Hardened girl! exclaimed Miss Scatcherd; nothing can correct you of your slatternly habits: carry the rod away.
Burns obeyed: I looked at her narrowly as she emerged from the book-closet; she was just putting back her handkerchief into her pocket, and the trace of a tear glistened on her thin cheek.
The play-hour in the evening I thought the pleasantest fraction of the day at Lowood: the bit of bread, the draught of coffee swallowed at five oclock had revived vitality, if it had not satisfied hunger: the long restraint of the day was slackened; the schoolroom felt warmer than in the morningits fires being allowed to burn a little more brightly, to supply, in some measure, the place of candles, not yet introduced: the ruddy gloaming, the licensed uproar, the confusion of many voices gave one a welcome sense of liberty.
On the evening of the day on which I had seen Miss Scatcherd flog her pupil, Burns, I wandered as usual among the forms and tables and laughing groups without a companion, yet not feeling lonely: when I passed the windows, I now and then lifted a blind, and looked out; it snowed fast, a drift was already forming against the lower panes; putting my ear close to the window, I could distinguish from the gleeful tumult within, the disconsolate moan of the wind outside.
Probably, if I had lately left a good home and kind parents, this would have been the hour when I should most keenly have regretted the separation; that wind would then have saddened my heart; this obscure chaos would have disturbed my peace! as it was, I derived from both a strange excitement, and reckless and feverish, I wished the wind to howl more wildly, the gloom to deepen to darkness, and the confusion to rise to clamour.
Jumping over forms, and creeping under tables, I made my way to one of the fire-places; there, kneeling by the high wire fender, I found Burns, absorbed, silent, abstracted from all round her by the companionship of a book, which she read by the dim glare of the embers.
Is it still Rasselas? I asked, coming behind her.
Yes, she said, and I have just finished it.
And in five minutes more she shut it up. I was glad of this. Now, thought I, I can perhaps get her to talk. I sat down by her on the floor.
What is your name besides Burns?
Do you come a long way from here?
I come from a place farther north, quite on the borders of Scotland.
Will you ever go back?
I hope so; but nobody can be sure of the future.
You must wish to leave Lowood?
No! why should I? I was sent to Lowood to get an education; and it would be of no use going away until I have attained that object.
But that teacher, Miss Scatcherd, is so cruel to you?
Cruel? Not at all! She is severe: she dislikes my faults.
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