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Jane Eyre (Excerpt)
by Charlotte Bronte
The red-room was a square chamber, very seldom slept in, I might say
never, indeed, unless when a chance influx of visitors at Gateshead Hall
rendered it necessary to turn to account all the accommodation it
contained: yet it was one of the largest and stateliest chambers in the
mansion. A bed supported on massive pillars of mahogany, hung with
curtains of deep red damask, stood out like a tabernacle in the center;
the two large windows, with their blinds always drawn down, were half
shrouded in festoons and falls of similar drapery; the carpet was red;
the table at the foot of the bed was covered with a crimson cloth; the
walls were a soft fawn color with a blush of pink in it; the wardrobe,
the toilet-table, the chairs were of darkly polished old mahogany. Out
of these deep surrounding shades rose high, and glared white, the piled-
up mattresses and pillows of the bed, spread with a snowy Marseilles
counterpane. Scarcely less prominent was an ample cushioned easy-chair
near the head of the bed, also white, with a footstool before it; and
looking, as I thought, like a pale throne.
This room was chill, because it seldom had a fire; it was silent, because
remote from the nursery and kitchen; solemn, because it was known to be
so seldom entered. The house-maid alone came here on Saturdays, to wipe
from the mirrors and the furniture a week's quiet dust: and Mrs. Reed
herself, at far intervals, visited it to review the contents of a certain
secret drawer in the wardrobe, where were stored divers parchments, her
jewel-casket, and a miniature of her deceased husband; and in those last
words lies the secret of the red-room--the spell which kept it so lonely
in spite of its grandeur.
Why does the author tell us Mrs. Reed only goes there a "far intervals?"
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