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THERE was no possibility of taking a walk that day. We had beenwandering, indeed, in the leafless shrubbery an hour in the morning;but since dinner (Mrs. Reed, when there was no company, dined early)the cold winter wind had brought with it clouds so sombre, and arain so penetrating, that further outdoor exercise was now out ofthe question.
I was glad of it: I never liked long walks, especially on chillyafternoons: dreadful to me was the coming home in the raw twilight,with nipped fingers and toes, and a heart saddened by the chidingsof Bessie, the nurse, and humbled by the consciousness of myphysical inferiority to Eliza, John, and Georgiana Reed.
The said Eliza, John, and Georgiana were now clustered roundtheir mama in the drawing-room: she lay reclined on a sofa by thefireside, and with her darlings about her (for the time neitherquarrelling nor crying) looked perfectly happy. Me, she haddispensed from joining the group; saying, 'She regretted to be underthe necessity of keeping me at a distance; but that until she heardfrom Bessie, and could discover by her own observation, that I wasendeavouring in good earnest to acquire a more sociable andchildlike disposition, a more attractive and sprightly manner-something lighter, franker, more natural, as it were- she reallymust exclude me from privileges intended only for contented, happy,little children.'
'What does Bessie say I have done?' I asked.

'Jane, I don't like cavillers or questioners; besides, there issomething truly forbidding in a child taking up her elders in thatmanner. Be seated somewhere; and until you can speak pleasantly,remain silent.'