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第1节 第九章 【
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然而,罗沃德的贫困,或者不如说艰辛,有所好转。春天即将来临,实际上已经到来,冬季的严寒过去了。积雪已融化,刺骨的寒风不再那般肆虐,在四月和风的吹拂下,我那双曾被一月的寒气剥去了一层皮,红肿得一拐一拐的可怜的脚,已开始消肿和痊愈。夜晚和清晨不再出现加拿大式的低气温,险些把我们血管里的血冻住。现在我们己受得了花园中度过的游戏的时刻。有时逢上好日子,天气甚至变得温暖舒适。枯黄的苗圃长出了一片新绿,一天比一天鲜嫩,使人仿佛觉得希望之神曾在夜间走过,每天清晨留下她愈来愈明亮的足迹。花朵从树叶丛中探出头来,有雪花莲呀、藏红花呀、紫色的报春花和金眼三色紫罗兰。每逢星期四下午(半假日)、我们都出去散步,看到不少更加可爱的花朵,盛开在路边的篱笆下。

我还发现,就在顶端用尖铁防范着的花园高墙之外,有着一种莫大的愉快和享受,它广阔无垠,直达天际,那种愉快来自宏伟的山峰环抱着的一个树木葱笼绿荫盖地的大山谷;也来自满是黑色石子和闪光漩涡的明净溪流。这景色与我在冬日铁灰色的苍穹下,冰霜封冻、积雪覆盖时看到的情景多么不同呀!那时候,死一般冷的雾气被东风驱赶着,飘过紫色的山峰,滚下草地与河滩,直至与溪流上凝结的水气融为一体。那时,这条小溪是一股混浊不堪、势不可挡的急流,它冲决了树林,在空中发出咆哮,那声音在夹杂着暴雨和旋转的冻雨时,听来常常更加沉闷。至于两岸的树木,都己成了一排排死人的骨骼。

四月己逝,五月来临。这是一个明媚宁静的五月,日复一日,都是蔚蓝的天空,和煦的阳光,轻柔的西风和南风。现在,草木茁壮成长起来。罗沃德抖散了它的秀发,处处叶绿,遍地开花。榆树、岑树和橡树光秃秃的高大树干,恢复了生气勃勃的雄姿,林间植物在幽深处茂密生长,无数种类的苔鲜填补了林中的空谷。众多的野樱草花,就像奇妙地从地上升起的阳光。我在林荫深处曾见过它们淡谈的金色光芒,犹如点点散开的可爱光斑。这一切我常常尽情享受着,无拘无束,无人看管,而且几乎总是独自一人。这种自由与乐趣所以这么不同寻常,是有其原因的、而说清楚这个原委,就成了我现在的任务。

我在说这个地方掩映在山林之中,坐落在溪流之畔时,不是把它描绘成一个舒适的住处吗?的确,舒适倒是够舒适的,但有益于健康与否,却是另一回事了。

罗沃德所在的林间山谷,是大雾的摇篮,是雾气诱发的病疫的滋生地。时疫随着春天急速的步伐,加速潜入孤儿院,把斑疹伤寒传进了它拥挤的教室和寝室,五月未到,就己把整所学校变成了医院。

学生们素来半饥半饱,得了感冒也无人过问,所以大多容易受到感染。八十五个女生中四十五人一下子病倒了。班级停课,纪律松懈。少数没有得病的,几乎已完全放任自流,因为医生认为他们必须经常参加活动,保持身体健康。就是不这样,也无人顾得上去看管她们了。坦普尔小姐的全部注意力已被病人所吸引,她住在病房里,除了夜间抓紧几小时休息外,寸步不离病人,教师们全力以赴,为那些幸而有亲戚朋友,能够并愿意把她们从传染地带走的人,打铺盖和作好动身前的必要准备。很多已经染病的回家去等死;有些人死在学校里,悄悄地草草埋掉算数,这种病的特性决定了容不得半点拖延。

就这样,疾病在罗沃德安了家,死亡成了这里的常客;围墙之内笼罩着阴郁和恐怖;房间里和过道上散发着医院的气味,香锭徒劳地挣扎着要镇住死亡的恶臭。与此同时,五月的明媚阳光从万里无云的天空,洒向陡峭的小山和美丽的林地。罗沃德的花园花儿盛开,灿烂夺目。一丈红拔地而起,高大如林,百合花已开,郁金香和玫瑰争妍斗艳,粉红色的海石竹和深红的双瓣雏菊,把小小花坛的边缘装扮得十分鲜艳。香甜的欧石南,在清晨和夜间散发着香料和苹果的气味。但这些香气扑鼻的宝贝,除了时时提供一捧香草和鲜花放进棺材里,对罗沃德的人来说已毫无用处。

不过我与其余仍然健康的人,充分享受着这景色和季节的美妙动人之处。他们让我们像吉卜赛人一样,从早到晚在林中游荡,爱干什么就干什么,爱上哪里就上哪里。我们的生活也有所改善。布罗克赫斯特先生和他的家人现在已从不靠近罗沃德,家常事也无人来有问,啤气急躁的管家己逃之夭夭,生怕受到传染。她的后任原本是洛顿诊所的护士长,并未习惯于新地方的规矩,因此给得比较大方。此外,用饭的人少了,病人又吃得不多,于是我们早饭碗里的东西也就多了一些。新管家常常没有时间准备正餐,干脆就给我们一个大冷饼,或者一厚片面包和乳酪,我们会把这些东西随身带到树林里,各人找个喜欢的地方,来享受一顿盛宴。

我最喜欢坐在一块光滑的大石头上。这块石头儿立在小溪正中,又白又干燥,要淌水过河才到得那里,我每每赤了脚来完成这一壮举。这块石头正好够舒舒服服地坐上两个人,我和另一位姑娘。她是我当时选中的伙伴,名叫玛丽.安.威尔逊,这个人聪明伶俐,目光敏锐。我喜欢同她相处,一半是因为她机灵而有头脑,一半是因为她的神态使人感到无拘无束。她比我大几岁,更了解世情,能告诉我很多我乐意听的东西,满足我的好奇心。对我的缺陷她也能宽容姑息,从不对我说的什么加以干涉。她擅长叙述,我善于分析;她喜欢讲,我喜欢问,我们两个处得很融洽,就是得不到很大长进,也有不少乐趣。

与此同时,海伦.彭斯哪儿去了呢?为什么我没有同她共度这些自由自在的舒心日子?是我把她忘了,还是我本人不足取,居然对她纯洁的交往感到了厌倦?当然我所提及的玛丽.安.威尔逊要逊于我的第一位相识。她只不过能给我讲些有趣的故事,回对一些我所津津乐道的辛辣活泼的闲聊。而海伦呢,要是我没有说错,她足以使有幸听她谈话的人品味到高级得多的东西。

确实如此,读者,我明白,并感觉到了这一点。尽管我是一个很有缺陷的人,毛病很多,长处很少,但我决不会嫌弃海伦,也不会不珍惜对她的亲情。这种亲情同激发我心灵的任何感情一样强烈,一样温柔,一样令人珍重。不论何时何地,海伦都向我证实了一种平静而忠实的友情,闹别扭或者发脾气都不会带来丝毫损害。可是海伦现在病倒了。她从我面前消失,搬到楼上的某一间房子,已经有好几周了。听说她不在学校的医院部同发烧病人在一起,因为她患的是肺病,不是斑疹伤寒。在我幼稚无知的心灵中,认为肺病比较和缓,待以时日并悉心照料,肯定是可以好转的。

我的想法得到了证实,因为她偶尔在风和日丽的下午下楼来,由坦普尔小姐带着步入花园。但在这种场合,她们不允许我上去同她说话。我只不过从教室的窗户中看到了她,而且又看不清楚,因为她裹得严严实实,远远地坐在回廊上。

六月初的一个晚上,我与玛丽.安在林子里逗留得很晚。像往常一样,我们又与别人分道扬镳,闲逛到了很远的地方,远得终于使我们迷了路,而不得不去一间孤零零的茅舍回路。那里住着一男一女,养了一群以林间山毛榉为食的半野的猪。回校时,己经是明月高挂。一匹我们知道是外科医生骑的小马,呆在花园门口。玛丽.安说她猜想一定是有人病得很重,所以才在晚间这个时候请贝茨先生来。她先进了屋,我在外面呆了几分钟,把才从森林里挖来的一把树根栽在花园里,怕留到第二天早晨会枯死。栽好以后,我又多耽搁了一会儿,沾上露水的花异香扑鼻。这是一个可爱的夜晚,那么宁静,又那么温煦。西边的天际依旧一片红光,预示着明天又是个好天。月亮从黯淡的东方庄严地升起。我注意着这一切,尽一个孩子所能欣赏着。这时我脑子里出现了一个从未有过的想法:

“这会儿躺在病床上,面临着死亡的威胁是多么悲哀呀!这个世界是美好的,把人从这里唤走,到一个谁都不知道的地方去,会是一件十分悲惨的事。”

随后我的脑袋第一次潜心来理解已被灌输进去的天堂和地狱的内涵,而且也第一次退缩了,迷惑不解了,也是第一次左右前后扫视着。它在自己的周围看到了无底的深渊,感到除了现在这一立足点之外,其余一切都是无形的浮云和空虚的深渊。想到自己摇摇晃晃要落入一片混乱之中,便不禁颤抖起来。我正细细咀嚼着这个新想法,却听得前门开了,贝茨先生走了出来,由一个护士陪同着。她目送贝茨先生上马离去后,正要关门,我一个箭步到了她跟前。

“海伦.彭斯怎么样了?”

“很不好,”回答说。

“贝茨先生是去看她的吗?”

“是的。”

“对她的病,他说了些什么呀?”

“他说她不会在这儿呆很久了。”

这句话要是昨天让我听到,它所表达的含义只能是,她将要搬到诺森伯兰郡自己家去了,我不会去怀疑它包含着“她要死了”的意思。但此刻我立即明白了。在我理解起来,这句话一清二楚,海伦在世的日子已屈指可数,她将被带往精灵的地域,要是这样的地域确实存在的话。我感到一阵恐怖,一种今人震颤的悲哀,随后是一种愿望,一种要见她的需要。我问她躺在哪一个房间。

“她在坦普尔小姐的屋里,”护士说。

“我可以上去同她说话吗?”

“啊,孩子!那不行。现在你该进来了,要是降了露水还呆在外面,你也会得热病
的。”

护士关了前门,我从通往教室的边门溜了进去。我恰好准时,九点刚敲,米勒小姐正吩
咐学生上床。

也许过了两小时,可能是将近十一点了,我难以入睡,而且从宿舍里一片沉寂推断,我的同伴们都已蒙头大睡。于是我便轻手轻脚地爬起来,在睡衣外面穿了件外衣,赤着脚从屋里溜了出来,去寻找坦普尔小姐的房间。它远靠房子的另外一头,不过我认得路。夏夜的皎洁月光,零零落落地洒进过道的窗户,使我毫不费力地找到了她的房间。一股樟脑味和烧焦的醋味,提醒我己走近了热病病房

停了下来,我的手伸向帷幔,但我宁愿在拉动之前开口说一下,我们人仍然畏缩不前,唯恐看到一具尸体。

“海伦!”我轻声耳语道,“你醒着吗?”

她动弹了一下,自己拉开帷幔,我后到了她的脸,苍白、憔悴,却十分镇静,她看上去没有什么变化,于是我的恐惧心理顿时消失了。

“真是你吗,简?”她以独特的柔和语调问。

“啊!”我想,“她不会死,她们搞错了,要是她活不了啦,她的言语和神色不会那么镇定自若。”

我上了她的小床,吻了她一下。她的额头冰冷,两颊也冰冷,而且还很消瘦,她的手和手腕也都冰冷,只有她那微笑依旧。

“你为什么到这儿来,简?已经过了十一点啦,几分钟前我听见敲的。”

“我来看你,海伦。我听说你病得很重,我不同你说句话就睡不着。”

“那你是来同我告别的了,也许许来得正是时候。”

“你上哪儿去吗,海伦?你要回家是不是?”

“是的,回到我永久的——我最后的家。”

“不,不,海伦,”我顿住了,心里很难过。我竭力咽下眼泪,这时海伦一阵咳嗽,不过没有吵醒护士。咳完以后,她精疲力尽地躺了几分钟,随后轻声说:

“简,你都光着你的小脚呢,躺下来吧,盖上我的被子。”

我照她的话做了。她用胳膊楼住我,我紧偎着她,在沉默了很久之后,她继续低声耳语着说:

“我很愉快,简,你听到我已经死了的时候,你可千万别悲伤。没有什么可以感到悲伤的。总有一天我们大家都得死去。现在正夺去我生命的疾病并不痛苦。既温和而又缓慢,我的心灵已经安息。我不会让任何人感到太悲痛,我只有一个父亲,他新近刚结婚,不会思念我。我那么年纪轻轻就死去,可以逃脱大苦大难。我没有会使自己在世上发迹的气质和才能。要是我活,我会一直错下去的。”

“可是你到哪儿去呢,海伦?你能看得见吗?你知道吗?”

“我相信,我有信仰,我去上帝那儿。”

“上帝在哪儿?上帝是什么?”

“我的创造者,也是你的。他不会永远毁坏他所创造的东西。我毫无保留地依赖他的力量,完全信任他的仁慈,我数着钟点,直至那个重要时刻到来,那时我又被送还给他,他又再次显现在我面前。”

“海伦,那你肯定认为有天堂这个地方,而且我们死后灵魂都到那儿去吗?”

“我敢肯定有一个未来的国度。我相信上帝是慈悲的。我可以毫无忧虑地把我不朽的部分托付给他,上帝是我的父亲,上帝是我的朋友,我爱他,我相信他也爱我。”

“海伦,我死掉后,还能再见到你吗?”

“你会来到同一个幸福的地域,被同一个伟大的、普天下共有的父亲所接纳,毫无疑问,亲爱的简。”

我又再次发问,不过这回只是想想而已。“这个地域在哪儿?它存在不存在?”我用胳膊把海伦楼得更紧了。她对我似乎比以往任何时候都要宝贵了,我仿佛觉得我不能让她走,我躺着把脸埋在她的颈窝里。她立刻用最甜蜜的嗓音说:

“我多么舒服啊!刚才那一阵子咳嗽弄得我有点儿累了,我好像是能睡着了,可是别离开我,简,我喜欢你在我身边。”

“我会同你呆在一起的,亲爱的海伦。谁也不能把我撵走。”

“你暖和吗,亲爱的?”

“是的。”

“晚安,简。”

“晚安,海伦。”

她吻了我,我吻了她,两人很快就睡熟了。

我醒来的时候已经是白天了,一阵异样的抖动把我弄醒了。我抬起头来,发现自己正躺在别人的怀抱里,那位护士抱着我,正穿过过道把我送回宿舍,我没有因为离开床位而受到责备,人们还有别的事儿要考虑,我提出的很多问题也没有得到解释。但一两天后我知道,坦普尔小姐在拂晓回房时,发现我躺在小床上,我的脸蛋紧贴着海伦.彭斯的肩膀,我的胳膊搂着她的脖子,我睡着了,而海伦——死了。

我醒来的时候已经是白天了,一阵异样的抖动把我弄醒了。我抬起头来,发现自己正躺在别人的怀抱里,那位护士抱着我,正穿过过道把我送回宿舍,我没有因为离开床位而受到责备,人们还有别的事儿要考虑,我提出的很多问题也没有得到解释。但一两天后我知道,坦普尔小姐在拂晓回房时,发现我躺在小床上,我的脸蛋紧贴着海伦.彭斯的肩膀,我的胳膊搂着她的脖子,我睡着了,而海伦——死了。她的坟墓在布罗克布里奇墓地,她去世后十五年中,墓上仅有一个杂草丛生的土墩,但现在一块灰色的大理石墓碑标出了这个地点,上面刻着她的名字及“Resurgam”这个字。
 

BUT the privations, or rather the hardships, of Lowood lessened. Spring drew on: she was indeed already come; the frosts of winter had ceased; its snows were melted, its cutting winds ameliorated. My wretched feet, flayed and swollen to lameness by the sharp air of January, began to heal and subside under the gentler breathings of April; the nights and mornings no longer by their Canadian temperature froze the very blood in our veins; we could now endure the play-hour passed in the garden: sometimes on a sunny day it began even to be pleasant and genial, and a greenness grew over those brown beds, which, freshening daily, suggested the thought that Hope traversed them at night, and left each morning brighter traces of her steps.
Flowers peeped out amongst the leaves; snowdrops, crocuses, purple auriculas, and golden-eyed pansies. On Thursday afternoons (half-holidays) we now took walks, and found still sweeter flowers opening by the wayside, under the hedges.

I discovered, too, that a great pleasure, an enjoyment which the horizon only bounded, lay all outside the high and spike-guarded walls of our garden: this pleasure consisted in prospect of noble summits girdling a great hill-hollow, rich in verdure and shadow; in a bright beck, full of dark stones and sparkling eddies. How different had this scene looked when I viewed it laid out beneath the iron sky of winter, stiffened in frost, shrouded with snow!- when mists as chill as death wandered to the impulse of east winds along those purple peaks, and rolled down 'ing' and holm till they blended with the frozen fog of the beck! That beck itself was then a torrent, turbid and curbless: it tore asunder the wood, and sent a raving sound through the air, often thickened with wild rain or whirling sleet; and for the forest on its banks, that showed only ranks of skeletons.

April advanced to May: a bright, serene May it was; days of blue sky, placid sunshine, and soft western or southern gales filled up its duration. And now vegetation matured with vigour; Lowood shook loose its tresses; it became all green, all flowery; its great elm, ash, and oak skeletons were restored to majestic life; woodland plants sprang up profusely in its recesses; unnumbered varieties of moss filled its hollows, and it made a strange ground-sunshine out of the wealth of its wild primrose plants: I have seen their pale gold gleam in overshadowed spots like scatterings of the sweetest lustre. All this I enjoyed often and fully, free, unwatched, and almost alone: for this unwonted liberty and pleasure there was a cause, to which it now becomes my task to advert.

Have I not described a pleasant site for a dwelling, when I speak of it as bosomed in hill and wood, and rising from the verge of a stream? Assuredly, pleasant enough: but whether healthy or not is another question.

That forest-dell, where Lowood lay, was the cradle of fog and fog-bred pestilence; which, quickening with the quickening spring, crept into the Orphan Asylum, breathed typhus through its crowded schoolroom and dormitory, and, ere May arrived, transformed the seminary into an hospital.

Semi-starvation and neglected colds had predisposed most of the pupils to receive infection: forty-five out of the eighty girls lay ill at one time. Classes were broken up, rules relaxed. The few who continued well were allowed almost unlimited license; because the medical attendant insisted on the necessity of frequent exercise to keep them in health: and had it been otherwise, no one had leisure to watch or restrain them. Miss Temple's whole attention was absorbed by the patients: she lived in the sick-room, never quitting it except to snatch a few hours' rest at night. The teachers were fully occupied with packing up and making other necessary preparations for the departure of those girls who were fortunate enough to have friends and relations able and willing to remove them from the seat of contagion. Many, already smitten, went home only to die: some died at the school, and were buried quietly and quickly, the nature of the malady forbidding delay.

While disease had thus become an inhabitant of Lowood, and death its frequent visitor; while there was gloom and fear within its walls;   while its rooms and passages steamed with hospital smells, the drug and the pastille striving vainly to overcome the effluvia of mortality, that bright May shone unclouded over the bold hills and beautiful woodland out of doors. Its garden, too, glowed with flowers: hollyhocks had sprung up tall as trees, lilies had opened, tulips and roses were in bloom; the borders of the little beds were gay with pink thrift and crimson double daisies; the sweetbriars gave out, morning and evening, their scent of spice and apples; and these fragrant treasures were all useless for most of the inmates of Lowood, except to furnish now and then a handful of herbs and blossoms to put in a coffin.

But I, and the rest who continued well, enjoyed fully the beauties of the scene and season; they let us ramble in the wood, like gipsies, from morning till night; we did what we liked, went where we liked: we lived better too. Mr. Brocklehurst and his family never came near Lowood now: household matters were not scrutinised into; the cross housekeeper was gone, driven away by the fear of infection; her successor, who had been matron at the Lowton Dispensary, unused to the ways of her new abode, provided with comparative liberality.

Besides, there were fewer to feed; the sick could eat little; our breakfast-basins were better filled; when there was no time to prepare a regular dinner, which often happened, she would give us a large piece of cold pie, or a thick slice of bread and cheese, and this we carried away with us to the wood, where we each chose the spot we liked best, and dined sumptuously.

My favourite seat was a smooth and broad stone, rising white and dry from the very middle of the beck, and only to be got at by wading through the water; a feat I accomplished barefoot. The stone was just broad enough to accommodate, comfortably, another girl and me, at that time my chosen comrade- one Mary Ann Wilson; a shrewd, observant personage, whose society I took pleasure in, partly because she was witty and original, and partly because she had a manner which set me at my ease. Some years older than I, she knew more of the world, and could tell me many things I liked to hear: with her my curiosity found gratification: to my faults also she gave ample indulgence, never imposing curb or rein on anything I said. She had a turn for narrative, I for analysis; she liked to inform, I to question; so we got on swimmingly together, deriving much entertainment, if not much improvement, from our mutual intercourse.

And where, meantime, was Helen Burns? Why did I not spend these sweet days of liberty with her? Had I forgotten her? or was I so worthless as to have grown tired of her pure society? Surely the Mary Ann Wilson I have mentioned was inferior to my first acquaintance: she could only tell me amusing stories, and reciprocate any racy and pungent gossip I chose to indulge in; while, if I have spoken truth of Helen, she was qualified to give those who enjoyed the privilege of her converse a taste of far higher things.

True, reader; and I knew and felt this: and though I am a defective being, with many faults and few redeeming points, yet I never tired of Helen Burns; nor ever ceased to cherish for her a sentiment of attachment, as strong, tender, and respectful as any that ever animated my heart. How could it be otherwise, when Helen, at all times and under all circumstances, evinced for me a quiet and faithful friendship, which ill-humour never soured, nor irritation never troubled? But Helen was ill at present: for some weeks she had been removed from my sight to I knew not what room upstairs. She was not, I was told, in the hospital portion of the house with the fever patients; for her complaint was consumption, not typhus: and by consumption I, in my ignorance, understood something mild, which time and care would be sure to alleviate.

I was confirmed in this idea by the fact of her once or twice coming downstairs on very warm sunny afternoons, and being taken by Miss Temple into the garden; but, on these occasions, I was not allowed to go and speak to her; I only saw her from the schoolroom window, and then not distinctly; for she was much wrapped up, and sat at a distance under the verandah.

One evening, in the beginning of June, I had stayed out very late with Mary Ann in the wood; we had, as usual, separated ourselves from the others, and had wandered far; so far that we lost our way, and had to ask it at a lonely cottage, where a man and woman lived, who looked after a herd of half-wild swine that fed on the mast in the wood. When we got back, it was after moonrise: a pony, which we knew to be the surgeon's, was standing at the garden door. Mary Ann remarked that she supposed some one must be very ill, as Mr. Bates had been sent for at that time of the evening. She went into the house;

I stayed behind a few minutes to plant in my garden a handful of roots I had dug up in the forest, and which I feared would wither if I left them till the morning. This done, I lingered yet a little longer: the flowers smelt so sweet as the dew fell; it was such a pleasant evening, so serene, so warm; the still glowing west promised so fairly another fine day on the morrow; the moon rose with such majesty in the grave east. I was noting these things and enjoying them as a child might, when it entered my mind as it had never done before:-

'How sad to be lying now on a sick bed, and to be in danger of dying! This world is pleasant- it would be dreary to be called from it, and to have to go who knows where?'

And then my mind made its first earnest effort to comprehend what had been infused into it concerning heaven and hell; and for the first time it recoiled, baffled; and for the first time glancing behind, on each side, and before it, it saw all round an unfathomed gulf: it felt the one point where it stood- the present; all the rest was formless cloud and vacant depth; and it shuddered at the thought of tottering, and plunging amid that chaos. While pondering this new idea, I heard the front door open; Mr. Bates came out, and with him was a nurse. After she had seen him mount his horse and depart, she was about to close the door, but I ran up to her.

'How is Helen Burns?'

'Very poorly,' was the answer.

'Is it her Mr. Bates has been to see?'

'Yes.'

'And what does he say about her?'

'He says she'll not be here long.'

This phrase, uttered in my hearing yesterday, would have only conveyed the notion that she was about to be removed to Northumberland, to her own home. I should not have suspected that it meant she was dying; but I knew instantly now! It opened clear on my comprehension that Helen Burns was numbering her last days in this world, and that she was going to be taken to the region of spirits, if such region there were. I experienced a shock of horror, then a strong thrill of grief, then a desire- a necessity to see her; and I asked in what room she lay.

'She is in Miss Temple's room,' said the nurse.

'May I go up and speak to her?'

'Oh no, child! It is not likely; and now it is time for you to come in; you'll catch the fever if you stop out when the dew is falling.'

The nurse closed the front door; I went in by the side entrance which led to the schoolroom: I was just in time; it was nine o'clock, and Miss Miller was calling the pupils to go to bed.

It might be two hours later, probably near eleven, when I- not having been able to fall asleep, and deeming, from the perfect silence of the dormitory, that my companions were all wrapt in profound repose- rose softly, put on my frock over my night-dress, and, without shoes, crept from the apartment, and set off in quest of Miss Temple's room. It was quite at the other end of the house; but I knew my way; and the light of the unclouded summer moon, entering here and there at passage windows, enabled me to find it without difficulty. An odour of camphor and burnt vinegar warned me when I came near the fever room: and I passed its door quickly, fearful lest the nurse who sat up all night should hear me. I dreaded being discovered and sent back; for I must see Helen,- I must embrace her before she died,- I must give her one last kiss, exchange with her one last word.

Having descended a staircase, traversed a portion of the house below, and succeeded in opening and shutting, without noise, two doors, I reached another flight of steps; these I mounted, and then just opposite to me was Miss Temple's room. A light shone through the keyhole and from under the door; a profound stillness pervaded the vicinity. Coming near, I found the door slightly ajar; probably to admit some fresh air into the close abode of sickness. Indisposed to hesitate, and full of impatient impulses- soul and senses quivering with keen throes- I put it back and looked in. My eye sought Helen, and feared to find death.

Close by Miss Temple's bed, and half covered with its white curtains, there stood a little crib. I saw the outline of a form under the clothes, but the face was hid by the hangings: the nurse I had spoken to in the garden sat in an easy-chair asleep; an unsnuffed candle burnt dimly on the table. Miss Temple was not to be seen: I knew afterwards that she had been called to a delirious patient in the fever-room. I advanced; then paused by the crib side: my hand was on the curtain, but I preferred speaking before I withdrew it. I still recoiled at the dread of seeing a corpse.

'Helen!' I whispered softly, 'are you awake?'

She stirred herself, put back the curtain, and I saw her face, pale, wasted, but quite composed: she looked so little changed that my fear was instantly dissipated.

'Can it be you, Jane?' she asked, in her own gentle voice.

'Oh!' I thought, 'she is not going to die; they are mistaken: she could not speak and look so calmly if she were.'

I got on to her crib and kissed her: her forehead was cold, and her cheek both cold and thin, and so were her hand and wrist; but she smiled as of old.

'Why are you come here, Jane? It is past eleven o'clock: I heard it strike some minutes since.'

'I came to see you, Helen: I heard you were very ill, and I could not sleep till I had spoken to you.'

'You came to bid me good-bye, then: you are just in time probably.'

'Are you going somewhere, Helen? Are you going home?'

'Yes; to my long home- my last home.'

'No, no, Helen!' I stopped, distressed. While I tried to devour my tears, a fit of coughing seized Helen; it did not, however, wake the nurse; when it was over, she lay some minutes exhausted; then she whispered-

'Jane, your little feet are bare; lie down and cover yourself with my quilt.'

I did so: she put her arm over me, and I nestled close to her.

After a long silence, she resumed, still whispering-

'I am very happy, Jane; and when you hear that I am dead, you must be sure and not grieve: there is nothing to grieve about. We all must die one day, and the illness which is removing me is not painful; it is gentle and gradual: my mind is at rest. I leave no one to regret me much: I have only a father; and he is lately married, and will not miss me. By dying young, I shall escape great sufferings.

I had not qualities or talents to make my way very well in the world: I should have been continually at fault.'

'But where are you going to, Helen? Can you see? Do you know?'

'I believe; I have faith: I am going to God.'

'Where is God? What is God?'

'My Maker and yours, who will never destroy what He created. I rely implicitly on His power, and confide wholly in His goodness: I count the hours till that eventful one arrives which shall restore me to Him, reveal Him to me.'

'You are sure, then, Helen, that there is such a place as heaven, and that our souls can get to it when we die?'

'I am sure there is a future state; I believe God is good; I can resign my immortal part to Him without any misgiving. God is my father; God is my friend: I love Him; I believe He loves me.'

'And shall I see you again, Helen, when I die?'

'You will come to the same region of happiness: be received by the same mighty, universal Parent, no doubt, dear Jane.'

Again I questioned, but this time only in thought. 'Where is that region? Does it exist?' And I clasped my arms closer around Helen; she seemed dearer to me than ever; I felt as if I could not let her go;

I lay with my face hidden on her neck. Presently she said, in the sweetest tone-

'How comfortable I am! That last fit of coughing has tired me a little; I feel as if I could sleep: but don't leave me, Jane; I like to have you near me.'

'I'll stay with you, dear Helen: no one shall take me away.'

'Are you warm, darling?'

'Yes.'

'Good-night, Jane.'

'Good-night, Helen.'

She kissed me, and I her, and we both soon slumbered.

When I awoke it was day: an unusual movement roused me; I looked up; I was in somebody's arms; the nurse held me; she was carrying me through the passage back to the dormitory. I was not reprimanded for leaving my bed; people had something else to think about; no explanation was afforded then to my many questions; but a day or two afterwards I learned that Miss Temple, on returning to her own room at dawn, had found me laid in the little crib; my face against Helen Burns's shoulder, my arms round her neck. I was asleep, and Helen was-dead.

Her grave is in Brocklebridge churchyard: for fifteen years after her death it was only covered by a grassy mound; but now a grey marble tablet marks the spot, inscribed with her name, and the word 'Resurgam.'