I went to my window, opened it, and looked out. There were the two wings
of the building; there was the garden; there were the skirts of Lowood;
there was the hilly horizon. My eye passed all other objects to rest on
those most remote, the blue peaks; it was those I longed to surmount; all
within their boundary of rock and heath seemed prison-ground, exile
limits. I traced the white road winding round the base of one mountain,
and vanishing in a gorge between two; how I longed to follow it farther!
I recalled the time when I had travelled that very road in a coach; I
remembered descending that hill at twilight; an age seemed to have
elapsed since the day which brought me first to Lowood, and I had never
quitted it since. My vacations had all been spent at school: Mrs. Reed
had never sent for me to Gateshead; neither she nor any of her family had
ever been to visit me. I had had no communication by letter or message
with the outer world: school-rules, school-duties, school-habits and
notions, and voices, and faces, and phrases, and costumes, and
preferences, and antipathies--such was what I knew of existence. And now
I felt that it was not enough; I tired of the routine of eight years in
one afternoon. I desired liberty; for liberty I gasped; for liberty I
uttered a prayer; it seemed scattered on the wind then faintly blowing. I
abandoned it and framed a humbler supplication; for change, stimulus:
that petition, too, seemed swept off into vague space: "Then," I cried,
half desperate, "grant me at least a new servitude!"
Here a bell, ringing the hour of supper, called me downstairs.
I was not free to resume the interrupted chain of my reflections till
bedtime: even then a teacher who occupied the same room with me kept me
from the subject to which I longed to recur, by a prolonged effusion of
small talk. How I wished sleep would silence her. It seemed as if,
could I but go back to the idea which had last entered my mind as I stood
at the window, some inventive suggestion would rise for my relief.