看不到妖怪,密密麻麻印着字的书页中,没有鲜艳夺目丰富多彩的东西。我把书递还给她,她默默地收下了,二话没说又要回到刚才苦用功的心境中去,我却再次冒昧打扰了她:

“能告诉我们门上那块石匾上的字是什么意思吗?罗沃德学校是什么?”

“就是你来住宿的这所房子。”

“他们为什么叫它‘学校’呢?与别的学校有什么不同吗?”

“这是个半慈善性质的学校,你我以及所有其他人都是慈善学校的孩子。我猜想你也是个孤儿,你父亲或者母亲去世了吗?”

“我能记事之前就都去世了。”

“是呀,这里的姑娘们不是夫去了爹或妈,便是父母都没有了,这儿叫作教育孤儿的学校。”

“我们不付钱吗?他们免费护养我们吗?”

“我们自己,或者我们的朋友付十五英镑一年。”

“那他们为什么管我们叫慈善学校的孩子?”

“因为十五英镑不够付住宿货和学费,缺额由捐款来补足。”

“谁捐呢?”

“这里附近或者伦敦心肠慈善的太太们和绅士们。”

“内奥米.布罗克赫斯特是谁?”

“就像匾上写着的那样,是建造大楼新区部份的太太,她的儿子监督和指挥这里的一切。”

“为什么?”

“因为他是这个学校的司库和管事。”

“那这幢大楼不属于那位戴着手表、告诉我们可以吃面包和乳酪的高个子女人了?”

“属于坦普尔小姐?啊,不是!但愿是属于她的。她所做的一切要对布罗克赫斯特先生负责,我们吃的和穿的都是布罗克赫斯特先生买的。”

“他住在这儿吗?”

“不——住在两路外,一个大庄园里。”

“他是个好人吗?”

“他是个牧师,据说做了很多好事。”

“你说那个高个子女人叫坦普尔小姐?”

“不错。”

“其他教师的名字叫什么?”

“脸颊红红的那个叫史密斯小姐,她管劳作,负责裁剪——因为我们自己做衣服、罩衣、外衣,什么都做。那个头发黑黑的小个子叫做斯卡查德小姐,她教历史、语法,听第二班的朗诵。那位戴披巾用黄缎带把一块手帕拴在腰上的人叫皮埃罗夫人,她来自法国里尔,教法语。”

你喜欢这些教师吗?”

“够喜欢的。”

“你喜欢那个黑乎乎的小个子和××太太吗?——我没法把她的名字读成像你读的那样。”

“斯卡查德小姐性子很急,你可得小心,别惹她生气;皮埃罗太太倒是不坏的。”

“不过坦普尔小姐最好,是不是?”

“坦普尔小姐很好,很聪明,她在其余的人之上,因为懂得比她们多得多。”

“你来这儿很久了吗?”

“两年了。”

“你是孤儿吗?”

“我母亲死了。”

“你在这儿愉快吗?”

“你问得太多了。我给你的回答已经足够,现在我可要看书了。”

但这时候吃饭铃响了,大家再次进屋去,弥漫在餐厅里的气味并行比早餐时扑鼻而来的味儿更诱人。午餐盛放在两十大白铁桶里,热腾腾冒出一股臭肥肉的气味。我发现这乱糟糟的东西,是烂土豆和几小块不可思议的臭肉搅在一起煮成的,每个学生都分到了相当满的一盘。我尽力而吃。心里暗自纳闷,是否每天的饭食都是这付样子。

吃罢午饭,我们立则去教室,又开始上课,一直到五点钟。

下午只有一件事引人注目,我看到了在游廊上跟我交谈过的姑娘丢了脸,被斯卡查德小姐逐出历史课,责令站在那个大教室当中,在我看来,这种惩罚实在是奇耻大辱,特别是对像她这样一个大姑娘来说——她看上去有十三岁了,或许还更大,我猜想她会露出伤心和害臊的表情。但使我诧异的是,她既没哭泣,也没脸红,她在众目睽睽之下,站在那里,虽然神情严肃,却非常镇定。“她怎么能那么默默地而又坚定地忍受呢?”我暗自思忖。“要是我,巴不得地球会裂开,把我吞下去。而她看上去仿佛在想惩罚之外的什么事,与她处境无关的事情,某种既不在她周围也不在她眼的的东西,我听说过白日梦、难道她在做白日梦,她的眼晴盯着地板,但可以肯定她视而不见,她的目光似乎是向内的,直视自己的心扉。我想她注视着记忆中的东西,而不是眼前确实存在的事物、我不明白她属于哪一类姑娘,好姑娘,还是淘气鬼。”

五分钟刚过,我们又用了另一顿饭,吃的是一小杯咖啡和半片黑面包。我狼吞虎咽地吃了面,喝了咖啡,吃得津津有味,不过要是能再来一份,我会非常高兴,因为我仍然很饿,吃完饭后是半小时的娱乐活动,然后是学习,再后是一杯水,一个燕麦饼,祷告,上床,这就是我在罗沃德第一天的生活。
 
 

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