can describe; but just as they all rose, stifling my breath and constricting my throat, a girl came up and passed me: in passing, she lifted her eyes. What a strange light inspired them! What an extraordinary sensation that ray sent through me! How the new feeling bore me up! It was as if a martyr, a hero, had passed a slave or victim, and imparted strength in the transit. I mastered the rising hysteria, lifted up my head, and took a firm stand on the stool. Helen Burns asked some slight question about her work of Miss Smith, was chidden for the triviality of the inquiry, returned to her place, and smiled at me as she again went by. What a smile! I remember it now, and I know that it was the effluence of fine intellect, of true courage; it lit up her marked lineaments, her thin face, her sunken grey eye, like a reflection from the aspect of an angel. Yet at that moment Helen Burns wore on her arm "the untidy badge"; scarcely an hour ago I had heard her condemned by Miss Scatcherd to a dinner of bread and water on the morrow, because she had blotted an exercise in copying it out. Such is the imperfect nature of man! such spots are there on the disc of the clearest planet; and eyes like Miss Scatcherd's can only see those minute defects, and are blind to the full brightness of the orb.


CHAPTER VIII

ere the half-hour ended, five o'clock struck; school was dis
missed, and all were gone into the refectory to tea. I now
ventured to descend: it was deep dusk; I retired into a
corner and sat down on the floor. The spell by which I had
been so far supported began to dissolve; reaction took place,
and soon, so overwhelming was the grief that seized me, I
sank prostrate with my face to the ground. Now I wept:
Helen Burns was not here; nothing sustained me; left to
myself I abandoned myself, and my tears watered the boards.
I had meant to be so good, and to do so much at Lowood: to
make so many friends, to earn respect, and win affection.
Already I had made visible progress: that very morning I
had reached the head of my class; Miss Miller had praised me
warmly; Miss Temple had smiled approbation; she had
promised to teach me drawing, and to let me learn French,
if I continued to make similar improvement two months

-62-

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