。， I was spared the trouble of answering, for Bessie seemed in toogreat a hurry to listen to explanations; she hauled me to thewashstand, inflicted a merciless, but happily brief scrub on my faceand hands with soap, water, and a coarse towel; disciplined my headwith a bristly brush, denuded me of my pinafore, and then hurryingme to the top of the stairs, bid me go down directly, as I waswanted in the breakfast-room.
'Psalms are not interesting,' I remarked.。， 'Mind you don't,' said Bessie; and when she had ascertained thatI was really subsiding, she loosened her hold of me; then she and MissAbbot stood with folded arms, looking darkly and doubtfully on myface, as incredulous of my sanity.
。， He, for it was a man, turned his head slowly towards where I stood,and having examined me with the two inquisitive-looking grey eyeswhich twinkled under a pair of bushy brows, said solemnly, and in abass voice, 'Her size is small: what is her age?'
。， All John Reed's violent tyrannies, all his sisters' proudindifference, all his mother's aversion, all the servants' partiality,turned up in my disturbed mind like a dark deposit in a turbid well.Why was I always suffering, always browbeaten, always accused, forever condemned? Why could I never please? Why was it useless to try towin any one's favour? Eliza, who, was headstrong and selfish, wasrespected. Georgiana, who had a spoiled temper, a very acrid spite,a captious and insolent carriage, was universally indulged. Herbeauty, her pink cheeks and golden curls, seemed to give delight toall who, looked at her, and to purchase indemnity for every fault.John no one thwarted, much less punished; though he twisted thenecks of the pigeons, killed the little pea-chicks, set the dogs atthe sheep, stripped the hothouse vines of their fruit, and broke thebuds off the choicest plants in the conservatory: he called his mother'old girl,' too; sometimes reviled her for her dark skin, similar tohis own; bluntly disregarded her wishes; not unfrequently tore andspoiled her silk attire; and he was still 'her own darling.' I daredcommit no fault: I strove to fulfil every duty; and I was termednaughty and tiresome, sullen and sneaking, from morning to noon, andfrom noon to night.
'What for? Are you hurt? Have you seen something?' again demandedBessie.。， 'It is well I drew the curtain,' thought I; and I wishedfervently he might not discover my hiding-place: nor would John Reedhave found it out himself; he was not quick either of vision orconception; but Eliza just put her head in at the door, and said atonce-
Next day, by noon, I was up and dressed, and sat wrapped in a shawlby the nursery hearth. I felt physically weak and broken down: butmy worse ailment was an unutterable wretchedness of mind: awretchedness which kept drawing from me silent tears; no sooner hadI wiped one salt drop from my cheek than another followed. Yet, Ithought, I ought to have been happy, for none of the Reeds were there,they were all gone out in the carriage with their mama. Abbot, too,was sewing in another room, and Bessie, as she moved hither andthither, putting away toys and arranging drawers, addressed to meevery now and then a word of unwonted kindness. This state of thingsshould have been to me a paradise of peace, accustomed as I was to alife of ceaseless reprimand and thankless fagging; but, in fact, myracked nerves were now in such a state that no calm could soothe,and no pleasure excite them agreeably.。， 'Wicked and cruel boy!' I said. 'You are like a murderer- you arelike a slave-driver- you are like the Roman emperors!'