Readme.it in English  home page
Readme.it in Italiano  pagina iniziale
readme.it by logo SoftwareHouse.it

Ebook in formato Kindle (mobi) - Kindle File Ebook (mobi)

Formato per Iphone, Ipad e Ebook (epub) - Ipad, Iphone and Ebook reader format (epub)

Versione ebook di Readme.it powered by Softwarehouse.it






Jane Eyre

by Charlotte Bronte

PREFACE

A preface to the first edition of "Jane Eyre" being unnecessary
I gave none: this second edition demands a few words both of
acknowledgment and miscellaneous remark.

My thanks are due in three quarters.

To the Publicfor the indulgent ear it has inclined to a plain tale
with few pretensions.

To the Pressfor the fair field its honest suffrage has opened to
an obscure aspirant.

To my Publishersfor the aid their tacttheir energytheir
practical sense and frank liberality have afforded an unknown and
unrecommended Author.

The Press and the Public are but vague personifications for meand
I must thank them in vague terms; but my Publishers are definite:
so are certain generous critics who have encouraged me as only
large-hearted and high-minded men know how to encourage a struggling
stranger; to themi.e.to my Publishers and the select Reviewers
I say cordiallyGentlemenI thank you from my heart.

Having thus acknowledged what I owe those who have aided and
approved meI turn to another class; a small oneso far as I know
but notthereforeto be overlooked. I mean the timorous or
carping few who doubt the tendency of such books as "Jane Eyre:" in
whose eyes whatever is unusual is wrong; whose ears detect in each
protest against bigotry--that parent of crime--an insult to piety
that regent of God on earth. I would suggest to such doubters
certain obvious distinctions; I would remind them of certain simple
truths.

Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not
religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last. To pluck
the mask from the face of the Phariseeis not to lift an impious
hand to the Crown of Thorns.

These things and deeds are diametrically opposed: they are as
distinct as is vice from virtue. Men too often confound them: they
should not be confounded: appearance should not be mistaken for
truth; narrow human doctrinesthat only tend to elate and magnify a
fewshould not be substituted for the world-redeeming creed of
Christ. There is--I repeat it--a difference; and it is a goodand
not a bad action to mark broadly and clearly the line of separation
between them.


The world may not like to see these ideas disseveredfor it has
been accustomed to blend them; finding it convenient to make
external show pass for sterling worth--to let white-washed walls
vouch for clean shrines. It may hate him who dares to scrutinise
and expose--to rase the gildingand show base metal under it--to
penetrate the sepulchreand reveal charnel relics: but hate as it
willit is indebted to him.

Ahab did not like Micaiahbecause he never prophesied good
concerning himbut evil; probably he liked the sycophant son of
Chenaannah better; yet might Ahab have escaped a bloody deathhad
he but stopped his ears to flatteryand opened them to faithful
counsel.

There is a man in our own days whose words are not framed to tickle
delicate ears: whoto my thinkingcomes before the great ones of
societymuch as the son of Imlah came before the throned Kings of
Judah and Israel; and who speaks truth as deepwith a power as
prophet-like and as vital--a mien as dauntless and as daring. Is
the satirist of "Vanity Fair" admired in high places? I cannot
tell; but I think if some of those amongst whom he hurls the Greek
fire of his sarcasmand over whom he flashes the levin-brand of his
denunciationwere to take his warnings in time--they or their seed
might yet escape a fatal Rimoth-Gilead.

Why have I alluded to this man? I have alluded to himReader
because I think I see in him an intellect profounder and more unique
than his contemporaries have yet recognised; because I regard him as
the first social regenerator of the day--as the very master of that
working corps who would restore to rectitude the warped system of
things; because I think no commentator on his writings has yet found
the comparison that suits himthe terms which rightly characterise
his talent. They say he is like Fielding: they talk of his wit
humourcomic powers. He resembles Fielding as an eagle does a
vulture: Fielding could stoop on carrionbut Thackeray never does.
His wit is brighthis humour attractivebut both bear the same
relation to his serious genius that the mere lambent sheet-lightning
playing under the edge of the summer-cloud does to the electric
death-spark hid in its womb. FinallyI have alluded to Mr.
Thackeraybecause to him--if he will accept the tribute of a total
stranger--I have dedicated this second edition of "JANE EYRE."

CURRER BELL.

December 21st1847.

NOTE TO THE THIRD EDITION

I avail myself of the opportunity which a third edition of "Jane
Eyre" affords meof again addressing a word to the Publicto
explain that my claim to the title of novelist rests on this one
work alone. Ifthereforethe authorship of other works of fiction
has been attributed to mean honour is awarded where it is not
merited; and consequentlydenied where it is justly due.

This explanation will serve to rectify mistakes which may already
have been madeand to prevent future errors.

CURRER BELL.


April 13th1848.

CHAPTER I

There was no possibility of taking a walk that day. We had been
wanderingindeedin the leafless shrubbery an hour in the morning;
but since dinner (Mrs. Reedwhen there was no companydined early)
the cold winter wind had brought with it clouds so sombreand a
rain so penetratingthat further out-door exercise was now out of
the question.

I was glad of it: I never liked long walksespecially on chilly
afternoons: dreadful to me was the coming home in the raw twilight
with nipped fingers and toesand a heart saddened by the chidings
of Bessiethe nurseand humbled by the consciousness of my
physical inferiority to ElizaJohnand Georgiana Reed.

The said ElizaJohnand Georgiana were now clustered round their
mama in the drawing-room: she lay reclined on a sofa by the
firesideand with her darlings about her (for the time neither
quarrelling nor crying) looked perfectly happy. Meshe had
dispensed from joining the group; sayingShe regretted to be under
the necessity of keeping me at a distance; but that until she heard
from Bessie, and could discover by her own observation, that I was
endeavouring in good earnest to acquire a more sociable and
childlike disposition, a more attractive and sprightly manner-something
lighter, franker, more natural, as it were--she really
must 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 is
something truly forbidding in a child taking up her elders in that
manner. Be seated somewhere; and until you can speak pleasantly,
remain silent.

A breakfast-room adjoined the drawing-roomI slipped in there. It
contained a bookcase: I soon possessed myself of a volumetaking
care that it should be one stored with pictures. I mounted into the
window-seat: gathering up my feetI sat cross-leggedlike a Turk;
andhaving drawn the red moreen curtain nearly closeI was shrined
in double retirement.

Folds of scarlet drapery shut in my view to the right hand; to the
left were the clear panes of glassprotectingbut not separating
me from the drear November day. At intervalswhile turning over
the leaves of my bookI studied the aspect of that winter
afternoon. Afarit offered a pale blank of mist and cloud; near a
scene of wet lawn and storm-beat shrubwith ceaseless rain sweeping
away wildly before a long and lamentable blast.

I returned to my book--Bewick's History of British Birds: the
letterpress thereof I cared little forgenerally speaking; and yet
there were certain introductory pages thatchild as I wasI could
not pass quite as a blank. They were those which treat of the
haunts of sea-fowl; of "the solitary rocks and promontories" by them
only inhabited; of the coast of Norwaystudded with isles from its
southern extremitythe Lindenessor Nazeto the North Cape



Where the Northern Ocean, in vast whirls,
Boils round the naked, melancholy isles
Of farthest Thule; and the Atlantic surge
Pours in among the stormy Hebrides.

Nor could I pass unnoticed the suggestion of the bleak shores of
LaplandSiberiaSpitzbergenNova ZemblaIcelandGreenlandwith
the vast sweep of the Arctic Zone, and those forlorn regions of
dreary space,--that reservoir of frost and snow, where firm fields
of ice, the accumulation of centuries of winters, glazed in Alpine
heights above heights, surround the pole, and concentre the
multiplied rigours of extreme cold.Of these death-white realms I
formed an idea of my own: shadowylike all the half-comprehended
notions that float dim through children's brainsbut strangely
impressive. The words in these introductory pages connected
themselves with the succeeding vignettesand gave significance to
the rock standing up alone in a sea of billow and spray; to the
broken boat stranded on a desolate coast; to the cold and ghastly
moon glancing through bars of cloud at a wreck just sinking.

I cannot tell what sentiment haunted the quite solitary churchyard
with its inscribed headstone; its gateits two treesits low
horizongirdled by a broken walland its newly-risen crescent
attesting the hour of eventide.

The two ships becalmed on a torpid seaI believed to be marine
phantoms.

The fiend pinning down the thief's pack behind himI passed over
quickly: it was an object of terror.

So was the black horned thing seated aloof on a rocksurveying a
distant crowd surrounding a gallows.

Each picture told a story; mysterious often to my undeveloped
understanding and imperfect feelingsyet ever profoundly
interesting: as interesting as the tales Bessie sometimes narrated
on winter eveningswhen she chanced to be in good humour; and when
having brought her ironing-table to the nursery hearthshe allowed
us to sit about itand while she got up Mrs. Reed's lace frills
and crimped her nightcap bordersfed our eager attention with
passages of love and adventure taken from old fairy tales and other
ballads; or (as at a later period I discovered) from the pages of
Pamelaand HenryEarl of Moreland.

With Bewick on my kneeI was then happy: happy at least in my way.
I feared nothing but interruptionand that came too soon. The
breakfast-room door opened.

Boh! Madam Mope!cried the voice of John Reed; then he paused:
he found the room apparently empty.

Where the dickens is she!he continued. "Lizzy! Georgy! (calling
to his sisters) Joan is not here: tell mama she is run out into the
rain--bad animal!"

It is well I drew the curtain,thought I; and I wished fervently
he might not discover my hiding-place: nor would John Reed have
found it out himself; he was not quick either of vision or
conception; but Eliza just put her head in at the doorand said at
once



She is in the window-seat, to be sure, Jack.

And I came out immediatelyfor I trembled at the idea of being
dragged forth by the said Jack.

What do you want?I askedwith awkward diffidence.

Say, 'What do you want, Master Reed?'was the answer. "I want you
to come here;" and seating himself in an arm-chairhe intimated by
a gesture that I was to approach and stand before him.

John Reed was a schoolboy of fourteen years old; four years older
than Ifor I was but ten: large and stout for his agewith a
dingy and unwholesome skin; thick lineaments in a spacious visage
heavy limbs and large extremities. He gorged himself habitually at
tablewhich made him biliousand gave him a dim and bleared eye
and flabby cheeks. He ought now to have been at school; but his
mama had taken him home for a month or twoon account of his
delicate health.Mr. Milesthe masteraffirmed that he would do
very well if he had fewer cakes and sweetmeats sent him from home;
but the mother's heart turned from an opinion so harshand inclined
rather to the more refined idea that John's sallowness was owing to
over-application andperhapsto pining after home.

John had not much affection for his mother and sistersand an
antipathy to me. He bullied and punished me; not two or three times
in the weeknor once or twice in the daybut continually: every
nerve I had feared himand every morsel of flesh in my bones shrank
when he came near. There were moments when I was bewildered by the
terror he inspiredbecause I had no appeal whatever against either
his menaces or his inflictions; the servants did not like to offend
their young master by taking my part against himand Mrs. Reed was
blind and deaf on the subject: she never saw him strike or heard
him abuse methough he did both now and then in her very presence
more frequentlyhoweverbehind her back.

Habitually obedient to JohnI came up to his chair: he spent some
three minutes in thrusting out his tongue at me as far as he could
without damaging the roots: I knew he would soon strikeand while
dreading the blowI mused on the disgusting and ugly appearance of
him who would presently deal it. I wonder if he read that notion in
my face; forall at oncewithout speakinghe struck suddenly and
strongly. I totteredand on regaining my equilibrium retired back
a step or two from his chair.

That is for your impudence in answering mama awhile since,said
heand for your sneaking way of getting behind curtains, and for
the look you had in your eyes two minutes since, you rat!

Accustomed to John Reed's abuseI never had an idea of replying to
it; my care was how to endure the blow which would certainly follow
the insult.

What were you doing behind the curtain?he asked.

I was reading.

Show the book.

I returned to the window and fetched it thence.

You have no business to take our books; you are a dependent, mama
says; you have no money; your father left you none; you ought to
beg, and not to live here with gentlemen's children like us, and eat


the same meals we do, and wear clothes at our mama's expense. Now,
I'll teach you to rummage my bookshelves: for they ARE mine; all
the house belongs to me, or will do in a few years. Go and stand by
the door, out of the way of the mirror and the windows.

I did sonot at first aware what was his intention; but when I saw
him lift and poise the book and stand in act to hurl itI
instinctively started aside with a cry of alarm: not soon enough
however; the volume was flungit hit meand I fellstriking my
head against the door and cutting it. The cut bledthe pain was
sharp: my terror had passed its climax; other feelings succeeded.

Wicked and cruel boy!I said. "You are like a murderer--you are
like a slave-driver--you are like the Roman emperors!"

I had read Goldsmith's History of Romeand had formed my opinion of
NeroCaligula&c. Also I had drawn parallels in silencewhich I
never thought thus to have declared aloud.

What! what!he cried. "Did she say that to me? Did you hear her
Eliza and Georgiana? Won't I tell mama? but first--"

He ran headlong at me: I felt him grasp my hair and my shoulder:
he had closed with a desperate thing. I really saw in him a tyrant
a murderer. I felt a drop or two of blood from my head trickle down
my neckand was sensible of somewhat pungent suffering: these
sensations for the time predominated over fearand I received him
in frantic sort. I don't very well know what I did with my hands
but he called me "Rat! Rat!" and bellowed out aloud. Aid was near
him: Eliza and Georgiana had run for Mrs. Reedwho was gone
upstairs: she now came upon the scenefollowed by Bessie and her
maid Abbot. We were parted: I heard the words


Dear! dear! What a fury to fly at Master John!

Did ever anybody see such a picture of passion!

Then Mrs. Reed subjoined


Take her away to the red-room, and lock her in there.Four hands
were immediately laid upon meand I was borne upstairs.

CHAPTER II

I resisted all the way: a new thing for meand a circumstance
which greatly strengthened the bad opinion Bessie and Miss Abbot
were disposed to entertain of me. The fact isI was a trifle
beside myself; or rather OUT of myselfas the French would say: I
was conscious that a moment's mutiny had already rendered me liable
to strange penaltiesandlike any other rebel slaveI felt
resolvedin my desperationto go all lengths.

Hold her arms, Miss Abbot: she's like a mad cat.

For shame! for shame!cried the lady's-maid. "What shocking
conductMiss Eyreto strike a young gentlemanyour benefactress's
son! Your young master."

Master! How is he my master? Am I a servant?


No; you are less than a servant, for you do nothing for your keep.
There, sit down, and think over your wickedness.

They had got me by this time into the apartment indicated by Mrs.
Reedand had thrust me upon a stool: my impulse was to rise from
it like a spring; their two pair of hands arrested me instantly.

If you don't sit still, you must be tied down,said Bessie. "Miss
Abbotlend me your garters; she would break mine directly."

Miss Abbot turned to divest a stout leg of the necessary ligature.
This preparation for bondsand the additional ignominy it inferred
took a little of the excitement out of me.

Don't take them off,I cried; "I will not stir."

In guarantee whereofI attached myself to my seat by my hands.

Mind you don't,said Bessie; and when she had ascertained that I
was really subsidingshe loosened her hold of me; then she and Miss
Abbot stood with folded armslooking darkly and doubtfully on my
faceas incredulous of my sanity.

She never did so before,at last said Bessieturning to the
Abigail.

But it was always in her,was the reply. "I've told Missis often
my opinion about the childand Missis agreed with me. She's an
underhand little thing: I never saw a girl of her age with so much
cover."

Bessie answered not; but ere longaddressing meshe said--"You
ought to be awareMissthat you are under obligations to Mrs.
Reed: she keeps you: if she were to turn you offyou would have
to go to the poorhouse."

I had nothing to say to these words: they were not new to me: my
very first recollections of existence included hints of the same
kind. This reproach of my dependence had become a vague sing-song
in my ear: very painful and crushingbut only half intelligible.
Miss Abbot joined in


And you ought not to think yourself on an equality with the Misses
Reed and Master Reed, because Missis kindly allows you to be brought
up with them. They will have a great deal of money, and you will
have none: it is your place to be humble, and to try to make
yourself agreeable to them.

What we tell you is for your good,added Bessiein no harsh
voiceyou should try to be useful and pleasant, then, perhaps, you
would have a home here; but if you become passionate and rude,
Missis will send you away, I am sure.

Besides,said Miss AbbotGod will punish her: He might strike
her dead in the midst of her tantrums, and then where would she go?
Come, Bessie, we will leave her: I wouldn't have her heart for
anything. Say your prayers, Miss Eyre, when you are by yourself;
for if you don't repent, something bad might be permitted to come
down the chimney and fetch you away.

They wentshutting the doorand locking it behind them.

The red-room was a square chambervery seldom slept inI might say
neverindeedunless 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 damaskstood out like a tabernacle
in the centre; the two large windowswith their blinds always drawn
downwere 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 colour with a blush
of pink in it; the wardrobethe toilet-tablethe chairs were of
darkly polished old mahogany. Out of these deep surrounding shades
rose highand glared whitethe piled-up mattresses and pillows of
the bedspread with a snowy Marseilles counterpane. Scarcely less
prominent was an ample cushioned easy-chair near the head of the
bedalso whitewith a footstool before it; and lookingas I
thoughtlike a pale throne.

This room was chillbecause it seldom had a fire; it was silent
because remote from the nursery and kitchen; solemnbecause it was
known to be so seldom entered. The house-maid alone came here on
Saturdaysto wipe from the mirrors and the furniture a week's quiet
dust: and Mrs. Reed herselfat far intervalsvisited it to review
the contents of a certain secret drawer in the wardrobewhere were
stored divers parchmentsher jewel-casketand 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.

Mr. Reed had been dead nine years: it was in this chamber he
breathed his last; here he lay in state; hence his coffin was borne
by the undertaker's men; andsince that daya sense of dreary
consecration had guarded it from frequent intrusion.

My seatto which Bessie and the bitter Miss Abbot had left me
rivetedwas a low ottoman near the marble chimney-piece; the bed
rose before me; to my right hand there was the highdark wardrobe
with subduedbroken reflections varying the gloss of its panels; to
my left were the muffled windows; a great looking-glass between them
repeated the vacant majesty of the bed and room. I was not quite
sure whether they had locked the door; and when I dared moveI got
up and went to see. Alas! yes: no jail was ever more secure.
ReturningI had to cross before the looking-glass; my fascinated
glance involuntarily explored the depth it revealed. All looked
colder and darker in that visionary hollow than in reality: and the
strange little figure there gazing at mewith a white face and arms
specking the gloomand glittering eyes of fear moving where all
else was stillhad the effect of a real spirit: I thought it like
one of the tiny phantomshalf fairyhalf impBessie's evening
stories represented as coming out of loneferny dells in moorsand
appearing before the eyes of belated travellers. I returned to my
stool.

Superstition was with me at that moment; but it was not yet her hour
for complete victory: my blood was still warm; the mood of the
revolted slave was still bracing me with its bitter vigour; I had to
stem a rapid rush of retrospective thought before I quailed to the
dismal present.

All John Reed's violent tyranniesall his sisters' proud
indifferenceall his mother's aversionall the servants'
partialityturned up in my disturbed mind like a dark deposit in a
turbid well. Why was I always sufferingalways browbeatenalways
accusedfor ever condemned? Why could I never please? Why was it
useless to try to win any one's favour? Elizawho was headstrong
and selfishwas respected. Georgianawho had a spoiled tempera


very acrid spitea captious and insolent carriagewas universally
indulged. Her beautyher pink cheeks and golden curlsseemed to
give delight to all who looked at herand to purchase indemnity for
every fault. John no one thwartedmuch less punished; though he
twisted the necks of the pigeonskilled the little pea-chicksset
the dogs at the sheepstripped the hothouse vines of their fruit
and broke the buds off the choicest plants in the conservatory: he
called his mother "old girl too; sometimes reviled her for her
dark skin, similar to his own; bluntly disregarded her wishes; not
unfrequently tore and spoiled her silk attire; and he was still her
own darling." I dared commit no fault: I strove to fulfil every
duty; and I was termed naughty and tiresomesullen and sneaking
from morning to noonand from noon to night.

My head still ached and bled with the blow and fall I had received:
no one had reproved John for wantonly striking me; and because I had
turned against him to avert farther irrational violenceI was
loaded with general opprobrium.

Unjust!--unjust!said my reasonforced by the agonising stimulus
into precocious though transitory power: and Resolveequally
wrought upinstigated some strange expedient to achieve escape from
insupportable oppression--as running awayorif that could not be
effectednever eating or drinking moreand letting myself die.

What a consternation of soul was mine that dreary afternoon! How
all my brain was in tumultand all my heart in insurrection! Yet
in what darknesswhat dense ignorancewas the mental battle
fought! I could not answer the ceaseless inward question--WHY I
thus suffered; nowat the distance of--I will not say how many
yearsI see it clearly.

I was a discord in Gateshead Hall: I was like nobody there; I had
nothing in harmony with Mrs. Reed or her childrenor her chosen
vassalage. If they did not love mein factas little did I love
them. They were not bound to regard with affection a thing that
could not sympathise with one amongst them; a heterogeneous thing
opposed to them in temperamentin capacityin propensities; a
useless thingincapable of serving their interestor adding to
their pleasure; a noxious thingcherishing the germs of indignation
at their treatmentof contempt of their judgment. I know that had
I been a sanguinebrilliantcarelessexactinghandsomeromping
child--though equally dependent and friendless--Mrs. Reed would have
endured my presence more complacently; her children would have
entertained for me more of the cordiality of fellow-feeling; the
servants would have been less prone to make me the scapegoat of the
nursery.

Daylight began to forsake the red-room; it was past four o'clock
and the beclouded afternoon was tending to drear twilight. I heard
the rain still beating continuously on the staircase windowand the
wind howling in the grove behind the hall; I grew by degrees cold as
a stoneand then my courage sank. My habitual mood of humiliation
self-doubtforlorn depressionfell damp on the embers of my
decaying ire. All said I was wickedand perhaps I might be so;
what thought had I been but just conceiving of starving myself to
death? That certainly was a crime: and was I fit to die? Or was
the vault under the chancel of Gateshead Church an inviting bourne?
In such vault I had been told did Mr. Reed lie buried; and led by
this thought to recall his ideaI dwelt on it with gathering dread.
I could not remember him; but I knew that he was my own uncle--my
mother's brother--that he had taken me when a parentless infant to
his house; and that in his last moments he had required a promise of
Mrs. Reed that she would rear and maintain me as one of her own


children. Mrs. Reed probably considered she had kept this promise;
and so she hadI dare sayas well as her nature would permit her;
but how could she really like an interloper not of her raceand
unconnected with herafter her husband's deathby any tie? It
must have been most irksome to find herself bound by a hard-wrung
pledge to stand in the stead of a parent to a strange child she
could not loveand to see an uncongenial alien permanently intruded
on her own family group.

A singular notion dawned upon me. I doubted not--never doubted-that
if Mr. Reed had been alive he would have treated me kindly; and
nowas I sat looking at the white bed and overshadowed walls-occasionally
also turning a fascinated eye towards the dimly
gleaning mirror--I began to recall what I had heard of dead men
troubled in their graves by the violation of their last wishes
revisiting the earth to punish the perjured and avenge the
oppressed; and I thought Mr. Reed's spiritharassed by the wrongs
of his sister's childmight quit its abode--whether in the church
vault or in the unknown world of the departed--and rise before me in
this chamber. I wiped my tears and hushed my sobsfearful lest any
sign of violent grief might waken a preternatural voice to comfort
meor elicit from the gloom some haloed facebending over me with
strange pity. This ideaconsolatory in theoryI felt would be
terrible if realised: with all my might I endeavoured to stifle it-
I endeavoured to be firm. Shaking my hair from my eyesI lifted
my head and tried to look boldly round the dark room; at this moment
a light gleamed on the wall. Was itI asked myselfa ray from the
moon penetrating some aperture in the blind? No; moonlight was
stilland this stirred; while I gazedit glided up to the ceiling
and quivered over my head. I can now conjecture readily that this
streak of light wasin all likelihooda gleam from a lantern
carried by some one across the lawn: but thenprepared as my mind
was for horrorshaken as my nerves were by agitationI thought the
swift darting beam was a herald of some coming vision from another
world. My heart beat thickmy head grew hot; a sound filled my
earswhich I deemed the rushing of wings; something seemed near me;
I was oppressedsuffocated: endurance broke down; I rushed to the
door and shook the lock in desperate effort. Steps came running
along the outer passage; the key turnedBessie and Abbot entered.

Miss Eyre, are you ill?said Bessie.

What a dreadful noise! it went quite through me!exclaimed Abbot.

Take me out! Let me go into the nursery!was my cry.

What for? Are you hurt? Have you seen something?again demanded
Bessie.

Oh! I saw a light, and I thought a ghost would come.I had now
got hold of Bessie's handand she did not snatch it from me.

She has screamed out on purpose,declared Abbotin some disgust.
And what a scream! If she had been in great pain one would have
excused it, but she only wanted to bring us all here: I know her
naughty tricks.

What is all this?demanded another voice peremptorily; and Mrs.
Reed came along the corridorher cap flying wideher gown rustling
stormily. "Abbot and BessieI believe I gave orders that Jane Eyre
should be left in the red-room till I came to her myself."

Miss Jane screamed so loud, ma'am,pleaded Bessie.


Let her go,was the only answer. "Loose Bessie's handchild:
you cannot succeed in getting out by these meansbe assured. I
abhor artificeparticularly in children; it is my duty to show you
that tricks will not answer: you will now stay here an hour longer
and it is only on condition of perfect submission and stillness that
I shall liberate you then."

O aunt! have pity! Forgive me! I cannot endure it--let me be
punished some other way! I shall be killed if--

Silence! This violence is all most repulsive:and sono doubt
she felt it. I was a precocious actress in her eyes; she sincerely
looked on me as a compound of virulent passionsmean spiritand
dangerous duplicity.

Bessie and Abbot having retreatedMrs. Reedimpatient of my now
frantic anguish and wild sobsabruptly thrust me back and locked me
inwithout farther parley. I heard her sweeping away; and soon
after she was goneI suppose I had a species of fit:
unconsciousness closed the scene.

CHAPTER III

The next thing I remember iswaking up with a feeling as if I had
had a frightful nightmareand seeing before me a terrible red
glarecrossed with thick black bars. I heard voicestoospeaking
with a hollow soundand as if muffled by a rush of wind or water:
agitationuncertaintyand an all-predominating sense of terror
confused my faculties. Ere longI became aware that some one was
handling me; lifting me up and supporting me in a sitting posture
and that more tenderly than I had ever been raised or upheld before.
I rested my head against a pillow or an armand felt easy.

In five minutes more the cloud of bewilderment dissolved: I knew
quite well that I was in my own bedand that the red glare was the
nursery fire. It was night: a candle burnt on the table; Bessie
stood at the bed-foot with a basin in her handand a gentleman sat
in a chair near my pillowleaning over me.

I felt an inexpressible reliefa soothing conviction of protection
and securitywhen I knew that there was a stranger in the rooman
individual not belonging to Gateshead.and not related to Mrs.
Reed. Turning from Bessie (though her presence was far less
obnoxious to me than that of Abbotfor instancewould have been)
I scrutinised the face of the gentleman: I knew him; it was Mr.
Lloydan apothecarysometimes called in by Mrs. Reed when the
servants were ailing: for herself and the children she employed a
physician.

Well, who am I?he asked.

I pronounced his nameoffering him at the same time my hand: he
took itsmiling and sayingWe shall do very well by-and-by.
Then he laid me downand addressing Bessiecharged her to be very
careful that I was not disturbed during the night. Having given
some further directionsand intimates that he should call again the
next dayhe departed; to my grief: I felt so sheltered and
befriended while he sat in the chair near my pillow; and as he
closed the door after himall the room darkened and my heart again
sank: inexpressible sadness weighed it down.


Do you feel as if you should sleep, Miss?asked Bessierather
softly.

Scarcely dared I answer her; for I feared the next sentence might be
rough. "I will try."

Would you like to drink, or could you eat anything?

No, thank you, Bessie.

Then I think I shall go to bed, for it is past twelve o'clock; but
you may call me if you want anything in the night.

Wonderful civility this! It emboldened me to ask a question.

Bessie, what is the matter with me? Am I ill?

You fell sick, I suppose, in the red-room with crying; you'll be
better soon, no doubt.

Bessie went into the housemaid's apartmentwhich was near. I heard
her say


Sarah, come and sleep with me in the nursery; I daren't for my life
be alone with that poor child to-night: she might die; it's such a
strange thing she should have that fit: I wonder if she saw
anything. Missis was rather too hard.

Sarah came back with her; they both went to bed; they were
whispering together for half-an-hour before they fell asleep. I
caught scraps of their conversationfrom which I was able only too
distinctly to infer the main subject discussed.

Something passed her, all dressed in white, and vanished--"A great
black dog behind him"--"Three loud raps on the chamber door"--"A
light in the churchyard just over his grave &c. &c.

At last both slept: the fire and the candle went out. For me, the
watches of that long night passed in ghastly wakefulness; strained
by dread: such dread as children only can feel.

No severe or prolonged bodily illness followed this incident of the
red-room; it only gave my nerves a shock of which I feel the
reverberation to this day. Yes, Mrs. Reed, to you I owe some
fearful pangs of mental suffering, but I ought to forgive you, for
you knew not what you did: while rending my heart-strings, you
thought you were only uprooting my bad propensities.

Next day, by noon, I was up and dressed, and sat wrapped in a shawl
by the nursery hearth. I felt physically weak and broken down: but
my worse ailment was an unutterable wretchedness of mind: a
wretchedness which kept drawing from me silent tears; no sooner had
I wiped one salt drop from my cheek than another followed. Yet, I
thought, 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 and thither, putting away toys and arranging drawers,
addressed to me every now and then a word of unwonted kindness.
This state of things should have been to me a paradise of peace,
accustomed as I was to a life of ceaseless reprimand and thankless
fagging; but, in fact, my racked nerves were now in such a state
that no calm could soothe, and no pleasure excite them agreeably.


Bessie had been down into the kitchen, and she brought up with her a
tart on a certain brightly painted china plate, whose bird of
paradise, nestling in a wreath of convolvuli and rosebuds, had been
wont to stir in me a most enthusiastic sense of admiration; and
which plate I had often petitioned to be allowed to take in my hand
in order to examine it more closely, but had always hitherto been
deemed unworthy of such a privilege. This precious vessel was now
placed on my knee, and I was cordially invited to eat the circlet of
delicate pastry upon it. Vain favour! coming, like most other
favours long deferred and often wished for, too late! I could not
eat the tart; and the plumage of the bird, the tints of the flowers,
seemed strangely faded: I put both plate and tart away. Bessie
asked if I would have a book: the word BOOK acted as a transient
stimulus, and I begged her to fetch Gulliver's Travels from the
library. This book I had again and again perused with delight. I
considered it a narrative of facts, and discovered in it a vein of
interest deeper than what I found in fairy tales: for as to the
elves, having sought them in vain among foxglove leaves and bells,
under mushrooms and beneath the ground-ivy mantling old wall-nooks,
I had at length made up my mind to the sad truth, that they were all
gone out of England to some savage country where the woods were
wilder and thicker, and the population more scant; whereas, Lilliput
and Brobdignag being, in my creed, solid parts of the earth's
surface, I doubted not that I might one day, by taking a long
voyage, see with my own eyes the little fields, houses, and trees,
the diminutive people, the tiny cows, sheep, and birds of the one
realm; and the corn-fields forest-high, the mighty mastiffs, the
monster cats, the tower-like men and women, of the other. Yet, when
this cherished volume was now placed in my hand--when I turned over
its leaves, and sought in its marvellous pictures the charm I had,
till now, never failed to find--all was eerie and dreary; the giants
were gaunt goblins, the pigmies malevolent and fearful imps,
Gulliver a most desolate wanderer in most dread and dangerous
regions. I closed the book, which I dared no longer peruse, and put
it on the table, beside the untasted tart.


Bessie had now finished dusting and tidying the room, and having
washed her hands, she opened a certain little drawer, full of
splendid shreds of silk and satin, and began making a new bonnet for
Georgiana's doll. Meantime she sang: her song was -


In the days when we went gipsying
A long time ago."


I had often heard the song beforeand always with lively delight;
for Bessie had a sweet voice--at leastI thought so. But now
though her voice was still sweetI found in its melody an
indescribable sadness. Sometimespreoccupied with her workshe
sang the refrain very lowvery lingeringly; "A long time ago" came
out like the saddest cadence of a funeral hymn. She passed into
another balladthis time a really doleful one.


My feet they are sore, and my limbs they are weary;
Long is the way, and the mountains are wild;
Soon will the twilight close moonless and dreary
Over the path of the poor orphan child.


Why did they send me so far and so lonely,
Up where the moors spread and grey rocks are piled?
Men are hard-hearted, and kind angels only
Watch o'er the steps of a poor orphan child.



Yet distant and soft the night breeze is blowing,
Clouds there are none, and clear stars beam mild,
God, in His mercy, protection is showing,
Comfort and hope to the poor orphan child.


Ev'n should I fall o'er the broken bridge passing,
Or stray in the marshes, by false lights beguiled,
Still will my Father, with promise and blessing,
Take to His bosom the poor orphan child.


There is a thought that for strength should avail me,
Though both of shelter and kindred despoiled;
Heaven is a home, and a rest will not fail me;
God is a friend to the poor orphan child.


Come, Miss Jane, don't cry,said Bessie as she finished. She
might as well have said to the firedon't burn!but how could she
divine the morbid suffering to which I was a prey? In the course of
the morning Mr. Lloyd came again.


What, already up!said heas he entered the nursery. "Well
nursehow is she?"


Bessie answered that I was doing very well.


Then she ought to look more cheerful. Come here, Miss Jane: your
name is Jane, is it not?


Yes, sir, Jane Eyre.


Well, you have been crying, Miss Jane Eyre; can you tell me what
about? Have you any pain?


No, sir.


Oh! I daresay she is crying because she could not go out with
Missis in the carriage,interposed Bessie.


Surely not! why, she is too old for such pettishness.


I thought so too; and my self-esteem being wounded by the false
chargeI answered promptlyI never cried for such a thing in my
life: I hate going out in the carriage. I cry because I am
miserable.


Oh fie, Miss!said Bessie.


The good apothecary appeared a little puzzled. I was standing
before him; he fixed his eyes on me very steadily: his eyes were
small and grey; not very brightbut I dare say I should think them
shrewd now: he had a hard-featured yet good-natured looking face.
Having considered me at leisurehe said -


What made you ill yesterday?


She had a fall,said Bessieagain putting in her word.


Fall! why, that is like a baby again! Can't she manage to walk at
her age? She must be eight or nine years old.


I was knocked down,was the blunt explanationjerked out of me by
another pang of mortified pride; "but that did not make me ill I



added; while Mr. Lloyd helped himself to a pinch of snuff.

As he was returning the box to his waistcoat pocket, a loud bell
rang for the servants' dinner; he knew what it was. That's for
younurse said he; you can go down; I'll give Miss Jane a
lecture till you come back."

Bessie would rather have stayedbut she was obliged to gobecause
punctuality at meals was rigidly enforced at Gateshead Hall.

The fall did not make you ill; what did, then?pursued Mr. Lloyd
when Bessie was gone.

I was shut up in a room where there is a ghost till after dark.

I saw Mr. Lloyd smile and frown at the same time.

Ghost! What, you are a baby after all! You are afraid of ghosts?

Of Mr. Reed's ghost I am: he died in that room, and was laid out
there. Neither Bessie nor any one else will go into it at night, if
they can help it; and it was cruel to shut me up alone without a
candle,--so cruel that I think I shall never forget it.

Nonsense! And is it that makes you so miserable? Are you afraid
now in daylight?

No: but night will come again before long: and besides,--I am
unhappy,--very unhappy, for other things.

What other things? Can you tell me some of them?

How much I wished to reply fully to this question! How difficult it
was to frame any answer! Children can feelbut they cannot analyse
their feelings; and if the analysis is partially effected in
thoughtthey know not how to express the result of the process in
words. Fearfulhoweverof losing this first and only opportunity
of relieving my grief by imparting itIafter a disturbed pause
contrived to frame a meagrethoughas far as it wenttrue
response.

For one thing, I have no father or mother, brothers or sisters.

You have a kind aunt and cousins.

Again I paused; then bunglingly enounced


But John Reed knocked me down, and my aunt shut me up in the redroom.


Mr. Lloyd a second time produced his snuff-box.

Don't you think Gateshead Hall a very beautiful house?asked he.
Are you not very thankful to have such a fine place to live at?

It is not my house, sir; and Abbot says I have less right to be
here than a servant.

Pooh! you can't be silly enough to wish to leave such a splendid
place?

If I had anywhere else to go, I should be glad to leave it; but I
can never get away from Gateshead till I am a woman.


Perhaps you may--who knows? Have you any relations besides Mrs.
Reed?

I think not, sir.

None belonging to your father?

I don't know. I asked Aunt Reed once, and she said possibly I
might have some poor, low relations called Eyre, but she knew
nothing about them.

If you had such, would you like to go to them?

I reflected. Poverty looks grim to grown people; still more so to
children: they have not much idea of industriousworking
respectable poverty; they think of the word only as connected with
ragged clothesscanty foodfireless gratesrude mannersand
debasing vices: poverty for me was synonymous with degradation.

No; I should not like to belong to poor people,was my reply.

Not even if they were kind to you?

I shook my head: I could not see how poor people had the means of
being kind; and then to learn to speak like themto adopt their
mannersto be uneducatedto grow up like one of the poor women I
saw sometimes nursing their children or washing their clothes at the
cottage doors of the village of Gateshead: noI was not heroic
enough to purchase liberty at the price of caste.

But are your relatives so very poor? Are they working people?

I cannot tell; Aunt. Reed says if I have any, they must be a
beggarly set: I should not like to go a begging.

Would you like to go to school?

Again I reflected: I scarcely knew what school was: Bessie
sometimes spoke of it as a place where young ladies sat in the
stockswore backboardsand were expected to be exceedingly genteel
and precise: John Reed hated his schooland abused his master; but
John Reed's tastes were no rule for mineand if Bessie's accounts
of school-discipline (gathered from the young ladies of a family
where she had lived before coming to Gateshead) were somewhat
appallingher details of certain accomplishments attained by these
same young ladies wereI thoughtequally attractive. She boasted
of beautiful paintings of landscapes and flowers by them executed;
of songs they could sing and pieces they could playof purses they
could netof French books they could translate; till my spirit was
moved to emulation as I listened. Besidesschool would be a
complete change: it implied a long journeyan entire separation
from Gatesheadan entrance into a new life.

I should indeed like to go to school,was the audible conclusion
of my musings.

Well, well! who knows what may happen?said Mr. Lloydas he got
up. "The child ought to have change of air and scene he added,
speaking to himself; nerves not in a good state."

Bessie now returned; at the same moment the carriage was heard
rolling up the gravel-walk.

Is that your mistress, nurse?asked Mr. Lloyd. "I should like to


speak to her before I go."

Bessie invited him to walk into the breakfast-roomand led the way
out. In the interview which followed between him and Mrs. ReedI
presumefrom after-occurrencesthat the apothecary ventured to
recommend my being sent to school; and the recommendation was no
doubt readily enough adopted; for as Abbot saidin discussing the
subject with Bessie when both sat sewing in the nursery one night
after I was in bedandas they thoughtasleepMissis was, she
dared say, glad enough to get rid of such a tiresome, illconditioned
child, who always looked as if she were watching
everybody, and scheming plots underhand.AbbotI thinkgave me
credit for being a sort of infantine Guy Fawkes.

On that same occasion I learnedfor the first timefrom Miss
Abbot's communications to Bessiethat my father had been a poor
clergyman; that my mother had married him against the wishes of her
friendswho considered the match beneath her; that my grandfather
Reed was so irritated at her disobediencehe cut her off without a
shilling; that after my mother and father had been married a year
the latter caught the typhus fever while visiting among the poor of
a large manufacturing town where his curacy was situatedand where
that disease was then prevalent: that my mother took the infection
from himand both died within a month of each other.

Bessiewhen she heard this narrativesighed and saidPoor Miss
Jane is to be pitied, too, Abbot.

Yes,responded Abbot; "if she were a nicepretty childone might
compassionate her forlornness; but one really cannot care for such a
little toad as that."

Not a great deal, to be sure,agreed Bessie: "at any ratea
beauty like Miss Georgiana would be more moving in the same
condition."

Yes, I doat on Miss Georgiana!cried the fervent Abbot. "Little
darling!--with her long curls and her blue eyesand such a sweet
colour as she has; just as if she were painted!--BessieI could
fancy a Welsh rabbit for supper."

So could I--with a roast onion. Come, we'll go down.They went.

CHAPTER IV

From my discourse with Mr. Lloydand from the above reported
conference between Bessie and AbbotI gathered enough of hope to
suffice as a motive for wishing to get well: a change seemed near-
I desired and waited it in silence. It tarriedhowever: days and
weeks passed: I had regained my normal state of healthbut no new
allusion was made to the subject over which I brooded. Mrs. Reed
surveyed me at times with a severe eyebut seldom addressed me:
since my illnessshe had drawn a more marked line of separation
than ever between me and her own children; appointing me a small
closet to sleep in by myselfcondemning me to take my meals alone
and pass all my time in the nurserywhile my cousins were
constantly in the drawing-room. Not a hinthoweverdid she drop
about sending me to school: still I felt an instinctive certainty
that she would not long endure me under the same roof with her; for
her glancenow more than everwhen turned on meexpressed an


insuperable and rooted aversion.

Eliza and Georgianaevidently acting according to ordersspoke to
me as little as possible: John thrust his tongue in his cheek
whenever he saw meand once attempted chastisement; but as I
instantly turned against himroused by the same sentiment of deep
ire and desperate revolt which had stirred my corruption beforehe
thought it better to desistand ran from me tittering execrations
and vowing I had burst his nose. I had indeed levelled at that
prominent feature as hard a blow as my knuckles could inflict; and
when I saw that either that or my look daunted himI had the
greatest inclination to follow up my advantage to purpose; but he
was already with his mama. I heard him in a blubbering tone
commence the tale of how "that nasty Jane Eyre" had flown at him
like a mad cat: he was stopped rather harshly


Don't talk to me about her, John: I told you not to go near her;
she is not worthy of notice; I do not choose that either you or your
sisters should associate with her.

Hereleaning over the banisterI cried out suddenlyand without
at all deliberating on my words


They are not fit to associate with me.

Mrs. Reed was rather a stout woman; buton hearing this strange and
audacious declarationshe ran nimbly up the stairswept me like a
whirlwind into the nurseryand crushing me down on the edge of my
cribdared me in an emphatic voice to rise from that placeor
utter one syllable during the remainder of the day.

What would Uncle Reed say to you, if he were alive?was my
scarcely voluntary demand. I say scarcely voluntaryfor it seemed
as if my tongue pronounced words without my will consenting to their
utterance: something spoke out of me over which I had no control.

What?said Mrs. Reed under her breath: her usually cold composed
grey eye became troubled with a look like fear; she took her hand
from my armand gazed at me as if she really did not know whether I
were child or fiend. I was now in for it.

My Uncle Reed is in heaven, and can see all you do and think; and
so can papa and mama: they know how you shut me up all day long,
and how you wish me dead.

Mrs. Reed soon rallied her spirits: she shook me most soundlyshe
boxed both my earsand then left me without a word. Bessie
supplied the hiatus by a homily of an hour's lengthin which she
proved beyond a doubt that I was the most wicked and abandoned child
ever reared under a roof. I half believed her; for I felt indeed
only bad feelings surging in my breast.

NovemberDecemberand half of January passed away. Christmas and
the New Year had been celebrated at Gateshead with the usual festive
cheer; presents had been interchangeddinners and evening parties
given. From every enjoyment I wasof courseexcluded: my share
of the gaiety consisted in witnessing the daily apparelling of Eliza
and Georgianaand seeing them descend to the drawing-roomdressed
out in thin muslin frocks and scarlet sasheswith hair elaborately
ringletted; and afterwardsin listening to the sound of the piano
or the harp played belowto the passing to and fro of the butler
and footmanto the jingling of glass and china as refreshments were
handedto the broken hum of conversation as the drawing-room door
opened and closed. When tired of this occupationI would retire


from the stairhead to the solitary and silent nursery: there
though somewhat sadI was not miserable. To speak truthI had not
the least wish to go into companyfor in company I was very rarely
noticed; and if Bessie had but been kind and companionableI should
have deemed it a treat to spend the evenings quietly with her
instead of passing them under the formidable eye of Mrs. Reedin a
room full of ladies and gentlemen. But Bessieas soon as she had
dressed her young ladiesused to take herself off to the lively
regions of the kitchen and housekeeper's roomgenerally bearing the
candle along with her. I then sat with my doll on my knee till the
fire got lowglancing round occasionally to make sure that nothing
worse than myself haunted the shadowy room; and when the embers sank
to a dull redI undressed hastilytugging at knots and strings as
I best mightand sought shelter from cold and darkness in my crib.
To this crib I always took my doll; human beings must love
somethingandin the dearth of worthier objects of affectionI
contrived to find a pleasure in loving and cherishing a faded graven
imageshabby as a miniature scarecrow. It puzzles me now to
remember with what absurd sincerity I doated on this little toy
half fancying it alive and capable of sensation. I could not sleep
unless it was folded in my night-gown; and when it lay there safe
and warmI was comparatively happybelieving it to be happy
likewise.

Long did the hours seem while I waited the departure of the company
and listened for the sound of Bessie's step on the stairs:
sometimes she would come up in the interval to seek her thimble or
her scissorsor perhaps to bring me something by way of supper--a
bun or a cheese-cake--then she would sit on the bed while I ate it
and when I had finishedshe would tuck the clothes round meand
twice she kissed meand saidGood night, Miss Jane.When thus
gentleBessie seemed to me the bestprettiestkindest being in
the world; and I wished most intensely that she would always be so
pleasant and amiableand never push me aboutor scoldor task me
unreasonablyas she was too often wont to do. Bessie Lee mustI
thinkhave been a girl of good natural capacityfor she was smart
in all she didand had a remarkable knack of narrative; soat
leastI judge from the impression made on me by her nursery tales.
She was pretty tooif my recollections of her face and person are
correct. I remember her as a slim young womanwith black hair
dark eyesvery nice featuresand goodclear complexion; but she
had a capricious and hasty temperand indifferent ideas of
principle or justice: stillsuch as she wasI preferred her to
any one else at Gateshead Hall.

It was the fifteenth of Januaryabout nine o'clock in the morning:
Bessie was gone down to breakfast; my cousins had not yet been
summoned to their mama; Eliza was putting on her bonnet and warm
garden-coat to go and feed her poultryan occupation of which she
was fond: and not less so of selling the eggs to the housekeeper
and hoarding up the money she thus obtained. She had a turn for
trafficand a marked propensity for saving; shown not only in the
vending of eggs and chickensbut also in driving hard bargains with
the gardener about flower-rootsseedsand slips of plants; that
functionary having orders from Mrs. Reed to buy of his young lady
all the products of her parterre she wished to sell: and Eliza
would have sold the hair off her head if she could have made a
handsome profit thereby. As to her moneyshe first secreted it in
odd cornerswrapped in a rag or an old curl-paper; but some of
these hoards having been discovered by the housemaidElizafearful
of one day losing her valued treasureconsented to intrust it to
her motherat a usurious rate of interest--fifty or sixty per
cent.; which interest she exacted every quarterkeeping her
accounts in a little book with anxious accuracy.


Georgiana sat on a high stooldressing her hair at the glassand
interweaving her curls with artificial flowers and faded feathers
of which she had found a store in a drawer in the attic. I was
making my bedhaving received strict orders from Bessie to get it
arranged before she returned (for Bessie now frequently employed me
as a sort of under-nurserymaidto tidy the roomdust the chairs
&c.). Having spread the quilt and folded my night-dressI went to
the window-seat to put in order some picture-books and doll's house
furniture scattered there; an abrupt command from Georgiana to let
her playthings alone (for the tiny chairs and mirrorsthe fairy
plates and cupswere her property) stopped my proceedings; and
thenfor lack of other occupationI fell to breathing on the
frost-flowers with which the window was frettedand thus clearing a
space in the glass through which I might look out on the grounds
where all was still and petrified under the influence of a hard
frost.

From this window were visible the porter's lodge and the carriageroad
and just as I had dissolved so much of the silver-white
foliage veiling the panes as left room to look outI saw the gates
thrown open and a carriage roll through. I watched it ascending the
drive with indifference; carriages often came to Gatesheadbut none
ever brought visitors in whom I was interested; it stopped in front
of the housethe door-bell rang loudlythe new-comer was admitted.
All this being nothing to memy vacant attention soon found
livelier attraction in the spectacle of a little hungry robinwhich
came and chirruped on the twigs of the leafless cherry-tree nailed
against the wall near the casement. The remains of my breakfast of
bread and milk stood on the tableand having crumbled a morsel of
rollI was tugging at the sash to put out the crumbs on the windowsill
when Bessie came running upstairs into the nursery.

Miss Jane, take off your pinafore; what are you doing there? Have
you washed your hands and face this morning?I gave another tug
before I answeredfor I wanted the bird to be secure of its bread:
the sash yielded; I scattered the crumbssome on the stone sill
some on the cherry-tree boughthenclosing the windowI replied


No, Bessie; I have only just finished dusting.

Troublesome, careless child! and what are you doing now? You look
quite red, as if you had been about some mischief: what were you
opening the window for?

I was spared the trouble of answeringfor Bessie seemed in too
great a hurry to listen to explanations; she hauled me to the
washstandinflicted a mercilessbut happily brief scrub on my face
and hands with soapwaterand a coarse towel; disciplined my head
with a bristly brushdenuded me of my pinaforeand then hurrying
me to the top of the stairsbid me go down directlyas I was
wanted in the breakfast-room.

I would have asked who wanted me: I would have demanded if Mrs.
Reed was there; but Bessie was already goneand had closed the
nursery-door upon me. I slowly descended. For nearly three months
I had never been called to Mrs. Reed's presence; restricted so long
to the nurserythe breakfastdiningand drawing-rooms were become
for me awful regionson which it dismayed me to intrude.

I now stood in the empty hall; before me was the breakfast-room
doorand I stoppedintimidated and trembling. What a miserable
little poltroon had fearengendered of unjust punishmentmade of
me in those days! I feared to return to the nurseryand feared to


go forward to the parlour; ten minutes I stood in agitated
hesitation; the vehement ringing of the breakfast-room bell decided
me; I MUST enter.

Who could want me?I asked inwardlyas with both hands I turned
the stiff door-handlewhichfor a second or tworesisted my
efforts. "What should I see besides Aunt Reed in the apartment?--a
man or a woman?" The handle turnedthe door unclosedand passing
through and curtseying lowI looked up at--a black pillar!--such
at leastappeared to meat first sightthe straightnarrow
sable-clad shape standing erect on the rug: the grim face at the
top was like a carved maskplaced above the shaft by way of
capital.

Mrs. Reed occupied her usual seat by the fireside; she made a signal
to me to approach; I did soand she introduced me to the stony
stranger with the words: "This is the little girl respecting whom I
applied to you."

HEfor it was a manturned his head slowly towards where I stood
and having examined me with the two inquisitive-looking grey eyes
which twinkled under a pair of bushy browssaid solemnlyand in a
bass voiceHer size is small: what is her age?

Ten years.

So much?was the doubtful answer; and he prolonged his scrutiny
for some minutes. Presently he addressed me--"Your namelittle
girl?"

Jane Eyre, sir.

In uttering these words I looked up: he seemed to me a tall
gentleman; but then I was very little; his features were largeand
they and all the lines of his frame were equally harsh and prim.

Well, Jane Eyre, and are you a good child?

Impossible to reply to this in the affirmative: my little world
held a contrary opinion: I was silent. Mrs. Reed answered for me
by an expressive shake of the headadding soonPerhaps the less
said on that subject the better, Mr. Brocklehurst.

Sorry indeed to hear it! she and I must have some talk;and
bending from the perpendicularhe installed his person in the armchair
opposite Mrs. Reed's. "Come here he said.

I stepped across the rug; he placed me square and straight before
him. What a face he had, now that it was almost on a level with
mine! what a great nose! and what a mouth! and what large prominent
teeth!

No sight so sad as that of a naughty child he began, especially
a naughty little girl. Do you know where the wicked go after
death?"

They go to hell,was my ready and orthodox answer.

And what is hell? Can you tell me that?

A pit full of fire.

And should you like to fall into that pit, and to be burning there
for ever?


No, sir.

What must you do to avoid it?

I deliberated a moment; my answerwhen it did comewas
objectionable: "I must keep in good healthand not die."

How can you keep in good health? Children younger than you die
daily. I buried a little child of five years old only a day or two
since,--a good little child, whose soul is now in heaven. It is to
be feared the same could not be said of you were you to be called
hence.

Not being in a condition to remove his doubtI only cast my eyes
down on the two large feet planted on the rugand sighedwishing
myself far enough away.

I hope that sigh is from the heart, and that you repent of ever
having been the occasion of discomfort to your excellent
benefactress.

Benefactress! benefactress!said I inwardly: "they all call Mrs.
Reed my benefactress; if soa benefactress is a disagreeable
thing."

Do you say your prayers night and morning?continued my
interrogator.

Yes, sir.

Do you read your Bible?

Sometimes.

With pleasure? Are you fond of it?

I like Revelations, and the book of Daniel, and Genesis and Samuel,
and a little bit of Exodus, and some parts of Kings and Chronicles,
and Job and Jonah.

And the Psalms? I hope you like them?

No, sir.

No? oh, shocking! I have a little boy, younger than you, who knows
six Psalms by heart: and when you ask him which he would rather
have, a gingerbread-nut to eat or a verse of a Psalm to learn, he
says: 'Oh! the verse of a Psalm! angels sing Psalms;' says he, 'I
wish to be a little angel here below;' he then gets two nuts in
recompense for his infant piety.

Psalms are not interesting,I remarked.

That proves you have a wicked heart; and you must pray to God to
change it: to give you a new and clean one: to take away your
heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

I was about to propound a questiontouching the manner in which
that operation of changing my heart was to be performedwhen Mrs.
Reed interposedtelling me to sit down; she then proceeded to carry
on the conversation herself.

Mr. Brocklehurst, I believe I intimated in the letter which I wrote


to you three weeks ago, that this little girl has not quite the
character and disposition I could wish: should you admit her into
Lowood school, I should be glad if the superintendent and teachers
were requested to keep a strict eye on her, and, above all, to guard
against her worst fault, a tendency to deceit. I mention this in
your hearing, Jane, that you may not attempt to impose on Mr.
Brocklehurst.

Well might I dreadwell might I dislike Mrs. Reed; for it was her
nature to wound me cruelly; never was I happy in her presence;
however carefully I obeyedhowever strenuously I strove to please
hermy efforts were still repulsed and repaid by such sentences as
the above. Nowuttered before a strangerthe accusation cut me to
the heart; I dimly perceived that she was already obliterating hope
from the new phase of existence which she destined me to enter; I
feltthough I could not have expressed the feelingthat she was
sowing aversion and unkindness along my future path; I saw myself
transformed under Mr. Brocklehurst's eye into an artfulnoxious
childand what could I do to remedy the injury?

Nothing, indeed,thought Ias I struggled to repress a soband
hastily wiped away some tearsthe impotent evidences of my anguish.

Deceit is, indeed, a sad fault in a child,said Mr. Brocklehurst;
it is akin to falsehood, and all liars will have their portion in
the lake burning with fire and brimstone; she shall, however, be
watched, Mrs. Reed. I will speak to Miss Temple and the teachers.

I should wish her to be brought up in a manner suiting her
prospects,continued my benefactress; "to be made usefulto be
kept humble: as for the vacationsshe willwith your permission
spend them always at Lowood."

Your decisions are perfectly judicious, madam,returned Mr.
Brocklehurst. "Humility is a Christian graceand one peculiarly
appropriate to the pupils of Lowood; Ithereforedirect that
especial care shall be bestowed on its cultivation amongst them. I
have studied how best to mortify in them the worldly sentiment of
pride; andonly the other dayI had a pleasing proof of my
success. My second daughterAugustawent with her mama to visit
the schooland on her return she exclaimed: 'Ohdear papahow
quiet and plain all the girls at Lowood lookwith their hair combed
behind their earsand their long pinaforesand those little
holland pockets outside their frocks--they are almost like poor
people's children! and' said she'they looked at my dress and
mama'sas if they had never seen a silk gown before.'"

This is the state of things I quite approve,returned Mrs. Reed;
had I sought all England over, I could scarcely have found a system
more exactly fitting a child like Jane Eyre. Consistency, my dear
Mr. Brocklehurst; I advocate consistency in all things.

Consistency, madam, is the first of Christian duties; and it has
been observed in every arrangement connected with the establishment
of Lowood: plain fare, simple attire, unsophisticated
accommodations, hardy and active habits; such is the order of the
day in the house and its inhabitants.

Quite right, sir. I may then depend upon this child being received
as a pupil at Lowood, and there being trained in conformity to her
position and prospects?

Madam, you may: she shall be placed in that nursery of chosen
plants, and I trust she will show herself grateful for the


inestimable privilege of her election.

I will send her, then, as soon as possible, Mr. Brocklehurst; for,
I assure you, I feel anxious to be relieved of a responsibility that
was becoming too irksome.

No doubt, no doubt, madam; and now I wish you good morning. I
shall return to Brocklehurst Hall in the course of a week or two:
my good friend, the Archdeacon, will not permit me to leave him
sooner. I shall send Miss Temple notice that she is to expect a new
girl, so that there will he no difficulty about receiving her.
Good-bye.

Good-bye, Mr. Brocklehurst; remember me to Mrs. and Miss
Brocklehurst, and to Augusta and Theodore, and Master Broughton
Brocklehurst.

I will, madam. Little girl, here is a book entitled the 'Child's
Guide,' read it with prayer, especially that part containing 'An
account of the awfully sudden death of Martha G -, a naughty child
addicted to falsehood and deceit.'

With these words Mr. Brocklehurst put into my hand a thin pamphlet
sewn in a coverand having rung for his carriagehe departed.

Mrs. Reed and I were left alone: some minutes passed in silence;
she was sewingI was watching her. Mrs. Reed might be at that time
some six or seven and thirty; she was a woman of robust frame
square-shouldered and strong-limbednot tallandthough stout
not obese: she had a somewhat large facethe under jaw being much
developed and very solid; her brow was lowher chin large and
prominentmouth and nose sufficiently regular; under her light
eyebrows glimmered an eye devoid of ruth; her skin was dark and
opaqueher hair nearly flaxen; her constitution was sound as a
bell--illness never came near her; she was an exactclever manager;
her household and tenantry were thoroughly under her control; her
children only at times defied her authority and laughed it to scorn;
she dressed welland had a presence and port calculated to set off
handsome attire.

Sitting on a low stoola few yards from her arm-chairI examined
her figure; I perused her features. In my hand I held the tract
containing the sudden death of the Liarto which narrative my
attention had been pointed as to an appropriate warning. What had
just passed; what Mrs. Reed had said concerning me to Mr.
Brocklehurst; the whole tenor of their conversationwas recent
rawand stinging in my mind; I had felt every word as acutely as I
had heard it plainlyand a passion of resentment fomented now
within me.

Mrs. Reed looked up from her work; her eye settled on mineher
fingers at the same time suspended their nimble movements.

Go out of the room; return to the nursery,was her mandate. My
look or something else must have struck her as offensivefor she
spoke with extreme though suppressed irritation. I got upI went
to the door; I came back again; I walked to the windowacross the
roomthen close up to her.

SPEAK I must: I had been trodden on severelyand MUST turn: but
how? What strength had I to dart retaliation at my antagonist?
gathered my energies and launched them in this blunt sentence


I am not deceitful: if I were, I should say I loved you; but I


declare I do not love you: I dislike you the worst of anybody in
the world except John Reed; and this book about the liar, you may
give to your girl, Georgiana, for it is she who tells lies, and not
I.

Mrs. Reed's hands still lay on her work inactive: her eye of ice
continued to dwell freezingly on mine.

What more have you to say?she askedrather in the tone in which
a person might address an opponent of adult age than such as is
ordinarily used to a child.

That eye of hersthat voice stirred every antipathy I had. Shaking
from head to footthrilled with ungovernable excitementI
continued


I am glad you are no relation of mine: I will never call you aunt
again as long as I live. I will never come to see you when I am
grown up; and if any one asks me how I liked you, and how you
treated me, I will say the very thought of you makes me sick, and
that you treated me with miserable cruelty.

How dare you affirm that, Jane Eyre?

How dare I, Mrs. Reed? How dare I? Because it is the TRUTH. You
think I have no feelings, and that I can do without one bit of love
or kindness; but I cannot live so: and you have no pity. I shall
remember how you thrust me back--roughly and violently thrust me
back--into the red-room, and locked me up there, to my dying day;
though I was in agony; though I cried out, while suffocating with
distress, 'Have mercy! Have mercy, Aunt Reed!' And that punishment
you made me suffer because your wicked boy struck me--knocked me
down for nothing. I will tell anybody who asks me questions, this
exact tale. People think you a good woman, but you are bad, hardhearted.
YOU are deceitful!

Ere I had finished this replymy soul began to expandto exult
with the strangest sense of freedomof triumphI ever felt. It
seemed as if an invisible bond had burstand that I had struggled
out into unhoped-for liberty. Not without cause was this sentiment:
Mrs. Reed looked frightened; her work had slipped from her knee; she
was lifting up her handsrocking herself to and froand even
twisting her face as if she would cry.

Jane, you are under a mistake: what is the matter with you? Why
do you tremble so violently? Would you like to drink some water?

No, Mrs. Reed.

Is there anything else you wish for, Jane? I assure you, I desire
to be your friend.

Not you. You told Mr. Brocklehurst I had a bad character, a
deceitful disposition; and I'll let everybody at Lowood know what
you are, and what you have done.

Jane, you don't understand these things: children must be
corrected for their faults.

Deceit is not my fault!I cried out in a savagehigh voice.

But you are passionate, Jane, that you must allow: and now return
to the nursery--there's a dear--and lie down a little.


I am not your dear; I cannot lie down: send me to school soon,
Mrs. Reed, for I hate to live here.

I will indeed send her to school soon,murmured Mrs. Reed sotto
voce; and gathering up her workshe abruptly quitted the apartment.

I was left there alone--winner of the field. It was the hardest
battle I had foughtand the first victory I had gained: I stood
awhile on the rugwhere Mr. Brocklehurst had stoodand I enjoyed
my conqueror's solitude. FirstI smiled to myself and felt elate;
but this fierce pleasure subsided in me as fast as did the
accelerated throb of my pulses. A child cannot quarrel with its
eldersas I had done; cannot give its furious feelings uncontrolled
playas I had given minewithout experiencing afterwards the pang
of remorse and the chill of reaction. A ridge of lighted heath
aliveglancingdevouringwould have been a meet emblem of my mind
when I accused and menaced Mrs. Reed: the same ridgeblack and
blasted after the flames are deadwould have represented as meetly
my subsequent conditionwhen half-an-hour's silence and reflection
had shown me the madness of my conductand the dreariness of my
hated and hating position.

Something of vengeance I had tasted for the first time; as aromatic
wine it seemedon swallowingwarm and racy: its after-flavour
metallic and corrodinggave me a sensation as if I had been
poisoned. Willingly would I now have gone and asked Mrs. Reed's
pardon; but I knewpartly from experience and partly from instinct
that was the way to make her repulse me with double scornthereby
re-exciting every turbulent impulse of my nature.

I would fain exercise some better faculty than that of fierce
speaking; fain find nourishment for some less fiendish feeling than
that of sombre indignation. I took a book--some Arabian tales; I
sat down and endeavoured to read. I could make no sense of the
subject; my own thoughts swam always between me and the page I had
usually found fascinating. I opened the glass-door in the
breakfast-room: the shrubbery was quite still: the black frost
reignedunbroken by sun or breezethrough the grounds. I covered
my head and arms with the skirt of my frockand went out to walk in
a part of the plantation which was quite sequestrated; but I found
no pleasure in the silent treesthe falling fir-conesthe
congealed relics of autumnrusset leavesswept by past winds in
heapsand now stiffened together. I leaned against a gateand
looked into an empty field where no sheep were feedingwhere the
short grass was nipped and blanched. It was a very grey day; a most
opaque skyonding on snaw,canopied all; thence flakes felt it
intervalswhich settled on the hard path and on the hoary lea
without melting. I stooda wretched child enoughwhispering to
myself over and over againWhat shall I do?--what shall I do?

All at once I heard a clear voice callMiss Jane! where are you?
Come to lunch!

It was BessieI knew well enough; but I did not stir; her light
step came tripping down the path.

You naughty little thing!she said. "Why don't you come when you
are called?"

Bessie's presencecompared with the thoughts over which I had been
broodingseemed cheerful; even thoughas usualshe was somewhat
cross. The fact isafter my conflict with and victory over Mrs.
ReedI was not disposed to care much for the nursemaid's transitory
anger; and I WAS disposed to bask in her youthful lightness of


heart. I just put my two arms round her and saidCome, Bessie!
don't scold.

The action was more frank and fearless than any I was habituated to
indulge in: somehow it pleased her.

You are a strange child, Miss Jane,she saidas she looked down
at me; "a little rovingsolitary thing: and you are going to
schoolI suppose?"

I nodded.

And won't you be sorry to leave poor Bessie?

What does Bessie care for me? She is always scolding me.

Because you're such a queer, frightened, shy little thing. You
should be bolder.

What! to get more knocks?

Nonsense! But you are rather put upon, that's certain. My mother
said, when she came to see me last week, that she would not like a
little one of her own to be in your place.--Now, come in, and I've
some good news for you.

I don't think you have, Bessie.

Child! what do you mean? What sorrowful eyes you fix on me! Well,
but Missis and the young ladies and Master John are going out to tea
this afternoon, and you shall have tea with me. I'll ask cook to
bake you a little cake, and then you shall help me to look over your
drawers; for I am soon to pack your trunk. Missis intends you to
leave Gateshead in a day or two, and you shall choose what toys you
like to take with you.

Bessie, you must promise not to scold me any more till I go.

Well, I will; but mind you are a very good girl, and don't be
afraid of me. Don't start when I chance to speak rather sharply;
it's so provoking.

I don't think I shall ever be afraid of you again, Bessie, because
I have got used to you, and I shall soon have another set of people
to dread.

If you dread them they'll dislike you.

As you do, Bessie?

I don't dislike you, Miss; I believe I am fonder of you than of all
the others.

You don't show it.

You little sharp thing! you've got quite a new way of talking.
What makes you so venturesome and hardy?

Why, I shall soon be away from you, and besides--I was going to
say something about what had passed between me and Mrs. Reedbut on
second thoughts I considered it better to remain silent on that
head.

And so you're glad to leave me?


Not at all, Bessie; indeed, just now I'm rather sorry.

Just now! and rather! How coolly my little lady says it! I dare
say now if I were to ask you for a kiss you wouldn't give it me:
you'd say you'd RATHER not.

I'll kiss you and welcome: bend your head down.Bessie stooped;
we mutually embracedand I followed her into the house quite
comforted. That afternoon lapsed in peace and harmony; and in the
evening Bessie told me some of her most enchaining storiesand sang
me some of her sweetest songs. Even for me life had its gleams of
sunshine.

CHAPTER V

Five o'clock had hardly struck on the morning of the 19th of
Januarywhen Bessie brought a candle into my closet and found me
already up and nearly dressed. I had risen half-an-hour before her
entranceand had washed my faceand put on my clothes by the light
of a half-moon just settingwhose rays streamed through the narrow
window near my crib. I was to leave Gateshead that day by a coach
which passed the lodge gates at six a.m. Bessie was the only person
yet risen; she had lit a fire in the nurserywhere she now
proceeded to make my breakfast. Few children can eat when excited
with the thoughts of a journey; nor could I. Bessiehaving pressed
me in vain to take a few spoonfuls of the boiled milk and bread she
had prepared for mewrapped up some biscuits in a paper and put
them into my bag; then she helped me on with my pelisse and bonnet
and wrapping herself in a shawlshe and I left the nursery. As we
passed Mrs. Reed's bedroomshe saidWill you go in and bid Missis
good-bye?

No, Bessie: she came to my crib last night when you were gone down
to supper, and said I need not disturb her in the morning, or my
cousins either; and she told me to remember that she had always been
my best friend, and to speak of her and be grateful to her
accordingly.

What did you say, Miss?

Nothing: I covered my face with the bedclothes, and turned from
her to the wall.

That was wrong, Miss Jane.

It was quite right, Bessie. Your Missis has not been my friend:
she has been my foe.

O Miss Jane! don't say so!

Good-bye to Gateshead!cried Ias we passed through the hall and
went out at the front door.

The moon was setand it was very dark; Bessie carried a lantern
whose light glanced on wet steps and gravel road sodden by a recent
thaw. Raw and chill was the winter morning: my teeth chattered as
I hastened down the drive. There was a light in the porter's lodge:
when we reached itwe found the porter's wife just kindling her
fire: my trunkwhich had been carried down the evening before


stood corded at the door. It wanted but a few minutes of sixand
shortly after that hour had struckthe distant roll of wheels
announced the coming coach; I went to the door and watched its lamps
approach rapidly through the gloom.

Is she going by herself?asked the porter's wife.

Yes.

And how far is it?

Fifty miles.

What a long way! I wonder Mrs. Reed is not afraid to trust her so
far alone.

The coach drew up; there it was at the gates with its four horses
and its top laden with passengers: the guard and coachman loudly
urged haste; my trunk was hoisted up; I was taken from Bessie's
neckto which I clung with kisses.

Be sure and take good care of her,cried she to the guardas he
lifted me into the inside.

Ay, ay!was the answer: the door was slapped toa voice
exclaimed "All right and on we drove. Thus was I severed from
Bessie and Gateshead; thus whirled away to unknown, and, as I then
deemed, remote and mysterious regions.

I remember but little of the journey; I only know that the day
seemed to me of a preternatural length, and that we appeared to
travel over hundreds of miles of road. We passed through several
towns, and in one, a very large one, the coach stopped; the horses
were taken out, and the passengers alighted to dine. I was carried
into an inn, where the guard wanted me to have some dinner; but, as
I had no appetite, he left me in an immense room with a fireplace at
each end, a chandelier pendent from the ceiling, and a little red
gallery high up against the wall filled with musical instruments.
Here I walked about for a long time, feeling very strange, and
mortally apprehensive of some one coming in and kidnapping me; for I
believed in kidnappers, their exploits having frequently figured in
Bessie's fireside chronicles. At last the guard returned; once more
I was stowed away in the coach, my protector mounted his own seat,
sounded his hollow horn, and away we rattled over the stony street"
of L-.

The afternoon came on wet and somewhat misty: as it waned into
duskI began to feel that we were getting very far indeed from
Gateshead: we ceased to pass through towns; the country changed;
great grey hills heaved up round the horizon: as twilight deepened
we descended a valleydark with woodand long after night had
overclouded the prospectI heard a wild wind rushing amongst trees.

Lulled by the soundI at last dropped asleep; I had not long
slumbered when the sudden cessation of motion awoke me; the coachdoor
was openand a person like a servant was standing at it: I
saw her face and dress by the light of the lamps.

Is there a little girl called Jane Eyre here?she asked. I
answered "Yes and was then lifted out; my trunk was handed down,
and the coach instantly drove away.

I was stiff with long sitting, and bewildered with the noise and
motion of the coach: Gathering my faculties, I looked about me.


Rain, wind, and darkness filled the air; nevertheless, I dimly
discerned a wall before me and a door open in it; through this door
I passed with my new guide: she shut and locked it behind her.
There was now visible a house or houses--for the building spread
far--with many windows, and lights burning in some; we went up a
broad pebbly path, splashing wet, and were admitted at a door; then
the servant led me through a passage into a room with a fire, where
she left me alone.

I stood and warmed my numbed fingers over the blaze, then I looked
round; there was no candle, but the uncertain light from the hearth
showed, by intervals, papered walls, carpet, curtains, shining
mahogany furniture: it was a parlour, not so spacious or splendid
as the drawing-room at Gateshead, but comfortable enough. I was
puzzling to make out the subject of a picture on the wall, when the
door opened, and an individual carrying a light entered; another
followed close behind.

The first was a tall lady with dark hair, dark eyes, and a pale and
large forehead; her figure was partly enveloped in a shawl, her
countenance was grave, her bearing erect.

The child is very young to be sent alone said she, putting her
candle down on the table. She considered me attentively for a
minute or two, then further added


She had better be put to bed soon; she looks tired: are you
tired?" she askedplacing her hand on my shoulder.

A little, ma'am.

And hungry too, no doubt: let her have some supper before she goes
to bed, Miss Miller. Is this the first time you have left your
parents to come to school, my little girl?

I explained to her that I had no parents. She inquired how long
they had been dead: then how old I waswhat was my namewhether I
could readwriteand sew a little: then she touched my cheek
gently with her forefingerand sayingShe hoped I should be a
good child,dismissed me along with Miss Miller.

The lady I had left might be about twenty-nine; the one who went
with me appeared some years younger: the first impressed me by her
voicelookand air. Miss Miller was more ordinary; ruddy in
complexionthough of a careworn countenance; hurried in gait and
actionlike one who had always a multiplicity of tasks on hand:
she lookedindeedwhat I afterwards found she really wasan
under-teacher. Led by herI passed from compartment to
compartmentfrom passage to passageof a large and irregular
building; tillemerging from the total and somewhat dreary silence
pervading that portion of the house we had traversedwe came upon
the hum of many voicesand presently entered a widelong room
with great deal tablestwo at each endon each of which burnt a
pair of candlesand seated all round on benchesa congregation of
girls of every agefrom nine or ten to twenty. Seen by the dim
light of the dipstheir number to me appeared countlessthough not
in reality exceeding eighty; they were uniformly dressed in brown
stuff frocks of quaint fashionand long holland pinafores. It was
the hour of study; they were engaged in conning over their tomorrow's
taskand the hum I had heard was the combined result of
their whispered repetitions.

Miss Miller signed to me to sit on a bench near the doorthen
walking up to the top of the long room she cried out



Monitors, collect the lesson-books and put them away! Four tall
girls arose from different tables, and going round, gathered the
books and removed them. Miss Miller again gave the word of command
-

Monitorsfetch the supper-trays!"

The tall girls went out and returned presentlyeach bearing a tray
with portions of somethingI knew not whatarranged thereonand a
pitcher of water and mug in the middle of each tray. The portions
were handed round; those who liked took a draught of the waterthe
mug being common to all. When it came to my turnI drankfor I
was thirstybut did not touch the foodexcitement and fatigue
rendering me incapable of eating: I now sawhoweverthat it was a
thin oaten cake shared into fragments.

The meal overprayers were read by Miss Millerand the classes
filed offtwo and twoupstairs. Overpowered by this time with
wearinessI scarcely noticed what sort of a place the bedroom was
except thatlike the schoolroomI saw it was very long. To-night
I was to be Miss Miller's bed-fellow; she helped me to undress:
when laid down I glanced at the long rows of bedseach of which was
quickly filled with two occupants; in ten minutes the single light
was extinguishedand amidst silence and complete darkness I fell
asleep.

The night passed rapidly. I was too tired even to dream; I only
once awoke to hear the wind rave in furious gustsand the rain fall
in torrentsand to be sensible that Miss Miller had taken her place
by my side. When I again unclosed my eyesa loud bell was ringing;
the girls were up and dressing; day had not yet begun to dawnand a
rushlight or two burned in the room. I too rose reluctantly; it was
bitter coldand I dressed as well as I could for shiveringand
washed when there was a basin at libertywhich did not occur soon
as there was but one basin to six girlson the stands down the
middle of the room. Again the bell rang: all formed in filetwo
and twoand in that order descended the stairs and entered the cold
and dimly lit schoolroom: here prayers were read by Miss Miller;
afterwards she called out


Form classes!

A great tumult succeeded for some minutesduring which Miss Miller
repeatedly exclaimedSilence!and "Order!" When it subsidedI
saw them all drawn up in four semicirclesbefore four chairs
placed at the four tables; all held books in their handsand a
great booklike a Biblelay on each tablebefore the vacant seat.
A pause of some seconds succeededfilled up by the lowvague hum
of numbers; Miss Miller walked from class to classhushing this
indefinite sound.

A distant bell tinkled: immediately three ladies entered the room
each walked to a table and took her seat. Miss Miller assumed the
fourth vacant chairwhich was that nearest the doorand around
which the smallest of the children were assembled: to this inferior
class I was calledand placed at the bottom of it.

Business now beganthe day's Collect was repeatedthen certain
texts of Scripture were saidand to these succeeded a protracted
reading of chapters in the Biblewhich lasted an hour. By the time
that exercise was terminatedday had fully dawned. The
indefatigable bell now sounded for the fourth time: the classes
were marshalled and marched into another room to breakfast: how


glad I was to behold a prospect of getting something to eat! I was
now nearly sick from inanitionhaving taken so little the day
before.

The refectory was a greatlow-ceiledgloomy room; on two long
tables smoked basins of something hotwhichhoweverto my dismay
sent forth an odour far from inviting. I saw a universal
manifestation of discontent when the fumes of the repast met the
nostrils of those destined to swallow it; from the van of the
processionthe tall girls of the first classrose the whispered
words


Disgusting! The porridge is burnt again!

Silence!ejaculated a voice; not that of Miss Millerbut one of
the upper teachersa little and dark personagesmartly dressed
but of somewhat morose aspectwho installed herself at the top of
one tablewhile a more buxom lady presided at the other. I looked
in vain for her I had first seen the night before; she was not
visible: Miss Miller occupied the foot of the table where I sat
and a strangeforeign-lookingelderly ladythe French teacheras
I afterwards foundtook the corresponding seat at the other board.
A long grace was said and a hymn sung; then a servant brought in
some tea for the teachersand the meal began.

Ravenousand now very faintI devoured a spoonful or two of my
portion without thinking of its taste; but the first edge of hunger
bluntedI perceived I had got in hand a nauseous mess; burnt
porridge is almost as bad as rotten potatoes; famine itself soon
sickens over it. The spoons were moved slowly: I saw each girl
taste her food and try to swallow it; but in most cases the effort
was soon relinquished. Breakfast was overand none had
breakfasted. Thanks being returned for what we had not gotand a
second hymn chantedthe refectory was evacuated for the schoolroom.
I was one of the last to go outand in passing the tablesI saw
one teacher take a basin of the porridge and taste it; she looked at
the others; all their countenances expressed displeasureand one of
themthe stout onewhispered


Abominable stuff! How shameful!

A quarter of an hour passed before lessons again beganduring which
the schoolroom was in a glorious tumult; for that space of time it
seemed to be permitted to talk loud and more freelyand they used
their privilege. The whole conversation ran on the breakfastwhich
one and all abused roundly. Poor things! it was the sole
consolation they had. Miss Miller was now the only teacher in the
room: a group of great girls standing about her spoke with serious
and sullen gestures. I heard the name of Mr. Brocklehurst
pronounced by some lips; at which Miss Miller shook her head
disapprovingly; but she made no great effort to cheek the general
wrath; doubtless she shared in it.

A clock in the schoolroom struck nine; Miss Miller left her circle
and standing in the middle of the roomcried


Silence! To your seats!

Discipline prevailed: in five minutes the confused throng was
resolved into orderand comparative silence quelled the Babel
clamour of tongues. The upper teachers now punctually resumed their
posts: but stillall seemed to wait. Ranged on benches down the
sides of the roomthe eighty girls sat motionless and erect; a
quaint assemblage they appearedall with plain locks combed from


their facesnot a curl visible; in brown dressesmade high and
surrounded by a narrow tucker about the throatwith little pockets
of holland (shaped something like a Highlander's purse) tied in
front of their frocksand destined to serve the purpose of a workbag:
alltoowearing woollen stockings and country-made shoes
fastened with brass buckles. Above twenty of those clad in this
costume were full-grown girlsor rather young women; it suited them
illand gave an air of oddity even to the prettiest.

I was still looking at themand also at intervals examining the
teachers--none of whom precisely pleased me; for the stout one was a
little coarsethe dark one not a little fiercethe foreigner harsh
and grotesqueand Miss Millerpoor thing! looked purpleweatherbeaten
and over-worked--whenas my eye wandered from face to face
the whole school rose simultaneouslyas if moved by a common
spring.

What was the matter? I had heard no order given: I was puzzled.
Ere I had gathered my witsthe classes were again seated: but as
all eyes were now turned to one pointmine followed the general
directionand encountered the personage who had received me last
night. She stood at the bottom of the long roomon the hearth; for
there was a fire at each end; she surveyed the two rows of girls
silently and gravely. Miss Miller approachingseemed to ask her a
questionand having received her answerwent back to her place
and said aloud


Monitor of the first class, fetch the globes!

While the direction was being executedthe lady consulted moved
slowly up the room. I suppose I have a considerable organ of
venerationfor I retain yet the sense of admiring awe with which my
eyes traced her steps. Seen nowin broad daylightshe looked
tallfairand shapely; brown eyes with a benignant light in their
iridsand a fine pencilling of long lashes roundrelieved the
whiteness of her large front; on each of her temples her hairof a
very dark brownwas clustered in round curlsaccording to the
fashion of those timeswhen neither smooth bands nor long ringlets
were in vogue; her dressalso in the mode of the daywas of purple
clothrelieved by a sort of Spanish trimming of black velvet; a
gold watch (watches were not so common then as now) shone at her
girdle. Let the reader addto complete the picturerefined
features; a complexionif paleclear; and a stately air and
carriageand he will haveat leastas clearly as words can give
ita correct idea of the exterior of Miss Temple--Maria Templeas
I afterwards saw the name written in a prayer-book intrusted to me
to carry to church.

The superintendent of Lowood (for such was this lady) having taken
her seat before a pair of globes placed on one of the tables
summoned the first class round herand commenced giving a lesson on
geography; the lower classes were called by the teachers:
repetitions in historygrammar&c.went on for an hour; writing
and arithmetic succeededand music lessons were given by Miss
Temple to some of the elder girls. The duration of each lesson was
measured by the clockwhich at last struck twelve. The
superintendent rose


I have a word to address to the pupils,said she.

The tumult of cessation from lessons was already breaking forthbut
it sank at her voice. She went on


You had this morning a breakfast which you could not eat; you must


be hungry:--I have ordered that a lunch of bread and cheese shall be
served to all.

The teachers looked at her with a sort of surprise.

It is to be done on my responsibility,she addedin an
explanatory tone to themand immediately afterwards left the room.

The bread and cheese was presently brought in and distributedto
the high delight and refreshment of the whole school. The order was
now given "To the garden!" Each put on a coarse straw bonnetwith
strings of coloured calicoand a cloak of grey frieze. I was
similarly equippedandfollowing the streamI made my way into
the open air.

The garden was a wide inclosuresurrounded with walls so high as to
exclude every glimpse of prospect; a covered verandah ran down one
sideand broad walks bordered a middle space divided into scores of
little beds: these beds were assigned as gardens for the pupils to
cultivateand each bed had an owner. When full of flowers they
would doubtless look pretty; but nowat the latter end of January
all was wintry blight and brown decay. I shuddered as I stood and
looked round me: it was an inclement day for outdoor exercise; not
positively rainybut darkened by a drizzling yellow fog; all under
foot was still soaking wet with the floods of yesterday. The
stronger among the girls ran about and engaged in active gamesbut
sundry pale and thin ones herded together for shelter and warmth in
the verandah; and amongst theseas the dense mist penetrated to
their shivering framesI heard frequently the sound of a hollow
cough.

As yet I had spoken to no onenor did anybody seem to take notice
of me; I stood lonely enough: but to that feeling of isolation I
was accustomed; it did not oppress me much. I leant against a
pillar of the verandahdrew my grey mantle close about meand
trying to forget the cold which nipped me withoutand the
unsatisfied hunger which gnawed me withindelivered myself up to
the employment of watching and thinking. My reflections were too
undefined and fragmentary to merit record: I hardly yet knew where
I was; Gateshead and my past life seemed floated away to an
immeasurable distance; the present was vague and strangeand of the
future I could form no conjecture. I looked round the convent-like
gardenand then up at the house--a large buildinghalf of which
seemed grey and oldthe other half quite new. The new part
containing the schoolroom and dormitorywas lit by mullioned and
latticed windowswhich gave it a church-like aspect; a stone tablet
over the door bore this inscription:


Lowood Institution.--This portion was rebuilt A.D.--, by Naomi
Brocklehurst, of Brocklehurst Hall, in this county.Let your
light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and
glorify your Father which is in heaven.-- St. Matt. v. 16.

I read these words over and over again: I felt that an explanation
belonged to themand was unable fully to penetrate their import. I
was still pondering the signification of "Institution and
endeavouring to make out a connection between the first words and
the verse of Scripture, when the sound of a cough close behind me
made me turn my head. I saw a girl sitting on a stone bench near;
she was bent over a book, on the perusal of which she seemed intent:
from where I stood I could see the title--it was Rasselas;" a name
that struck me as strangeand consequently attractive. In turning
a leaf she happened to look upand I said to her directly



Is your book interesting?I had already formed the intention of
asking her to lend it to me some day.

I like it,she answeredafter a pause of a second or twoduring
which she examined me.

What is it about?I continued. I hardly know where I found the
hardihood thus to open a conversation with a stranger; the step was
contrary to my nature and habits: but I think her occupation
touched a chord of sympathy somewhere; for I too liked reading
though of a frivolous and childish kind; I could not digest or
comprehend the serious or substantial.

You may look at it,replied the girloffering me the book.

I did so; a brief examination convinced me that the contents were
less taking than the title: "Rasselas" looked dull to my trifling
taste; I saw nothing about fairiesnothing about genii; no bright
variety seemed spread over the closely-printed pages. I returned it
to her; she received it quietlyand without saying anything she was
about to relapse into her former studious mood: again I ventured to
disturb her


Can you tell me what the writing on that stone over the door means?
What is Lowood Institution?

This house where you are come to live.

And why do they call it Institution? Is it in any way different
from other schools?

It is partly a charity-school: you and I, and all the rest of us,
are charity-children. I suppose you are an orphan: are not either
your father or your mother dead?

Both died before I can remember.

Well, all the girls here have lost either one or both parents, and
this is called an institution for educating orphans.

Do we pay no money? Do they keep us for nothing?

We pay, or our friends pay, fifteen pounds a year for each.

Then why do they call us charity-children?

Because fifteen pounds is not enough for board and teaching, and
the deficiency is supplied by subscription.

Who subscribes?

Different benevolent-minded ladies and gentlemen in this
neighbourhood and in London.

Who was Naomi Brocklehurst?

The lady who built the new part of this house as that tablet
records, and whose son overlooks and directs everything here.

Why?

Because he is treasurer and manager of the establishment.

Then this house does not belong to that tall lady who wears a


watch, and who said we were to have some bread and cheese?

To Miss Temple? Oh, no! I wish it did: she has to answer to Mr.
Brocklehurst for all she does. Mr. Brocklehurst buys all our food
and all our clothes.

Does he live here?

No--two miles off, at a large hall.

Is he a good man?

He is a clergyman, and is said to do a great deal of good.

Did you say that tall lady was called Miss Temple?

Yes.

And what are the other teachers called?

The one with red cheeks is called Miss Smith; she attends to the
work, and cuts out--for we make our own clothes, our frocks, and
pelisses, and everything; the little one with black hair is Miss
Scatcherd; she teaches history and grammar, and hears the second
class repetitions; and the one who wears a shawl, and has a pockethandkerchief
tied to her side with a yellow ribband, is Madame
Pierrot: she comes from Lisle, in France, and teaches French.

Do you like the teachers?

Well enough.

Do you like the little black one, and the Madame -?--I cannot
pronounce her name as you do.

Miss Scatcherd is hasty--you must take care not to offend her;
Madame Pierrot is not a bad sort of person.

But Miss Temple is the best--isn't she?

Miss Temple is very good and very clever; she is above the rest,
because she knows far more than they do.

Have you been long here?

Two years.

Are you an orphan?

My mother is dead.

Are you happy here?

You ask rather too many questions. I have given you answers enough
for the present: now I want to read.

But at that moment the summons sounded for dinner; all re-entered
the house. The odour which now filled the refectory was scarcely
more appetising than that which had regaled our nostrils at
breakfast: the dinner was served in two huge tin-plated vessels
whence rose a strong steam redolent of rancid fat. I found the mess
to consist of indifferent potatoes and strange shreds of rusty meat
mixed and cooked together. Of this preparation a tolerably abundant
plateful was apportioned to each pupil. I ate what I couldand


wondered within myself whether every day's fare would be like this.

After dinnerwe immediately adjourned to the schoolroom: lessons
recommencedand were continued till five o'clock.

The only marked event of the afternoon wasthat I saw the girl with
whom I had conversed in the verandah dismissed in disgrace by Miss
Scatcherd from a history classand sent to stand in the middle of
the large schoolroom. The punishment seemed to me in a high degree
ignominiousespecially for so great a girl--she looked thirteen or
upwards. I expected she would show signs of great distress and
shame; but to my surprise she neither wept nor blushed: composed
though graveshe stoodthe central mark of all eyes. "How can she
bear it so quietly--so firmly?" I asked of myself. "Were I in her
placeit seems to me I should wish the earth to open and swallow me
up. She looks as if she were thinking of something beyond her
punishment--beyond her situation: of something not round her nor
before her. I have heard of day-dreams--is she in a day-dream now?
Her eyes are fixed on the floorbut I am sure they do not see it-her
sight seems turned ingone down into her heart: she is looking
at what she can rememberI believe; not at what is really present.
I wonder what sort of a girl she is--whether good or naughty."

Soon after five p.m. we had another mealconsisting of a small mug
of coffeeand half-a-slice of brown bread. I devoured my bread and
drank my coffee with relish; but I should have been glad of as much
more--I was still hungry. Half-an-hour's recreation succeededthen
study; then the glass of water and the piece of oat-cakeprayers
and bed. Such was my first day at Lowood.

CHAPTER VI

The next day commenced as beforegetting up and dressing by
rushlight; but this morning we were obliged to dispense with the
ceremony of washing; the water in the pitchers was frozen. A change
had taken place in the weather the preceding eveningand a keen
north-east windwhistling through the crevices of our bedroom
windows all night longhad made us shiver in our bedsand turned
the contents of the ewers to ice.

Before the long hour and a half of prayers and Bible-reading was
overI felt ready to perish with cold. Breakfast-time came at
lastand this morning the porridge was not burnt; the quality was
eatablethe quantity small. How small my portion seemed! I wished
it had been doubled.

In the course of the day I was enrolled a member of the fourth
classand regular tasks and occupations were assigned me:
hithertoI had only been a spectator of the proceedings at Lowood;
I was now to become an actor therein. At firstbeing little
accustomed to learn by heartthe lessons appeared to me both long
and difficult; the frequent change from task to tasktoo
bewildered me; and I was glad whenabout three o'clock in the
afternoonMiss Smith put into my hands a border of muslin two yards
longtogether with needlethimble&c.and sent me to sit in a
quiet corner of the schoolroomwith directions to hem the same. At
that hour most of the others were sewing likewise; but one class
still stood round Miss Scatcherd's chair readingand as all was
quietthe subject of their lessons could be heardtogether with
the manner in which each girl acquitted herselfand the


animadversions or commendations of Miss Scatcherd on the
performance. It was English history: among the readers I observed
my acquaintance of the verandah: at the commencement of the lesson
her place had been at the top of the classbut for some error of
pronunciationor some inattention to stopsshe was suddenly sent
to the very bottom. Even in that obscure positionMiss Scatcherd
continued to make her an object of constant notice: she was
continually addressing to her such phrases as the following:


Burns(such it seems was her name: the girls here were all called
by their surnamesas boys are elsewhere)Burns, you are standing
on the side of your shoe; turn your toes out immediately.Burns,
you poke your chin most unpleasantly; draw it in.Burns, I insist
on your holding your head up; I will not have you before me in that
attitude,&c. &c.

A chapter having been read through twicethe books were closed and
the girls examined. The lesson had comprised part of the reign of
Charles I.and there were sundry questions about tonnage and
poundage and ship-moneywhich most of them appeared unable to
answer; stillevery little difficulty was solved instantly when it
reached Burns: her memory seemed to have retained the substance of
the whole lessonand she was ready with answers on every point. I
kept expecting that Miss Scatcherd would praise her attention; but
instead of thatshe suddenly cried out


You dirty, disagreeable girl! you have never cleaned your nails
this morning!

Burns made no answer: I wondered at her silence. "Why thought I,
does she not explain that she could neither clean her nails nor
wash her faceas the water was frozen?"

My attention was now called off by Miss Smith desiring me to hold a
skein of thread: while she was winding itshe talked to me from
time to timeasking whether I had ever been at school before
whether I could markstitchknit&c.; till she dismissed meI
could not pursue my observations on Miss Scatcherd's movements.
When I returned to my seatthat lady was just delivering an order
of which I did not catch the import; but Burns immediately left the
classand going into the small inner room where the books were
keptreturned in half a minutecarrying in her hand a bundle of
twigs tied together at one end. This ominous tool she presented to
Miss Scatcherd with a respectful curtesy; then she quietlyand
without being toldunloosed her pinaforeand the teacher instantly
and sharply inflicted on her neck a dozen strokes with the bunch of
twigs. Not a tear rose to Burns' eye; andwhile I paused from my
sewingbecause my fingers quivered at this spectacle with a
sentiment of unavailing and impotent angernot a feature of her
pensive face altered its ordinary expression.

Hardened girl!exclaimed Miss Scatcherd; "nothing can correct you
of your slatternly habits: carry the rod away."

Burns obeyed: I looked at her narrowly as she emerged from the
book-closet; she was just putting back her handkerchief into her
pocketand the trace of a tear glistened on her thin cheek.

The play-hour in the evening I thought the pleasantest fraction of
the day at Lowood: the bit of breadthe draught of coffee
swallowed at five o'clock had revived vitalityif it had not
satisfied hunger: the long restraint of the day was slackened; the
schoolroom felt warmer than in the morning--its fires being allowed
to burn a little more brightlyto supplyin some measurethe


place of candlesnot yet introduced: the ruddy gloamingthe
licensed uproarthe confusion of many voices gave one a welcome
sense of liberty.

On the evening of the day on which I had seen Miss Scatcherd flog
her pupilBurnsI wandered as usual among the forms and tables and
laughing groups without a companionyet not feeling lonely: when I
passed the windowsI now and then lifted a blindand looked out;
it snowed fasta drift was already forming against the lower panes;
putting my ear close to the windowI could distinguish from the
gleeful tumult withinthe disconsolate moan of the wind outside.

Probablyif I had lately left a good home and kind parentsthis
would have been the hour when I should most keenly have regretted
the separation; that wind would then have saddened my heart; this
obscure chaos would have disturbed my peace! as it wasI derived
from both a strange excitementand reckless and feverishI wished
the wind to howl more wildlythe gloom to deepen to darknessand
the confusion to rise to clamour.

Jumping over formsand creeping under tablesI made my way to one
of the fire-places; therekneeling by the high wire fenderI found
Burnsabsorbedsilentabstracted from all round her by the
companionship of a bookwhich she read by the dim glare of the
embers.

Is it still 'Rasselas'?I askedcoming behind her.

Yes,she saidand I have just finished it.

And in five minutes more she shut it up. I was glad of this.
Now,thought II can perhaps get her to talk.I sat down by
her on the floor.

What is your name besides Burns?

Helen.

Do you come a long way from here?

I come from a place farther north, quite on the borders of
Scotland.

Will you ever go back?

I hope so; but nobody can be sure of the future.

You must wish to leave Lowood?

No! why should I? I was sent to Lowood to get an education; and it
would be of no use going away until I have attained that object.

But that teacher, Miss Scatcherd, is so cruel to you?

Cruel? Not at all! She is severe: she dislikes my faults.

And if I were in your place I should dislike her; I should resist
her. If she struck me with that rod, I should get it from her hand;
I should break it under her nose.

Probably you would do nothing of the sort: but if you did, Mr.
Brocklehurst would expel you from the school; that would be a great
grief to your relations. It is far better to endure patiently a
smart which nobody feels but yourself, than to commit a hasty action


whose evil consequences will extend to all connected with you; and
besides, the Bible bids us return good for evil.

But then it seems disgraceful to be flogged, and to be sent to
stand in the middle of a room full of people; and you are such a
great girl: I am far younger than you, and I could not bear it.

Yet it would be your duty to bear it, if you could not avoid it:
it is weak and silly to say you CANNOT BEAR what it is your fate to
be required to bear.

I heard her with wonder: I could not comprehend this doctrine of
endurance; and still less could I understand or sympathise with the
forbearance she expressed for her chastiser. Still I felt that
Helen Burns considered things by a light invisible to my eyes. I
suspected she might be right and I wrong; but I would not ponder the
matter deeply; like FelixI put it off to a more convenient season.

You say you have faults, Helen: what are they? To me you seem
very good.

Then learn from me, not to judge by appearances: I am, as Miss
Scatcherd said, slatternly; I seldom put, and never keep, things, in
order; I am careless; I forget rules; I read when I should learn my
lessons; I have no method; and sometimes I say, like you, I cannot
BEAR to be subjected to systematic arrangements. This is all very
provoking to Miss Scatcherd, who is naturally neat, punctual, and
particular.

And cross and cruel,I added; but Helen Burns would not admit my
addition: she kept silence.

Is Miss Temple as severe to you as Miss Scatcherd?

At the utterance of Miss Temple's namea soft smile flitted over
her grave face.

Miss Temple is full of goodness; it pains her to be severe to any
one, even the worst in the school: she sees my errors, and tells me
of them gently; and, if I do anything worthy of praise, she gives me
my meed liberally. One strong proof of my wretchedly defective
nature is, that even her expostulations, so mild, so rational, have
not influence to cure me of my faults; and even her praise, though I
value it most highly, cannot stimulate me to continued care and
foresight.

That is curious,said Iit is so easy to be careful.

For YOU I have no doubt it is. I observed you in your class this
morning, and saw you were closely attentive: your thoughts never
seemed to wander while Miss Miller explained the lesson and
questioned you. Now, mine continually rove away; when I should be
listening to Miss Scatcherd, and collecting all she says with
assiduity, often I lose the very sound of her voice; I fall into a
sort of dream. Sometimes I think I am in Northumberland, and that
the noises I hear round me are the bubbling of a little brook which
runs through Deepden, near our house;--then, when it comes to my
turn to reply, I have to be awakened; and having heard nothing of
what was read for listening to the visionary brook, I have no answer
ready.

Yet how well you replied this afternoon.

It was mere chance; the subject on which we had been reading had


interested me. This afternoon, instead of dreaming of Deepden, I
was wondering how a man who wished to do right could act so unjustly
and unwisely as Charles the First sometimes did; and I thought what
a pity it was that, with his integrity and conscientiousness, he
could see no farther than the prerogatives of the crown. If he had
but been able to look to a distance, and see how what they call the
spirit of the age was tending! Still, I like Charles--I respect
him--I pity him, poor murdered king! Yes, his enemies were the
worst: they shed blood they had no right to shed. How dared they
kill him!

Helen was talking to herself now: she had forgotten I could not
very well understand her--that I was ignorantor nearly soof the
subject she discussed. I recalled her to my level.

And when Miss Temple teaches you, do your thoughts wander then?

No, certainly, not often; because Miss Temple has generally
something to say which is newer than my own reflections; her
language is singularly agreeable to me, and the information she
communicates is often just what I wished to gain.

Well, then, with Miss Temple you are good?

Yes, in a passive way: I make no effort; I follow as inclination
guides me. There is no merit in such goodness.

A great deal: you are good to those who are good to you. It is
all I ever desire to be. If people were always kind and obedient to
those who are cruel and unjust, the wicked people would have it all
their own way: they would never feel afraid, and so they would
never alter, but would grow worse and worse. When we are struck at
without a reason, we should strike back again very hard; I am sure
we should--so hard as to teach the person who struck us never to do
it again.

You will change your mind, I hope, when you grow older: as yet you
are but a little untaught girl.

But I feel this, Helen; I must dislike those who, whatever I do to
please them, persist in disliking me; I must resist those who punish
me unjustly. It is as natural as that I should love those who show
me affection, or submit to punishment when I feel it is deserved.

Heathens and savage tribes hold that doctrine, but Christians and
civilised nations disown it.

How? I don't understand.

It is not violence that best overcomes hate--nor vengeance that
most certainly heals injury.

What then?

Read the New Testament, and observe what Christ says, and how He
acts; make His word your rule, and His conduct your example.

What does He say?

Love your enemies; bless them that curse you; do good to them that
hate you and despitefully use you.

Then I should love Mrs. Reed, which I cannot do; I should bless her
son John, which is impossible.


In her turnHelen Burns asked me to explainand I proceeded
forthwith to pour outin my own waythe tale of my sufferings and
resentments. Bitter and truculent when excitedI spoke as I felt
without reserve or softening.

Helen heard me patiently to the end: I expected she would then make
a remarkbut she said nothing.

Well,I asked impatientlyis not Mrs. Reed a hard-hearted, bad
woman?

She has been unkind to you, no doubt; because you see, she dislikes
your cast of character, as Miss Scatcherd does mine; but how
minutely you remember all she has done and said to you! What a
singularly deep impression her injustice seems to have made on your
heart! No ill-usage so brands its record on my feelings. Would you
not be happier if you tried to forget her severity, together with
the passionate emotions it excited? Life appears to me too short to
be spent in nursing animosity or registering wrongs. We are, and
must be, one and all, burdened with faults in this world: but the
time will soon come when, I trust, we shall put them off in putting
off our corruptible bodies; when debasement and sin will fall from
us with this cumbrous frame of flesh, and only the spark of the
spirit will remain,--the impalpable principle of light and thought,
pure as when it left the Creator to inspire the creature: whence it
came it will return; perhaps again to be communicated to some being
higher than man--perhaps to pass through gradations of glory, from
the pale human soul to brighten to the seraph! Surely it will
never, on the contrary, be suffered to degenerate from man to fiend?
No; I cannot believe that: I hold another creed: which no one ever
taught me, and which I seldom mention; but in which I delight, and
to which I cling: for it extends hope to all: it makes Eternity a
rest--a mighty home, not a terror and an abyss. Besides, with this
creed, I can so clearly distinguish between the criminal and his
crime; I can so sincerely forgive the first while I abhor the last:
with this creed revenge never worries my heart, degradation never
too deeply disgusts me, injustice never crushes me too low: I live
in calm, looking to the end.

Helen's headalways droopingsank a little lower as she finished
this sentence. I saw by her look she wished no longer to talk to
mebut rather to converse with her own thoughts. She was not
allowed much time for meditation: a monitora great rough girl
presently came upexclaiming in a strong Cumberland accent


Helen Burns, if you don't go and put your drawer in order, and fold
up your work this minute, I'll tell Miss Scatcherd to come and look
at it!

Helen sighed as her reverie fledand getting upobeyed the monitor
without reply as without delay.

CHAPTER VII

My first quarter at Lowood seemed an age; and not the golden age
either; it comprised an irksome struggle with difficulties in
habituating myself to new rules and unwonted tasks. The fear of
failure in these points harassed me worse than the physical
hardships of my lot; though these were no trifles.


During JanuaryFebruaryand part of Marchthe deep snowsand
after their meltingthe almost impassable roadsprevented our
stirring beyond the garden wallsexcept to go to church; but within
these limits we had to pass an hour every day in the open air. Our
clothing was insufficient to protect us from the severe cold: we
had no bootsthe snow got into our shoes and melted there: our
ungloved hands became numbed and covered with chilblainsas were
our feet: I remember well the distracting irritation I endured from
this cause every eveningwhen my feet inflamed; and the torture of
thrusting the swelledrawand stiff toes into my shoes in the
morning. Then the scanty supply of food was distressing: with the
keen appetites of growing childrenwe had scarcely sufficient to
keep alive a delicate invalid. From this deficiency of nourishment
resulted an abusewhich pressed hardly on the younger pupils:
whenever the famished great girls had an opportunitythey would
coax or menace the little ones out of their portion. Many a time I
have shared between two claimants the precious morsel of brown bread
distributed at tea-time; and after relinquishing to a third half the
contents of my mug of coffeeI have swallowed the remainder with an
accompaniment of secret tearsforced from me by the exigency of
hunger.

Sundays were dreary days in that wintry season. We had to walk two
miles to Brocklebridge Churchwhere our patron officiated. We set
out coldwe arrived at church colder: during the morning service
we became almost paralysed. It was too far to return to dinnerand
an allowance of cold meat and breadin the same penurious
proportion observed in our ordinary mealswas served round between
the services.

At the close of the afternoon service we returned by an exposed and
hilly roadwhere the bitter winter windblowing over a range of
snowy summits to the northalmost flayed the skin from our faces.

I can remember Miss Temple walking lightly and rapidly along our
drooping lineher plaid cloakwhich the frosty wind fluttered
gathered close about herand encouraging usby precept and
exampleto keep up our spiritsand march forwardas she said
like stalwart soldiers.The other teacherspoor thingswere
generally themselves too much dejected to attempt the task of
cheering others.

How we longed for the light and heat of a blazing fire when we got
back! Butto the little ones at leastthis was denied: each
hearth in the schoolroom was immediately surrounded by a double row
of great girlsand behind them the younger children crouched in
groupswrapping their starved arms in their pinafores.

A little solace came at tea-timein the shape of a double ration of
bread--a wholeinstead of a halfslice--with the delicious
addition of a thin scrape of butter: it was the hebdomadal treat to
which we all looked forward from Sabbath to Sabbath. I generally
contrived to reserve a moiety of this bounteous repast for myself;
but the remainder I was invariably obliged to part with.

The Sunday evening was spent in repeatingby heartthe Church
Catechismand the fifthsixthand seventh chapters of St.
Matthew; and in listening to a long sermonread by Miss Miller
whose irrepressible yawns attested her weariness. A frequent
interlude of these performances was the enactment of the part of
Eutychus by some half-dozen of little girlswhooverpowered with
sleepwould fall downif not out of the third loftyet off the
fourth formand be taken up half dead. The remedy wasto thrust


them forward into the centre of the schoolroomand oblige them to
stand there till the sermon was finished. Sometimes their feet
failed themand they sank together in a heap; they were then
propped up with the monitors' high stools.

I have not yet alluded to the visits of Mr. Brocklehurst; and indeed
that gentleman was from home during the greater part of the first
month after my arrival; perhaps prolonging his stay with his friend
the archdeacon: his absence was a relief to me. I need not say
that I had my own reasons for dreading his coming: but come he did
at last.

One afternoon (I had then been three weeks at Lowood)as I was
sitting with a slate in my handpuzzling over a sum in long
divisionmy eyesraised in abstraction to the windowcaught sight
of a figure just passing: I recognised almost instinctively that
gaunt outline; and whentwo minutes afterall the schoolteachers
includedrose en masseit was not necessary for me to look up in
order to ascertain whose entrance they thus greeted. A long stride
measured the schoolroomand presently beside Miss Templewho
herself had risenstood the same black column which had frowned on
me so ominously from the hearthrug of Gateshead. I now glanced
sideways at this piece of architecture. YesI was right: it was
Mr. Brocklehurstbuttoned up in a surtoutand looking longer
narrowerand more rigid than ever.

I had my own reasons for being dismayed at this apparition; too well
I remembered the perfidious hints given by Mrs. Reed about my
disposition&c.; the promise pledged by Mr. Brocklehurst to apprise
Miss Temple and the teachers of my vicious nature. All along I had
been dreading the fulfilment of this promise--I had been looking
out daily for the "Coming Man whose information respecting my past
life and conversation was to brand me as a bad child for ever: now
there he was.

He stood at Miss Temple's side; he was speaking low in her ear:
did not doubt he was making disclosures of my villainy; and I
watched her eye with painful anxiety, expecting every moment to see
its dark orb turn on me a glance of repugnance and contempt. I
listened too; and as I happened to be seated quite at the top of the
room, I caught most of what he said: its import relieved me from
immediate apprehension.

I supposeMiss Templethe thread I bought at Lowton will do; it
struck me that it would be just of the quality for the calico
chemisesand I sorted the needles to match. You may tell Miss
Smith that I forgot to make a memorandum of the darning needlesbut
she shall have some papers sent in next week; and she is noton any
accountto give out more than one at a time to each pupil: if they
have morethey are apt to be careless and lose them. AndO ma'am!
I wish the woollen stockings were better looked to!--when I was here
lastI went into the kitchen-garden and examined the clothes drying
on the line; there was a quantity of black hose in a very bad state
of repair: from the size of the holes in them I was sure they had
not been well mended from time to time."

He paused.

Your directions shall be attended to, sir,said Miss Temple.

And, ma'am,he continuedthe laundress tells me some of the
girls have two clean tuckers in the week: it is too much; the rules
limit them to one.


I think I can explain that circumstance, sir. Agnes and Catherine
Johnstone were invited to take tea with some friends at Lowton last
Thursday, and I gave them leave to put on clean tuckers for the
occasion.

Mr. Brocklehurst nodded.

Well, for once it may pass; but please not to let the circumstance
occur too often. And there is another thing which surprised me; I
find, in settling accounts with the housekeeper, that a lunch,
consisting of bread and cheese, has twice been served out to the
girls during the past fortnight. How is this? I looked over the
regulations, and I find no such meal as lunch mentioned. Who
introduced this innovation? and by what authority?

I must be responsible for the circumstance, sir,replied Miss
Temple: "the breakfast was so ill prepared that the pupils could
not possibly eat it; and I dared not allow them to remain fasting
till dinner-time."

Madam, allow me an instant. You are aware that my plan in bringing
up these girls is, not to accustom them to habits of luxury and
indulgence, but to render them hardy, patient, self-denying. Should
any little accidental disappointment of the appetite occur, such as
the spoiling of a meal, the under or the over dressing of a dish,
the incident ought not to be neutralised by replacing with something
more delicate the comfort lost, thus pampering the body and
obviating the aim of this institution; it ought to be improved to
the spiritual edification of the pupils, by encouraging them to
evince fortitude under temporary privation. A brief address on
those occasions would not be mistimed, wherein a judicious
instructor would take the opportunity of referring to the sufferings
of the primitive Christians; to the torments of martyrs; to the
exhortations of our blessed Lord Himself, calling upon His disciples
to take up their cross and follow Him; to His warnings that man
shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out
of the mouth of God; to His divine consolations, If ye suffer
hunger or thirst for My sakehappy are ye." Ohmadamwhen you
put bread and cheeseinstead of burnt porridgeinto these
children's mouthsyou may indeed feed their vile bodiesbut you
little think how you starve their immortal souls!"

Mr. Brocklehurst again paused--perhaps overcome by his feelings.
Miss Temple had looked down when he first began to speak to her; but
she now gazed straight before herand her facenaturally pale as
marbleappeared to be assuming also the coldness and fixity of that
material; especially her mouthclosed as if it would have required
a sculptor's chisel to open itand her brow settled gradually into
petrified severity.

MeantimeMr. Brocklehurststanding on the hearth with his hands
behind his backmajestically surveyed the whole school. Suddenly
his eye gave a blinkas if it had met something that either dazzled
or shocked its pupil; turninghe said in more rapid accents than he
had hitherto used


Miss Temple, Miss Temple, what--WHAT is that girl with curled hair?
Red hair, ma'am, curled--curled all over?And extending his cane
he pointed to the awful objecthis hand shaking as he did so.

It is Julia Severn,replied Miss Templevery quietly.

Julia Severn, ma'am! And why has she, or any other, curled hair?
Why, in defiance of every precept and principle of this house, does


she conform to the world so openly--here in an evangelical,
charitable establishment--as to wear her hair one mass of curls?

Julia's hair curls naturally,returned Miss Templestill more
quietly.

Naturally! Yes, but we are not to conform to nature; I wish these
girls to be the children of Grace: and why that abundance? I have
again and again intimated that I desire the hair to be arranged
closely, modestly, plainly. Miss Temple, that girl's hair must be
cut off entirely; I will send a barber to-morrow: and I see others
who have far too much of the excrescence--that tall girl, tell her
to turn round. Tell all the first form to rise up and direct their
faces to the wall.

Miss Temple passed her handkerchief over her lipsas if to smooth
away the involuntary smile that curled them; she gave the order
howeverand when the first class could take in what was required of
themthey obeyed. Leaning a little back on my benchI could see
the looks and grimaces with which they commented on this manoeuvre:
it was a pity Mr. Brocklehurst could not see them too; he would
perhaps have felt thatwhatever he might do with the outside of the
cup and platterthe inside was further beyond his interference than
he imagined.

He scrutinised the reverse of these living medals some five minutes
then pronounced sentence. These words fell like the knell of doom


All those top-knots must be cut off.

Miss Temple seemed to remonstrate.

Madam,he pursuedI have a Master to serve whose kingdom is not
of this world: my mission is to mortify in these girls the lusts of
the flesh; to teach them to clothe themselves with shame-facedness
and sobriety, not with braided hair and costly apparel; and each of
the young persons before us has a string of hair twisted in plaits
which vanity itself might have woven; these, I repeat, must be cut
off; think of the time wasted, of--

Mr. Brocklehurst was here interrupted: three other visitors
ladiesnow entered the room. They ought to have come a little
sooner to have heard his lecture on dressfor they were splendidly
attired in velvetsilkand furs. The two younger of the trio
(fine girls of sixteen and seventeen) had grey beaver hatsthen in
fashionshaded with ostrich plumesand from under the brim of this
graceful head-dress fell a profusion of light tresseselaborately
curled; the elder lady was enveloped in a costly velvet shawl
trimmed with ermineand she wore a false front of French curls.

These ladies were deferentially received by Miss Templeas Mrs. and
the Misses Brocklehurstand conducted to seats of honour at the top
of the room. It seems they had come in the carriage with their
reverend relativeand had been conducting a rummaging scrutiny of
the room upstairswhile he transacted business with the
housekeeperquestioned the laundressand lectured the
superintendent. They now proceeded to address divers remarks and
reproofs to Miss Smithwho was charged with the care of the linen
and the inspection of the dormitories: but I had no time to listen
to what they said; other matters called off and enchanted my
attention.

Hithertowhile gathering up the discourse of Mr. Brocklehurst and
Miss TempleI had notat the same timeneglected precautions to


secure my personal safety; which I thought would be effectedif I
could only elude observation. To this endI had sat well back on
the formand while seeming to be busy with my sumhad held my
slate in such a manner as to conceal my face: I might have escaped
noticehad not my treacherous slate somehow happened to slip from
my handand falling with an obtrusive crashdirectly drawn every
eye upon me; I knew it was all over nowandas I stooped to pick
up the two fragments of slateI rallied my forces for the worst.
It came.

A careless girl!said Mr. Brocklehurstand immediately after--"It
is the new pupilI perceive." And before I could draw breathI
must not forget I have a word to say respecting her.Then aloud:
how loud it seemed to me! "Let the child who broke her slate come
forward!"

Of my own accord I could not have stirred; I was paralysed: but the
two great girls who sit on each side of meset me on my legs and
pushed me towards the dread judgeand then Miss Temple gently
assisted me to his very feetand I caught her whispered counsel


Don't be afraid, Jane, I saw it was an accident; you shall not be
punished.

The kind whisper went to my heart like a dagger.

Another minute, and she will despise me for a hypocrite,thought
I; and an impulse of fury against ReedBrocklehurstand Co.
bounded in my pulses at the conviction. I was no Helen Burns.

Fetch that stool,said Mr. Brocklehurstpointing to a very high
one from which a monitor had just risen: it was brought.

Place the child upon it.

And I was placed thereby whom I don't know: I was in no condition
to note particulars; I was only aware that they had hoisted me up to
the height of Mr. Brocklehurst's nosethat he was within a yard of
meand that a spread of shot orange and purple silk pelisses and a
cloud of silvery plumage extended and waved below me.

Mr. Brocklehurst hemmed.

Ladies,said heturning to his familyMiss Temple, teachers,
and children, you all see this girl?

Of course they did; for I felt their eyes directed like burningglasses
against my scorched skin.

You see she is yet young; you observe she possesses the ordinary
form of childhood; God has graciously given her the shape that He
has given to all of us; no signal deformity points her out as a
marked character. Who would think that the Evil One had already
found a servant and agent in her? Yet such, I grieve to say, is the
case.

A pause--in which I began to steady the palsy of my nervesand to
feel that the Rubicon was passed; and that the trialno longer to
be shirkedmust be firmly sustained.

My dear children,pursued the black marble clergymanwith pathos
this is a sad, a melancholy occasion; for it becomes my duty to
warn you, that this girl, who might be one of God's own lambs, is a
little castaway: not a member of the true flock, but evidently an


interloper and an alien. You must be on your guard against her; you
must shun her example; if necessary, avoid her company, exclude her
from your sports, and shut her out from your converse. Teachers,
you must watch her: keep your eyes on her movements, weigh well her
words, scrutinise her actions, punish her body to save her soul:
if, indeed, such salvation be possible, for (my tongue falters while
I tell it) this girl, this child, the native of a Christian land,
worse than many a little heathen who says its prayers to Brahma and
kneels before Juggernaut--this girl is--a liar!

Now came a pause of ten minutesduring which Iby this time in
perfect possession of my witsobserved all the female Brocklehursts
produce their pocket-handkerchiefs and apply them to their optics
while the elderly lady swayed herself to and froand the two
younger ones whisperedHow shocking!Mr. Brocklehurst resumed.

This I learned from her benefactress; from the pious and charitable
lady who adopted her in her orphan state, reared her as her own
daughter, and whose kindness, whose generosity the unhappy girl
repaid by an ingratitude so bad, so dreadful, that at last her
excellent patroness was obliged to separate her from her own young
ones, fearful lest her vicious example should contaminate their
purity: she has sent her here to be healed, even as the Jews of old
sent their diseased to the troubled pool of Bethesda; and, teachers,
superintendent, I beg of you not to allow the waters to stagnate
round her.

With this sublime conclusionMr. Brocklehurst adjusted the top
button of his surtoutmuttered something to his familywho rose
bowed to Miss Templeand then all the great people sailed in state
from the room. Turning at the doormy judge said


Let her stand half-an-hour longer on that stool, and let no one
speak to her during the remainder of the day.

There was Ithenmounted aloft; Iwho had said I could not bear
the shame of standing on my natural feet in the middle of the room
was now exposed to general view on a pedestal of infamy. What my
sensations were no language can describe; but just as they all rose
stifling my breath and constricting my throata girl came up and
passed me: in passingshe lifted her eyes. What a strange light
inspired them! What an extraordinary sensation that ray sent
through me! How the new feeling bore me up! It was as if a martyr
a herohad passed a slave or victimand imparted strength in the
transit. I mastered the rising hysterialifted up my headand
took a firm stand on the stool. Helen Burns asked some slight
question about her work of Miss Smithwas chidden for the
triviality of the inquiryreturned to her placeand smiled at me
as she again went by. What a smile! I remember it nowand I know
that it was the effluence of fine intellectof true courage; it lit
up her marked lineamentsher thin faceher sunken grey eyelike a
reflection from the aspect of an angel. Yet at that moment Helen
Burns wore on her arm "the untidy badge;" scarcely an hour ago I had
heard her condemned by Miss Scatcherd to a dinner of bread and water
on the morrow because she had blotted an exercise in copying it out.
Such is the imperfect nature of man! such spots are there on the
disc of the clearest planet; and eyes like Miss Scatcherd's can only
see those minute defectsand are blind to the full brightness of
the orb.

CHAPTER VIII


Ere the half-hour endedfive o'clock struck; school was dismissed
and all were gone into the refectory to tea. I now ventured to
descend: it was deep dusk; I retired into a corner and sat down on
the floor. The spell by which I had been so far supported began to
dissolve; reaction took placeand soonso overwhelming was the
grief that seized meI sank prostrate with my face to the ground.
Now I wept: Helen Burns was not here; nothing sustained me; left to
myself I abandoned myselfand my tears watered the boards. I had
meant to be so goodand to do so much at Lowood: to make so many
friendsto earn respect and win affection. Already I had made
visible progress: that very morning I had reached the head of my
class; Miss Miller had praised me warmly; Miss Temple had smiled
approbation; she had promised to teach me drawingand to let me
learn Frenchif I continued to make similar improvement two months
longer: and then I was well received by my fellow-pupils; treated
as an equal by those of my own ageand not molested by any; now
here I lay again crushed and trodden on; and could I ever rise more?

Never,I thought; and ardently I wished to die. While sobbing out
this wish in broken accentssome one approached: I started up-again
Helen Burns was near me; the fading fires just showed her
coming up the longvacant room; she brought my coffee and bread.

Come, eat something,she said; but I put both away from me
feeling as if a drop or a crumb would have choked me in my present
condition. Helen regarded meprobably with surprise: I could not
now abate my agitationthough I tried hard; I continued to weep
aloud. She sat down on the ground near meembraced her knees with
her armsand rested her head upon them; in that attitude she
remained silent as an Indian. I was the first who spoke


Helen, why do you stay with a girl whom everybody believes to be a
liar?

Everybody, Jane? Why, there are only eighty people who have heard
you called so, and the world contains hundreds of millions.

But what have I to do with millions? The eighty, I know, despise
me.

Jane, you are mistaken: probably not one in the school either
despises or dislikes you: many, I am sure, pity you much.

How can they pity me after what Mr. Brocklehurst has said?

Mr. Brocklehurst is not a god: nor is he even a great and admired
man: he is little liked here; he never took steps to make himself
liked. Had he treated you as an especial favourite, you would have
found enemies, declared or covert, all around you; as it is, the
greater number would offer you sympathy if they dared. Teachers and
pupils may look coldly on you for a day or two, but friendly
feelings are concealed in their hearts; and if you persevere in
doing well, these feelings will ere long appear so much the more
evidently for their temporary suppression. Besides, Jane--she
paused.

Well, Helen?said Iputting my hand into hers: she chafed my
fingers gently to warm themand went on


If all the world hated you, and believed you wicked, while your own
conscience approved you, and absolved you from guilt, you would not
be without friends.


No; I know I should think well of myself; but that is not enough:
if others don't love me I would rather die than live--I cannot bear
to be solitary and hated, Helen. Look here; to gain some real
affection from you, or Miss Temple, or any other whom I truly love,
I would willingly submit to have the bone of my arm broken, or to
let a bull toss me, or to stand behind a kicking horse, and let it
dash its hoof at my chest--

Hush, Jane! you think too much of the love of human beings; you are
too impulsive, too vehement; the sovereign hand that created your
frame, and put life into it, has provided you with other resources
than your feeble self, or than creatures feeble as you. Besides
this earth, and besides the race of men, there is an invisible world
and a kingdom of spirits: that world is round us, for it is
everywhere; and those spirits watch us, for they are commissioned to
guard us; and if we were dying in pain and shame, if scorn smote us
on all sides, and hatred crushed us, angels see our tortures,
recognise our innocence (if innocent we be: as I know you are of
this charge which Mr. Brocklehurst has weakly and pompously repeated
at second-hand from Mrs. Reed; for I read a sincere nature in your
ardent eyes and on your clear front), and God waits only the
separation of spirit from flesh to crown us with a full reward.
Why, then, should we ever sink overwhelmed with distress, when life
is so soon over, and death is so certain an entrance to happiness-to
glory?

I was silent; Helen had calmed me; but in the tranquillity she
imparted there was an alloy of inexpressible sadness. I felt the
impression of woe as she spokebut I could not tell whence it came;
and whenhaving done speakingshe breathed a little fast and
coughed a short coughI momentarily forgot my own sorrows to yield
to a vague concern for her.

Resting my head on Helen's shoulderI put my arms round her waist;
she drew me to herand we reposed in silence. We had not sat long
thuswhen another person came in. Some heavy cloudsswept from
the sky by a rising windhad left the moon bare; and her light
streaming in through a window nearshone full both on us and on the
approaching figurewhich we at once recognised as Miss Temple.

I came on purpose to find you, Jane Eyre,said she; "I want you in
my room; and as Helen Burns is with youshe may come too."

We went; following the superintendent's guidancewe had to thread
some intricate passagesand mount a staircase before we reached her
apartment; it contained a good fireand looked cheerful. Miss
Temple told Helen Burns to be seated in a low arm-chair on one side
of the hearthand herself taking anothershe called me to her
side.

Is it all over?she askedlooking down at my face. "Have you
cried your grief away?"

I am afraid I never shall do that.

Why?

Because I have been wrongly accused; and you, ma'am, and everybody
else, will now think me wicked.

We shall think you what you prove yourself to be, my child.
Continue to act as a good girl, and you will satisfy us.


Shall I, Miss Temple?

You will,said shepassing her arm round me. "And now tell me
who is the lady whom Mr. Brocklehurst called your benefactress?"

Mrs. Reed, my uncle's wife. My uncle is dead, and he left me to
her care.

Did she not, then, adopt you of her own accord?

No, ma'am; she was sorry to have to do it: but my uncle, as I have
often heard the servants say, got her to promise before he died that
she would always keep me.

Well now, Jane, you know, or at least I will tell you, that when a
criminal is accused, he is always allowed to speak in his own
defence. You have been charged with falsehood; defend yourself to
me as well as you can. Say whatever your memory suggests is true;
but add nothing and exaggerate nothing.

I resolvedin the depth of my heartthat I would be most moderate-
most correct; andhaving reflected a few minutes in order to
arrange coherently what I had to sayI told her all the story of my
sad childhood. Exhausted by emotionmy language was more subdued
than it generally was when it developed that sad theme; and mindful
of Helen's warnings against the indulgence of resentmentI infused
into the narrative far less of gall and wormwood than ordinary.
Thus restrained and simplifiedit sounded more credible: I felt as
I went on that Miss Temple fully believed me.

In the course of the tale I had mentioned Mr. Lloyd as having come
to see me after the fit: for I never forgot theto mefrightful
episode of the red-room: in detailing whichmy excitement was
surein some degreeto break bounds; for nothing could soften in
my recollection the spasm of agony which clutched my heart when Mrs.
Reed spurned my wild supplication for pardonand locked me a second
time in the dark and haunted chamber.

I had finished: Miss Temple regarded me a few minutes in silence;
she then said


I know something of Mr. Lloyd; I shall write to him; if his reply
agrees with your statement, you shall be publicly cleared from every
imputation; to me, Jane, you are clear now.

She kissed meand still keeping me at her side (where I was well
contented to standfor I derived a child's pleasure from the
contemplation of her faceher dressher one or two ornamentsher
white foreheadher clustered and shining curlsand beaming dark
eyes)she proceeded to address Helen Burns.

How are you to-night, Helen? Have you coughed much to-day?

Not quite so much, I think, ma'am.

And the pain in your chest?

It is a little better.

Miss Temple got uptook her hand and examined her pulse; then she
returned to her own seat: as she resumed itI heard her sigh low.
She was pensive a few minutesthen rousing herselfshe said
cheerfully



But you two are my visitors to-night; I must treat you as such.
She rang her bell.

Barbara,she said to the servant who answered itI have not yet
had tea; bring the tray and place cups for these two young ladies.

And a tray was soon brought. How prettyto my eyesdid the china
cups and bright teapot lookplaced on the little round table near
the fire! How fragrant was the steam of the beverageand the scent
of the toast! of whichhoweverIto my dismay (for I was
beginning to be hungry) discerned only a very small portion: Miss
Temple discerned it too.

Barbara,said shecan you not bring a little more bread and
butter? There is not enough for three.

Barbara went out: she returned soon


Madam, Mrs. Harden says she has sent up the usual quantity.

Mrs. Hardenbe it observedwas the housekeeper: a woman after Mr.
Brocklehurst's own heartmade up of equal parts of whalebone and
iron.

Oh, very well!returned Miss Temple; "we must make it doBarbara
I suppose." And as the girl withdrew she addedsmiling
Fortunately, I have it in my power to supply deficiencies for this
once.

Having invited Helen and me to approach the tableand placed before
each of us a cup of tea with one delicious but thin morsel of toast
she got upunlocked a drawerand taking from it a parcel wrapped
in paperdisclosed presently to our eyes a good-sized seed-cake.

I meant to give each of you some of this to take with you,said
shebut as there is so little toast, you must have it now,and
she proceeded to cut slices with a generous hand.

We feasted that evening as on nectar and ambrosia; and not the least
delight of the entertainment was the smile of gratification with
which our hostess regarded usas we satisfied our famished
appetites on the delicate fare she liberally supplied.

Tea over and the tray removedshe again summoned us to the fire; we
sat one on each side of herand now a conversation followed between
her and Helenwhich it was indeed a privilege to be admitted to
hear.

Miss Temple had always something of serenity in her airof state in
her mienof refined propriety in her languagewhich precluded
deviation into the ardentthe excitedthe eager: something which
chastened the pleasure of those who looked on her and listened to
herby a controlling sense of awe; and such was my feeling now:
but as to Helen BurnsI was struck with wonder.

The refreshing mealthe brilliant firethe presence and kindness
of her beloved instructressorperhapsmore than all these
something in her own unique mindhad roused her powers within her.
They wokethey kindled: firstthey glowed in the bright tint of
her cheekwhich till this hour I had never seen but pale and
bloodless; then they shone in the liquid lustre of her eyeswhich
had suddenly acquired a beauty more singular than that of Miss
Temple's--a beauty neither of fine colour nor long eyelashnor
pencilled browbut of meaningof movementof radiance. Then her


soul sat on her lipsand language flowedfrom what source I cannot
tell. Has a girl of fourteen a heart large enoughvigorous enough
to hold the swelling spring of purefullfervid eloquence? Such
was the characteristic of Helen's discourse on thatto me
memorable evening; her spirit seemed hastening to live within a very
brief span as much as many live during a protracted existence.

They conversed of things I had never heard of; of nations and times
past; of countries far away; of secrets of nature discovered or
guessed at: they spoke of books: how many they had read! What
stores of knowledge they possessed! Then they seemed so familiar
with French names and French authors: but my amazement reached its
climax when Miss Temple asked Helen if she sometimes snatched a
moment to recall the Latin her father had taught herand taking a
book from a shelfbade her read and construe a page of Virgil; and
Helen obeyedmy organ of veneration expanding at every sounding
line. She had scarcely finished ere the bell announced bedtime! no
delay could be admitted; Miss Temple embraced us bothsayingas
she drew us to her heart


God bless you, my children!

Helen she held a little longer than me: she let her go more
reluctantly; it was Helen her eye followed to the door; it was for
her she a second time breathed a sad sigh; for her she wiped a tear
from her cheek.

On reaching the bedroomwe heard the voice of Miss Scatcherd: she
was examining drawers; she had just pulled out Helen Burns'sand
when we entered Helen was greeted with a sharp reprimandand told
that to-morrow she should have half-a-dozen of untidily folded
articles pinned to her shoulder.

My things were indeed in shameful disorder,murmured Helen to me
in a low voice: "I intended to have arranged thembut I forgot."

Next morningMiss Scatcherd wrote in conspicuous characters on a
piece of pasteboard the word "Slattern and bound it like a
phylactery round Helen's large, mild, intelligent, and benignlooking
forehead. She wore it till evening, patient, unresentful,
regarding it as a deserved punishment. The moment Miss Scatcherd
withdrew after afternoon school, I ran to Helen, tore it off, and
thrust it into the fire: the fury of which she was incapable had
been burning in my soul all day, and tears, hot and large, had
continually been scalding my cheek; for the spectacle of her sad
resignation gave me an intolerable pain at the heart.

About a week subsequently to the incidents above narrated, Miss
Temple, who had written to Mr. Lloyd, received his answer: it
appeared that what he said went to corroborate my account. Miss
Temple, having assembled the whole school, announced that inquiry
had been made into the charges alleged against Jane Eyre, and that
she was most happy to be able to pronounce her completely cleared
from every imputation. The teachers then shook hands with me and
kissed me, and a murmur of pleasure ran through the ranks of my
companions.

Thus relieved of a grievous load, I from that hour set to work
afresh, resolved to pioneer my way through every difficulty: I
toiled hard, and my success was proportionate to my efforts; my
memory, not naturally tenacious, improved with practice; exercise
sharpened my wits; in a few weeks I was promoted to a higher class;
in less than two months I was allowed to commence French and
drawing. I learned the first two tenses of the verb ETRE, and


sketched my first cottage (whose walls, by-the-bye, outrivalled in
slope those of the leaning tower of Pisa), on the same day. That
night, on going to bed, I forgot to prepare in imagination the
Barmecide supper of hot roast potatoes, or white bread and new milk,
with which I was wont to amuse my inward cravings: I feasted
instead on the spectacle of ideal drawings, which I saw in the dark;
all the work of my own hands: freely pencilled houses and trees,
picturesque rocks and ruins, Cuyp-like groups of cattle, sweet
paintings of butterflies hovering over unblown roses, of birds
picking at ripe cherries, of wren's nests enclosing pearl-like eggs,
wreathed about with young ivy sprays. I examined, too, in thought,
the possibility of my ever being able to translate currently a
certain little French story which Madame Pierrot had that day shown
me; nor was that problem solved to my satisfaction ere I fell
sweetly asleep.

Well has Solomon said--Better is a dinner of herbs where love is
than a stalled ox and hatred therewith."

I would not now have exchanged Lowood with all its privations for
Gateshead and its daily luxuries.

CHAPTER IX

But the privationsor rather the hardshipsof Lowood lessened.
Spring drew on: she was indeed already come; the frosts of winter
had ceased; its snows were meltedits cutting winds ameliorated.
My wretched feetflayed and swollen to lameness by the sharp air of
Januarybegan 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 genialand a greenness grew over
those brown bedswhichfreshening dailysuggested the thought
that Hope traversed them at nightand left each morning brighter
traces of her steps. Flowers peeped out amongst the leaves; snowdrops
crocusespurple auriculasand golden-eyed pansies. On
Thursday afternoons (half-holidays) we now took walksand found
still sweeter flowers opening by the waysideunder the hedges.

I discoveredtoothat a great pleasurean enjoyment which the
horizon only boundedlay all outside the high and spike-guarded
walls of our garden: this pleasure consisted in prospect of noble
summits girdling a great hill-hollowrich in verdure and shadow; in
a bright beckfull of dark stones and sparkling eddies. How
different had this scene looked when I viewed it laid out beneath
the iron sky of winterstiffened in frostshrouded with snow!-when
mists as chill as death wandered to the impulse of east winds
along those purple peaksand rolled down "ing" and holm till they
blended with the frozen fog of the beck! That beck itself was then
a torrentturbid and curbless: it tore asunder the woodand sent
a raving sound through the airoften thickened with wild rain or
whirling sleet; and for the forest on its banksTHAT showed only
ranks of skeletons.

April advanced to May: a bright serene May it was; days of blue
skyplacid sunshineand soft western or southern gales filled up
its duration. And now vegetation matured with vigour; Lowood shook
loose its tresses; it became all greenall flowery; its great elm
ashand oak skeletons were restored to majestic life; woodland


plants sprang up profusely in its recesses; unnumbered varieties of
moss filled its hollowsand 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 fullyfreeunwatchedand
almost alone: for this unwonted liberty and pleasure there was a
causeto which it now becomes my task to advert.

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

That forest-dellwhere Lowood laywas the cradle of fog and fogbred
pestilence; whichquickening with the quickening springcrept
into the Orphan Asylumbreathed typhus through its crowded
schoolroom and dormitoryandere May arrivedtransformed 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 uprules 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 otherwiseno one had
leisure to watch or restrain them. Miss Temple's whole attention
was absorbed by the patients: she lived in the sick-roomnever
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. Manyalready smittenwent
home only to die: some died at the schooland were buried quietly
and quicklythe nature of the malady forbidding delay.

While disease had thus become an inhabitant of Lowoodand death its
frequent visitor; while there was gloom and fear within its walls;
while its rooms and passages steamed with hospital smellsthe drug
and the pastille striving vainly to overcome the effluvia of
mortalitythat bright May shone unclouded over the bold hills and
beautiful woodland out of doors. Its gardentooglowed with
flowers: hollyhocks had sprung up tall as treeslilies 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 outmorning and eveningtheir scent of spice and apples; and
these fragrant treasures were all useless for most of the inmates of
Lowoodexcept to furnish now and then a handful of herbs and
blossoms to put in a coffin.

But Iand the rest who continued wellenjoyed fully the beauties
of the scene and season; they let us ramble in the woodlike
gipsiesfrom morning till night; we did what we likedwent 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 gonedriven away by the fear of
infection; her successorwho had been matron at the Lowton
Dispensaryunused to the ways of her new abodeprovided with
comparative liberality. Besidesthere were fewer to feed; the sick
could eat little; our breakfast-basins were better filled; when
there was no time to prepare a regular dinnerwhich often happened
she would give us a large piece of cold pieor a thick slice of
bread and cheeseand this we carried away with us to the wood
where we each chose the spot we liked bestand dined sumptuously.


My favourite seat was a smooth and broad stonerising white and dry
from the very middle of the beckand only to be got at by wading
through the water; a feat I accomplished barefoot. The stone was
just broad enough to accommodatecomfortablyanother girl and me
at that time my chosen comrade--one Mary Ann Wilson; a shrewd
observant personagewhose society I took pleasure inpartly
because she was witty and originaland partly because she had a
manner which set me at my ease. Some years older than Ishe knew
more of the worldand could tell me many things I liked to hear:
with her my curiosity found gratification: to my faults also she
gave ample indulgencenever imposing curb or rein on anything I
said. She had a turn for narrativeI for analysis; she liked to
informI to question; so we got on swimmingly togetherderiving
much entertainmentif not much improvementfrom our mutual
intercourse.

And wheremeantimewas 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 pare society? Surely the
Mary Arm Wilson I have mentioned was inferior to my first
acquaintance: she could only tell me amusing storiesand
reciprocate any racy and pungent gossip I chose to indulge in;
whileif I have spoken truth of Helenshe was qualified to give
those who enjoyed the privilege of her converse a taste of far
higher things.

Truereader; and I knew and felt this: and though I am a defective
beingwith many faults and few redeeming pointsyet I never tired
of Helen Burns; nor ever ceased to cherish for her a sentiment of
attachmentas strongtenderand respectful as any that ever
animated my heart. How could it be otherwisewhen Helenat all
times and under all circumstancesevinced for me a quiet and
faithful friendshipwhich ill-humour never sourednor 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 notI was toldin the hospital portion of the house with
the fever patients; for her complaint was consumptionnot typhus:
and by consumption Iin my ignoranceunderstood 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 afternoonsand being taken by Miss
Temple into the garden; buton these occasionsI 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 upand sat at a
distance under the verandah.

One eveningin the beginning of JuneI had stayed out very late
with Mary Ann in the wood; we hadas usualseparated ourselves
from the othersand had wandered far; so far that we lost our way
and had to ask it at a lonely cottagewhere 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 backit was after moonrise: a ponywhich
we knew to be the surgeon'swas standing at the garden door. Mary
Ann remarked that she supposed some one must be very illas 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 forestand which I feared
would wither if I left them till the morning. This doneI lingered
yet a little longer: the flowers smelt so sweet as the dew fell; it
was such a pleasant eveningso sereneso 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 mightwhen 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 recoiledbaffled; and for the first time glancing
behindon each sideand before itit 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 totteringand plunging amid that chaos. While pondering
this new ideaI heard the front door open; Mr. Bates came outand
with him was a nurse. After she had seen him mount his horse and
departshe was about to close the doorbut 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 phraseuttered in my hearing yesterdaywould have only
conveyed the notion that she was about to be removed to
Northumberlandto 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 worldand that she was going to be taken to the region of
spiritsif such region there were. I experienced a shock of
horrorthen a strong thrill of griefthen 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'clockand Miss Miller was calling the pupils to go to bed.

It might be two hours laterprobably near elevenwhen I--not
having been able to fall asleepand deemingfrom the perfect
silence of the dormitorythat my companions were all wrapt in
profound repose--rose softlyput on my frock over my night-dress
andwithout shoescrept from the apartmentand 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 windowsenabled 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 staircasetraversed a portion of the house
belowand succeeded in opening and shuttingwithout noisetwo
doorsI reached another flight of steps; these I mountedand 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 nearI found the door slightly ajar; probably
to admit some fresh air into the close abode of sickness.
Indisposed to hesitateand full of impatient impulses--soul and
senses quivering with keen throes--I put it back and looked in. My
eye sought Helenand feared to find death.

Close by Miss Temple's bedand half covered with its white
curtainsthere stood a little crib. I saw the outline of a form
under the clothesbut 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 curtainbut I preferred speaking before I
withdrew it. I still recoiled at the dread of seeing a corpse.

Helen!I whispered softlyare you awake?

She stirred herselfput back the curtainand I saw her facepale
wastedbut quite composed: she looked so little changed that my
fear was instantly dissipated.

Can it be you, Jane?she askedin her own gentle voice.

Oh!I thoughtshe 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 coldand her
cheek both cold and thinand 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 stoppeddistressed. While I tried to devour my
tearsa fit of coughing seized Helen; it did nothoweverwake the
nurse; when it was overshe 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 meand I nestled close to her.
After a long silenceshe resumedstill 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 questionedbut this time only in thought. "Where is that
region? Does it exist?" And I clasped my arms closer round 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 saidin
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 way.

Are you warm, darling?

Yes.

Good-night, Jane.

Good-night, Helen.

She kissed meand I herand 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 Templeon returning to her own room
at dawnhad found me laid in the little crib; my face against Helen
Burns's shouldermy arms round her neck. I was asleepand 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 spotinscribed with her nameand the word
Resurgam.


CHAPTER X

Hitherto I have recorded in detail the events of my insignificant
existence: to the first ten years of my life I have given almost as
many chapters. But this is not to be a regular autobiography. I am
only bound to invoke Memory where I know her responses will possess
some degree of interest; therefore I now pass a space of eight years
almost in silence: a few lines only are necessary to keep up the
links of connection.

When the typhus fever had fulfilled its mission of devastation at
Lowoodit gradually disappeared from thence; but not till its
virulence and the number of its victims had drawn public attention
on the school. Inquiry was made into the origin of the scourgeand
by degrees various facts came out which excited public indignation
in a high degree. The unhealthy nature of the site; the quantity
and quality of the children's food; the brackishfetid water used
in its preparation; the pupils' wretched clothing and
accommodations--all these things were discoveredand the discovery
produced a result mortifying to Mr. Brocklehurstbut beneficial to
the institution.

Several wealthy and benevolent individuals in the county subscribed
largely for the erection of a more convenient building in a better
situation; new regulations were made; improvements in diet and
clothing introduced; the funds of the school were intrusted to the
management of a committee. Mr. Brocklehurstwhofrom his wealth
and family connectionscould not be overlookedstill retained the
post of treasurer; but he was aided in the discharge of his duties
by gentlemen of rather more enlarged and sympathising minds: his
office of inspectortoowas shared by those who knew how to
combine reason with strictnesscomfort with economycompassion
with uprightness. The schoolthus improvedbecame in time a truly
useful and noble institution. I remained an inmate of its walls
after its regenerationfor eight years: six as pupiland two as
teacher; and in both capacities I bear my testimony to its value and
importance.

During these eight years my life was uniform: but not unhappy
because it was not inactive. I had the means of an excellent
education placed within my reach; a fondness for some of my studies
and a desire to excel in alltogether with a great delight in
pleasing my teachersespecially such as I lovedurged me on: I
availed myself fully of the advantages offered me. In time I rose
to be the first girl of the first class; then I was invested with
the office of teacher; which I discharged with zeal for two years:
but at the end of that time I altered.

Miss Templethrough all changeshad thus far continued
superintendent of the seminary: to her instruction I owed the best
part of my acquirements; her friendship and society had been my
continual solace; she had stood me in the stead of mother
governessandlatterlycompanion. At this period she married
removed with her husband (a clergymanan excellent manalmost
worthy of such a wife) to a distant countyand consequently was
lost to me.

From the day she left I was no longer the same: with her was gone
every settled feelingevery association that had made Lowood in


some degree a home to me. I had imbibed from her something of her
nature and much of her habits: more harmonious thoughts: what
seemed better regulated feelings had become the inmates of my mind.
I had given in allegiance to duty and order; I was quiet; I believed
I was content: to the eyes of othersusually even to my ownI
appeared a disciplined and subdued character.

But destinyin the shape of the Rev. Mr. Nasmythcame between me
and Miss Temple: I saw her in her travelling dress step into a
post-chaiseshortly after the marriage ceremony; I watched the
chaise mount the hill and disappear beyond its brow; and then
retired to my own roomand there spent in solitude the greatest
part of the half-holiday granted in honour of the occasion.

I walked about the chamber most of the time. I imagined myself only
to be regretting my lossand thinking how to repair it; but when my
reflections were concludedand I looked up and found that the
afternoon was goneand evening far advancedanother discovery
dawned on menamelythat in the interval I had undergone a
transforming process; that my mind had put off all it had borrowed
of Miss Temple--or rather that she had taken with her the serene
atmosphere I had been breathing in her vicinity--and that now I was
left in my natural elementand beginning to feel the stirring of
old emotions. It did not seem as if a prop were withdrawnbut
rather as if a motive were gone: it was not the power to be
tranquil which had failed mebut the reason for tranquillity was no
more. My world had for some years been in Lowood: my experience
had been of its rules and systems; now I remembered that the real
world was wideand that a varied field of hopes and fearsof
sensations and excitementsawaited those who had courage to go
forth into its expanseto seek real knowledge of life amidst its
perils.

I went to my windowopened itand 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 remotethe blue peaks; it was those I
longed to surmount; all within their boundary of rock and heath
seemed prison-groundexile limits. I traced the white road winding
round the base of one mountainand 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 Lowoodand 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-rulesschool-dutiesschool-habits and
notionsand voicesand facesand phrasesand costumesand
preferencesand 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 changestimulus: that petitiontooseemed
swept off into vague space: "Then I cried, half desperate, grant
me at least a new servitude!"

Here a bellringing the hour of suppercalled 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 recurby a
prolonged effusion of small talk. How I wished sleep would silence


her. It seemed as ifcould I but go back to the idea which had
last entered my mind as I stood at the windowsome inventive
suggestion would rise for my relief.

Miss Gryce snored at last; she was a heavy Welshwomanand till now
her habitual nasal strains had never been regarded by me in any
other light than as a nuisance; to-night I hailed the first deep
notes with satisfaction; I was debarrassed of interruption; my halfeffaced
thought instantly revived.

A new servitude! There is something in that,I soliloquised
(mentallybe it understood; I did not talk aloud)I know there
is, because it does not sound too sweet; it is not like such words
as Liberty, Excitement, Enjoyment: delightful sounds truly; but no
more than sounds for me; and so hollow and fleeting that it is mere
waste of time to listen to them. But Servitude! That must be
matter of fact. Any one may serve: I have served here eight years;
now all I want is to serve elsewhere. Can I not get so much of my
own will? Is not the thing feasible? Yes--yes--the end is not so
difficult; if I had only a brain active enough to ferret out the
means of attaining it.

I sat up in bed by way of arousing this said brain: it was a chilly
night; I covered my shoulders with a shawland then I proceeded TO
THINK again with all my might.

What do I want? A new place, in a new house, amongst new faces,
under new circumstances: I want this because it is of no use
wanting anything better. How do people do to get a new place? They
apply to friends, I suppose: I have no friends. There are many
others who have no friends, who must look about for themselves and
be their own helpers; and what is their resource?

I could not tell: nothing answered me; I then ordered my brain to
find a responseand quickly. It worked and worked faster: I felt
the pulses throb in my head and temples; but for nearly an hour it
worked in chaos; and no result came of its efforts. Feverish with
vain labourI got up and took a turn in the room; undrew the
curtainnoted a star or twoshivered with coldand again crept to
bed.

A kind fairyin my absencehad surely dropped the required
suggestion on my pillow; for as I lay downit came quietly and
naturally to my mind.--"Those who want situations advertise; you
must advertise in the -shire Herald."

How? I know nothing about advertising.

Replies rose smooth and prompt now:


You must enclose the advertisement and the money to pay for it
under a cover directed to the editor of the Herald; you must put it,
the first opportunity you have, into the post at Lowton; answers
must be addressed to J.E., at the post-office there; you can go and
inquire in about a week after you send your letter, if any are come,
and act accordingly.

This scheme I went over twicethrice; it was then digested in my
mind; I had it in a clear practical form: I felt satisfiedand
fell asleep.

With earliest dayI was up: I had my advertisement written
enclosedand directed before the bell rang to rouse the school; it
ran thus:



A young lady accustomed to tuition(had I not been a teacher two
years?) "is desirous of meeting with a situation in a private family
where the children are under fourteen (I thought that as I was
barely eighteenit would not do to undertake the guidance of pupils
nearer my own age). She is qualified to teach the usual branches of
a good English educationtogether with FrenchDrawingand Music"
(in those daysreaderthis now narrow catalogue of
accomplishmentswould have been held tolerably comprehensive).
Address, J.E., Post-office, Lowton, -shire.

This document remained locked in my drawer all day: after teaI
asked leave of the new superintendent to go to Lowtonin order to
perform some small commissions for myself and one or two of my
fellow-teachers; permission was readily granted; I went. It was a
walk of two milesand the evening was wetbut the days were still
long; I visited a shop or twoslipped the letter into the postoffice
and came back through heavy rainwith streaming garments
but with a relieved heart.

The succeeding week seemed long: it came to an end at last
howeverlike all sublunary thingsand once moretowards the close
of a pleasant autumn dayI found myself afoot on the road to
Lowton. A picturesque track it wasby the way; lying along the
side of the beck and through the sweetest curves of the dale: but
that day I thought more of the lettersthat might or might not be
awaiting me at the little burgh whither I was boundthan of the
charms of lea and water.

My ostensible errand on this occasion was to get measured for a pair
of shoes; so I discharged that business firstand when it was done
I stepped across the clean and quiet little street from the
shoemaker's to the post-office: it was kept by an old damewho
wore horn spectacles on her noseand black mittens on her hands.

Are there any letters for J.E.?I asked.

She peered at me over her spectaclesand then she opened a drawer
and fumbled among its contents for a long timeso long that my
hopes began to falter. At lasthaving held a document before her
glasses for nearly five minutesshe presented it across the
counteraccompanying the act by another inquisitive and mistrustful
glance--it was for J.E.

Is there only one?I demanded.

There are no more,said she; and I put it in my pocket and turned
my face homeward: I could not open it then; rules obliged me to be
back by eightand it was already half-past seven.

Various duties awaited me on my arrival. I had to sit with the
girls during their hour of study; then it was my turn to read
prayers; to see them to bed: afterwards I supped with the other
teachers. Even when we finally retired for the nightthe
inevitable Miss Gryce was still my companion: we had only a short
end of candle in our candlestickand I dreaded lest she should talk
till it was all burnt out; fortunatelyhoweverthe heavy supper
she had eaten produced a soporific effect: she was already snoring
before I had finished undressing. There still remained an inch of
candle: I now took out my letter; the seal was an initial F.; I
broke it; the contents were brief.

If J.E., who advertised in the -shire Herald of last Thursday,
possesses the acquirements mentioned, and if she is in a position to


give satisfactory references as to character and competency, a
situation can be offered her where there is but one pupil, a little
girl, under ten years of age; and where the salary is thirty pounds
per annum. J.E. is requested to send references, name, address, and
all particulars to the direction:


Mrs. FairfaxThornfieldnear Millcote-shire."

I examined the document long: the writing was old-fashioned and
rather uncertainlike that of in elderly lady. This circumstance
was satisfactory: a private fear had haunted methat in thus
acting for myselfand by my own guidanceI ran the risk of getting
into some scrape; andabove all thingsI wished the result of my
endeavours to be respectableproperen regle. I now felt that an
elderly lady was no bad ingredient in the business I had on hand.
Mrs. Fairfax! I saw her in a black gown and widow's cap; frigid
perhapsbut not uncivil: a model of elderly English
respectability. Thornfield! thatdoubtlesswas the name of her
house: a neat orderly spotI was sure; though I failed in my
efforts to conceive a correct plan of the premises. Millcoteshire;
I brushed up my recollections of the map of EnglandyesI
saw it; both the shire and the town. -shire was seventy miles
nearer London than the remote county where I now resided: that was
a recommendation to me. I longed to go where there was life and
movement: Millcote was a large manufacturing town on the banks of
the A-; a busy place enoughdoubtless: so much the better; it
would be a complete change at least. Not that my fancy was much
captivated by the idea of long chimneys and clouds of smoke--"but
I argued, Thornfield willprobablybe a good way from the town."

Here the socket of the candle droppedand the wick went out.

Next day new steps were to be taken; my plans could no longer be
confined to my own breast; I must impart them in order to achieve
their success. Having sought and obtained an audience of the
superintendent during the noontide recreationI told her I had a
prospect of getting a new situation where the salary would be double
what I now received (for at Lowood I only got 15 pounds per annum);
and requested she would break the matter for me to Mr. Brocklehurst
or some of the committeeand ascertain whether they would permit me
to mention them as references. She obligingly consented to act as
mediatrix in the matter. The next day she laid the affair before
Mr. Brocklehurstwho said that Mrs. Reed must be written toas she
was my natural guardian. A note was accordingly addressed to that
ladywho returned for answerthat "I might do as I pleased: she
had long relinquished all interference in my affairs." This note
went the round of the committeeand at lastafter what appeared to
me most tedious delayformal leave was given me to better my
condition if I could; and an assurance addedthat as I had always
conducted myself wellboth as teacher and pupilat Lowooda
testimonial of character and capacitysigned by the inspectors of
that institutionshould forthwith be furnished me.

This testimonial I accordingly received in about a monthforwarded
a copy of it to Mrs. Fairfaxand got that lady's replystating
that she was satisfiedand fixing that day fortnight as the period
for my assuming the post of governess in her house.

I now busied myself in preparations: the fortnight passed rapidly.
I had not a very large wardrobethough it was adequate to my wants;
and the last day sufficed to pack my trunk--the same I had brought
with me eight years ago from Gateshead.

The box was cordedthe card nailed on. In half-an-hour the carrier


was to call for it to take it to Lowtonwhether I myself was to
repair at an early hour the next morning to meet the coach. I had
brushed my black stuff travelling-dressprepared my bonnetgloves
and muff; sought in all my drawers to see that no article was left
behind; and now having nothing more to doI sat down and tried to
rest. I could not; though I had been on foot all dayI could not
now repose an instant; I was too much excited. A phase of my life
was closing to-nighta new one opening to-morrow: impossible to
slumber in the interval; I must watch feverishly while the change
was being accomplished.

Miss,said a servant who met me in the lobbywhere I was
wandering like a troubled spirita person below wishes to see
you.

The carrier, no doubt,I thoughtand ran downstairs without
inquiry. I was passing the back-parlour or teachers' sitting-room
the door of which was half opento go to the kitchenwhen some one
ran out


It's her, I am sure!--I could have told her anywhere!cried the
individual who stopped my progress and took my hand.

I looked: I saw a woman attired like a well-dressed servant
matronlyyet still young; very good-lookingwith black hair and
eyesand lively complexion.

Well, who is it?she askedin a voice and with a smile I half
recognised; "you've not quite forgotten meI thinkMiss Jane?"

In another second I was embracing and kissing her rapturously:
Bessie! Bessie! Bessie!that was all I said; whereat she half
laughedhalf criedand we both went into the parlour. By the fire
stood a little fellow of three years oldin plaid frock and
trousers.

That is my little boy,said Bessie directly.

Then you are married, Bessie?

Yes; nearly five years since to Robert Leaven, the coachman; and
I've a little girl besides Bobby there, that I've christened Jane.

And you don't live at Gateshead?

I live at the lodge: the old porter has left.

Well, and how do they all get on? Tell me everything about them,
Bessie: but sit down first; and, Bobby, come and sit on my knee,
will you?but Bobby preferred sidling over to his mother.

You're not grown so very tall, Miss Jane, nor so very stout,
continued Mrs. Leaven. "I dare say they've not kept you too well at
school: Miss Reed is the head and shoulders taller than you are;
and Miss Georgiana would make two of you in breadth."

Georgiana is handsome, I suppose, Bessie?

Very. She went up to London last winter with her mama, and there
everybody admired her, and a young lord fell in love with her: but
his relations were against the match; and--what do you think?--he
and Miss Georgiana made it up to run away; but they were found out
and stopped. It was Miss Reed that found them out: I believe she
was envious; and now she and her sister lead a cat and dog life


together; they are always quarrelling--

Well, and what of John Reed?

Oh, he is not doing so well as his mama could wish. He went to
college, and he got--plucked, I think they call it: and then his
uncles wanted him to be a barrister, and study the law: but he is
such a dissipated young man, they will never make much of him, I
think.

What does he look like?

He is very tall: some people call him a fine-looking young man;
but he has such thick lips.

And Mrs. Reed?

Missis looks stout and well enough in the face, but I think she's
not quite easy in her mind: Mr. John's conduct does not please her-
he spends a deal of money.

Did she send you here, Bessie?

No, indeed: but I have long wanted to see you, and when I heard
that there had been a letter from you, and that you were going to
another part of the country, I thought I'd just set of, and get a
look at you before you were quite out of my reach.

I am afraid you are disappointed in me, Bessie.I said this
laughing: I perceived that Bessie's glancethough it expressed
regarddid in no shape denote admiration.

No, Miss Jane, not exactly: you are genteel enough; you look like
a lady, and it is as much as ever I expected of you: you were no
beauty as a child.

I smiled at Bessie's frank answer: I felt that it was correctbut
I confess I was not quite indifferent to its import: at eighteen
most people wish to pleaseand the conviction that they have not an
exterior likely to second that desire brings anything but
gratification.

I dare say you are clever, though,continued Bessieby way of
solace. "What can you do? Can you play on the piano?"

A little.

There was one in the room; Bessie went and opened itand then asked
me to sit down and give her a tune: I played a waltz or twoand
she was charmed.

The Miss Reeds could not play as well!said she exultingly. "I
always said you would surpass them in learning: and can you draw?"

That is one of my paintings over the chimney-piece.It was a
landscape in water coloursof which I had made a present to the
superintendentin acknowledgment of her obliging mediation with the
committee on my behalfand which she had framed and glazed.

Well, that is beautiful, Miss Jane! It is as fine a picture as any
Miss Reed's drawing-master could paint, let alone the young ladies
themselves, who could not come near it: and have you learnt
French?


Yes, Bessie, I can both read it and speak it.

And you can work on muslin and canvas?

I can.

Oh, you are quite a lady, Miss Jane! I knew you would be: you
will get on whether your relations notice you or not. There was
something I wanted to ask you. Have you ever heard anything from
your father's kinsfolk, the Eyres?

Never in my life.

Well, you know Missis always said they were poor and quite
despicable: and they may be poor; but I believe they are as much
gentry as the Reeds are; for one day, nearly seven years ago, a Mr.
Eyre came to Gateshead and wanted to see you; Missis said you were
it school fifty miles off; he seemed so much disappointed, for he
could not stay: he was going on a voyage to a foreign country, and
the ship was to sail from London in a day or two. He looked quite a
gentleman, and I believe he was your father's brother.

What foreign country was he going to, Bessie?

An island thousands of miles off, where they make wine--the butler
did tell me--

Madeira?I suggested.

Yes, that is it--that is the very word.

So he went?

Yes; he did not stay many minutes in the house: Missis was very
high with him; she called him afterwards a 'sneaking tradesman.' My
Robert believes he was a wine-merchant.

Very likely,I returned; "or perhaps clerk or agent to a winemerchant."


Bessie and I conversed about old times an hour longerand then she
was obliged to leave me: I saw her again for a few minutes the next
morning at Lowtonwhile I was waiting for the coach. We parted
finally at the door of the Brocklehurst Arms there: each went her
separate way; she set off for the brow of Lowood Fell to meet the
conveyance which was to take her back to GatesheadI mounted the
vehicle which was to bear me to new duties and a new life in the
unknown environs of Millcote.

CHAPTER XI

A new chapter in a novel is something like a new scene in a play;
and when I draw up the curtain this timereaderyou must fancy you
see a room in the George Inn at Millcotewith such large figured
papering on the walls as inn rooms have; such a carpetsuch
furnituresuch ornaments on the mantelpiecesuch printsincluding
a portrait of George the Thirdand another of the Prince of Wales
and a representation of the death of Wolfe. All this is visible to
you by the light of an oil lamp hanging from the ceilingand by
that of an excellent firenear which I sit in my cloak and bonnet;


my muff and umbrella lie on the tableand I am warming away the
numbness and chill contracted by sixteen hours' exposure to the
rawness of an October day: I left Lowton at four o'clock a.m.and
the Millcote town clock is now just striking eight.

Readerthough I look comfortably accommodatedI am not very
tranquil in my mind. I thought when the coach stopped here there
would be some one to meet me; I looked anxiously round as I
descended the wooden steps the "boots" placed for my convenience
expecting to hear my name pronouncedand to see some description of
carriage waiting to convey me to Thornfield. Nothing of the sort
was visible; and when I asked a waiter if any one had been to
inquire after a Miss EyreI was answered in the negative: so I had
no resource but to request to be shown into a private room: and
here I am waitingwhile all sorts of doubts and fears are troubling
my thoughts.

It is a very strange sensation to inexperienced youth to feel itself
quite alone in the worldcut adrift from every connection
uncertain whether the port to which it is bound can be reachedand
prevented by many impediments from returning to that it has quitted.
The charm of adventure sweetens that sensationthe glow of pride
warms it; but then the throb of fear disturbs it; and fear with me
became predominant when half-an-hour elapsed and still I was alone.
I bethought myself to ring the bell.

Is there a place in this neighbourhood called Thornfield?I asked
of the waiter who answered the summons.

Thornfield? I don't know, ma'am; I'll inquire at the bar.He
vanishedbut reappeared instantly


Is your name Eyre, Miss?

Yes.

Person here waiting for you.

I jumped uptook my muff and umbrellaand hastened into the innpassage:
a man was standing by the open doorand in the lamp-lit
street I dimly saw a one-horse conveyance.

This will be your luggage, I suppose?said the man rather abruptly
when he saw mepointing to my trunk in the passage.

Yes.He hoisted it on to the vehiclewhich was a sort of car
and then I got in; before he shut me upI asked him how far it was
to Thornfield.

A matter of six miles.

How long shall we be before we get there?

Happen an hour and a half.

He fastened the car doorclimbed to his own seat outsideand we
set off. Our progress was leisurelyand gave me ample time to
reflect; I was content to be at length so near the end of my
journey; and as I leaned back in the comfortable though not elegant
conveyanceI meditated much at my ease.

I suppose,thought Ijudging from the plainness of the servant
and carriage, Mrs. Fairfax is not a very dashing person: so much
the better; I never lived amongst fine people but once, and I was


very miserable with them. I wonder if she lives alone except this
little girl; if so, and if she is in any degree amiable, I shall
surely be able to get on with her; I will do my best; it is a pity
that doing one's best does not always answer. At Lowood, indeed, I
took that resolution, kept it, and succeeded in pleasing; but with
Mrs. Reed, I remember my best was always spurned with scorn. I pray
God Mrs. Fairfax may not turn out a second Mrs. Reed; but if she
does, I am not bound to stay with her! let the worst come to the
worst, I can advertise again. How far are we on our road now, I
wonder?

I let down the window and looked out; Millcote was behind us;
judging by the number of its lightsit seemed a place of
considerable magnitudemuch larger than Lowton. We were nowas
far as I could seeon a sort of common; but there were houses
scattered all over the district; I felt we were in a different
region to Lowoodmore populousless picturesque; more stirring
less romantic.

The roads were heavythe night misty; my conductor let his horse
walk all the wayand the hour and a half extendedI verify
believeto two hours; at last he turned in his seat and said


You're noan so far fro' Thornfield now.

Again I looked out: we were passing a church; I saw its low broad
tower against the skyand its bell was tolling a quarter; I saw a
narrow galaxy of lights tooon a hillsidemarking a village or
hamlet. About ten minutes afterthe driver got down and opened a
pair of gates: we passed throughand they clashed to behind us.
We now slowly ascended a driveand came upon the long front of a
house: candlelight gleamed from one curtained bow-window; all the
rest were dark. The car stopped at the front door; it was opened by
a maid-servant; I alighted and went in.

Will you walk this way, ma'am?said the girl; and I followed her
across a square hall with high doors all round: she ushered me into
a room whose double illumination of fire and candle at first dazzled
mecontrasting as it did with the darkness to which my eyes had
been for two hours inured; when I could seehowevera cosy and
agreeable picture presented itself to my view.

A snug small room; a round table by a cheerful fire; an arm-chair
high-backed and old-fashionedwherein sat the neatest imaginable
little elderly ladyin widow's capblack silk gownand snowy
muslin apron; exactly like what I had fancied Mrs. Fairfaxonly
less stately and milder looking. She was occupied in knitting; a
large cat sat demurely at her feet; nothing in short was wanting to
complete the beau-ideal of domestic comfort. A more reassuring
introduction for a new governess could scarcely be conceived; there
was no grandeur to overwhelmno stateliness to embarrass; and then
as I enteredthe old lady got up and promptly and kindly came
forward to meet me.

How do you do, my dear? I am afraid you have had a tedious ride;
John drives so slowly; you must be cold, come to the fire.

Mrs. Fairfax, I suppose?said I.

Yes, you are right: do sit down.

She conducted me to her own chairand then began to remove my shawl
and untie my bonnet-strings; I begged she would not give herself so
much trouble.


Oh, it is no trouble; I dare say your own hands are almost numbed
with cold. Leah, make a little hot negus and cut a sandwich or two:
here are the keys of the storeroom.

And she produced from her pocket a most housewifely bunch of keys
and delivered them to the servant.

Now, then, draw nearer to the fire,she continued. "You've
brought your luggage with youhaven't youmy dear?"

Yes, ma'am.

I'll see it carried into your room,she saidand bustled out.

She treats me like a visitor,thought I. "I little expected such
a reception; I anticipated only coldness and stiffness: this is not
like what I have heard of the treatment of governesses; but I must
not exult too soon."

She returned; with her own hands cleared her knitting apparatus and
a book or two from the tableto make room for the tray which Leah
now broughtand then herself handed me the refreshments. I felt
rather confused at being the object of more attention than I had
ever before receivedandthat tooshown by my employer and
superior; but as she did not herself seem to consider she was doing
anything out of her placeI thought it better to take her
civilities quietly.

Shall I have the pleasure of seeing Miss Fairfax to-night?I
askedwhen I had partaken of what she offered me.

What did you say, my dear? I am a little deaf,returned the good
ladyapproaching her ear to my mouth.

I repeated the question more distinctly.

Miss Fairfax? Oh, you mean Miss Varens! Varens is the name of
your future pupil.

Indeed! Then she is not your daughter?

No,--I have no family.

I should have followed up my first inquiryby asking in what way
Miss Varens was connected with her; but I recollected it was not
polite to ask too many questions: besidesI was sure to hear in
time.

I am so glad,she continuedas she sat down opposite to meand
took the cat on her knee; "I am so glad you are come; it will be
quite pleasant living here now with a companion. To be sure it is
pleasant at any time; for Thornfield is a fine old hallrather
neglected of late years perhapsbut still it is a respectable
place; yet you know in winter-time one feels dreary quite alone in
the best quarters. I say alone--Leah is a nice girl to be sureand
John and his wife are very decent people; but then you see they are
only servantsand one can't converse with them on terms of
equality: one must keep them at due distancefor fear of losing
one's authority. I'm sure last winter (it was a very severe oneif
you recollectand when it did not snowit rained and blew)not a
creature but the butcher and postman came to the housefrom
November till February; and I really got quite melancholy with
sitting night after night alone; I had Leah in to read to me


sometimes; but I don't think the poor girl liked the task much: she
felt it confining. In spring and summer one got on better:
sunshine and long days make such a difference; and thenjust at the
commencement of this autumnlittle Adela Varens came and her nurse:
a child makes a house alive all at once; and now you are here I
shall be quite gay."

My heart really warmed to the worthy lady as I heard her talk; and I
drew my chair a little nearer to herand expressed my sincere wish
that she might find my company as agreeable as she anticipated.

But I'll not keep you sitting up late to-night,said she; "it is
on the stroke of twelve nowand you have been travelling all day:
you must feel tired. If you have got your feet well warmedI'll
show you your bedroom. I've had the room next to mine prepared for
you; it is only a small apartmentbut I thought you would like it
better than one of the large front chambers: to be sure they have
finer furniturebut they are so dreary and solitaryI never sleep
in them myself."

I thanked her for her considerate choiceand as I really felt
fatigued with my long journeyexpressed my readiness to retire.
She took her candleand I followed her from the room. First she
went to see if the hall-door was fastened; having taken the key from
the lockshe led the way upstairs. The steps and banisters were of
oak; the staircase window was high and latticed; both it and the
long gallery into which the bedroom doors opened looked as if they
belonged to a church rather than a house. A very chill and vaultlike
air pervaded the stairs and gallerysuggesting cheerless ideas
of space and solitude; and I was gladwhen finally ushered into my
chamberto find it of small dimensionsand furnished in ordinary
modern style.

When Mrs. Fairfax had bidden me a kind good-nightand I had
fastened my doorgazed leisurely roundand in some measure effaced
the eerie impression made by that wide hallthat dark and spacious
staircaseand that longcold galleryby the livelier aspect of my
little roomI remembered thatafter a day of bodily fatigue and
mental anxietyI was now at last in safe haven. The impulse of
gratitude swelled my heartand I knelt down at the bedsideand
offered up thanks where thanks were due; not forgettingere I rose
to implore aid on my further pathand the power of meriting the
kindness which seemed so frankly offered me before it was earned.
My couch had no thorns in it that night; my solitary room no fears.
At once weary and contentI slept soon and soundly: when I awoke
it was broad day.

The chamber looked such a bright little place to me as the sun shone
in between the gay blue chintz window curtainsshowing papered
walls and a carpeted floorso unlike the bare planks and stained
plaster of Lowoodthat my spirits rose at the view. Externals have
a great effect on the young: I thought that a fairer era of life
was beginning for meone that was to have its flowers and
pleasuresas well as its thorns and toils. My facultiesroused by
the change of scenethe new field offered to hopeseemed all
astir. I cannot precisely define what they expectedbut it was
something pleasant: not perhaps that day or that monthbut at an
indefinite future period.

I rose; I dressed myself with care: obliged to be plain--for I had
no article of attire that was not made with extreme simplicity--I
was still by nature solicitous to be neat. It was not my habit to
be disregardful of appearance or careless of the impression I made:
on the contraryI ever wished to look as well as I couldand to


please as much as my want of beauty would permit. I sometimes
regretted that I was not handsomer; I sometimes wished to have rosy
cheeksa straight noseand small cherry mouth; I desired to be
tallstatelyand finely developed in figure; I felt it a
misfortune that I was so littleso paleand had features so
irregular and so marked. And why had I these aspirations and these
regrets? It would be difficult to say: I could not then distinctly
say it to myself; yet I had a reasonand a logicalnatural reason
too. Howeverwhen I had brushed my hair very smoothand put on my
black frock--whichQuakerlike as it wasat least had the merit of
fitting to a nicety--and adjusted my clean white tuckerI thought I
should do respectably enough to appear before Mrs. Fairfaxand that
my new pupil would not at least recoil from me with antipathy.
Having opened my chamber windowand seen that I left all things
straight and neat on the toilet tableI ventured forth.

Traversing the long and matted galleryI descended the slippery
steps of oak; then I gained the hall: I halted there a minute; I
looked at some pictures on the walls (oneI rememberrepresented a
grim man in a cuirassand one a lady with powdered hair and a pearl
necklace)at a bronze lamp pendent from the ceilingat a great
clock whose case was of oak curiously carvedand ebon black with
time and rubbing. Everything appeared very stately and imposing to
me; but then I was so little accustomed to grandeur. The hall-door
which was half of glassstood open; I stepped over the threshold.
It was a fine autumn morning; the early sun shone serenely on
embrowned groves and still green fields; advancing on to the lawnI
looked up and surveyed the front of the mansion. It was three
storeys highof proportions not vastthough considerable: a
gentleman's manor-housenot a nobleman's seat: battlements round
the top gave it a picturesque look. Its grey front stood out well
from the background of a rookerywhose cawing tenants were now on
the wing: they flew over the lawn and grounds to alight in a great
meadowfrom which these were separated by a sunk fenceand where
an array of mighty old thorn treesstrongknottyand broad as
oaksat once explained the etymology of the mansion's designation.
Farther off were hills: not so lofty as those round Lowoodnor so
craggynor so like barriers of separation from the living world;
but yet quiet and lonely hills enoughand seeming to embrace
Thornfield with a seclusion I had not expected to find existent so
near the stirring locality of Millcote. A little hamletwhose
roofs were blent with treesstraggled up the side of one of these
hills; the church of the district stood nearer Thornfield: its old
tower-top looked over a knoll between the house and gates.

I was yet enjoying the calm prospect and pleasant fresh airyet
listening with delight to the cawing of the rooksyet surveying the
widehoary front of the halland thinking what a great place it
was for one lonely little dame like Mrs. Fairfax to inhabitwhen
that lady appeared at the door.

What! out already?said she. "I see you are an early riser."
went up to herand was received with an affable kiss and shake of
the hand.

How do you like Thornfield?she asked. I told her I liked it very
much.

Yes,she saidit is a pretty place; but I fear it will be
getting out of order, unless Mr. Rochester should take it into his
head to come and reside here permanently; or, at least, visit it
rather oftener: great houses and fine grounds require the presence
of the proprietor.


Mr. Rochester!I exclaimed. "Who is he?"

The owner of Thornfield,she responded quietly. "Did you not know
he was called Rochester?"

Of course I did not--I had never heard of him before; but the old
lady seemed to regard his existence as a universally understood
factwith which everybody must be acquainted by instinct.

I thought,I continuedThornfield belonged to you.

To me? Bless you, child; what an idea! To me! I am only the
housekeeper--the manager. To be sure I am distantly related to the
Rochesters by the mother's side, or at least my husband was; he was
a clergyman, incumbent of Hay--that little village yonder on the
hill--and that church near the gates was his. The present Mr.
Rochester's mother was a Fairfax, and second cousin to my husband:
but I never presume on the connection--in fact, it is nothing to me;
I consider myself quite in the light of an ordinary housekeeper: my
employer is always civil, and I expect nothing more.

And the little girl--my pupil!

She is Mr. Rochester's ward; he commissioned me to find a governess
for her. He intended to have her brought up in -shire, I believe.
Here she comes, with her 'bonne,' as she calls her nurse.The
enigma then was explained: this affable and kind little widow was
no great dame; but a dependant like myself. I did not like her the
worse for that; on the contraryI felt better pleased than ever.
The equality between her and me was real; not the mere result of
condescension on her part: so much the better--my position was all
the freer.

As I was meditating on this discoverya little girlfollowed by
her attendantcame running up the lawn. I looked at my pupilwho
did not at first appear to notice me: she was quite a child
perhaps seven or eight years oldslightly builtwith a pale
small-featured faceand a redundancy of hair falling in curls to
her waist.

Good morning, Miss Adela,said Mrs. Fairfax. "Come and speak to
the lady who is to teach youand to make you a clever woman some
day." She approached.

C'est le ma gouverante!said shepointing to meand addressing
her nurse; who answered


Mais oui, certainement.

Are they foreigners?I inquiredamazed at hearing the French
language.

The nurse is a foreigner, and Adela was born on the Continent; and,
I believe, never left it till within six months ago. When she first
came here she could speak no English; now she can make shift to talk
it a little: I don't understand her, she mixes it so with French;
but you will make out her meaning very well, I dare say.

Fortunately I had had the advantage of being taught French by a
French lady; and as I had always made a point of conversing with
Madame Pierrot as often as I couldand had besidesduring the last
seven yearslearnt a portion of French by heart daily--applying
myself to take pains with my accentand imitating as closely as
possible the pronunciation of my teacherI had acquired a certain


degree of readiness and correctness in the languageand was not
likely to be much at a loss with Mademoiselle Adela. She came and
shook hand with me when she heard that I was her governess; and as I
led her in to breakfastI addressed some phrases to her in her own
tongue: she replied briefly at firstbut after we were seated at
the tableand she had examined me some ten minutes with her large
hazel eyesshe suddenly commenced chattering fluently.

Ah!cried shein Frenchyou speak my language as well as Mr.
Rochester does: I can talk to you as I can to him, and so can
Sophie. She will be glad: nobody here understands her: Madame
Fairfax is all English. Sophie is my nurse; she came with me over
the sea in a great ship with a chimney that smoked--how it did
smoke!--and I was sick, and so was Sophie, and so was Mr. Rochester.
Mr. Rochester lay down on a sofa in a pretty room called the salon,
and Sophie and I had little beds in another place. I nearly fell
out of mine; it was like a shelf. And Mademoiselle--what is your
name?

Eyre--Jane Eyre.

Aire? Bah! I cannot say it. Well, our ship stopped in the
morning, before it was quite daylight, at a great city--a huge city,
with very dark houses and all smoky; not at all like the pretty
clean town I came from; and Mr. Rochester carried me in his arms
over a plank to the land, and Sophie came after, and we all got into
a coach, which took us to a beautiful large house, larger than this
and finer, called an hotel. We stayed there nearly a week: I and
Sophie used to walk every day in a great green place full of trees,
called the Park; and there were many children there besides me, and
a pond with beautiful birds in it, that I fed with crumbs.

Can you understand her when she runs on so fast?asked Mrs.
Fairfax.

I understood her very wellfor I had been accustomed to the fluent
tongue of Madame Pierrot.

I wish,continued the good ladyyou would ask her a question or
two about her parents: I wonder if she remembers them?

Adele,I inquiredwith whom did you live when you were in that
pretty clean town you spoke of?

I lived long ago with mama; but she is gone to the Holy Virgin.
Mama used to teach me to dance and sing, and to say verses. A great
many gentlemen and ladies came to see mama, and I used to dance
before them, or to sit on their knees and sing to them: I liked it.
Shall I let you hear me sing now?

She had finished her breakfastso I permitted her to give a
specimen of her accomplishments. Descending from her chairshe
came and placed herself on my knee; thenfolding her little hands
demurely before hershaking back her curls and lifting her eyes to
the ceilingshe commenced singing a song from some opera. It was
the strain of a forsaken ladywhoafter bewailing the perfidy of
her lovercalls pride to her aid; desires her attendant to deck her
in her brightest jewels and richest robesand resolves to meet the
false one that night at a balland prove to himby the gaiety of
her demeanourhow little his desertion has affected her.

The subject seemed strangely chosen for an infant singer; but I
suppose the point of the exhibition lay in hearing the notes of love
and jealousy warbled with the lisp of childhood; and in very bad


taste that point was: at least I thought so.

Adele sang the canzonette tunefully enoughand with the naivete of
her age. This achievedshe jumped from my knee and saidNow,
Mademoiselle, I will repeat you some poetry.

Assuming an attitudeshe beganLa Ligue des Rats: fable de La
Fontaine.She then declaimed the little piece with an attention to
punctuation and emphasisa flexibility of voice and an
appropriateness of gesturevery unusual indeed at her ageand
which proved she had been carefully trained.

Was it your mama who taught you that piece?I asked.

Yes, and she just used to say it in this way: 'Qu' avez vous donc?
lui dit un de ces rats; parlez!' She made me lift my hand--so--to
remind me to raise my voice at the question. Now shall I dance for
you?

No, that will do: but after your mama went to the Holy Virgin, as
you say, with whom did you live then?

With Madame Frederic and her husband: she took care of me, but she
is nothing related to me. I think she is poor, for she had not so
fine a house as mama. I was not long there. Mr. Rochester asked me
if I would like to go and live with him in England, and I said yes;
for I knew Mr. Rochester before I knew Madame Frederic, and he was
always kind to me and gave me pretty dresses and toys: but you see
he has not kept his word, for he has brought me to England, and now
he is gone back again himself, and I never see him.

After breakfastAdele and I withdrew to the librarywhich roomit
appearsMr. Rochester had directed should be used as the
schoolroom. Most of the books were locked up behind glass doors;
but there was one bookcase left open containing everything that
could be needed in the way of elementary worksand several volumes
of light literaturepoetrybiographytravelsa few romances&c.
I suppose he had considered that these were all the governess would
require for her private perusal; andindeedthey contented me
amply for the present; compared with the scanty pickings I had now
and then been able to glean at Lowoodthey seemed to offer an
abundant harvest of entertainment and information. In this room
toothere was a cabinet pianoquite new and of superior tone; also
an easel for painting and a pair of globes.

I found my pupil sufficiently docilethough disinclined to apply:
she had not been used to regular occupation of any kind. I felt it
would be injudicious to confine her too much at first; sowhen I
had talked to her a great dealand got her to learn a littleand
when the morning had advanced to noonI allowed her to return to
her nurse. I then proposed to occupy myself till dinner-time in
drawing some little sketches for her use.

As I was going upstairs to fetch my portfolio and pencilsMrs.
Fairfax called to me: "Your morning school-hours are over nowI
suppose said she. She was in a room the folding-doors of which
stood open: I went in when she addressed me. It was a large,
stately apartment, with purple chairs and curtains, a Turkey carpet,
walnut-panelled walls, one vast window rich in slanted glass, and a
lofty ceiling, nobly moulded. Mrs. Fairfax was dusting some vases
of fine purple spar, which stood on a sideboard.

What a beautiful room!" I exclaimedas I looked round; for I had
never before seen any half so imposing.


Yes; this is the dining-room. I have just opened the window, to
let in a little air and sunshine; for everything gets so damp in
apartments that are seldom inhabited; the drawing-room yonder feels
like a vault.

She pointed to a wide arch corresponding to the windowand hung
like it with a Tyrian-dyed curtainnow looped up. Mounting to it
by two broad stepsand looking throughI thought I caught a
glimpse of a fairy placeso bright to my novice-eyes appeared the
view beyond. Yet it was merely a very pretty drawing-roomand
within it a boudoirboth spread with white carpetson which seemed
laid brilliant garlands of flowers; both ceiled with snowy mouldings
of white grapes and vine-leavesbeneath which glowed in rich
contrast crimson couches and ottomans; while the ornaments on the
pale Pariain mantelpiece were of sparkling Bohemian glassruby red;
and between the windows large mirrors repeated the general blending
of snow and fire.

In what order you keep these rooms, Mrs. Fairfax!said I. "No
dustno canvas coverings: except that the air feels chillyone
would think they were inhabited daily."

Why, Miss Eyre, though Mr. Rochester's visits here are rare, they
are always sudden and unexpected; and as I observed that it put him
out to find everything swathed up, and to have a bustle of
arrangement on his arrival, I thought it best to keep the rooms in
readiness.

Is Mr. Rochester an exacting, fastidious sort of man?

Not particularly so; but he has a gentleman's tastes and habits,
and he expects to have things managed in conformity to them.

Do you like him? Is he generally liked?

Oh, yes; the family have always been respected here. Almost all
the land in this neighbourhood, as far as you can see, has belonged
to the Rochesters time out of mind.

Well, but, leaving his land out of the question, do you like him?
Is he liked for himself?

I have no cause to do otherwise than like him; and I believe he is
considered a just and liberal landlord by his tenants: but he has
never lived much amongst them.

But has he no peculiarities? What, in short, is his character?

Oh! his character is unimpeachable, I suppose. He is rather
peculiar, perhaps: he has travelled a great deal, and seen a great
deal of the world, I should think. I dare say he is clever, but I
never had much conversation with him.

In what way is he peculiar?

I don't know--it is not easy to describe--nothing striking, but you
feel it when he speaks to you; you cannot be always sure whether he
is in jest or earnest, whether he is pleased or the contrary; you
don't thoroughly understand him, in short--at least, I don't: but
it is of no consequence, he is a very good master.

This was all the account I got from Mrs. Fairfax of her employer and
mine. There are people who seem to have no notion of sketching a


characteror observing and describing salient pointseither in
persons or things: the good lady evidently belonged to this class;
my queries puzzledbut did not draw her out. Mr. Rochester was Mr.
Rochester in her eyes; a gentlemana landed proprietor--nothing
more: she inquired and searched no furtherand evidently wondered
at my wish to gain a more definite notion of his identity.

When we left the dining-roomshe proposed to show me over the rest
of the house; and I followed her upstairs and downstairsadmiring
as I went; for all was well arranged and handsome. The large front
chambers I thought especially grand: and some of the third-storey
roomsthough dark and lowwere interesting from their air of
antiquity. The furniture once appropriated to the lower apartments
had from time to time been removed hereas fashions changed: and
the imperfect light entering by their narrow casement showed
bedsteads of a hundred years old; chests in oak or walnutlooking
with their strange carvings of palm branches and cherubs' heads
like types of the Hebrew ark; rows of venerable chairshigh-backed
and narrow; stools still more antiquatedon whose cushioned tops
were yet apparent traces of half-effaced embroiderieswrought by
fingers that for two generations had been coffin-dust. All these
relics gave to the third storey of Thornfield Hall the aspect of a
home of the past: a shrine of memory. I liked the hushthe gloom
the quaintness of these retreats in the day; but I by no means
coveted a night's repose on one of those wide and heavy beds: shut
insome of themwith doors of oak; shadedotherswith wrought
old English hangings crusted with thick workportraying effigies of
strange flowersand stranger birdsand strangest human beings-all
which would have looked strangeindeedby the pallid gleam of
moonlight.

Do the servants sleep in these rooms?I asked.

No; they occupy a range of smaller apartments to the back; no one
ever sleeps here: one would almost say that, if there were a ghost
at Thornfield Hall, this would be its haunt.

So I think: you have no ghost, then?

None that I ever heard of,returned Mrs. Fairfaxsmiling.

Nor any traditions of one? no legends or ghost stories?

I believe not. And yet it is said the Rochesters have been rather
a violent than a quiet race in their time: perhaps, though, that is
the reason they rest tranquilly in their graves now.

Yes--'after life's fitful fever they sleep well,'I muttered.
Where are you going now, Mrs. Fairfax?for she was moving away.

On to the leads; will you come and see the view from thence?I
followed stillup a very narrow staircase to the atticsand thence
by a ladder and through a trap-door to the roof of the hall. I was
now on a level with the crow colonyand could see into their nests.
Leaning over the battlements and looking far downI surveyed the
grounds laid out like a map: the bright and velvet lawn closely
girdling the grey base of the mansion; the fieldwide as a park
dotted with its ancient timber; the wooddun and seredivided by a
path visibly overgrowngreener with moss than the trees were with
foliage; the church at the gatesthe roadthe tranquil hillsall
reposing in the autumn day's sun; the horizon bounded by a
propitious skyazuremarbled with pearly white. No feature in the
scene was extraordinarybut all was pleasing. When I turned from
it and repassed the trap-doorI could scarcely see my way down the


ladder; the attic seemed black as a vault compared with that arch of
blue air to which I had been looking upand to that sunlit scene of
grovepastureand green hillof which the hall was the centre
and over which I had been gazing with delight.

Mrs. Fairfax stayed behind a moment to fasten the trap-door; Iby
drift of gropingfound the outlet from the atticand proceeded to
descend the narrow garret staircase. I lingered in the long passage
to which this ledseparating the front and back rooms of the third
storey: narrowlowand dimwith only one little window at the
far endand lookingwith its two rows of small black doors all
shutlike a corridor in some Bluebeard's castle.

While I paced softly onthe last sound I expected to hear in so
still a regiona laughstruck my ear. It was a curious laugh;
distinctformalmirthless. I stopped: the sound ceasedonly for
an instant; it began againlouder: for at firstthough distinct
it was very low. It passed off in a clamorous peal that seemed to
wake an echo in every lonely chamber; though it originated but in
oneand I could have pointed out the door whence the accents
issued.

Mrs. Fairfax!I called out: for I now heard her descending the
great stairs. "Did you hear that loud laugh? Who is it?"

Some of the servants, very likely,she answered: "perhaps Grace
Poole."

Did you hear it?I again inquired.

Yes, plainly: I often hear her: she sews in one of these rooms.
Sometimes Leah is with her; they are frequently noisy together.

The laugh was repeated in its lowsyllabic toneand terminated in
an odd murmur.

Grace!exclaimed Mrs. Fairfax.

I really did not expect any Grace to answer; for the laugh was as
tragicas preternatural a laugh as any I ever heard; andbut that
it was high noonand that no circumstance of ghostliness
accompanied the curious cachinnation; but that neither scene nor
season favoured fearI should have been superstitiously afraid.
Howeverthe event showed me I was a fool for entertaining a sense
even of surprise.

The door nearest me openedand a servant came out--a woman of
between thirty and forty; a setsquare-made figurered-hairedand
with a hardplain face: any apparition less romantic or less
ghostly could scarcely be conceived.

Too much noise, Grace,said Mrs. Fairfax. "Remember directions!"
Grace curtseyed silently and went in.

She is a person we have to sew and assist Leah in her housemaid's
work,continued the widow; "not altogether unobjectionable in some
pointsbut she does well enough. By-the-byehow have you got on
with your new pupil this morning?"

The conversationthus turned on Adelecontinued till we reached
the light and cheerful region below. Adele came running to meet us
in the hallexclaiming


Mesdames, vous etes servies!addingJ'ai bien faim, moi!


We found dinner readyand waiting for us in Mrs. Fairfax's room.

CHAPTER XII

The promise of a smooth careerwhich my first calm introduction to
Thornfield Hall seemed to pledgewas not belied on a longer
acquaintance with the place and its inmates. Mrs. Fairfax turned
out to be what she appeareda placid-temperedkind-natured woman
of competent education and average intelligence. My pupil was a
lively childwho had been spoilt and indulgedand therefore was
sometimes wayward; but as she was committed entirely to my careand
no injudicious interference from any quarter ever thwarted my plans
for her improvementshe soon forgot her little freaksand became
obedient and teachable. She had no great talentsno marked traits
of characterno peculiar development of feeling or taste which
raised her one inch above the ordinary level of childhood; but
neither had she any deficiency or vice which sunk her below it. She
made reasonable progressentertained for me a vivaciousthough
perhaps not very profoundaffection; and by her simplicitygay
prattleand efforts to pleaseinspired mein returnwith a
degree of attachment sufficient to make us both content in each
other's society.

Thispar parenthesewill be thought cool language by persons who
entertain solemn doctrines about the angelic nature of childrenand
the duty of those charged with their education to conceive for them
an idolatrous devotion: but I am not writing to flatter parental
egotismto echo cantor prop up humbug; I am merely telling the
truth. I felt a conscientious solicitude for Adele's welfare and
progressand a quiet liking for her little self: just as I
cherished towards Mrs. Fairfax a thankfulness for her kindnessand
a pleasure in her society proportionate to the tranquil regard she
had for meand the moderation of her mind and character.

Anybody may blame me who likeswhen I add furtherthatnow and
thenwhen I took a walk by myself in the grounds; when I went down
to the gates and looked through them along the road; or whenwhile
Adele played with her nurseand Mrs. Fairfax made jellies in the
storeroomI climbed the three staircasesraised the trap-door of
the atticand having reached the leadslooked out afar over
sequestered field and hilland along dim sky-line--that then I
longed for a power of vision which might overpass that limit; which
might reach the busy worldtownsregions full of life I had heard
of but never seen--that then I desired more of practical experience
than I possessed; more of intercourse with my kindof acquaintance
with variety of characterthan was here within my reach. I valued
what was good in Mrs. Fairfaxand what was good in Adele; but I
believed in the existence of other and more vivid kinds of goodness
and what I believed in I wished to behold.

Who blames me? Manyno doubt; and I shall be called discontented.
I could not help it: the restlessness was in my nature; it agitated
me to pain sometimes. Then my sole relief was to walk along the
corridor of the third storeybackwards and forwardssafe in the
silence and solitude of the spotand allow my mind's eye to dwell
on whatever bright visions rose before it--andcertainlythey were
many and glowing; to let my heart be heaved by the exultant
movementwhichwhile it swelled it in troubleexpanded it with
life; andbest of allto open my inward ear to a tale that was


never ended--a tale my imagination createdand narrated
continuously; quickened with all of incidentlifefirefeeling
that I desired and had not in my actual existence.

It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied with
tranquillity: they must have action; and they will make it if they
cannot find it. Millions are condemned to a stiller doom than mine
and millions are in silent revolt against their lot. Nobody knows
how many rebellions besides political rebellions ferment in the
masses of life which people earth. Women are supposed to be very
calm generally: but women feel just as men feel; they need exercise
for their facultiesand a field for their effortsas much as their
brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restrainttoo absolute a
stagnationprecisely as men would suffer; and it is narrow-minded
in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they ought to
confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockingsto
playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to
condemn themor laugh at themif they seek to do more or learn
more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.

When thus aloneI not unfrequently heard Grace Poole's laugh: the
same pealthe same lowslow ha! ha! whichwhen first heardhad
thrilled me: I heardtooher eccentric murmurs; stranger than her
laugh. There were days when she was quite silent; but there were
others when I could not account for the sounds she made. Sometimes
I saw her: she would come out of her room with a basinor a plate
or a tray in her handgo down to the kitchen and shortly return
generally (ohromantic readerforgive me for telling the plain
truth!) bearing a pot of porter. Her appearance always acted as a
damper to the curiosity raised by her oral oddities: hard-featured
and staidshe had no point to which interest could attach. I made
some attempts to draw her into conversationbut she seemed a person
of few words: a monosyllabic reply usually cut short every effort
of that sort.

The other members of the householdviz.John and his wifeLeah
the housemaidand Sophie the French nursewere decent people; but
in no respect remarkable; with Sophie I used to talk Frenchand
sometimes I asked her questions about her native country; but she
was not of a descriptive or narrative turnand generally gave such
vapid and confused answers as were calculated rather to check than
encourage inquiry.

OctoberNovemberDecember passed away. One afternoon in January
Mrs. Fairfax had begged a holiday for Adelebecause she had a cold;
andas Adele seconded the request with an ardour that reminded me
how precious occasional holidays had been to me in my own childhood
I accorded itdeeming that I did well in showing pliability on the
point. It was a finecalm daythough very cold; I was tired of
sitting still in the library through a whole long morning: Mrs.
Fairfax had just written a letter which was waiting to be postedso
I put on my bonnet and cloak and volunteered to carry it to Hay; the
distancetwo mileswould be a pleasant winter afternoon walk.
Having seen Adele comfortably seated in her little chair by Mrs.
Fairfax's parlour firesideand given her her best wax doll (which I
usually kept enveloped in silver paper in a drawer) to play with
and a story-book for change of amusement; and having replied to her
Revenez bientot, ma bonne amie, ma chere Mdlle. Jeannette,with a
kiss I set out.

The ground was hardthe air was stillmy road was lonely; I walked
fast till I got warmand then I walked slowly to enjoy and analyse
the species of pleasure brooding for me in the hour and situation.
It was three o'clock; the church bell tolled as I passed under the


belfry: the charm of the hour lay in its approaching dimnessin
the low-gliding and pale-beaming sun. I was a mile from Thornfield
in a lane noted for wild roses in summerfor nuts and blackberries
in autumnand even now possessing a few coral treasures in hips and
hawsbut whose best winter delight lay in its utter solitude and
leafless repose. If a breath of air stirredit made no sound here;
for there was not a hollynot an evergreen to rustleand the
stripped hawthorn and hazel bushes were as still as the whiteworn
stones which causewayed the middle of the path. Far and wideon
each sidethere were only fieldswhere no cattle now browsed; and
the little brown birdswhich stirred occasionally in the hedge
looked like single russet leaves that had forgotten to drop.

This lane inclined up-hill all the way to Hay; having reached the
middleI sat down on a stile which led thence into a field.
Gathering my mantle about meand sheltering my hands in my muffI
did not feel the coldthough it froze keenly; as was attested by a
sheet of ice covering the causewaywhere a little brookletnow
congealedhad overflowed after a rapid thaw some days since. From
my seat I could look down on Thornfield: the grey and battlemented
hall was the principal object in the vale below me; its woods and
dark rookery rose against the west. I lingered till the sun went
down amongst the treesand sank crimson and clear behind them. I
then turned eastward.

On the hill-top above me sat the rising moon; pale yet as a cloud
but brightening momentarilyshe looked over Haywhichhalf lost
in treessent up a blue smoke from its few chimneys: it was yet a
mile distantbut in the absolute hush I could hear plainly its thin
murmurs of life. My eartoofelt the flow of currents; in what
dales and depths I could not tell: but there were many hills beyond
Hayand doubtless many becks threading their passes. That evening
calm betrayed alike the tinkle of the nearest streamsthe sough of
the most remote.

A rude noise broke on these fine ripplings and whisperingsat once
so far away and so clear: a positive tramptrampa metallic
clatterwhich effaced the soft wave-wanderings; asin a picture
the solid mass of a cragor the rough boles of a great oakdrawn
in dark and strong on the foregroundefface the aerial distance of
azure hillsunny horizonand blended clouds where tint melts into
tint.

The din was on the causeway: a horse was coming; the windings of
the lane yet hid itbut it approached. I was just leaving the
stile; yetas the path was narrowI sat still to let it go by. In
those days I was youngand all sorts of fancies bright and dark
tenanted my mind: the memories of nursery stories were there
amongst other rubbish; and when they recurredmaturing youth added
to them a vigour and vividness beyond what childhood could give. As
this horse approachedand as I watched for it to appear through the
duskI remembered certain of Bessie's taleswherein figured a
North-of-England spirit called a "Gytrash which, in the form of
horse, mule, or large dog, haunted solitary ways, and sometimes came
upon belated travellers, as this horse was now coming upon me.

It was very near, but not yet in sight; when, in addition to the
tramp, tramp, I heard a rush under the hedge, and close down by the
hazel stems glided a great dog, whose black and white colour made
him a distinct object against the trees. It was exactly one form of
Bessie's Gytrash--a lion-like creature with long hair and a huge
head: it passed me, however, quietly enough; not staying to look
up, with strange pretercanine eyes, in my face, as I half expected
it would. The horse followed,--a tall steed, and on its back a


rider. The man, the human being, broke the spell at once. Nothing
ever rode the Gytrash: it was always alone; and goblins, to my
notions, though they might tenant the dumb carcasses of beasts,
could scarce covet shelter in the commonplace human form. No
Gytrash was this,--only a traveller taking the short cut to
Millcote. He passed, and I went on; a few steps, and I turned: a
sliding sound and an exclamation of What the deuce is to do now?"
and a clattering tumblearrested my attention. Man and horse were
down; they had slipped on the sheet of ice which glazed the
causeway. The dog came bounding backand seeing his master in a
predicamentand hearing the horse groanbarked till the evening
hills echoed the soundwhich was deep in proportion to his
magnitude. He snuffed round the prostrate groupand then he ran up
to me; it was all he could do--there was no other help at hand to
summon. I obeyed himand walked down to the travellerby this
time struggling himself free of his steed. His efforts were so
vigorousI thought he could not be much hurt; but I asked him the
question


Are you injured, sir?

I think he was swearingbut am not certain; howeverhe was
pronouncing some formula which prevented him from replying to me
directly.

Can I do anything?I asked again.

You must just stand on one side,he answered as he rosefirst to
his kneesand then to his feet. I did; whereupon began a heaving
stampingclattering processaccompanied by a barking and baying
which removed me effectually some yards' distance; but I would not
be driven quite away till I saw the event. This was finally
fortunate; the horse was re-establishedand the dog was silenced
with a "DownPilot!" The traveller nowstoopingfelt his foot
and legas if trying whether they were sound; apparently something
ailed themfor he halted to the stile whence I had just risenand
sat down.

I was in the mood for being usefulor at least officiousI think
for I now drew near him again.

If you are hurt, and want help, sir, I can fetch some one either
from Thornfield Hall or from Hay.

Thank you: I shall do: I have no broken bones,--only a sprain;
and again he stood up and tried his footbut the result extorted an
involuntary "Ugh!"

Something of daylight still lingeredand the moon was waxing
bright: I could see him plainly. His figure was enveloped in a
riding cloakfur collared and steel clasped; its details were not
apparentbut I traced the general points of middle height and
considerable breadth of chest. He had a dark facewith stern
features and a heavy brow; his eyes and gathered eyebrows looked
ireful and thwarted just now; he was past youthbut had not reached
middle-age; perhaps he might be thirty-five. I felt no fear of him
and but little shyness. Had he been a handsomeheroic-looking
young gentlemanI should not have dared to stand thus questioning
him against his willand offering my services unasked. I had
hardly ever seen a handsome youth; never in my life spoken to one.
I had a theoretical reverence and homage for beautyelegance
gallantryfascination; but had I met those qualities incarnate in
masculine shapeI should have known instinctively that they neither
had nor could have sympathy with anything in meand should have


shunned them as one would firelightningor anything else that is
bright but antipathetic.

If even this stranger had smiled and been good-humoured to me when I
addressed him; if he had put off my offer of assistance gaily and
with thanksI should have gone on my way and not felt any vocation
to renew inquiries: but the frownthe roughness of the traveller
set me at my ease: I retained my station when he waved to me to go
and announced


I cannot think of leaving you, sir, at so late an hour, in this
solitary lane, till I see you are fit to mount your horse.

He looked at me when I said this; he had hardly turned his eyes in
my direction before.

I should think you ought to be at home yourself,said heif you
have a home in this neighbourhood: where do you come from?

From just below; and I am not at all afraid of being out late when
it is moonlight: I will run over to Hay for you with pleasure, if
you wish it: indeed, I am going there to post a letter.

You live just below--do you mean at that house with the
battlements?pointing to Thornfield Hallon which the moon cast a
hoary gleambringing it out distinct and pale from the woods that
by contrast with the western skynow seemed one mass of shadow.

Yes, sir.

Whose house is it?

Mr. Rochester's.

Do you know Mr. Rochester?

No, I have never seen him.

He is not resident, then?

No.

Can you tell me where he is?

I cannot.

You are not a servant at the hall, of course. You are--He
stoppedran his eye over my dresswhichas usualwas quite
simple: a black merino cloaka black beaver bonnet; neither of
them half fine enough for a lady's-maid. He seemed puzzled to
decide what I was; I helped him.

I am the governess.

Ah, the governess!he repeated; "deuce take meif I had not
forgotten! The governess!" and again my raiment underwent scrutiny.
In two minutes he rose from the stile: his face expressed pain when
he tried to move.

I cannot commission you to fetch help,he said; "but you may help
me a little yourselfif you will be so kind."

Yes, sir.


You have not an umbrella that I can use as a stick?

No.

Try to get hold of my horse's bridle and lead him to me: you are
not afraid?

I should have been afraid to touch a horse when alonebut when told
to do itI was disposed to obey. I put down my muff on the stile
and went up to the tall steed; I endeavoured to catch the bridle
but it was a spirited thingand would not let me come near its
head; I made effort on effortthough in vain: meantimeI was
mortally afraid of its trampling fore-feet. The traveller waited
and watched for some timeand at last he laughed.

I see,he saidthe mountain will never be brought to Mahomet, so
all you can do is to aid Mahomet to go to the mountain; I must beg
of you to come here.

I came. "Excuse me he continued: necessity compels me to make
you useful." He laid a heavy hand on my shoulderand leaning on me
with some stresslimped to his horse. Having once caught the
bridlehe mastered it directly and sprang to his saddle; grimacing
grimly as he made the effortfor it wrenched his sprain.

Now,said hereleasing his under lip from a hard bitejust hand
me my whip; it lies there under the hedge.

I sought it and found it.

Thank you; now make haste with the letter to Hay, and return as
fast as you can.

A touch of a spurred heel made his horse first start and rearand
then bound away; the dog rushed in his traces; all three vanished

Like heath that, in the wilderness,
The wild wind whirls away.

I took up my muff and walked on. The incident had occurred and was
gone for me: it WAS an incident of no momentno romanceno
interest in a sense; yet it marked with change one single hour of a
monotonous life. My help had been needed and claimed; I had given
it: I was pleased to have done something; trivialtransitory
though the deed wasit was yet an active thingand I was weary of
an existence all passive. The new facetoowas like a new picture
introduced to the gallery of memory; and it was dissimilar to all
the others hanging there: firstlybecause it was masculine; and
secondlybecause it was darkstrongand stern. I had it still
before me when I entered Hayand slipped the letter into the postoffice;
I saw it as I walked fast down-hill all the way home. When
I came to the stileI stopped a minutelooked round and listened
with an idea that a horse's hoofs might ring on the causeway again
and that a rider in a cloakand a Gytrash-like Newfoundland dog
might be again apparent: I saw only the hedge and a pollard willow
before merising up still and straight to meet the moonbeams; I
heard only the faintest waft of wind roaming fitful among the trees
round Thornfielda mile distant; and when I glanced down in the
direction of the murmurmy eyetraversing the hall-frontcaught a
light kindling in a window: it reminded me that I was lateand I
hurried on.


I did not like re-entering Thornfield. To pass its threshold was to
return to stagnation; to cross the silent hallto ascend the
darksome staircaseto seek my own lonely little roomand then to
meet tranquil Mrs. Fairfaxand spend the long winter evening with
herand her onlywas to quell wholly the faint excitement wakened
by my walk--to slip again over my faculties the viewless fetters of
an uniform and too still existence; of an existence whose very
privileges of security and ease I was becoming incapable of
appreciating. What good it would have done me at that time to have
been tossed in the storms of an uncertain struggling lifeand to
have been taught by rough and bitter experience to long for the calm
amidst which I now repined! Yesjust as much good as it would do a
man tired of sitting still in a "too easy chair" to take a long
walk: and just as natural was the wish to stirunder my
circumstancesas it would be under his.

I lingered at the gates; I lingered on the lawn; I paced backwards
and forwards on the pavement; the shutters of the glass door were
closed; I could not see into the interior; and both my eyes and
spirit seemed drawn from the gloomy house--from the grey-hollow
filled with rayless cellsas it appeared to me--to that sky
expanded before me--a blue sea absolved from taint of cloud; the
moon ascending it in solemn march; her orb seeming to look up as she
left the hill-topsfrom behind which she had comefar and farther
below herand aspired to the zenithmidnight dark in its
fathomless depth and measureless distance; and for those trembling
stars that followed her course; they made my heart tremblemy veins
glow when I viewed them. Little things recall us to earth; the
clock struck in the hall; that sufficed; I turned from moon and
starsopened a side-doorand went in.

The hall was not darknor yet was it litonly by the high-hung
bronze lamp; a warm glow suffused both it and the lower steps of the
oak staircase. This ruddy shine issued from the great dining-room
whose two-leaved door stood openand showed a genial fire in the
grateglancing on marble hearth and brass fire-ironsand revealing
purple draperies and polished furniturein the most pleasant
radiance. It revealedtooa group near the mantelpiece: I had
scarcely caught itand scarcely become aware of a cheerful mingling
of voicesamongst which I seemed to distinguish the tones of Adele
when the door closed.

I hastened to Mrs. Fairfax's room; there was a fire there toobut
no candleand no Mrs. Fairfax. Insteadall alonesitting upright
on the rugand gazing with gravity at the blazeI beheld a great
black and white long-haired dogjust like the Gytrash of the lane.
It was so like it that I went forward and said--"Pilot" and the
thing got up and came to me and snuffed me. I caressed himand he
wagged his great tail; but he looked an eerie creature to be alone
withand I could not tell whence he had come. I rang the bellfor
I wanted a candle; and I wantedtooto get an account of this
visitant. Leah entered.

What dog is this?

He came with master.

With whom?

With master--Mr. Rochester--he is just arrived.

Indeed! and is Mrs. Fairfax with him?

Yes, and Miss Adele; they are in the dining-room, and John is gone


for a surgeon; for master has had an accident; his horse fell and
his ankle is sprained.

Did the horse fall in Hay Lane?

Yes, coming down-hill; it slipped on some ice.

Ah! Bring me a candle will you Leah?

Leah brought it; she enteredfollowed by Mrs. Fairfaxwho repeated
the news; adding that Mr. Carter the surgeon was comeand was now
with Mr. Rochester: then she hurried out to give orders about tea
and I went upstairs to take off my things.

CHAPTER XIII

Mr. Rochesterit seemsby the surgeon's orderswent to bed early
that night; nor did he rise soon next morning. When he did come
downit was to attend to business: his agent and some of his
tenants were arrivedand waiting to speak with him.

Adele and I had now to vacate the library: it would be in daily
requisition as a reception-room for callers. A fire was lit in an
apartment upstairsand there I carried our booksand arranged it
for the future schoolroom. I discerned in the course of the morning
that Thornfield Hall was a changed place: no longer silent as a
churchit echoed every hour or two to a knock at the dooror a
clang of the bell; stepstoooften traversed the halland new
voices spoke in different keys below; a rill from the outer world
was flowing through it; it had a master: for my partI liked it
better.

Adele was not easy to teach that day; she could not apply: she kept
running to the door and looking over the banisters to see if she
could get a glimpse of Mr. Rochester; then she coined pretexts to go
downstairsin orderas I shrewdly suspectedto visit the library
where I knew she was not wanted; thenwhen I got a little angry
and made her sit stillshe continued to talk incessantly of her
ami, Monsieur Edouard Fairfax DE Rochester,as she dubbed him (I
had not before heard his prenomens)and to conjecture what presents
he had brought her: for it appears he had intimated the night
beforethat when his luggage came from Millcotethere would be
found amongst it a little box in whose contents she had an interest.

Et cela doit signifier,said shequ'il y aura le dedans un
cadeau pour moi, et peut-etre pour vous aussi, mademoiselle.
Monsieur a parle de vous: il m'a demande le nom de ma gouvernante,
et si elle n'etait pas une petite personne, assez mince et un peu
pale. J'ai dit qu'oui: car c'est vrai, n'est-ce pas,
mademoiselle?

I and my pupil dined as usual in Mrs. Fairfax's parlour; the
afternoon was wild and snowyand we passed it in the schoolroom.
At dark I allowed Adele to put away books and workand to run
downstairs; forfrom the comparative silence belowand from the
cessation of appeals to the door-bellI conjectured that Mr.
Rochester was now at liberty. Left aloneI walked to the window;
but nothing was to be seen thence: twilight and snowflakes together
thickened the airand hid the very shrubs on the lawn. I let down
the curtain and went back to the fireside.


In the clear embers I was tracing a viewnot unlike a picture I
remembered to have seen of the castle of Heidelbergon the Rhine
when Mrs. Fairfax came inbreaking up by her entrance the fiery
mosaic I had been piercing togetherand scattering too some heavy
unwelcome thoughts that were beginning to throng on my solitude.

Mr. Rochester would be glad if you and your pupil would take tea
with him in the drawing-room this evening,said she: "he has been
so much engaged all day that he could not ask to see you before."

When is his tea-time?I inquired.

Oh, at six o'clock: he keeps early hours in the country. You had
better change your frock now; I will go with you and fasten it.
Here is a candle.

Is it necessary to change my frock?

Yes, you had better: I always dress for the evening when Mr.
Rochester is here.

This additional ceremony seemed somewhat stately; howeverI
repaired to my roomandwith Mrs. Fairfax's aidreplaced my black
stuff dress by one of black silk; the best and the only additional
one I hadexcept one of light greywhichin my Lowood notions of
the toiletteI thought too fine to be wornexcept on first-rate
occasions.

You want a brooch,said Mrs. Fairfax. I had a single little pearl
ornament which Miss Temple gave me as a parting keepsake: I put it
onand then we went downstairs. Unused as I was to strangersit
was rather a trial to appear thus formally summoned in Mr.
Rochester's presence. I let Mrs. Fairfax precede me into the
dining-roomand kept in her shade as we crossed that apartment;
andpassing the archwhose curtain was now droppedentered the
elegant recess beyond.

Two wax candles stood lighted on the tableand two on the
mantelpiece; basking in the light and heat of a superb firelay
Pilot--Adele knelt near him. Half reclined on a couch appeared Mr.
Rochesterhis foot supported by the cushion; he was looking at
Adele and the dog: the fire shone full on his face. I knew my
traveller with his broad and jetty eyebrows; his square forehead
made squarer by the horizontal sweep of his black hair. I
recognised his decisive nosemore remarkable for character than
beauty; his full nostrilsdenotingI thoughtcholer; his grim
mouthchinand jaw--yesall three were very grimand no mistake.
His shapenow divested of cloakI perceived harmonised in
squareness with his physiognomy: I suppose it was a good figure in
the athletic sense of the term--broad chested and thin flanked
though neither tall nor graceful.

Mr. Rochester must have been aware of the entrance of Mrs. Fairfax
and myself; but it appeared he was not in the mood to notice usfor
he never lifted his head as we approached.

Here is Miss Eyre, sir,said Mrs. Fairfaxin her quiet way. He
bowedstill not taking his eyes from the group of the dog and
child.

Let Miss Eyre be seated,said he: and there was something in the
forced stiff bowin the impatient yet formal tonewhich seemed
further to expressWhat the deuce is it to me whether Miss Eyre be


there or not? At this moment I am not disposed to accost her.

I sat down quite disembarrassed. A reception of finished politeness
would probably have confused me: I could not have returned or
repaid it by answering grace and elegance on my part; but harsh
caprice laid me under no obligation; on the contrarya decent
quiescenceunder the freak of mannergave me the advantage.
Besidesthe eccentricity of the proceeding was piquant: I felt
interested to see how he would go on.

He went on as a statue wouldthat ishe neither spoke nor moved.
Mrs. Fairfax seemed to think it necessary that some one should be
amiableand she began to talk. Kindlyas usual--andas usual
rather trite--she condoled with him on the pressure of business he
had had all day; on the annoyance it must have been to him with that
painful sprain: then she commended his patience and perseverance in
going through with it.

Madam, I should like some tea,was the sole rejoinder she got.
She hastened to ring the bell; and when the tray cameshe proceeded
to arrange the cupsspoons&c.with assiduous celerity. I and
Adele went to the table; but the master did not leave his couch.

Will you hand Mr. Rochester's cup?said Mrs. Fairfax to me; "Adele
might perhaps spill it."

I did as requested. As he took the cup from my handAdele
thinking the moment propitious for making a request in my favour
cried out


N'est-ce pas, monsieur, qu'il y a un cadeau pour Mademoiselle Eyre
dans votre petit coffre?

Who talks of cadeaux?said he gruffly. "Did you expect a present
Miss Eyre? Are you fond of presents?" and he searched my face with
eyes that I saw were darkirateand piercing.

I hardly know, sir; I have little experience of them: they are
generally thought pleasant things.

Generally thought? But what do YOU think?

I should be obliged to take time, sir, before I could give you an
answer worthy of your acceptance: a present has many faces to it,
has it not? and one should consider all, before pronouncing an
opinion as to its nature.

Miss Eyre, you are not so unsophisticated as Adele: she demands a
'cadeau,' clamorously, the moment she sees me: you beat about the
bush.

Because I have less confidence in my deserts than Adele has: she
can prefer the claim of old acquaintance, and the right too of
custom; for she says you have always been in the habit of giving her
playthings; but if I had to make out a case I should be puzzled,
since I am a stranger, and have done nothing to entitle me to an
acknowledgment.

Oh, don't fall back on over-modesty! I have examined Adele, and
find you have taken great pains with her: she is not bright, she
has no talents; yet in a short time she has made much improvement.

Sir, you have now given me my 'cadeau;' I am obliged to you: it is
the meed teachers most covet--praise of their pupils' progress.


Humph!said Mr. Rochesterand he took his tea in silence.

Come to the fire,said the masterwhen the tray was taken away
and Mrs. Fairfax had settled into a corner with her knitting; while
Adele was leading me by the hand round the roomshowing me the
beautiful books and ornaments on the consoles and chiffonnieres. We
obeyedas in duty bound; Adele wanted to take a seat on my knee
but she was ordered to amuse herself with Pilot.

You have been resident in my house three months?

Yes, sir.

And you came from--?

From Lowood school, in -shire.

Ah! a charitable concern. How long were you there?

Eight years.

Eight years! you must be tenacious of life. I thought half the
time in such a place would have done up any constitution! No wonder
you have rather the look of another world. I marvelled where you
had got that sort of face. When you came on me in Hay Lane last
night, I thought unaccountably of fairy tales, and had half a mind
to demand whether you had bewitched my horse: I am not sure yet.
Who are your parents?

I have none.

Nor ever had, I suppose: do you remember them?

No.

I thought not. And so you were waiting for your people when you
sat on that stile?

For whom, sir?

For the men in green: it was a proper moonlight evening for them.
Did I break through one of your rings, that you spread that damned
ice on the causeway?

I shook my head. "The men in green all forsook England a hundred
years ago said I, speaking as seriously as he had done. And not
even in Hay Laneor the fields about itcould you find a trace of
them. I don't think either summer or harvestor winter moonwill
ever shine on their revels more."

Mrs. Fairfax had dropped her knittingandwith raised eyebrows
seemed wondering what sort of talk this was.

Well,resumed Mr. Rochesterif you disown parents, you must have
some sort of kinsfolk: uncles and aunts?

No; none that I ever saw.

And your home?

I have none.

Where do your brothers and sisters live?


I have no brothers or sisters.

Who recommended you to come here?

I advertised, and Mrs. Fairfax answered my advertisement.

Yes,said the good ladywho now knew what ground we were upon
and I am daily thankful for the choice Providence led me to make.
Miss Eyre has been an invaluable companion to me, and a kind and
careful teacher to Adele.

Don't trouble yourself to give her a character,returned Mr.
Rochester: "eulogiums will not bias me; I shall judge for myself.
She began by felling my horse."

Sir?said Mrs. Fairfax.

I have to thank her for this sprain.

The widow looked bewildered.

Miss Eyre, have you ever lived in a town?

No, sir.

Have you seen much society?

None but the pupils and teachers of Lowood, and now the inmates of
Thornfield.

Have you read much?

Only such books as came in my way; and they have not been numerous
or very learned.

You have lived the life of a nun: no doubt you are well drilled in
religious forms;--Brocklehurst, who I understand directs Lowood, is
a parson, is he not?

Yes, sir.

And you girls probably worshipped him, as a convent full of
religieuses would worship their director.

Oh, no.

You are very cool! No! What! a novice not worship her priest!
That sounds blasphemous.

I disliked Mr. Brocklehurst; and I was not alone in the feeling.
He is a harsh man; at once pompous and meddling; he cut off our
hair; and for economy's sake bought us bad needles and thread, with
which we could hardly sew.

That was very false economy,remarked Mrs. Fairfaxwho now again
caught the drift of the dialogue.

And was that the head and front of his offending?demanded Mr.
Rochester.

He starved us when he had the sole superintendence of the provision
department, before the committee was appointed; and he bored us with
long lectures once a week, and with evening readings from books of


his own inditing, about sudden deaths and judgments, which made us
afraid to go to bed.

What age were you when you went to Lowood?

About ten.

And you stayed there eight years: you are now, then, eighteen?

I assented.

Arithmetic, you see, is useful; without its aid, I should hardly
have been able to guess your age. It is a point difficult to fix
where the features and countenance are so much at variance as in
your case. And now what did you learn at Lowood? Can you play?

A little.

Of course: that is the established answer. Go into the library--I
mean, if you please.--(Excuse my tone of command; I am used to say,
'Do this,' and it is done: I cannot alter my customary habits for
one new inmate.)--Go, then, into the library; take a candle with
you; leave the door open; sit down to the piano, and play a tune.

I departedobeying his directions.

Enough!he called out in a few minutes. "You play A LITTLEI
see; like any other English school-girl; perhaps rather better than
somebut not well."

I closed the piano and returned. Mr. Rochester continued--"Adele
showed me some sketches this morningwhich she said were yours. I
don't know whether they were entirely of your doing; probably a
master aided you?"

No, indeed!I interjected.

Ah! that pricks pride. Well, fetch me your portfolio, if you can
vouch for its contents being original; but don't pass your word
unless you are certain: I can recognise patchwork.

Then I will say nothing, and you shall judge for yourself, sir.

I brought the portfolio from the library.

Approach the table,said he; and I wheeled it to his couch. Adele
and Mrs. Fairfax drew near to see the pictures.

No crowding,said Mr. Rochester: "take the drawings from my hand
as I finish with them; but don't push your faces up to mine."

He deliberately scrutinised each sketch and painting. Three he laid
aside; the otherswhen he had examined themhe swept from him.

Take them off to the other table, Mrs. Fairfax,said heand look
at them with Adele;--you" (glancing at me) "resume your seatand
answer my questions. I perceive those pictures were done by one
hand: was that hand yours?"

Yes.

And when did you find time to do them? They have taken much time,
and some thought.


I did them in the last two vacations I spent at Lowood, when I had
no other occupation.

Where did you get your copies?

Out of my head.

That head I see now on your shoulders?

Yes, sir.

Has it other furniture of the same kind within?

I should think it may have: I should hope--better.

He spread the pictures before himand again surveyed them
alternately.

While he is so occupiedI will tell youreaderwhat they are:
and firstI must premise that they are nothing wonderful. The
subjects hadindeedrisen vividly on my mind. As I saw them with
the spiritual eyebefore I attempted to embody themthey were
striking; but my hand would not second my fancyand in each case it
had wrought out but a pale portrait of the thing I had conceived.

These pictures were in water-colours. The first represented clouds
low and lividrolling over a swollen sea: all the distance was in
eclipse; sotoowas the foreground; or ratherthe nearest
billowsfor there was no land. One gleam of light lifted into
relief a half-submerged maston which sat a cormorantdark and
largewith wings flecked with foam; its beak held a gold bracelet
set with gemsthat I had touched with as brilliant tints as my
palette could yieldand as glittering distinctness as my pencil
could impart. Sinking below the bird and masta drowned corpse
glanced through the green water; a fair arm was the only limb
clearly visiblewhence the bracelet had been washed or torn.

The second picture contained for foreground only the dim peak of a
hillwith grass and some leaves slanting as if by a breeze. Beyond
and above spread an expanse of skydark blue as at twilight:
rising into the sky was a woman's shape to the bustportrayed in
tints as dusk and soft as I could combine. The dim forehead was
crowned with a star; the lineaments below were seen as through the
suffusion of vapour; the eyes shone dark and wild; the hair streamed
shadowylike a beamless cloud torn by storm or by electric travail.
On the neck lay a pale reflection like moonlight; the same faint
lustre touched the train of thin clouds from which rose and bowed
this vision of the Evening Star.

The third showed the pinnacle of an iceberg piercing a polar winter
sky: a muster of northern lights reared their dim lancesclose
serriedalong the horizon. Throwing these into distancerosein
the foregrounda head--a colossal headinclined towards the
icebergand resting against it. Two thin handsjoined under the
foreheadand supporting itdrew up before the lower features a
sable veila brow quite bloodlesswhite as boneand an eye
hollow and fixedblank of meaning but for the glassiness of
despairalone were visible. Above the templesamidst wreathed
turban folds of black draperyvague in its character and
consistency as cloudgleamed a ring of white flamegemmed with
sparkles of a more lurid tinge. This pale crescent was "the
likeness of a kingly crown;" what it diademed was "the shape which
shape had none."


Were you happy when you painted these pictures?asked Mr.
Rochester presently.

I was absorbed, sir: yes, and I was happy. To paint them, in
short, was to enjoy one of the keenest pleasures I have ever known.

That is not saying much. Your pleasures, by your own account, have
been few; but I daresay you did exist in a kind of artist's
dreamland while you blent and arranged these strange tints. Did you
sit at them long each day?

I had nothing else to do, because it was the vacation, and I sat at
them from morning till noon, and from noon till night: the length
of the midsummer days favoured my inclination to apply.

And you felt self-satisfied with the result of your ardent
labours?

Far from it. I was tormented by the contrast between my idea and
my handiwork: in each case I had imagined something which I was
quite powerless to realise.

Not quite: you have secured the shadow of your thought; but no
more, probably. You had not enough of the artist's skill and
science to give it full being: yet the drawings are, for a schoolgirl,
peculiar. As to the thoughts, they are elfish. These eyes in
the Evening Star you must have seen in a dream. How could you make
them look so clear, and yet not at all brilliant? for the planet
above quells their rays. And what meaning is that in their solemn
depth? And who taught you to paint wind. There is a high gale in
that sky, and on this hill-top. Where did you see Latmos? For that
is Latmos. There! put the drawings away!

I had scarce tied the strings of the portfoliowhenlooking at his
watchhe said abruptly


It is nine o'clock: what are you about, Miss Eyre, to let Adele
sit up so long? Take her to bed.

Adele went to kiss him before quitting the room: he endured the
caressbut scarcely seemed to relish it more than Pilot would have
donenor so much.

I wish you all good-night, now,said hemaking a movement of the
hand towards the doorin token that he was tired of our company
and wished to dismiss us. Mrs. Fairfax folded up her knitting: I
took my portfolio: we curtseyed to himreceived a frigid bow in
returnand so withdrew.

You said Mr. Rochester was not strikingly peculiar, Mrs. Fairfax,
I observedwhen I rejoined her in her roomafter putting Adele to
bed.

Well, is he?

I think so: he is very changeful and abrupt.

True: no doubt he may appear so to a stranger, but I am so
accustomed to his manner, I never think of it; and then, if he has
peculiarities of temper, allowance should be made.

Why?

Partly because it is his nature--and we can none of us help our


nature; and partly because he has painful thoughts, no doubt, to
harass him, and make his spirits unequal.

What about?

Family troubles, for one thing.

But he has no family.

Not now, but he has had--or, at least, relatives. He lost his
elder brother a few years since.

His ELDER brother?

Yes. The present Mr. Rochester has not been very long in
possession of the property; only about nine years.

Nine years is a tolerable time. Was he so very fond of his brother
as to be still inconsolable for his loss?

Why, no--perhaps not. I believe there were some misunderstandings
between them. Mr. Rowland Rochester was not quite just to Mr.
Edward; and perhaps he prejudiced his father against him. The old
gentleman was fond of money, and anxious to keep the family estate
together. He did not like to diminish the property by division, and
yet he was anxious that Mr. Edward should have wealth, too, to keep
up the consequence of the name; and, soon after he was of age, some
steps were taken that were not quite fair, and made a great deal of
mischief. Old Mr. Rochester and Mr. Rowland combined to bring Mr.
Edward into what he considered a painful position, for the sake of
making his fortune: what the precise nature of that position was I
never clearly knew, but his spirit could not brook what he had to
suffer in it. He is not very forgiving: he broke with his family,
and now for many years he has led an unsettled kind of life. I
don't think he has ever been resident at Thornfield for a fortnight
together, since the death of his brother without a will left him
master of the estate; and, indeed, no wonder he shuns the old
place.

Why should he shun it?

Perhaps he thinks it gloomy.

The answer was evasive. I should have liked something clearer; but
Mrs. Fairfax either could notor would notgive me more explicit
information of the origin and nature of Mr. Rochester's trials. She
averred they were a mystery to herselfand that what she knew was
chiefly from conjecture. It was evidentindeedthat she wished me
to drop the subjectwhich I did accordingly.

CHAPTER XIV

For several subsequent days I saw little of Mr. Rochester. In the
mornings he seemed much engaged with businessandin the
afternoongentlemen from Millcote or the neighbourhood calledand
sometimes stayed to dine with him. When his sprain was well enough
to admit of horse exercisehe rode out a good deal; probably to
return these visitsas he generally did not come back till late at
night.


During this intervaleven Adele was seldom sent for to his
presenceand all my acquaintance with him was confined to an
occasional rencontre in the hallon the stairsor in the gallery
when he would sometimes pass me haughtily and coldlyjust
acknowledging my presence by a distant nod or a cool glanceand
sometimes bow and smile with gentlemanlike affability. His changes
of mood did not offend mebecause I saw that I had nothing to do
with their alternation; the ebb and flow depended on causes quite
disconnected with me.

One day he had had company to dinnerand had sent for my portfolio;
in orderdoubtlessto exhibit its contents: the gentlemen went
away earlyto attend a public meeting at Millcoteas Mrs. Fairfax
informed me; but the night being wet and inclementMr. Rochester
did not accompany them. Soon after they were gone he rang the bell:
a message came that I and Adele were to go downstairs. I brushed
Adele's hair and made her neatand having ascertained that I was
myself in my usual Quaker trimwhere there was nothing to retouch-all
being too close and plainbraided locks includedto admit of
disarrangement--we descendedAdele wondering whether the petit
coffre was at length come; forowing to some mistakeits arrival
had hitherto been delayed. She was gratified: there it stooda
little cartonon the table when we entered the dining-room. She
appeared to know it by instinct.

Ma boite! ma boite!exclaimed sherunning towards it.

Yes, there is your 'boite' at last: take it into a corner, you
genuine daughter of Paris, and amuse yourself with disembowelling
it,said the deep and rather sarcastic voice of Mr. Rochester
proceeding from the depths of an immense easy-chair at the fireside.
And mind,he continueddon't bother me with any details of the
anatomical process, or any notice of the condition of the entrails:
let your operation be conducted in silence: tiens-toi tranquille,
enfant; comprends-tu?

Adele seemed scarcely to need the warning--she had already retired
to a sofa with her treasureand was busy untying the cord which
secured the lid. Having removed this impedimentand lifted certain
silvery envelopes of tissue papershe merely exclaimed


Oh ciel! Que c'est beau!and then remained absorbed in ecstatic
contemplation.

Is Miss Eyre there?now demanded the masterhalf rising from his
seat to look round to the doornear which I still stood.

Ah! well, come forward; be seated here.He drew a chair near his
own. "I am not fond of the prattle of children he continued;
forold bachelor as I amI have no pleasant associations
connected with their lisp. It would be intolerable to me to pass a
whole evening tete-e-tete with a brat. Don't draw that chair
farther offMiss Eyre; sit down exactly where I placed it--if you
pleasethat is. Confound these civilities! I continually forget
them. Nor do I particularly affect simple-minded old ladies. Bythe-
byeI must have mine in mind; it won't do to neglect her; she
is a Fairfaxor wed to one; and blood is said to be thicker than
water."

He rangand despatched an invitation to Mrs. Fairfaxwho soon
arrivedknitting-basket in hand.

Good evening, madam; I sent to you for a charitable purpose. I
have forbidden Adele to talk to me about her presents, and she is


bursting with repletion: have the goodness to serve her as
auditress and interlocutrice; it will be one of the most benevolent
acts you ever performed.

Adeleindeedno sooner saw Mrs. Fairfaxthan she summoned her to
her sofaand there quickly filled her lap with the porcelainthe
ivorythe waxen contents of her "boite;" pouring outmeantime
explanations and raptures in such broken English as she was mistress
of.

Now I have performed the part of a good host,pursued Mr.
Rochesterput my guests into the way of amusing each other, I
ought to be at liberty to attend to my own pleasure. Miss Eyre,
draw your chair still a little farther forward: you are yet too far
back; I cannot see you without disturbing my position in this
comfortable chair, which I have no mind to do.

I did as I was bidthough I would much rather have remained
somewhat in the shade; but Mr. Rochester had such a direct way of
giving ordersit seemed a matter of course to obey him promptly.

We wereas I have saidin the dining-room: the lustrewhich had
been lit for dinnerfilled the room with a festal breadth of light;
the large fire was all red and clear; the purple curtains hung rich
and ample before the lofty window and loftier arch; everything was
stillsave the subdued chat of Adele (she dared not speak loud)
andfilling up each pausethe beating of winter rain against the
panes.

Mr. Rochesteras he sat in his damask-covered chairlooked
different to what I had seen him look before; not quite so stern-much
less gloomy. There was a smile on his lipsand his eyes
sparkledwhether with wine or notI am not sure; but I think it
very probable. He wasin shortin his after-dinner mood; more
expanded and genialand also more self-indulgent than the frigid
and rigid temper of the morning; still he looked preciously grim
cushioning his massive head against the swelling back of his chair
and receiving the light of the fire on his granite-hewn features
and in his greatdark eyes; for he had greatdark eyesand very
fine eyestoo--not without a certain change in their depths
sometimeswhichif it was not softnessreminded youat leastof
that feeling.

He had been looking two minutes at the fireand I had been looking
the same length of time at himwhenturning suddenlyhe caught my
gaze fastened on his physiognomy.

You examine me, Miss Eyre,said he: "do you think me handsome?"

I shouldif I had deliberatedhave replied to this question by
something conventionally vague and polite; but the answer somehow
slipped from my tongue before I was aware--"Nosir."

Ah! By my word! there is something singular about you,said he:
you have the air of a little nonnette; quaint, quiet, grave, and
simple, as you sit with your hands before you, and your eyes
generally bent on the carpet (except, by-the-bye, when they are
directed piercingly to my face; as just now, for instance); and when
one asks you a question, or makes a remark to which you are obliged
to reply, you rap out a round rejoinder, which, if not blunt, is at
least brusque. What do you mean by it?

Sir, I was too plain; I beg your pardon. I ought to have replied
that it was not easy to give an impromptu answer to a question about


appearances; that tastes mostly differ; and that beauty is of little
consequence, or something of that sort.

You ought to have replied no such thing. Beauty of little
consequence, indeed! And so, under pretence of softening the
previous outrage, of stroking and soothing me into placidity, you
stick a sly penknife under my ear! Go on: what fault do you find
with me, pray? I suppose I have all my limbs and all my features
like any other man?

Mr. Rochester, allow me to disown my first answer: I intended no
pointed repartee: it was only a blunder.

Just so: I think so: and you shall be answerable for it.
Criticise me: does my forehead not please you?

He lifted up the sable waves of hair which lay horizontally over his
browand showed a solid enough mass of intellectual organsbut an
abrupt deficiency where the suave sign of benevolence should have
risen.

Now, ma'am, am I a fool?

Far from it, sir. You would, perhaps, think me rude if I inquired
in return whether you are a philanthropist?

There again! Another stick of the penknife, when she pretended to
pat my head: and that is because I said I did not like the society
of children and old women (low be it spoken!). No, young lady, I am
not a general philanthropist; but I bear a conscience;and he
pointed to the prominences which are said to indicate that faculty
and whichfortunately for himwere sufficiently conspicuous;
givingindeeda marked breadth to the upper part of his head:
and, besides, I once had a kind of rude tenderness of heart. When
I was as old as you, I was a feeling fellow enough, partial to the
unfledged, unfostered, and unlucky; but Fortune has knocked me about
since: she has even kneaded me with her knuckles, and now I flatter
myself I am hard and tough as an India-rubber ball; pervious,
though, through a chink or two still, and with one sentient point in
the middle of the lump. Yes: does that leave hope for me?

Hope of what, sir?

Of my final re-transformation from India-rubber back to flesh?

Decidedly he has had too much wine,I thought; and I did not know
what answer to make to his queer question: how could I tell whether
he was capable of being re-transformed?

You looked very much puzzled, Miss Eyre; and though you are not
pretty any more than I am handsome, yet a puzzled air becomes you;
besides, it is convenient, for it keeps those searching eyes of
yours away from my physiognomy, and busies them with the worsted
flowers of the rug; so puzzle on. Young lady, I am disposed to be
gregarious and communicative to-night.

With this announcement he rose from his chairand stoodleaning
his arm on the marble mantelpiece: in that attitude his shape was
seen plainly as well as his face; his unusual breadth of chest
disproportionate almost to his length of limb. I am sure most
people would have thought him an ugly man; yet there was so much
unconscious pride in his port; so much ease in his demeanour; such a
look of complete indifference to his own external appearance; so
haughty a reliance on the power of other qualitiesintrinsic or


adventitiousto atone for the lack of mere personal attractiveness
thatin looking at himone inevitably shared the indifference
andeven in a blindimperfect senseput faith in the confidence.

I am disposed to be gregarious and communicative to-night,he
repeatedand that is why I sent for you: the fire and the
chandelier were not sufficient company for me; nor would Pilot have
been, for none of these can talk. Adele is a degree better, but
still far below the mark; Mrs. Fairfax ditto; you, I am persuaded,
can suit me if you will: you puzzled me the first evening I invited
you down here. I have almost forgotten you since: other ideas have
driven yours from my head; but to-night I am resolved to be at ease;
to dismiss what importunes, and recall what pleases. It would
please me now to draw you out--to learn more of you--therefore
speak.

Instead of speakingI smiled; and not a very complacent or
submissive smile either.

Speak,he urged.

What about, sir?

Whatever you like. I leave both the choice of subject and the
manner of treating it entirely to yourself.

Accordingly I sat and said nothing: "If he expects me to talk for
the mere sake of talking and showing offhe will find he has
addressed himself to the wrong person I thought.

You are dumbMiss Eyre."

I was dumb still. He bent his head a little towards meand with a
single hasty glance seemed to dive into my eyes.

Stubborn?he saidand annoyed. Ah! it is consistent. I put my
request in an absurd, almost insolent form. Miss Eyre, I beg your
pardon. The fact is, once for all, I don't wish to treat you like
an inferior: that is(correcting himself)I claim only such
superiority as must result from twenty years' difference in age and
a century's advance in experience. This is legitimate, et j'y
tiens, as Adele would say; and it is by virtue of this superiority,
and this alone, that I desire you to have the goodness to talk to me
a little now, and divert my thoughts, which are galled with dwelling
on one point--cankering as a rusty nail.

He had deigned an explanationalmost an apologyand I did not feel
insensible to his condescensionand would not seem so.

I am willing to amuse you, if I can, sir--quite willing; but I
cannot introduce a topic, because how do I know what will interest
you? Ask me questions, and I will do my best to answer them.

Then, in the first place, do you agree with me that I have a right
to be a little masterful, abrupt, perhaps exacting, sometimes, on
the grounds I stated, namely, that I am old enough to be your
father, and that I have battled through a varied experience with
many men of many nations, and roamed over half the globe, while you
have lived quietly with one set of people in one house?

Do as you please, sir.

That is no answer; or rather it is a very irritating, because a
very evasive one. Reply clearly.


I don't think, sir, you have a right to command me, merely because
you are older than I, or because you have seen more of the world
than I have; your claim to superiority depends on the use you have
made of your time and experience.

Humph! Promptly spoken. But I won't allow that, seeing that it
would never suit my case, as I have made an indifferent, not to say
a bad, use of both advantages. Leaving superiority out of the
question, then, you must still agree to receive my orders now and
then, without being piqued or hurt by the tone of command. Will
you?

I smiled: I thought to myself Mr. Rochester IS peculiar--he seems
to forget that he pays me 30 pounds per annum for receiving his
orders.

The smile is very well,said hecatching instantly the passing
expression; "but speak too."

I was thinking, sir, that very few masters would trouble themselves
to inquire whether or not their paid subordinates were piqued and
hurt by their orders.

Paid subordinates! What! you are my paid subordinate, are you? Oh
yes, I had forgotten the salary! Well then, on that mercenary
ground, will you agree to let me hector a little?

No, sir, not on that ground; but, on the ground that you did forget
it, and that you care whether or not a dependent is comfortable in
his dependency, I agree heartily.

And will you consent to dispense with a great many conventional
forms and phrases, without thinking that the omission arises from
insolence?

I am sure, sir, I should never mistake informality for insolence:
one I rather like, the other nothing free-born would submit to, even
for a salary.

Humbug! Most things free-born will submit to anything for a
salary; therefore, keep to yourself, and don't venture on
generalities of which you are intensely ignorant. However, I
mentally shake hands with you for your answer, despite its
inaccuracy; and as much for the manner in which it was said, as for
the substance of the speech; the manner was frank and sincere; one
does not often see such a manner: no, on the contrary, affectation,
or coldness, or stupid, coarse-minded misapprehension of one's
meaning are the usual rewards of candour. Not three in three
thousand raw school-girl-governesses would have answered me as you
have just done. But I don't mean to flatter you: if you are cast
in a different mould to the majority, it is no merit of yours:
Nature did it. And then, after all, I go too fast in my
conclusions: for what I yet know, you may be no better than the
rest; you may have intolerable defects to counterbalance your few
good points.

And so may you,I thought. My eye met his as the idea crossed my
mind: he seemed to read the glanceanswering as if its import had
been spoken as well as imagined


Yes, yes, you are right,said he; "I have plenty of faults of my
own: I know itand I don't wish to palliate themI assure you.
God wot I need not be too severe about others; I have a past


existencea series of deedsa colour of life to contemplate within
my own breastwhich might well call my sneers and censures from my
neighbours to myself. I startedor rather (for like other
defaultersI like to lay half the blame on ill fortune and adverse
circumstances) was thrust on to a wrong tack at the age of one-andtwenty
and have never recovered the right course since: but I
might have been very different; I might have been as good as you-wiser--
almost as stainless. I envy you your peace of mindyour
clean conscienceyour unpolluted memory. Little girla memory
without blot or contamination must be an exquisite treasure--an
inexhaustible source of pure refreshment: is it not?"

How was your memory when you were eighteen, sir?

All right then; limpid, salubrious: no gush of bilge water had
turned it to fetid puddle. I was your equal at eighteen--quite your
equal. Nature meant me to be, on the whole, a good man, Miss Eyre;
one of the better kind, and you see I am not so. You would say you
don't see it; at least I flatter myself I read as much in your eye
(beware, by-the-bye, what you express with that organ; I am quick at
interpreting its language). Then take my word for it,--I am not a
villain: you are not to suppose that--not to attribute to me any
such bad eminence; but, owing, I verily believe, rather to
circumstances than to my natural bent, I am a trite commonplace
sinner, hackneyed in all the poor petty dissipations with which the
rich and worthless try to put on life. Do you wonder that I avow
this to you? Know, that in the course of your future life you will
often find yourself elected the involuntary confidant of your
acquaintances' secrets: people will instinctively find out, as I
have done, that it is not your forte to tell of yourself, but to
listen while others talk of themselves; they will feel, too, that
you listen with no malevolent scorn of their indiscretion, but with
a kind of innate sympathy; not the less comforting and encouraging
because it is very unobtrusive in its manifestations.

How do you know?--how can you guess all this, sir?

I know it well; therefore I proceed almost as freely as if I were
writing my thoughts in a diary. You would say, I should have been
superior to circumstances; so I should--so I should; but you see I
was not. When fate wronged me, I had not the wisdom to remain cool:
I turned desperate; then I degenerated. Now, when any vicious
simpleton excites my disgust by his paltry ribaldry, I cannot
flatter myself that I am better than he: I am forced to confess
that he and I are on a level. I wish I had stood firm--God knows I
do! Dread remorse when you are tempted to err, Miss Eyre; remorse
is the poison of life.

Repentance is said to be its cure, sir.

It is not its cure. Reformation may be its cure; and I could
reform--I have strength yet for that--if--but where is the use of
thinking of it, hampered, burdened, cursed as I am? Besides, since
happiness is irrevocably denied me, I have a right to get pleasure
out of life: and I WILL get it, cost what it may.

Then you will degenerate still more, sir.

Possibly: yet why should I, if I can get sweet, fresh pleasure?
And I may get it as sweet and fresh as the wild honey the bee
gathers on the moor.

It will sting--it will taste bitter, sir.


How do you know?--you never tried it. How very serious--how very
solemn you look: and you are as ignorant of the matter as this
cameo head(taking one from the mantelpiece). "You have no right
to preach to meyou neophytethat have not passed the porch of
lifeand are absolutely unacquainted with its mysteries."

I only remind you of your own words, sir: you said error brought
remorse, and you pronounced remorse the poison of existence.

And who talks of error now? I scarcely think the notion that
flittered across my brain was an error. I believe it was an
inspiration rather than a temptation: it was very genial, very
soothing--I know that. Here it comes again! It is no devil, I
assure you; or if it be, it has put on the robes of an angel of
light. I think I must admit so fair a guest when it asks entrance
to my heart.

Distrust it, sir; it is not a true angel.

Once more, how do you know? By what instinct do you pretend to
distinguish between a fallen seraph of the abyss and a messenger
from the eternal throne--between a guide and a seducer?

I judged by your countenance, sir, which was troubled when you said
the suggestion had returned upon you. I feel sure it will work you
more misery if you listen to it.

Not at all--it bears the most gracious message in the world: for
the rest, you are not my conscience-keeper, so don't make yourself
uneasy. Here, come in, bonny wanderer!

He said this as if he spoke to a visionviewless to any eye but his
own; thenfolding his armswhich he had half extendedon his
chesthe seemed to enclose in their embrace the invisible being.

Now,he continuedagain addressing meI have received the
pilgrim--a disguised deity, as I verify believe. Already it has
done me good: my heart was a sort of charnel; it will now be a
shrine.

To speak truth, sir, I don't understand you at all: I cannot keep
up the conversation, because it has got out of my depth. Only one
thing, I know: you said you were not as good as you should like to
be, and that you regretted your own imperfection;--one thing I can
comprehend: you intimated that to have a sullied memory was a
perpetual bane. It seems to me, that if you tried hard, you would
in time find it possible to become what you yourself would approve;
and that if from this day you began with resolution to correct your
thoughts and actions, you would in a few years have laid up a new
and stainless store of recollections, to which you might revert with
pleasure.

Justly thought; rightly said, Miss Eyre; and, at this moment, I am
paving hell with energy.

Sir?

I am laying down good intentions, which I believe durable as flint.
Certainly, my associates and pursuits shall be other than they have
been.

And better?

And better--so much better as pure ore is than foul dross. You


seem to doubt me; I don't doubt myself: I know what my aim is, what
my motives are; and at this moment I pass a law, unalterable as that
of the Medes and Persians, that both are right.

They cannot be, sir, if they require a new statute to legalise
them.

They are, Miss Eyre, though they absolutely require a new statute:
unheard-of combinations of circumstances demand unheard-of rules.

That sounds a dangerous maxim, sir; because one can see at once
that it is liable to abuse.

Sententious sage! so it is: but I swear by my household gods not
to abuse it.

You are human and fallible.

I am: so are you--what then?

The human and fallible should not arrogate a power with which the
divine and perfect alone can be safely intrusted.

What power?

That of saying of any strange, unsanctioned line of action,--'Let
it be right.'

'Let it be right'--the very words: you have pronounced them.

MAY it be right then,I saidas I rosedeeming it useless to
continue a discourse which was all darkness to me; andbesides
sensible that the character of my interlocutor was beyond my
penetration; at leastbeyond its present reach; and feeling the
uncertaintythe vague sense of insecuritywhich accompanies a
conviction of ignorance.

Where are you going?

To put Adele to bed: it is past her bedtime.

You are afraid of me, because I talk like a Sphynx.

Your language is enigmatical, sir: but though I am bewildered, I
am certainly not afraid.

You ARE afraid--your self-love dreads a blunder.

In that sense I do feel apprehensive--I have no wish to talk
nonsense.

If you did, it would be in such a grave, quiet manner, I should
mistake it for sense. Do you never laugh, Miss Eyre? Don't trouble
yourself to answer--I see you laugh rarely; but you can laugh very
merrily: believe me, you are not naturally austere, any more than I
am naturally vicious. The Lowood constraint still clings to you
somewhat; controlling your features, muffling your voice, and
restricting your limbs; and you fear in the presence of a man and a
brother--or father, or master, or what you will--to smile too gaily,
speak too freely, or move too quickly: but, in time, I think you
will learn to be natural with me, as I find it impossible to be
conventional with you; and then your looks and movements will have
more vivacity and variety than they dare offer now. I see at
intervals the glance of a curious sort of bird through the close-set


bars of a cage: a vivid, restless, resolute captive is there; were
it but free, it would soar cloud-high. You are still bent on
going?

It has struck nine, sir.

Never mind,--wait a minute: Adele is not ready to go to bed yet.
My position, Miss Eyre, with my back to the fire, and my face to the
room, favours observation. While talking to you, I have also
occasionally watched Adele (I have my own reasons for thinking her a
curious study,--reasons that I may, nay, that I shall, impart to you
some day). She pulled out of her box, about ten minutes ago, a
little pink silk frock; rapture lit her face as she unfolded it;
coquetry runs in her blood, blends with her brains, and seasons the
marrow of her bones. 'Il faut que je l'essaie!' cried she, 'et e
l'instant meme!' and she rushed out of the room. She is now with
Sophie, undergoing a robing process: in a few minutes she will reenter;
and I know what I shall see,--a miniature of Celine Varens,
as she used to appear on the boards at the rising of-- But never
mind that. However, my tenderest feelings are about to receive a
shock: such is my presentiment; stay now, to see whether it will be
realised.

Ere longAdele's little foot was heard tripping across the hall.
She enteredtransformed as her guardian had predicted. A dress of
rose-coloured satinvery shortand as full in the skirt as it
could be gatheredreplaced the brown frock she had previously worn;
a wreath of rosebuds circled her forehead; her feet were dressed in
silk stockings and small white satin sandals.

Est-ce que ma robe va bien?cried shebounding forwards; "et mes
souliers? et mes bas? Tenezje crois que je vais danser!"

And spreading out her dressshe chasseed across the room till
having reached Mr. Rochestershe wheeled lightly round before him
on tip-toethen dropped on one knee at his feetexclaiming


Monsieur, je vous remercie mille fois de votre bonte;then rising
she addedC'est comme cela que maman faisait, n'est-ce pas,
monsieur?

Pre-cise-ly!was the answer; "and'comme cela' she charmed my
English gold out of my British breeches' pocket. I have been green
tooMiss Eyre--aygrass green: not a more vernal tint freshens
you now than once freshened me. My Spring is gonehoweverbut it
has left me that French floweret on my handswhichin some moods
I would fain be rid of. Not valuing now the root whence it sprang;
having found that it was of a sort which nothing but gold dust could
manureI have but half a liking to the blossomespecially when it
looks so artificial as just now. I keep it and rear it rather on
the Roman Catholic principle of expiating numerous sinsgreat or
smallby one good work. I'll explain all this some day. Goodnight."


CHAPTER XV

Mr. Rochester didon a future occasionexplain it. It was one
afternoonwhen he chanced to meet me and Adele in the grounds: and
while she played with Pilot and her shuttlecockhe asked me to walk
up and down a long beech avenue within sight of her.


He then said that she was the daughter of a French opera-dancer
Celine Varenstowards whom he had once cherished what he called a
grande passion.This passion Celine had professed to return with
even superior ardour. He thought himself her idolugly as he was:
he believedas he saidthat she preferred his "taille d'athlete"
to the elegance of the Apollo Belvidere.

And, Miss Eyre, so much was I flattered by this preference of the
Gallic sylph for her British gnome, that I installed her in an
hotel; gave her a complete establishment of servants, a carriage,
cashmeres, diamonds, dentelles, &c. In short, I began the process
of ruining myself in the received style, like any other spoony.
had not, it seems, the originality to chalk out a new road to shame
and destruction, but trode the old track with stupid exactness not
to deviate an inch from the beaten centre. I had--as I deserved to
have--the fate of all other spoonies. Happening to call one evening
when Celine did not expect me, I found her out; but it was a warm
night, and I was tired with strolling through Paris, so I sat down
in her boudoir; happy to breathe the air consecrated so lately by
her presence. No,--I exaggerate; I never thought there was any
consecrating virtue about her: it was rather a sort of pastille
perfume she had left; a scent of musk and amber, than an odour of
sanctity. I was just beginning to stifle with the fumes of
conservatory flowers and sprinkled essences, when I bethought myself
to open the window and step out on to the balcony. It was moonlight
and gaslight besides, and very still and serene. The balcony was
furnished with a chair or two; I sat down, and took out a cigar,--I
will take one now, if you will excuse me.

Here ensued a pausefilled up by the producing and lighting of a
cigar; having placed it to his lips and breathed a trail of Havannah
incense on the freezing and sunless airhe went on


I liked bonbons too in those days, Miss Eyre, and I was croquant-(
overlook the barbarism)--croquant chocolate comfits, and smoking
alternately, watching meantime the equipages that rolled along the
fashionable streets towards the neighbouring opera-house, when in an
elegant close carriage drawn by a beautiful pair of English horses,
and distinctly seen in the brilliant city-night, I recognised the
'voiture' I had given Celine. She was returning: of course my
heart thumped with impatience against the iron rails I leant upon.
The carriage stopped, as I had expected, at the hotel door; my flame
(that is the very word for an opera inamorata) alighted: though
muffed in a cloak--an unnecessary encumbrance, by-the-bye, on so
warm a June evening--I knew her instantly by her little foot, seen
peeping from the skirt of her dress, as she skipped from the
carriage-step. Bending over the balcony, I was about to murmur 'Mon
ange'--in a tone, of course, which should be audible to the ear of
love alone--when a figure jumped from the carriage after her;
cloaked also; but that was a spurred heel which had rung on the
pavement, and that was a hatted head which now passed under the
arched porte cochere of the hotel.

You never felt jealousydid youMiss Eyre? Of course not: I
need not ask you; because you never felt love. You have both
sentiments yet to experience: your soul sleeps; the shock is yet to
be given which shall waken it. You think all existence lapses in as
quiet a flow as that in which your youth has hitherto slid away.
Floating on with closed eyes and muffled earsyou neither see the
rocks bristling not far off in the bed of the floodnor hear the
breakers boil at their base. But I tell you--and you may mark my
words--you will come some day to a craggy pass in the channelwhere
the whole of life's stream will be broken up into whirl and tumult


foam and noise: either you will be dashed to atoms on crag points
or lifted up and borne on by some master-wave into a calmer current-
as I am now.

I like this day; I like that sky of steel; I like the sternness and
stillness of the world under this frost. I like Thornfield, its
antiquity, its retirement, its old crow-trees and thorn-trees, its
grey facade, and lines of dark windows reflecting that metal welkin:
and yet how long have I abhorred the very thought of it, shunned it
like a great plague-house? How I do still abhor -

He ground his teeth and was silent: he arrested his step and struck
his boot against the hard ground. Some hated thought seemed to have
him in its gripand to hold him so tightly that he could not
advance.

We were ascending the avenue when he thus paused; the hall was
before us. Lifting his eye to its battlementshe cast over them a
glare such as I never saw before or since. Painshameire
impatiencedisgustdetestationseemed momentarily to hold a
quivering conflict in the large pupil dilating under his ebon
eyebrow. Wild was the wrestle which should be paramount; but
another feeling rose and triumphed: something hard and cynical:
self-willed and resolute: it settled his passion and petrified his
countenance: he went on


During the moment I was silent, Miss Eyre, I was arranging a point
with my destiny. She stood there, by that beech-trunk--a hag like
one of those who appeared to Macbeth on the heath of Forres. 'You
like Thornfield?' she said, lifting her finger; and then she wrote
in the air a memento, which ran in lurid hieroglyphics all along the
house-front, between the upper and lower row of windows, 'Like it if
you can! Like it if you dare!'

'I will like it' said I; 'I dare like it;' and" (he subjoined
moodily) "I will keep my word; I will break obstacles to happiness
to goodness--yesgoodness. I wish to be a better man than I have
beenthan I am; as Job's leviathan broke the spearthe dartand
the habergeonhindrances which others count as iron and brassI
will esteem but straw and rotten wood."

Adele here ran before him with her shuttlecock. "Away!" he cried
harshly; "keep at a distancechild; or go in to Sophie!"
Continuing then to pursue his walk in silenceI ventured to recall
him to the point whence he had abruptly diverged


Did you leave the balcony, sir,I askedwhen Mdlle. Varens
entered?

I almost expected a rebuff for this hardly well-timed questionbut
on the contrarywaking out of his scowling abstractionhe turned
his eyes towards meand the shade seemed to clear off his brow.
Oh, I had forgotten Celine! Well, to resume. When I saw my
charmer thus come in accompanied by a cavalier, I seemed to hear a
hiss, and the green snake of jealousy, rising on undulating coils
from the moonlit balcony, glided within my waistcoat, and ate its
way in two minutes to my heart's core. Strange!he exclaimed
suddenly starting again from the point. "Strange that I should
choose you for the confidant of all thisyoung lady; passing
strange that you should listen to me quietlyas if it were the most
usual thing in the world for a man like me to tell stories of his
opera-mistresses to a quaintinexperienced girl like you! But the
last singularity explains the firstas I intimated once before:
youwith your gravityconsideratenessand caution were made to be


the recipient of secrets. BesidesI know what sort of a mind I
have placed in communication with my own: I know it is one not
liable to take infection: it is a peculiar mind: it is a unique
one. Happily I do not mean to harm it: butif I didit would not
take harm from me. The more you and I conversethe better; for
while I cannot blight youyou may refresh me." After this
digression he proceeded


I remained in the balcony. 'They will come to her boudoir, no
doubt,' thought I: 'let me prepare an ambush.' So putting my hand
in through the open window, I drew the curtain over it, leaving only
an opening through which I could take observations; then I closed
the casement, all but a chink just wide enough to furnish an outlet
to lovers' whispered vows: then I stole back to my chair; and as I
resumed it the pair came in. My eye was quickly at the aperture.
Celine's chamber-maid entered, lit a lamp, left it on the table, and
withdrew. The couple were thus revealed to me clearly: both
removed their cloaks, and there was 'the Varens,' shining in satin
and jewels,--my gifts of course,--and there was her companion in an
officer's uniform; and I knew him for a young roue of a vicomte--a
brainless and vicious youth whom I had sometimes met in society, and
had never thought of hating because I despised him so absolutely.
On recognising him, the fang of the snake Jealousy was instantly
broken; because at the same moment my love for Celine sank under an
extinguisher. A woman who could betray me for such a rival was not
worth contending for; she deserved only scorn; less, however, than
I, who had been her dupe.

They began to talk; their conversation eased me completely:
frivolousmercenaryheartlessand senselessit was rather
calculated to weary than enrage a listener. A card of mine lay on
the table; this being perceivedbrought my name under discussion.
Neither of them possessed energy or wit to belabour me soundlybut
they insulted me as coarsely as they could in their little way:
especially Celinewho even waxed rather brilliant on my personal
defects--deformities she termed them. Now it had been her custom to
launch out into fervent admiration of what she called my 'beaute
male:' wherein she differed diametrically from youwho told me
point-blankat the second interviewthat you did not think me
handsome. The contrast struck me at the time and--"

Adele here came running up again.

Monsieur, John has just been to say that your agent has called and
wishes to see you.

Ah! in that case I must abridge. Opening the window, I walked in
upon them; liberated Celine from my protection; gave her notice to
vacate her hotel; offered her a purse for immediate exigencies;
disregarded screams, hysterics, prayers, protestations, convulsions;
made an appointment with the vicomte for a meeting at the Bois de
Boulogne. Next morning I had the pleasure of encountering him; left
a bullet in one of his poor etiolated arms, feeble as the wing of a
chicken in the pip, and then thought I had done with the whole crew.
But unluckily the Varens, six months before, had given me this
filette Adele, who, she affirmed, was my daughter; and perhaps she
may be, though I see no proofs of such grim paternity written in her
countenance: Pilot is more like me than she. Some years after I
had broken with the mother, she abandoned her child, and ran away to
Italy with a musician or singer. I acknowledged no natural claim on
Adele's part to be supported by me, nor do I now acknowledge any,
for I am not her father; but hearing that she was quite destitute, I
e'en took the poor thing out of the slime and mud of Paris, and
transplanted it here, to grow up clean in the wholesome soil of an


English country garden. Mrs. Fairfax found you to train it; but now
you know that it is the illegitimate offspring of a French operagirl,
you will perhaps think differently of your post and protegee:
you will be coming to me some day with notice that you have found
another place--that you beg me to look out for a new governess, &c.-
Eh?

No: Adele is not answerable for either her mother's faults or
yours: I have a regard for her; and now that I know she is, in a
sense, parentless--forsaken by her mother and disowned by you, sir-I
shall cling closer to her than before. How could I possibly
prefer the spoilt pet of a wealthy family, who would hate her
governess as a nuisance, to a lonely little orphan, who leans
towards her as a friend?

Oh, that is the light in which you view it! Well, I must go in
now; and you too: it darkens.

But I stayed out a few minutes longer with Adele and Pilot--ran a
race with herand played a game of battledore and shuttlecock.
When we went inand I had removed her bonnet and coatI took her
on my knee; kept her there an hourallowing her to prattle as she
liked: not rebuking even some little freedoms and trivialities into
which she was apt to stray when much noticedand which betrayed in
her a superficiality of characterinherited probably from her
motherhardly congenial to an English mind. Still she had her
merits; and I was disposed to appreciate all that was good in her to
the utmost. I sought in her countenance and features a likeness to
Mr. Rochesterbut found none: no traitno turn of expression
announced relationship. It was a pity: if she could but have been
proved to resemble himhe would have thought more of her.

It was not till after I had withdrawn to my own chamber for the
nightthat I steadily reviewed the tale Mr. Rochester had told me.
As he had saidthere was probably nothing at all extraordinary in
the substance of the narrative itself: a wealthy Englishman's
passion for a French dancerand her treachery to himwere everyday
matters enoughno doubtin society; but there was something
decidedly strange in the paroxysm of emotion which had suddenly
seized him when he was in the act of expressing the present
contentment of his moodand his newly revived pleasure in the old
hall and its environs. I meditated wonderingly on this incident;
but gradually quitting itas I found it for the present
inexplicableI turned to the consideration of my master's manner to
myself. The confidence he had thought fit to repose in me seemed a
tribute to my discretion: I regarded and accepted it as such. His
deportment had now for some weeks been more uniform towards me than
at the first. I never seemed in his way; he did not take fits of
chilling hauteur: when he met me unexpectedlythe encounter seemed
welcome; he had always a word and sometimes a smile for me: when
summoned by formal invitation to his presenceI was honoured by a
cordiality of reception that made me feel I really possessed the
power to amuse himand that these evening conferences were sought
as much for his pleasure as for my benefit.

Iindeedtalked comparatively littlebut I heard him talk with
relish. It was his nature to be communicative; he liked to open to
a mind unacquainted with the world glimpses of its scenes and ways
(I do not mean its corrupt scenes and wicked waysbut such as
derived their interest from the great scale on which they were
actedthe strange novelty by which they were characterised); and I
had a keen delight in receiving the new ideas he offeredin
imagining the new pictures he portrayedand following him in
thought through the new regions he disclosednever startled or


troubled by one noxious allusion.

The ease of his manner freed me from painful restraint: the
friendly franknessas correct as cordialwith which he treated me
drew me to him. I felt at times as if he were my relation rather
than my master: yet he was imperious sometimes still; but I did not
mind that; I saw it was his way. So happyso gratified did I
become with this new interest added to lifethat I ceased to pine
after kindred: my thin crescent-destiny seemed to enlarge; the
blanks of existence were filled up; my bodily health improved; I
gathered flesh and strength.

And was Mr. Rochester now ugly in my eyes? Noreader: gratitude
and many associationsall pleasurable and genialmade his face the
object I best liked to see; his presence in a room was more cheering
than the brightest fire. Yet I had not forgotten his faults;
indeedI could notfor he brought them frequently before me. He
was proudsardonicharsh to inferiority of every description: in
my secret soul I knew that his great kindness to me was balanced by
unjust severity to many others. He was moodytoo; unaccountably
so; I more than oncewhen sent for to read to himfound him
sitting in his library alonewith his head bent on his folded arms;
andwhen he looked upa morosealmost a malignantscowl
blackened his features. But I believed that his moodinesshis
harshnessand his former faults of morality (I say FORMERfor now
he seemed corrected of them) had their source in some cruel cross of
fate. I believed he was naturally a man of better tendencies
higher principlesand purer tastes than such as circumstances had
developededucation instilledor destiny encouraged. I thought
there were excellent materials in him; though for the present they
hung together somewhat spoiled and tangled. I cannot deny that I
grieved for his griefwhatever that wasand would have given much
to assuage it.

Though I had now extinguished my candle and was laid down in bedI
could not sleep for thinking of his look when he paused in the
avenueand told how his destiny had risen up before himand dared
him to be happy at Thornfield.

Why not?I asked myself. "What alienates him from the house?
Will he leave it again soon? Mrs. Fairfax said he seldom stayed
here longer than a fortnight at a time; and he has now been resident
eight weeks. If he does gothe change will be doleful. Suppose he
should be absent springsummerand autumn: how joyless sunshine
and fine days will seem!"

I hardly know whether I had slept or not after this musing; at any
rateI started wide awake on hearing a vague murmurpeculiar and
lugubriouswhich soundedI thoughtjust above me. I wished I had
kept my candle burning: the night was drearily dark; my spirits
were depressed. I rose and sat up in bedlistening. The sound was
hushed.

I tried again to sleep; but my heart beat anxiously: my inward
tranquillity was broken. The clockfar down in the hallstruck
two. Just then it seemed my chamber-door was touched; as if fingers
had swept the panels in groping a way along the dark gallery
outside. I saidWho is there?Nothing answered. I was chilled
with fear.

All at once I remembered that it might be Pilotwhowhen the
kitchen-door chanced to be left opennot unfrequently found his way
up to the threshold of Mr. Rochester's chamber: I had seen him
lying there myself in the mornings. The idea calmed me somewhat: I


lay down. Silence composes the nerves; and as an unbroken hush now
reigned again through the whole houseI began to feel the return of
slumber. But it was not fated that I should sleep that night. A
dream had scarcely approached my earwhen it fled affrighted
scared by a marrow-freezing incident enough.

This was a demoniac laugh--lowsuppressedand deep--utteredas it
seemedat the very keyhole of my chamber door. The head of my bed
was near the doorand I thought at first the goblin-laugher stood
at my bedside--or rathercrouched by my pillow: but I roselooked
roundand could see nothing; whileas I still gazedthe unnatural
sound was reiterated: and I knew it came from behind the panels.
My first impulse was to rise and fasten the bolt; my nextagain to
cry outWho is there?

Something gurgled and moaned. Ere longsteps retreated up the
gallery towards the third-storey staircase: a door had lately been
made to shut in that staircase; I heard it open and closeand all
was still.

Was that Grace Poole? and is she possessed with a devil?thought

I. Impossible now to remain longer by myself: I must go to Mrs.
Fairfax. I hurried on my frock and a shawl; I withdrew the bolt and
opened the door with a trembling hand. There was a candle burning
just outsideand on the matting in the gallery. I was surprised at
this circumstance: but still more was I amazed to perceive the air
quite dimas if filled with smoke; andwhile looking to the right
hand and leftto find whence these blue wreaths issuedI became
further aware of a strong smell of burning.
Something creaked: it was a door ajar; and that door was Mr.
Rochester'sand the smoke rushed in a cloud from thence. I thought
no more of Mrs. Fairfax; I thought no more of Grace Pooleor the
laugh: in an instantI was within the chamber. Tongues of flame
darted round the bed: the curtains were on fire. In the midst of
blaze and vapourMr. Rochester lay stretched motionlessin deep
sleep.

Wake! wake!I cried. I shook himbut he only murmured and
turned: the smoke had stupefied him. Not a moment could be lost:
the very sheets were kindlingI rushed to his basin and ewer;
fortunatelyone was wide and the other deepand both were filled
with water. I heaved them updeluged the bed and its occupant
flew back to my own roombrought my own water-jugbaptized the
couch afreshandby God's aidsucceeded in extinguishing the
flames which were devouring it.

The hiss of the quenched elementthe breakage of a pitcher which I
flung from my hand when I had emptied itandabove allthe splash
of the shower-bath I had liberally bestowedroused Mr. Rochester at
last. Though it was now darkI knew he was awake; because I heard
him fulminating strange anathemas at finding himself lying in a pool
of water.

Is there a flood?he cried.

No, sir,I answered; "but there has been a fire: get updo; you
are quenched now; I will fetch you a candle."

In the name of all the elves in Christendom, is that Jane Eyre?he
demanded. "What have you done with mewitchsorceress? Who is in
the room besides you? Have you plotted to drown me?"

I will fetch you a candle, sir; and, in Heaven's name, get up.


Somebody has plotted something: you cannot too soon find out who
and what it is.

There! I am up now; but at your peril you fetch a candle yet:
wait two minutes till I get into some dry garments, if any dry there
be--yes, here is my dressing-gown. Now run!

I did run; I brought the candle which still remained in the gallery.
He took it from my handheld it upand surveyed the bedall
blackened and scorchedthe sheets drenchedthe carpet round
swimming in water.

What is it? and who did it?he asked. I briefly related to him
what had transpired: the strange laugh I had heard in the gallery:
the step ascending to the third storey; the smoke--the smell of
fire which had conducted me to his room; in what state I had found
matters thereand how I had deluged him with all the water I could
lay hands on.

He listened very gravely; his faceas I went onexpressed more
concern than astonishment; he did not immediately speak when I had
concluded.

Shall I call Mrs. Fairfax?I asked.

Mrs. Fairfax? No; what the deuce would you call her for? What can
she do? Let her sleep unmolested.

Then I will fetch Leah, and wake John and his wife.

Not at all: just be still. You have a shawl on. If you are not
warm enough, you may take my cloak yonder; wrap it about you, and
sit down in the arm-chair: there,--I will put it on. Now place
your feet on the stool, to keep them out of the wet. I am going to
leave you a few minutes. I shall take the candle. Remain where you
are till I return; be as still as a mouse. I must pay a visit to
the second storey. Don't move, remember, or call any one.

He went: I watched the light withdraw. He passed up the gallery
very softlyunclosed the staircase door with as little noise as
possibleshut it after himand the last ray vanished. I was left
in total darkness. I listened for some noisebut heard nothing. A
very long time elapsed. I grew weary: it was coldin spite of the
cloak; and then I did not see the use of stayingas I was not to
rouse the house. I was on the point of risking Mr. Rochester's
displeasure by disobeying his orderswhen the light once more
gleamed dimly on the gallery walland I heard his unshod feet tread
the matting. "I hope it is he thought I, and not something
worse."

He re-enteredpale and very gloomy. "I have found it all out
said he, setting his candle down on the washstand; it is as I
thought."

How, sir?

He made no replybut stood with his arms foldedlooking on the
ground. At the end of a few minutes he inquired in rather a
peculiar tone


I forget whether you said you saw anything when you opened your
chamber door.

No, sir, only the candlestick on the ground.


But you heard an odd laugh? You have heard that laugh before, I
should think, or something like it?

Yes, sir: there is a woman who sews here, called Grace Poole,--she
laughs in that way. She is a singular person.

Just so. Grace Poole--you have guessed it. She is, as you say,
singular--very. Well, I shall reflect on the subject. Meantime, I
am glad that you are the only person, besides myself, acquainted
with the precise details of to-night's incident. You are no talking
fool: say nothing about it. I will account for this state of
affairs(pointing to the bed): "and now return to your own room.
I shall do very well on the sofa in the library for the rest of the
night. It is near four:- in two hours the servants will be up."

Good-night, then, sir,said Ideparting.

He seemed surprised--very inconsistently soas he had just told me
to go.

What!he exclaimedare you quitting me already, and in that
way?

You said I might go, sir.

But not without taking leave; not without a word or two of
acknowledgment and good-will: not, in short, in that brief, dry
fashion. Why, you have saved my life!--snatched me from a horrible
and excruciating death! and you walk past me as if we were mutual
strangers! At least shake hands.

He held out his hand; I gave him mine: he took it first in one
them in both his own.

You have saved my life: I have a pleasure in owing you so immense
a debt. I cannot say more. Nothing else that has being would have
been tolerable to me in the character of creditor for such an
obligation: but you: it is different;--I feel your benefits no
burden, Jane.

He paused; gazed at me: words almost visible trembled on his lips-
but his voice was checked.

Good-night again, sir. There is no debt, benefit, burden,
obligation, in the case.

I knew,he continuedyou would do me good in some way, at some
time;--I saw it in your eyes when I first beheld you: their
expression and smile did not--(again he stopped)--"did not" (he
proceeded hastily) "strike delight to my very inmost heart so for
nothing. People talk of natural sympathies; I have heard of good
genii: there are grains of truth in the wildest fable. My
cherished preservergoodnight!"

Strange energy was in his voicestrange fire in his look.

I am glad I happened to be awake,I said: and then I was going.

What! you WILL go?

I am cold, sir.

Cold? Yes,--and standing in a pool! Go, then, Jane; go!But he


still retained my handand I could not free it. I bethought myself
of an expedient.

I think I hear Mrs. Fairfax move, sir,said I.

Well, leave me:he relaxed his fingersand I was gone.

I regained my couchbut never thought of sleep. Till morning
dawned I was tossed on a buoyant but unquiet seawhere billows of
trouble rolled under surges of joy. I thought sometimes I saw
beyond its wild waters a shoresweet as the hills of Beulah; and
now and then a freshening galewakened by hopebore my spirit
triumphantly towards the bourne: but I could not reach iteven in
fancy--a counteracting breeze blew off landand continually drove
me back. Sense would resist delirium: judgment would warn passion.
Too feverish to restI rose as soon as day dawned.

CHAPTER XVI

I both wished and feared to see Mr. Rochester on the day which
followed this sleepless night: I wanted to hear his voice again
yet feared to meet his eye. During the early part of the morningI
momentarily expected his coming; he was not in the frequent habit of
entering the schoolroombut he did step in for a few minutes
sometimesand I had the impression that he was sure to visit it
that day.

But the morning passed just as usual: nothing happened to interrupt
the quiet course of Adele's studies; only soon after breakfastI
heard some bustle in the neighbourhood of Mr. Rochester's chamber
Mrs. Fairfax's voiceand Leah'sand the cook's--that isJohn's
wife--and even John's own gruff tones. There were exclamations of
What a mercy master was not burnt in his bed!It is always
dangerous to keep a candle lit at night.How providential that he
had presence of mind to think of the water-jug!I wonder he waked
nobody!It is to be hoped he will not take cold with sleeping on
the library sofa,&c.

To much confabulation succeeded a sound of scrubbing and setting to
rights; and when I passed the roomin going downstairs to dinnerI
saw through the open door that all was again restored to complete
order; only the bed was stripped of its hangings. Leah stood up in
the window-seatrubbing the panes of glass dimmed with smoke. I
was about to address herfor I wished to know what account had been
given of the affair: buton advancingI saw a second person in
the chamber--a woman sitting on a chair by the bedsideand sewing
rings to new curtains. That woman was no other than Grace Poole.

There she satstaid and taciturn-lookingas usualin her brown
stuff gownher check apronwhite handkerchiefand cap. She was
intent on her workin which her whole thoughts seemed absorbed: on
her hard foreheadand in her commonplace featureswas nothing
either of the paleness or desperation one would have expected to see
marking the countenance of a woman who had attempted murderand
whose intended victim had followed her last night to her lairand
(as I believed)charged her with the crime she wished to
perpetrate. I was amazed--confounded. She looked upwhile I still
gazed at her: no startno increase or failure of colour betrayed
emotionconsciousness of guiltor fear of detection. She said
Good morning, Miss,in her usual phlegmatic and brief manner; and


taking up another ring and more tapewent on with her sewing.

I will put her to some test,thought I: "such absolute
impenetrability is past comprehension."

Good morning, Grace,I said. "Has anything happened here? I
thought I heard the servants all talking together a while ago."

Only master had been reading in his bed last night; he fell asleep
with his candle lit, and the curtains got on fire; but, fortunately,
he awoke before the bed-clothes or the wood-work caught, and
contrived to quench the flames with the water in the ewer.

A strange affair!" I saidin a low voice: thenlooking at her
fixedly--"Did Mr. Rochester wake nobody? Did no one hear him move?"

She again raised her eyes to meand this time there was something
of consciousness in their expression. She seemed to examine me
warily; then she answered


The servants sleep so far off, you know, Miss, they would not be
likely to hear. Mrs. Fairfax's room and yours are the nearest to
master's; but Mrs. Fairfax said she heard nothing: when people get
elderly, they often sleep heavy.She pausedand then addedwith
a sort of assumed indifferencebut still in a marked and
significant tone--"But you are youngMiss; and I should say a light
sleeper: perhaps you may have heard a noise?"

I did,said Idropping my voiceso that Leahwho was still
polishing the panescould not hear meand at first I thought it
was Pilot: but Pilot cannot laugh; and I am certain I heard a
laugh, and a strange one.

She took a new needleful of threadwaxed it carefullythreaded her
needle with a steady handand then observedwith perfect composure
-

It is hardly likely master would laugh, I should think, Miss, when
he was in such danger: You must have been dreaming.

I was not dreaming,I saidwith some warmthfor her brazen
coolness provoked me. Again she looked at me; and with the same
scrutinising and conscious eye.

Have you told master that you heard a laugh?she inquired.

I have not had the opportunity of speaking to him this morning.

You did not think of opening your door and looking out into the
gallery?she further asked.

She appeared to be cross-questioning meattempting to draw from me
information unawares. The idea struck me that if she discovered I
knew or suspected her guiltshe would be playing of some of her
malignant pranks on me; I thought it advisable to be on my guard.

On the contrary,said II bolted my door.

Then you are not in the habit of bolting your door every night
before you get into bed?

Fiend! she wants to know my habits, that she may lay her plans
accordingly!Indignation again prevailed over prudence: I replied
sharplyHitherto I have often omitted to fasten the bolt: I did


not think it necessary. I was not aware any danger or annoyance was
to be dreaded at Thornfield Hall: but in future(and I laid marked
stress on the words) "I shall take good care to make all secure
before I venture to lie down."

It will be wise so to do,was her answer: "this neighbourhood is
as quiet as any I knowand I never heard of the hall being
attempted by robbers since it was a house; though there are hundreds
of pounds' worth of plate in the plate-closetas is well known.
And you seefor such a large housethere are very few servants
because master has never lived here much; and when he does come
being a bachelorhe needs little waiting on: but I always think it
best to err on the safe side; a door is soon fastenedand it is as
well to have a drawn bolt between one and any mischief that may be
about. A deal of peopleMissare for trusting all to Providence;
but I say Providence will not dispense with the meansthough He
often blesses them when they are used discreetly." And here she
closed her harangue: a long one for herand uttered with the
demureness of a Quakeress.

I still stood absolutely dumfoundered at what appeared to me her
miraculous self-possession and most inscrutable hypocrisywhen the
cook entered.

Mrs. Poole,said sheaddressing Gracethe servants' dinner will
soon be ready: will you come down?

No; just put my pint of porter and bit of pudding on a tray, and
I'll carry it upstairs.

You'll have some meat?

Just a morsel, and a taste of cheese, that's all.

And the sago?

Never mind it at present: I shall be coming down before teatime:
I'll make it myself.

The cook here turned to mesaying that Mrs. Fairfax was waiting for
me: so I departed.

I hardly heard Mrs. Fairfax's account of the curtain conflagration
during dinnerso much was I occupied in puzzling my brains over the
enigmatical character of Grace Pooleand still more in pondering
the problem of her position at Thornfield and questioning why she
had not been given into custody that morningorat the very least
dismissed from her master's service. He had almost as much as
declared his conviction of her criminality last night: what
mysterious cause withheld him from accusing her? Why had he
enjoined metooto secrecy? It was strange: a boldvindictive
and haughty gentleman seemed somehow in the power of one of the
meanest of his dependants; so much in her powerthat even when she
lifted her hand against his lifehe dared not openly charge her
with the attemptmuch less punish her for it.

Had Grace been young and handsomeI should have been tempted to
think that tenderer feelings than prudence or fear influenced Mr.
Rochester in her behalf; buthard-favoured and matronly as she was
the idea could not be admitted. "Yet I reflected, she has been
young once; her youth would be contemporary with her master's: Mrs.
Fairfax told me onceshe had lived here many years. I don't think
she can ever have been pretty; butfor aught I knowshe may
possess originality and strength of character to compensate for the


want of personal advantages. Mr. Rochester is an amateur of the
decided and eccentric: Grace is eccentric at least. What if a
former caprice (a freak very possible to a nature so sudden and
headstrong as his) has delivered him into her powerand she now
exercises over his actions a secret influencethe result of his own
indiscretionwhich he cannot shake offand dare not disregard?"
Buthaving reached this point of conjectureMrs. Poole's square
flat figureand uncomelydryeven coarse facerecurred so
distinctly to my mind's eyethat I thoughtNo; impossible! my
supposition cannot be correct. Yet,suggested the secret voice
which talks to us in our own heartsyou are not beautiful either,
and perhaps Mr. Rochester approves you: at any rate, you have often
felt as if he did; and last night--remember his words; remember his
look; remember his voice!

I well remembered all; languageglanceand tone seemed at the
moment vividly renewed. I was now in the schoolroom; Adele was
drawing; I bent over her and directed her pencil. She looked up
with a sort of start.

Qu' avez-vous, mademoiselle?said she. "Vos doigts tremblent
comme la feuilleet vos joues sont rouges: maisrouges comme des
cerises!"

I am hot, Adele, with stooping!She went on sketching; I went on
thinking.

I hastened to drive from my mind the hateful notion I had been
conceiving respecting Grace Poole; it disgusted me. I compared
myself with herand found we were different. Bessie Leaven had
said I was quite a lady; and she spoke truth--I was a lady. And now
I looked much better than I did when Bessie saw me; I had more
colour and more fleshmore lifemore vivacitybecause I had
brighter hopes and keener enjoyments.

Evening approaches,said Ias I looked towards the window. "I
have never heard Mr. Rochester's voice or step in the house to-day;
but surely I shall see him before night: I feared the meeting in
the morning; now I desire itbecause expectation has been so long
baffled that it is grown impatient."

When dusk actually closedand when Adele left me to go and play in
the nursery with SophieI did most keenly desire it. I listened
for the bell to ring below; I listened for Leah coming up with a
message; I fancied sometimes I heard Mr. Rochester's own treadand
I turned to the doorexpecting it to open and admit him. The door
remained shut; darkness only came in through the window. Still it
was not late; he often sent for me at seven and eight o'clockand
it was yet but six. Surely I should not be wholly disappointed to-
nightwhen I had so many things to say to him! I wanted again to
introduce the subject of Grace Pooleand to hear what he would
answer; I wanted to ask him plainly if he really believed it was she
who had made last night's hideous attempt; and if sowhy he kept
her wickedness a secret. It little mattered whether my curiosity
irritated him; I knew the pleasure of vexing and soothing him by
turns; it was one I chiefly delighted inand a sure instinct always
prevented me from going too far; beyond the verge of provocation I
never ventured; on the extreme brink I liked well to try my skill.
Retaining every minute form of respectevery propriety of my
stationI could still meet him in argument without fear or uneasy
restraint; this suited both him and me.

A tread creaked on the stairs at last. Leah made her appearance;
but it was only to intimate that tea was ready in Mrs. Fairfax's


room. Thither I repairedglad at least to go downstairs; for that
brought meI imaginednearer to Mr. Rochester's presence.

You must want your tea,said the good ladyas I joined her; "you
ate so little at dinner. I am afraid she continued, you are not
well to-day: you look flushed and feverish."

Oh, quite well! I never felt better.

Then you must prove it by evincing a good appetite; will you fill
the teapot while I knit off this needle?Having completed her
taskshe rose to draw down the blindwhich she had hitherto kept
upby wayI supposeof making the most of daylightthough dusk
was now fast deepening into total obscurity.

It is fair to-night,said sheas she looked through the panes
though not starlight; Mr. Rochester has, on the whole, had a
favourable day for his journey.

Journey!--Is Mr. Rochester gone anywhere? I did not know he was
out.

Oh, he set of the moment he had breakfasted! He is gone to the
Leas, Mr. Eshton's place, ten miles on the other side Millcote. I
believe there is quite a party assembled there; Lord Ingram, Sir
George Lynn, Colonel Dent, and others.

Do you expect him back to-night?

No--nor to-morrow either; I should think he is very likely to stay
a week or more: when these fine, fashionable people get together,
they are so surrounded by elegance and gaiety, so well provided with
all that can please and entertain, they are in no hurry to separate.
Gentlemen especially are often in request on such occasions; and Mr.
Rochester is so talented and so lively in society, that I believe he
is a general favourite: the ladies are very fond of him; though you
would not think his appearance calculated to recommend him
particularly in their eyes: but I suppose his acquirements and
abilities, perhaps his wealth and good blood, make amends for any
little fault of look.

Are there ladies at the Leas?

There are Mrs. Eshton and her three daughters--very elegant young
ladies indeed; and there are the Honourable Blanche and Mary Ingram,
most beautiful women, I suppose: indeed I have seen Blanche, six or
seven years since, when she was a girl of eighteen. She came here
to a Christmas ball and party Mr. Rochester gave. You should have
seen the dining-room that day--how richly it was decorated, how
brilliantly lit up! I should think there were fifty ladies and
gentlemen present--all of the first county families; and Miss Ingram
was considered the belle of the evening.

You saw her, you say, Mrs. Fairfax: what was she like?

Yes, I saw her. The dining-room doors were thrown open; and, as it
was Christmas-time, the servants were allowed to assemble in the
hall, to hear some of the ladies sing and play. Mr. Rochester would
have me to come in, and I sat down in a quiet corner and watched
them. I never saw a more splendid scene: the ladies were
magnificently dressed; most of them--at least most of the younger
ones--looked handsome; but Miss Ingram was certainly the queen.

And what was she like?


Tall, fine bust, sloping shoulders; long, graceful neck: olive
complexion, dark and clear; noble features; eyes rather like Mr.
Rochester's: large and black, and as brilliant as her jewels. And
then she had such a fine head of hair; raven-black and so becomingly
arranged: a crown of thick plaits behind, and in front the longest,
the glossiest curls I ever saw. She was dressed in pure white; an
amber-coloured scarf was passed over her shoulder and across her
breast, tied at the side, and descending in long, fringed ends below
her knee. She wore an amber-coloured flower, too, in her hair: it
contrasted well with the jetty mass of her curls.

She was greatly admired, of course?

Yes, indeed: and not only for her beauty, but for her
accomplishments. She was one of the ladies who sang: a gentleman
accompanied her on the piano. She and Mr. Rochester sang a duet.

Mr. Rochester? I was not aware he could sing.

Oh! he has a fine bass voice, and an excellent taste for music.

And Miss Ingram: what sort of a voice had she?

A very rich and powerful one: she sang delightfully; it was a
treat to listen to her;--and she played afterwards. I am no judge
of music, but Mr. Rochester is; and I heard him say her execution
was remarkably good.

And this beautiful and accomplished lady, she is not yet married?

It appears not: I fancy neither she nor her sister have very large
fortunes. Old Lord Ingram's estates were chiefly entailed, and the
eldest son came in for everything almost.

But I wonder no wealthy nobleman or gentleman has taken a fancy to
her: Mr. Rochester, for instance. He is rich, is he not?

Oh! yes. But you see there is a considerable difference in age:
Mr. Rochester is nearly forty; she is but twenty-five.

What of that? More unequal matches are made every day.

True: yet I should scarcely fancy Mr. Rochester would entertain an
idea of the sort. But you eat nothing: you have scarcely tasted
since you began tea.

No: I am too thirsty to eat. Will you let me have another cup?

I was about again to revert to the probability of a union between
Mr. Rochester and the beautiful Blanche; but Adele came inand the
conversation was turned into another channel.

When once more aloneI reviewed the information I had got; looked
into my heartexamined its thoughts and feelingsand endeavoured
to bring back with a strict hand such as had been straying through
imagination's boundless and trackless wasteinto the safe fold of
common sense.

Arraigned at my own barMemory having given her evidence of the
hopeswishessentiments I had been cherishing since last night--of
the general state of mind in which I had indulged for nearly a
fortnight past; Reason having come forward and toldin her own
quiet way a plainunvarnished taleshowing how I had rejected the


realand rabidly devoured the ideal;--I pronounced judgment to this
effect:-

That a greater fool than Jane Eyre had never breathed the breath of
life; that a more fantastic idiot had never surfeited herself on
sweet liesand swallowed poison as if it were nectar.

YOU,I saida favourite with Mr. Rochester? YOU gifted with the
power of pleasing him? YOU of importance to him in any way? Go!
your folly sickens me. And you have derived pleasure from
occasional tokens of preference--equivocal tokens shown by a
gentleman of family and a man of the world to a dependent and a
novice. How dared you? Poor stupid dupe!--Could not even selfinterest
make you wiser? You repeated to yourself this morning the
brief scene of last night?--Cover your face and be ashamed! He said
something in praise of your eyes, did he? Blind puppy! Open their
bleared lids and look on your own accursed senselessness! It does
good to no woman to be flattered by her superior, who cannot
possibly intend to marry her; and it is madness in all women to let
a secret love kindle within them, which, if unreturned and unknown,
must devour the life that feeds it; and, if discovered and responded
to, must lead, ignis-fatus-like, into miry wilds whence there is no
extrication.

ListenthenJane Eyreto your sentence: tomorrowplace the
glass before youand draw in chalk your own picturefaithfully
without softening one defect; omit no harsh linesmooth away no
displeasing irregularity; write under it'Portrait of a Governess
disconnectedpoorand plain.'

Afterwards, take a piece of smooth ivory--you have one prepared in
your drawing-box: take your palette, mix your freshest, finest,
clearest tints; choose your most delicate camel-hair pencils;
delineate carefully the loveliest face you can imagine; paint it in
your softest shades and sweetest lines, according to the description
given by Mrs. Fairfax of Blanche Ingram; remember the raven
ringlets, the oriental eye;--What! you revert to Mr. Rochester as a
model! Order! No snivel!--no sentiment!--no regret! I will endure
only sense and resolution. Recall the august yet harmonious
lineaments, the Grecian neck and bust; let the round and dazzling
arm be visible, and the delicate hand; omit neither diamond ring nor
gold bracelet; portray faithfully the attire, aerial lace and
glistening satin, graceful scarf and golden rose; call it 'Blanche,
an accomplished lady of rank.'

Wheneverin futureyou should chance to fancy Mr. Rochester
thinks well of youtake out these two pictures and compare them:
say'Mr. Rochester might probably win that noble lady's loveif he
chose to strive for it; is it likely he would waste a serious
thought on this indigent and insignificant plebeian?'"

I'll do it,I resolved: and having framed this determinationI
grew calmand fell asleep.

I kept my word. An hour or two sufficed to sketch my own portrait
in crayons; and in less than a fortnight I had completed an ivory
miniature of an imaginary Blanche Ingram. It looked a lovely face
enoughand when compared with the real head in chalkthe contrast
was as great as self-control could desire. I derived benefit from
the task: it had kept my head and hands employedand had given
force and fixedness to the new impressions I wished to stamp
indelibly on my heart.

Ere longI had reason to congratulate myself on the course of


wholesome discipline to which I had thus forced my feelings to
submit. Thanks to itI was able to meet subsequent occurrences
with a decent calmwhichhad they found me unpreparedI should
probably have been unequal to maintaineven externally.

CHAPTER XVII

A week passedand no news arrived of Mr. Rochester: ten daysand
still he did not come. Mrs. Fairfax said she should not be
surprised if he were to go straight from the Leas to Londonand
thence to the Continentand not show his face again at Thornfield
for a year to come; he had not unfrequently quitted it in a manner
quite as abrupt and unexpected. When I heard thisI was beginning
to feel a strange chill and failing at the heart. I was actually
permitting myself to experience a sickening sense of disappointment;
but rallying my witsand recollecting my principlesI at once
called my sensations to order; and it was wonderful how I got over
the temporary blunder--how I cleared up the mistake of supposing Mr.
Rochester's movements a matter in which I had any cause to take a
vital interest. Not that I humbled myself by a slavish notion of
inferiority: on the contraryI just said


You have nothing to do with the master of Thornfield, further than
to receive the salary he gives you for teaching his protegee, and to
be grateful for such respectful and kind treatment as, if you do
your duty, you have a right to expect at his hands. Be sure that is
the only tie he seriously acknowledges between you and him; so don't
make him the object of your fine feelings, your raptures, agonies,
and so forth. He is not of your order: keep to your caste, and be
too self-respecting to lavish the love of the whole heart, soul, and
strength, where such a gift is not wanted and would be despised.

I went on with my day's business tranquilly; but ever and anon vague
suggestions kept wandering across my brain of reasons why I should
quit Thornfield; and I kept involuntarily framing advertisements and
pondering conjectures about new situations: these thoughts I did
not think check; they might germinate and bear fruit if they could.

Mr. Rochester had been absent upwards of a fortnightwhen the post
brought Mrs. Fairfax a letter.

It is from the master,said sheas she looked at the direction.
Now I suppose we shall know whether we are to expect his return or
not.

And while she broke the seal and perused the documentI went on
taking my coffee (we were at breakfast): it was hotand I
attributed to that circumstance a fiery glow which suddenly rose to
my face. Why my hand shookand why I involuntarily spilt half the
contents of my cup into my saucerI did not choose to consider.

Well, I sometimes think we are too quiet; but we run a chance of
being busy enough now: for a little while at least,said Mrs.
Fairfaxstill holding the note before her spectacles.

Ere I permitted myself to request an explanationI tied the string
of Adele's pinaforewhich happened to be loose: having helped her
also to another bun and refilled her mug with milkI said
nonchalantly



Mr. Rochester is not likely to return soon, I suppose?

Indeed he is--in three days, he says: that will be next Thursday;
and not alone either. I don't know how many of the fine people at
the Leas are coming with him: he sends directions for all the best
bedrooms to be prepared; and the library and drawing-rooms are to be
cleaned out; I am to get more kitchen hands from the George Inn, at
Millcote, and from wherever else I can; and the ladies will bring
their maids and the gentlemen their valets: so we shall have a full
house of it.And Mrs. Fairfax swallowed her breakfast and hastened
away to commence operations.

The three days wereas she had foretoldbusy enough. I had
thought all the rooms at Thornfield beautifully clean and well
arranged; but it appears I was mistaken. Three women were got to
help; and such scrubbingsuch brushingsuch washing of paint and
beating of carpetssuch taking down and putting up of pictures
such polishing of mirrors and lustressuch lighting of fires in
bedroomssuch airing of sheets and feather-beds on hearthsI never
beheldeither before or since. Adele ran quite wild in the midst
of it: the preparations for company and the prospect of their
arrivalseemed to throw her into ecstasies. She would have Sophie
to look over all her "toilettes as she called frocks; to furbish
up any that were passees and to air and arrange the new. For
herself, she did nothing but caper about in the front chambers, jump
on and off the bedsteads, and lie on the mattresses and piled-up
bolsters and pillows before the enormous fires roaring in the
chimneys. From school duties she was exonerated: Mrs. Fairfax had
pressed me into her service, and I was all day in the storeroom,
helping (or hindering) her and the cook; learning to make custards
and cheese-cakes and French pastry, to truss game and garnish
desert-dishes.

The party were expected to arrive on Thursday afternoon, in time for
dinner at six. During the intervening period I had no time to nurse
chimeras; and I believe I was as active and gay as anybody--Adele
excepted. Still, now and then, I received a damping check to my
cheerfulness; and was, in spite of myself, thrown back on the region
of doubts and portents, and dark conjectures. This was when I
chanced to see the third-storey staircase door (which of late had
always been kept locked) open slowly, and give passage to the form
of Grace Poole, in prim cap, white apron, and handkerchief; when I
watched her glide along the gallery, her quiet tread muffled in a
list slipper; when I saw her look into the bustling, topsy-turvy
bedrooms,--just say a word, perhaps, to the charwoman about the
proper way to polish a grate, or clean a marble mantelpiece, or take
stains from papered walls, and then pass on. She would thus descend
to the kitchen once a day, eat her dinner, smoke a moderate pipe on
the hearth, and go back, carrying her pot of porter with her, for
her private solace, in her own gloomy, upper haunt. Only one hour
in the twenty-four did she pass with her fellow-servants below; all
the rest of her time was spent in some low-ceiled, oaken chamber of
the second storey: there she sat and sewed--and probably laughed
drearily to herself,--as companionless as a prisoner in his dungeon.

The strangest thing of all was, that not a soul in the house, except
me, noticed her habits, or seemed to marvel at them: no one
discussed her position or employment; no one pitied her solitude or
isolation. I once, indeed, overheard part of a dialogue between
Leah and one of the charwomen, of which Grace formed the subject.
Leah had been saying something I had not caught, and the charwoman
remarked


She gets good wagesI guess?"


Yes,said Leah; "I wish I had as good; not that mine are to
complain of--there's no stinginess at Thornfield; but they're not
one fifth of the sum Mrs. Poole receives. And she is laying by:
she goes every quarter to the bank at Millcote. I should not wonder
but she has saved enough to keep her independent if she liked to
leave; but I suppose she's got used to the place; and then she's not
forty yetand strong and able for anything. It is too soon for her
to give up business."

She is a good hand, I daresay,said the charwoman.

Ah!--she understands what she has to do,--nobody better,rejoined
Leah significantly; "and it is not every one could fill her shoes-not
for all the money she gets."

That it is not!was the reply. "I wonder whether the master--"

The charwoman was going on; but here Leah turned and perceived me
and she instantly gave her companion a nudge.

Doesn't she know?I heard the woman whisper.

Leah shook her headand the conversation was of course dropped.
All I had gathered from it amounted to this--that there was a
mystery at Thornfield; and that from participation in that mystery I
was purposely excluded.

Thursday came: all work had been completed the previous evening;
carpets were laid downbed-hangings festoonedradiant white
counterpanes spreadtoilet tables arrangedfurniture rubbed
flowers piled in vases: both chambers and saloons looked as fresh
and bright as hands could make them. The halltoowas scoured;
and the great carved clockas well as the steps and banisters of
the staircasewere polished to the brightness of glass; in the
dining-roomthe sideboard flashed resplendent with plate; in the
drawing-room and boudoirvases of exotics bloomed on all sides.

Afternoon arrived: Mrs. Fairfax assumed her best black satin gown
her glovesand her gold watch; for it was her part to receive the
company--to conduct the ladies to their rooms&c. Adeletoo
would be dressed: though I thought she had little chance of being
introduced to the party that day at least. Howeverto please her
I allowed Sophie to apparel her in one of her shortfull muslin
frocks. For myselfI had no need to make any change; I should not
be called upon to quit my sanctum of the schoolroom; for a sanctum
it was now become to me--"a very pleasant refuge in time of
trouble."

It had been a mildserene spring day--one of those days which
towards the end of March or the beginning of Aprilrise shining
over the earth as heralds of summer. It was drawing to an end now;
but the evening was even warmand I sat at work in the schoolroom
with the window open.

It gets late,said Mrs. Fairfaxentering in rustling state. "I
am glad I ordered dinner an hour after the time Mr. Rochester
mentioned; for it is past six now. I have sent John down to the
gates to see if there is anything on the road: one can see a long
way from thence in the direction of Millcote." She went to the
window. "Here he is!" said she. "WellJohn" (leaning out)any
news?

They're coming, ma'am,was the answer. "They'll be here in ten


minutes."

Adele flew to the window. I followedtaking care to stand on one
sideso thatscreened by the curtainI could see without being
seen.

The ten minutes John had given seemed very longbut at last wheels
were heard; four equestrians galloped up the driveand after them
came two open carriages. Fluttering veils and waving plumes filled
the vehicles; two of the cavaliers were youngdashing-looking
gentlemen; the third was Mr. Rochesteron his black horseMesrour
Pilot bounding before him; at his side rode a ladyand he and she
were the first of the party. Her purple riding-habit almost swept
the groundher veil streamed long on the breeze; mingling with its
transparent foldsand gleaming through themshone rich raven
ringlets.

Miss Ingram!exclaimed Mrs. Fairfaxand away she hurried to her
post below.

The cavalcadefollowing the sweep of the drivequickly turned the
angle of the houseand I lost sight of it. Adele now petitioned to
go down; but I took her on my kneeand gave her to understand that
she must not on any account think of venturing in sight of the
ladieseither now or at any other timeunless expressly sent for:
that Mr. Rochester would be very angry&c. "Some natural tears she
shed" on being told this; but as I began to look very graveshe
consented at last to wipe them.

A joyous stir was now audible in the hall: gentlemen's deep tones
and ladies' silvery accents blent harmoniously togetherand
distinguishable above allthough not loudwas the sonorous voice
of the master of Thornfield Hallwelcoming his fair and gallant
guests under its roof. Then light steps ascended the stairs; and
there was a tripping through the galleryand soft cheerful laughs
and opening and closing doorsandfor a timea hush.

Elles changent de toilettes,said Adele; wholistening
attentivelyhad followed every movement; and she sighed.

Chez maman,said shequand il y avait du monde, je le suivais
partout, au salon et e leurs chambres; souvent je regardais les
femmes de chambre coiffer et habiller les dames, et c'etait si
amusant: comme cela on apprend.

Don't you feel hungry, Adele?

Mais oui, mademoiselle: voile cinq ou six heures que nous n'avons
pas mange.

Well now, while the ladies are in their rooms, I will venture down
and get you something to eat.

And issuing from my asylum with precautionI sought a back-stairs
which conducted directly to the kitchen. All in that region was
fire and commotion; the soup and fish were in the last stage of
projectionand the cook hung over her crucibles in a frame of mind
and body threatening spontaneous combustion. In the servants' hall
two coachmen and three gentlemen's gentlemen stood or sat round the
fire; the abigailsI supposewere upstairs with their mistresses;
the new servantsthat had been hired from Millcotewere bustling
about everywhere. Threading this chaosI at last reached the
larder; there I took possession of a cold chickena roll of bread
some tartsa plate or two and a knife and fork: with this booty I


made a hasty retreat. I had regained the galleryand was just
shutting the back-door behind mewhen an accelerated hum warned me
that the ladies were about to issue from their chambers. I could
not proceed to the schoolroom without passing some of their doors
and running the risk of being surprised with my cargo of victualage;
so I stood still at this endwhichbeing windowlesswas dark:
quite dark nowfor the sun was set and twilight gathering.

Presently the chambers gave up their fair tenants one after another:
each came out gaily and airilywith dress that gleamed lustrous
through the dusk. For a moment they stood grouped together at the
other extremity of the galleryconversing in a key of sweet subdued
vivacity: they then descended the staircase almost as noiselessly
as a bright mist rolls down a hill. Their collective appearance had
left on me an impression of high-born elegancesuch as I had never
before received.

I found Adele peeping through the schoolroom doorwhich she held
ajar. "What beautiful ladies!" cried she in English. "OhI wish I
might go to them! Do you think Mr. Rochester will send for us byand-
byeafter dinner?"

No, indeed, I don't; Mr. Rochester has something else to think
about. Never mind the ladies to-night; perhaps you will see them
to-morrow: here is your dinner.

She was really hungryso the chicken and tarts served to divert her
attention for a time. It was well I secured this forageor both
sheIand Sophieto whom I conveyed a share of our repastwould
have run a chance of getting no dinner at all: every one downstairs
was too much engaged to think of us. The dessert was not carried
out till after nine and at ten footmen were still running to and fro
with trays and coffee-cups. I allowed Adele to sit up much later
than usual; for she declared she could not possibly go to sleep
while the doors kept opening and shutting belowand people bustling
about. Besidesshe addeda message might possibly come from Mr.
Rochester when she was undressed; "et alors quel dommage!"

I told her stories as long as she would listen to them; and then for
a change I took her out into the gallery. The hall lamp was now
litand it amused her to look over the balustrade and watch the
servants passing backwards and forwards. When the evening was far
advanceda sound of music issued from the drawing-roomwhither the
piano had been removed; Adele and I sat down on the top step of the
stairs to listen. Presently a voice blent with the rich tones of
the instrument; it was a lady who sangand very sweet her notes
were. The solo overa duet followedand then a glee: a joyous
conversational murmur filled up the intervals. I listened long:
suddenly I discovered that my ear was wholly intent on analysing the
mingled soundsand trying to discriminate amidst the confusion of
accents those of Mr. Rochester; and when it caught themwhich it
soon didit found a further task in framing the tonesrendered by
distance inarticulateinto words.

The clock struck eleven. I looked at Adelewhose head leant
against my shoulder; her eyes were waxing heavyso I took her up in
my arms and carried her off to bed. It was near one before the
gentlemen and ladies sought their chambers.

The next day was as fine as its predecessor: it was devoted by the
party to an excursion to some site in the neighbourhood. They set
out early in the forenoonsome on horsebackthe rest in carriages;
I witnessed both the departure and the return. Miss Ingramas
beforewas the only lady equestrian; andas beforeMr. Rochester


galloped at her side; the two rode a little apart from the rest. I
pointed out this circumstance to Mrs. Fairfaxwho was standing at
the window with me


You said it was not likely they should think of being married,
said Ibut you see Mr. Rochester evidently prefers her to any of
the other ladies.

Yes, I daresay: no doubt he admires her.

And she him,I added; "look how she leans her head towards him as
if she were conversing confidentially; I wish I could see her face;
I have never had a glimpse of it yet."

You will see her this evening,answered Mrs. Fairfax. "I happened
to remark to Mr. Rochester how much Adele wished to be introduced to
the ladiesand he said: 'Oh! let her come into the drawing-room
after dinner; and request Miss Eyre to accompany her.'"

Yes; he said that from mere politeness: I need not go, I am sure,
I answered.

Well, I observed to him that as you were unused to company, I did
not think you would like appearing before so gay a party--all
strangers; and he replied, in his quick way--'Nonsense! If she
objects, tell her it is my particular wish; and if she resists, say
I shall come and fetch her in case of contumacy.'

I will not give him that trouble,I answered. "I will goif no
better may be; but I don't like it. Shall you be thereMrs.
Fairfax?"

No; I pleaded off, and he admitted my plea. I'll tell you how to
manage so as to avoid the embarrassment of making a formal entrance,
which is the most disagreeable part of the business. You must go
into the drawing-room while it is empty, before the ladies leave the
dinner-table; choose your seat in any quiet nook you like; you need
not stay long after the gentlemen come in, unless you please: just
let Mr. Rochester see you are there and then slip away--nobody will
notice you.

Will these people remain long, do you think?

Perhaps two or three weeks, certainly not more. After the Easter
recess, Sir George Lynn, who was lately elected member for Millcote,
will have to go up to town and take his seat; I daresay Mr.
Rochester will accompany him: it surprises me that he has already
made so protracted a stay at Thornfield.

It was with some trepidation that I perceived the hour approach when
I was to repair with my charge to the drawing-room. Adele had been
in a state of ecstasy all dayafter hearing she was to be presented
to the ladies in the evening; and it was not till Sophie commenced
the operation of dressing her that she sobered down. Then the
importance of the process quickly steadied herand by the time she
had her curls arranged in well-smootheddrooping clustersher pink
satin frock put onher long sash tiedand her lace mittens
adjustedshe looked as grave as any judge. No need to warn her not
to disarrange her attire: when she was dressedshe sat demurely
down in her little chairtaking care previously to lift up the
satin skirt for fear she should crease itand assured me she would
not stir thence till I was ready. This I quickly was: my best
dress (the silver-grey onepurchased for Miss Temple's weddingand
never worn since) was soon put on; my hair was soon smoothed; my


sole ornamentthe pearl broochsoon assumed. We descended.

Fortunately there was another entrance to the drawing-room than that
through the saloon where they were all seated at dinner. We found
the apartment vacant; a large fire burning silently on the marble
hearthand wax candles shining in bright solitudeamid the
exquisite flowers with which the tables were adorned. The crimson
curtain hung before the arch: slight as was the separation this
drapery formed from the party in the adjoining saloonthey spoke in
so low a key that nothing of their conversation could be
distinguished beyond a soothing murmur.

Adelewho appeared to be still under the influence of a most
solemnising impressionsat downwithout a wordon the footstool I
pointed out to her. I retired to a window-seatand taking a book
from a table nearendeavoured to read. Adele brought her stool to
my feet; ere long she touched my knee.

What is it, Adele?

Est-ce que je ne puis pas prendrie une seule de ces fleurs
magnifiques, mademoiselle? Seulement pour completer ma toilette.

You think too much of your 'toilette,' Adele: but you may have a
flower.And I took a rose from a vase and fastened it in her sash.
She sighed a sigh of ineffable satisfactionas if her cup of
happiness were now full. I turned my face away to conceal a smile I
could not suppress: there was something ludicrous as well as
painful in the little Parisienne's earnest and innate devotion to
matters of dress.

A soft sound of rising now became audible; the curtain was swept
back from the arch; through it appeared the dining-roomwith its
lit lustre pouring down light on the silver and glass of a
magnificent dessert-service covering a long table; a band of ladies
stood in the opening; they enteredand the curtain fell behind
them.

There were but eight; yetsomehowas they flocked inthey gave
the impression of a much larger number. Some of them were very
tall; many were dressed in white; and all had a sweeping amplitude
of array that seemed to magnify their persons as a mist magnifies
the moon. I rose and curtseyed to them: one or two bent their
heads in returnthe others only stared at me.

They dispersed about the roomreminding meby the lightness and
buoyancy of their movementsof a flock of white plumy birds. Some
of them threw themselves in half-reclining positions on the sofas
and ottomans: some bent over the tables and examined the flowers
and books: the rest gathered in a group round the fire: all talked
in a low but clear tone which seemed habitual to them. I knew their
names afterwardsand may as well mention them now.

Firstthere was Mrs. Eshton and two of her daughters. She had
evidently been a handsome womanand was well preserved still. Of
her daughtersthe eldestAmywas rather little: naiveand
child-like in face and mannerand piquant in form; her white muslin
dress and blue sash became her well. The secondLouisawas taller
and more elegant in figure; with a very pretty faceof that order
the French term minois chiffone: both sisters were fair as lilies.

Lady Lynn was a large and stout personage of about fortyvery
erectvery haughty-lookingrichly dressed in a satin robe of
changeful sheen: her dark hair shone glossily under the shade of an


azure plumeand within the circlet of a band of gems.

Mrs. Colonel Dent was less showy; butI thoughtmore lady-like.
She had a slight figurea palegentle faceand fair hair. Her
black satin dressher scarf of rich foreign laceand her pearl
ornamentspleased me better than the rainbow radiance of the titled
dame.

But the three most distinguished--partlyperhapsbecause the
tallest figures of the band--were the Dowager Lady Ingram and her
daughtersBlanche and Mary. They were all three of the loftiest
stature of women. The Dowager might be between forty and fifty:
her shape was still fine; her hair (by candle-light at least) still
black; her teethtoowere still apparently perfect. Most people
would have termed her a splendid woman of her age: and so she was
no doubtphysically speaking; but then there was an expression of
almost insupportable haughtiness in her bearing and countenance.
She had Roman features and a double chindisappearing into a throat
like a pillar: these features appeared to me not only inflated and
darkenedbut even furrowed with pride; and the chin was sustained
by the same principlein a position of almost preternatural
erectness. She hadlikewisea fierce and a hard eye: it reminded
me of Mrs. Reed's; she mouthed her words in speaking; her voice was
deepits inflections very pompousvery dogmatical--very
intolerablein short. A crimson velvet robeand a shawl turban of
some gold-wrought Indian fabricinvested her (I suppose she
thought) with a truly imperial dignity.

Blanche and Mary were of equal stature--straight and tall as
poplars. Mary was too slim for her heightbut Blanche was moulded
like a Dian. I regarded herof coursewith special interest.
FirstI wished to see whether her appearance accorded with Mrs.
Fairfax's description; secondlywhether it at all resembled the
fancy miniature I had painted of her; and thirdly--it will out!-whether
it were such as I should fancy likely to suit Mr.
Rochester's taste.

As far as person wentshe answered point for pointboth to my
picture and Mrs. Fairfax's description. The noble bustthe sloping
shouldersthe graceful neckthe dark eyes and black ringlets were
all there;--but her face? Her face was like her mother's; a
youthful unfurrowed likeness: the same low browthe same high
featuresthe same pride. It was nothoweverso saturnine a
pride! she laughed continually; her laugh was satiricaland so was
the habitual expression of her arched and haughty lip.

Genius is said to be self-conscious. I cannot tell whether Miss
Ingram was a geniusbut she was self-conscious--remarkably selfconscious
indeed. She entered into a discourse on botany with the
gentle Mrs. Dent. It seemed Mrs. Dent had not studied that science:
thoughas she saidshe liked flowersespecially wild ones;Miss
Ingram hadand she ran over its vocabulary with an air. I
presently perceived she was (what is vernacularly termed) TRAILING
Mrs. Dent; that isplaying on her ignorance--her TRAIL might be
cleverbut it was decidedly not good-natured. She played: her
execution was brilliant; she sang: her voice was fine; she talked
French apart to her mamma; and she talked it wellwith fluency and
with a good accent.

Mary had a milder and more open countenance than Blanche; softer
features tooand a skin some shades fairer (Miss Ingram was dark as
a Spaniard)--but Mary was deficient in life: her face lacked
expressionher eye lustre; she had nothing to sayand having once
taken her seatremained fixed like a statue in its niche. The


sisters were both attired in spotless white.

And did I now think Miss Ingram such a choice as Mr. Rochester would
be likely to make? I could not tell--I did not know his taste in
female beauty. If he liked the majesticshe was the very type of
majesty: then she was accomplishedsprightly. Most gentlemen
would admire herI thought; and that he DID admire herI already
seemed to have obtained proof: to remove the last shade of doubt
it remained but to see them together.

You are not to supposereaderthat Adele has all this time been
sitting motionless on the stool at my feet: no; when the ladies
enteredshe roseadvanced to meet themmade a stately reverence
and said with gravity


Bon jour, mesdames.

And Miss Ingram had looked down at her with a mocking airand
exclaimedOh, what a little puppet!

Lady Lynn had remarkedIt is Mr. Rochester's ward, I suppose--the
little French girl he was speaking of.

Mrs. Dent had kindly taken her handand given her a kiss.

Amy and Louisa Eshton had cried out simultaneously--"What a love of
a child!"

And then they had called her to a sofawhere she now satensconced
between themchattering alternately in French and broken English;
absorbing not only the young ladies' attentionbut that of Mrs.
Eshton and Lady Lynnand getting spoilt to her heart's content.

At last coffee is brought inand the gentlemen are summoned. I sit
in the shade--if any shade there be in this brilliantly-lit
apartment; the window-curtain half hides me. Again the arch yawns;
they come. The collective appearance of the gentlemenlike that of
the ladiesis very imposing: they are all costumed in black; most
of them are tallsome young. Henry and Frederick Lynn are very
dashing sparks indeed; and Colonel Dent is a fine soldierly man.
Mr. Eshtonthe magistrate of the districtis gentleman-like: his
hair is quite whitehis eyebrows and whiskers still darkwhich
gives him something of the appearance of a "pere noble de theatre."
Lord Ingramlike his sistersis very tall; like themalsohe is
handsome; but he shares Mary's apathetic and listless look: he
seems to have more length of limb than vivacity of blood or vigour
of brain.

And where is Mr. Rochester?

He comes in last: I am not looking at the archyet I see him
enter. I try to concentrate my attention on those netting-needles
on the meshes of the purse I am forming--I wish to think only of the
work I have in my handsto see only the silver beads and silk
threads that lie in my lap; whereasI distinctly behold his figure
and I inevitably recall the moment when I last saw it; just after I
had rendered himwhat he deemedan essential serviceand he
holding my handand looking down on my facesurveyed me with eyes
that revealed a heart full and eager to overflow; in whose emotions
I had a part. How near had I approached him at that moment! What
had occurred sincecalculated to change his and my relative
positions? Yet nowhow distanthow far estranged we were! So far
estrangedthat I did not expect him to come and speak to me. I did
not wonderwhenwithout looking at mehe took a seat at the other


side of the roomand began conversing with some of the ladies.

No sooner did I see that his attention was riveted on themand that
I might gaze without being observedthan my eyes were drawn
involuntarily to his face; I could not keep their lids under
control: they would riseand the irids would fix on him. I
lookedand had an acute pleasure in looking--a precious yet
poignant pleasure; pure goldwith a steely point of agony: a
pleasure like what the thirst-perishing man might feel who knows the
well to which he has crept is poisonedyet stoops and drinks divine
draughts nevertheless.

Most true is it that "beauty is in the eye of the gazer." My
master's colourlessolive facesquaremassive browbroad and
jetty eyebrowsdeep eyesstrong featuresfirmgrim mouth--all
energydecisionwill--were not beautifulaccording to rule; but
they were more than beautiful to me; they were full of an interest
an influence that quite mastered me--that took my feelings from my
own power and fettered them in his. I had not intended to love him;
the reader knows I had wrought hard to extirpate from my soul the
germs of love there detected; and nowat the first renewed view of
himthey spontaneously arrivedgreen and strong! He made me love
him without looking at me.

I compared him with his guests. What was the gallant grace of the
Lynnsthe languid elegance of Lord Ingram--even the military
distinction of Colonel Dentcontrasted with his look of native pith
and genuine power? I had no sympathy in their appearancetheir
expression: yet I could imagine that most observers would call them
attractivehandsomeimposing; while they would pronounce Mr.
Rochester at once harsh-featured and melancholy-looking. I saw them
smilelaugh--it was nothing; the light of the candles had as much
soul in it as their smile; the tinkle of the bell as much
significance as their laugh. I saw Mr. Rochester smile:- his stern
features softened; his eye grew both brilliant and gentleits ray
both searching and sweet. He was talkingat the momentto Louisa
and Amy Eshton. I wondered to see them receive with calm that look
which seemed to me so penetrating: I expected their eyes to fall
their colour to rise under it; yet I was glad when I found they were
in no sense moved. "He is not to them what he is to me I thought:
he is not of their kind. I believe he is of mine;--I am sure he
is--I feel akin to him--I understand the language of his countenance
and movements: though rank and wealth sever us widelyI have
something in my brain and heartin my blood and nervesthat
assimilates me mentally to him. Did I saya few days sincethat I
had nothing to do with him but to receive my salary at his hands?
Did I forbid myself to think of him in any other light than as a
paymaster? Blasphemy against nature! Every goodtruevigorous
feeling I have gathers impulsively round him. I know I must conceal
my sentiments: I must smother hope; I must remember that he cannot
care much for me. For when I say that I am of his kindI do not
mean that I have his force to influenceand his spell to attract; I
mean only that I have certain tastes and feelings in common with
him. I mustthenrepeat continually that we are for ever
sundered:- and yetwhile I breathe and thinkI must love him."

Coffee is handed. The ladiessince the gentlemen enteredhave
become lively as larks; conversation waxes brisk and merry. Colonel
Dent and Mr. Eshton argue on politics; their wives listen. The two
proud dowagersLady Lynn and Lady Ingramconfabulate together.
Sir George--whomby-the-byeI have forgotten to describe--a very
bigand very fresh-looking country gentlemanstands before their
sofacoffee-cup in handand occasionally puts in a word. Mr.
Frederick Lynn has taken a seat beside Mary Ingramand is showing


her the engravings of a splendid volume: she lookssmiles now and
thenbut apparently says little. The tall and phlegmatic Lord
Ingram leans with folded arms on the chair-back of the little and
lively Amy Eshton; she glances up at himand chatters like a wren:
she likes him better than she does Mr. Rochester. Henry Lynn has
taken possession of an ottoman at the feet of Louisa: Adele shares
it with him: he is trying to talk French with herand Louisa
laughs at his blunders. With whom will Blanche Ingram pair? She is
standing alone at the tablebending gracefully over an album. She
seems waiting to be sought; but she will not wait too long: she
herself selects a mate.

Mr. Rochesterhaving quitted the Eshtonsstands on the hearth as
solitary as she stands by the table: she confronts himtaking her
station on the opposite side of the mantelpiece.

Mr. Rochester, I thought you were not fond of children?

Nor am I.

Then, what induced you to take charge of such a little doll as
that?(pointing to Adele). "Where did you pick her up?"

I did not pick her up; she was left on my hands.

You should have sent her to school.

I could not afford it: schools are so dear.

Why, I suppose you have a governess for her: I saw a person with
her just now--is she gone? Oh, no! there she is still, behind the
window-curtain. You pay her, of course; I should think it quite as
expensive,--more so; for you have them both to keep in addition.

I feared--or should I sayhoped?--the allusion to me would make Mr.
Rochester glance my way; and I involuntarily shrank farther into the
shade: but he never turned his eyes.

I have not considered the subject,said he indifferentlylooking
straight before him.

No, you men never do consider economy and common sense. You should
hear mama on the chapter of governesses: Mary and I have had, I
should think, a dozen at least in our day; half of them detestable
and the rest ridiculous, and all incubi--were they not, mama?

Did you speak, my own?

The young lady thus claimed as the dowager's special property
reiterated her question with an explanation.

My dearest, don't mention governesses; the word makes me nervous.
I have suffered a martyrdom from their incompetency and caprice. I
thank Heaven I have now done with them!

Mrs. Dent here bent over to the pious lady and whispered something
in her ear; I supposefrom the answer elicitedit was a reminder
that one of the anathematised race was present.

Tant pis!said her LadyshipI hope it may do her good!Then
in a lower tonebut still loud enough for me to hearI noticed
her; I am a judge of physiognomy, and in hers I see all the faults
of her class.


What are they, madam?inquired Mr. Rochester aloud.

I will tell you in your private ear,replied shewagging her
turban three times with portentous significancy.

But my curiosity will be past its appetite; it craves food now.

Ask Blanche; she is nearer you than I.

Oh, don't refer him to me, mama! I have just one word to say of
the whole tribe; they are a nuisance. Not that I ever suffered much
from them; I took care to turn the tables. What tricks Theodore and
I used to play on our Miss Wilsons, and Mrs. Greys, and Madame
Jouberts! Mary was always too sleepy to join in a plot with spirit.
The best fun was with Madame Joubert: Miss Wilson was a poor sickly
thing, lachrymose and low-spirited, not worth the trouble of
vanquishing, in short; and Mrs. Grey was coarse and insensible; no
blow took effect on her. But poor Madame Joubert! I see her yet in
her raging passions, when we had driven her to extremities--spilt
our tea, crumbled our bread and butter, tossed our books up to the
ceiling, and played a charivari with the ruler and desk, the fender
and fire-irons. Theodore, do you remember those merry days?

Yaas, to be sure I do,drawled Lord Ingram; "and the poor old
stick used to cry out 'Oh you villains childs!'--and then we
sermonised her on the presumption of attempting to teach such clever
blades as we werewhen she was herself so ignorant."

We did; and, Tedo, you know, I helped you in prosecuting (or
persecuting) your tutor, whey-faced Mr. Vining--the parson in the
pip, as we used to call him. He and Miss Wilson took the liberty of
falling in love with each other--at least Tedo and I thought so; we
surprised sundry tender glances and sighs which we interpreted as
tokens of 'la belle passion,' and I promise you the public soon had
the benefit of our discovery; we employed it as a sort of lever to
hoist our dead-weights from the house. Dear mama, there, as soon as
she got an inkling of the business, found out that it was of an
immoral tendency. Did you not, my lady-mother?

Certainly, my best. And I was quite right: depend on that: there
are a thousand reasons why liaisons between governesses and tutors
should never be tolerated a moment in any well-regulated house;
firstly--

Oh, gracious, mama! Spare us the enumeration! Au reste, we all
know them: danger of bad example to innocence of childhood;
distractions and consequent neglect of duty on the part of the
attached--mutual alliance and reliance; confidence thence resulting-
insolence accompanying--mutiny and general blow-up. Am I right,
Baroness Ingram, of Ingram Park?

My lily-flower, you are right now, as always.

Then no more need be said: change the subject.

Amy Eshtonnot hearing or not heeding this dictumjoined in with
her softinfantine tone: "Louisa and I used to quiz our governess
too; but she was such a good creatureshe would bear anything:
nothing put her out. She was never cross with us; was sheLouisa?"

No, never: we might do what we pleased; ransack her desk and her
workbox, and turn her drawers inside out; and she was so goodnatured,
she would give as anything we asked for.


I suppose, now,said Miss Ingramcurling her lip sarcastically
we shall have an abstract of the memoirs of all the governesses
extant: in order to avert such a visitation, I again move the
introduction of a new topic. Mr. Rochester, do you second my
motion?

Madam, I support you on this point, as on every other.

Then on me be the onus of bringing it forward. Signior Eduardo,
are you in voice to-night?

Donna Bianca, if you command it, I will be.

Then, signior, I lay on you my sovereign behest to furbish up your
lungs and other vocal organs, as they will be wanted on my royal
service.

Who would not be the Rizzio of so divine a Mary?

A fig for Rizzio!cried shetossing her head with all its curls
as she moved to the piano. "It is my opinion the fiddler David must
have been an insipid sort of fellow; I like black Bothwell better:
to my mind a man is nothing without a spice of the devil in him; and
history may say what it will of James Hepburnbut I have a notion
he was just the sort of wildfiercebandit hero whom I could have
consented to gift with my hand."

Gentlemen, you hear! Now which of you most resembles Bothwell?
cried Mr. Rochester.

I should say the preference lies with you,responded Colonel Dent.

On my honour, I am much obliged to you,was the reply.

Miss Ingramwho had now seated herself with proud grace at the
pianospreading out her snowy robes in queenly amplitudecommenced
a brilliant prelude; talking meantime. She appeared to be on her
high horse to-night; both her words and her air seemed intended to
excite not only the admirationbut the amazement of her auditors:
she was evidently bent on striking them as something very dashing
and daring indeed.

Oh, I am so sick of the young men of the present day!exclaimed
sherattling away at the instrument. "Poorpuny thingsnot fit
to stir a step beyond papa's park gates: nor to go even so far
without mama's permission and guardianship! Creatures so absorbed
in care about their pretty facesand their white handsand their
small feet; as if a man had anything to do with beauty! As if
loveliness were not the special prerogative of woman--her legitimate
appanage and heritage! I grant an ugly WOMAN is a blot on the fair
face of creation; but as to the GENTLEMENlet them be solicitous to
possess only strength and valour: let their motto be:- Huntshoot
and fight: the rest is not worth a fillip. Such should be my
devicewere I a man."

Whenever I marry,she continued after a pause which none
interruptedI am resolved my husband shall not be a rival, but a
foil to me. I will suffer no competitor near the throne; I shall
exact an undivided homage: his devotions shall not be shared
between me and the shape he sees in his mirror. Mr. Rochester, now
sing, and I will play for you.

I am all obedience,was the response.


Here then is a Corsair-song. Know that I doat on Corsairs; and for
that reason, sing it con spirito.

Commands from Miss Ingram's lips would put spirit into a mug of
milk and water.

Take care, then: if you don't please me, I will shame you by
showing how such things SHOULD be done.

That is offering a premium on incapacity: I shall now endeavour to
fail.

Gardez-vous en bien! If you err wilfully, I shall devise a
proportionate punishment.

Miss Ingram ought to be clement, for she has it in her power to
inflict a chastisement beyond mortal endurance.

Ha! explain!commanded the lady.

Pardon me, madam: no need of explanation; your own fine sense must
inform you that one of your frowns would be a sufficient substitute
for capital punishment.

Sing!said sheand again touching the pianoshe commenced an
accompaniment in spirited style.

Now is my time to slip away,thought I: but the tones that then
severed the air arrested me. Mrs. Fairfax had said Mr. Rochester
possessed a fine voice: he did--a mellowpowerful bassinto which
he threw his own feelinghis own force; finding a way through the
ear to the heartand there waking sensation strangely. I waited
till the last deep and full vibration had expired--till the tide of
talkchecked an instanthad resumed its flow; I then quitted my
sheltered corner and made my exit by the side-doorwhich was
fortunately near. Thence a narrow passage led into the hall: in
crossing itI perceived my sandal was loose; I stopped to tie it
kneeling down for that purpose on the mat at the foot of the
staircase. I heard the dining-room door unclose; a gentleman came
out; rising hastilyI stood face to face with him: it was Mr.
Rochester.

How do you do?he asked.

I am very well, sir.

Why did you not come and speak to me in the room?

I thought I might have retorted the question on him who put it: but
I would not take that freedom. I answered


I did not wish to disturb you, as you seemed engaged, sir.

What have you been doing during my absence?

Nothing particular; teaching Adele as usual.

And getting a good deal paler than you were--as I saw at first
sight. What is the matter?

Nothing at all, sir.

Did you take any cold that night you half drowned me?


Not she least.

Return to the drawing-room: you are deserting too early.

I am tired, sir.

He looked at me for a minute.

And a little depressed,he said. "What about? Tell me."

Nothing--nothing, sir. I am not depressed.

But I affirm that you are: so much depressed that a few more words
would bring tears to your eyes--indeed, they are there now, shining
and swimming; and a bead has slipped from the lash and fallen on to
the flag. If I had time, and was not in mortal dread of some
prating prig of a servant passing, I would know what all this means.
Well, to-night I excuse you; but understand that so long as my
visitors stay, I expect you to appear in the drawing-room every
evening; it is my wish; don't neglect it. Now go, and send Sophie
for Adele. Good-night, my--He stoppedbit his lipand abruptly
left me.

CHAPTER XVIII

Merry days were these at Thornfield Hall; and busy days too: how
different from the first three months of stillnessmonotonyand
solitude I had passed beneath its roof! All sad feelings seemed now
driven from the houseall gloomy associations forgotten: there was
life everywheremovement all day long. You could not now traverse
the galleryonce so hushednor enter the front chambersonce so
tenantlesswithout encountering a smart lady's-maid or a dandy
valet.

The kitchenthe butler's pantrythe servants' hallthe entrance
hallwere equally alive; and the saloons were only left void and
still when the blue sky and halcyon sunshine of the genial spring
weather called their occupants out into the grounds. Even when that
weather was brokenand continuous rain set in for some daysno
damp seemed cast over enjoyment: indoor amusements only became more
lively and variedin consequence of the stop put to outdoor gaiety.

I wondered what they were going to do the first evening a change of
entertainment was proposed: they spoke of "playing charades but
in my ignorance I did not understand the term. The servants were
called in, the dining-room tables wheeled away, the lights otherwise
disposed, the chairs placed in a semicircle opposite the arch.
While Mr. Rochester and the other gentlemen directed these
alterations, the ladies were running up and down stairs ringing for
their maids. Mrs. Fairfax was summoned to give information
respecting the resources of the house in shawls, dresses, draperies
of any kind; and certain wardrobes of the third storey were
ransacked, and their contents, in the shape of brocaded and hooped
petticoats, satin sacques, black modes, lace lappets, &c., were
brought down in armfuls by the abigails; then a selection was made,
and such things as were chosen were carried to the boudoir within
the drawing-room.

Meantime, Mr. Rochester had again summoned the ladies round him, and
was selecting certain of their number to be of his party. Miss


Ingram is mineof course said he: afterwards he named the two
Misses Eshton, and Mrs. Dent. He looked at me: I happened to be
near him, as I had been fastening the clasp of Mrs. Dent's bracelet,
which had got loose.

Will you play?" he asked. I shook my head. He did not insist
which I rather feared he would have done; he allowed me to return
quietly to my usual seat.

He and his aids now withdrew behind the curtain: the other party
which was headed by Colonel Dentsat down on the crescent of
chairs. One of the gentlemenMr. Eshtonobserving meseemed to
propose that I should be asked to join them; but Lady Ingram
instantly negatived the notion.

No,I heard her say: "she looks too stupid for any game of the
sort."

Ere long a bell tinkledand the curtain drew up. Within the arch
the bulky figure of Sir George Lynnwhom Mr. Rochester had likewise
chosenwas seen enveloped in a white sheet: before himon a
tablelay open a large book; and at his side stood Amy Eshton
draped in Mr. Rochester's cloakand holding a book in her hand.
Somebodyunseenrang the bell merrily; then Adele (who had
insisted on being one of her guardian's party)bounded forward
scattering round her the contents of a basket of flowers she carried
on her arm. Then appeared the magnificent figure of Miss Ingram
clad in whitea long veil on her headand a wreath of roses round
her brow; by her side walked Mr. Rochesterand together they drew
near the table. They knelt; while Mrs. Dent and Louisa Eshton
dressed also in whitetook up their stations behind them. A
ceremony followedin dumb showin which it was easy to recognise
the pantomime of a marriage. At its terminationColonel Dent and
his party consulted in whispers for two minutesthen the Colonel
called out


Bride!Mr. Rochester bowedand the curtain fell.

A considerable interval elapsed before it again rose. Its second
rising displayed a more elaborately prepared scene than the last.
The drawing-roomas I have before observedwas raised two steps
above the dining-roomand on the top of the upper stepplaced a
yard or two back within the roomappeared a large marble basin-which
I recognised as an ornament of the conservatory--where it
usually stoodsurrounded by exoticsand tenanted by gold fish--and
whence it must have been transported with some troubleon account
of its size and weight.

Seated on the carpetby the side of this basinwas seen Mr.
Rochestercostumed in shawlswith a turban on his head. His dark
eyes and swarthy skin and Paynim features suited the costume
exactly: he looked the very model of an Eastern emiran agent or a
victim of the bowstring. Presently advanced into view Miss Ingram.
Shetoowas attired in oriental fashion: a crimson scarf tied
sash-like round the waist: an embroidered handkerchief knotted
about her temples; her beautifully-moulded arms bareone of them
upraised in the act of supporting a pitcherpoised gracefully on
her head. Both her cast of form and featureher complexion and her
general airsuggested the idea of some Israelitish princess of the
patriarchal days; and such was doubtless the character she intended
to represent.

She approached the basinand bent over it as if to fill her
pitcher; she again lifted it to her head. The personage on the


well-brink now seemed to accost her; to make some request:- "She
hastedlet down her pitcher on her handand gave him to drink."
From the bosom of his robe he then produced a casketopened it and
showed magnificent bracelets and earrings; she acted astonishment
and admiration; kneelinghe laid the treasure at her feet;
incredulity and delight were expressed by her looks and gestures;
the stranger fastened the bracelets on her arms and the rings in her
ears. It was Eliezer and Rebecca: the camels only were wanting.

The divining party again laid their heads together: apparently they
could not agree about the word or syllable the scene illustrated.
Colonel Denttheir spokesmandemanded "the tableau of the whole;"
whereupon the curtain again descended.

On its third rising only a portion of the drawing-room was
disclosed; the rest being concealed by a screenhung with some sort
of dark and coarse drapery. The marble basin was removed; in its
placestood a deal table and a kitchen chair: these objects were
visible by a very dim light proceeding from a horn lanternthe wax
candles being all extinguished.

Amidst this sordid scenesat a man with his clenched hands resting
on his kneesand his eyes bent on the ground. I knew Mr.
Rochester; though the begrimed facethe disordered dress (his coat
hanging loose from one armas if it had been almost torn from his
back in a scuffle)the desperate and scowling countenancethe
roughbristling hair might well have disguised him. As he moveda
chain clanked; to his wrists were attached fetters.

Bridewell!exclaimed Colonel Dentand the charade was solved.

A sufficient interval having elapsed for the performers to resume
their ordinary costumethey re-entered the dining-room. Mr.
Rochester led in Miss Ingram; she was complimenting him on his
acting.

Do you know,said shethat, of the three characters, I liked you
in the last best? Oh, had you but lived a few years earlier, what a
gallant gentleman-highwayman you would have made!

Is all the soot washed from my face?he askedturning it towards
her.

Alas! yes: the more's the pity! Nothing could be more becoming to
your complexion than that ruffian's rouge.

You would like a hero of the road then?

An English hero of the road would be the next best thing to an
Italian bandit; and that could only be surpassed by a Levantine
pirate.

Well, whatever I am, remember you are my wife; we were married an
hour since, in the presence of all these witnesses.She giggled
and her colour rose.

Now, Dent,continued Mr. Rochesterit is your turn.And as the
other party withdrewhe and his band took the vacated seats. Miss
Ingram placed herself at her leader's right hand; the other diviners
filled the chairs on each side of him and her. I did not now watch
the actors; I no longer waited with interest for the curtain to
rise; my attention was absorbed by the spectators; my eyeserewhile
fixed on the archwere now irresistibly attracted to the semicircle
of chairs. What charade Colonel Dent and his party playedwhat


word they chosehow they acquitted themselvesI no longer
remember; but I still see the consultation which followed each
scene: I see Mr. Rochester turn to Miss Ingramand Miss Ingram to
him; I see her incline her head towards himtill the jetty curls
almost touch his shoulder and wave against his cheek; I hear their
mutual whisperings; I recall their interchanged glances; and
something even of the feeling roused by the spectacle returns in
memory at this moment.

I have told youreaderthat I had learnt to love Mr. Rochester: I
could not unlove him nowmerely because I found that he had ceased
to notice me--because I might pass hours in his presenceand he
would never once turn his eyes in my direction--because I saw all
his attentions appropriated by a great ladywho scorned to touch me
with the hem of her robes as she passed; whoif ever her dark and
imperious eye fell on me by chancewould withdraw it instantly as
from an object too mean to merit observation. I could not unlove
himbecause I felt sure he would soon marry this very lady--because
I read daily in her a proud security in his intentions respecting
her--because I witnessed hourly in him a style of courtship which
if careless and choosing rather to be sought than to seekwas yet
in its very carelessnesscaptivatingand in its very pride
irresistible.

There was nothing to cool or banish love in these circumstances
though much to create despair. Much tooyou will thinkreaderto
engender jealousy: if a womanin my positioncould presume to be
jealous of a woman in Miss Ingram's. But I was not jealous: or
very rarely;--the nature of the pain I suffered could not be
explained by that word. Miss Ingram was a mark beneath jealousy:
she was too inferior to excite the feeling. Pardon the seeming
paradox; I mean what I say. She was very showybut she was not
genuine: she had a fine personmany brilliant attainments; but her
mind was poorher heart barren by nature: nothing bloomed
spontaneously on that soil; no unforced natural fruit delighted by
its freshness. She was not good; she was not original: she used to
repeat sounding phrases from books: she never offerednor hadan
opinion of her own. She advocated a high tone of sentiment; but she
did not know the sensations of sympathy and pity; tenderness and
truth were not in her. Too often she betrayed thisby the undue
vent she gave to a spiteful antipathy she had conceived against
little Adele: pushing her away with some contumelious epithet if
she happened to approach her; sometimes ordering her from the room
and always treating her with coldness and acrimony. Other eyes
besides mine watched these manifestations of character--watched them
closelykeenlyshrewdly. Yes; the future bridegroomMr.
Rochester himselfexercised over his intended a ceaseless
surveillance; and it was from this sagacity--this guardedness of
his--this perfectclear consciousness of his fair one's defects-this
obvious absence of passion in his sentiments towards herthat
my ever-torturing pain arose.

I saw he was going to marry herfor familyperhaps political
reasonsbecause her rank and connections suited him; I felt he had
not given her his loveand that her qualifications were ill adapted
to win from him that treasure. This was the point--this was where
the nerve was touched and teased--this was where the fever was
sustained and fed: SHE COULD NOT CHARM HIM.

If she had managed the victory at onceand he had yielded and
sincerely laid his heart at her feetI should have covered my face
turned to the walland (figuratively) have died to them. If Miss
Ingram had been a good and noble womanendowed with forcefervour
kindnesssenseI should have had one vital struggle with two


tigers--jealousy and despair: thenmy heart torn out and devoured
I should have admired her--acknowledged her excellenceand been
quiet for the rest of my days: and the more absolute her
superioritythe deeper would have been my admiration--the more
truly tranquil my quiescence. But as matters really stoodto watch
Miss Ingram's efforts at fascinating Mr. Rochesterto witness their
repeated failure--herself unconscious that they did fail; vainly
fancying that each shaft launched hit the markand infatuatedly
pluming herself on successwhen her pride and self-complacency
repelled further and further what she wished to allure--to witness
THISwas to be at once under ceaseless excitation and ruthless
restraint.

Becausewhen she failedI saw how she might have succeeded.
Arrows that continually glanced off from Mr. Rochester's breast and
fell harmless at his feetmightI knewif shot by a surer hand
have quivered keen in his proud heart--have called love into his
stern eyeand softness into his sardonic face; orbetter still
without weapons a silent conquest might have been won.

Why can she not influence him more, when she is privileged to draw
so near to him?I asked myself. "Surely she cannot truly like him
or not like him with true affection! If she didshe need not coin
her smiles so lavishlyflash her glances so unremittingly
manufacture airs so elaborategraces so multitudinous. It seems to
me that she mightby merely sitting quietly at his sidesaying
little and looking lessget nigher his heart. I have seen in his
face a far different expression from that which hardens it now while
she is so vivaciously accosting him; but then it came of itself: it
was not elicited by meretricious arts and calculated manoeuvres; and
one had but to accept it--to answer what he asked without
pretensionto address him when needful without grimace--and it
increased and grew kinder and more genialand warmed one like a
fostering sunbeam. How will she manage to please him when they are
married? I do not think she will manage it; and yet it might be
managed; and his wife mightI verily believebe the very happiest
woman the sun shines on."

I have not yet said anything condemnatory of Mr. Rochester's project
of marrying for interest and connections. It surprised me when I
first discovered that such was his intention: I had thought him a
man unlikely to be influenced by motives so commonplace in his
choice of a wife; but the longer I considered the position
education&c.of the partiesthe less I felt justified in judging
and blaming either him or Miss Ingram for acting in conformity to
ideas and principles instilled into themdoubtlessfrom their
childhood. All their class held these principles: I supposed
thenthey had reasons for holding them such as I could not fathom.
It seemed to me thatwere I a gentleman like himI would take to
my bosom only such a wife as I could love; but the very obviousness
of the advantages to the husband's own happiness offered by this
plan convinced me that there must be arguments against its general
adoption of which I was quite ignorant: otherwise I felt sure all
the world would act as I wished to act.

But in other pointsas well as thisI was growing very lenient to
my master: I was forgetting all his faultsfor which I had once
kept a sharp look-out. It had formerly been my endeavour to study
all sides of his character: to take the bad with the good; and from
the just weighing of bothto form an equitable judgment. Now I saw
no bad. The sarcasm that had repelledthe harshness that had
startled me oncewere only like keen condiments in a choice dish:
their presence was pungentbut their absence would be felt as
comparatively insipid. And as for the vague something--was it a


sinister or a sorrowfula designing or a desponding expression?-that
opened upon a careful observernow and thenin his eyeand
closed again before one could fathom the strange depth partially
disclosed; that something which used to make me fear and shrinkas
if I had been wandering amongst volcanic-looking hillsand had
suddenly felt the ground quiver and seen it gape: that something
Iat intervalsbeheld still; and with throbbing heartbut not
with palsied nerves. Instead of wishing to shunI longed only to
dare--to divine it; and I thought Miss Ingram happybecause one day
she might look into the abyss at her leisureexplore its secrets
and analyse their nature.

Meantimewhile I thought only of my master and his future bride-saw
only themheard only their discourseand considered only their
movements of importance--the rest of the party were occupied with
their own separate interests and pleasures. The Ladies Lynn and
Ingram continued to consort in solemn conferenceswhere they nodded
their two turbans at each otherand held up their four hands in
confronting gestures of surpriseor mysteryor horroraccording
to the theme on which their gossip ranlike a pair of magnified
puppets. Mild Mrs. Dent talked with good-natured Mrs. Eshton; and
the two sometimes bestowed a courteous word or smile on me. Sir
George LynnColonel Dentand Mr. Eshton discussed politicsor
county affairsor justice business. Lord Ingram flirted with Amy
Eshton; Louisa played and sang to and with one of the Messrs. Lynn;
and Mary Ingram listened languidly to the gallant speeches of the
other. Sometimes allas with one consentsuspended their by-play
to observe and listen to the principal actors: forafter allMr.
Rochester and--because closely connected with him--Miss Ingram were
the life and soul of the party. If he was absent from the room an
houra perceptible dulness seemed to steal over the spirits of his
guests; and his re-entrance was sure to give a fresh impulse to the
vivacity of conversation.

The want of his animating influence appeared to be peculiarly felt
one day that he had been summoned to Millcote on businessand was
not likely to return till late. The afternoon was wet: a walk the
party had proposed to take to see a gipsy camplately pitched on a
common beyond Haywas consequently deferred. Some of the gentlemen
were gone to the stables: the younger onestogether with the
younger ladieswere playing billiards in the billiard-room. The
dowagers Ingram and Lynn sought solace in a quiet game at cards.
Blanche Ingramafter having repelledby supercilious taciturnity
some efforts of Mrs. Dent and Mrs. Eshton to draw her into
conversationhad first murmured over some sentimental tunes and
airs on the pianoand thenhaving fetched a novel from the
libraryhad flung herself in haughty listlessness on a sofaand
prepared to beguileby the spell of fictionthe tedious hours of
absence. The room and the house were silent: only now and then the
merriment of the billiard-players was heard from above.

It was verging on duskand the clock had already given warning of
the hour to dress for dinnerwhen little Adelewho knelt by me in
the drawing-room window-seatsuddenly exclaimed


Voile, Monsieur Rochester, qui revient!

I turnedand Miss Ingram darted forwards from her sofa: the
otherstoolooked up from their several occupations; for at the
same time a crunching of wheels and a splashing tramp of horse-hoofs
became audible on the wet gravel. A post-chaise was approaching.

What can possess him to come home in that style?said Miss Ingram.
He rode Mesrour (the black horse), did he not, when he went out?


and Pilot was with him:- what has he done with the animals?

As she said thisshe approached her tall person and ample garments
so near the windowthat I was obliged to bend back almost to the
breaking of my spine: in her eagerness she did not observe me at
firstbut when she didshe curled her lip and moved to another
casement. The post-chaise stopped; the driver rang the door-bell
and a gentleman alighted attired in travelling garb; but it was not
Mr. Rochester; it was a tallfashionable-looking mana stranger.

How provoking!exclaimed Miss Ingram: "you tiresome monkey!"
(apostrophising Adele)who perched you up in the window to give
false intelligence?and she cast on me an angry glanceas if I
were in fault.

Some parleying was audible in the halland soon the new-comer
entered. He bowed to Lady Ingramas deeming her the eldest lady
present.

It appears I come at an inopportune time, madam,said hewhen my
friend, Mr. Rochester, is from home; but I arrive from a very long
journey, and I think I may presume so far on old and intimate
acquaintance as to instal myself here till he returns.

His manner was polite; his accentin speakingstruck me as being
somewhat unusual--not precisely foreignbut still not altogether
English: his age might be about Mr. Rochester's--between thirty
and forty; his complexion was singularly sallow: otherwise he was a
fine-looking manat first sight especially. On closer examination
you detected something in his face that displeasedor rather that
failed to please. His features were regularbut too relaxed: his
eye was large and well cutbut the life looking out of it was a
tamevacant life--at least so I thought.

The sound of the dressing-bell dispersed the party. It was not till
after dinner that I saw him again: he then seemed quite at his
ease. But I liked his physiognomy even less than before: it struck
me as being at the same time unsettled and inanimate. His eye
wanderedand had no meaning in its wandering: this gave him an odd
looksuch as I never remembered to have seen. For a handsome and
not an unamiable-looking manhe repelled me exceedingly: there was
no power in that smooth-skinned face of a full oval shape: no
firmness in that aquiline nose and small cherry mouth; there was no
thought on the loweven forehead; no command in that blankbrown
eye.

As I sat in my usual nookand looked at him with the light of the
girandoles on the mantelpiece beaming full over him--for he occupied
an arm-chair drawn close to the fireand kept shrinking still
neareras if he were coldI compared him with Mr. Rochester. I
think (with deference be it spoken) the contrast could not be much
greater between a sleek gander and a fierce falcon: between a meek
sheep and the rough-coated keen-eyed dogits guardian.

He had spoken of Mr. Rochester as an old friend. A curious
friendship theirs must have been: a pointed illustrationindeed
of the old adage that "extremes meet."

Two or three of the gentlemen sat near himand I caught at times
scraps of their conversation across the room. At first I could not
make much sense of what I heard; for the discourse of Louisa Eshton
and Mary Ingramwho sat nearer to meconfused the fragmentary
sentences that reached me at intervals. These last were discussing
the stranger; they both called him "a beautiful man." Louisa said


he was "a love of a creature and she adored him;" and Mary
instanced his "pretty little mouthand nice nose as her ideal of
the charming.

And what a sweet-tempered forehead he has!" cried Louisa--"so
smooth--none of those frowning irregularities I dislike so much; and
such a placid eye and smile!"

And thento my great reliefMr. Henry Lynn summoned them to the
other side of the roomto settle some point about the deferred
excursion to Hay Common.

I was now able to concentrate my attention on the group by the fire
and I presently gathered that the new-comer was called Mr. Mason;
then I learned that he was but just arrived in Englandand that he
came from some hot country: which was the reasondoubtlesshis
face was so sallowand that he sat so near the hearthand wore a
surtout in the house. Presently the words JamaicaKingston
Spanish Townindicated the West Indies as his residence; and it was
with no little surprise I gatheredere longthat he had there
first seen and become acquainted with Mr. Rochester. He spoke of
his friend's dislike of the burning heatsthe hurricanesand rainy
seasons of that region. I knew Mr. Rochester had been a traveller:
Mrs. Fairfax had said so; but I thought the continent of Europe had
bounded his wanderings; till now I had never heard a hint given of
visits to more distant shores.

I was pondering these thingswhen an incidentand a somewhat
unexpected onebroke the thread of my musings. Mr. Mason
shivering as some one chanced to open the doorasked for more coal
to be put on the firewhich had burnt out its flamethough its
mass of cinder still shone hot and red. The footman who brought the
coalin going outstopped near Mr. Eshton's chairand said
something to him in a low voiceof which I heard only the words
old woman,--"quite troublesome."

Tell her she shall be put in the stocks if she does not take
herself off,replied the magistrate.

No--stop!interrupted Colonel Dent. "Don't send her awayEshton;
we might turn the thing to account; better consult the ladies." And
speaking aloudhe continued--"Ladiesyou talked of going to Hay
Common to visit the gipsy camp; Sam here says that one of the old
Mother Bunches is in the servants' hall at this momentand insists
upon being brought in before 'the quality' to tell them their
fortunes. Would you like to see her?"

Surely, colonel,cried Lady Ingramyou would not encourage such
a low impostor? Dismiss her, by all means, at once!

But I cannot persuade her to go away, my lady,said the footman;
nor can any of the servants: Mrs. Fairfax is with her just now,
entreating her to be gone; but she has taken a chair in the chimneycomer,
and says nothing shall stir her from it till she gets leave
to come in here.

What does she want?asked Mrs. Eshton.

'To tell the gentry their fortunes,' she says, ma'am; and she
swears she must and will do it.

What is she like?inquired the Misses Eshtonin a breath.

A shockingly ugly old creature, miss; almost as black as a crock.


Why, she's a real sorceress!cried Frederick Lynn. "Let us have
her inof course."

To be sure,rejoined his brother; "it would be a thousand pities
to throw away such a chance of fun."

My dear boys, what are you thinking about?exclaimed Mrs. Lynn.

I cannot possibly countenance any such inconsistent proceeding,
chimed in the Dowager Ingram.

Indeed, mama, but you can--and will,pronounced the haughty voice
of Blancheas she turned round on the piano-stool; where till now
she had sat silentapparently examining sundry sheets of music. "I
have a curiosity to hear my fortune told: thereforeSamorder the
beldame forward."

My darling Blanche! recollect--

I do--I recollect all you can suggest; and I must have my will-quick,
Sam!

Yes--yes--yes!cried all the juvenilesboth ladies and gentlemen.
Let her come--it will be excellent sport!

The footman still lingered. "She looks such a rough one said he.

Go!" ejaculated Miss Ingramand the man went.

Excitement instantly seized the whole party: a running fire of
raillery and jests was proceeding when Sam returned.

She won't come now,said he. "She says it's not her mission to
appear before the 'vulgar herd' (them's her words). I must show her
into a room by herselfand then those who wish to consult her must
go to her one by one."

You see now, my queenly Blanche,began Lady Ingramshe
encroaches. Be advised, my angel girl--and--

Show her into the library, of course,cut in the "angel girl."
It is not my mission to listen to her before the vulgar herd
either: I mean to have her all to myself. Is there a fire in the
library?

Yes, ma'am--but she looks such a tinkler.

Cease that chatter, blockhead! and do my bidding.

Again Sam vanished; and mysteryanimationexpectation rose to full
flow once more.

She's ready now,said the footmanas he reappeared. "She wishes
to know who will be her first visitor."

I think I had better just look in upon her before any of the ladies
go,said Colonel Dent.

Tell her, Sam, a gentleman is coming.

Sam went and returned.

She says, sir, that she'll have no gentlemen; they need not trouble


themselves to come near her; nor,he addedwith difficulty
suppressing a titterany ladies either, except the young, and
single.

By Jove, she has taste!exclaimed Henry Lynn.

Miss Ingram rose solemnly: "I go first she said, in a tone which
might have befitted the leader of a forlorn hope, mounting a breach
in the van of his men.

Ohmy best! ohmy dearest! pause--reflect!" was her mama's cry;
but she swept past her in stately silencepassed through the door
which Colonel Dent held openand we heard her enter the library.

A comparative silence ensued. Lady Ingram thought it "le cas" to
wring her hands: which she did accordingly. Miss Mary declared she
feltfor her partshe never dared venture. Amy and Louisa Eshton
tittered under their breathand looked a little frightened.

The minutes passed very slowly: fifteen were counted before the
library-door again opened. Miss Ingram returned to us through the
arch.

Would she laugh? Would she take it as a joke? All eyes met her
with a glance of eager curiosityand she met all eyes with one of
rebuff and coldness; she looked neither flurried nor merry: she
walked stiffly to her seatand took it in silence.

Well, Blanche?said Lord Ingram.

What did she say, sister?asked Mary.

What did you think? How do you feel?--Is she a real fortuneteller?
demanded the Misses Eshton.

Now, now, good people,returned Miss Ingramdon't press upon me.
Really your organs of wonder and credulity are easily excited: you
seem, by the importance of you all--my good mama included--ascribe
to this matter, absolutely to believe we have a genuine witch in the
house, who is in close alliance with the old gentleman. I have seen
a gipsy vagabond; she has practised in hackneyed fashion the science
of palmistry and told me what such people usually tell. My whim is
gratified; and now I think Mr. Eshton will do well to put the hag in
the stocks to-morrow morning, as he threatened.

Miss Ingram took a bookleant back in her chairand so declined
further conversation. I watched her for nearly half-an-hour:
during all that time she never turned a pageand her face grew
momently darkermore dissatisfiedand more sourly expressive of
disappointment. She had obviously not heard anything to her
advantage: and it seemed to mefrom her prolonged fit of gloom and
taciturnitythat she herselfnotwithstanding her professed
indifferenceattached undue importance to whatever revelations had
been made her.

MeantimeMary IngramAmy and Louisa Eshtondeclared they dared
not go alone; and yet they all wished to go. A negotiation was
opened through the medium of the ambassadorSam; and after much
pacing to and frotillI thinkthe said Sam's calves must have
ached with the exercisepermission was at lastwith great
difficultyextorted from the rigorous Sibylfor the three to wait
upon her in a body.

Their visit was not so still as Miss Ingram's had been: we heard


hysterical giggling and little shrieks proceeding from the library;
and at the end of about twenty minutes they burst the door openand
came running across the hallas if they were half-scared out of
their wits.

I am sure she is something not right!they criedone and all.
She told us such things! She knows all about us!and they sank
breathless into the various seats the gentlemen hastened to bring
them.

Pressed for further explanationthey declared she had told them of
things they had said and done when they were mere children;
described books and ornaments they had in their boudoirs at home:
keepsakes that different relations had presented to them. They
affirmed that she had even divined their thoughtsand had whispered
in the ear of each the name of the person she liked best in the
worldand informed them of what they most wished for.

Here the gentlemen interposed with earnest petitions to be further
enlightened on these two last-named points; but they got only
blushesejaculationstremorsand tittersin return for their
importunity. The matronsmeantimeoffered vinaigrettes and
wielded fans; and again and again reiterated the expression of their
concern that their warning had not been taken in time; and the elder
gentlemen laughedand the younger urged their services on the
agitated fair ones.

In the midst of the tumultand while my eyes and ears were fully
engaged in the scene before meI heard a hem close at my elbow: I
turnedand saw Sam.

If you please, miss, the gipsy declares that there is another young
single lady in the room who has not been to her yet, and she swears
she will not go till she has seen all. I thought it must be you:
there is no one else for it. What shall I tell her?

Oh, I will go by all means,I answered: and I was glad of the
unexpected opportunity to gratify my much-excited curiosity. I
slipped out of the roomunobserved by any eye--for the company were
gathered in one mass about the trembling trio just returned--and I
closed the door quietly behind me.

If you like, miss,said SamI'll wait in the hall for you; and
if she frightens you, just call and I'll come in.

No, Sam, return to the kitchen: I am not in the least afraid.
Nor was I; but I was a good deal interested and excited.

CHAPTER XIX

The library looked tranquil enough as I entered itand the Sibyl-if
Sibyl she were--was seated snugly enough in an easy-chair at the
chimney-corner. She had on a red cloak and a black bonnet: or
rathera broad-brimmed gipsy hattied down with a striped
handkerchief under her chin. An extinguished candle stood on the
table; she was bending over the fireand seemed reading in a little
black booklike a prayer-bookby the light of the blaze: she
muttered the words to herselfas most old women dowhile she read;
she did not desist immediately on my entrance: it appeared she
wished to finish a paragraph.


I stood on the rug and warmed my handswhich were rather cold with
sitting at a distance from the drawing-room fire. I felt now as
composed as ever I did in my life: there was nothing indeed in the
gipsy's appearance to trouble one's calm. She shut her book and
slowly looked up; her hat-brim partially shaded her faceyet I
could seeas she raised itthat it was a strange one. It looked
all brown and black: elf-locks bristled out from beneath a white
band which passed under her chinand came half over her cheeksor
rather jaws: her eye confronted me at oncewith a bold and direct
gaze.

Well, and you want your fortune told?she saidin a voice as
decided as her glanceas harsh as her features.

I don't care about it, mother; you may please yourself: but I
ought to warn you, I have no faith.

It's like your impudence to say so: I expected it of you; I heard
it in your step as you crossed the threshold.

Did you? You've a quick ear.

I have; and a quick eye and a quick brain.

You need them all in your trade.

I do; especially when I've customers like you to deal with. Why
don't you tremble?

I'm not cold.

Why don't you turn pale?

I am not sick.

Why don't you consult my art?

I'm not silly.

The old crone "nichered" a laugh under her bonnet and bandage; she
then drew out a short black pipeand lighting it began to smoke.
Having indulged a while in this sedativeshe raised her bent body
took the pipe from her lipsand while gazing steadily at the fire
said very deliberately--"You are cold; you are sick; and you are
silly."

Prove it,I rejoined.

I will, in few words. You are cold, because you are alone: no
contact strikes the fire from you that is in you. You are sick;
because the best of feelings, the highest and the sweetest given to
man, keeps far away from you. You are silly, because, suffer as you
may, you will not beckon it to approach, nor will you stir one step
to meet it where it waits you.

She again put her short black pipe to her lipsand renewed her
smoking with vigour.

You might say all that to almost any one who you knew lived as a
solitary dependent in a great house.

I might say it to almost any one: but would it be true of almost
any one?


In my circumstances.

Yes; just so, in YOUR circumstances: but find me another precisely
placed as you are.

It would be easy to find you thousands.

You could scarcely find me one. If you knew it, you are peculiarly
situated: very near happiness; yes, within reach of it. The
materials are all prepared; there only wants a movement to combine
them. Chance laid them somewhat apart; let them be once approached
and bliss results.

I don't understand enigmas. I never could guess a riddle in my
life.

If you wish me to speak more plainly, show me your palm.

And I must cross it with silver, I suppose?

To be sure.

I gave her a shilling: she put it into an old stocking-foot which
she took out of her pocketand having tied it round and returned
itshe told me to hold out my hand. I did. She ached her face to
the palmand pored over it without touching it.

It is too fine,said she. "I can make nothing of such a hand as
that; almost without lines: besideswhat is in a palm? Destiny is
not written there."

I believe you,said I.

No,she continuedit is in the face: on the forehead, about the
eyes, in the lines of the mouth. Kneel, and lift up your head.

Ah! now you are coming to reality,I saidas I obeyed her. "I
shall begin to put some faith in you presently."

I knelt within half a yard of her. She stirred the fireso that a
ripple of light broke from the disturbed coal: the glarehowever
as she satonly threw her face into deeper shadow: mineit
illumined.

I wonder with what feelings you came to me to-night,she said
when she had examined me a while. "I wonder what thoughts are busy
in your heart during all the hours you sit in yonder room with the
fine people flitting before you like shapes in a magic-lantern:
just as little sympathetic communion passing between you and them as
if they were really mere shadows of human formsand not the actual
substance."

I feel tired often, sleepy sometimes, but seldom sad.

Then you have some secret hope to buoy you up and please you with
whispers of the future?

Not I. The utmost I hope is, to save money enough out of my
earnings to set up a school some day in a little house rented by
myself.

A mean nutriment for the spirit to exist on: and sitting in that
window-seat (you see I know your habits )--


You have learned them from the servants.

Ah! you think yourself sharp. Well, perhaps I have: to speak
truth, I have an acquaintance with one of them, Mrs. Poole--

I started to my feet when I heard the name.

You have--have you?thought I; "there is diablerie in the business
after allthen!"

Don't be alarmed,continued the strange being; "she's a safe hand
is Mrs. Poole: close and quiet; any one may repose confidence in
her. Butas I was saying: sitting in that window-seatdo you
think of nothing but your future school? Have you no present
interest in any of the company who occupy the sofas and chairs
before you? Is there not one face you study? one figure whose
movements you follow with at least curiosity?"

I like to observe all the faces and all the figures.

But do you never single one from the rest--or it may be, two?

I do frequently; when the gestures or looks of a pair seem telling
a tale: it amuses me to watch them.

What tale do you like best to hear?

Oh, I have not much choice! They generally run on the same theme-courtship;
and promise to end in the same catastrophe--marriage.

And do you like that monotonous theme?

Positively, I don't care about it: it is nothing to me.

Nothing to you? When a lady, young and full of life and health,
charming with beauty and endowed with the gifts of rank and fortune,
sits and smiles in the eyes of a gentleman you--

I what?

You know--and perhaps think well of.

I don't know the gentlemen here. I have scarcely interchanged a
syllable with one of them; and as to thinking well of them, I
consider some respectable, and stately, and middle-aged, and others
young, dashing, handsome, and lively: but certainly they are all at
liberty to be the recipients of whose smiles they please, without my
feeling disposed to consider the transaction of any moment to me.

You don't know the gentlemen here? You have not exchanged a
syllable with one of them? Will you say that of the master of the
house!

He is not at home.

A profound remark! A most ingenious quibble! He went to Millcote
this morning, and will be back here to-night or to-morrow: does
that circumstance exclude him from the list of your acquaintance-blot
him, as it were, out of existence?

No; but I can scarcely see what Mr. Rochester has to do with the
theme you had introduced.


I was talking of ladies smiling in the eyes of gentlemen; and of
late so many smiles have been shed into Mr. Rochester's eyes that
they overflow like two cups filled above the brim: have you never
remarked that?

Mr. Rochester has a right to enjoy the society of his guests.

No question about his right: but have you never observed that, of
all the tales told here about matrimony, Mr. Rochester has been
favoured with the most lively and the most continuous?

The eagerness of a listener quickens the tongue of a narrator.I
said this rather to myself than to the gipsywhose strange talk
voicemannerhad by this time wrapped me in a kind of dream. One
unexpected sentence came from her lips after anothertill I got
involved in a web of mystification; and wondered what unseen spirit
had been sitting for weeks by my heart watching its workings and
taking record of every pulse.

Eagerness of a listener!repeated she: "yes; Mr. Rochester has
sat by the hourhis ear inclined to the fascinating lips that took
such delight in their task of communicating; and Mr. Rochester was
so willing to receive and looked so grateful for the pastime given
him; you have noticed this?"

Grateful! I cannot remember detecting gratitude in his face.

Detecting! You have analysed, then. And what did you detect, if
not gratitude?

I said nothing.

You have seen love: have you not?--and, looking forward, you have
seen him married, and beheld his bride happy?

Humph! Not exactly. Your witch's skill is rather at fault
sometimes.

What the devil have you seen, then?

Never mind: I came here to inquire, not to confess. Is it known
that Mr. Rochester is to be married?

Yes; and to the beautiful Miss Ingram.

Shortly?

Appearances would warrant that conclusion: and, no doubt (though,
with an audacity that wants chastising out of you, you seem to
question it), they will be a superlatively happy pair. He must love
such a handsome, noble, witty, accomplished lady; and probably she
loves him, or, if not his person, at least his purse. I know she
considers the Rochester estate eligible to the last degree; though
(God pardon me!) I told her something on that point about an hour
ago which made her look wondrous grave: the corners of her mouth
fell half an inch. I would advise her blackaviced suitor to look
out: if another comes, with a longer or clearer rent-roll,--he's
dished--

But, mother, I did not come to hear Mr. Rochester's fortune: I
came to hear my own; and you have told me nothing of it.

Your fortune is yet doubtful: when I examined your face, one trait
contradicted another. Chance has meted you a measure of happiness:


that I know. I knew it before I came here this evening. She has
laid it carefully on one side for you. I saw her do it. It depends
on yourself to stretch out your hand, and take it up: but whether
you will do so, is the problem I study. Kneel again on the rug.

Don't keep me long; the fire scorches me.

I knelt. She did not stoop towards mebut only gazedleaning back
in her chair. She began muttering


The flame flickers in the eye; the eye shines like dew; it looks
soft and full of feeling; it smiles at my jargon: it is
susceptible; impression follows impression through its clear sphere;
where it ceases to smile, it is sad; an unconscious lassitude weighs
on the lid: that signifies melancholy resulting from loneliness.
It turns from me; it will not suffer further scrutiny; it seems to
deny, by a mocking glance, the truth of the discoveries I have
already made,--to disown the charge both of sensibility and chagrin:
its pride and reserve only confirm me in my opinion. The eye is
favourable.

As to the mouthit delights at times in laughter; it is disposed
to impart all that the brain conceives; though I daresay it would be
silent on much the heart experiences. Mobile and flexibleit was
never intended to be compressed in the eternal silence of solitude:
it is a mouth which should speak much and smile oftenand have
human affection for its interlocutor. That feature too is
propitious.

I see no enemy to a fortunate issue but in the brow; and that brow
professes to say,--'I can live alone, if self-respect, and
circumstances require me so to do. I need not sell my soul to buy
bliss. I have an inward treasure born with me, which can keep me
alive if all extraneous delights should be withheld, or offered only
at a price I cannot afford to give.' The forehead declares, 'Reason
sits firm and holds the reins, and she will not let the feelings
burst away and hurry her to wild chasms. The passions may rage
furiously, like true heathens, as they are; and the desires may
imagine all sorts of vain things: but judgment shall still have the
last word in every argument, and the casting vote in every decision.
Strong wind, earthquake-shock, and fire may pass by: but I shall
follow the guiding of that still small voice which interprets the
dictates of conscience.'

Well saidforehead; your declaration shall be respected. I have
formed my plans--right plans I deem them--and in them I have
attended to the claims of consciencethe counsels of reason. I
know how soon youth would fade and bloom perishifin the cup of
bliss offeredbut one dreg of shameor one flavour of remorse were
detected; and I do not want sacrificesorrowdissolution--such is
not my taste. I wish to fosternot to blight--to earn gratitude
not to wring tears of blood--nonor of brine: my harvest must be
in smilesin endearmentsin sweet-- That will do. I think I rave
in a kind of exquisite delirium. I should wish now to protract this
moment ad infinitum; but I dare not. So far I have governed myself
thoroughly. I have acted as I inwardly swore I would act; but
further might try me beyond my strength. RiseMiss Eyre: leave
me; the play is played out'."

Where was I? Did I wake or sleep? Had I been dreaming? Did I
dream still? The old woman's voice had changed: her accenther
gestureand all were familiar to me as my own face in a glass--as
the speech of my own tongue. I got upbut did not go. I looked; I
stirred the fireand I looked again: but she drew her bonnet and


her bandage closer about her faceand again beckoned me to depart.
The flame illuminated her hand stretched out: roused nowand on
the alert for discoveriesI at once noticed that hand. It was no
more the withered limb of eld than my own; it was a rounded supple
memberwith smooth fingerssymmetrically turned; a broad ring
flashed on the little fingerand stooping forwardI looked at it
and saw a gem I had seen a hundred times before. Again I looked at
the face; which was no longer turned from me--on the contrarythe
bonnet was doffedthe bandage displacedthe head advanced.

Well, Jane, do you know me?asked the familiar voice.

Only take off the red cloak, sir, and then--

But the string is in a knot--help me.

Break it, sir.

There, then--'Off, ye lendings!'And Mr. Rochester stepped out of
his disguise.

Now, sir, what a strange idea!

But well carried out, eh? Don't you think so?

With the ladies you must have managed well.

But not with you?

You did not act the character of a gipsy with me.

What character did I act? My own?

No; some unaccountable one. In short, I believe you have been
trying to draw me out--or in; you have been talking nonsense to make
me talk nonsense. It is scarcely fair, sir.

Do you forgive me, Jane?

I cannot tell till I have thought it all over. If, on reflection,
I find I have fallen into no great absurdity, I shall try to forgive
you; but it was not right.

Oh, you have been very correct--very careful, very sensible.

I reflectedand thoughton the wholeI had. It was a comfort;
butindeedI had been on my guard almost from the beginning of the
interview. Something of masquerade I suspected. I knew gipsies and
fortune-tellers did not express themselves as this seeming old woman
had expressed herself; besides I had noted her feigned voiceher
anxiety to conceal her features. But my mind had been running on
Grace Poole--that living enigmathat mystery of mysteriesas I
considered her. I had never thought of Mr. Rochester.

Well,said hewhat are you musing about? What does that grave
smile signify?

Wonder and self-congratulation, sir. I have your permission to
retire now, I suppose?

No; stay a moment; and tell me what the people in the drawing-room
yonder are doing.

Discussing the gipsy, I daresay.


Sit down!--Let me hear what they said about me.

I had better not stay long, sir; it must be near eleven o'clock.
Oh, are you aware, Mr. Rochester, that a stranger has arrived here
since you left this morning?

A stranger!--no; who can it be? I expected no one; is he gone?

No; he said he had known you long, and that he could take the
liberty of installing himself here till you returned.

The devil he did! Did he give his name?

His name is Mason, sir; and he comes from the West Indies; from
Spanish Town, in Jamaica, I think.

Mr. Rochester was standing near me; he had taken my handas if to
lead me to a chair. As I spoke he gave my wrist a convulsive grip;
the smile on his lips froze: apparently a spasm caught his breath.

Mason!--the West Indies!he saidin the tone one might fancy a
speaking automaton to enounce its single words; "Mason!--the West
Indies!" he reiterated; and he went over the syllables three times
growingin the intervals of speakingwhiter than ashes: he hardly
seemed to know what he was doing.

Do you feel ill, sir?I inquired.

Jane, I've got a blow; I've got a blow, Jane!He staggered.

Oh, lean on me, sir.

Jane, you offered me your shoulder once before; let me have it
now.

Yes, sir, yes; and my arm.

He sat downand made me sit beside him. Holding my hand in both
his ownhe chafed it; gazing on meat the same timewith the most
troubled and dreary look.

My little friend!said heI wish I were in a quiet island with
only you; and trouble, and danger, and hideous recollections removed
from me.

Can I help you, sir?--I'd give my life to serve you.

Jane, if aid is wanted, I'll seek it at your hands; I promise you
that.

Thank you, sir. Tell me what to do,--I'll try, at least, to do
it.

Fetch me now, Jane, a glass of wine from the dining-room: they
will be at supper there; and tell me if Mason is with them, and what
he is doing.

I went. I found all the party in the dining-room at supperas Mr.
Rochester had said; they were not seated at table--the supper was
arranged on the sideboard; each had taken what he choseand they
stood about here and there in groupstheir plates and glasses in
their hands. Every one seemed in high glee; laughter and
conversation were general and animated. Mr. Mason stood near the


firetalking to Colonel and Mrs. Dentand appeared as merry as any
of them. I filled a wine-glass (I saw Miss Ingram watch me
frowningly as I did so: she thought I was taking a libertyI
daresay)and I returned to the library.

Mr. Rochester's extreme pallor had disappearedand he looked once
more firm and stern. He took the glass from my hand.

Here is to your health, ministrant spirit!he said. He swallowed
the contents and returned it to me. "What are they doingJane?"

Laughing and talking, sir.

They don't look grave and mysterious, as if they had heard
something strange?

Not at all: they are full of jests and gaiety.

And Mason?

He was laughing too.

If all these people came in a body and spat at me, what would you
do, Jane?

Turn them out of the room, sir, if I could.

He half smiled. "But if I were to go to themand they only looked
at me coldlyand whispered sneeringly amongst each otherand then
dropped off and left me one by onewhat then? Would you go with
them?"

I rather think not, sir: I should have more pleasure in staying
with you.

To comfort me?

Yes, sir, to comfort you, as well as I could.

And if they laid you under a ban for adhering to me?

I, probably, should know nothing about their ban; and if I did, I
should care nothing about it.

Then, you could dare censure for my sake?

I could dare it for the sake of any friend who deserved my
adherence; as you, I am sure, do.

Go back now into the room; step quietly up to Mason, and whisper in
his ear that Mr. Rochester is come and wishes to see him: show him
in here and then leave me.

Yes, sir.

I did his behest. The company all stared at me as I passed straight
among them. I sought Mr. Masondelivered the messageand preceded
him from the room: I ushered him into the libraryand then I went
upstairs.

At a late hourafter I had been in bed some timeI heard the
visitors repair to their chambers: I distinguished Mr. Rochester's
voiceand heard him sayThis way, Mason; this is your room.


He spoke cheerfully: the gay tones set my heart at ease. I was
soon asleep.

CHAPTER XX

I had forgotten to draw my curtainwhich I usually didand also to
let down my window-blind. The consequence wasthat when the moon
which was full and bright (for the night was fine)came in her
course to that space in the sky opposite my casementand looked in
at me through the unveiled panesher glorious gaze roused me.
Awaking in the dead of nightI opened my eyes on her disk--silverwhite
and crystal clear. It was beautifulbut too solemn; I half
roseand stretched my arm to draw the curtain.

Good God! What a cry!

The night--its silence--its restwas rent in twain by a savagea
sharpa shrilly sound that ran from end to end of Thornfield Hall.

My pulse stopped: my heart stood still; my stretched arm was
paralysed. The cry diedand was not renewed. Indeedwhatever
being uttered that fearful shriek could not soon repeat it: not the
widest-winged condor on the Andes couldtwice in successionsend
out such a yell from the cloud shrouding his eyrie. The thing
delivering such utterance must rest ere it could repeat the effort.

It came out of the third storey; for it passed overhead. And
overhead--yesin the room just above my chamber-ceiling--I now
heard a struggle: a deadly one it seemed from the noise; and a
half-smothered voice shouted


Help! help! help!three times rapidly.

Will no one come?it cried; and thenwhile the staggering and
stamping went on wildlyI distinguished through plank and plaster:


Rochester! Rochester! for God's sake, come!

A chamber-door opened: some one ranor rushedalong the gallery.
Another step stamped on the flooring above and something fell; and
there was silence.

I had put on some clothesthough horror shook all my limbs; I
issued from my apartment. The sleepers were all aroused:
ejaculationsterrified murmurs sounded in every room; door after
door unclosed; one looked out and another looked out; the gallery
filled. Gentlemen and ladies alike had quitted their beds; and "Oh!
what is it?"--"Who is hurt?"--"What has happened?"--"Fetch a
light!"--"Is it fire?"--"Are there robbers?"--"Where shall we run?"
was demanded confusedly on all hands. But for the moonlight they
would have been in complete darkness. They ran to and fro; they
crowded together: some sobbedsome stumbled: the confusion was
inextricable.

Where the devil is Rochester?cried Colonel Dent. "I cannot find
him in his bed."

Here! here!was shouted in return. "Be composedall of you: I'm
coming."


And the door at the end of the gallery openedand Mr. Rochester
advanced with a candle: he had just descended from the upper
storey. One of the ladies ran to him directly; she seized his arm:
it was Miss Ingram.

What awful event has taken place?said she. "Speak! let us know
the worst at once!"

But don't pull me down or strangle me,he replied: for the Misses
Eshton were clinging about him now; and the two dowagersin vast
white wrapperswere bearing down on him like ships in full sail.

All's right!--all's right!he cried. "It's a mere rehearsal of
Much Ado about Nothing. Ladieskeep offor I shall wax
dangerous."

And dangerous he looked: his black eyes darted sparks. Calming
himself by an efforthe added


A servant has had the nightmare; that is all. She's an excitable,
nervous person: she construed her dream into an apparition, or
something of that sort, no doubt; and has taken a fit with fright.
Now, then, I must see you all back into your rooms; for, till the
house is settled, she cannot be looked after. Gentlemen, have the
goodness to set the ladies the example. Miss Ingram, I am sure you
will not fail in evincing superiority to idle terrors. Amy and
Louisa, return to your nests like a pair of doves, as you are.
Mesdames(to the dowagers)you will take cold to a dead
certainty, if you stay in this chill gallery any longer.

And soby dint of alternate coaxing and commandinghe contrived to
get them all once more enclosed in their separate dormitories. I
did not wait to be ordered back to minebut retreated unnoticedas
unnoticed I had left it.

Nothoweverto go to bed: on the contraryI began and dressed
myself carefully. The sounds I had heard after the screamand the
words that had been utteredhad probably been heard only by me; for
they had proceeded from the room above mine: but they assured me
that it was not a servant's dream which had thus struck horror
through the house; and that the explanation Mr. Rochester had given
was merely an invention framed to pacify his guests. I dressed
thento be ready for emergencies. When dressedI sat a long time
by the window looking out over the silent grounds and silvered
fields and waiting for I knew not what. It seemed to me that some
event must follow the strange crystruggleand call.

No: stillness returned: each murmur and movement ceased gradually
and in about an hour Thornfield Hall was again as hushed as a
desert. It seemed that sleep and night had resumed their empire.
Meantime the moon declined: she was about to set. Not liking to
sit in the cold and darknessI thought I would lie down on my bed
dressed as I was. I left the windowand moved with little noise
across the carpet; as I stooped to take off my shoesa cautious
hand tapped low at the door.

Am I wanted?I asked.

Are you up?asked the voice I expected to hearviz.my master's.

Yes, sir.

And dressed?


Yes.

Come out, then, quietly.

I obeyed. Mr. Rochester stood in the gallery holding a light.

I want you,he said: "come this way: take your timeand make no
noise."

My slippers were thin: I could walk the matted floor as softly as a
cat. He glided up the gallery and up the stairsand stopped in the
darklow corridor of the fateful third storey: I had followed and
stood at his side.

Have you a sponge in your room?he asked in a whisper.

Yes, sir.

Have you any salts--volatile salts? Yes.

Go back and fetch both.

I returnedsought the sponge on the washstandthe salts in my
drawerand once more retraced my steps. He still waited; he held a
key in his hand: approaching one of the smallblack doorshe put
it in the lock; he pausedand addressed me again.

You don't turn sick at the sight of blood?

I think I shall not: I have never been tried yet.

I felt a thrill while I answered him; but no coldnessand no
faintness.

Just give me your hand,he said: "it will not do to risk a
fainting fit."

I put my fingers into his. "Warm and steady was his remark: he
turned the key and opened the door.

I saw a room I remembered to have seen before, the day Mrs. Fairfax
showed me over the house: it was hung with tapestry; but the
tapestry was now looped up in one part, and there was a door
apparent, which had then been concealed. This door was open; a
light shone out of the room within: I heard thence a snarling,
snatching sound, almost like a dog quarrelling. Mr. Rochester,
putting down his candle, said to me, Wait a minute and he went
forward to the inner apartment. A shout of laughter greeted his
entrance; noisy at first, and terminating in Grace Poole's own
goblin ha! ha! SHE then was there. He made some sort of
arrangement without speaking, though I heard a low voice address
him: he came out and closed the door behind him.

HereJane!" he said; and I walked round to the other side of a
large bedwhich with its drawn curtains concealed a considerable
portion of the chamber. An easy-chair was near the bed-head: a man
sat in itdressed with the exception of his coat; he was still; his
head leant back; his eyes were closed. Mr. Rochester held the
candle over him; I recognised in his pale and seemingly lifeless
face--the strangerMason: I saw too that his linen on one side
and one armwas almost soaked in blood.

Hold the candle,said Mr. Rochesterand I took it: he fetched a
basin of water from the washstand: "Hold that said he. I obeyed.


He took the sponge, dipped it in, and moistened the corpse-like
face; he asked for my smelling-bottle, and applied it to the
nostrils. Mr. Mason shortly unclosed his eyes; he groaned. Mr.
Rochester opened the shirt of the wounded man, whose arm and
shoulder were bandaged: he sponged away blood, trickling fast down.

Is there immediate danger?" murmured Mr. Mason.

Pooh! No--a mere scratch. Don't be so overcome, man: bear up!
I'll fetch a surgeon for you now, myself: you'll be able to be
removed by morning, I hope. Jane,he continued.

Sir?

I shall have to leave you in this room with this gentleman, for an
hour, or perhaps two hours: you will sponge the blood as I do when
it returns: if he feels faint, you will put the glass of water on
that stand to his lips, and your salts to his nose. You will not
speak to him on any pretext--and--Richard, it will be at the peril
of your life if you speak to her: open your lips--agitate yourself-
and I'll not answer for the consequences.

Again the poor man groaned; he looked as if he dared not move; fear
either of death or of something elseappeared almost to paralyse
him. Mr. Rochester put the now bloody sponge into my handand I
proceeded to use it as he had done. He watched me a secondthen
sayingRemember!--No conversation,he left the room. I
experienced a strange feeling as the key grated in the lockand the
sound of his retreating step ceased to be heard.

Here then I was in the third storeyfastened into one of its mystic
cells; night around me; a pale and bloody spectacle under my eyes
and hands; a murderess hardly separated from me by a single door:
yes--that was appalling--the rest I could bear; but I shuddered at
the thought of Grace Poole bursting out upon me.

I must keep to my posthowever. I must watch this ghastly
countenance--these bluestill lips forbidden to unclose--these eyes
now shutnow openingnow wandering through the roomnow fixing on
meand ever glazed with the dulness of horror. I must dip my hand
again and again in the basin of blood and waterand wipe away the
trickling gore. I must see the light of the unsnuffed candle wane
on my employment; the shadows darken on the wroughtantique
tapestry round meand grow black under the hangings of the vast old
bedand quiver strangely over the doors of a great cabinet
opposite--whose frontdivided into twelve panelsborein grim
designthe heads of the twelve apostleseach enclosed in its
separate panel as in a frame; while above them at the top rose an
ebon crucifix and a dying Christ.

According as the shifting obscurity and flickering gleam hovered
here or glanced thereit was now the bearded physicianLukethat
bent his brow; now St. John's long hair that waved; and anon the
devilish face of Judasthat grew out of the paneland seemed
gathering life and threatening a revelation of the arch-traitor--of
Satan himself--in his subordinate's form.

Amidst all thisI had to listen as well as watch: to listen for
the movements of the wild beast or the fiend in yonder side den.
But since Mr. Rochester's visit it seemed spellbound: all the night
I heard but three sounds at three long intervals--a step creaka
momentary renewal of the snarlingcanine noiseand a deep human
groan.


Then my own thoughts worried me. What crime was this that lived
incarnate in this sequestered mansionand could neither be expelled
nor subdued by the owner?--what mysterythat broke out now in fire
and now in bloodat the deadest hours of night? What creature was
itthatmasked in an ordinary woman's face and shapeuttered the
voicenow of a mocking demonand anon of a carrion-seeking bird of
prey?

And this man I bent over--this commonplacequiet stranger--how had
he become involved in the web of horror? and why had the Fury flown
at him? What made him seek this quarter of the house at an untimely
seasonwhen he should have been asleep in bed? I had heard Mr.
Rochester assign him an apartment below--what brought him here! And
whynowwas he so tame under the violence or treachery done him?
Why did he so quietly submit to the concealment Mr. Rochester
enforced? Why DID Mr. Rochester enforce this concealment? His
guest had been outragedhis own life on a former occasion had been
hideously plotted against; and both attempts he smothered in secrecy
and sank in oblivion! LastlyI saw Mr. Mason was submissive to Mr.
Rochester; that the impetuous will of the latter held complete sway
over the inertness of the former: the few words which had passed
between them assured me of this. It was evident that in their
former intercoursethe passive disposition of the one had been
habitually influenced by the active energy of the other: whence
then had arisen Mr. Rochester's dismay when he heard of Mr. Mason's
arrival? Why had the mere name of this unresisting individual--whom
his word now sufficed to control like a child--fallen on hima few
hours sinceas a thunderbolt might fall on an oak?

Oh! I could not forget his look and his paleness when he whispered:
Jane, I have got a blow--I have got a blow, Jane.I could not
forget how the arm had trembled which he rested on my shoulder: and
it was no light matter which could thus bow the resolute spirit and
thrill the vigorous frame of Fairfax Rochester.

When will he come? When will he come?I cried inwardlyas the
night lingered and lingered--as my bleeding patient droopedmoaned
sickened: and neither day nor aid arrived. I hadagain and again
held the water to Mason's white lips; again and again offered him
the stimulating salts: my efforts seemed ineffectual: either
bodily or mental sufferingor loss of bloodor all three combined
were fast prostrating his strength. He moaned soand looked so
weakwildand lostI feared he was dying; ant I might not even
speak to him.

The candlewasted at lastwent out; as it expiredI perceived
streaks of grey light edging the window curtains: dawn was then
approaching. Presently I heard Pilot bark far belowout of his
distant kennel in the courtyard: hope revived. Nor was it
unwarranted: in five minutes more the grating keythe yielding
lockwarned me my watch was relieved. It could not have lasted
more than two hours: many a week has seemed shorter.

Mr. Rochester enteredand with him the surgeon he had been to
fetch.

Now, Carter, be on the alert,he said to this last: "I give you
but half-an-hour for dressing the woundfastening the bandages
getting the patient downstairs and all."

But is he fit to move, sir?

No doubt of it; it is nothing serious; he is nervous, his spirits
must be kept up. Come, set to work.


Mr. Rochester drew back the thick curtaindrew up the holland
blindlet in all the daylight he could; and I was surprised and
cheered to see how far dawn was advanced: what rosy streaks were
beginning to brighten the east. Then he approached Masonwhom the
surgeon was already handling.

Now, my good fellow, how are you?he asked.

She's done for me, I fear,was the faint reply.

Not a whit!--courage! This day fortnight you'll hardly be a pin
the worse of it: you've lost a little blood; that's all Carter,
assure him there's no danger.

I can do that conscientiously,said Carterwho had now undone the
bandages; "only I wish I could have got here sooner: he would not
have bled so much--but how is this? The flesh on the shoulder is
torn as well as cut. This wound was not done with a knife: there
have been teeth here!"

She bit me,he murmured. "She worried me like a tigresswhen
Rochester got the knife from her."

You should not have yielded: you should have grappled with her at
once,said Mr. Rochester.

But under such circumstances, what could one do?returned Mason.
Oh, it was frightful!he addedshuddering. "And I did not expect
it: she looked so quiet at first."

I warned you,was his friend's answer; "I said--be on your guard
when you go near her. Besidesyou might have waited till tomorrow
and had me with you: it was mere folly to attempt the
interview to-nightand alone."

I thought I could have done some good.

You thought! you thought! Yes, it makes me impatient to hear you:
but, however, you have suffered, and are likely to suffer enough for
not taking my advice; so I'll say no more. Carter--hurry!--hurry!
The sun will soon rise, and I must have him off.

Directly, sir; the shoulder is just bandaged. I must look to this
other wound in the arm: she has had her teeth here too, I think.

She sucked the blood: she said she'd drain my heart,said Mason.

I saw Mr. Rochester shudder: a singularly marked expression of
disgusthorrorhatredwarped his countenance almost to
distortion; but he only said


Come, be silent, Richard, and never mind her gibberish: don't
repeat it.

I wish I could forget it,was the answer.

You will when you are out of the country: when you get back to
Spanish Town, you may think of her as dead and buried--or rather,
you need not think of her at all.

Impossible to forget this night!

It is not impossible: have some energy, man. You thought you were


as dead as a herring two hours since, and you are all alive and
talking now. There!--Carter has done with you or nearly so; I'll
make you decent in a trice. Jane(he turned to me for the first
time since his re-entrance)take this key: go down into my
bedroom, and walk straight forward into my dressing-room: open the
top drawer of the wardrobe and take out a clean shirt and neckhandkerchief:
bring them here; and be nimble.

I went; sought the repository he had mentionedfound the articles
namedand returned with them.

Now,said hego to the other side of the bed while I order his
toilet; but don't leave the room: you may be wanted again.

I retired as directed.

Was anybody stirring below when you went down, Jane?inquired Mr.
Rochester presently.

No, sir; all was very still.

We shall get you off cannily, Dick: and it will be better, both
for your sake, and for that of the poor creature in yonder. I have
striven long to avoid exposure, and I should not like it to come at
last. Here, Carter, help him on with his waist-coat. Where did you
leave your furred cloak? You can't travel a mile without that, I
know, in this damned cold climate. In your room?--Jane, run down to
Mr. Mason's room,--the one next mine,--and fetch a cloak you will
see there.

Again I ranand again returnedbearing an immense mantle lined and
edged with fur.

Now, I've another errand for you,said my untiring master; "you
must away to my room again. What a mercy you are shod with velvet
Jane!--a clod-hopping messenger would never do at this juncture.
You must open the middle drawer of my toilet-table and take out a
little phial and a little glass you will find there--quick!"

I flew thither and backbringing the desired vessels.

That's well! Now, doctor, I shall take the liberty of
administering a dose myself, on my own responsibility. I got this
cordial at Rome, of an Italian charlatan--a fellow you would have
kicked, Carter. It is not a thing to be used indiscriminately, but
it is good upon occasion: as now, for instance. Jane, a little
water.

He held out the tiny glassand I half filled it from the waterbottle
on the washstand.

That will do;--now wet the lip of the phial.

I did so; he measured twelve drops of a crimson liquidand
presented it to Mason.

Drink, Richard: it will give you the heart you lack, for an hour
or so.

But will it hurt me?--is it inflammatory?

Drink! drink! drink!

Mr. Mason obeyedbecause it was evidently useless to resist. He


was dressed now: he still looked palebut he was no longer gory
and sullied. Mr. Rochester let him sit three minutes after he had
swallowed the liquid; he then took his arm


Now I am sure you can get on your feet,he said--"try."

The patient rose.

Carter, take him under the other shoulder. Be of good cheer,
Richard; step out--that's it!

I do feel better,remarked Mr. Mason.

I am sure you do. Now, Jane, trip on before us away to the
backstairs; unbolt the side-passage door, and tell the driver of the
post-chaise you will see in the yard--or just outside, for I told
him not to drive his rattling wheels over the pavement--to be ready;
we are coming: and, Jane, if any one is about, come to the foot of
the stairs and hem.

It was by this time half-past fiveand the sun was on the point of
rising; but I found the kitchen still dark and silent. The sidepassage
door was fastened; I opened it with as little noise as
possible: all the yard was quiet; but the gates stood wide open
and there was a post-chaisewith horses ready harnessedand driver
seated on the boxstationed outside. I approached himand said
the gentlemen were coming; he nodded: then I looked carefully round
and listened. The stillness of early morning slumbered everywhere;
the curtains were yet drawn over the servants' chamber windows;
little birds were just twittering in the blossom-blanched orchard
treeswhose boughs drooped like white garlands over the wall
enclosing one side of the yard; the carriage horses stamped from
time to time in their closed stables: all else was still.

The gentlemen now appeared. Masonsupported by Mr. Rochester and
the surgeonseemed to walk with tolerable ease: they assisted him
into the chaise; Carter followed.

Take care of him,said Mr. Rochester to the latterand keep him
at your house till he is quite well: I shall ride over in a day or
two to see how he gets on. Richard, how is it with you?

The fresh air revives me, Fairfax.

Leave the window open on his side, Carter; there is no wind--goodbye,
Dick.

Fairfax--

Well what is it?

Let her be taken care of; let her be treated as tenderly as may be:
let her--he stopped and burst into tears.

I do my best; and have done it, and will do it,was the answer:
he shut up the chaise doorand the vehicle drove away.

Yet would to God there was an end of all this!added Mr.
Rochesteras he closed and barred the heavy yard-gates.

This donehe moved with slow step and abstracted air towards a door
in the wall bordering the orchard. Isupposing he had done with
meprepared to return to the house; againhoweverI heard him
call "Jane!" He had opened feel portal and stood at itwaiting for


me.

Come where there is some freshness, for a few moments,he said;
that house is a mere dungeon: don't you feel it so?

It seems to me a splendid mansion, sir.

The glamour of inexperience is over your eyes,he answered; "and
you see it through a charmed medium: you cannot discern that the
gilding is slime and the silk draperies cobwebs; that the marble is
sordid slateand the polished woods mere refuse chips and scaly
bark. Now HERE" (he pointed to the leafy enclosure we had entered)
all is real, sweet, and pure.

He strayed down a walk edged with boxwith apple treespear trees
and cherry trees on one sideand a border on the other full of all
sorts of old-fashioned flowersstockssweet-williamsprimroses
pansiesmingled with southernwoodsweet-briarand various
fragrant herbs. They were fresh now as a succession of April
showers and gleamsfollowed by a lovely spring morningcould make
them: the sun was just entering the dappled eastand his light
illumined the wreathed and dewy orchard trees and shone down the
quiet walks under them.

Jane, will you have a flower?

He gathered a half-blown rosethe first on the bushand offered it
to me.

Thank you, sir.

Do you like this sunrise, Jane? That sky with its high and light
clouds which are sure to melt away as the day waxes warm--this
placid and balmly atmosphere?

I do, very much.

You have passed a strange night, Jane.

Yes, sir.

And it has made you look pale--were you afraid when I left you
alone with Mason?

I was afraid of some one coming out of the inner room.

But I had fastened the door--I had the key in my pocket: I should
have been a careless shepherd if I had left a lamb--my pet lamb--so
near a wolf's den, unguarded: you were safe.

Will Grace Poole live here still, sir?

Oh yes! don't trouble your head about her--put the thing out of
your thoughts.

Yet it seems to me your life is hardly secure while she stays.

Never fear--I will take care of myself.

Is the danger you apprehended last night gone by now, sir?

I cannot vouch for that till Mason is out of England: nor even
then. To live, for me, Jane, is to stand on a crater-crust which
may crack and spue fire any day.


But Mr. Mason seems a man easily led. Your influence, sir, is
evidently potent with him: he will never set you at defiance or
wilfully injure you.

Oh, no! Mason will not defy me; nor, knowing it, will he hurt me-but,
unintentionally, he might in a moment, by one careless word,
deprive me, if not of life, yet for ever of happiness.

Tell him to be cautious, sir: let him know what you fear, and show
him how to avert the danger.

He laughed sardonicallyhastily took my handand as hastily threw
it from him.

If I could do that, simpleton, where would the danger be?
Annihilated in a moment. Ever since I have known Mason, I have only
had to say to him 'Do that,' and the thing has been done. But I
cannot give him orders in this case: I cannot say 'Beware of
harming me, Richard;' for it is imperative that I should keep him
ignorant that harm to me is possible. Now you look puzzled; and I
will puzzle you further. You are my little friend, are you not?

I like to serve you, sir, and to obey you in all that is right.

Precisely: I see you do. I see genuine contentment in your gait
and mien, your eye and face, when you are helping me and pleasing
me--working for me, and with me, in, as you characteristically say,
'ALL THAT IS RIGHT:' for if I bid you do what you thought wrong,
there would be no light-footed running, no neat-handed alacrity, no
lively glance and animated complexion. My friend would then turn to
me, quiet and pale, and would say, 'No, sir; that is impossible: I
cannot do it, because it is wrong;' and would become immutable as a
fixed star. Well, you too have power over me, and may injure me:
yet I dare not show you where I am vulnerable, lest, faithful and
friendly as you are, you should transfix me at once.

If you have no more to fear from Mr. Mason than you have from me,
sir, you are very safe.

God grant it may be so! Here, Jane, is an arbour; sit down.

The arbour was an arch in the walllined with ivy; it contained a
rustic seat. Mr. Rochester took itleaving roomhoweverfor me:
but I stood before him.

Sit,he said; "the bench is long enough for two. You don't
hesitate to take a place at my sidedo you? Is that wrongJane?"

I answered him by assuming it: to refuse wouldI felthave been
unwise.

Now, my little friend, while the sun drinks the dew--while all the
flowers in this old garden awake and expand, and the birds fetch
their young ones' breakfast out of the Thornfield, and the early
bees do their first spell of work--I'll put a case to you, which you
must endeavour to suppose your own: but first, look at me, and tell
me you are at ease, and not fearing that I err in detaining you, or
that you err in staying.

No, sir; I am content.

Well then, Jane, call to aid your fancy:- suppose you were no
longer a girl well reared and disciplined, but a wild boy indulged


from childhood upwards; imagine yourself in a remote foreign land;
conceive that you there commit a capital error, no matter of what
nature or from what motives, but one whose consequences must follow
you through life and taint all your existence. Mind, I don't say a
CRIME; I am not speaking of shedding of blood or any other guilty
act, which might make the perpetrator amenable to the law: my word
is ERROR. The results of what you have done become in time to you
utterly insupportable; you take measures to obtain relief: unusual
measures, but neither unlawful nor culpable. Still you are
miserable; for hope has quitted you on the very confines of life:
your sun at noon darkens in an eclipse, which you feel will not
leave it till the time of setting. Bitter and base associations
have become the sole food of your memory: you wander here and
there, seeking rest in exile: happiness in pleasure--I mean in
heartless, sensual pleasure--such as dulls intellect and blights
feeling. Heart-weary and soul-withered, you come home after years
of voluntary banishment: you make a new acquaintance--how or where
no matter: you find in this stranger much of the good and bright
qualities which you have sought for twenty years, and never before
encountered; and they are all fresh, healthy, without soil and
without taint. Such society revives, regenerates: you feel better
days come back--higher wishes, purer feelings; you desire to
recommence your life, and to spend what remains to you of days in a
way more worthy of an immortal being. To attain this end, are you
justified in overleaping an obstacle of custom--a mere conventional
impediment which neither your conscience sanctifies nor your
judgment approves?

He paused for an answer: and what was I to say? Ohfor some good
spirit to suggest a judicious and satisfactory response! Vain
aspiration! The west wind whispered in the ivy round me; but no
gentle Ariel borrowed its breath as a medium of speech: the birds
sang in the tree-tops; but their songhowever sweetwas
inarticulate.

Again Mr. Rochester propounded his query:

Is the wandering and sinful, but now rest-seeking and repentant,
man justified in daring the world's opinion, in order to attach to
him for ever this gentle, gracious, genial stranger, thereby
securing his own peace of mind and regeneration of life?

Sir,I answereda wanderer's repose or a sinner's reformation
should never depend on a fellow-creature. Men and women die;
philosophers falter in wisdom, and Christians in goodness: if any
one you know has suffered and erred, let him look higher than his
equals for strength to amend and solace to heal.

But the instrument--the instrument! God, who does the work,
ordains the instrument. I have myself--I tell it you without
parable--been a worldly, dissipated, restless man; and I believe I
have found the instrument for my cure in--

He paused: the birds went on carollingthe leaves lightly
rustling. I almost wondered they did not check their songs and
whispers to catch the suspended revelation; but they would have had
to wait many minutes--so long was the silence protracted. At last I
looked up at the tardy speaker: he was looking eagerly at me.

Little friend,said hein quite a changed tone--while his face
changed toolosing all its softness and gravityand becoming harsh
and sarcastic--"you have noticed my tender penchant for Miss Ingram:
don't you think if I married her she would regenerate me with a
vengeance?"


He got up instantlywent quite to the other end of the walkand
when he came back he was humming a tune.

Jane, Jane,said hestopping before meyou are quite pale with
your vigils: don't you curse me for disturbing your rest?

Curse you? No, sir.

Shake hands in confirmation of the word. What cold fingers! They
were warmer last night when I touched them at the door of the
mysterious chamber. Jane, when will you watch with me again?

Whenever I can be useful, sir.

For instance, the night before I am married! I am sure I shall not
be able to sleep. Will you promise to sit up with me to bear me
company? To you I can talk of my lovely one: for now you have seen
her and know her.

Yes, sir.

She's a rare one, is she not, Jane?

Yes, sir.

A strapper--a real strapper, Jane: big, brown, and buxom; with
hair just such as the ladies of Carthage must have had. Bless me!
there's Dent and Lynn in the stables! Go in by the shrubbery,
through that wicket.

As I went one wayhe went anotherand I heard him in the yard
saying cheerfully


Mason got the start of you all this morning; he was gone before
sunrise: I rose at four to see him off.

CHAPTER XXI

Presentiments are strange things! and so are sympathies; and so are
signs; and the three combined make one mystery to which humanity has
not yet found the key. I never laughed at presentiments in my life
because I have had strange ones of my own. SympathiesI believe
exist (for instancebetween far-distantlong-absentwholly
estranged relatives assertingnotwithstanding their alienationthe
unity of the source to which each traces his origin) whose workings
baffle mortal comprehension. And signsfor aught we knowmay be
but the sympathies of Nature with man.

When I was a little girlonly six years oldI one night heard
Bessie Leaven say to Martha Abbot that she had been dreaming about a
little child; and that to dream of children was a sure sign of
troubleeither to one's self or one's kin. The saying might have
worn out of my memoryhad not a circumstance immediately followed
which served indelibly to fix it there. The next day Bessie was
sent for home to the deathbed of her little sister.

Of late I had often recalled this saying and this incident; for
during the past week scarcely a night had gone over my couch that
had not brought with it a dream of an infantwhich I sometimes


hushed in my armssometimes dandled on my kneesometimes watched
playing with daisies on a lawnor againdabbling its hands in
running water. It was a wailing child this nightand a laughing
one the next: now it nestled close to meand now it ran from me;
but whatever mood the apparition evincedwhatever aspect it wore
it failed not for seven successive nights to meet me the moment I
entered the land of slumber.

I did not like this iteration of one idea--this strange recurrence
of one imageand I grew nervous as bedtime approached and the hour
of the vision drew near. It was from companionship with this babyphantom
I had been roused on that moonlight night when I heard the
cry; and it was on the afternoon of the day following I was summoned
downstairs by a message that some one wanted me in Mrs. Fairfax's
room. On repairing thitherI found a man waiting for mehaving
the appearance of a gentleman's servant: he was dressed in deep
mourningand the hat he held in his hand was surrounded with a
crape band.

I daresay you hardly remember me, Miss,he saidrising as I
entered; "but my name is Leaven: I lived coachman with Mrs. Reed
when you were at Gatesheadeight or nine years sinceand I live
there still."

Oh, Robert! how do you do? I remember you very well: you used to
give me a ride sometimes on Miss Georgiana's bay pony. And how is
Bessie? You are married to Bessie?

Yes, Miss: my wife is very hearty, thank you; she brought me
another little one about two months since--we have three now--and
both mother and child are thriving.

And are the family well at the house, Robert?

I am sorry I can't give you better news of them, Miss: they are
very badly at present--in great trouble.

I hope no one is dead,I saidglancing at his black dress. He
too looked down at the crape round his hat and replied


Mr. John died yesterday was a week, at his chambers in London.

Mr. John?

Yes.

And how does his mother bear it?

Why, you see, Miss Eyre, it is not a common mishap: his life has
been very wild: these last three years he gave himself up to
strange ways, and his death was shocking.

I heard from Bessie he was not doing well.

Doing well! He could not do worse: he ruined his health and his
estate amongst the worst men and the worst women. He got into debt
and into jail: his mother helped him out twice, but as soon as he
was free he returned to his old companions and habits. His head was
not strong: the knaves he lived amongst fooled him beyond anything
I ever heard. He came down to Gateshead about three weeks ago and
wanted missis to give up all to him. Missis refused: her means
have long been much reduced by his extravagance; so he went back
again, and the next news was that he was dead. How he died, God
knows!--they say he killed himself.


I was silent: the things were frightful. Robert Leaven resumed


Missis had been out of health herself for some time: she had got
very stout, but was not strong with it; and the loss of money and
fear of poverty were quite breaking her down. The information about
Mr. John's death and the manner of it came too suddenly: it brought
on a stroke. She was three days without speaking; but last Tuesday
she seemed rather better: she appeared as if she wanted to say
something, and kept making signs to my wife and mumbling. It was
only yesterday morning, however, that Bessie understood she was
pronouncing your name; and at last she made out the words, 'Bring
Jane--fetch Jane Eyre: I want to speak to her.' Bessie is not sure
whether she is in her right mind, or means anything by the words;
but she told Miss Reed and Miss Georgiana, and advised them to send
for you. The young ladies put it off at first; but their mother
grew so restless, and said, 'Jane, Jane,' so many times, that at
last they consented. I left Gateshead yesterday: and if you can
get ready, Miss, I should like to take you back with me early tomorrow
morning.

Yes, Robert, I shall be ready: it seems to me that I ought to go.

I think so too, Miss. Bessie said she was sure you would not
refuse: but I suppose you will have to ask leave before you can get
off?

Yes; and I will do it now;and having directed him to the
servants' halland recommended him to the care of John's wifeand
the attentions of John himselfI went in search of Mr. Rochester.

He was not in any of the lower rooms; he was not in the yardthe
stablesor the grounds. I asked Mrs. Fairfax if she had seen him;-
yes: she believed he was playing billiards with Miss Ingram. To
the billiard-room I hastened: the click of balls and the hum of
voices resounded thence; Mr. RochesterMiss Ingramthe two Misses
Eshtonand their admirerswere all busied in the game. It
required some courage to disturb so interesting a party; my errand
howeverwas one I could not deferso I approached the master where
he stood at Miss Ingram's side. She turned as I drew nearand
looked at me haughtily: her eyes seemed to demandWhat can the
creeping creature want now?and when I saidin a low voiceMr.
Rochester,she made a movement as if tempted to order me away. I
remember her appearance at the moment--it was very graceful and very
striking: she wore a morning robe of sky-blue crape; a gauzy azure
scarf was twisted in her hair. She had been all animation with the
gameand irritated pride did not lower the expression of her
haughty lineaments.

Does that person want you?she inquired of Mr. Rochester; and Mr.
Rochester turned to see who the "person" was. He made a curious
grimace--one of his strange and equivocal demonstrations--threw down
his cue and followed me from the room.

Well, Jane?he saidas he rested his back against the schoolroom
doorwhich he had shut.

If you please, sir, I want leave of absence for a week or two.

What to do?--where to go?

To see a sick lady who has sent for me.

What sick lady?--where does she live?


At Gateshead; in -shire.


-shire? That is a hundred miles off! Who may she be that sends
for people to see her that distance?
Her name is Reed, sir--Mrs. Reed.


Reed of Gateshead? There was a Reed of Gateshead, a magistrate.
It is his widow, sir.

And what have you to do with her? How do you know her?
Mr. Reed was my uncle--my mother's brother.

The deuce he was! You never told me that before: you always said
you had no relations.

None that would own me, sir. Mr. Reed is dead, and his wife cast
me off.

Why?

Because I was poor, and burdensome, and she disliked me.

But Reed left children?--you must have cousins? Sir George Lynn
was talking of a Reed of Gateshead yesterday, who, he said, was one
of the veriest rascals on town; and Ingram was mentioning a
Georgiana Reed of the same place, who was much admired for her
beauty a season or two ago in London.

John Reed is dead, too, sir: he ruined himself and half-ruined his
family, and is supposed to have committed suicide. The news so
shocked his mother that it brought on an apoplectic attack.

And what good can you do her? Nonsense, Jane! I would never think
of running a hundred miles to see an old lady who will, perhaps, be
dead before you reach her: besides, you say she cast you off.

Yes, sir, but that is long ago; and when her circumstances were
very different: I could not be easy to neglect her wishes now.

How long will you stay?

As short a time as possible, sir.
Promise me only to stay a week--

I had better not pass my word: I might be obliged to break it.

At all events you WILL come back: you will not be induced under
any pretext to take up a permanent residence with her?
Oh, no! I shall certainly return if all be well.


And who goes with you? You don't travel a hundred miles alone.
No, sir, she has sent her coachman.


A person to be trusted?
Yes, sir, he has lived ten years in the family.



Mr. Rochester meditated. "When do you wish to go?"

Early to-morrow morning, sir.

Well, you must have some money; you can't travel without money, and
I daresay you have not much: I have given you no salary yet. How
much have you in the world, Jane?he askedsmiling.

I drew out my purse; a meagre thing it was. "Five shillingssir."
He took the pursepoured the hoard into his palmand chuckled over
it as if its scantiness amused him. Soon he produced his pocket-
book: "Here said he, offering me a note; it was fifty pounds, and
he owed me but fifteen. I told him I had no change.

I don't want change; you know that. Take your wages."

I declined accepting more than was my due. He scowled at first;
thenas if recollecting somethinghe said


Right, right! Better not give you all now: you would, perhaps,
stay away three months if you had fifty pounds. There are ten; is
it not plenty?

Yes, sir, but now you owe me five.

Come back for it, then; I am your banker for forty pounds.

Mr. Rochester, I may as well mention another matter of business to
you while I have the opportunity.

Matter of business? I am curious to hear it.

You have as good as informed me, sir, that you are going shortly to
be married?

Yes; what then?

In that case, sir, Adele ought to go to school: I am sure you will
perceive the necessity of it.

To get her out of my bride's way, who might otherwise walk over her
rather too emphatically? There's sense in the suggestion; not a
doubt of it. Adele, as you say, must go to school; and you, of
course, must march straight to--the devil?

I hope not, sir; but I must seek another situation somewhere.

In course!he exclaimedwith a twang of voice and a distortion of
features equally fantastic and ludicrous. He looked at me some
minutes.

And old Madam Reed, or the Misses, her daughters, will be solicited
by you to seek a place, I suppose?

No, sir; I am not on such terms with my relatives as would justify
me in asking favours of them--but I shall advertise.

You shall walk up the pyramids of Egypt!he growled. "At your
peril you advertise! I wish I had only offered you a sovereign
instead of ten pounds. Give me back nine poundsJane; I've a use
for it."

And so have I, sir,I returnedputting my hands and my purse
behind me. "I could not spare the money on any account."


Little niggard!said herefusing me a pecuniary request! Give
me five pounds, Jane.

Not five shillings, sir; nor five pence.
Just let me look at the cash.


No, sir; you are not to be trusted.
Jane!


Sir?
Promise me one thing.


I'll promise you anything, sir, that I think I am likely to
perform.

Not to advertise: and to trust this quest of a situation to me.
I'll find you one in time.

I shall be glad so to do, sir, if you, in your turn, will promise
that I and Adele shall be both safe out of the house before your
bride enters it.

Very well! very well! I'll pledge my word on it. You go tomorrow,
then?

Yes, sir; early.
Shall you come down to the drawing-room after dinner?


No, sir, I must prepare for the journey.
Then you and I must bid good-bye for a little while?


I suppose so, sir.


And how do people perform that ceremony of parting, Jane? Teach
me; I'm not quite up to it.
They say, Farewell, or any other form they prefer.


Then say it.
Farewell, Mr. Rochester, for the present.


What must I say?
The same, if you like, sir.


Farewell, Miss Eyre, for the present; is that all?
Yes?


It seems stingy, to my notions, and dry, and unfriendly. I should
like something else: a little addition to the rite. If one shook
hands, for instance; but no--that would not content me either. So
you'll do no more than say Farewell, Jane?

It is enough, sir: as much good-will may be conveyed in one hearty
word as in many.


Very likely; but it is blank and cool--'Farewell.'

How long is he going to stand with his back against that door?I
asked myself; "I want to commence my packing." The dinner-bell
rangand suddenly away he boltedwithout another syllable: I saw
him no more during the dayand was off before he had risen in the
morning.

I reached the lodge at Gateshead about five o'clock in the afternoon
of the first of May: I stepped in there before going up to the
hall. It was very clean and neat: the ornamental windows were hung
with little white curtains; the floor was spotless; the grate and
fire-irons were burnished brightand the fire burnt clear. Bessie
sat on the hearthnursing her last-bornand Robert and his sister
played quietly in a corner.

Bless you!--I knew you would come!exclaimed Mrs. Leavenas I
entered.

Yes, Bessie,said Iafter I had kissed her; "and I trust I am not
too late. How is Mrs. Reed?--Alive stillI hope."

Yes, she is alive; and more sensible and collected than she was.
The doctor says she may linger a week or two yet; but he hardly
thinks she will finally recover.

Has she mentioned me lately?

She was talking of you only this morning, and wishing you would
come, but she is sleeping now, or was ten minutes ago, when I was up
at the house. She generally lies in a kind of lethargy all the
afternoon, and wakes up about six or seven. Will you rest yourself
here an hour, Miss, and then I will go up with you?

Robert here enteredand Bessie laid her sleeping child in the
cradle and went to welcome him: afterwards she insisted on my
taking off my bonnet and having some tea; for she said I looked pale
and tired. I was glad to accept her hospitality; and I submitted to
be relieved of my travelling garb just as passively as I used to let
her undress me when a child.

Old times crowded fast back on me as I watched her bustling about-setting
out the tea-tray with her best chinacutting bread and
buttertoasting a tea-cakeandbetween whilesgiving little
Robert or Jane an occasional tap or pushjust as she used to give
me in former days. Bessie had retained her quick temper as well as
her light foot and good looks.

Tea readyI was going to approach the table; but she desired me to
sit stillquite in her old peremptory tones. I must be served at
the firesideshe said; and she placed before me a little round
stand with my cup and a plate of toastabsolutely as she used to
accommodate me with some privately purloined dainty on a nursery
chair: and I smiled and obeyed her as in bygone days.

She wanted to know if I was happy at Thornfield Halland what sort
of a person the mistress was; and when I told her there was only a
masterwhether he was a nice gentlemanand if I liked him. I told
her he rather an ugly manbut quite a gentleman; and that he
treated me kindlyand I was content. Then I went on to describe to
her the gay company that had lately been staying at the house; and
to these details Bessie listened with interest: they were precisely
of the kind she relished.


In such conversation an hour was soon gone: Bessie restored to me
my bonnet&c.andaccompanied by herI quitted the lodge for the
hall. It was also accompanied by her that I hadnearly nine years
agowalked down the path I was now ascending. On a darkmisty
raw morning in JanuaryI had left a hostile roof with a desperate
and embittered heart--a sense of outlawry and almost of reprobation-
to seek the chilly harbourage of Lowood: that bourne so far away
and unexplored. The same hostile roof now again rose before me: my
prospects were doubtful yet; and I had yet an aching heart. I still
felt as a wanderer on the face of the earth; but I experienced
firmer trust in myself and my own powersand less withering dread
of oppression. The gaping wound of my wrongstoowas now quite
healed; and the flame of resentment extinguished.

You shall go into the breakfast-room first,said Bessieas she
preceded me through the hall; "the young ladies will be there."

In another moment I was within that apartment. There was every
article of furniture looking just as it did on the morning I was
first introduced to Mr. Brocklehurst: the very rug he had stood
upon still covered the hearth. Glancing at the bookcasesI thought
I could distinguish the two volumes of Bewick's British Birds
occupying their old place on the third shelfand Gulliver's Travels
and the Arabian Nights ranged just above. The inanimate objects
were not changed; but the living things had altered past
recognition.

Two young ladies appeared before me; one very tallalmost as tall
as Miss Ingram--very thin toowith a sallow face and severe mien.
There was something ascetic in her lookwhich was augmented by the
extreme plainness of a straight-skirtedblackstuff dressa
starched linen collarhair combed away from the templesand the
nun-like ornament of a string of ebony beads and a crucifix. This I
felt sure was Elizathough I could trace little resemblance to her
former self in that elongated and colourless visage.

The other was as certainly Georgiana: but not the Georgiana I
remembered--the slim and fairy-like girl of eleven. This was a
full-blownvery plump damselfair as waxworkwith handsome and
regular featureslanguishing blue eyesand ringleted yellow hair.
The hue of her dress was black too; but its fashion was so different
from her sister's--so much more flowing and becoming--it looked as
stylish as the other's looked puritanical.

In each of the sisters there was one trait of the mother--and only
one; the thin and pallid elder daughter had her parent's Cairngorm
eye: the blooming and luxuriant younger girl had her contour of jaw
and chin--perhaps a little softenedbut still imparting an
indescribable hardness to the countenance otherwise so voluptuous
and buxom.

Both ladiesas I advancedrose to welcome meand both addressed
me by the name of "Miss Eyre." Eliza's greeting was delivered in a
shortabrupt voicewithout a smile; and then she sat down again
fixed her eyes on the fireand seemed to forget me. Georgiana
added to her "How d'ye do?" several commonplaces about my journey
the weatherand so onuttered in rather a drawling tone: and
accompanied by sundry side-glances that measured me from head to
foot--now traversing the folds of my drab merino pelisseand now
lingering on the plain trimming of my cottage bonnet. Young ladies
have a remarkable way of letting you know that they think you a
quizwithout actually saying the words. A certain
superciliousness of lookcoolness of mannernonchalance of tone
express fully their sentiments on the pointwithout committing them


by any positive rudeness in word or deed.

A sneerhoweverwhether covert or openhad now no longer that
power over me it once possessed: as I sat between my cousinsI was
surprised to find how easy I felt under the total neglect of the one
and the semi-sarcastic attentions of the other--Eliza did not
mortifynor Georgiana ruffle me. The fact wasI had other things
to think about; within the last few months feelings had been stirred
in me so much more potent than any they could raise--pains and
pleasures so much more acute and exquisite had been excited than any
it was in their power to inflict or bestow--that their airs gave me
no concern either for good or bad.

How is Mrs. Reed?I asked soonlooking calmly at Georgianawho
thought fit to bridle at the direct addressas if it were an
unexpected liberty.

Mrs. Reed? Ah! mama, you mean; she is extremely poorly: I doubt
if you can see her to-night.

If,said Iyou would just step upstairs and tell her I am come,
I should be much obliged to you.

Georgiana almost startedand she opened her blue eyes wild and
wide. "I know she had a particular wish to see me I added, and I
would not defer attending to her desire longer than is absolutely
necessary."

Mama dislikes being disturbed in an evening,remarked Eliza. I
soon rosequietly took off my bonnet and glovesuninvitedand
said I would just step out to Bessie--who wasI dared sayin the
kitchen--and ask her to ascertain whether Mrs. Reed was disposed to
receive me or not to-night. I wentand having found Bessie and
despatched her on my errandI proceeded to take further measures.
It had heretofore been my habit always to shrink from arrogance:
received as I had been to-dayI shoulda year agohave resolved
to quit Gateshead the very next morning; nowit was disclosed to me
all at once that that would be a foolish plan. I had taken a
journey of a hundred miles to see my auntand I must stay with her
till she was better--or dead: as to her daughters' pride or folly
I must put it on one sidemake myself independent of it. So I
addressed the housekeeper; asked her to show me a roomtold her I
should probably be a visitor here for a week or twohad my trunk
conveyed to my chamberand followed it thither myself: I met
Bessie on the landing.

Missis is awake,said she; "I have told her you are here: come
and let us see if she will know you."

I did not need to be guided to the well-known roomto which I had
so often been summoned for chastisement or reprimand in former days.
I hastened before Bessie; I softly opened the door: a shaded light
stood on the tablefor it was now getting dark. There was the
great four-post bed with amber hangings as of old; there the toilettable
the armchairand the footstoolat which I had a hundred
times been sentenced to kneelto ask pardon for offences by me
uncommitted. I looked into a certain corner nearhalf-expecting to
see the slim outline of a once dreaded switch which used to lurk
therewaiting to leap out imp-like and lace my quivering palm or
shrinking neck. I approached the bed; I opened the curtains and
leant over the high-piled pillows.

Well did I remember Mrs. Reed's faceand I eagerly sought the
familiar image. It is a happy thing that time quells the longings


of vengeance and hushes the promptings of rage and aversion. I had
left this woman in bitterness and hateand I came back to her now
with no other emotion than a sort of ruth for her great sufferings
and a strong yearning to forget and forgive all injuries--to be
reconciled and clasp hands in amity.

The well-known face was there: sternrelentless as ever--there was
that peculiar eye which nothing could meltand the somewhat raised
imperiousdespotic eyebrow. How often had it lowered on me menace
and hate! and how the recollection of childhood's terrors and
sorrows revived as I traced its harsh line now! And yet I stooped
down and kissed her: she looked at me.

Is this Jane Eyre?she said.

Yes, Aunt Reed. How are you, dear aunt?

I had once vowed that I would never call her aunt again: I thought
it no sin to forget and break that vow now. My fingers had fastened
on her hand which lay outside the sheet: had she pressed mine
kindlyI should at that moment have experienced true pleasure. But
unimpressionable natures are not so soon softenednor are natural
antipathies so readily eradicated. Mrs. Reed took her hand away
andturning her face rather from meshe remarked that the night
was warm. Again she regarded me so icilyI felt at once that her
opinion of me--her feeling towards me--was unchanged and
unchangeable. I knew by her stony eye--opaque to tenderness
indissoluble to tears--that she was resolved to consider me bad to
the last; because to believe me good would give her no generous
pleasure: only a sense of mortification.

I felt painand then I felt ire; and then I felt a determination to
subdue her--to be her mistress in spite both of her nature and her
will. My tears had risenjust as in childhood: I ordered them
back to their source. I brought a chair to the bed-head: I sat
down and leaned over the pillow.

You sent for me,I saidand I am here; and it is my intention to
stay till I see how you get on.

Oh, of course! You have seen my daughters?

Yes.

Well, you may tell them I wish you to stay till I can talk some
things over with you I have on my mind: to-night it is too late,
and I have a difficulty in recalling them. But there was something
I wished to say--let me see--

The wandering look and changed utterance told what wreck had taken
place in her once vigorous frame. Turning restlesslyshe drew the
bedclothes round her; my elbowresting on a corner of the quilt
fixed it down: she was at once irritated.

Sit up!said she; "don't annoy me with holding the clothes fast.
Are you Jane Eyre?"

I am Jane Eyre.

I have had more trouble with that child than any one would believe.
Such a burden to be left on my hands--and so much annoyance as she
caused me, daily and hourly, with her incomprehensible disposition,
and her sudden starts of temper, and her continual, unnatural
watchings of one's movements! I declare she talked to me once like


something mad, or like a fiend--no child ever spoke or looked as she
did; I was glad to get her away from the house. What did they do
with her at Lowood? The fever broke out there, and many of the
pupils died. She, however, did not die: but I said she did--I wish
she had died!

A strange wish, Mrs. Reed; why do you hate her so?

I had a dislike to her mother always; for she was my husband's only
sister, and a great favourite with him: he opposed the family's
disowning her when she made her low marriage; and when news came of
her death, he wept like a simpleton. He would send for the baby;
though I entreated him rather to put it out to nurse and pay for its
maintenance. I hated it the first time I set my eyes on it--a
sickly, whining, pining thing! It would wail in its cradle all
night long--not screaming heartily like any other child, but
whimpering and moaning. Reed pitied it; and he used to nurse it and
notice it as if it had been his own: more, indeed, than he ever
noticed his own at that age. He would try to make my children
friendly to the little beggar: the darlings could not bear it, and
he was angry with them when they showed their dislike. In his last
illness, he had it brought continually to his bedside; and but an
hour before he died, he bound me by vow to keep the creature. I
would as soon have been charged with a pauper brat out of a
workhouse: but he was weak, naturally weak. John does not at all
resemble his father, and I am glad of it: John is like me and like
my brothers--he is quite a Gibson. Oh, I wish he would cease
tormenting me with letters for money? I have no more money to give
him: we are getting poor. I must send away half the servants and
shut up part of the house; or let it off. I can never submit to do
that--yet how are we to get on? Two-thirds of my income goes in
paying the interest of mortgages. John gambles dreadfully, and
always loses--poor boy! He is beset by sharpers: John is sunk and
degraded--his look is frightful--I feel ashamed for him when I see
him.

She was getting much excited. "I think I had better leave her now
said I to Bessie, who stood on the other side of the bed.

Perhaps you hadMiss: but she often talks in this way towards
night--in the morning she is calmer."

I rose. "Stop!" exclaimed Mrs. Reedthere is another thing I
wished to say. He threatens me--he continually threatens me with
his own death, or mine: and I dream sometimes that I see him laid
out with a great wound in his throat, or with a swollen and
blackened face. I am come to a strange pass: I have heavy
troubles. What is to be done? How is the money to be had?

Bessie now endeavoured to persuade her to take a sedative draught:
she succeeded with difficulty. Soon afterMrs. Reed grew more
composedand sank into a dozing state. I then left her.

More than ten days elapsed before I had again any conversation with
her. She continued either delirious or lethargic; and the doctor
forbade everything which could painfully excite her. MeantimeI
got on as well as I could with Georgiana and Eliza. They were very
coldindeedat first. Eliza would sit half the day sewing
readingor writingand scarcely utter a word either to me or her
sister. Georgiana would chatter nonsense to her canary bird by the
hourand take no notice of me. But I was determined not to seem at
a loss for occupation or amusement: I had brought my drawing
materials with meand they served me for both.


Provided with a case of pencilsand some sheets of paperI used to
take a seat apart from themnear the windowand busy myself in
sketching fancy vignettesrepresenting any scene that happened
momentarily to shape itself in the ever-shifting kaleidoscope of
imagination: a glimpse of sea between two rocks; the rising moon
and a ship crossing its disk; a group of reeds and water-flagsand
a naiad's headcrowned with lotus-flowersrising out of them; an
elf sitting in a hedge-sparrow's nestunder a wreath of hawthornbloom


One morning I fell to sketching a face: what sort of a face it was
to beI did not care or know. I took a soft black pencilgave it
a broad pointand worked away. Soon I had traced on the paper a
broad and prominent forehead and a square lower outline of visage:
that contour gave me pleasure; my fingers proceeded actively to fill
it with features. Strongly-marked horizontal eyebrows must be
traced under that brow; then followednaturallya well-defined
nosewith a straight ridge and full nostrils; then a flexiblelooking
mouthby no means narrow; then a firm chinwith a decided
cleft down the middle of it: of coursesome black whiskers were
wantedand some jetty hairtufted on the templesand waved above
the forehead. Now for the eyes: I had left them to the last
because they required the most careful working. I drew them large;
I shaped them well: the eyelashes I traced long and sombre; the
irids lustrous and large. "Good! but not quite the thing I
thought, as I surveyed the effect: they want more force and
spirit;" and I wrought the shades blackerthat the lights might
flash more brilliantly--a happy touch or two secured success.
ThereI had a friend's face under my gaze; and what did it signify
that those young ladies turned their backs on me? I looked at it; I
smiled at the speaking likeness: I was absorbed and content.

Is that a portrait of some one you know?asked Elizawho had
approached me unnoticed. I responded that it was merely a fancy
headand hurried it beneath the other sheets. Of courseI lied:
it wasin facta very faithful representation of Mr. Rochester.
But what was that to heror to any one but myself? Georgiana also
advanced to look. The other drawings pleased her muchbut she
called that "an ugly man." They both seemed surprised at my skill.
I offered to sketch their portraits; and eachin turnsat for a
pencil outline. Then Georgiana produced her album. I promised to
contribute a water-colour drawing: this put her at once into good
humour. She proposed a walk in the grounds. Before we had been out
two hourswe were deep in a confidential conversation: she had
favoured me with a description of the brilliant winter she had spent
in London two seasons ago--of the admiration she had there excited-the
attention she had received; and I even got hints of the titled
conquest she had made. In the course of the afternoon and evening
these hints were enlarged on: various soft conversations were
reportedand sentimental scenes represented; andin shorta
volume of a novel of fashionable life was that day improvised by her
for my benefit. The communications were renewed from day to day:
they always ran on the same theme--herselfher lovesand woes. It
was strange she never once adverted either to her mother's illness
or her brother's deathor the present gloomy state of the family
prospects. Her mind seemed wholly taken up with reminiscences of
past gaietyand aspirations after dissipations to come. She passed
about five minutes each day in her mother's sick-roomand no more.

Eliza still spoke little: she had evidently no time to talk. I
never saw a busier person than she seemed to be; yet it was
difficult to say what she did: or ratherto discover any result of
her diligence. She had an alarm to call her up early. I know not
how she occupied herself before breakfastbut after that meal she


divided her time into regular portionsand each hour had its
allotted task. Three times a day she studied a little bookwhich I
foundon inspectionwas a Common Prayer Book. I asked her once
what was the great attraction of that volumeand she saidthe
Rubric.Three hours she gave to stitchingwith gold threadthe
border of a square crimson clothalmost large enough for a carpet.
In answer to my inquiries after the use of this articleshe
informed me it was a covering for the altar of a new church lately
erected near Gateshead. Two hours she devoted to her diary; two to
working by herself in the kitchen-garden; and one to the regulation
of her accounts. She seemed to want no company; no conversation. I
believe she was happy in her way: this routine sufficed for her;
and nothing annoyed her so much as the occurrence of any incident
which forced her to vary its clockwork regularity.

She told me one eveningwhen more disposed to be communicative than
usualthat John's conductand the threatened ruin of the family
had been a source of profound affliction to her: but she had now
she saidsettled her mindand formed her resolution. Her own
fortune she had taken care to secure; and when her mother died--and
it was wholly improbableshe tranquilly remarkedthat she should
either recover or linger long--she would execute a long-cherished
project: seek a retirement where punctual habits would be
permanently secured from disturbanceand place safe barriers
between herself and a frivolous world. I asked if Georgiana would
accompany her.

Of course not. Georgiana and she had nothing in common: they
never had had. She would not be burdened with her society for any
consideration. Georgiana should take her own course; and she,
Eliza, would take hers.

Georgianawhen not unburdening her heart to mespent most of her
time in lying on the sofafretting about the dulness of the house
and wishing over and over again that her aunt Gibson would send her
an invitation up to town. "It would be so much better she said,
if she could only get out of the way for a month or twotill all
was over." I did not ask what she meant by "all being over but I
suppose she referred to the expected decease of her mother and the
gloomy sequel of funeral rites. Eliza generally took no more notice
of her sister's indolence and complaints than if no such murmuring,
lounging object had been before her. One day, however, as she put
away her account-book and unfolded her embroidery, she suddenly took
her up thus


Georgianaa more vain and absurd animal than you was certainly
never allowed to cumber the earth. You had no right to be bornfor
you make no use of life. Instead of living forinand with
yourselfas a reasonable being oughtyou seek only to fasten your
feebleness on some other person's strength: if no one can be found
willing to burden her or himself with such a fatweakpuffy
useless thingyou cry out that you are ill-treatedneglected
miserable. Thentooexistence for you must be a scene of
continual change and excitementor else the world is a dungeon:
you must be admiredyou must be courtedyou must be flattered--you
must have musicdancingand society--or you languishyou die
away. Have you no sense to devise a system which will make you
independent of all effortsand all willsbut your own? Take one
day; share it into sections; to each section apportion its task:
leave no stray unemployed quarters of an hourten minutesfive
minutes--include all; do each piece of business in its turn with
methodwith rigid regularity. The day will close almost before you
are aware it has begun; and you are indebted to no one for helping
you to get rid of one vacant moment: you have had to seek no one's


companyconversationsympathyforbearance; you have livedin
shortas an independent being ought to do. Take this advice: the
first and last I shall offer you; then you will not want me or any
one elsehappen what may. Neglect it--go on as heretofore
cravingwhiningand idling--and suffer the results of your idiocy
however bad and insuperable they may be. I tell you this plainly;
and listen: for though I shall no more repeat what I am now about
to sayI shall steadily act on it. After my mother's deathI wash
my hands of you: from the day her coffin is carried to the vault in
Gateshead Churchyou and I will be as separate as if we had never
known each other. You need not think that because we chanced to be
born of the same parentsI shall suffer you to fasten me down by
even the feeblest claim: I can tell you this--if the whole human
raceourselves exceptedwere swept awayand we two stood alone on
the earthI would leave you in the old worldand betake myself to
the new."

She closed her lips.

You might have spared yourself the trouble of delivering that
tirade,answered Georgiana. "Everybody knows you are the most
selfishheartless creature in existence: and I know your spiteful
hatred towards me: I have had a specimen of it before in the trick
you played me about Lord Edwin Vere: you could not bear me to be
raised above youto have a titleto be received into circles where
you dare not show your faceand so you acted the spy and informer
and ruined my prospects for ever." Georgiana took out her
handkerchief and blew her nose for an hour afterwards; Eliza sat
coldimpassableand assiduously industrious.

Truegenerous feeling is made small account of by somebut here
were two natures renderedthe one intolerably acridthe other
despicably savourless for the want of it. Feeling without judgment
is a washy draught indeed; but judgment untempered by feeling is too
bitter and husky a morsel for human deglutition.

It was a wet and windy afternoon: Georgiana had fallen asleep on
the sofa over the perusal of a novel; Eliza was gone to attend a
saint's-day service at the new church--for in matters of religion
she was a rigid formalist: no weather ever prevented the punctual
discharge of what she considered her devotional duties; fair or
foulshe went to church thrice every Sundayand as often on weekdays
as there were prayers.

I bethought myself to go upstairs and see how the dying woman sped
who lay there almost unheeded: the very servants paid her but a
remittent attention: the hired nursebeing little looked after
would slip out of the room whenever she could. Bessie was faithful;
but she had her own family to mindand could only come occasionally
to the hall. I found the sick-room unwatchedas I had expected:
no nurse was there; the patient lay stilland seemingly lethargic;
her livid face sunk in the pillows: the fire was dying in the
grate. I renewed the fuelre-arranged the bedclothesgazed awhile
on her who could not now gaze on meand then I moved away to the
window.

The rain beat strongly against the panesthe wind blew
tempestuously: "One lies there I thought, who will soon be
beyond the war of earthly elements. Whither will that spirit--now
struggling to quit its material tenement--flit when at length
released?"

In pondering the great mysteryI thought of Helen Burnsrecalled
her dying words--her faith--her doctrine of the equality of


disembodied souls. I was still listening in thought to her wellremembered
tones--still picturing her pale and spiritual aspecther
wasted face and sublime gazeas she lay on her placid deathbedand
whispered her longing to be restored to her divine Father's bosom-when
a feeble voice murmured from the couch behind: "Who is that?"

I knew Mrs. Reed had not spoken for days: was she reviving? I went
up to her.

It is I, Aunt Reed.

Who--I?was her answer. "Who are you?" looking at me with
surprise and a sort of alarmbut still not wildly. "You are quite
a stranger to me--where is Bessie?"

She is at the lodge, aunt.

Aunt,she repeated. "Who calls me aunt? You are not one of the
Gibsons; and yet I know you--that faceand the eyes and forehead
are quiet familiar to me: you are like--whyyou are like Jane
Eyre!"

I said nothing: I was afraid of occasioning some shock by declaring
my identity.

Yet,said sheI am afraid it is a mistake: my thoughts deceive
me. I wished to see Jane Eyre, and I fancy a likeness where none
exists: besides, in eight years she must be so changed.I now
gently assured her that I was the person she supposed and desired me
to be: and seeing that I was understoodand that her senses were
quite collectedI explained how Bessie had sent her husband to
fetch me from Thornfield.

I am very ill, I know,she said ere long. "I was trying to turn
myself a few minutes sinceand find I cannot move a limb. It is as
well I should ease my mind before I die: what we think little of in
healthburdens us at such an hour as the present is to me. Is the
nurse here? or is there no one in the room but you?"

I assured her we were alone.

Well, I have twice done you a wrong which I regret now. One was in
breaking the promise which I gave my husband to bring you up as my
own child; the other--she stopped. "After allit is of no great
importanceperhaps she murmured to herself: and then I may get
better; and to humble myself so to her is painful."

She made an effort to alter her positionbut failed: her face
changed; she seemed to experience some inward sensation--the
precursorperhapsof the last pang.

Well, I must get it over. Eternity is before me: I had better
tell her.--Go to my dressing-case, open it, and take out a letter
you will see there.

I obeyed her directions. "Read the letter she said.

It was short, and thus conceived:


Madam--Will you have the goodness to send me the address of my
nieceJane Eyreand to tell me how she is? It is my intention to
write shortly and desire her to come to me at Madeira. Providence
has blessed my endeavours to secure a competency; and as I am


unmarried and childlessI wish to adopt her during my lifeand
bequeath her at my death whatever I may have to leave.--I amMadam
&c.&c.

JOHN EYRE, Madeira.

It was dated three years back.

Why did I never hear of this?I asked.

Because I disliked you too fixedly and thoroughly ever to lend a
hand in lifting you to prosperity. I could not forget your conduct
to me, Jane--the fury with which you once turned on me; the tone in
which you declared you abhorred me the worst of anybody in the
world; the unchildlike look and voice with which you affirmed that
the very thought of me made you sick, and asserted that I had
treated you with miserable cruelty. I could not forget my own
sensations when you thus started up and poured out the venom of your
mind: I felt fear as if an animal that I had struck or pushed had
looked up at me with human eyes and cursed me in a man's voice.--
Bring me some water! Oh, make haste!

Dear Mrs. Reed,said Ias I offered her the draught she required
think no more of all this, let it pass away from your mind.
Forgive me for my passionate language: I was a child then; eight,
nine years have passed since that day.

She heeded nothing of what I said; but when she had tasted the water
and drawn breathshe went on thus


I tell you I could not forget it; and I took my revenge: for you
to be adopted by your uncle, and placed in a state of ease and
comfort, was what I could not endure. I wrote to him; I said I was
sorry for his disappointment, but Jane Eyre was dead: she had died
of typhus fever at Lowood. Now act as you please: write and
contradict my assertion--expose my falsehood as soon as you like.
You were born, I think, to be my torment: my last hour is racked by
the recollection of a deed which, but for you, I should never have
been tempted to commit.

If you could but be persuaded to think no more of it, aunt, and to
regard me with kindness and forgiveness

You have a very bad disposition,said sheand one to this day I
feel it impossible to understand: how for nine years you could be
patient and quiescent under any treatment, and in the tenth break
out all fire and violence, I can never comprehend.

My disposition is not so bad as you think: I am passionate, but
not vindictive. Many a time, as a little child, I should have been
glad to love you if you would have let me; and I long earnestly to
be reconciled to you now: kiss me, aunt.

I approached my cheek to her lips: she would not touch it. She
said I oppressed her by leaning over the bedand again demanded
water. As I laid her down--for I raised her and supported her on my
arm while she drank--I covered her ice-cold and clammy hand with
mine: the feeble fingers shrank from my touch--the glazing eyes
shunned my gaze.

Love me, then, or hate me, as you will,I said at lastyou have
my full and free forgiveness: ask now for God's, and be at peace.


Poorsuffering woman! it was too late for her to make now the
effort to change her habitual frame of mind: livingshe had ever
hated me--dyingshe must hate me still.

The nurse now enteredand Bessie followed. I yet lingered half-anhour
longerhoping to see some sign of amity: but she gave none.
She was fast relapsing into stupor; nor did her mind again rally:
at twelve o'clock that night she died. I was not present to close
her eyesnor were either of her daughters. They came to tell us
the next morning that all was over. She was by that time laid out.
Eliza and I went to look at her: Georgianawho had burst out into
loud weepingsaid she dared not go. There was stretched Sarah
Reed's once robust and active framerigid and still: her eye of
flint was covered with its cold lid; her brow and strong traits wore
yet the impress of her inexorable soul. A strange and solemn object
was that corpse to me. I gazed on it with gloom and pain: nothing
softnothing sweetnothing pityingor hopefulor subduing did it
inspire; only a grating anguish for HER woes--not MY loss--and a
sombre tearless dismay at the fearfulness of death in such a form.

Eliza surveyed her parent calmly. After a silence of some minutes
she observed


With her constitution she should have lived to a good old age: her
life was shortened by trouble.And then a spasm constricted her
mouth for an instant: as it passed away she turned and left the
roomand so did I. Neither of us had dropt a tear.

CHAPTER XXII

Mr. Rochester had given me but one week's leave of absence: yet a
month elapsed before I quitted Gateshead. I wished to leave
immediately after the funeralbut Georgiana entreated me to stay
till she could get off to Londonwhither she was now at last
invited by her uncleMr. Gibsonwho had come down to direct his
sister's interment and settle the family affairs. Georgiana said
she dreaded being left alone with Eliza; from her she got neither
sympathy in her dejectionsupport in her fearsnor aid in her
preparations; so I bore with her feeble-minded wailings and selfish
lamentations as well as I couldand did my best in sewing for her
and packing her dresses. It is truethat while I workedshe would
idle; and I thought to myselfIf you and I were destined to live
always together, cousin, we would commence matters on a different
footing. I should not settle tamely down into being the forbearing
party; I should assign you your share of labour, and compel you to
accomplish it, or else it should be left undone: I should insist,
also, on your keeping some of those drawling, half-insincere
complaints hushed in your own breast. It is only because our
connection happens to be very transitory, and comes at a peculiarly
mournful season, that I consent thus to render it so patient and
compliant on my part.

At last I saw Georgiana off; but now it was Eliza's turn to request
me to stay another week. Her plans required all her time and
attentionshe said; she was about to depart for some unknown
bourne; and all day long she stayed in her own roomher door bolted
withinfilling trunksemptying drawersburning papersand
holding no communication with any one. She wished me to look after
the houseto see callersand answer notes of condolence.


One morning she told me I was at liberty. "And she added, I am
obliged to you for your valuable services and discreet conduct!
There is some difference between living with such an one as you and
with Georgiana: you perform your own part in life and burden no
one. To-morrow she continued, I set out for the Continent. I
shall take up my abode in a religious house near Lisle--a nunnery
you would call it; there I shall be quiet and unmolested. I shall
devote myself for a time to the examination of the Roman Catholic
dogmasand to a careful study of the workings of their system: if
I find it to beas I half suspect it isthe one best calculated to
ensure the doing of all things decently and in orderI shall
embrace the tenets of Rome and probably take the veil."

I neither expressed surprise at this resolution nor attempted to
dissuade her from it. "The vocation will fit you to a hair I
thought: much good may it do you!"

When we partedshe said: "Good-byecousin Jane Eyre; I wish you
well: you have some sense."

I then returned: "You are not without sensecousin Eliza; but what
you haveI supposein another year will be walled up alive in a
French convent. Howeverit is not my businessand so it suits
youI don't much care."

You are in the right,said she; and with these words we each went
our separate way. As I shall not have occasion to refer either to
her or her sister againI may as well mention herethat Georgiana
made an advantageous match with a wealthy worn-out man of fashion
and that Eliza actually took the veiland is at this day superior
of the convent where she passed the period of her novitiateand
which she endowed with her fortune.

How people feel when they are returning home from an absencelong
or shortI did not know: I had never experienced the sensation. I
had known what it was to come back to Gateshead when a child after a
long walkto be scolded for looking cold or gloomy; and laterwhat
it was to come back from church to Lowoodto long for a plenteous
meal and a good fireand to be unable to get either. Neither of
these returnings was very pleasant or desirable: no magnet drew me
to a given pointincreasing in its strength of attraction the
nearer I came. The return to Thornfield was yet to be tried.

My journey seemed tedious--very tedious: fifty miles one daya
night spent at an inn; fifty miles the next day. During the first
twelve hours I thought of Mrs. Reed in her last moments; I saw her
disfigured and discoloured faceand heard her strangely altered
voice. I mused on the funeral daythe coffinthe hearsethe
black train of tenants and servants--few was the number of
relatives--the gaping vaultthe silent churchthe solemn service.
Then I thought of Eliza and Georgiana; I beheld one the cynosure of
a ball-roomthe other the inmate of a convent cell; and I dwelt on
and analysed their separate peculiarities of person and character.
The evening arrival at the great town of--scattered these thoughts;
night gave them quite another turn: laid down on my traveller's
bedI left reminiscence for anticipation.

I was going back to Thornfield: but how long was I to stay there?
Not long; of that I was sure. I had heard from Mrs. Fairfax in the
interim of my absence: the party at the hall was dispersed; Mr.
Rochester had left for London three weeks agobut he was then
expected to return in a fortnight. Mrs. Fairfax surmised that he
was gone to make arrangements for his weddingas he had talked of
purchasing a new carriage: she said the idea of his marrying Miss


Ingram still seemed strange to her; but from what everybody said
and from what she had herself seenshe could no longer doubt that
the event would shortly take place. "You would be strangely
incredulous if you did doubt it was my mental comment. I don't
doubt it."

The question followedWhere was I to go?I dreamt of Miss Ingram
all the night: in a vivid morning dream I saw her closing the gates
of Thornfield against me and pointing me out another road; and Mr.
Rochester looked on with his arms folded--smiling sardonicallyas
it seemedat both her and me.

I had not notified to Mrs. Fairfax the exact day of my return; for I
did not wish either car or carriage to meet me at Millcote. I
proposed to walk the distance quietly by myself; and very quietly
after leaving my box in the ostler's caredid I slip away from the
George Innabout six o'clock of a June eveningand take the old
road to Thornfield: a road which lay chiefly through fieldsand
was now little frequented.

It was not a bright or splendid summer eveningthough fair and
soft: the haymakers were at work all along the road; and the sky
though far from cloudlesswas such as promised well for the future:
its blue--where blue was visible--was mild and settledand its
cloud strata high and thin. The westtoowas warm: no watery
gleam chilled it--it seemed as if there was a fire litan altar
burning behind its screen of marbled vapourand out of apertures
shone a golden redness.

I felt glad as the road shortened before me: so glad that I stopped
once to ask myself what that joy meant: and to remind reason that
it was not to my home I was goingor to a permanent resting-place
or to a place where fond friends looked out for me and waited my
arrival. "Mrs. Fairfax will smile you a calm welcometo be sure
said I; and little Adele will clap her hands and jump to see you:
but you know very well you are thinking of another than theyand
that he is not thinking of you."

But what is so headstrong as youth? What so blind as inexperience?
These affirmed that it was pleasure enough to have the privilege of
again looking on Mr. Rochesterwhether he looked on me or not; and
they added--"Hasten! hasten! be with him while you may: but a few
more days or weeksat mostand you are parted from him for ever!"
And then I strangled a new-born agony--a deformed thing which I
could not persuade myself to own and rear--and ran on.

They are making haytooin Thornfield meadows: or ratherthe
labourers are just quitting their workand returning home with
their rakes on their shouldersnowat the hour I arrive. I have
but a field or two to traverseand then I shall cross the road and
reach the gates. How full the hedges are of roses! But I have no
time to gather any; I want to be at the house. I passed a tall
briarshooting leafy and flowery branches across the path; I see
the narrow stile with stone steps; and I see--Mr. Rochester sitting
therea book and a pencil in his hand; he is writing.

Wellhe is not a ghost; yet every nerve I have is unstrung: for a
moment I am beyond my own mastery. What does it mean? I did not
think I should tremble in this way when I saw himor lose my voice
or the power of motion in his presence. I will go back as soon as I
can stir: I need not make an absolute fool of myself. I know
another way to the house. It does not signify if I knew twenty
ways; for he has seen me.


Hillo!he cries; and he puts up his book and his pencil. "There
you are! Come onif you please."

I suppose I do come on; though in what fashion I know not; being
scarcely cognisant of my movementsand solicitous only to appear
calm; andabove allto control the working muscles of my face-which
I feel rebel insolently against my willand struggle to
express what I had resolved to conceal. But I have a veil--it is
down: I may make shift yet to behave with decent composure.

And this is Jane Eyre? Are you coming from Millcote, and on foot?
Yes--just one of your tricks: not to send for a carriage, and come
clattering over street and road like a common mortal, but to steal
into the vicinage of your home along with twilight, just as if you
were a dream or a shade. What the deuce have you done with yourself
this last month?

I have been with my aunt, sir, who is dead.

A true Janian reply! Good angels be my guard! She comes from the
other world--from the abode of people who are dead; and tells me so
when she meets me alone here in the gloaming! If I dared, I'd touch
you, to see if you are substance or shadow, you elf!--but I'd as
soon offer to take hold of a blue ignis fatuus light in a marsh.
Truant! truant!he addedwhen he had paused an instant. "Absent
from me a whole monthand forgetting me quiteI'll be sworn!"

I knew there would be pleasure in meeting my master againeven
though broken by the fear that he was so soon to cease to be my
masterand by the knowledge that I was nothing to him: but there
was ever in Mr. Rochester (so at least I thought) such a wealth of
the power of communicating happinessthat to taste but of the
crumbs he scattered to stray and stranger birds like mewas to
feast genially. His last words were balm: they seemed to imply
that it imported something to him whether I forgot him or not. And
he had spoken of Thornfield as my home--would that it were my home!

He did not leave the stileand I hardly liked to ask to go by.
inquired soon if he had not been to London.

Yes; I suppose you found that out by second-sight.

Mrs. Fairfax told me in a letter.

And did she inform you what I went to do?

Oh, yes, sir! Everybody knew your errand.

You must see the carriage, Jane, and tell me if you don't think it
will suit Mrs. Rochester exactly; and whether she won't look like
Queen Boadicea, leaning back against those purple cushions. I wish,
Jane, I were a trifle better adapted to match with her externally.
Tell me now, fairy as you are--can't you give me a charm, or a
philter, or something of that sort, to make me a handsome man?

It would be past the power of magic, sir;andin thoughtI
addedA loving eye is all the charm needed: to such you are
handsome enough; or rather your sternness has a power beyond
beauty.

Mr. Rochester had sometimes read my unspoken thoughts with an acumen
to me incomprehensible: in the present instance he took no notice
of my abrupt vocal response; but he smiled at me with a certain
smile he had of his ownand which he used but on rare occasions.


He seemed to think it too good for common purposes: it was the real
sunshine of feeling--he shed it over me now.

Pass, Janet,said hemaking room for me to cross the stile: "go
up homeand stay your weary little wandering feet at a friend's
threshold."

All I had now to do was to obey him in silence: no need for me to
colloquise further. I got over the stile without a wordand meant
to leave him calmly. An impulse held me fast--a force turned me
round. I said--or something in me said for meand in spite of me


Thank you, Mr. Rochester, for your great kindness. I am strangely
glad to get back again to you: and wherever you are is my home--my
only home.

I walked on so fast that even he could hardly have overtaken me had
he tried. Little Adele was half wild with delight when she saw me.
Mrs. Fairfax received me with her usual plain friendliness. Leah
smiledand even Sophie bid me "bon soir" with glee. This was very
pleasant; there is no happiness like that of being loved by your
fellow-creaturesand feeling that your presence is an addition to
their comfort.

I that evening shut my eyes resolutely against the future: I
stopped my cars against the voice that kept warning me of near
separation and coming grief. When tea was over and Mrs. Fairfax had
taken her knittingand I had assumed a low seat near herand
Adelekneeling on the carpethad nestled close up to meand a
sense of mutual affection seemed to surround us with a ring of
golden peaceI uttered a silent prayer that we might not be parted
far or soon; but whenas we thus satMr. Rochester entered
unannouncedand looking at usseemed to take pleasure in the
spectacle of a group so amicable--when he said he supposed the old
lady was all right now that she had got her adopted daughter back
againand added that he saw Adele was "prete e croquer sa petite
maman Anglaise"--I half ventured to hope that he wouldeven after
his marriagekeep us together somewhere under the shelter of his
protectionand not quite exiled from the sunshine of his presence.

A fortnight of dubious calm succeeded my return to Thornfield Hall.
Nothing was said of the master's marriageand I saw no preparation
going on for such an event. Almost every day I asked Mrs. Fairfax
if she had yet heard anything decided: her answer was always in the
negative. Once she said she had actually put the question to Mr.
Rochester as to when he was going to bring his bride home; but he
had answered her only by a joke and one of his queer looksand she
could not tell what to make of him.

One thing specially surprised meand that wasthere were no
journeyings backward and forwardno visits to Ingram Park: to be
sure it was twenty miles offon the borders of another county; but
what was that distance to an ardent lover? To so practised and
indefatigable a horseman as Mr. Rochesterit would be but a
morning's ride. I began to cherish hopes I had no right to
conceive: that the match was broken off; that rumour had been
mistaken; that one or both parties had changed their minds. I used
to look at my master's face to see if it were sad or fierce; but I
could not remember the time when it had been so uniformly clear of
clouds or evil feelings. Ifin the moments I and my pupil spent
with himI lacked spirits and sank into inevitable dejectionhe
became even gay. Never had he called me more frequently to his
presence; never been kinder to me when there--andalas! never had I
loved him so well.


CHAPTER XXIII

A splendid Midsummer shone over England: skies so puresuns so
radiant as were then seen in long successionseldom favour even
singlyour wave-girt land. It was as if a band of Italian days had
come from the Southlike a flock of glorious passenger birdsand
lighted to rest them on the cliffs of Albion. The hay was all got
in; the fields round Thornfield were green and shorn; the roads
white and baked; the trees were in their dark prime; hedge and wood
full-leaved and deeply tintedcontrasted well with the sunny hue of
the cleared meadows between.

On Midsummer-eveAdeleweary with gathering wild strawberries in
Hay Lane half the dayhad gone to bed with the sun. I watched her
drop asleepand when I left herI sought the garden.

It was now the sweetest hour of the twenty-four:- "Day its fervid
fires had wasted and dew fell cool on panting plain and scorched
summit. Where the sun had gone down in simple state--pure of the
pomp of clouds--spread a solemn purple, burning with the light of
red jewel and furnace flame at one point, on one hill-peak, and
extending high and wide, soft and still softer, over half heaven.
The east had its own charm or fine deep blue, and its own modest
gem, a casino and solitary star: soon it would boast the moon; but
she was yet beneath the horizon.

I walked a while on the pavement; but a subtle, well-known scent-that
of a cigar--stole from some window; I saw the library casement
open a handbreadth; I knew I might be watched thence; so I went
apart into the orchard. No nook in the grounds more sheltered and
more Eden-like; it was full of trees, it bloomed with flowers: a
very high wall shut it out from the court, on one side; on the
other, a beech avenue screened it from the lawn. At the bottom was
a sunk fence; its sole separation from lonely fields: a winding
walk, bordered with laurels and terminating in a giant horsechestnut,
circled at the base by a seat, led down to the fence.
Here one could wander unseen. While such honey-dew fell, such
silence reigned, such gloaming gathered, I felt as if I could haunt
such shade for ever; but in threading the flower and fruit parterres
at the upper part of the enclosure, enticed there by the light the
now rising moon cast on this more open quarter, my step is stayed-not
by sound, not by sight, but once more by a warning fragrance.

Sweet-briar and southernwood, jasmine, pink, and rose have long been
yielding their evening sacrifice of incense: this new scent is
neither of shrub nor flower; it is--I know it well--it is Mr.
Rochester's cigar. I look round and I listen. I see trees laden
with ripening fruit. I hear a nightingale warbling in a wood half a
mile off; no moving form is visible, no coming step audible; but
that perfume increases: I must flee. I make for the wicket leading
to the shrubbery, and I see Mr. Rochester entering. I step aside
into the ivy recess; he will not stay long: he will soon return
whence he came, and if I sit still he will never see me.

But no--eventide is as pleasant to him as to me, and this antique
garden as attractive; and he strolls on, now lifting the gooseberrytree
branches to look at the fruit, large as plums, with which they
are laden; now taking a ripe cherry from the wall; now stooping
towards a knot of flowers, either to inhale their fragrance or to


admire the dew-beads on their petals. A great moth goes humming by
me; it alights on a plant at Mr. Rochester's foot: he sees it, and
bends to examine it.

Nowhe has his back towards me thought I, and he is occupied
too; perhapsif I walk softlyI can slip away unnoticed."

I trode on an edging of turf that the crackle of the pebbly gravel
might not betray me: he was standing among the beds at a yard or
two distant from where I had to pass; the moth apparently engaged
him. "I shall get by very well I meditated. As I crossed his
shadow, thrown long over the garden by the moon, not yet risen high,
he said quietly, without turning


Janecome and look at this fellow."

I had made no noise: he had not eyes behind--could his shadow feel?
I started at firstand then I approached him.

Look at his wings,said hehe reminds me rather of a West Indian
insect; one does not often see so large and gay a night-rover in
England; there! he is flown.

The moth roamed away. I was sheepishly retreating also; but Mr.
Rochester followed meand when we reached the wickethe said


Turn back: on so lovely a night it is a shame to sit in the house;
and surely no one can wish to go to bed while sunset is thus at
meeting with moonrise.

It is one of my faultsthat though my tongue is sometimes prompt
enough at an answerthere are times when it sadly fails me in
framing an excuse; and always the lapse occurs at some crisiswhen
a facile word or plausible pretext is specially wanted to get me out
of painful embarrassment. I did not like to walk at this hour alone
with Mr. Rochester in the shadowy orchard; but I could not find a
reason to allege for leaving him. I followed with lagging stepand
thoughts busily bent on discovering a means of extrication; but he
himself looked so composed and so grave alsoI became ashamed of
feeling any confusion: the evil--if evil existent or prospective
there was--seemed to lie with me only; his mind was unconscious and
quiet.

Jane,he recommencedas we entered the laurel walkand slowly
strayed down in the direction of the sunk fence and the horsechestnut
Thornfield is a pleasant place in summer, is it not?

Yes, sir.

You must have become in some degree attached to the house,--you,
who have an eye for natural beauties, and a good deal of the organ
of Adhesiveness?

I am attached to it, indeed.

And though I don't comprehend how it is, I perceive you have
acquired a degree of regard for that foolish little child Adele,
too; and even for simple dame Fairfax?

Yes, sir; in different ways, I have an affection for both.

And would be sorry to part with them?

Yes.


Pity!he saidand sighed and paused. "It is always the way of
events in this life he continued presently: no sooner have you
got settled in a pleasant resting-placethan a voice calls out to
you to rise and move onfor the hour of repose is expired."

Must I move on, sir?I asked. "Must I leave Thornfield?"

I believe you must, Jane. I am sorry, Janet, but I believe indeed
you must.

This was a blow: but I did not let it prostrate me.

Well, sir, I shall be ready when the order to march comes.

It is come now--I must give it to-night.

Then you ARE going to be married, sir?

Ex-act-ly--pre-cise-ly: with your usual acuteness, you have hit
the nail straight on the head.

Soon, sir?

Very soon, my--that is, Miss Eyre: and you'll remember, Jane, the
first time I, or Rumour, plainly intimated to you that it was my
intention to put my old bachelor's neck into the sacred noose, to
enter into the holy estate of matrimony--to take Miss Ingram to my
bosom, in short (she's an extensive armful: but that's not to the
point--one can't have too much of such a very excellent thing as my
beautiful Blanche): well, as I was saying--listen to me, Jane!
You're not turning your head to look after more moths, are you?
That was only a lady-clock, child, 'flying away home.' I wish to
remind you that it was you who first said to me, with that
discretion I respect in you--with that foresight, prudence, and
humility which befit your responsible and dependent position--that
in case I married Miss Ingram, both you and little Adele had better
trot forthwith. I pass over the sort of slur conveyed in this
suggestion on the character of my beloved; indeed, when you are far
away, Janet, I'll try to forget it: I shall notice only its wisdom;
which is such that I have made it my law of action. Adele must go
to school; and you, Miss Eyre, must get a new situation.

Yes, sir, I will advertise immediately: and meantime, I suppose--
I was going to sayI suppose I may stay here, till I find another
shelter to betake myself to:but I stoppedfeeling it would not do
to risk a long sentencefor my voice was not quite under command.

In about a month I hope to be a bridegroom,continued Mr.
Rochester; "and in the interimI shall myself look out for
employment and an asylum for you."

Thank you, sir; I am sorry to give--

Oh, no need to apologise! I consider that when a dependent does
her duty as well as you have done yours, she has a sort of claim
upon her employer for any little assistance he can conveniently
render her; indeed I have already, through my future mother-in-law,
heard of a place that I think will suit: it is to undertake the
education of the five daughters of Mrs. Dionysius O'Gall of
Bitternutt Lodge, Connaught, Ireland. You'll like Ireland, I think:
they're such warm-hearted people there, they say.

It is a long way off, sir.


No matter--a girl of your sense will not object to the voyage or
the distance.

Not the voyage, but the distance: and then the sea is a barrier--

From what, Jane?

From England and from Thornfield: and--

Well?

From YOU, sir.

I said this almost involuntarilyandwith as little sanction of
free willmy tears gushed out. I did not cry so as to be heard
however; I avoided sobbing. The thought of Mrs. O'Gall and
Bitternutt Lodge struck cold to my heart; and colder the thought of
all the brine and foamdestinedas it seemedto rush between me
and the master at whose side I now walkedand coldest the
remembrance of the wider ocean--wealthcastecustom intervened
between me and what I naturally and inevitably loved.

It is a long way,I again said.

It is, to be sure; and when you get to Bitternutt Lodge, Connaught,
Ireland, I shall never see you again, Jane: that's morally certain.
I never go over to Ireland, not having myself much of a fancy for
the country. We have been good friends, Jane; have we not?

Yes, sir.

And when friends are on the eve of separation, they like to spend
the little time that remains to them close to each other. Come!
we'll talk over the voyage and the parting quietly half-an-hour or
so, while the stars enter into their shining life up in heaven
yonder: here is the chestnut tree: here is the bench at its old
roots. Come, we will sit there in peace to-night, though we should
never more be destined to sit there together.He seated me and
himself.

It is a long way to Ireland, Janet, and I am sorry to send my
little friend on such weary travels: but if I can't do better, how
is it to be helped? Are you anything akin to me, do you think,
Jane?

I could risk no sort of answer by this time: my heart was still.

Because,he saidI sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to
you--especially when you are near me, as now: it is as if I had a
string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably
knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of
your little frame. And if that boisterous Channel, and two hundred
miles or so of land come broad between us, I am afraid that cord of
communion will be snapt; and then I've a nervous notion I should
take to bleeding inwardly. As for you,--you'd forget me.

That I NEVER should, sir: you know--Impossible to proceed.

Jane, do you hear that nightingale singing in the wood? Listen!

In listeningI sobbed convulsively; for I could repress what I
endured no longer; I was obliged to yieldand I was shaken from
head to foot with acute distress. When I did speakit was only to


express an impetuous wish that I had never been bornor never come
to Thornfield.

Because you are sorry to leave it?

The vehemence of emotionstirred by grief and love within mewas
claiming masteryand struggling for full swayand asserting a
right to predominateto overcometo liveriseand reign at last:
yes--and to speak.

I grieve to leave Thornfield: I love Thornfield:- I love it,
because I have lived in it a full and delightful life,--momentarily
at least. I have not been trampled on. I have not been petrified.
I have not been buried with inferior minds, and excluded from every
glimpse of communion with what is bright and energetic and high. I
have talked, face to face, with what I reverence, with what I
delight in,--with an original, a vigorous, an expanded mind. I have
known you, Mr. Rochester; and it strikes me with terror and anguish
to feel I absolutely must be torn from you for ever. I see the
necessity of departure; and it is like looking on the necessity of
death.

Where do you see the necessity?he asked suddenly.

Where? You, sir, have placed it before me.

In what shape?

In the shape of Miss Ingram; a noble and beautiful woman,--your
bride.

My bride! What bride? I have no bride!

But you will have.

Yes;--I will!--I will!He set his teeth.

Then I must go:- you have said it yourself.

No: you must stay! I swear it--and the oath shall be kept.

I tell you I must go!I retortedroused to something like
passion. "Do you think I can stay to become nothing to you? Do you
think I am an automaton?--a machine without feelings? and can bear
to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lipsand my drop of
living water dashed from my cup? Do you thinkbecause I am poor
obscureplainand littleI am soulless and heartless? You think
wrong!--I have as much soul as you--and full as much heart! And if
God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealthI should have
made it as hard for you to leave meas it is now for me to leave
you. I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom
conventionalitiesnor even of mortal flesh;--it is my spirit that
addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave
and we stood at God's feetequal--as we are!"

As we are!repeated Mr. Rochester--"so he added, enclosing me in
his arms. Gathering me to his breast, pressing his lips on my lips:
soJane!"

Yes, so, sir,I rejoined: "and yet not so; for you are a married
man--or as good as a married manand wed to one inferior to you--to
one with whom you have no sympathy--whom I do not believe you truly
love; for I have seen and heard you sneer at her. I would scorn
such a union: therefore I am better than you--let me go!"


Where, Jane? To Ireland?

Yes--to Ireland. I have spoken my mind, and can go anywhere now.

Jane, be still; don't struggle so, like a wild frantic bird that is
rending its own plumage in its desperation.

I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with
an independent will, which I now exert to leave you.

Another effort set me at libertyand I stood erect before him.

And your will shall decide your destiny,he said: "I offer you my
handmy heartand a share of all my possessions."

You play a farce, which I merely laugh at.

I ask you to pass through life at my side--to be my second self,
and best earthly companion.

For that fate you have already made your choice, and must abide by
it.

Jane, be still a few moments: you are over-excited: I will be
still too.

A waft of wind came sweeping down the laurel-walkand trembled
through the boughs of the chestnut: it wandered away--away--to an
indefinite distance--it died. The nightingale's song was then the
only voice of the hour: in listening to itI again wept. Mr.
Rochester sat quietlooking at me gently and seriously. Some time
passed before he spoke; he at last said


Come to my side, Jane, and let us explain and understand one
another.

I will never again come to your side: I am torn away now, and
cannot return.

But, Jane, I summon you as my wife: it is you only I intend to
marry.

I was silent: I thought he mocked me.

Come, Jane--come hither.

Your bride stands between us.

He roseand with a stride reached me.

My bride is here,he saidagain drawing me to himbecause my
equal is here, and my likeness. Jane, will you marry me?

Still I did not answerand still I writhed myself from his grasp:
for I was still incredulous.

Do you doubt me, Jane?

Entirely.

You have no faith in me?

Not a whit.


Am I a liar in your eyes?he asked passionately. "Little sceptic
you SHALL be convinced. What love have I for Miss Ingram? None:
and that you know. What love has she for me? None: as I have
taken pains to prove: I caused a rumour to reach her that my
fortune was not a third of what was supposedand after that I
presented myself to see the result; it was coldness both from her
and her mother. I would not--I could not--marry Miss Ingram. You-you
strangeyou almost unearthly thing!--I love as my own flesh.
You--poor and obscureand small and plain as you are--I entreat to
accept me as a husband."

What, me!I ejaculatedbeginning in his earnestness--and
especially in his incivility--to credit his sincerity: "me who have
not a friend in the world but you-if you are my friend: not a
shilling but what you have given me?"

You, Jane, I must have you for my own--entirely my own. Will you
be mine? Say yes, quickly.

Mr. Rochester, let me look at your face: turn to the moonlight.

Why?

Because I want to read your countenance--turn!

There! you will find it scarcely more legible than a crumpled,
scratched page. Read on: only make haste, for I suffer.

His face was very much agitated and very much flushedand there
were strong workings in the featuresand strange gleams in the eyes

Oh, Jane, you torture me!he exclaimed. "With that searching and
yet faithful and generous lookyou torture me!"

How can I do that? If you are true, and your offer real, my only
feelings to you must be gratitude and devotion--they cannot
torture.

Gratitude!he ejaculated; and added wildly--"Jane accept me
quickly. SayEdward--give me my name--Edward--I will marry you."

Are you in earnest? Do you truly love me? Do you sincerely wish
me to be your wife?

I do; and if an oath is necessary to satisfy you, I swear it.

Then, sir, I will marry you.

Edward--my little wife!

Dear Edward!

Come to me--come to me entirely now,said he; and addedin his
deepest tonespeaking in my ear as his cheek was laid on mine
Make my happiness--I will make yours.

God pardon me!he subjoined ere long; "and man meddle not with me:
I have herand will hold her."

There is no one to meddle, sir. I have no kindred to interfere.

No--that is the best of it,he said. And if I had loved him less
I should have thought his accent and look of exultation savage; but


sitting by himroused from the nightmare of parting--called to the
paradise of union--I thought only of the bliss given me to drink in
so abundant a flow. Again and again he saidAre you happy, Jane?
And again and again I answeredYes.After which he murmuredIt
will atone--it will atone. Have I not found her friendless, and
cold, and comfortless? Will I not guard, and cherish, and solace
her? Is there not love in my heart, and constancy in my resolves?
It will expiate at God's tribunal. I know my Maker sanctions what I
do. For the world's judgment--I wash my hands thereof. For man's
opinion--I defy it.

But what had befallen the night? The moon was not yet setand we
were all in shadow: I could scarcely see my master's facenear as
I was. And what ailed the chestnut tree? it writhed and groaned;
while wind roared in the laurel walkand came sweeping over us.

We must go in,said Mr. Rochester: "the weather changes. I could
have sat with thee till morningJane."

And so,thought Icould I with you.I should have said so
perhapsbut a lividvivid spark leapt out of a cloud at which I
was lookingand there was a cracka crashand a close rattling
peal; and I thought only of hiding my dazzled eyes against Mr.
Rochester's shoulder.

The rain rushed down. He hurried me up the walkthrough the
groundsand into the house; but we were quite wet before we could
pass the threshold. He was taking off my shawl in the halland
shaking the water out of my loosened hairwhen Mrs. Fairfax emerged
from her room. I did not observe her at firstnor did Mr.
Rochester. The lamp was lit. The clock was on the stroke of
twelve.

Hasten to take off your wet things,said he; "and before you go
good-night--good-nightmy darling!"

He kissed me repeatedly. When I looked upon leaving his arms
there stood the widowpalegraveand amazed. I only smiled at
herand ran upstairs. "Explanation will do for another time
thought I. Still, when I reached my chamber, I felt a pang at the
idea she should even temporarily misconstrue what she had seen. But
joy soon effaced every other feeling; and loud as the wind blew,
near and deep as the thunder crashed, fierce and frequent as the
lightning gleamed, cataract-like as the rain fell during a storm of
two hours' duration, I experienced no fear and little awe. Mr.
Rochester came thrice to my door in the course of it, to ask if I
was safe and tranquil: and that was comfort, that was strength for
anything.

Before I left my bed in the morning, little Adele came running in to
tell me that the great horse-chestnut at the bottom of the orchard
had been struck by lightning in the night, and half of it split
away.

CHAPTER XXIV

As I rose and dressed, I thought over what had happened, and
wondered if it were a dream. I could not be certain of the reality
till I had seen Mr. Rochester again, and heard him renew his words
of love and promise.


While arranging my hair, I looked at my face in the glass, and felt
it was no longer plain: there was hope in its aspect and life in
its colour; and my eyes seemed as if they had beheld the fount of
fruition, and borrowed beams from the lustrous ripple. I had often
been unwilling to look at my master, because I feared he could not
be pleased at my look; but I was sure I might lift my face to his
now, and not cool his affection by its expression. I took a plain
but clean and light summer dress from my drawer and put it on: it
seemed no attire had ever so well become me, because none had I ever
worn in so blissful a mood.

I was not surprised, when I ran down into the hall, to see that a
brilliant June morning had succeeded to the tempest of the night;
and to feel, through the open glass door, the breathing of a fresh
and fragrant breeze. Nature must be gladsome when I was so happy.
A beggar-woman and her little boy--pale, ragged objects both--were
coming up the walk, and I ran down and gave them all the money I
happened to have in my purse--some three or four shillings: good or
bad, they must partake of my jubilee. The rooks cawed, and blither
birds sang; but nothing was so merry or so musical as my own
rejoicing heart.

Mrs. Fairfax surprised me by looking out of the window with a sad
countenance, and saying gravely--Miss Eyrewill you come to
breakfast?" During the meal she was quiet and cool: but I could
not undeceive her then. I must wait for my master to give
explanations; and so must she. I ate what I couldand then I
hastened upstairs. I met Adele leaving the schoolroom.

Where are you going? It is time for lessons.

Mr. Rochester has sent me away to the nursery.

Where is he?

In there,pointing to the apartment she had left; and I went in
and there he stood.

Come and bid me good-morning,said he. I gladly advanced; and it
was not merely a cold word nowor even a shake of the hand that I
receivedbut an embrace and a kiss. It seemed natural: it seemed
genial to be so well lovedso caressed by him.

Jane, you look blooming, and smiling, and pretty,said he: "truly
pretty this morning. Is this my palelittle elf? Is this my
mustard-seed? This little sunny-faced girl with the dimpled cheek
and rosy lips; the satin-smooth hazel hairand the radiant hazel
eyes?" (I had green eyesreader; but you must excuse the mistake:
for him they were new-dyedI suppose.)

It is Jane Eyre, sir.

Soon to be Jane Rochester,he added: "in four weeksJanet; not a
day more. Do you hear that?"

I didand I could not quite comprehend it: it made me giddy. The
feelingthe announcement sent through mewas something stronger
than was consistent with joy--something that smote and stunned. It
wasI think almost fear.

You blushed, and now you are white, Jane: what is that for?

Because you gave me a new name--Jane Rochester; and it seems so


strange.

Yes, Mrs. Rochester,said he; "young Mrs. Rochester--Fairfax
Rochester's girl-bride."

It can never be, sir; it does not sound likely. Human beings never
enjoy complete happiness in this world. I was not born for a
different destiny to the rest of my species: to imagine such a lot
befalling me is a fairy tale--a day-dream.

Which I can and will realise. I shall begin to-day. This morning
I wrote to my banker in London to send me certain jewels he has in
his keeping,--heirlooms for the ladies of Thornfield. In a day or
two I hope to pour them into your lap: for every privilege, every
attention shall be yours that I would accord a peer's daughter, if
about to marry her.

Oh, sir!--never rain jewels! I don't like to hear them spoken of.
Jewels for Jane Eyre sounds unnatural and strange: I would rather
not have them.

I will myself put the diamond chain round your neck, and the
circlet on your forehead,--which it will become: for nature, at
least, has stamped her patent of nobility on this brow, Jane; and I
will clasp the bracelets on these fine wrists, and load these fairylike
fingers with rings.

No, no, sir! think of other subjects, and speak of other things,
and in another strain. Don't address me as if I were a beauty; I am
your plain, Quakerish governess.

You are a beauty in my eyes, and a beauty just after the desire of
my heart,--delicate and aerial.

Puny and insignificant, you mean. You are dreaming, sir,--or you
are sneering. For God's sake don't be ironical!

I will make the world acknowledge you a beauty, too,he went on
while I really became uneasy at the strain he had adoptedbecause I
felt he was either deluding himself or trying to delude me. "I will
attire my Jane in satin and laceand she shall have roses in her
hair; and I will cover the head I love best with a priceless veil."

And then you won't know me, sir; and I shall not be your Jane Eyre
any longer, but an ape in a harlequin's jacket--a jay in borrowed
plumes. I would as soon see you, Mr. Rochester, tricked out in
stage-trappings, as myself clad in a court-lady's robe; and I don't
call you handsome, sir, though I love you most dearly: far too
dearly to flatter you. Don't flatter me.

He pursued his themehoweverwithout noticing my deprecation.
This very day I shall take you in the carriage to Millcote, and you
must choose some dresses for yourself. I told you we shall be
married in four weeks. The wedding is to take place quietly, in the
church down below yonder; and then I shall waft you away at once to
town. After a brief stay there, I shall bear my treasure to regions
nearer the sun: to French vineyards and Italian plains; and she
shall see whatever is famous in old story and in modern record: she
shall taste, too, of the life of cities; and she shall learn to
value herself by just comparison with others.

Shall I travel?--and with you, sir?

You shall sojourn at Paris, Rome, and Naples: at Florence, Venice,


and Vienna: all the ground I have wandered over shall be re-trodden
by you: wherever I stamped my hoof, your sylph's foot shall step
also. Ten years since, I flew through Europe half mad; with
disgust, hate, and rage as my companions: now I shall revisit it
healed and cleansed, with a very angel as my comforter.

I laughed at him as he said this. "I am not an angel I asserted;
and I will not be one till I die: I will be myself. Mr.
Rochesteryou must neither expect nor exact anything celestial of
me--for you will not get itany more than I shall get it of you:
which I do not at all anticipate."

What do you anticipate of me?

For a little while you will perhaps be as you are now,--a very
little while; and then you will turn cool; and then you will be
capricious; and then you will be stern, and I shall have much ado to
please you: but when you get well used to me, you will perhaps like
me again,--LIKE me, I say, not LOVE me. I suppose your love will
effervesce in six months, or less. I have observed in books written
by men, that period assigned as the farthest to which a husband's
ardour extends. Yet, after all, as a friend and companion, I hope
never to become quite distasteful to my dear master.

Distasteful! and like you again! I think I shall like you again,
and yet again: and I will make you confess I do not only LIKE, but
LOVE you--with truth, fervour, constancy.

Yet are you not capricious, sir?

To women who please me only by their faces, I am the very devil
when I find out they have neither souls nor hearts--when they open
to me a perspective of flatness, triviality, and perhaps imbecility,
coarseness, and ill-temper: but to the clear eye and eloquent
tongue, to the soul made of fire, and the character that bends but
does not break--at once supple and stable, tractable and consistent-
I am ever tender and true.

Had you ever experience of such a character, sir? Did you ever
love such an one?

I love it now.

But before me: if I, indeed, in any respect come up to your
difficult standard?

I never met your likeness. Jane, you please me, and you master me-
you seem to submit, and I like the sense of pliancy you impart; and
while I am twining the soft, silken skein round my finger, it sends
a thrill up my arm to my heart. I am influenced--conquered; and the
influence is sweeter than I can express; and the conquest I undergo
has a witchery beyond any triumph I can win. Why do you smile,
Jane? What does that inexplicable, that uncanny turn of countenance
mean?

I was thinking, sir (you will excuse the idea; it was involuntary),
I was thinking of Hercules and Samson with their charmers--

You were, you little elfish--

Hush, sir! You don't talk very wisely just now; any more than
those gentlemen acted very wisely. However, had they been married,
they would no doubt by their severity as husbands have made up for
their softness as suitors; and so will you, I fear. I wonder how


you will answer me a year hence, should I ask a favour it does not
suit your convenience or pleasure to grant.

Ask me something now, Jane,--the least thing: I desire to be
entreated--

Indeed I will, sir; I have my petition all ready.

Speak! But if you look up and smile with that countenance, I shall
swear concession before I know to what, and that will make a fool of
me.

Not at all, sir; I ask only this: don't send for the jewels, and
don't crown me with roses: you might as well put a border of gold
lace round that plain pocket handkerchief you have there.

I might as well 'gild refined gold.' I know it: you request is
granted then--for the time. I will remand the order I despatched to
my banker. But you have not yet asked for anything; you have prayed
a gift to be withdrawn: try again.

Well then, sir, have the goodness to gratify my curiosity, which is
much piqued on one point.

He looked disturbed. "What? what?" he said hastily. "Curiosity is
a dangerous petition: it is well I have not taken a vow to accord
every request--"

But there can be no danger in complying with this, sir.

Utter it, Jane: but I wish that instead of a mere inquiry into,
perhaps, a secret, it was a wish for half my estate.

Now, King Ahasuerus! What do I want with half your estate? Do you
think I am a Jew-usurer, seeking good investment in land? I would
much rather have all your confidence. You will not exclude me from
your confidence if you admit me to your heart?

You are welcome to all my confidence that is worth having, Jane;
but for God's sake, don't desire a useless burden! Don't long for
poison--don't turn out a downright Eve on my hands!

Why not, sir? You have just been telling me how much you liked to
be conquered, and how pleasant over-persuasion is to you. Don't you
think I had better take advantage of the confession, and begin and
coax and entreat--even cry and be sulky if necessary--for the sake
of a mere essay of my power?

I dare you to any such experiment. Encroach, presume, and the game
is up.

Is it, sir? You soon give in. How stern you look now! Your
eyebrows have become as thick as my finger, and your forehead
resembles what, in some very astonishing poetry, I once saw styled,
'a blue-piled thunderloft.' That will be your married look, sir, I
suppose?

If that will be YOUR married look, I, as a Christian, will soon
give up the notion of consorting with a mere sprite or salamander.
But what had you to ask, thing,--out with it?

There, you are less than civil now; and I like rudeness a great
deal better than flattery. I had rather be a THING than an angel.
This is what I have to ask,--Why did you take such pains to make me


believe you wished to marry Miss Ingram?

Is that all? Thank God it is no worse!And now he unknit his
black brows; looked downsmiling at meand stroked my hairas if
well pleased at seeing a danger averted. "I think I may confess
he continued, even although I should make you a little indignant
Jane--and I have seen what a fire-spirit you can be when you are
indignant. You glowed in the cool moonlight last nightwhen you
mutinied against fateand claimed your rank as my equal. Janet
by-the-byeit was you who made me the offer."

Of course I did. But to the point if you please, sir--Miss
Ingram?

Well, I feigned courtship of Miss Ingram, because I wished to
render you as madly in love with me as I was with you; and I knew
jealousy would be the best ally I could call in for the furtherance
of that end.

Excellent! Now you are small--not one whit bigger than the end of
my little finger. It was a burning shame and a scandalous disgrace
to act in that way. Did you think nothing of Miss Ingram's
feelings, sir?

Her feelings are concentrated in one--pride; and that needs
humbling. Were you jealous, Jane?

Never mind, Mr. Rochester: it is in no way interesting to you to
know that. Answer me truly once more. Do you think Miss Ingram
will not suffer from your dishonest coquetry? Won't she feel
forsaken and deserted?

Impossible!--when I told you how she, on the contrary, deserted me:
the idea of my insolvency cooled, or rather extinguished, her flame
in a moment.

You have a curious, designing mind, Mr. Rochester. I am afraid
your principles on some points are eccentric.

My principles were never trained, Jane: they may have grown a
little awry for want of attention.

Once again, seriously; may I enjoy the great good that has been
vouchsafed to me, without fearing that any one else is suffering the
bitter pain I myself felt a while ago?

That you may, my good little girl: there is not another being in
the world has the same pure love for me as yourself--for I lay that
pleasant unction to my soul, Jane, a belief in your affection.

I turned my lips to the hand that lay on my shoulder. I loved him
very much--more than I could trust myself to say--more than words
had power to express.

Ask something more,he said presently; "it is my delight to be
entreatedand to yield."

I was again ready with my request. "Communicate your intentions to
Mrs. Fairfaxsir: she saw me with you last night in the halland
she was shocked. Give her some explanation before I see her again.
It pains me to be misjudged by so good a woman."

Go to your room, and put on your bonnet,he replied. "I mean you
to accompany me to Millcote this morning; and while you prepare for


the driveI will enlighten the old lady's understanding. Did she
thinkJanetyou had given the world for loveand considered it
well lost?"

I believe she thought I had forgotten my station, and yours, sir.

Station! station!--your station is in my heart, and on the necks of
those who would insult you, now or hereafter.--Go.

I was soon dressed; and when I heard Mr. Rochester quit Mrs.
Fairfax's parlourI hurried down to it. The old ladyhad been
reading her morning portion of Scripture--the Lesson for the day;
her Bible lay open before herand her spectacles were upon it. Her
occupationsuspended by Mr. Rochester's announcementseemed now
forgotten: her eyesfixed on the blank wall oppositeexpressed
the surprise of a quiet mind stirred by unwonted tidings. Seeing
meshe roused herself: she made a sort of effort to smileand
framed a few words of congratulation; but the smile expiredand the
sentence was abandoned unfinished. She put up her spectaclesshut
the Bibleand pushed her chair back from the table.

I feel so astonished,she beganI hardly know what to say to
you, Miss Eyre. I have surely not been dreaming, have I? Sometimes
I half fall asleep when I am sitting alone and fancy things that
have never happened. It has seemed to me more than once when I have
been in a doze, that my dear husband, who died fifteen years since,
has come in and sat down beside me; and that I have even heard him
call me by my name, Alice, as he used to do. Now, can you tell me
whether it is actually true that Mr. Rochester has asked you to
marry him? Don't laugh at me. But I really thought he came in here
five minutes ago, and said that in a month you would be his wife.

He has said the same thing to me,I replied.

He has! Do you believe him? Have you accepted him?

Yes.

She looked at me bewildered. "I could never have thought it. He is
a proud man: all the Rochesters were proud: and his fatherat
leastliked money. Hetoohas always been called careful. He
means to marry you?"

He tells me so.

She surveyed my whole person: in her eyes I read that they had
there found no charm powerful enough to solve the enigma.

It passes me!she continued; "but no doubtit is true since you
say so. How it will answerI cannot tell: I really don't know.
Equality of position and fortune is often advisable in such cases;
and there are twenty years of difference in your ages. He might
almost be your father."

No, indeed, Mrs. Fairfax!exclaimed Inettled; "he is nothing
like my father! No onewho saw us togetherwould suppose it for
an instant. Mr. Rochester looks as youngand is as youngas some
men at five-and-twenty."

Is it really for love he is going to marry you?she asked.

I was so hurt by her coldness and scepticismthat the tears rose to
my eyes.


I am sorry to grieve you,pursued the widow; "but you are so
youngand so little acquainted with menI wished to put you on
your guard. It is an old saying that 'all is not gold that
glitters;' and in this case I do fear there will be something found
to be different to what either you or I expect."

Why?--am I a monster?I said: "is it impossible that Mr.
Rochester should have a sincere affection for me?"

No: you are very well; and much improved of late; and Mr.
Rochester, I daresay, is fond of you. I have always noticed that
you were a sort of pet of his. There are times when, for your sake,
I have been a little uneasy at his marked preference, and have
wished to put you on your guard: but I did not like to suggest even
the possibility of wrong. I knew such an idea would shock, perhaps
offend you; and you were so discreet, and so thoroughly modest and
sensible, I hoped you might be trusted to protect yourself. Last
night I cannot tell you what I suffered when I sought all over the
house, and could find you nowhere, nor the master either; and then,
at twelve o'clock, saw you come in with him.

Well, never mind that now,I interrupted impatiently; "it is
enough that all was right."

I hope all will be right in the end,she said: "but believe me
you cannot be too careful. Try and keep Mr. Rochester at a
distance: distrust yourself as well as him. Gentlemen in his
station are not accustomed to marry their governesses."

I was growing truly irritated: happilyAdele ran in.

Let me go,--let me go to Millcote too!she cried. "Mr. Rochester
won't: though there is so much room in the new carriage. Beg him
to let me go mademoiselle."

That I will, Adele;and I hastened away with herglad to quit my
gloomy monitress. The carriage was ready: they were bringing it
round to the frontand my master was the pavementPilot following
him backwards and forwards.

Adele may accompany us, may she not, sir?

I told her no. I'll have no brats!--I'll have only you.

Do let her go, Mr. Rochester, if you please: it would be better.

Not it: she will be a restraint.

He was quite peremptoryboth in look and voice. The chill of Mrs.
Fairfax's warningsand the damp of her doubts were upon me:
something of unsubstantiality and uncertainty had beset my hopes. I
half lost the sense of power over him. I was about mechanically to
obey himwithout further remonstrance; but as he helped me into the
carriagehe looked at my face.

What is the matter?he asked; "all the sunshine is gone. Do you
really wish the bairn to go? Will it annoy you if she is left
behind?"

I would far rather she went, sir.

Then off for your bonnet, and back like a flash of lightning!
cried he to Adele.


She obeyed him with what speed she might.

After all, a single morning's interruption will not matter much,
said hewhen I mean shortly to claim you--your thoughts,
conversation, and company--for life.

Adelewhen lifted incommenced kissing meby way of expressing
her gratitude for my intercession: she was instantly stowed away
into a corner on the other side of him. She then peeped round to
where I sat; so stern a neighbour was too restrictive to himin his
present fractious moodshe dared whisper no observationsnor ask
of him any information.

Let her come to me,I entreated: "she willperhapstrouble you
sir: there is plenty of room on this side."

He handed her over as if she had been a lapdog. "I'll send her to
school yet he said, but now he was smiling.

Adele heard him, and asked if she was to go to school sans
mademoiselle?"

Yes,he repliedabsolutely sans mademoiselle; for I am to take
mademoiselle to the moon, and there I shall seek a cave in one of
the white valleys among the volcano-tops, and mademoiselle shall
live with me there, and only me.

She will have nothing to eat: you will starve her,observed
Adele.

I shall gather manna for her morning and night: the plains and
hillsides in the moon are bleached with manna, Adele.

She will want to warm herself: what will she do for a fire?

Fire rises out of the lunar mountains: when she is cold, I'll
carry her up to a peak, and lay her down on the edge of a crater.

Oh, qu' elle y sera mal--peu comfortable! And her clothes, they
will wear out: how can she get new ones?

Mr. Rochester professed to be puzzled. "Hem!" said he. "What would
you doAdele? Cudgel your brains for an expedient. How would a
white or a pink cloud answer for a gowndo you think? And one
could cut a pretty enough scarf out of a rainbow."

She is far better as she is,concluded Adeleafter musing some
time: "besidesshe would get tired of living with only you in the
moon. If I were mademoiselleI would never consent to go with
you."

She has consented: she has pledged her word.

But you can't get her there; there is no road to the moon: it is
all air; and neither you nor she can fly.

Adele, look at that field.We were now outside Thornfield gates
and bowling lightly along the smooth road to Millcotewhere the
dust was well laid by the thunderstormandwhere the low hedges
and lofty timber trees on each side glistened green and rainrefreshed.


In that field, Adele, I was walking late one evening about a
fortnight since--the evening of the day you helped me to make hay in


the orchard meadows; and, as I was tired with raking swaths, I sat
down to rest me on a stile; and there I took out a little book and a
pencil, and began to write about a misfortune that befell me long
ago, and a wish I had for happy days to come: I was writing away
very fast, though daylight was fading from the leaf, when something
came up the path and stopped two yards off me. I looked at it. It
was a little thing with a veil of gossamer on its head. I beckoned
it to come near me; it stood soon at my knee. I never spoke to it,
and it never spoke to me, in words; but I read its eyes, and it read
mine; and our speechless colloquy was to this effect


It was a fairyand come from Elf-landit said; and its errand was
to make me happy: I must go with it out of the common world to a
lonely place--such as the moonfor instance--and it nodded its head
towards her hornrising over Hay-hill: it told me of the alabaster
cave and silver vale where we might live. I said I should like to
go; but reminded itas you did methat I had no wings to fly.

'Oh,' returned the fairy, 'that does not signify! Here is a
talisman will remove all difficulties;' and she held out a pretty
gold ring. 'Put it,' she said, 'on the fourth finger of my left
hand, and I am yours, and you are mine; and we shall leave earth,
and make our own heaven yonder.' She nodded again at the moon. The
ring, Adele, is in my breeches-pocket, under the disguise of a
sovereign: but I mean soon to change it to a ring again.

But what has mademoiselle to do with it? I don't care for the
fairy: you said it was mademoiselle you would take to the moon?

Mademoiselle is a fairy,he saidwhispering mysteriously.
Whereupon I told her not to mind his badinage; and sheon her part
evinced a fund of genuine French scepticism: denominating Mr.
Rochester "un vrai menteur and assuring him that she made no
account whatever of his contes de fee and that du resteil n'y
avait pas de feeset quand meme il y en avait:" she was sure they
would never appear to himnor ever give him ringsor offer to live
with him in the moon.

The hour spent at Millcote was a somewhat harassing one to me. Mr.
Rochester obliged me to go to a certain silk warehouse: there I was
ordered to choose half-a-dozen dresses. I hated the businessI
begged leave to defer it: no--it should be gone through with now.
By dint of entreaties expressed in energetic whispersI reduced the
half-dozen to two: these howeverhe vowed he would select himself.
With anxiety I watched his eye rove over the gay stores: he fixed
on a rich silk of the most brilliant amethyst dyeand a superb pink
satin. I told him in a new series of whispersthat he might as
well buy me a gold gown and a silver bonnet at once: I should
certainly never venture to wear his choice. With infinite
difficultyfor he was stubborn as a stoneI persuaded him to make
an exchange in favour of a sober black satin and pearl-grey silk.
It might pass for the present,he said; "but he would yet see me
glittering like a parterre."

Glad was I to get him out of the silk warehouseand then out of a
jewellers shop: the more he bought methe more my cheek burned
with a sense of annoyance and degradation. As we re-entered the
carriageand I sat back feverish and faggedI remembered whatin
the hurry of eventsdark and brightI had wholly forgotten--the
letter of my uncleJohn Eyreto Mrs. Reed: his intention to adopt
me and make me his legatee. "It wouldindeedbe a relief I
thought, if I had ever so small an independency; I never can bear
being dressed like a doll by Mr. Rochesteror sitting like a second
Danae with the golden shower falling daily round me. I will write


to Madeira the moment I get homeand tell my uncle John I am going
to be marriedand to whom: if I had but a prospect of one day
bringing Mr. Rochester an accession of fortuneI could better
endure to be kept by him now." And somewhat relieved by this idea
(which I failed not to execute that day)I ventured once more to
meet my master's and lover's eyewhich most pertinaciously sought
minethough I averted both face and gaze. He smiled; and I thought
his smile was such as a sultan mightin a blissful and fond moment
bestow on a slave his gold and gems had enriched: I crushed his
handwhich was ever hunting minevigorouslyand thrust it back to
him red with the passionate pressure.

You need not look in that way,I said; "if you doI'll wear
nothing but my old Lowood frocks to the end of the chapter. I'll be
married in this lilac gingham: you may make a dressing-gown for
yourself out of the pearl-grey silkand an infinite series of
waistcoats out of the black satin."

He chuckled; he rubbed his hands. "Ohit is rich to see and hear
her?" he exclaimed. "Is she original? Is she piquant? I would not
exchange this one little English girl for the Grand Turk's whole
seragliogazelle-eyeshouri formsand all!"

The Eastern allusion bit me again. "I'll not stand you an inch in
the stead of a seraglio I said; so don't consider me an
equivalent for one. If you have a fancy for anything in that line
away with yousirto the bazaars of Stamboul without delayand
lay out in extensive slave-purchases some of that spare cash you
seem at a loss to spend satisfactorily here."

And what will you do, Janet, while I am bargaining for so many tons
of flesh and such an assortment of black eyes?

I'll be preparing myself to go out as a missionary to preach
liberty to them that are enslaved--your harem inmates amongst the
rest. I'll get admitted there, and I'll stir up mutiny; and you,
three-tailed bashaw as you are, sir, shall in a trice find yourself
fettered amongst our hands: nor will I, for one, consent to cut
your bonds till you have signed a charter, the most liberal that
despot ever yet conferred.

I would consent to be at your mercy, Jane.

I would have no mercy, Mr. Rochester, if you supplicated for it
with an eye like that. While you looked so, I should be certain
that whatever charter you might grant under coercion, your first
act, when released, would be to violate its conditions.

Why, Jane, what would you have? I fear you will compel me to go
through a private marriage ceremony, besides that performed at the
altar. You will stipulate, I see, for peculiar terms--what will
they be?

I only want an easy mind, sir; not crushed by crowded obligations.
Do you remember what you said of Celine Varens?--of the diamonds,
the cashmeres you gave her? I will not be your English Celine
Varens. I shall continue to act as Adele's governess; by that I
shall earn my board and lodging, and thirty pounds a year besides.
I'll furnish my own wardrobe out of that money, and you shall give
me nothing but--

Well, but what?

Your regard; and if I give you mine in return, that debt will be


quit.

Well, for cool native impudence and pure innate pride, you haven't
your equal,said he. We were now approaching Thornfield. "Will it
please you to dine with me to-day?" he askedas we re-entered the
gates.

No, thank you, sir.

And what for, 'no, thank you?' if one may inquire.

I never have dined with you, sir: and I see no reason why I should
now: till--

Till what? You delight in half-phrases.

Till I can't help it.

Do you suppose I eat like an ogre or a ghoul, that you dread being
the companion of my repast?

I have formed no supposition on the subject, sir; but I want to go
on as usual for another month.

You will give up your governessing slavery at once.

Indeed, begging your pardon, sir, I shall not. I shall just go on
with it as usual. I shall keep out of your way all day, as I have
been accustomed to do: you may send for me in the evening, when you
feel disposed to see me, and I'll come then; but at no other time.

I want a smoke, Jane, or a pinch of snuff, to comfort me under all
this, 'pour me donner une contenance,' as Adele would say; and
unfortunately I have neither my cigar-case, nor my snuff-box. But
listen--whisper. It is your time now, little tyrant, but it will be
mine presently; and when once I have fairly seized you, to have and
to hold, I'll just--figuratively speaking--attach you to a chain
like this(touching his watch-guard). "Yesbonny wee thingI'll
wear you in my bosomlest my jewel I should tyne."

He said this as he helped me to alight from the carriageand while
he afterwards lifted out AdeleI entered the houseand made good
my retreat upstairs.

He duly summoned me to his presence in the evening. I had prepared
an occupation for him; for I was determined not to spend the whole
time in a tete-e-tete conversation. I remembered his fine voice; I
knew he liked to sing--good singers generally do. I was no vocalist
myselfandin his fastidious judgmentno musicianeither; but I
delighted in listening when the performance was good. No sooner had
twilightthat hour of romancebegan to lower her blue and starry
banner over the latticethan I roseopened the pianoand
entreated himfor the love of heavento give me a song. He said I
was a capricious witchand that he would rather sing another time;
but I averred that no time was like the present.

Did I like his voice?he asked.

Very much.I was not fond of pampering that susceptible vanity of
his; but for onceand from motives of expediencyI would e'en
soothe and stimulate it.

Then, Jane, you must play the accompaniment.


Very well, sir, I will try.


I did trybut was presently swept off the stool and denominated "a
little bungler." Being pushed unceremoniously to one side--which
was precisely what I wished--he usurped my placeand proceeded to
accompany himself: for he could play as well as sing. I hied me to
the window-recess. And while I sat there and looked out on the
still trees and dim lawnto a sweet air was sung in mellow tones
the following strain:-


The truest love that ever heart
Felt at its kindled core,
Did through each vein, in quickened start,
The tide of being pour.


Her coming was my hope each day,
Her parting was my pain;
The chance that did her steps delay
Was ice in every vein.


I dreamed it would be nameless bliss,
As I loved, loved to be;
And to this object did I press
As blind as eagerly.


But wide as pathless was the space
That lay our lives between,
And dangerous as the foamy race
Of ocean-surges green.


And haunted as a robber-path
Through wilderness or wood;
For Might and Right, and Woe and Wrath,
Between our spirits stood.


I dangers dared; I hindrance scorned;
I omens did defy:
Whatever menaced, harassed, warned,
I passed impetuous by.


On sped my rainbow, fast as light;
I flew as in a dream;
For glorious rose upon my sight
That child of Shower and Gleam.


Still bright on clouds of suffering dim
Shines that soft, solemn joy;
Nor care I now, how dense and grim
Disasters gather nigh.


I care not in this moment sweet,
Though all I have rushed o'er
Should come on pinion, strong and fleet,
Proclaiming vengeance sore:


Though haughty Hate should strike me down,
Right, bar approach to me,
And grinding Might, with furious frown,
Swear endless enmity.


My love has placed her little hand
With noble faith in mine,
And vowed that wedlock's sacred band



Our nature shall entwine.


My love has sworn, with sealing kiss,
With me to live--to die;
I have at last my nameless bliss.
As I love--loved am I!


He rose and came towards meand I saw his face all kindledand his
full falcon-eye flashingand tenderness and passion in every
lineament. I quailed momentarily--then I rallied. Soft scene
daring demonstrationI would not have; and I stood in peril of
both: a weapon of defence must be prepared--I whetted my tongue:
as he reached meI asked with asperitywhom he was going to marry
now?


That was a strange question to be put by his darling Jane.


Indeed! I considered it a very natural and necessary one: he had
talked of his future wife dying with him. What did he mean by such
a pagan idea? I had no intention of dying with him--he might depend
on that.


Oh, all he longed, all he prayed for, was that I might live with
him! Death was not for such as I.


Indeed it was: I had as good a right to die when my time came as
he had: but I should bide that time, and not be hurried away in a
suttee.


Would I forgive him for the selfish idea, and prove my pardon by a
reconciling kiss?


No: I would rather be excused.


Here I heard myself apostrophised as a "hard little thing;" and it
was addedany other woman would have been melted to marrow at
hearing such stanzas crooned in her praise.


I assured him I was naturally hard--very flintyand that he would
often find me so; and thatmoreoverI was determined to show him
divers rugged points in my character before the ensuing four weeks
elapsed: he should know fully what sort of a bargain he had made
while there was yet time to rescind it.


Would I be quiet and talk rationally?


I would be quiet if he liked, and as to talking rationally, I
flattered myself I was doing that now.


He frettedpishedand pshawed. "Very good I thought; you may
fume and fidget as you please: but this is the best plan to pursue
with youI am certain. I like you more than I can say; but I'll
not sink into a bathos of sentiment: and with this needle of
repartee I'll keep you from the edge of the gulf too; andmoreover
maintain by its pungent aid that distance between you and myself
most conducive to our real mutual advantage."


From less to moreI worked him up to considerable irritation; then
after he had retiredin dudgeonquite to the other end of the
roomI got upand sayingI wish you good-night, sir,in my
natural and wonted respectful mannerI slipped out by the side-door
and got away.



The system thus entered onI pursued during the whole season of
probation; and with the best success. He was keptto be sure
rather cross and crusty; but on the whole I could see he was
excellently entertainedand that a lamb-like submission and turtledove
sensibilitywhile fostering his despotism morewould have
pleased his judgmentsatisfied his common-senseand even suited
his taste less.

In other people's presence I wasas formerlydeferential and
quiet; any other line of conduct being uncalled for: it was only in
the evening conferences I thus thwarted and afflicted him. He
continued to send for me punctually the moment the clock struck
seven; though when I appeared before him nowhe had no such honeyed
terms as "love" and "darling" on his lips: the best words at my
service were "provoking puppet malicious elf sprite
changeling &c. For caresses, too, I now got grimaces; for a
pressure of the hand, a pinch on the arm; for a kiss on the cheek, a
severe tweak of the ear. It was all right: at present I decidedly
preferred these fierce favours to anything more tender. Mrs.
Fairfax, I saw, approved me: her anxiety on my account vanished;
therefore I was certain I did well. Meantime, Mr. Rochester
affirmed I was wearing him to skin and bone, and threatened awful
vengeance for my present conduct at some period fast coming. I
laughed in my sleeve at his menaces. I can keep you in reasonable
check now I reflected; and I don't doubt to be able to do it
hereafter: if one expedient loses its virtueanother must be
devised."

Yet after all my task was not an easy one; often I would rather have
pleased than teased him. My future husband was becoming to me my
whole world; and more than the world: almost my hope of heaven. He
stood between me and every thought of religionas an eclipse
intervenes between man and the broad sun. I could notin those
dayssee God for His creature: of whom I had made an idol.

CHAPTER XXV

The month of courtship had wasted: its very last hours were being
numbered. There was no putting off the day that advanced--the
bridal day; and all preparations for its arrival were complete. I
at leasthad nothing more to do: there were my trunkspacked
lockedcordedranged in a row along the wall of my little chamber;
to-morrowat this timethey would be far on their road to London:
and so should I (D.V.)--or rathernot Ibut one Jane Rochestera
person whom as yet I knew not. The cards of address alone remained
to nail on: they layfour little squaresin the drawer. Mr.
Rochester had himself written the directionMrs. Rochester,-Hotel,
London,on each: I could not persuade myself to affix them
or to have them affixed. Mrs. Rochester! She did not exist: she
would not be born till to-morrowsome time after eight o'clock
a.m.; and I would wait to be assured she had come into the world
alive before I assigned to her all that property. It was enough
that in yonder closetopposite my dressing-tablegarments said to
be hers had already displaced my black stuff Lowood frock and straw
bonnet: for not to me appertained that suit of wedding raiment; the
pearl-coloured robethe vapoury veil pendent from the usurped
portmanteau. I shut the closet to conceal the strangewraith-like
apparel it contained; whichat this evening hour--nine o'clock-gave
out certainly a most ghostly shimmer through the shadow of my
apartment. "I will leave you by yourselfwhite dream I said. I


am feverish: I hear the wind blowing: I will go out of doors and
feel it."

It was not only the hurry of preparation that made me feverish; not
only the anticipation of the great change--the new life which was to
commence to-morrow: both these circumstances had their share
doubtlessin producing that restlessexcited mood which hurried me
forth at this late hour into the darkening grounds: but a third
cause influenced my mind more than they.

I had at heart a strange and anxious thought. Something had
happened which I could not comprehend; no one knew of or had seen
the event but myself: it had taken place the preceding night. Mr.
Rochester that night was absent from home; nor was he yet returned:
business had called him to a small estate of two or three farms he
possessed thirty miles off--business it was requisite he should
settle in personprevious to his meditated departure from England.
I waited now his return; eager to disburthen my mindand to seek of
him the solution of the enigma that perplexed me. Stay till he
comesreader; andwhen I disclose my secret to himyou shall
share the confidence.

I sought the orcharddriven to its shelter by the windwhich all
day had blown strong and full from the southwithouthowever
bringing a speck of rain. Instead of subsiding as night drew onit
seemed to augment its rush and deepen its roar: the trees blew
steadfastly one waynever writhing roundand scarcely tossing back
their boughs once in an hour; so continuous was the strain bending
their branchy heads northward--the clouds drifted from pole to pole
fast followingmass on mass: no glimpse of blue sky had been
visible that July day.

It was not without a certain wild pleasure I ran before the wind
delivering my trouble of mind to the measureless air-torrent
thundering through space. Descending the laurel walkI faced the
wreck of the chestnut-tree; it stood up black and riven: the trunk
split down the centregasped ghastly. The cloven halves were not
broken from each otherfor the firm base and strong roots kept them
unsundered below; though community of vitality was destroyed--the
sap could flow no more: their great boughs on each side were dead
and next winter's tempests would be sure to fell one or both to
earth: as yethoweverthey might be said to form one tree--a
ruinbut an entire ruin.

You did right to hold fast to each other,I said: as if the
monster-splinters were living thingsand could hear me. "I think
scathed as you lookand charred and scorchedthere must be a
little sense of life in you yetrising out of that adhesion at the
faithfulhonest roots: you will never have green leaves more-never
more see birds making nests and singing idyls in your boughs;
the time of pleasure and love is over with you: but you are not
desolate: each of you has a comrade to sympathise with him in his
decay." As I looked up at themthe moon appeared momentarily in
that part of the sky which filled their fissure; her disk was bloodred
and half overcast; she seemed to throw on me one bewildered
dreary glanceand buried herself again instantly in the deep drift
of cloud. The wind fellfor a secondround Thornfield; but far
away over wood and waterpoured a wildmelancholy wail: it was
sad to listen toand I ran off again.

Here and there I strayed through the orchardgathered up the apples
with which the grass round the tree roots was thickly strewn; then I
employed myself in dividing the ripe from the unripe; I carried them
into the house and put them away in the store-room. Then I repaired


to the library to ascertain whether the fire was litforthough
summerI knew on such a gloomy evening Mr. Rochester would like to
see a cheerful hearth when he came in: yesthe fire had been
kindled some timeand burnt well. I placed his arm-chair by the
chimney-corner: I wheeled the table near it: I let down the
curtainand had the candles brought in ready for lighting. More
restless than everwhen I had completed these arrangements I could
not sit stillnor even remain in the house: a little time-piece in
the room and the old clock in the hall simultaneously struck ten.

How late it grows!I said. "I will run down to the gates: it is
moonlight at intervals; I can see a good way on the road. He may be
coming nowand to meet him will save some minutes of suspense."

The wind roared high in the great trees which embowered the gates;
but the road as far as I could seeto the right hand and the left
was all still and solitary: save for the shadows of clouds crossing
it at intervals as the moon looked outit was but a long pale line
unvaried by one moving speck.

A puerile tear dimmed my eye while I looked--a tear of
disappointment and impatience; ashamed of itI wiped it away. I
lingered; the moon shut herself wholly within her chamberand drew
close her curtain of dense cloud: the night grew dark; rain came
driving fast on the gale.

I wish he would come! I wish he would come!I exclaimedseized
with hypochondriac foreboding. I had expected his arrival before
tea; now it was dark: what could keep him? Had an accident
happened? The event of last night again recurred to me. I
interpreted it as a warning of disaster. I feared my hopes were too
bright to be realised; and I had enjoyed so much bliss lately that I
imagined my fortune had passed its meridianand must now decline.

Well, I cannot return to the house,I thought; "I cannot sit by
the firesidewhile he is abroad in inclement weather: better tire
my limbs than strain my heart; I will go forward and meet him."

I set out; I walked fastbut not far: ere I had measured a quarter
of a mileI heard the tramp of hoofs; a horseman came onfull
gallop; a dog ran by his side. Away with evil presentiment! It was
he: here he wasmounted on Mesrourfollowed by Pilot. He saw me;
for the moon had opened a blue field in the skyand rode in it
watery bright: he took his hat offand waved it round his head. I
now ran to meet him.

There!he exclaimedas he stretched out his hand and bent from
the saddle: "You can't do without methat is evident. Step on my
boot-toe; give me both hands: mount!"

I obeyed: joy made me agile: I sprang up before him. A hearty
kissing I got for a welcomeand some boastful triumphwhich I
swallowed as well as I could. He checked himself in his exultation
to demandBut is there anything the matter, Janet, that you come
to meet me at such an hour? Is there anything wrong?

No, but I thought you would never come. I could not bear to wait
in the house for you, especially with this rain and wind.

Rain and wind, indeed! Yes, you are dripping like a mermaid; pull
my cloak round you: but I think you are feverish, Jane: both your
cheek and hand are burning hot. I ask again, is there anything the
matter?


Nothing now; I am neither afraid nor unhappy."

Then you have been both?

Rather: but I'll tell you all about it by-and-bye, sir; and I
daresay you will only laugh at me for my pains.

I'll laugh at you heartily when to-morrow is past; till then I dare
not: my prize is not certain. This is you, who have been as
slippery as an eel this last month, and as thorny as a briar-rose?
I could not lay a finger anywhere but I was pricked; and now I seem
to have gathered up a stray lamb in my arms. You wandered out of
the fold to seek your shepherd, did you, Jane?

I wanted you: but don't boast. Here we are at Thornfield: now
let me get down.

He landed me on the pavement. As John took his horseand he
followed me into the hallhe told me to make haste and put
something dry onand then return to him in the library; and he
stopped meas I made for the staircaseto extort a promise that I
would not be long: nor was I long; in five minutes I rejoined him.
I found him at supper.

Take a seat and bear me company, Jane: please God, it is the last
meal but one you will eat at Thornfield Hall for a long time.

I sat down near himbut told him I could not eat. "Is it because
you have the prospect of a journey before youJane? Is it the
thoughts of going to London that takes away your appetite?"

I cannot see my prospects clearly to-night, sir; and I hardly know
what thoughts I have in my head. Everything in life seems unreal.

Except me: I am substantial enough--touch me.

You, sir, are the most phantom-like of all: you are a mere dream.

He held out his handlaughing. "Is that a dream?" said heplacing
it close to my eyes. He had a roundedmuscularand vigorous hand
as well as a longstrong arm.

Yes; though I touch it, it is a dream,said Ias I put it down
from before my face. "Sirhave you finished supper?"

Yes, Jane.

I rang the bell and ordered away the tray. When we were again
aloneI stirred the fireand then took a low seat at my master's
knee.

It is near midnight,I said.

Yes: but remember, Jane, you promised to wake with me the night
before my wedding.

I did; and I will keep my promise, for an hour or two at least: I
have no wish to go to bed.

Are all your arrangements complete?

All, sir.

And on my part likewise,he returnedI have settled everything;


and we shall leave Thornfield to-morrow, within half-an-hour after
our return from church.

Very well, sir.

With what an extraordinary smile you uttered that word--'very
well,' Jane! What a bright spot of colour you have on each cheek!
and how strangely your eyes glitter! Are you well?

I believe I am.

Believe! What is the matter? Tell me what you feel.

I could not, sir: no words could tell you what I feel. I wish
this present hour would never end: who knows with what fate the
next may come charged?

This is hypochondria, Jane. You have been over-excited, or overfatigued.


Do you, sir, feel calm and happy?

Calm?--no: but happy--to the heart's core.

I looked up at him to read the signs of bliss in his face: it was
ardent and flushed.

Give me your confidence, Jane,he said: "relieve your mind of any
weight that oppresses itby imparting it to me. What do you fear?-
that I shall not prove a good husband?"

It is the idea farthest from my thoughts.

Are you apprehensive of the new sphere you are about to enter?--of
the new life into which you are passing?

No.

You puzzle me, Jane: your look and tone of sorrowful audacity
perplex and pain me. I want an explanation.

Then, sir, listen. You were from home last night?

I was: I know that; and you hinted a while ago at something which
had happened in my absence:- nothing, probably, of consequence; but,
in short, it has disturbed you. Let me hear it. Mrs. Fairfax has
said something, perhaps? or you have overheard the servants talk?-your
sensitive self-respect has been wounded?

No, sir.It struck twelve--I waited till the time-piece had
concluded its silver chimeand the clock its hoarsevibritting
strokeand then I proceeded.

All day yesterday I was very busy, and very happy in my ceaseless
bustle; for I am not, as you seem to think, troubled by any haunting
fears about the new sphere, et cetera: I think it a glorious thing
to have the hope of living with you, because I love you. No, sir,
don't caress me now--let me talk undisturbed. Yesterday I trusted
well in Providence, and believed that events were working together
for your good and mine: it was a fine day, if you recollect--the
calmness of the air and sky forbade apprehensions respecting your
safety or comfort on your journey. I walked a little while on the
pavement after tea, thinking of you; and I beheld you in imagination
so near me, I scarcely missed your actual presence. I thought of


the life that lay before me--YOUR life, sir--an existence more
expansive and stirring than my own: as much more so as the depths
of the sea to which the brook runs are than the shallows of its own
strait channel. I wondered why moralists call this world a dreary
wilderness: for me it blossomed like a rose. Just at sunset, the
air turned cold and the sky cloudy: I went in, Sophie called me
upstairs to look at my wedding-dress, which they had just brought;
and under it in the box I found your present--the veil which, in
your princely extravagance, you sent for from London: resolved, I
suppose, since I would not have jewels, to cheat me into accepting
something as costly. I smiled as I unfolded it, and devised how I
would tease you about your aristocratic tastes, and your efforts to
masque your plebeian bride in the attributes of a peeress. I though
how I would carry down to you the square of unembroidered blond I
had myself prepared as a covering for my low-born head, and ask if
that was not good enough for a woman who could bring her husband
neither fortune, beauty, nor connections. I saw plainly how you
would look; and heard your impetuous republican answers, and your
haughty disavowal of any necessity on your part to augment your
wealth, or elevate your standing, by marrying either a purse or a
coronet.

How well you read me, you witch!interposed Mr. Rochester: "but
what did you find in the veil besides its embroidery? Did you find
poisonor a daggerthat you look so mournful now?"

No, no, sir; besides the delicacy and richness of the fabric, I
found nothing save Fairfax Rochester's pride; and that did not scare
me, because I am used to the sight of the demon. But, sir, as it
grew dark, the wind rose: it blew yesterday evening, not as it
blows now--wild and high--but 'with a sullen, moaning sound' far
more eerie. I wished you were at home. I came into this room, and
the sight of the empty chair and fireless hearth chilled me. For
some time after I went to bed, I could not sleep--a sense of anxious
excitement distressed me. The gale still rising, seemed to my ear
to muffle a mournful under-sound; whether in the house or abroad I
could not at first tell, but it recurred, doubtful yet doleful at
every lull; at last I made out it must be some dog howling at a
distance. I was glad when it ceased. On sleeping, I continued in
dreams the idea of a dark and gusty night. I continued also the
wish to be with you, and experienced a strange, regretful
consciousness of some barrier dividing us. During all my first
sleep, I was following the windings of an unknown road; total
obscurity environed me; rain pelted me; I was burdened with the
charge of a little child: a very small creature, too young and
feeble to walk, and which shivered in my cold arms, and wailed
piteously in my ear. I thought, sir, that you were on the road a
long way before me; and I strained every nerve to overtake you, and
made effort on effort to utter your name and entreat you to stop-but
my movements were fettered, and my voice still died away
inarticulate; while you, I felt, withdrew farther and farther every
moment.

And these dreams weigh on your spirits now, Jane, when I am close
to you? Little nervous subject! Forget visionary woe, and think
only of real happiness! You say you love me, Janet: yes--I will
not forget that; and you cannot deny it. THOSE words did not die
inarticulate on your lips. I heard them clear and soft: a thought
too solemn perhaps, but sweet as music--'I think it is a glorious
thing to have the hope of living with you, Edward, because I love
you.' Do you love me, Jane?--repeat it.

I do, sir--I do, with my whole heart.


Well,he saidafter some minutes' silenceit is strange; but
that sentence has penetrated by breast painfully. Why? I think
because you said it with such an earnest, religious energy, and
because your upward gaze at me now is the very sublime of faith,
truth, and devotion: it is too much as if some spirit were near me.
Look wicked, Jane: as you know well how to look: coin one of your
wild, shy, provoking smiles; tell me you hate me--tease me, vex me;
do anything but move me: I would rather be incensed than saddened.

I will tease you and vex you to your heart's content, when I have
finished my tale: but hear me to the end.

I thought, Jane, you had told me all. I thought I had found the
source of your melancholy in a dream.

I shook my head. "What! is there more? But I will not believe it
to be anything important. I warn you of incredulity beforehand. Go
on."

The disquietude of his airthe somewhat apprehensive impatience of
his mannersurprised me: but I proceeded.

I dreamt another dream, sir: that Thornfield Hall was a dreary
ruin, the retreat of bats and owls. I thought that of all the
stately front nothing remained but a shell-like wall, very high and
very fragile-looking. I wandered, on a moonlight night, through the
grass-grown enclosure within: here I stumbled over a marble hearth,
and there over a fallen fragment of cornice. Wrapped up in a shawl,
I still carried the unknown little child: I might not lay it down
anywhere, however tired were my arms--however much its weight
impeded my progress, I must retain it. I heard the gallop of a
horse at a distance on the road; I was sure it was you; and you were
departing for many years and for a distant country. I climbed the
thin wall with frantic perilous haste, eager to catch one glimpse of
you from the top: the stones rolled from under my feet, the ivy
branches I grasped gave way, the child clung round my neck in
terror, and almost strangled me; at last I gained the summit. I saw
you like a speck on a white track, lessening every moment. The
blast blew so strong I could not stand. I sat down on the narrow
ledge; I hushed the scared infant in my lap: you turned an angle of
the road: I bent forward to take a last look; the wall crumbled; I
was shaken; the child rolled from my knee, I lost my balance, fell,
and woke.

Now, Jane, that is all.

All the preface, sir; the tale is yet to come. On waking, a gleam
dazzled my eyes; I thought--Oh, it is daylight! But I was mistaken;
it was only candlelight. Sophie, I supposed, had come in. There
was a light in the dressing-table, and the door of the closet,
where, before going to bed, I had hung my wedding-dress and veil,
stood open; I heard a rustling there. I asked, 'Sophie, what are
you doing?' No one answered; but a form emerged from the closet; it
took the light, held it aloft, and surveyed the garments pendent
from the portmanteau. 'Sophie! Sophie!' I again cried: and still
it was silent. I had risen up in bed, I bent forward: first
surprise, then bewilderment, came over me; and then my blood crept
cold through my veins. Mr. Rochester, this was not Sophie, it was
not Leah, it was not Mrs. Fairfax: it was not--no, I was sure of
it, and am still--it was not even that strange woman, Grace Poole.

It must have been one of them,interrupted my master.

No, sir, I solemnly assure you to the contrary. The shape standing


before me had never crossed my eyes within the precincts of
Thornfield Hall before; the height, the contour were new to me.

Describe it, Jane.

It seemed, sir, a woman, tall and large, with thick and dark hair
hanging long down her back. I know not what dress she had on: it
was white and straight; but whether gown, sheet, or shroud, I cannot
tell.

Did you see her face?

Not at first. But presently she took my veil from its place; she
held it up, gazed at it long, and then she threw it over her own
head, and turned to the mirror. At that moment I saw the reflection
of the visage and features quite distinctly in the dark oblong
glass.

And how were they?

Fearful and ghastly to me--oh, sir, I never saw a face like it! It
was a discoloured face--it was a savage face. I wish I could forget
the roll of the red eyes and the fearful blackened inflation of the
lineaments!

Ghosts are usually pale, Jane.

This, sir, was purple: the lips were swelled and dark; the brow
furrowed: the black eyebrows widely raised over the bloodshot eyes.
Shall I tell you of what it reminded me?

You may.

Of the foul German spectre--the Vampyre.

Ah!--what did it do?

Sir, it removed my veil from its gaunt head, rent it in two parts,
and flinging both on the floor, trampled on them.

Afterwards?

It drew aside the window-curtain and looked out; perhaps it saw
dawn approaching, for, taking the candle, it retreated to the door.
Just at my bedside, the figure stopped: the fiery eyes glared upon
me--she thrust up her candle close to my face, and extinguished it
under my eyes. I was aware her lurid visage flamed over mine, and I
lost consciousness: for the second time in my life--only the second
time--I became insensible from terror.

Who was with you when you revived?

No one, sir, but the broad day. I rose, bathed my head and face in
water, drank a long draught; felt that though enfeebled I was not
ill, and determined that to none but you would I impart this vision.
Now, sir, tell me who and what that woman was?

The creature of an over-stimulated brain; that is certain. I must
be careful of you, my treasure: nerves like yours were not made for
rough handling.

Sir, depend on it, my nerves were not in fault; the thing was real:
the transaction actually took place.


And your previous dreams, were they real too? Is Thornfield Hall a
ruin? Am I severed from you by insuperable obstacles? Am I leaving
you without a tear--without a kiss--without a word?

Not yet.

Am I about to do it? Why, the day is already commenced which is to
bind us indissolubly; and when we are once united, there shall be no
recurrence of these mental terrors: I guarantee that.

Mental terrors, sir! I wish I could believe them to be only such:
I wish it more now than ever; since even you cannot explain to me
the mystery of that awful visitant.

And since I cannot do it, Jane, it must have been unreal.

But, sir, when I said so to myself on rising this morning, and when
I looked round the room to gather courage and comfort from the
cheerful aspect of each familiar object in full daylight, there--on
the carpet--I saw what gave the distinct lie to my hypothesis,--the
veil, torn from top to bottom in two halves!

I felt Mr. Rochester start and shudder; he hastily flung his arms
round me. "Thank God!" he exclaimedthat if anything malignant
did come near you last night, it was only the veil that was harmed.
Oh, to think what might have happened!

He drew his breath shortand strained me so close to himI could
scarcely pant. After some minutes' silencehe continuedcheerily
-

Now, Janet, I'll explain to you all about it. It was half dream,
half reality. A woman did, I doubt not, enter your room: and that
woman was--must have been--Grace Poole. You call her a strange
being yourself: from all you know, you have reason so to call her-what
did she do to me? what to Mason? In a state between sleeping
and waking, you noticed her entrance and her actions; but feverish,
almost delirious as you were, you ascribed to her a goblin
appearance different from her own: the long dishevelled hair, the
swelled black face, the exaggerated stature, were figments of
imagination; results of nightmare: the spiteful tearing of the veil
was real: and it is like her. I see you would ask why I keep such
a woman in my house: when we have been married a year and a day, I
will tell you; but not now. Are you satisfied, Jane? Do you accept
my solution of the mystery?

I reflectedand in truth it appeared to me the only possible one:
satisfied I was notbut to please him I endeavoured to appear so-relieved
I certainly did feel; so I answered him with a contented
smile. And nowas it was long past oneI prepared to leave him.

Does not Sophie sleep with Adele in the nursery?he askedas I
lit my candle.

Yes, sir.

And there is room enough in Adele's little bed for you. You must
share it with her to-night, Jane: it is no wonder that the incident
you have related should make you nervous, and I would rather you did
not sleep alone: promise me to go to the nursery.

I shall be very glad to do so, sir.

And fasten the door securely on the inside. Wake Sophie when you


go upstairs, under pretence of requesting her to rouse you in good
time to-morrow; for you must be dressed and have finished breakfast
before eight. And now, no more sombre thoughts: chase dull care
away, Janet. Don't you hear to what soft whispers the wind has
fallen? and there is no more beating of rain against the windowpanes:
look here(he lifted up the curtain)--"it is a lovely
night!"

It was. Half heaven was pure and stainless: the cloudsnow
trooping before the windwhich had shifted to the westwere filing
off eastward in longsilvered columns. The moon shone peacefully.

Well,said Mr. Rochestergazing inquiringly into my eyeshow is
my Janet now?

The night is serene, sir; and so am I.

And you will not dream of separation and sorrow to-night; but of
happy love and blissful union.

This prediction was but half fulfilled: I did not indeed dream of
sorrowbut as little did I dream of joy; for I never slept at all.
With little Adele in my armsI watched the slumber of childhood--so
tranquilso passionlessso innocent--and waited for the coming
day: all my life was awake and astir in my frame: and as soon as
the sun rose I rose too. I remember Adele clung to me as I left
her: I remember I kissed her as I loosened her little hands from my
neck; and I cried over her with strange emotionand quitted her
because I feared my sobs would break her still sound repose. She
seemed the emblem of my past life; and he I was now to array myself
to meetthe dreadbut adoredtype of my unknown future day.

CHAPTER XXVI

Sophie came at seven to dress me: she was very long indeed in
accomplishing her task; so long that Mr. RochestergrownI
supposeimpatient of my delaysent up to ask why I did not come.
She was just fastening my veil (the plain square of blond after all)
to my hair with a brooch; I hurried from under her hands as soon as
I could.

Stop!she cried in French. "Look at yourself in the mirror: you
have not taken one peep."

So I turned at the door: I saw a robed and veiled figureso unlike
my usual self that it seemed almost the image of a stranger.
Jane!called a voiceand I hastened down. I was received at the
foot of the stairs by Mr. Rochester.

Lingerer!he saidmy brain is on fire with impatience, and you
tarry so long!

He took me into the dining-roomsurveyed me keenly all over
pronounced me "fair as a lilyand not only the pride of his life
but the desire of his eyes and then telling me he would give me
but ten minutes to eat some breakfast, he rang the bell. One of his
lately hired servants, a footman, answered it.

Is John getting the carriage ready?"


Yes, sir.

Is the luggage brought down?

They are bringing it down, sir.

Go you to the church: see if Mr. Wood (the clergyman) and the
clerk are there: return and tell me.

The churchas the reader knowswas but just beyond the gates; the
footman soon returned.

Mr. Wood is in the vestry, sir, putting on his surplice.

And the carriage?

The horses are harnessing.

We shall not want it to go to church; but it must be ready the
moment we return: all the boxes and luggage arranged and strapped
on, and the coachman in his seat.

Yes, sir.

Jane, are you ready?

I rose. There were no groomsmenno bridesmaidsno relatives to
wait for or marshal: none but Mr. Rochester and I. Mrs. Fairfax
stood in the hall as we passed. I would fain have spoken to her
but my hand was held by a grasp of iron: I was hurried along by a
stride I could hardly follow; and to look at Mr. Rochester's face
was to feel that not a second of delay would be tolerated for any
purpose. I wonder what other bridegroom ever looked as he did--so
bent up to a purposeso grimly resolute: or whounder such
steadfast browsever revealed such flaming and flashing eyes.

I know not whether the day was fair or foul; in descending the
driveI gazed neither on sky nor earth: my heart was with my eyes;
and both seemed migrated into Mr. Rochester's frame. I wanted to
see the invisible thing on whichas we went alonghe appeared to
fasten a glance fierce and fell. I wanted to feel the thoughts
whose force he seemed breasting and resisting.

At the churchyard wicket he stopped: he discovered I was quite out
of breath. "Am I cruel in my love?" he said. "Delay an instant:
lean on meJane."

And now I can recall the picture of the grey old house of God rising
calm before meof a rook wheeling round the steepleof a ruddy
morning sky beyond. I remember somethingtooof the green gravemounds;
and I have not forgotteneithertwo figures of strangers
straying amongst the low hillocks and reading the mementoes graven
on the few mossy head-stones. I noticed thembecauseas they saw
usthey passed round to the back of the church; and I doubted not
they were going to enter by the side-aisle door and witness the
ceremony. By Mr. Rochester they were not observed; he was earnestly
looking at my face from which the blood hadI daresaymomentarily
fled: for I felt my forehead dewyand my cheeks and lips cold.
When I ralliedwhich I soon didhe walked gently with me up the
path to the porch.

We entered the quiet and humble temple; the priest waited in his
white surplice at the lowly altarthe clerk beside him. All was
still: two shadows only moved in a remote corner. My conjecture


had been correct: the strangers had slipped in before usand they
now stood by the vault of the Rochesterstheir backs towards us
viewing through the rails the old time-stained marble tombwhere a
kneeling angel guarded the remains of Damer de Rochesterslain at
Marston Moor in the time of the civil warsand of Elizabethhis
wife.

Our place was taken at the communion rails. Hearing a cautious step
behind meI glanced over my shoulder: one of the strangers--a
gentlemanevidently--was advancing up the chancel. The service
began. The explanation of the intent of matrimony was gone through;
and then the clergyman came a step further forwardandbending
slightly towards Mr. Rochesterwent on.

I require and charge you both (as ye will answer at the dreadful
day of judgment, when the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed),
that if either of you know any impediment why ye may not lawfully be
joined together in matrimony, ye do now confess it; for be ye well
assured that so many as are coupled together otherwise than God's
Word doth allow, are not joined together by God, neither is their
matrimony lawful.

He pausedas the custom is. When is the pause after that sentence
ever broken by reply? Notperhapsonce in a hundred years. And
the clergymanwho had not lifted his eyes from his bookand had
held his breath but for a momentwas proceeding: his hand was
already stretched towards Mr. Rochesteras his lips unclosed to
askWilt thou have this woman for thy wedded wife?--when a
distinct and near voice said


The marriage cannot go on: I declare the existence of an
impediment.

The clergyman looked up at the speaker and stood mute; the clerk did
the same; Mr. Rochester moved slightlyas if an earthquake had
rolled under his feet: taking a firmer footingand not turning his
head or eyeshe saidProceed.

Profound silence fell when he had uttered that wordwith deep but
low intonation. Presently Mr. Wood said


I cannot proceed without some investigation into what has been
asserted, and evidence of its truth or falsehood.

The ceremony is quite broken off,subjoined the voice behind us.
I am in a condition to prove my allegation: an insuperable
impediment to this marriage exists.

Mr. Rochester heardbut heeded not: he stood stubborn and rigid
making no movement but to possess himself of my hand. What a hot
and strong grasp he had! and how like quarried marble was his pale
firmmassive front at this moment! How his eye shonestill
watchfuland yet wild beneath!

Mr. Wood seemed at a loss. "What is the nature of the impediment?"
he asked. "Perhaps it may be got over--explained away?"

Hardly,was the answer. "I have called it insuperableand I
speak advisedly."

The speaker came forward and leaned on the rails. He continued
uttering each word distinctlycalmlysteadilybut not loudly


It simply consists in the existence of a previous marriage. Mr.


Rochester has a wife now living.

My nerves vibrated to those low-spoken words as they had never
vibrated to thunder--my blood felt their subtle violence as it had
never felt frost or fire; but I was collectedand in no danger of
swooning. I looked at Mr. Rochester: I made him look at me. His
whole face was colourless rock: his eye was both spark and flint.
He disavowed nothing: he seemed as if he would defy all things.
Without speakingwithout smilingwithout seeming to recognise in
me a human beinghe only twined my waist with his arm and riveted
me to his side.

Who are you?he asked of the intruder.

My name is Briggs, a solicitor of--Street, London.

And you would thrust on me a wife?

I would remind you of your lady's existence, sir, which the law
recognises, if you do not.

Favour me with an account of her--with her name, her parentage, her
place of abode.

Certainly.Mr. Briggs calmly took a paper from his pocketand
read out in a sort of officialnasal voice:


'I affirm and can prove that on the 20th of October A.D.--(a date
of fifteen years back), Edward Fairfax Rochester, of Thornfield
Hall, in the county of -, and of Ferndean Manor, in -shire, England,
was married to my sister, Bertha Antoinetta Mason, daughter of Jonas
Mason, merchant, and of Antoinetta his wife, a Creole, at--church,
Spanish Town, Jamaica. The record of the marriage will be found in
the register of that church--a copy of it is now in my possession.
Signed, Richard Mason.'

That--if a genuine document--may prove I have been married, but it
does not prove that the woman mentioned therein as my wife is still
living.

She was living three months ago,returned the lawyer.

How do you know?

I have a witness to the fact, whose testimony even you, sir, will
scarcely controvert.

Produce him--or go to hell.

I will produce him first--he is on the spot. Mr. Mason, have the
goodness to step forward.

Mr. Rochesteron hearing the nameset his teeth; he experienced
tooa sort of strong convulsive quiver; near to him as I wasI
felt the spasmodic movement of fury or despair run through his
frame. The second strangerwho had hitherto lingered in the
backgroundnow drew near; a pale face looked over the solicitor's
shoulder--yesit was Mason himself. Mr. Rochester turned and
glared at him. His eyeas I have often saidwas a black eye: it
had now a tawnynaya bloody light in its gloom; and his face
flushed--olive cheek and hueless forehead received a glow as from
spreadingascending heart-fire: and he stirredlifted his strong
arm--he could have struck Masondashed him on the church-floor
shocked by ruthless blow the breath from his body--but Mason shrank


awayand cried faintlyGood God!Contempt fell cool on Mr.
Rochester--his passion died as if a blight had shrivelled it up: he
only asked--"What have YOU to say?"

An inaudible reply escaped Mason's white lips.

The devil is in it if you cannot answer distinctly. I again
demand, what have you to say?

Sir--sir,interrupted the clergymando not forget you are in a
sacred place.Then addressing Masonhe inquired gentlyAre you
aware, sir, whether or not this gentleman's wife is still living?

Courage,urged the lawyer--"speak out."

She is now living at Thornfield Hall,said Masonin more
articulate tones: "I saw her there last April. I am her brother."

At Thornfield Hall!ejaculated the clergyman. "Impossible! I am
an old resident in this neighbourhoodsirand I never heard of a
Mrs. Rochester at Thornfield Hall."

I saw a grim smile contort Mr. Rochester's lipsand he muttered


No, by God! I took care that none should hear of it--or of her
under that name.He mused--for ten minutes he held counsel with
himself: he formed his resolveand announced it


Enough! all shall bolt out at once, like the bullet from the
barrel. Wood, close your book and take off your surplice; John
Green (to the clerk), leave the church: there will be no wedding
to-day.The man obeyed.

Mr. Rochester continuedhardily and recklessly: "Bigamy is an ugly
word!--I meanthoweverto be a bigamist; but fate has outmanoeuvred
meor Providence has checked me--perhaps the last.
am little better than a devil at this moment; andas my pastor
there would tell medeserve no doubt the sternest judgments of God
even to the quenchless fire and deathless worm. Gentlemenmy plan
is broken up:- what this lawyer and his client say is true: I have
been marriedand the woman to whom I was married lives! You say
you never heard of a Mrs. Rochester at the house up yonderWood;
but I daresay you have many a time inclined your ear to gossip about
the mysterious lunatic kept there under watch and ward. Some have
whispered to you that she is my bastard half-sister: somemy castoff
mistress. I now inform you that she is my wifewhom I married
fifteen years ago--Bertha Mason by name; sister of this resolute
personagewho is nowwith his quivering limbs and white cheeks
showing you what a stout heart men may bear. Cheer upDick!--never
fear me!--I'd almost as soon strike a woman as you. Bertha Mason is
mad; and she came of a mad family; idiots and maniacs through three
generations? Her motherthe Creolewas both a madwoman and a
drunkard!--as I found out after I had wed the daughter: for they
were silent on family secrets before. Berthalike a dutiful child
copied her parent in both points. I had a charming partner--pure
wisemodest: you can fancy I was a happy man. I went through rich
scenes! Oh! my experience has been heavenlyif you only knew it!
But I owe you no further explanation. BriggsWoodMasonI invite
you all to come up to the house and visit Mrs. Poole's patientand
MY WIFE! You shall see what sort of a being I was cheated into
espousingand judge whether or not I had a right to break the
compactand seek sympathy with something at least human. This
girl he continued, looking at me, knew no more than youWoodof
the disgusting secret: she thought all was fair and legal and never


dreamt she was going to be entrapped into a feigned union with a
defrauded wretchalready bound to a badmadand embruted partner!
Come all of you--follow!"

Still holding me fasthe left the church: the three gentlemen came
after. At the front door of the hall we found the carriage.

Take it back to the coach-house, John,said Mr. Rochester coolly;
it will not be wanted to-day.

At our entranceMrs. FairfaxAdeleSophieLeahadvanced to meet
and greet us.

To the right-about--every soul!cried the master; "away with your
congratulations! Who wants them? Not I!--they are fifteen years
too late!"

He passed on and ascended the stairsstill holding my handand
still beckoning the gentlemen to follow himwhich they did. We
mounted the first staircasepassed up the galleryproceeded to the
third storey: the lowblack dooropened by Mr. Rochester's
master-keyadmitted us to the tapestried roomwith its great bed
and its pictorial cabinet.

You know this place, Mason,said our guide; "she bit and stabbed
you here."

He lifted the hangings from the walluncovering the second door:
thistoohe opened. In a room without a windowthere burnt a
fire guarded by a high and strong fenderand a lamp suspended from
the ceiling by a chain. Grace Poole bent over the fireapparently
cooking something in a saucepan. In the deep shadeat the farther
end of the rooma figure ran backwards and forwards. What it was
whether beast or human beingone could notat first sighttell:
it grovelledseeminglyon all fours; it snatched and growled like
some strange wild animal: but it was covered with clothingand a
quantity of darkgrizzled hairwild as a manehid its head and
face.

Good-morrow, Mrs. Poole!said Mr. Rochester. "How are you? and
how is your charge to-day?"

We're tolerable, sir, I thank you,replied Gracelifting the
boiling mess carefully on to the hob: "rather snappishbut not
'rageous."

A fierce cry seemed to give the lie to her favourable report: the
clothed hyena rose upand stood tall on its hind-feet.

Ah! sir, she sees you!exclaimed Grace: "you'd better not stay."

Only a few moments, Grace: you must allow me a few moments.

Take care then, sir!--for God's sake, take care!

The maniac bellowed: she parted her shaggy locks from her visage
and gazed wildly at her visitors. I recognised well that purple
face--those bloated features. Mrs. Poole advanced.

Keep out of the way,said Mr. Rochesterthrusting her aside:
she has no knife now, I suppose, and I'm on my guard.

One never knows what she has, sir: she is so cunning: it is not
in mortal discretion to fathom her craft.


We had better leave her,whispered Mason.

Go to the devil!was his brother-in-law's recommendation.

'Ware!cried Grace. The three gentlemen retreated simultaneously.
Mr. Rochester flung me behind him: the lunatic sprang and grappled
his throat viciouslyand laid her teeth to his cheek: they
struggled. She was a big womanin stature almost equalling her
husbandand corpulent besides: she showed virile force in the
contest--more than once she almost throttled himathletic as he
was. He could have settled her with a well-planted blow; but he
would not strike: he would only wrestle. At last he mastered her
arms; Grace Poole gave him a cordand he pinioned them behind her:
with more ropewhich was at handhe bound her to a chair. The
operation was performed amidst the fiercest yells and the most
convulsive plunges. Mr. Rochester then turned to the spectators:
he looked at them with a smile both acrid and desolate.

That is MY WIFE,said he. "Such is the sole conjugal embrace I am
ever to know--such are the endearments which are to solace my
leisure hours! And THIS is what I wished to have" (laying his hand
on my shoulder): "this young girlwho stands so grave and quiet at
the mouth of helllooking collectedly at the gambols of a demonI
wanted her just as a change after that fierce ragout. Wood and
Briggslook at the difference! Compare these clear eyes with the
red balls yonder--this face with that mask--this form with that
bulk; then judge mepriest of the gospel and man of the lawand
remember with what judgment ye judge ye shall be judged! Off with
you now. I must shut up my prize."

We all withdrew. Mr. Rochester stayed a moment behind usto give
some further order to Grace Poole. The solicitor addressed me as he
descended the stair.

You, madam,said heare cleared from all blame: your uncle will
be glad to hear it--if, indeed, he should be still living--when Mr.
Mason returns to Madeira.

My uncle! What of him? Do you know him?

Mr. Mason does. Mr. Eyre has been the Funchal correspondent of his
house for some years. When your uncle received your letter
intimating the contemplated union between yourself and Mr.
Rochester, Mr. Mason, who was staying at Madeira to recruit his
health, on his way back to Jamaica, happened to be with him. Mr.
Eyre mentioned the intelligence; for he knew that my client here was
acquainted with a gentleman of the name of Rochester. Mr. Mason,
astonished and distressed as you may suppose, revealed the real
state of matters. Your uncle, I am sorry to say, is now on a sick
bed; from which, considering the nature of his disease--decline--and
the stage it has reached, it is unlikely he will ever rise. He
could not then hasten to England himself, to extricate you from the
snare into which you had fallen, but he implored Mr. Mason to lose
no time in taking steps to prevent the false marriage. He referred
him to me for assistance. I used all despatch, and am thankful I
was not too late: as you, doubtless, must be also. Were I not
morally certain that your uncle will be dead ere you reach Madeira,
I would advise you to accompany Mr. Mason back; but as it is, I
think you had better remain in England till you can hear further,
either from or of Mr. Eyre. Have we anything else to stay for?he
inquired of Mr. Mason.

No, no--let us be gone,was the anxious reply; and without waiting


to take leave of Mr. Rochesterthey made their exit at the hall
door. The clergyman stayed to exchange a few sentenceseither of
admonition or reproofwith his haughty parishioner; this duty done
he too departed.

I heard him go as I stood at the half-open door of my own roomto
which I had now withdrawn. The house clearedI shut myself in
fastened the bolt that none might intrudeand proceeded--not to
weepnot to mournI was yet too calm for thatbut--mechanically
to take off the wedding dressand replace it by the stuff gown I
had worn yesterdayas I thoughtfor the last time. I then sat
down: I felt weak and tired. I leaned my arms on a tableand my
head dropped on them. And now I thought: till now I had only
heardseenmoved--followed up and down where I was led or dragged-
watched event rush on eventdisclosure open beyond disclosure:
but NOWI THOUGHT.

The morning had been a quiet morning enough--all except the brief
scene with the lunatic: the transaction in the church had not been
noisy; there was no explosion of passionno loud altercationno
disputeno defiance or challengeno tearsno sobs: a few words
had been spokena calmly pronounced objection to the marriage made;
some sternshort questions put by Mr. Rochester; answers
explanations givenevidence adduced; an open admission of the truth
had been uttered by my master; then the living proof had been seen;
the intruders were goneand all was over.

I was in my own room as usual--just myselfwithout obvious change:
nothing had smitten meor scathed meor maimed me. And yet where
was the Jane Eyre of yesterday?--where was her life?--where were her
prospects?

Jane Eyrewho had been an ardentexpectant woman--almost a bride
was a coldsolitary girl again: her life was pale; her prospects
were desolate. A Christmas frost had come at midsummer; a white
December storm had whirled over June; ice glazed the ripe apples
drifts crushed the blowing roses; on hayfield and cornfield lay a
frozen shroud: lanes which last night blushed full of flowerstoday
were pathless with untrodden snow; and the woodswhich twelve
hours since waved leafy and flagrant as groves between the tropics
now spreadwastewildand white as pine-forests in wintry Norway.
My hopes were all dead--struck with a subtle doomsuch asin one
nightfell on all the first-born in the land of Egypt. I looked on
my cherished wishesyesterday so blooming and glowing; they lay
starkchilllivid corpses that could never revive. I looked at my
love: that feeling which was my master's--which he had created; it
shivered in my heartlike a suffering child in a cold cradle;
sickness and anguish had seized it; it could not seek Mr.
Rochester's arms--it could not derive warmth from his breast. Oh
never more could it turn to him; for faith was blighted--confidence
destroyed! Mr. Rochester was not to me what he had been; for he was
not what I had thought him. I would not ascribe vice to him; I
would not say he had betrayed me; but the attribute of stainless
truth was gone from his ideaand from his presence I must go: THAT
I perceived well. When--how--whitherI could not yet discern; but
he himselfI doubted notwould hurry me from Thornfield. Real
affectionit seemedhe could not have for me; it had been only
fitful passion: that was balked; he would want me no more. I
should fear even to cross his path now: my view must be hateful to
him. Ohhow blind had been my eyes! How weak my conduct!

My eyes were covered and closed: eddying darkness seemed to swim
round meand reflection came in as black and confused a flow.
Self-abandonedrelaxedand effortlessI seemed to have laid me


down in the dried-up bed of a great river; I heard a flood loosened
in remote mountainsand felt the torrent come: to rise I had no
willto flee I had no strength. I lay faintlonging to be dead.
One idea only still throbbed life-like within me--a remembrance of
God: it begot an unuttered prayer: these words went wandering up
and down in my rayless mindas something that should be whispered
but no energy was found to express them


Be not far from me, for trouble is near: there is none to help.

It was near: and as I had lifted no petition to Heaven to avert it-
as I had neither joined my handsnor bent my kneesnor moved my
lips--it came: in full heavy swing the torrent poured over me. The
whole consciousness of my life lornmy love lostmy hope quenched
my faith death-struckswayed full and mighty above me in one sullen
mass. That bitter hour cannot be described: in truththe waters
came into my soul; I sank in deep mire: I felt no standing; I came
into deep waters; the floods overflowed me.

CHAPTER XXVII

Some time in the afternoon I raised my headand looking round and
seeing the western sun gilding the sign of its decline on the wall
I askedWhat am I to do?

But the answer my mind gave--"Leave Thornfield at once"--was so
promptso dreadthat I stopped my ears. I said I could not bear
such words now. "That I am not Edward Rochester's bride is the
least part of my woe I alleged: that I have wakened out of most
glorious dreamsand found them all void and vainis a horror I
could bear and master; but that I must leave him decidedly
instantlyentirelyis intolerable. I cannot do it."

Butthena voice within me averred that I could do it and foretold
that I should do it. I wrestled with my own resolution: I wanted
to be weak that I might avoid the awful passage of further suffering
I saw laid out for me; and Conscienceturned tyrantheld Passion
by the throattold her tauntinglyshe had yet but dipped her
dainty foot in the sloughand swore that with that arm of iron he
would thrust her down to unsounded depths of agony.

Let me be torn away,then I cried. "Let another help me!"

No; you shall tear yourself away, none shall help you: you shall
yourself pluck out your right eye; yourself cut off your right hand:
your heart shall be the victim, and you the priest to transfix it.

I rose up suddenlyterror-struck at the solitude which so ruthless
a judge haunted--at the silence which so awful a voice filled. My
head swam as I stood erect. I perceived that I was sickening from
excitement and inanition; neither meat nor drink had passed my lips
that dayfor I had taken no breakfast. Andwith a strange pangI
now reflected thatlong as I had been shut up hereno message had
been sent to ask how I wasor to invite me to come down: not even
little Adele had tapped at the door; not even Mrs. Fairfax had
sought me. "Friends always forget those whom fortune forsakes I
murmured, as I undrew the bolt and passed out. I stumbled over an
obstacle: my head was still dizzy, my sight was dim, and my limbs
were feeble. I could not soon recover myself. I fell, but not on
to the ground: an outstretched arm caught me. I looked up--I was


supported by Mr. Rochester, who sat in a chair across my chamber
threshold.

You come out at last he said. WellI have been waiting for you
longand listening: yet not one movement have I heardnor one
sob: five minutes more of that death-like hushand I should have
forced the lock like a burglar. So you shun me?--you shut yourself
up and grieve alone! I would rather you had come and upbraided me
with vehemence. You are passionate. I expected a scene of some
kind. I was prepared for the hot rain of tears; only I wanted them
to be shed on my breast: now a senseless floor has received them
or your drenched handkerchief. But I err: you have not wept at
all! I see a white cheek and a faded eyebut no trace of tears. I
supposethenyour heart has been weeping blood?"

Well, Jane! not a word of reproach? Nothing bitter--nothing
poignant? Nothing to cut a feeling or sting a passion? You sit
quietly where I have placed you, and regard me with a weary, passive
look.

Jane, I never meant to wound you thus. If the man who had but one
little ewe lamb that was dear to him as a daughter, that ate of his
bread and drank of his cup, and lay in his bosom, had by some
mistake slaughtered it at the shambles, he would not have rued his
bloody blunder more than I now rue mine. Will you ever forgive me?

ReaderI forgave him at the moment and on the spot. There was such
deep remorse in his eyesuch true pity in his tonesuch manly
energy in his manner; and besidesthere was such unchanged love in
his whole look and mien--I forgave him all: yet not in wordsnot
outwardly; only at my heart's core.

You know I am a scoundrel, Jane?ere long he inquired wistfully-wondering
I supposeat my continued silence and tamenessthe
result rather of weakness than of will.

Yes, sir.

Then tell me so roundly and sharply--don't spare me.

I cannot: I am tired and sick. I want some water.He heaved a
sort of shuddering sighand taking me in his armscarried me
downstairs. At first I did not know to what room he had borne me;
all was cloudy to my glazed sight: presently I felt the reviving
warmth of a fire; forsummer as it wasI had become icy cold in my
chamber. He put wine to my lips; I tasted it and revived; then I
ate something he offered meand was soon myself. I was in the
library--sitting in his chair--he was quite near. "If I could go
out of life nowwithout too sharp a pangit would be well for me
I thought; then I should not have to make the effort of cracking my
heart-strings in rending them from among Mr. Rochester's. I must
leave himit appears. I do not want to leave him--I cannot leave
him."

How are you now, Jane?

Much better, sir; I shall be well soon.

Taste the wine again, Jane.

I obeyed him; then he put the glass on the tablestood before me
and looked at me attentively. Suddenly he turned awaywith an
inarticulate exclamationfull of passionate emotion of some kind;
he walked fast through the room and came back; he stooped towards me


as if to kiss me; but I remembered caresses were now forbidden.
turned my face away and put his aside.

What!--How is this?he exclaimed hastily. "OhI know! you won't
kiss the husband of Bertha Mason? You consider my arms filled and
my embraces appropriated?"

At any rate, there is neither room nor claim for me, sir.

Why, Jane? I will spare you the trouble of much talking; I will
answer for you--Because I have a wife already, you would reply.--I
guess rightly?

Yes.

If you think so, you must have a strange opinion of me; you must
regard me as a plotting profligate--a base and low rake who has been
simulating disinterested love in order to draw you into a snare
deliberately laid, and strip you of honour and rob you of selfrespect.
What do you say to that? I see you can say nothing in the
first place, you are faint still, and have enough to do to draw your
breath; in the second place, you cannot yet accustom yourself to
accuse and revile me, and besides, the flood-gates of tears are
opened, and they would rush out if you spoke much; and you have no
desire to expostulate, to upbraid, to make a scene: you are
thinking how TO ACT--TALKING you consider is of no use. I know you-
I am on my guard.

Sir, I do not wish to act against you,I said; and my unsteady
voice warned me to curtail my sentence.

Not in your sense of the word, but in mine you are scheming to
destroy me. You have as good as said that I am a married man--as a
married man you will shun me, keep out of my way: just now you have
refused to kiss me. You intend to make yourself a complete stranger
to me: to live under this roof only as Adele's governess; if ever I
say a friendly word to you, if ever a friendly feeling inclines you
again to me, you will say,--'That man had nearly made me his
mistress: I must be ice and rock to him;' and ice and rock you will
accordingly become.

I cleared and steadied my voice to reply: "All is changed about me
sir; I must change too--there is no doubt of that; and to avoid
fluctuations of feelingand continual combats with recollections
and associationsthere is only one way--Adele must have a new
governesssir."

Oh, Adele will go to school--I have settled that already; nor do I
mean to torment you with the hideous associations and recollections
of Thornfield Hall--this accursed place--this tent of Achan--this
insolent vault, offering the ghastliness of living death to the
light of the open sky--this narrow stone hell, with its one real
fiend, worse than a legion of such as we imagine. Jane, you shall
not stay here, nor will I. I was wrong ever to bring you to
Thornfield Hall, knowing as I did how it was haunted. I charged
them to conceal from you, before I ever saw you, all knowledge of
the curse of the place; merely because I feared Adele never would
have a governess to stay if she knew with what inmate she was
housed, and my plans would not permit me to remove the maniac
elsewhere--though I possess an old house, Ferndean Manor, even more
retired and hidden than this, where I could have lodged her safely
enough, had not a scruple about the unhealthiness of the situation,
in the heart of a wood, made my conscience recoil from the
arrangement. Probably those damp walls would soon have eased me of


her charge: but to each villain his own vice; and mine is not a
tendency to indirect assassination, even of what I most hate.

Concealing the mad-woman's neighbourhood from youhoweverwas
something like covering a child with a cloak and laying it down near
a upas-tree: that demon's vicinage is poisonedand always was.
But I'll shut up Thornfield Hall: I'll nail up the front door and
board the lower windows: I'll give Mrs. Poole two hundred a year to
live here with MY WIFEas you term that fearful hag: Grace will do
much for moneyand she shall have her sonthe keeper at Grimsby
Retreatto bear her company and be at hand to give her aid in the
paroxysmswhen MY WIFE is prompted by her familiar to burn people
in their beds at nightto stab themto bite their flesh from their
bonesand so on--"

Sir,I interrupted himyou are inexorable for that unfortunate
lady: you speak of her with hate--with vindictive antipathy. It is
cruel--she cannot help being mad.

Jane, my little darling (so I will call you, for so you are), you
don't know what you are talking about; you misjudge me again: it is
not because she is mad I hate her. If you were mad, do you think I
should hate you?

I do indeed, sir.

Then you are mistaken, and you know nothing about me, and nothing
about the sort of love of which I am capable. Every atom of your
flesh is as dear to me as my own: in pain and sickness it would
still be dear. Your mind is my treasure, and if it were broken, it
would be my treasure still: if you raved, my arms should confine
you, and not a strait waistcoat--your grasp, even in fury, would
have a charm for me: if you flew at me as wildly as that woman did
this morning, I should receive you in an embrace, at least as fond
as it would be restrictive. I should not shrink from you with
disgust as I did from her: in your quiet moments you should have no
watcher and no nurse but me; and I could hang over you with untiring
tenderness, though you gave me no smile in return; and never weary
of gazing into your eyes, though they had no longer a ray of
recognition for me.--But why do I follow that train of ideas? I was
talking of removing you from Thornfield. All, you know, is prepared
for prompt departure: to-morrow you shall go. I only ask you to
endure one more night under this roof, Jane; and then, farewell to
its miseries and terrors for ever! I have a place to repair to,
which will be a secure sanctuary from hateful reminiscences, from
unwelcome intrusion--even from falsehood and slander.

And take Adele with you, sir,I interrupted; "she will be a
companion for you."

What do you mean, Jane? I told you I would send Adele to school;
and what do I want with a child for a companion, and not my own
child,--a French dancer's bastard? Why do you importune me about
her! I say, why do you assign Adele to me for a companion?

You spoke of a retirement, sir; and retirement and solitude are
dull: too dull for you.

Solitude! solitude!he reiterated with irritation. "I see I must
come to an explanation. I don't know what sphynx-like expression is
forming in your countenance. You are to share my solitude. Do you
understand?"

I shook my head: it required a degree of courageexcited as he was


becomingeven to risk that mute sign of dissent. He had been
walking fast about the roomand he stoppedas if suddenly rooted
to one spot. He looked at me long and hard: I turned my eyes from
himfixed them on the fireand tried to assume and maintain a
quietcollected aspect.

Now for the hitch in Jane's character,he said at lastspeaking
more calmly than from his look I had expected him to speak. "The
reel of silk has run smoothly enough so far; but I always knew there
would come a knot and a puzzle: here it is. Now for vexationand
exasperationand endless trouble! By God! I long to exert a
fraction of Samson's strengthand break the entanglement like tow!"

He recommenced his walkbut soon again stoppedand this time just
before me.

Jane! will you hear reason?(he stooped and approached his lips to
my ear); "becauseif you won'tI'll try violence." His voice was
hoarse; his look that of a man who is just about to burst an
insufferable bond and plunge headlong into wild license. I saw that
in another momentand with one impetus of frenzy moreI should be
able to do nothing with him. The present--the passing second of
time--was all I had in which to control and restrain him--a movement
of repulsionflightfear would have sealed my doom--and his. But
I was not afraid: not in the least. I felt an inward power; a
sense of influencewhich supported me. The crisis was perilous;
but not without its charm: such as the Indianperhapsfeels when
he slips over the rapid in his canoe. I took hold of his clenched
handloosened the contorted fingersand said to himsoothingly


Sit down; I'll talk to you as long as you like, and hear all you
have to say, whether reasonable or unreasonable.

He sat down: but he did not get leave to speak directly. I had
been struggling with tears for some time: I had taken great pains
to repress thembecause I knew he would not like to see me weep.
NowhoweverI considered it well to let them flow as freely and as
long as they liked. If the flood annoyed himso much the better.
So I gave way and cried heartily.

Soon I heard him earnestly entreating me to be composed. I said I
could not while he was in such a passion.

But I am not angry, Jane: I only love you too well; and you had
steeled your little pale face with such a resolute, frozen look, I
could not endure it. Hush, now, and wipe your eyes.

His softened voice announced that he was subdued; so Iin my turn
became calm. Now he made an effort to rest his head on my shoulder
but I would not permit it. Then he would draw me to him: no.

Jane! Jane!he saidin such an accent of bitter sadness it
thrilled along every nerve I had; "you don't love methen? It was
only my stationand the rank of my wifethat you valued? Now that
you think me disqualified to become your husbandyou recoil from my
touch as if I were some toad or ape."

These words cut me: yet what could I do or I say? I ought probably
to have done or said nothing; but I was so tortured by a sense of
remorse at thus hurting his feelingsI could not control the wish
to drop balm where I had wounded.

I DO love you,I saidmore than ever: but I must not show or
indulge the feeling: and this is the last time I must express it.


The last time, Jane! What! do you think you can live with me, and
see me daily, and yet, if you still love me, be always cold and
distant?

No, sir; that I am certain I could not; and therefore I see there
is but one way: but you will be furious if I mention it.

Oh, mention it! If I storm, you have the art of weeping.

Mr. Rochester, I must leave you.

For how long, Jane? For a few minutes, while you smooth your hair-
which is somewhat dishevelled; and bathe your face--which looks
feverish?

I must leave Adele and Thornfield. I must part with you for my
whole life: I must begin a new existence among strange faces and
strange scenes.

Of course: I told you you should. I pass over the madness about
parting from me. You mean you must become a part of me. As to the
new existence, it is all right: you shall yet be my wife: I am not
married. You shall be Mrs. Rochester--both virtually and nominally.
I shall keep only to you so long as you and I live. You shall go to
a place I have in the south of France: a whitewashed villa on the
shores of the Mediterranean. There you shall live a happy, and
guarded, and most innocent life. Never fear that I wish to lure you
into error--to make you my mistress. Why did you shake your head?
Jane, you must be reasonable, or in truth I shall again become
frantic.

His voice and hand quivered: his large nostrils dilated; his eye
blazed: still I dared to speak.

Sir, your wife is living: that is a fact acknowledged this morning
by yourself. If I lived with you as you desire, I should then be
your mistress: to say otherwise is sophistical--is false.

Jane, I am not a gentle-tempered man--you forget that: I am not
long-enduring; I am not cool and dispassionate. Out of pity to me
and yourself, put your finger on my pulse, feel how it throbs, and-beware!


He bared his wristand offered it to me: the blood was forsaking
his cheek and lipsthey were growing livid; I was distressed on all
hands. To agitate him thus deeplyby a resistance he so abhorred
was cruel: to yield was out of the question. I did what human
beings do instinctively when they are driven to utter extremity-looked
for aid to one higher than man: the words "God help me!"
burst involuntarily from my lips.

I am a fool!cried Mr. Rochester suddenly. "I keep telling her I
am not marriedand do not explain to her why. I forget she knows
nothing of the character of that womanor of the circumstances
attending my infernal union with her. OhI am certain Jane will
agree with me in opinionwhen she knows all that I know! Just put
your hand in mineJanet--that I may have the evidence of touch as
well as sightto prove you are near me--and I will in a few words
show you the real state of the case. Can you listen to me

Yes, sir; for hours if you will.

I ask only minutes. Jane, did you ever hear or know at I was not


the eldest son of my house: that I had once a brother older than
I?

I remember Mrs. Fairfax told me so once.

And did you ever hear that my father was an avaricious, grasping
man?

I have understood something to that effect.

Well, Jane, being so, it was his resolution to keep the property
together; he could not bear the idea of dividing his estate and
leaving me a fair portion: all, he resolved, should go to my
brother, Rowland. Yet as little could he endure that a son of his
should be a poor man. I must be provided for by a wealthy marriage.
He sought me a partner betimes. Mr. Mason, a West India planter and
merchant, was his old acquaintance. He was certain his possessions
were real and vast: he made inquiries. Mr. Mason, he found, had a
son and daughter; and he learned from him that he could and would
give the latter a fortune of thirty thousand pounds: that sufficed.
When I left college, I was sent out to Jamaica, to espouse a bride
already courted for me. My father said nothing about her money; but
he told me Miss Mason was the boast of Spanish Town for her beauty:
and this was no lie. I found her a fine woman, in the style of
Blanche Ingram: tall, dark, and majestic. Her family wished to
secure me because I was of a good race; and so did she. They showed
her to me in parties, splendidly dressed. I seldom saw her alone,
and had very little private conversation with her. She flattered
me, and lavishly displayed for my pleasure her charms and
accomplishments. All the men in her circle seemed to admire her and
envy me. I was dazzled, stimulated: my senses were excited; and
being ignorant, raw, and inexperienced, I thought I loved her.
There is no folly so besotted that the idiotic rivalries of society,
the prurience, the rashness, the blindness of youth, will not hurry
a man to its commission. Her relatives encouraged me; competitors
piqued me; she allured me: a marriage was achieved almost before I
knew where I was. Oh, I have no respect for myself when I think of
that act!--an agony of inward contempt masters me. I never loved, I
never esteemed, I did not even know her. I was not sure of the
existence of one virtue in her nature: I had marked neither
modesty, nor benevolence, nor candour, nor refinement in her mind or
manners--and, I married her:- gross, grovelling, mole-eyed blockhead
that I was! With less sin I might have--But let me remember to whom
I am speaking.

My bride's mother I had never seen: I understood she was dead.
The honeymoon over, I learned my mistake; she was only mad, and shut
up in a lunatic asylum. There was a younger brother, too--a
complete dumb idiot. The elder one, whom you have seen (and whom I
cannot hate, whilst I abhor all his kindred, because he has some
grains of affection in his feeble mind, shown in the continued
interest he takes in his wretched sister, and also in a dog-like
attachment he once bore me), will probably be in the same state one
day. My father and my brother Rowland knew all this; but they
thought only of the thirty thousand pounds, and joined in the plot
against me.

These were vile discoveries; but except for the treachery of
concealment, I should have made them no subject of reproach to my
wife, even when I found her nature wholly alien to mine, her tastes
obnoxious to me, her cast of mind common, low, narrow, and
singularly incapable of being led to anything higher, expanded to
anything larger--when I found that I could not pass a single
evening, nor even a single hour of the day with her in comfort; that


kindly conversation could not be sustained between us, because
whatever topic I started, immediately received from her a turn at
once coarse and trite, perverse and imbecile--when I perceived that
I should never have a quiet or settled household, because no servant
would bear the continued outbreaks of her violent and unreasonable
temper, or the vexations of her absurd, contradictory, exacting
orders--even then I restrained myself: I eschewed upbraiding, I
curtailed remonstrance; I tried to devour my repentance and disgust
in secret; I repressed the deep antipathy I felt.

JaneI will not trouble you with abominable details: some strong
words shall express what I have to say. I lived with that woman
upstairs four yearsand before that time she had tried me indeed:
her character ripened and developed with frightful rapidity; her
vices sprang up fast and rank: they were so strongonly cruelty
could check themand I would not use cruelty. What a pigmy
intellect she hadand what giant propensities! How fearful were
the curses those propensities entailed on me! Bertha Masonthe
true daughter of an infamous motherdragged me through all the
hideous and degrading agonies which must attend a man bound to a
wife at once intemperate and unchaste.

My brother in the interval was dead, and at the end of the four
years my father died too. I was rich enough now--yet poor to
hideous indigence: a nature the most gross, impure, depraved I ever
saw, was associated with mine, and called by the law and by society
a part of me. And I could not rid myself of it by any legal
proceedings: for the doctors now discovered that MY WIFE was mad-her
excesses had prematurely developed the germs of insanity. Jane,
you don't like my narrative; you look almost sick--shall I defer the
rest to another day?

No, sir, finish it now; I pity you--I do earnestly pity you.

Pity, Jane, from some people is a noxious and insulting sort of
tribute, which one is justified in hurling back in the teeth of
those who offer it; but that is the sort of pity native to callous,
selfish hearts; it is a hybrid, egotistical pain at hearing of woes,
crossed with ignorant contempt for those who have endured them. But
that is not your pity, Jane; it is not the feeling of which your
whole face is full at this moment--with which your eyes are now
almost overflowing--with which your heart is heaving--with which
your hand is trembling in mine. Your pity, my darling, is the
suffering mother of love: its anguish is the very natal pang of the
divine passion. I accept it, Jane; let the daughter have free
advent--my arms wait to receive her.

Now, sir, proceed; what did you do when you found she was mad?

Jane, I approached the verge of despair; a remnant of self-respect
was all that intervened between me and the gulf. In the eyes of the
world, I was doubtless covered with grimy dishonour; but I resolved
to be clean in my own sight--and to the last I repudiated the
contamination of her crimes, and wrenched myself from connection
with her mental defects. Still, society associated my name and
person with hers; I yet saw her and heard her daily: something of
her breath (faugh!) mixed with the air I breathed; and besides, I
remembered I had once been her husband--that recollection was then,
and is now, inexpressibly odious to me; moreover, I knew that while
she lived I could never be the husband of another and better wife;
and, though five years my senior (her family and her father had lied
to me even in the particular of her age), she was likely to live as
long as I, being as robust in frame as she was infirm in mind.
Thus, at the age of twenty-six, I was hopeless.


One night I had been awakened by her yells--(since the medical men
had pronounced her madshe hadof coursebeen shut up)--it was a
fiery West Indian night; one of the description that frequently
precede the hurricanes of those climates. Being unable to sleep in
bedI got up and opened the window. The air was like sulphursteams--
I could find no refreshment anywhere. Mosquitoes came
buzzing in and hummed sullenly round the room; the seawhich I
could hear from thencerumbled dull like an earthquake--black
clouds were casting up over it; the moon was setting in the waves
broad and redlike a hot cannon-ball--she threw her last bloody
glance over a world quivering with the ferment of tempest. I was
physically influenced by the atmosphere and sceneand my ears were
filled with the curses the maniac still shrieked out; wherein she
momentarily mingled my name with such a tone of demon-hatewith
such language!--no professed harlot ever had a fouler vocabulary
than she: though two rooms offI heard every word--the thin
partitions of the West India house opposing but slight obstruction
to her wolfish cries.

'This life,' said I at last, 'is hell: this is the air--those are
the sounds of the bottomless pit! I have a right to deliver myself
from it if I can. The sufferings of this mortal state will leave me
with the heavy flesh that now cumbers my soul. Of the fanatic's
burning eternity I have no fear: there is not a future state worse
than this present one--let me break away, and go home to God!'

I said this whilst I knelt down atand unlocked a trunk which
contained a brace of loaded pistols: I mean to shoot myself. I
only entertained the intention for a moment; fornot being insane
the crisis of exquisite and unalloyed despairwhich had originated
the wish and design of self-destructionwas past in a second.

A wind fresh from Europe blew over the ocean and rushed through the
open casement: the storm broke, streamed, thundered, blazed, and
the air grew pure. I then framed and fixed a resolution. While I
walked under the dripping orange-trees of my wet garden, and amongst
its drenched pomegranates and pine-apples, and while the refulgent
dawn of the tropics kindled round me--I reasoned thus, Jane--and now
listen; for it was true Wisdom that consoled me in that hour, and
showed me the right path to follow.

The sweet wind from Europe was still whispering in the refreshed
leavesand the Atlantic was thundering in glorious liberty; my
heartdried up and scorched for a long timeswelled to the tone
and filled with living blood--my being longed for renewal--my soul
thirsted for a pure draught. I saw hope revive--and felt
regeneration possible. From a flowery arch at the bottom of my
garden I gazed over the sea--bluer than the sky: the old world was
beyond; clear prospects opened thus:


'Go,' said Hope, 'and live again in Europe: there it is not known
what a sullied name you bear, nor what a filthy burden is bound to
you. You may take the maniac with you to England; confine her with
due attendance and precautions at Thornfield: then travel yourself
to what clime you will, and form what new tie you like. That woman,
who has so abused your long-suffering, so sullied your name, so
outraged your honour, so blighted your youth, is not your wife, nor
are you her husband. See that she is cared for as her condition
demands, and you have done all that God and humanity require of you.
Let her identity, her connection with yourself, be buried in
oblivion: you are bound to impart them to no living being. Place
her in safety and comfort: shelter her degradation with secrecy,
and leave her.'


I acted precisely on this suggestion. My father and brother had
not made my marriage known to their acquaintance; becausein the
very first letter I wrote to apprise them of the union--having
already begun to experience extreme disgust of its consequences
andfrom the family character and constitutionseeing a hideous
future opening to me--I added an urgent charge to keep it secret:
and very soon the infamous conduct of the wife my father had
selected for me was such as to make him blush to own her as his
daughter-in-law. Far from desiring to publish the connectionhe
became as anxious to conceal it as myself.

To England, then, I conveyed her; a fearful voyage I had with such
a monster in the vessel. Glad was I when I at last got her to
Thornfield, and saw her safely lodged in that third-storey room, of
whose secret inner cabinet she has now for ten years made a wild
beast's den--a goblin's cell. I had some trouble in finding an
attendant for her, as it was necessary to select one on whose
fidelity dependence could be placed; for her ravings would
inevitably betray my secret: besides, she had lucid intervals of
days--sometimes weeks--which she filled up with abuse of me. At
last I hired Grace Poole from the Grimbsy Retreat. She and the
surgeon, Carter (who dressed Mason's wounds that night he was
stabbed and worried), are the only two I have ever admitted to my
confidence. Mrs. Fairfax may indeed have suspected something, but
she could have gained no precise knowledge as to facts. Grace has,
on the whole, proved a good keeper; though, owing partly to a fault
of her own, of which it appears nothing can cure her, and which is
incident to her harassing profession, her vigilance has been more
than once lulled and baffled. The lunatic is both cunning and
malignant; she has never failed to take advantage of her guardian's
temporary lapses; once to secrete the knife with which she stabbed
her brother, and twice to possess herself of the key of her cell,
and issue therefrom in the night-time. On the first of these
occasions, she perpetrated the attempt to burn me in my bed; on the
second, she paid that ghastly visit to you. I thank Providence, who
watched over you, that she then spent her fury on your wedding
apparel, which perhaps brought back vague reminiscences of her own
bridal days: but on what might have happened, I cannot endure to
reflect. When I think of the thing which flew at my throat this
morning, hanging its black and scarlet visage over the nest of my
dove, my blood curdles

And whatsir I asked, while he paused, did you do when you had
settled her here? Where did you go?"

What did I do, Jane? I transformed myself into a will-o'-the-wisp.
Where did I go? I pursued wanderings as wild as those of the Marchspirit.
I sought the Continent, and went devious through all its
lands. My fixed desire was to seek and find a good and intelligent
woman, whom I could love: a contrast to the fury I left at
Thornfield--

But you could not marry, sir.

I had determined and was convinced that I could and ought. It was
not my original intention to deceive, as I have deceived you. I
meant to tell my tale plainly, and make my proposals openly: and it
appeared to me so absolutely rational that I should be considered
free to love and be loved, I never doubted some woman might be found
willing and able to understand my case and accept me, in spite of
the curse with which I was burdened.

Well, sir?


When you are inquisitive, Jane, you always make me smile. You open
your eyes like an eager bird, and make every now and then a restless
movement, as if answers in speech did not flow fast enough for you,
and you wanted to read the tablet of one's heart. But before I go
on, tell me what you mean by your 'Well, sir?' It is a small phrase
very frequent with you; and which many a time has drawn me on and on
through interminable talk: I don't very well know why.

I mean,--What next? How did you proceed? What came of such an
event?

Precisely! and what do you wish to know now?

Whether you found any one you liked: whether you asked her to
marry you; and what she said.

I can tell you whether I found any one I liked, and whether I asked
her to marry me: but what she said is yet to be recorded in the
book of Fate. For ten long years I roved about, living first in one
capital, then another: sometimes in St. Petersburg; oftener in
Paris; occasionally in Rome, Naples, and Florence. Provided with
plenty of money and the passport of an old name, I could choose my
own society: no circles were closed against me. I sought my ideal
of a woman amongst English ladies, French countesses, Italian
signoras, and German grafinnen. I could not find her. Sometimes,
for a fleeting moment, I thought I caught a glance, heard a tone,
beheld a form, which announced the realisation of my dream: but I
was presently undeserved. You are not to suppose that I desired
perfection, either of mind or person. I longed only for what suited
me--for the antipodes of the Creole: and I longed vainly. Amongst
them all I found not one whom, had I been ever so free, I--warned as
I was of the risks, the horrors, the loathings of incongruous
unions--would have asked to marry me. Disappointment made me
reckless. I tried dissipation--never debauchery: that I hated, and
hate. That was my Indian Messalina's attribute: rooted disgust at
it and her restrained me much, even in pleasure. Any enjoyment that
bordered on riot seemed to approach me to her and her vices, and I
eschewed it.

Yet I could not live alone; so I tried the companionship of
mistresses. The first I chose was Celine Varens--another of those
steps which make a man spurn himself when he recalls them. You
already know what she wasand how my liaison with her terminated.
She had two successors: an ItalianGiacintaand a GermanClara;
both considered singularly handsome. What was their beauty to me in
a few weeks? Giacinta was unprincipled and violent: I tired of her
in three months. Clara was honest and quiet; but heavymindless
and unimpressible: not one whit to my taste. I was glad to give
her a sufficient sum to set her up in a good line of businessand
so get decently rid of her. ButJaneI see by your face you are
not forming a very favourable opinion of me just now. You think me
an unfeelingloose-principled rake: don't you?"

I don't like you so well as I have done sometimes, indeed, sir.
Did it not seem to you in the least wrong to live in that way, first
with one mistress and then another? You talk of it as a mere matter
of course.

It was with me; and I did not like it. It was a grovelling fashion
of existence: I should never like to return to it. Hiring a
mistress is the next worse thing to buying a slave: both are often
by nature, and always by position, inferior: and to live familiarly
with inferiors is degrading. I now hate the recollection of the


time I passed with Celine, Giacinta, and Clara.

I felt the truth of these words; and I drew from them the certain
inferencethat if I were so far to forget myself and all the
teaching that had ever been instilled into meas--under any
pretext--with any justification--through any temptation--to become
the successor of these poor girlshe would one day regard me with
the same feeling which now in his mind desecrated their memory.
did not give utterance to this conviction: it was enough to feel
it. I impressed it on my heartthat it might remain there to serve
me as aid in the time of trial.

Now, Jane, why don't you say 'Well, sir?' I have not done. You
are looking grave. You disapprove of me still, I see. But let me
come to the point. Last January, rid of all mistresses--in a harsh,
bitter frame of mind, the result of a useless, roving, lonely life-corroded
with disappointment, sourly disposed against all men, and
especially against all womankind (for I began to regard the notion
of an intellectual, faithful, loving woman as a mere dream),
recalled by business, I came back to England.

On a frosty winter afternoonI rode in sight of Thornfield Hall.
Abhorred spot! I expected no peace--no pleasure there. On a stile
in Hay Lane I saw a quiet little figure sitting by itself. I passed
it as negligently as I did the pollard willow opposite to it: I had
no presentiment of what it would be to me; no inward warning that
the arbitress of my life--my genius for good or evil--waited there
in humble guise. I did not know iteven whenon the occasion of
Mesrour's accidentit came up and gravely offered me help.
Childish and slender creature! It seemed as if a linnet had hopped
to my foot and proposed to bear me on its tiny wing. I was surly;
but the thing would not go: it stood by me with strange
perseveranceand looked and spoke with a sort of authority. I must
be aidedand by that hand: and aided I was.

When once I had pressed the frail shoulder, something new--a fresh
sap and sense--stole into my frame. It was well I had learnt that
this elf must return to me--that it belonged to my house down below-
or I could not have felt it pass away from under my hand, and seen
it vanish behind the dim hedge, without singular regret. I heard
you come home that night, Jane, though probably you were not aware
that I thought of you or watched for you. The next day I observed
you--myself unseen--for half-an-hour, while you played with Adele in
the gallery. It was a snowy day, I recollect, and you could not go
out of doors. I was in my room; the door was ajar: I could both
listen and watch. Adele claimed your outward attention for a while;
yet I fancied your thoughts were elsewhere: but you were very
patient with her, my little Jane; you talked to her and amused her a
long time. When at last she left you, you lapsed at once into deep
reverie: you betook yourself slowly to pace the gallery. Now and
then, in passing a casement, you glanced out at the thick-falling
snow; you listened to the sobbing wind, and again you paced gently
on and dreamed. I think those day visions were not dark: there was
a pleasurable illumination in your eye occasionally, a soft
excitement in your aspect, which told of no bitter, bilious,
hypochondriac brooding: your look revealed rather the sweet musings
of youth when its spirit follows on willing wings the flight of Hope
up and on to an ideal heaven. The voice of Mrs. Fairfax, speaking
to a servant in the hall, wakened you: and how curiously you smiled
to and at yourself, Janet! There was much sense in your smile: it
was very shrewd, and seemed to make light of your own abstraction.
It seemed to say--'My fine visions are all very well, but I must not
forget they are absolutely unreal. I have a rosy sky and a green
flowery Eden in my brain; but without, I am perfectly aware, lies at


my feet a rough tract to travel, and around me gather black tempests
to encounter.' You ran downstairs and demanded of Mrs. Fairfax some
occupation: the weekly house accounts to make up, or something of
that sort, I think it was. I was vexed with you for getting out of
my sight.

Impatiently I waited for eveningwhen I might summon you to my
presence. An unusual--to me--a perfectly new character I suspected
was yours: I desired to search it deeper and know it better. You
entered the room with a look and air at once shy and independent:
you were quaintly dressed--much as you are now. I made you talk:
ere long I found you full of strange contrasts. Your garb and
manner were restricted by rule; your air was often diffidentand
altogether that of one refined by naturebut absolutely unused to
societyand a good deal afraid of making herself disadvantageously
conspicuous by some solecism or blunder; yet when addressedyou
lifted a keena daringand a glowing eye to your interlocutor's
face: there was penetration and power in each glance you gave; when
plied by close questionsyou found ready and round answers. Very
soon you seemed to get used to me: I believe you felt the existence
of sympathy between you and your grim and cross masterJane; for it
was astonishing to see how quickly a certain pleasant ease
tranquillised your manner: snarl as I wouldyou showed no
surprisefearannoyanceor displeasure at my moroseness; you
watched meand now and then smiled at me with a simple yet
sagacious grace I cannot describe. I was at once content and
stimulated with what I saw: I liked what I had seenand wished to
see more. Yetfor a long timeI treated you distantlyand sought
your company rarely. I was an intellectual epicureand wished to
prolong the gratification of making this novel and piquant
acquaintance: besidesI was for a while troubled with a haunting
fear that if I handled the flower freely its bloom would fade--the
sweet charm of freshness would leave it. I did not then know that
it was no transitory blossombut rather the radiant resemblance of
onecut in an indestructible gem. MoreoverI wished to see
whether you would seek me if I shunned you--but you did not; you
kept in the schoolroom as still as your own desk and easel; if by
chance I met youyou passed me as soonand with as little token of
recognitionas was consistent with respect. Your habitual
expression in those daysJanewas a thoughtful look; not
despondentfor you were not sickly; but not buoyantfor you had
little hopeand no actual pleasure. I wondered what you thought of
meor if you ever thought of meand resolved to find this out.

I resumed my notice of you. There was something glad in your
glance, and genial in your manner, when you conversed: I saw you
had a social heart; it was the silent schoolroom--it was the tedium
of your life--that made you mournful. I permitted myself the
delight of being kind to you; kindness stirred emotion soon: your
face became soft in expression, your tones gentle; I liked my name
pronounced by your lips in a grateful happy accent. I used to enjoy
a chance meeting with you, Jane, at this time: there was a curious
hesitation in your manner: you glanced at me with a slight trouble-
a hovering doubt: you did not know what my caprice might be-whether
I was going to play the master and be stern, or the friend
and be benignant. I was now too fond of you often to simulate the
first whim; and, when I stretched my hand out cordially, such bloom
and light and bliss rose to your young, wistful features, I had much
ado often to avoid straining you then and there to my heart.

Don't talk any more of those days, sir,I interruptedfurtively
dashing away some tears from my eyes; his language was torture to
me; for I knew what I must do--and do soon--and all these
reminiscencesand these revelations of his feelings only made my


work more difficult.

No, Jane,he returned: "what necessity is there to dwell on the
Pastwhen the Present is so much surer--the Future so much
brighter?"

I shuddered to hear the infatuated assertion.

You see now how the case stands--do you not?he continued. "After
a youth and manhood passed half in unutterable misery and half in
dreary solitudeI have for the first time found what I can truly
love--I have found you. You are my sympathy--my better self--my
good angel. I am bound to you with a strong attachment. I think
you goodgiftedlovely: a ferventa solemn passion is conceived
in my heart; it leans to youdraws you to my centre and spring of
lifewraps my existence about youandkindling in purepowerful
flamefuses you and me in one.

It was because I felt and knew this, that I resolved to marry you.
To tell me that I had already a wife is empty mockery: you know now
that I had but a hideous demon. I was wrong to attempt to deceive
you; but I feared a stubbornness that exists in your character. I
feared early instilled prejudice: I wanted to have you safe before
hazarding confidences. This was cowardly: I should have appealed
to your nobleness and magnanimity at first, as I do now--opened to
you plainly my life of agony--described to you my hunger and thirst
after a higher and worthier existence--shown to you, not my
RESOLUTION (that word is weak), but my resistless BENT to love
faithfully and well, where I am faithfully and well loved in return.
Then I should have asked you to accept my pledge of fidelity and to
give me yours. Jane--give it me now.

A pause.

Why are you silent, Jane?

I was experiencing an ordeal: a hand of fiery iron grasped my
vitals. Terrible moment: full of struggleblacknessburning!
Not a human being that ever lived could wish to be loved better than
I was loved; and him who thus loved me I absolutely worshipped: and
I must renounce love and idol. One drear word comprised my
intolerable duty--"Depart!"

Jane, you understand what I want of you? Just this promise--'I
will be yours, Mr. Rochester.'

Mr. Rochester, I will NOT be yours.

Another long silence.

Jane!recommenced hewith a gentleness that broke me down with
griefand turned me stone-cold with ominous terror--for this still
voice was the pant of a lion rising--"Janedo you mean to go one
way in the worldand to let me go another?"

I do.

Jane(bending towards and embracing me)do you mean it now?

I do.

And now?softly kissing my forehead and cheek.

I do,extricating myself from restraint rapidly and completely.


Oh, Jane, this is bitter! This--this is wicked. It would not be
wicked to love me.

It would to obey you.

A wild look raised his brows--crossed his features: he rose; but he
forebore yet. I laid my hand on the back of a chair for support: I
shookI feared--but I resolved.

One instant, Jane. Give one glance to my horrible life when you
are gone. All happiness will be torn away with you. What then is
left? For a wife I have but the maniac upstairs: as well might you
refer me to some corpse in yonder churchyard. What shall I do,
Jane? Where turn for a companion and for some hope?

Do as I do: trust in God and yourself. Believe in heaven. Hope
to meet again there.

Then you will not yield?

No.

Then you condemn me to live wretched and to die accursed?His
voice rose.

I advise you to live sinless, and I wish you to die tranquil.

Then you snatch love and innocence from me? You fling me back on
lust for a passion--vice for an occupation?

Mr. Rochester, I no more assign this fate to you than I grasp at it
for myself. We were born to strive and endure--you as well as I:
do so. You will forget me before I forget you.

You make me a liar by such language: you sully my honour. I
declared I could not change: you tell me to my face I shall change
soon. And what a distortion in your judgment, what a perversity in
your ideas, is proved by your conduct! Is it better to drive a
fellow-creature to despair than to transgress a mere human law, no
man being injured by the breach? for you have neither relatives nor
acquaintances whom you need fear to offend by living with me?

This was true: and while he spoke my very conscience and reason
turned traitors against meand charged me with crime in resisting
him. They spoke almost as loud as Feeling: and that clamoured
wildly. "Ohcomply!" it said. "Think of his misery; think of his
danger--look at his state when left alone; remember his headlong
nature; consider the recklessness following on despair--soothe him;
save him; love him; tell him you love him and will be his. Who in
the world cares for YOU? or who will be injured by what you do?"

Still indomitable was the reply--"I care for myself. The more
solitarythe more friendlessthe more unsustained I amthe more I
will respect myself. I will keep the law given by God; sanctioned
by man. I will hold to the principles received by me when I was
saneand not mad--as I am now. Laws and principles are not for the
times when there is no temptation: they are for such moments as
thiswhen body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour;
stringent are they; inviolate they shall be. If at my individual
convenience I might break themwhat would be their worth? They
have a worth--so I have always believed; and if I cannot believe it
nowit is because I am insane--quite insane: with my veins running
fireand my heart beating faster than I can count its throbs.


Preconceived opinionsforegone determinationsare all I have at
this hour to stand by: there I plant my foot."

I did. Mr. Rochesterreading my countenancesaw I had done so.
His fury was wrought to the highest: he must yield to it for a
momentwhatever followed; he crossed the floor and seized my arm
and grasped my waist. He seemed to devour me with his flaming
glance: physicallyI feltat the momentpowerless as stubble
exposed to the draught and glow of a furnace: mentallyI still
possessed my souland with it the certainty of ultimate safety.
The soulfortunatelyhas an interpreter--often an unconsciousbut
still a truthful interpreter--in the eye. My eye rose to his; and
while I looked in his fierce face I gave an involuntary sigh; his
gripe was painfuland my over-taxed strength almost exhausted.

Never,said heas he ground his teethnever was anything at
once so frail and so indomitable. A mere reed she feels in my
hand!(And he shook me with the force of his hold.) "I could bend
her with my finger and thumb: and what good would it do if I bent
if I uptoreif I crushed her? Consider that eye: consider the
resolutewildfree thing looking out of itdefying mewith more
than courage--with a stern triumph. Whatever I do with its cageI
cannot get at it--the savagebeautiful creature! If I tearif I
rend the slight prisonmy outrage will only let the captive loose.
Conqueror I might be of the house; but the inmate would escape to
heaven before I could call myself possessor of its clay dwellingplace.
And it is youspirit--with will and energyand virtue and
purity--that I want: not alone your brittle frame. Of yourself you
could come with soft flight and nestle against my heartif you
would: seized against your willyou will elude the grasp like an
essence--you will vanish ere I inhale your fragrance. Oh! come
Janecome!"

As he said thishe released me from his clutchand only looked at
me. The look was far worse to resist than the frantic strain: only
an idiothoweverwould have succumbed now. I had dared and
baffled his fury; I must elude his sorrow: I retired to the door.

You are going, Jane?

I am going, sir.

You are leaving me?

Yes.

You will not come? You will not be my comforter, my rescuer? My
deep love, my wild woe, my frantic prayer, are all nothing to you?

What unutterable pathos was in his voice! How hard it was to
reiterate firmlyI am going.

Jane!

Mr. Rochester!

Withdraw, then,--I consent; but remember, you leave me here in
anguish. Go up to your own room; think over all I have said, and,
Jane, cast a glance on my sufferings--think of me.

He turned away; he threw himself on his face on the sofa. "Oh
Jane! my hope--my love--my life!" broke in anguish from his lips.
Then came a deepstrong sob.


I had already gained the door; butreaderI walked back--walked
back as determinedly as I had retreated. I knelt down by him; I
turned his face from the cushion to me; I kissed his cheek; I
smoothed his hair with my hand.

God bless you, my dear master!I said. "God keep you from harm
and wrong--direct yousolace you--reward you well for your past
kindness to me."

Little Jane's love would have been my best reward,he answered;
without it, my heart is broken. But Jane will give me her love:
yes--nobly, generously.

Up the blood rushed to his face; forth flashed the fire from his
eyes; erect he sprang; he held his arms out; but I evaded the
embraceand at once quitted the room.

Farewell!was the cry of my heart as I left him. Despair added
Farewell for ever!

That night I never thought to sleep; but a slumber fell on me as
soon as I lay down in bed. I was transported in thought to the
scenes of childhood: I dreamt I lay in the red-room at Gateshead;
that the night was darkand my mind impressed with strange fears.
The light that long ago had struck me into syncoperecalled in this
visionseemed glidingly to mount the walland tremblingly to pause
in the centre of the obscured ceiling. I lifted up my head to look:
the roof resolved to cloudshigh and dim; the gleam was such as the
moon imparts to vapours she is about to sever. I watched her come-watched
with the strangest anticipation; as though some word of doom
were to be written on her disk. She broke forth as never moon yet
burst from cloud: a hand first penetrated the sable folds and waved
them away; thennot a moonbut a white human form shone in the
azureinclining a glorious brow earthward. It gazed and gazed on
me. It spoke to my spirit: immeasurably distant was the toneyet
so nearit whispered in my heart


My daughter, flee temptation.

Mother, I will.

So I answered after I had waked from the trance-like dream. It was
yet nightbut July nights are short: soon after midnightdawn
comes. "It cannot be too early to commence the task I have to
fulfil thought I. I rose: I was dressed; for I had taken off
nothing but my shoes. I knew where to find in my drawers some
linen, a locket, a ring. In seeking these articles, I encountered
the beads of a pearl necklace Mr. Rochester had forced me to accept
a few days ago. I left that; it was not mine: it was the visionary
bride's who had melted in air. The other articles I made up in a
parcel; my purse, containing twenty shillings (it was all I had), I
put in my pocket: I tied on my straw bonnet, pinned my shawl, took
the parcel and my slippers, which I would not put on yet, and stole
from my room.

Farewellkind Mrs. Fairfax!" I whisperedas I glided past her
door. "Farewellmy darling Adele!" I saidas I glanced towards
the nursery. No thought could be admitted of entering to embrace
her. I had to deceive a fine ear: for aught I knew it might now be
listening.

I would have got past Mr. Rochester's chamber without a pause; but
my heart momentarily stopping its beat at that thresholdmy foot


was forced to stop also. No sleep was there: the inmate was
walking restlessly from wall to wall; and again and again he sighed
while I listened. There was a heaven--a temporary heaven--in this
room for meif I chose: I had but to go in and to say


Mr. Rochester, I will love you and live with you through life till
death,and a fount of rapture would spring to my lips. I thought
of this.

That kind masterwho could not sleep nowwas waiting with
impatience for day. He would send for me in the morning; I should
be gone. He would have me sought for: vainly. He would feel
himself forsaken; his love rejected: he would suffer; perhaps grow
desperate. I thought of this too. My hand moved towards the lock:
I caught it backand glided on.

Drearily I wound my way downstairs: I knew what I had to doand I
did it mechanically. I sought the key of the side-door in the
kitchen; I soughttooa phial of oil and a feather; I oiled the
key and the lock. I got some waterI got some bread: for perhaps
I should have to walk far; and my strengthsorely shaken of late
must not break down. All this I did without one sound. I opened
the doorpassed outshut it softly. Dim dawn glimmered in the
yard. The great gates were closed and locked; but a wicket in one
of them was only latched. Through that I departed: ittooI
shut; and now I was out of Thornfield.

A mile offbeyond the fieldslay a road which stretched in the
contrary direction to Millcote; a road I had never travelledbut
often noticedand wondered where it led: thither I bent my steps.
No reflection was to be allowed now: not one glance was to be cast
back; not even one forward. Not one thought was to be given either
to the past or the future. The first was a page so heavenly sweet-so
deadly sad--that to read one line of it would dissolve my courage
and break down my energy. The last was an awful blank: something
like the world when the deluge was gone by.

I skirted fieldsand hedgesand lanes till after sunrise. I
believe it was a lovely summer morning: I know my shoeswhich I
had put on when I left the housewere soon wet with dew. But I
looked neither to rising sunnor smiling skynor wakening nature.
He who is taken out to pass through a fair scene to the scaffold
thinks not of the flowers that smile on his roadbut of the block
and axe-edge; of the disseverment of bone and vein; of the grave
gaping at the end: and I thought of drear flight and homeless
wandering--and oh! with agony I thought of what I left. I could not
help it. I thought of him now--in his room--watching the sunrise;
hoping I should soon come to say I would stay with him and be his.
I longed to be his; I panted to return: it was not too late; I
could yet spare him the bitter pang of bereavement. As yet my
flightI was surewas undiscovered. I could go back and be his
comforter--his pride; his redeemer from miseryperhaps from ruin.
Ohthat fear of his self-abandonment--far worse than my
abandonment--how it goaded me! It was a barbed arrow-head in my
breast; it tore me when I tried to extract it; it sickened me when
remembrance thrust it farther in. Birds began singing in brake and
copse: birds were faithful to their mates; birds were emblems of
love. What was I? In the midst of my pain of heart and frantic
effort of principleI abhorred myself. I had no solace from selfapprobation:
none even from self-respect. I had injured--wounded-left
my master. I was hateful in my own eyes. Still I could not
turnnor retrace one step. God must have led me on. As to my own
will or conscienceimpassioned grief had trampled one and stifled
the other. I was weeping wildly as I walked along my solitary way:


fastfast I went like one delirious. A weaknessbeginning
inwardlyextending to the limbsseized meand I fell: I lay on
the ground some minutespressing my face to the wet turf. I had
some fear--or hope--that here I should die: but I was soon up;
crawling forwards on my hands and kneesand then again raised to my
feet--as eager and as determined as ever to reach the road.

When I got thereI was forced to sit to rest me under the hedge;
and while I satI heard wheelsand saw a coach come on. I stood
up and lifted my hand; it stopped. I asked where it was going: the
driver named a place a long way offand where I was sure Mr.
Rochester had no connections. I asked for what sum he would take me
there; he said thirty shillings; I answered I had but twenty; well
he would try to make it do. He further gave me leave to get into
the insideas the vehicle was empty: I enteredwas shut inand
it rolled on its way.

Gentle readermay you never feel what I then felt! May your eyes
never shed such stormyscaldingheart-wrung tears as poured from
mine. May you never appeal to Heaven in prayers so hopeless and so
agonised as in that hour left my lips; for never may youlike me
dread to be the instrument of evil to what you wholly love.

CHAPTER XXVIII

Two days are passed. It is a summer evening; the coachman has set
me down at a place called Whitcross; he could take me no farther for
the sum I had givenand I was not possessed of another shilling in
the world. The coach is a mile off by this time; I am alone. At
this moment I discover that I forgot to take my parcel out of the
pocket of the coachwhere I had placed it for safety; there it
remainsthere it must remain; and nowI am absolutely destitute.

Whitcross is no townnor even a hamlet; it is but a stone pillar
set up where four roads meet: whitewashedI supposeto be more
obvious at a distance and in darkness. Four arms spring from its
summit: the nearest town to which these point isaccording to the
inscriptiondistant ten miles; the farthestabove twenty. From
the well-known names of these towns I learn in what county I have
lighted; a north-midland shiredusk with moorlandridged with
mountain: this I see. There are great moors behind and on each
hand of me; there are waves of mountains far beyond that deep valley
at my feet. The population here must be thinand I see no
passengers on these roads: they stretch out eastwestnorthand
south--whitebroadlonely; they are all cut in the moorand the
heather grows deep and wild to their very verge. Yet a chance
traveller might pass by; and I wish no eye to see me now: strangers
would wonder what I am doinglingering here at the sign-post
evidently objectless and lost. I might be questioned: I could give
no answer but what would sound incredible and excite suspicion. Not
a tie holds me to human society at this moment--not a charm or hope
calls me where my fellow-creatures are--none that saw me would have
a kind thought or a good wish for me. I have no relative but the
universal motherNature: I will seek her breast and ask repose.

I struck straight into the heath; I held on to a hollow I saw deeply
furrowing the brown moorside; I waded knee-deep in its dark growth;
I turned with its turningsand finding a moss-blackened granite
crag in a hidden angleI sat down under it. High banks of moor
were about me; the crag protected my head: the sky was over that.


Some time passed before I felt tranquil even here: I had a vague
dread that wild cattle might be nearor that some sportsman or
poacher might discover me. If a gust of wind swept the wasteI
looked upfearing it was the rush of a bull; if a plover whistled
I imagined it a man. Finding my apprehensions unfoundedhowever
and calmed by the deep silence that reigned as evening declined at
nightfallI took confidence. As yet I had not thought; I had only
listenedwatcheddreaded; now I regained the faculty of
reflection.

What was I to do? Where to go? Ohintolerable questionswhen I
could do nothing and go nowhere!--when a long way must yet be
measured by my wearytrembling limbs before I could reach human
habitation--when cold charity must be entreated before I could get a
lodging: reluctant sympathy importunedalmost certain repulse
incurredbefore my tale could be listened toor one of my wants
relieved!

I touched the heathit was dryand yet warm with the beat of the
summer day. I looked at the sky; it was pure: a kindly star
twinkled just above the chasm ridge. The dew fellbut with
propitious softness; no breeze whispered. Nature seemed to me
benign and good; I thought she loved meoutcast as I was; and I
who from man could anticipate only mistrustrejectioninsult
clung to her with filial fondness. To-nightat leastI would be
her guestas I was her child: my mother would lodge me without
money and without price. I had one morsel of bread yet: the
remnant of a roll I had bought in a town we passed through at noon
with a stray penny--my last coin. I saw ripe bilberries gleaming
here and therelike jet beads in the heath: I gathered a handful
and ate them with the bread. My hungersharp beforewasif not
satisfiedappeased by this hermit's meal. I said my evening
prayers at its conclusionand then chose my couch.

Beside the crag the heath was very deep: when I lay down my feet
were buried in it; rising high on each sideit left only a narrow
space for the night-air to invade. I folded my shawl doubleand
spread it over me for a coverlet; a lowmossy swell was my pillow.
Thus lodgedI was notat least--at the commencement of the night
cold.

My rest might have been blissful enoughonly a sad heart broke it.
It plained of its gaping woundsits inward bleedingits riven
chords. It trembled for Mr. Rochester and his doom; it bemoaned him
with bitter pity; it demanded him with ceaseless longing; and
impotent as a bird with both wings brokenit still quivered its
shattered pinions in vain attempts to seek him.

Worn out with this torture of thoughtI rose to my knees. Night
was comeand her planets were risen: a safestill night: too
serene for the companionship of fear. We know that God is
everywhere; but certainly we feel His presence most when His works
are on the grandest scale spread before us; and it is in the
unclouded night-skywhere His worlds wheel their silent course
that we read clearest His infinitudeHis omnipotenceHis
omnipresence. I had risen to my knees to pray for Mr. Rochester.
Looking upIwith tear-dimmed eyessaw the mighty Milky-way.
Remembering what it was--what countless systems there swept space
like a soft trace of light--I felt the might and strength of God.
Sure was I of His efficiency to save what He had made: convinced I
grew that neither earth should perishnor one of the souls it
treasured. I turned my prayer to thanksgiving: the Source of Life
was also the Saviour of spirits. Mr. Rochester was safe; he was


God'sand by God would he be guarded. I again nestled to the
breast of the hill; and ere long in sleep forgot sorrow.

But next dayWant came to me pale and bare. Long after the little
birds had left their nests; long after bees had come in the sweet
prime of day to gather the heath honey before the dew was dried-when
the long morning shadows were curtailedand the sun filled
earth and sky--I got upand I looked round me.

What a stillhotperfect day! What a golden desert this spreading
moor! Everywhere sunshine. I wished I could live in it and on it.
I saw a lizard run over the crag; I saw a bee busy among the sweet
bilberries. I would fain at the moment have become bee or lizard
that I might have found fitting nutrimentpermanent shelter here.
But I was a human beingand had a human being's wants: I must not
linger where there was nothing to supply them. I rose; I looked
back at the bed I had left. Hopeless of the futureI wished but
this--that my Maker had that night thought good to require my soul
of me while I slept; and that this weary frameabsolved by death
from further conflict with fatehad now but to decay quietlyand
mingle in peace with the soil of this wilderness. Lifehowever
was yet in my possessionwith all its requirementsand painsand
responsibilities. The burden must be carried; the want provided
for; the suffering endured; the responsibility fulfilled. I set
out.

Whitcross regainedI followed a road which led from the sunnow
fervent and high. By no other circumstance had I will to decide my
choice. I walked a long timeand when I thought I had nearly done
enoughand might conscientiously yield to the fatigue that almost
overpowered me--might relax this forced actionandsitting down on
a stone I saw nearsubmit resistlessly to the apathy that clogged
heart and limb--I heard a bell chime--a church bell.

I turned in the direction of the soundand thereamongst the
romantic hillswhose changes and aspect I had ceased to note an
hour agoI saw a hamlet and a spire. All the valley at my right
hand was full of pasture-fieldsand cornfieldsand wood; and a
glittering stream ran zig-zag through the varied shades of green
the mellowing grainthe sombre woodlandthe clear and sunny lea.
Recalled by the rumbling of wheels to the road before meI saw a
heavily-laden waggon labouring up the hilland not far beyond were
two cows and their drover. Human life and human labour were near.
I must struggle on: strive to live and bend to toil like the rest.

About two o'clock p.m. I entered the village. At the bottom of its
one street there was a little shop with some cakes of bread in the
window. I coveted a cake of bread. With that refreshment I could
perhaps regain a degree of energy: without itit would be
difficult to proceed. The wish to have some strength and some
vigour returned to me as soon as I was amongst my fellow-beings. I
felt it would be degrading to faint with hunger on the causeway of a
hamlet. Had I nothing about me I could offer in exchange for one of
these rolls? I considered. I had a small silk handkerchief tied
round my throat; I had my gloves. I could hardly tell how men and
women in extremities of destitution proceeded. I did not know
whether either of these articles would be accepted: probably they
would not; but I must try.

I entered the shop: a woman was there. Seeing a respectablydressed
persona lady as she supposedshe came forward with
civility. How could she serve me? I was seized with shame: my
tongue would not utter the request I had prepared. I dared not
offer her the half-worn glovesthe creased handkerchief: besides


I felt it would be absurd. I only begged permission to sit down a
momentas I was tired. Disappointed in the expectation of a
customershe coolly acceded to my request. She pointed to a seat;
I sank into it. I felt sorely urged to weep; but conscious how
unseasonable such a manifestation would beI restrained it. Soon I
asked her "if there were any dressmaker or plain-workwoman in the
village?"

Yes; two or three. Quite as many as there was employment for.

I reflected. I was driven to the point now. I was brought face to
face with Necessity. I stood in the position of one without a
resourcewithout a friendwithout a coin. I must do something.
What? I must apply somewhere. Where?

Did she know of any place in the neighbourhood where a servant was
wanted?

Nay; she couldn't say.

What was the chief trade in this place? What did most of the
people do?

Some were farm labourers; a good deal worked at Mr. Oliver's
needle-factory, and at the foundry.

Did Mr. Oliver employ women?

Nay; it was men's work.

And what do the women do?

I knawn't,was the answer. "Some does one thingand some
another. Poor folk mun get on as they can."

She seemed to be tired of my questions: andindeedwhat claim had
I to importune her? A neighbour or two came in; my chair was
evidently wanted. I took leave.

I passed up the streetlooking as I went at all the houses to the
right hand and to the left; but I could discover no pretextnor see
an inducement to enter any. I rambled round the hamletgoing
sometimes to a little distance and returning againfor an hour or
more. Much exhaustedand suffering greatly now for want of foodI
turned aside into a lane and sat down under the hedge. Ere many
minutes had elapsedI was again on my feethoweverand again
searching something--a resourceor at least an informant. A pretty
little house stood at the top of the lanewith a garden before it
exquisitely neat and brilliantly blooming. I stopped at it. What
business had I to approach the white door or touch the glittering
knocker? In what way could it possibly be the interest of the
inhabitants of that dwelling to serve me? Yet I drew near and
knocked. A mild-lookingcleanly-attired young woman opened the
door. In such a voice as might be expected from a hopeless heart
and fainting frame--a voice wretchedly low and faltering--I asked if
a servant was wanted here?

No,said she; "we do not keep a servant."

Can you tell me where I could get employment of any kind?I
continued. "I am a strangerwithout acquaintance in this place. I
want some work: no matter what."

But it was not her business to think for meor to seek a place for


me: besidesin her eyeshow doubtful must have appeared my
characterpositiontale. She shook her headshe "was sorry she
could give me no information and the white door closed, quite
gently and civilly: but it shut me out. If she had held it open a
little longer, I believe I should have begged a piece of bread; for
I was now brought low.

I could not bear to return to the sordid village, where, besides, no
prospect of aid was visible. I should have longed rather to deviate
to a wood I saw not far off, which appeared in its thick shade to
offer inviting shelter; but I was so sick, so weak, so gnawed with
nature's cravings, instinct kept me roaming round abodes where there
was a chance of food. Solitude would be no solitude--rest no rest-while
the vulture, hunger, thus sank beak and talons in my side.

I drew near houses; I left them, and came back again, and again I
wandered away: always repelled by the consciousness of having no
claim to ask--no right to expect interest in my isolated lot.
Meantime, the afternoon advanced, while I thus wandered about like a
lost and starving dog. In crossing a field, I saw the church spire
before me: I hastened towards it. Near the churchyard, and in the
middle of a garden, stood a well-built though small house, which I
had no doubt was the parsonage. I remembered that strangers who
arrive at a place where they have no friends, and who want
employment, sometimes apply to the clergyman for introduction and
aid. It is the clergyman's function to help--at least with advice-those
who wished to help themselves. I seemed to have something
like a right to seek counsel here. Renewing then my courage, and
gathering my feeble remains of strength, I pushed on. I reached the
house, and knocked at the kitchen-door. An old woman opened: I
asked was this the parsonage?

Yes."

Was the clergyman in?

No.

Would he be in soon?

No, he was gone from home.

To a distance?

Not so far--happen three mile. He had been called away by the
sudden death of his father: he was at Marsh End now, and would very
likely stay there a fortnight longer.

Was there any lady of the house?

Nay, there was naught but her, and she was housekeeper;and of
herreaderI could not bear to ask the relief for want of which I
was sinking; I could not yet beg; and again I crawled away.

Once more I took off my handkerchief--once more I thought of the
cakes of bread in the little shop. Ohfor but a crust! for but one
mouthful to allay the pang of famine! Instinctively I turned my
face again to the village; I found the shop againand I went in;
and though others were there besides the woman I ventured the
request--"Would she give me a roll for this handkerchief?"

She looked at me with evident suspicion: "Nayshe never sold stuff
i' that way."


Almost desperateI asked for half a cake; she again refused. "How
could she tell where I had got the handkerchief?" she said.

Would she take my gloves?

No! what could she do with them?

Readerit is not pleasant to dwell on these details. Some say
there is enjoyment in looking back to painful experience past; but
at this day I can scarcely bear to review the times to which I
allude: the moral degradationblent with the physical suffering
form too distressing a recollection ever to be willingly dwelt on.
I blamed none of those who repulsed me. I felt it was what was to
be expectedand what could not be helped: an ordinary beggar is
frequently an object of suspicion; a well-dressed beggar inevitably
so. To be surewhat I begged was employment; but whose business
was it to provide me with employment? Notcertainlythat of
persons who saw me then for the first timeand who knew nothing
about my character. And as to the woman who would not take my
handkerchief in exchange for her breadwhyshe was rightif the
offer appeared to her sinister or the exchange unprofitable. Let me
condense now. I am sick of the subject.

A little before dark I passed a farm-houseat the open door of
which the farmer was sittingeating his supper of bread and cheese.
I stopped and said


Will you give me a piece of bread? for I am very hungry.He cast
on me a glance of surprise; but without answeringhe cut a thick
slice from his loafand gave it to me. I imagine he did not think
I was a beggarbut only an eccentric sort of ladywho had taken a
fancy to his brown loaf. As soon as I was out of sight of his
houseI sat down and ate it.

I could not hope to get a lodging under a roofand sought it in the
wood I have before alluded to. But my night was wretchedmy rest
broken: the ground was dampthe air cold: besidesintruders
passed near me more than onceand I had again and again to change
my quarters; no sense of safety or tranquillity befriended me.
Towards morning it rained; the whole of the following day was wet.
Do not ask mereaderto give a minute account of that day; as
beforeI sought work; as beforeI was repulsed; as beforeI
starved; but once did food pass my lips. At the door of a cottage I
saw a little girl about to throw a mess of cold porridge into a pig
trough. "Will you give me that?" I asked.

She stared at me. "Mother!" she exclaimedthere is a woman wants
me to give her these porridge.

Well lass,replied a voice withingive it her if she's a beggar.
T pig doesn't want it.

The girl emptied the stiffened mould into my handand I devoured it
ravenously.

As the wet twilight deepenedI stopped in a solitary bridle-path
which I had been pursuing an hour or more.

My strength is quite failing me,I said in a soliloquy. "I feel I
cannot go much farther. Shall I be an outcast again this night?
While the rain descends somust I lay my head on the colddrenched
ground? I fear I cannot do otherwise: for who will receive me?
But it will be very dreadfulwith this feeling of hunger
faintnesschilland this sense of desolation--this total


prostration of hope. In all likelihoodthoughI should die before
morning. And why cannot I reconcile myself to the prospect of
death? Why do I struggle to retain a valueless life? Because I
knowor believeMr. Rochester is living: and thento die of want
and cold is a fate to which nature cannot submit passively. Oh
Providence! sustain me a little longer! Aid!--direct me!"

My glazed eye wandered over the dim and misty landscape. I saw I
had strayed far from the village: it was quite out of sight. The
very cultivation surrounding it had disappeared. I hadby crossways
and by-pathsonce more drawn near the tract of moorland; and
nowonly a few fieldsalmost as wild and unproductive as the heath
from which they were scarcely reclaimedlay between me and the
dusky hill.

Well, I would rather die yonder than in a street or on a frequented
road,I reflected. "And far better that crows and ravens--if any
ravens there be in these regions--should pick my flesh from my
bonesthan that they should be prisoned in a workhouse coffin and
moulder in a pauper's grave."

To the hillthenI turned. I reached it. It remained now only to
find a hollow where I could lie downand feel at least hiddenif
not secure. But all the surface of the waste looked level. It
showed no variation but of tint: greenwhere rush and moss
overgrew the marshes; blackwhere the dry soil bore only heath.
Dark as it was gettingI could still see these changesthough but
as mere alternations of light and shade; for colour had faded with
the daylight.

My eye still roved over the sullen swell and along the moor-edge
vanishing amidst the wildest scenerywhen at one dim pointfar in
among the marshes and the ridgesa light sprang up. "That is an
ignis fatuus was my first thought; and I expected it would soon
vanish. It burnt on, however, quite steadily, neither receding nor
advancing. Is itthena bonfire just kindled?" I questioned. I
watched to see whether it would spread: but no; as it did not
diminishso it did not enlarge. "It may be a candle in a house I
then conjectured; but if soI can never reach it. It is much too
far away: and were it within a yard of mewhat would it avail? I
should but knock at the door to have it shut in my face."

And I sank down where I stoodand hid my face against the ground.
I lay still a while: the night-wind swept over the hill and over
meand died moaning in the distance; the rain fell fastwetting me
afresh to the skin. Could I but have stiffened to the still frost-the
friendly numbness of death--it might have pelted on; I should
not have felt it; but my yet living flesh shuddered at its chilling
influence. I rose ere long.

The light was yet thereshining dim but constant through the rain.
I tried to walk again: I dragged my exhausted limbs slowly towards
it. It led me aslant over the hillthrough a wide bogwhich would
have been impassable in winterand was splashy and shaking even
nowin the height of summer. Here I fell twice; but as often I
rose and rallied my faculties. This light was my forlorn hope: I
must gain it.

Having crossed the marshI saw a trace of white over the moor. I
approached it; it was a road or a track: it led straight up to the
lightwhich now beamed from a sort of knollamidst a clump of
trees--firsapparentlyfrom what I could distinguish of the
character of their forms and foliage through the gloom. My star
vanished as I drew near: some obstacle had intervened between me


and it. I put out my hand to feel the dark mass before me: I
discriminated the rough stones of a low wall--above itsomething
like palisadesand withina high and prickly hedge. I groped on.
Again a whitish object gleamed before me: it was a gate--a wicket;
it moved on its hinges as I touched it. On each side stood a sable
bush-holly or yew.

Entering the gate and passing the shrubsthe silhouette of a house
rose to viewblacklowand rather long; but the guiding light
shone nowhere. All was obscurity. Were the inmates retired to
rest? I feared it must be so. In seeking the doorI turned an
angle: there shot out the friendly gleam againfrom the lozenged
panes of a very small latticed windowwithin a foot of the ground
made still smaller by the growth of ivy or some other creeping
plantwhose leaves clustered thick over the portion of the house
wall in which it was set. The aperture was so screened and narrow
that curtain or shutter had been deemed unnecessary; and when I
stooped down and put aside the spray of foliage shooting over itI
could see all within. I could see clearly a room with a sanded
floorclean scoured; a dresser of walnutwith pewter plates ranged
in rowsreflecting the redness and radiance of a glowing peat-fire.
I could see a clocka white deal tablesome chairs. The candle
whose ray had been my beaconburnt on the table; and by its light
an elderly womansomewhat rough-lookingbut scrupulously clean
like all about herwas knitting a stocking.

I noticed these objects cursorily only--in them there was nothing
extraordinary. A group of more interest appeared near the hearth
sitting still amidst the rosy peace and warmth suffusing it. Two
younggraceful women--ladies in every point--satone in a low
rocking-chairthe other on a lower stool; both wore deep mourning
of crape and bombazeenwhich sombre garb singularly set off very
fair necks and faces: a large old pointer dog rested its massive
head on the knee of one girl--in the lap of the other was cushioned
a black cat.

A strange place was this humble kitchen for such occupants! Who
were they? They could not be the daughters of the elderly person at
the table; for she looked like a rusticand they were all delicacy
and cultivation. I had nowhere seen such faces as theirs: and yet
as I gazed on themI seemed intimate with every lineament. I
cannot call them handsome--they were too pale and grave for the
word: as they each bent over a bookthey looked thoughtful almost
to severity. A stand between them supported a second candle and two
great volumesto which they frequently referredcomparing them
seeminglywith the smaller books they held in their handslike
people consulting a dictionary to aid them in the task of
translation. This scene was as silent as if all the figures had
been shadows and the firelit apartment a picture: so hushed was it
I could hear the cinders fall from the gratethe clock tick in its
obscure corner; and I even fancied I could distinguish the clickclick
of the woman's knitting-needles. Whenthereforea voice
broke the strange stillness at lastit was audible enough to me.

Listen, Diana,said one of the absorbed students; "Franz and old
Daniel are together in the night-timeand Franz is telling a dream
from which he has awakened in terror--listen!" And in a low voice
she read somethingof which not one word was intelligible to me;
for it was in an unknown tongue--neither French nor Latin. Whether
it were Greek or German I could not tell.

That is strong,she saidwhen she had finished: "I relish it."
The other girlwho had lifted her head to listen to her sister
repeatedwhile she gazed at the firea line of what had been read.


At a later dayI knew the language and the book; thereforeI will
here quote the line: thoughwhen I first heard itit was only
like a stroke on sounding brass to me--conveying no meaning:


'Da trat hervor Einer, anzusehen wie die Sternen Nacht.' Good!
good!she exclaimedwhile her dark and deep eye sparkled. "There
you have a dim and mighty archangel fitly set before you! The line
is worth a hundred pages of fustian. 'Ich wage die Gedanken in der
Schale meines Zornes und die Werke mit dem Gewichte meines Grimms.'
I like it!"

Both were again silent.

Is there ony country where they talk i' that way?asked the old
womanlooking up from her knitting.

Yes, Hannah--a far larger country than England, where they talk in
no other way.

Well, for sure case, I knawn't how they can understand t' one
t'other: and if either o' ye went there, ye could tell what they
said, I guess?

We could probably tell something of what they said, but not all-for
we are not as clever as you think us, Hannah. We don't speak
German, and we cannot read it without a dictionary to help us.

And what good does it do you?

We mean to teach it some time--or at least the elements, as they
say; and then we shall get more money than we do now.

Varry like: but give ower studying; ye've done enough for to-
night.

I think we have: at least I'm tired. Mary, are you?

Mortally: after all, it's tough work fagging away at a language
with no master but a lexicon.

It is, especially such a language as this crabbed but glorious
Deutsch. I wonder when St. John will come home.

Surely he will not be long now: it is just ten (looking at a
little gold watch she drew from her girdle). It rains fast, Hannah:
will you have the goodness to look at the fire in the parlour?

The woman rose: she opened a doorthrough which I dimly saw a
passage: soon I heard her stir a fire in an inner room; she
presently came back.

Ah, childer!said sheit fair troubles me to go into yond' room
now: it looks so lonesome wi' the chair empty and set back in a
corner.

She wiped her eyes with her apron: the two girlsgrave before
looked sad now.

But he is in a better place,continued Hannah: "we shouldn't wish
him here again. And thennobody need to have a quieter death nor
he had."

You say he never mentioned us?inquired one of the ladies.


He hadn't time, bairn: he was gone in a minute, was your father.
He had been a bit ailing like the day before, but naught to signify;
and when Mr. St. John asked if he would like either o' ye to be sent
for, he fair laughed at him. He began again with a bit of a
heaviness in his head the next day--that is, a fortnight sin'--and
he went to sleep and niver wakened: he wor a'most stark when your
brother went into t' chamber and fand him. Ah, childer! that's t'
last o' t' old stock--for ye and Mr. St. John is like of different
soart to them 'at's gone; for all your mother wor mich i' your way,
and a'most as book-learned. She wor the pictur' o' ye, Mary: Diana
is more like your father.

I thought them so similar I could not tell where the old servant
(for such I now concluded her to be) saw the difference. Both were
fair complexioned and slenderly made; both possessed faces full of
distinction and intelligence. Oneto be surehad hair a shade
darker than the otherand there was a difference in their style of
wearing it; Mary's pale brown locks were parted and braided smooth:
Diana's duskier tresses covered her neck with thick curls. The
clock struck ten.

Ye'll want your supper, I am sure,observed Hannah; "and so will
Mr. St. John when he comes in."

And she proceeded to prepare the meal. The ladies rose; they seemed
about to withdraw to the parlour. Till this momentI had been so
intent on watching themtheir appearance and conversation had
excited in me so keen an interestI had half-forgotten my own
wretched position: now it recurred to me. More desolatemore
desperate than everit seemed from contrast. And how impossible
did it appear to touch the inmates of this house with concern on my
behalf; to make them believe in the truth of my wants and woes--to
induce them to vouchsafe a rest for my wanderings! As I groped out
the doorand knocked at it hesitatinglyI felt that last idea to
be a mere chimera. Hannah opened.

What do you want?she inquiredin a voice of surpriseas she
surveyed me by the light of the candle she held.

May I speak to your mistresses?I said.

You had better tell me what you have to say to them. Where do you
come from?

I am a stranger.

What is your business here at this hour?

I want a night's shelter in an out-house or anywhere, and a morsel
of bread to eat.

Distrustthe very feeling I dreadedappeared in Hannah's face.
I'll give you a piece of bread,she saidafter a pause; "but we
can't take in a vagrant to lodge. It isn't likely."

Do let me speak to your mistresses.

No, not I. What can they do for you? You should not be roving
about now; it looks very ill.

But where shall I go if you drive me away? What shall I do?

Oh, I'll warrant you know where to go and what to do. Mind you
don't do wrong, that's all. Here is a penny; now go--


A penny cannot feed me, and I have no strength to go farther.
Don't shut the door:- oh, don't, for God's sake!

I must; the rain is driving in--

Tell the young ladies. Let me see them-

Indeed, I will not. You are not what you ought to be, or you
wouldn't make such a noise. Move off.

But I must die if I am turned away.

Not you. I'm fear'd you have some ill plans agate, that bring you
about folk's houses at this time o' night. If you've any followers-
housebreakers or such like--anywhere near, you may tell them we are
not by ourselves in the house; we have a gentleman, and dogs, and
guns.Here the honest but inflexible servant clapped the door to
and bolted it within.

This was the climax. A pang of exquisite suffering--a throe of true
despair--rent and heaved my heart. Worn outindeedI was; not
another step could I stir. I sank on the wet doorstep: I groaned-I
wrung my hands--I wept in utter anguish. Ohthis spectre of
death! Ohthis last hourapproaching in such horror! Alasthis
isolation--this banishment from my kind! Not only the anchor of
hopebut the footing of fortitude was gone--at least for a moment;
but the last I soon endeavoured to regain.

I can but die,I saidand I believe in God. Let me try to wait
His will in silence.

These words I not only thoughtbut uttered; and thrusting back all
my misery into my heartI made an effort to compel it to remain
there--dumb and still.

All men must die,said a voice quite close at hand; "but all are
not condemned to meet a lingering and premature doomsuch as yours
would be if you perished here of want."

Who or what speaks?I askedterrified at the unexpected sound
and incapable now of deriving from any occurrence a hope of aid. A
form was near--what formthe pitch-dark night and my enfeebled
vision prevented me from distinguishing. With a loud long knock
the new-comer appealed to the door.

Is it you, Mr. St. John?cried Hannah.

Yes--yes; open quickly.

Well, how wet and cold you must be, such a wild night as it is!
Come in--your sisters are quite uneasy about you, and I believe
there are bad folks about. There has been a beggar-woman--I declare
she is not gone yet!--laid down there. Get up! for shame! Move
off, I say!

Hush, Hannah! I have a word to say to the woman. You have done
your duty in excluding, now let me do mine in admitting her. I was
near, and listened to both you and her. I think this is a peculiar
case--I must at least examine into it. Young woman, rise, and pass
before me into the house.

With difficulty I obeyed him. Presently I stood within that clean
bright kitchen--on the very hearth--tremblingsickening; conscious


of an aspect in the last degree ghastlywildand weather-beaten.
The two ladiestheir brotherMr. St. Johnthe old servantwere
all gazing at me.

St. John, who is it?I heard one ask.

I cannot tell: I found her at the door,was the reply.

She does look white,said Hannah.

As white as clay or death,was responded. "She will fall: let
her sit."

And indeed my head swam: I droppedbut a chair received me. I
still possessed my sensesthough just now I could not speak.

Perhaps a little water would restore her. Hannah, fetch some. But
she is worn to nothing. How very thin, and how very bloodless!

A mere spectre!

Is she ill, or only famished?

Famished, I think. Hannah, is that milk? Give it me, and a piece
of bread.

Diana (I knew her by the long curls which I saw drooping between me
and the fire as she bent over me) broke some breaddipped it in
milkand put it to my lips. Her face was near mine: I saw there
was pity in itand I felt sympathy in her hurried breathing. In
her simple wordstoothe same balm-like emotion spoke: "Try to
eat."

Yes--try,repeated Mary gently; and Mary's hand removed my sodden
bonnet and lifted my head. I tasted what they offered me: feebly
at firsteagerly soon.

Not too much at first--restrain her,said the brother; "she has
had enough." And he withdrew the cup of milk and the plate of
bread.

A little more, St. John--look at the avidity in her eyes.

No more at present, sister. Try if she can speak now--ask her her
name.

I felt I could speakand I answered--"My name is Jane Elliott."
Anxious as ever to avoid discoveryI had before resolved to assume
an ALIAS.

And where do you live? Where are your friends?

I was silent.

Can we send for any one you know?

I shook my head.

What account can you give of yourself?

Somehownow that I had once crossed the threshold of this house
and once was brought face to face with its ownersI felt no longer
outcastvagrantand disowned by the wide world. I dared to put
off the mendicant--to resume my natural manner and character. I


began once more to know myself; and when Mr. St. John demanded an
account--which at present I was far too weak to render--I said after
a brief pause


Sir, I can give you no details to-night.

But what, then,said hedo you expect me to do for you?

Nothing,I replied. My strength sufficed for but short answers.
Diana took the word


Do you mean,she askedthat we have now given you what aid you
require? and that we may dismiss you to the moor and the rainy
night?

I looked at her. She hadI thoughta remarkable countenance
instinct both with power and goodness. I took sudden courage.
Answering her compassionate gate with a smileI said--"I will trust
you. If I were a masterless and stray dogI know that you would
not turn me from your hearth to-night: as it isI really have no
fear. Do with me and for me as you like; but excuse me from much
discourse--my breath is short--I feel a spasm when I speak." All
three surveyed meand all three were silent.

Hannah,said Mr. St. Johnat lastlet her sit there at present,
and ask her no questions; in ten minutes more, give her the
remainder of that milk and bread. Mary and Diana, let us go into
the parlour and talk the matter over.

They withdrew. Very soon one of the ladies returned--I could not
tell which. A kind of pleasant stupor was stealing over me as I sat
by the genial fire. In an undertone she gave some directions to
Hannah. Ere longwith the servant's aidI contrived to mount a
staircase; my dripping clothes were removed; soon a warmdry bed
received me. I thanked God--experienced amidst unutterable
exhaustion a glow of grateful joy--and slept.

CHAPTER XXIX

The recollection of about three days and nights succeeding this is
very dim in my mind. I can recall some sensations felt in that
interval; but few thoughts framedand no actions performed. I knew
I was in a small room and in a narrow bed. To that bed I seemed to
have grown; I lay on it motionless as a stone; and to have torn me
from it would have been almost to kill me. I took no note of the
lapse of time--of the change from morning to noonfrom noon to
evening. I observed when any one entered or left the apartment: I
could even tell who they were; I could understand what was said when
the speaker stood near to me; but I could not answer; to open my
lips or move my limbs was equally impossible. Hannahthe servant
was my most frequent visitor. Her coming disturbed me. I had a
feeling that she wished me away: that she did not understand me or
my circumstances; that she was prejudiced against me. Diana and
Mary appeared in the chamber once or twice a day. They would
whisper sentences of this sort at my bedside


It is very well we took her in.

Yes; she would certainly have been found dead at the door in the
morning had she been left out all night. I wonder what she has gone


through?

Strange hardships, I imagine--poor, emaciated, pallid wanderer?

She is not an uneducated person, I should think, by her manner of
speaking; her accent was quite pure; and the clothes she took off,
though splashed and wet, were little worn and fine.

She has a peculiar face; fleshless and haggard as it is, I rather
like it; and when in good health and animated, I can fancy her
physiognomy would be agreeable.

Never once in their dialogues did I hear a syllable of regret at the
hospitality they had extended to meor of suspicion ofor aversion
tomyself. I was comforted.

Mr. St. John came but once: he looked at meand said my state of
lethargy was the result of reaction from excessive and protracted
fatigue. He pronounced it needless to send for a doctor: nature
he was surewould manage bestleft to herself. He said every
nerve had been overstrained in some wayand the whole system must
sleep torpid a while. There was no disease. He imagined my
recovery would be rapid enough when once commenced. These opinions
he delivered in a few wordsin a quietlow voice; and addedafter
a pausein the tone of a man little accustomed to expansive
commentRather an unusual physiognomy; certainly, not indicative
of vulgarity or degradation.

Far otherwise,responded Diana. "To speak truthSt. Johnmy
heart rather warms to the poor little soul. I wish we may be able
to benefit her permanently."

That is hardly likely,was the reply. "You will find she is some
young lady who has had a misunderstanding with her friendsand has
probably injudiciously left them. We mayperhapssucceed in
restoring her to themif she is not obstinate: but I trace lines
of force in her face which make me sceptical of her tractability."
He stood considering me some minutes; then addedShe looks
sensible, but not at all handsome.

She is so ill, St. John.

Ill or well, she would always be plain. The grace and harmony of
beauty are quite wanting in those features.

On the third day I was better; on the fourthI could speakmove
rise in bedand turn. Hannah had brought me some gruel and dry
toastaboutas I supposedthe dinner-hour. I had eaten with
relish: the food was good--void of the feverish flavour which had
hitherto poisoned what I had swallowed. When she left meI felt
comparatively strong and revived: ere long satiety of repose and
desire for action stirred me. I wished to rise; but what could I
put on? Only my damp and bemired apparel; in which I had slept on
the ground and fallen in the marsh. I felt ashamed to appear before
my benefactors so clad. I was spared the humiliation.

On a chair by the bedside were all my own thingsclean and dry. My
black silk frock hung against the wall. The traces of the bog were
removed from it; the creases left by the wet smoothed out: it was
quite decent. My very shoes and stockings were purified and
rendered presentable. There were the means of washing in the room
and a comb and brush to smooth my hair. After a weary processand
resting every five minutesI succeeded in dressing myself. My
clothes hung loose on me; for I was much wastedbut I covered


deficiencies with a shawland once moreclean and respectable
looking--no speck of the dirtno trace of the disorder I so hated
and which seemed so to degrade meleft--I crept down a stone
staircase with the aid of the banistersto a narrow low passage
and found my way presently to the kitchen.

It was full of the fragrance of new bread and the warmth of a
generous fire. Hannah was baking. Prejudicesit is well known
are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never
been loosened or fertilised by education: they grow therefirm as
weeds among stones. Hannah had been cold and stiffindeedat the
first: latterly she had begun to relent a little; and when she saw
me come in tidy and well-dressedshe even smiled.

What, you have got up!she said. "You are betterthen. You may
sit you down in my chair on the hearthstoneif you will."

She pointed to the rocking-chair: I took it. She bustled about
examining me every now and then with the corner of her eye. Turning
to meas she took some loaves from the ovenshe asked bluntly


Did you ever go a-begging afore you came here?

I was indignant for a moment; but remembering that anger was out of
the questionand that I had indeed appeared as a beggar to herI
answered quietlybut still not without a certain marked firmness


You are mistaken in supposing me a beggar. I am no beggar; any
more than yourself or your young ladies.

After a pause she saidI dunnut understand that: you've like no
house, nor no brass, I guess?

The want of house or brass (by which I suppose you mean money) does
not make a beggar in your sense of the word.

Are you book-learned?she inquired presently.

Yes, very.

But you've never been to a boarding-school?

I was at a boarding-school eight years.

She opened her eyes wide. "Whatever cannot ye keep yourself for
then?"

I have kept myself; and, I trust, shall keep myself again. What
are you going to do with these gooseberries?I inquiredas she
brought out a basket of the fruit.

Mak' 'em into pies.

Give them to me and I'll pick them.

Nay; I dunnut want ye to do nought.

But I must do something. Let me have them.

She consented; and she even brought me a clean towel to spread over
my dresslest,as she saidI should mucky it.

Ye've not been used to sarvant's wark, I see by your hands,she
remarked. "Happen ye've been a dressmaker?"


No, you are wrong. And now, never mind what I have been: don't
trouble your head further about me; but tell me the name of the
house where we are.

Some calls it Marsh End, and some calls it Moor House.
And the gentleman who lives here is called Mr. St. John?

Nay; he doesn't live here: he is only staying a while. When he is
at home, he is in his own parish at Morton.

That village a few miles off?
Aye."

And what is he?
He is a parson.

I remembered the answer of the old housekeeper at the parsonage
when I had asked to see the clergyman. "Thisthenwas his
father's residence?"

Aye; old Mr. Rivers lived here, and his father, and grandfather,
and gurt (great) grandfather afore him.

The name, then, of that gentleman, is Mr. St. John Rivers?

Aye; St. John is like his kirstened name.
And his sisters are called Diana and Mary Rivers?


Yes.
Their father is dead?


Dead three weeks sin' of a stroke.
They have no mother?


The mistress has been dead this mony a year.
Have you lived with the family long?


I've lived here thirty year. I nursed them all three.


That proves you must have been an honest and faithful servant. I
will say so much for you, though you have had the incivility to call
me a beggar.

She again regarded me with a surprised stare. "I believe she
said, I was quite mista'en in my thoughts of you: but there is so
mony cheats goes aboutyou mun forgie me."

And though,I continuedrather severelyyou wished to turn me
from the door, on a night when you should not have shut out a dog.

Well, it was hard: but what can a body do? I thought more o' th'
childer nor of mysel: poor things! They've like nobody to tak'
care on 'em but me. I'm like to look sharpish.

I maintained a grave silence for some minutes.


You munnut think too hardly of me,she again remarked.

But I do think hardly of you,I said; "and I'll tell you why--not
so much because you refused to give me shelteror regarded me as an
impostoras because you just now made it a species of reproach that
I had no 'brass' and no house. Some of the best people that ever
lived have been as destitute as I am; and if you are a Christian
you ought not to consider poverty a crime."

No more I ought,said she: "Mr. St. John tells me so too; and I
see I wor wrang--but I've clear a different notion on you now to
what I had. You look a raight down dacent little crater."

That will do--I forgive you now. Shake hands.

She put her floury and horny hand into mine; another and heartier
smile illumined her rough faceand from that moment we were
friends.

Hannah was evidently fond of talking. While I picked the fruitand
she made the paste for the piesshe proceeded to give me sundry
details about her deceased master and mistressand "the childer
as she called the young people.

Old Mr. Rivers, she said, was a plain man enough, but a gentleman,
and of as ancient a family as could be found. Marsh End had
belonged to the Rivers ever since it was a house: and it was, she
affirmed, aboon two hundred year old--for all it looked but a
smallhumble placenaught to compare wi' Mr. Oliver's grand hall
down i' Morton Vale. But she could remember Bill Oliver's father a
journeyman needlemaker; and th' Rivers wor gentry i' th' owd days o'
th' Henrysas onybody might see by looking into th' registers i'
Morton Church vestry." Stillshe allowedthe owd maister was
like other folk--naught mich out o' t' common way: stark mad o'
shooting, and farming, and sich like.The mistress was different.
She was a great readerand studied a deal; and the "bairns" had
taken after her. There was nothing like them in these partsnor
ever had been; they had liked learningall threealmost from the
time they could speak; and they had always been "of a mak' of their
own." Mr. St. Johnwhen he grew upwould go to college and be a
parson; and the girlsas soon as they left schoolwould seek
places as governesses: for they had told her their father had some
years ago lost a great deal of money by a man he had trusted turning
bankrupt; and as he was now not rich enough to give them fortunes
they must provide for themselves. They had lived very little at
home for a long whileand were only come now to stay a few weeks on
account of their father's death; but they did so like Marsh End and
Mortonand all these moors and hills about. They had been in
Londonand many other grand towns; but they always said there was
no place like home; and then they were so agreeable with each other-
never fell out nor "threaped." She did not know where there was
such a family for being united.

Having finished my task of gooseberry pickingI asked where the two
ladies and their brother were now.

Gone over to Morton for a walk; but they would be back in half-anhour
to tea.

They returned within the time Hannah had allotted them: they
entered by the kitchen door. Mr. St. Johnwhen he saw memerely
bowed and passed through; the two ladies stopped: Maryin a few
wordskindly and calmly expressed the pleasure she felt in seeing
me well enough to be able to come down; Diana took my hand: she


shook her head at me.

You should have waited for my leave to descend,she said. "You
still look very pale--and so thin! Poor child!--poor girl!"

Diana had a voice tonedto my earlike the cooing of a dove. She
possessed eyes whose gaze I delighted to encounter. Her whole face
seemed to me fill of charm. Mary's countenance was equally
intelligent--her features equally pretty; but her expression was
more reservedand her mannersthough gentlemore distant. Diana
looked and spoke with a certain authority: she had a will
evidently. It was my nature to feel pleasure in yielding to an
authority supported like hersand to bendwhere my conscience and
self-respect permittedto an active will.

And what business have you here?she continued. "It is not your
place. Mary and I sit in the kitchen sometimesbecause at home we
like to be freeeven to license--but you are a visitorand must go
into the parlour."

I am very well here.

Not at all, with Hannah bustling about and covering you with
flour.

Besides, the fire is too hot for you,interposed Mary.

To be sure,added her sister. "Comeyou must be obedient." And
still holding my hand she made me riseand led me into the inner
room.

Sit there,she saidplacing me on the sofawhile we take our
things off and get the tea ready; it is another privilege we
exercise in our little moorland home--to prepare our own meals when
we are so inclined, or when Hannah is baking, brewing, washing, or
ironing.

She closed the doorleaving me solus with Mr. St. Johnwho sat
oppositea book or newspaper in his hand. I examined firstthe
parlourand then its occupant.

The parlour was rather a small roomvery plainly furnishedyet
comfortablebecause clean and neat. The old-fashioned chairs were
very brightand the walnut-wood table was like a looking-glass. A
few strangeantique portraits of the men and women of other days
decorated the stained walls; a cupboard with glass doors contained
some books and an ancient set of china. There was no superfluous
ornament in the room--not one modern piece of furnituresave a
brace of workboxes and a lady's desk in rosewoodwhich stood on a
side-table: everything--including the carpet and curtains--looked
at once well worn and well saved.

Mr. St. John--sitting as still as one of the dusty pictures on the
wallskeeping his eyes fixed on the page he perusedand his lips
mutely sealed--was easy enough to examine. Had he been a statue
instead of a manhe could not have been easier. He was young-perhaps
from twenty-eight to thirty--tallslender; his face riveted
the eye; it was like a Greek facevery pure in outline: quite a
straightclassic nose; quite an Athenian mouth and chin. It is
seldomindeedan English face comes so near the antique models as
did his. He might well be a little shocked at the irregularity of
my lineamentshis own being so harmonious. His eyes were large and
bluewith brown lashes; his high foreheadcolourless as ivorywas
partially streaked over by careless locks of fair hair.


This is a gentle delineationis it notreader? Yet he whom it
describes scarcely impressed one with the idea of a gentlea
yieldingan impressibleor even of a placid nature. Quiescent as
he now satthere was something about his nostrilhis mouthhis
browwhichto my perceptionsindicated elements within either
restlessor hardor eager. He did not speak to me one wordnor
even direct to me one glancetill his sisters returned. Dianaas
she passed in and outin the course of preparing teabrought me a
little cakebaked on the top of the oven.

Eat that now,she said: "you must be hungry. Hannah says you
have had nothing but some gruel since breakfast."

I did not refuse itfor my appetite was awakened and keen. Mr.
Rivers now closed his bookapproached the tableandas he took a
seatfixed his blue pictorial-looking eyes full on me. There was
an unceremonious directnessa searchingdecided steadfastness in
his gaze nowwhich told that intentionand not diffidencehad
hitherto kept it averted from the stranger.

You are very hungry,he said.

I am, sir.It is my way--it always was my wayby instinct--ever
to meet the brief with brevitythe direct with plainness.

It is well for you that a low fever has forced you to abstain for
the last three days: there would have been danger in yielding to
the cravings of your appetite at first. Now you may eat, though
still not immoderately.

I trust I shall not eat long at your expense, sir,was my very
clumsily-contrivedunpolished answer.

No,he said coolly: "when you have indicated to us the residence
of your friendswe can write to themand you may be restored to
home."

That, I must plainly tell you, is out of my power to do; being
absolutely without home and friends.

The three looked at mebut not distrustfully; I felt there was no
suspicion in their glances: there was more of curiosity. I speak
particularly of the young ladies. St. John's eyesthough clear
enough in a literal sensein a figurative one were difficult to
fathom. He seemed to use them rather as instruments to search other
people's thoughtsthan as agents to reveal his own: the which
combination of keenness and reserve was considerably more calculated
to embarrass than to encourage.

Do you mean to say,he askedthat you are completely isolated
from every connection?

I do. Not a tie links me to any living thing: not a claim do I
possess to admittance under any roof in England.

A most singular position at your age!

Here I saw his glance directed to my handswhich were folded on the
table before me. I wondered what he sought there: his words soon
explained the quest.

You have never been married? You are a spinster?


Diana laughed. "Whyshe can't he above seventeen or eighteen years
oldSt. John said she.

I am near nineteen: but I am not married. No."

I felt a burning glow mount to my face; for bitter and agitating
recollections were awakened by the allusion to marriage. They all
saw the embarrassment and the emotion. Diana and Mary relieved me
by turning their eyes elsewhere than to my crimsoned visage; but the
colder and sterner brother continued to gazetill the trouble he
had excited forced out tears as well as colour.

Where did you last reside?he now asked.

You are too inquisitive, St. John,murmured Mary in a low voice;
but he leaned over the table and required an answer by a second firm
and piercing look.

The name of the place where, and of the person with whom I lived,
is my secret,I replied concisely.

Which, if you like, you have, in my opinion, a right to keep, both
from St. John and every other questioner,remarked Diana.

Yet if I know nothing about you or your history, I cannot help
you,he said. "And you need helpdo you not?"

I need it, and I seek it so far, sir, that some true philanthropist
will put me in the way of getting work which I can do, and the
remuneration for which will keep me, if but in the barest
necessaries of life.

I know not whether I am a true philanthropist; yet I am willing to
aid you to the utmost of my power in a purpose so honest. First,
then, tell me what you have been accustomed to do, and what you CAN
do.

I had now swallowed my tea. I was mightily refreshed by the
beverage; as much so as a giant with wine: it gave new tone to my
unstrung nervesand enabled me to address this penetrating young
judge steadily.

Mr. Rivers,I saidturning to himand looking at himas he
looked at meopenly and without diffidenceyou and your sisters
have done me a great service--the greatest man can do his fellowbeing;
you have rescued me, by your noble hospitality, from death.
This benefit conferred gives you an unlimited claim on my gratitude,
and a claim, to a certain extent, on my confidence. I will tell you
as much of the history of the wanderer you have harboured, as I can
tell without compromising my own peace of mind--my own security,
moral and physical, and that of others.

I am an orphanthe daughter of a clergyman. My parents died
before I could know them. I was brought up a dependant; educated in
a charitable institution. I will even tell you the name of the
establishmentwhere I passed six years as a pupiland two as a
teacher--Lowood Orphan Asylum-shire: you will have heard of it
Mr. Rivers?--the Rev. Robert Brocklehurst is the treasurer."

I have heard of Mr. Brocklehurst, and I have seen the school.

I left Lowood nearly a year since to become a private governess. I
obtained a good situation, and was happy. This place I was obliged
to leave four days before I came here. The reason of my departure I


cannot and ought not to explain: it would be useless, dangerous,
and would sound incredible. No blame attached to me: I am as free
from culpability as any one of you three. Miserable I am, and must
be for a time; for the catastrophe which drove me from a house I had
found a paradise was of a strange and direful nature. I observed
but two points in planning my departure--speed, secrecy: to secure
these, I had to leave behind me everything I possessed except a
small parcel; which, in my hurry and trouble of mind, I forgot to
take out of the coach that brought me to Whitcross. To this
neighbourhood, then, I came, quite destitute. I slept two nights in
the open air, and wandered about two days without crossing a
threshold: but twice in that space of time did I taste food; and it
was when brought by hunger, exhaustion, and despair almost to the
last gasp, that you, Mr. Rivers, forbade me to perish of want at
your door, and took me under the shelter of your roof. I know all
your sisters have done for me since--for I have not been insensible
during my seeming torpor--and I owe to their spontaneous, genuine,
genial compassion as large a debt as to your evangelical charity.

Don't make her talk any more now, St. John,said Dianaas I
paused; "she is evidently not yet fit for excitement. Come to the
sofa and sit down nowMiss Elliott."

I gave an involuntary half start at hearing the alias: I had
forgotten my new name. Mr. Riverswhom nothing seemed to escape
noticed it at once.

You said your name was Jane Elliott?he observed.

I did say so; and it is the name by which I think it expedient to
be called at present, but it is not my real name, and when I hear
it, it sounds strange to me.

Your real name you will not give?

No: I fear discovery above all things; and whatever disclosure
would lead to it, I avoid.

You are quite right, I am sure,said Diana. "Now dobrotherlet
her be at peace a while."

But when St. John had mused a few moments he recommenced as
imperturbably and with as much acumen as ever.

You would not like to be long dependent on our hospitality--you
would wish, I see, to dispense as soon as may be with my sisters'
compassion, and, above all, with my CHARITY (I am quite sensible of
the distinction drawn, nor do I resent it--it is just): you desire
to be independent of us?

I do: I have already said so. Show me how to work, or how to seek
work: that is all I now ask; then let me go, if it be but to the
meanest cottage; but till then, allow me to stay here: I dread
another essay of the horrors of homeless destitution.

Indeed you SHALL stay here,said Dianaputting her white hand on
my head. "You SHALL repeated Mary, in the tone of undemonstrative
sincerity which seemed natural to her.

My sistersyou seehave a pleasure in keeping you said Mr. St.
John, as they would have a pleasure in keeping and cherishing a
half-frozen birdsome wintry wind might have driven through their
casement. I feel more inclination to put you in the way of keeping
yourselfand shall endeavour to do so; but observemy sphere is


narrow. I am but the incumbent of a poor country parish: my aid
must be of the humblest sort. And if you are inclined to despise
the day of small thingsseek some more efficient succour than such
as I can offer."

She has already said that she is willing to do anything honest she
can do,answered Diana for me; "and you knowSt. Johnshe has no
choice of helpers: she is forced to put up with such crusty people
as you."

I will be a dressmaker; I will be a plain-workwoman; I will be a
servant, a nurse-girl, if I can be no better,I answered.

Right,said Mr. St. Johnquite coolly. "If such is your spirit
I promise to aid youin my own time and way."

He now resumed the book with which he had been occupied before tea.
I soon withdrewfor I had talked as muchand sat up as longas my
present strength would permit.

CHAPTER XXX

The more I knew of the inmates of Moor Housethe better I liked
them. In a few days I had so far recovered my health that I could
sit up all dayand walk out sometimes. I could join with Diana and
Mary in all their occupations; converse with them as much as they
wishedand aid them when and where they would allow me. There was
a reviving pleasure in this intercourseof a kind now tasted by me
for the first time-the pleasure arising from perfect congeniality of
tastessentimentsand principles.

I liked to read what they liked to read: what they enjoyed
delighted me; what they approvedI reverenced. They loved their
sequestered home. Itooin the greysmallantique structure
with its low roofits latticed casementsits mouldering wallsits
avenue of aged firs--all grown aslant under the stress of mountain
winds; its gardendark with yew and holly--and where no flowers but
of the hardiest species would bloom--found a charm both potent and
permanent. They clung to the purple moors behind and around their
dwelling--to the hollow vale into which the pebbly bridle-path
leading from their gate descendedand which wound between fernbanks
firstand then amongst a few of the wildest little pasturefields
that ever bordered a wilderness of heathor gave sustenance
to a flock of grey moorland sheepwith their little mossy-faced
lambs:- they clung to this sceneI saywith a perfect enthusiasm
of attachment. I could comprehend the feelingand share both its
strength and truth. I saw the fascination of the locality. I felt
the consecration of its loneliness: my eye feasted on the outline
of swell and sweep--on the wild colouring communicated to ridge and
dell by mossby heath-bellby flower-sprinkled turfby brilliant
brackenand mellow granite crag. These details were just to me
what they were to them--so many pure and sweet sources of pleasure.
The strong blast and the soft breeze; the rough and the halcyon day;
the hours of sunrise and sunset; the moonlight and the clouded
nightdeveloped for mein these regionsthe same attraction as
for them--wound round my faculties the same spell that entranced
theirs.

Indoors we agreed equally well. They were both more accomplished
and better read than I was; but with eagerness I followed in the


path of knowledge they had trodden before me. I devoured the books
they lent me: then it was full satisfaction to discuss with them in
the evening what I had perused during the day. Thought fitted
thought; opinion met opinion: we coincidedin shortperfectly.

If in our trio there was a superior and a leaderit was Diana.
Physicallyshe far excelled me: she was handsome; she was
vigorous. In her animal spirits there was an affluence of life and
certainty of flowsuch as excited my wonderwhile it baffled my
comprehension. I could talk a while when the evening commencedbut
the first gush of vivacity and fluency goneI was fain to sit on a
stool at Diana's feetto rest my head on her kneeand listen
alternately to her and Marywhile they sounded thoroughly the topic
on which I had but touched. Diana offered to teach me German. I
liked to learn of her: I saw the part of instructress pleased and
suited her; that of scholar pleased and suited me no less. Our
natures dovetailed: mutual affection--of the strongest kind--was
the result. They discovered I could draw: their pencils and
colour-boxes were immediately at my service. My skillgreater in
this one point than theirssurprised and charmed them. Mary would
sit and watch me by the hour together: then she would take lessons;
and a docileintelligentassiduous pupil she made. Thus occupied
and mutually entertaineddays passed like hoursand weeks like
days.

As to Mr. St Johnthe intimacy which had arisen so naturally and
rapidly between me and his sisters did not extend to him. One
reason of the distance yet observed between us wasthat he was
comparatively seldom at home: a large proportion of his time
appeared devoted to visiting the sick and poor among the scattered
population of his parish.

No weather seemed to hinder him in these pastoral excursions: rain
or fairhe wouldwhen his hours of morning study were overtake
his hatandfollowed by his father's old pointerCarlogo out on
his mission of love or duty--I scarcely know in which light he
regarded it. Sometimeswhen the day was very unfavourablehis
sisters would expostulate. He would then saywith a peculiar
smilemore solemn than cheerful


And if I let a gust of wind or a sprinkling of rain turn me aside
from these easy tasks, what preparation would such sloth be for the
future I propose to myself?

Diana and Mary's general answer to this question was a sighand
some minutes of apparently mournful meditation.

But besides his frequent absencesthere was another barrier to
friendship with him: he seemed of a reservedan abstractedand
even of a brooding nature. Zealous in his ministerial labours
blameless in his life and habitshe yet did not appear to enjoy
that mental serenitythat inward contentwhich should bet he
reward of every sincere Christian and practical philanthropist.
Oftenof an eveningwhen he sat at the windowhis desk and papers
before himhe would cease reading or writingrest his chin on his
handand deliver himself up to I know not what course of thought;
but that it was perturbed and exciting might be seen in the frequent
flash and changeful dilation of his eye.

I thinkmoreoverthat Nature was not to him that treasury of
delight it was to his sisters. He expressed onceand but once in
my hearinga strong sense of the rugged charm of the hillsand an
inborn affection for the dark roof and hoary walls he called his
home; but there was more of gloom than pleasure in the tone and


words in which the sentiment was manifested; and never did he seem
to roam the moors for the sake of their soothing silence--never seek
out or dwell upon the thousand peaceful delights they could yield.

Incommunicative as he wassome time elapsed before I had an
opportunity of gauging his mind. I first got an idea of its calibre
when I heard him preach in his own church at Morton. I wish I could
describe that sermon: but it is past my power. I cannot even
render faithfully the effect it produced on me.

It began calm--and indeedas far as delivery and pitch of voice
wentit was calm to the end: an earnestly feltyet strictly
restrained zeal breathed soon in the distinct accentsand prompted
the nervous language. This grew to force--compressedcondensed
controlled. The heart was thrilledthe mind astonishedby the
power of the preacher: neither were softened. Throughout there was
a strange bitterness; an absence of consolatory gentleness; stern
allusions to Calvinistic doctrines--electionpredestination
reprobation--were frequent; and each reference to these points
sounded like a sentence pronounced for doom. When he had done
instead of feeling bettercalmermore enlightened by his
discourseI experienced an inexpressible sadness; for it seemed to
me--I know not whether equally so to others--that the eloquence to
which I had been listening had sprung from a depth where lay turbid
dregs of disappointment--where moved troubling impulses of insatiate
yearnings and disquieting aspirations. I was sure St. John Rivers-pure-
livedconscientiouszealous as he was--had not yet found that
peace of God which passeth all understanding: he had no more found
itI thoughtthan had I with my concealed and racking regrets for
my broken idol and lost elysium--regrets to which I have latterly
avoided referringbut which possessed me and tyrannised over me
ruthlessly.

Meantime a month was gone. Diana and Mary were soon to leave Moor
Houseand return to the far different life and scene which awaited
themas governesses in a largefashionablesouth-of-England city
where each held a situation in families by whose wealthy and haughty
members they were regarded only as humble dependantsand who
neither knew nor sought out their innate excellencesand
appreciated only their acquired accomplishments as they appreciated
the skill of their cook or the taste of their waiting-woman. Mr.
St. John had said nothing to me yet about the employment he had
promised to obtain for me; yet it became urgent that I should have a
vocation of some kind. One morningbeing left alone with him a few
minutes in the parlourI ventured to approach the window-recess-which
his tablechairand desk consecrated as a kind of study--and
I was going to speakthough not very well knowing in what words to
frame my inquiry--for it is at all times difficult to break the ice
of reserve glassing over such natures as his--when he saved me the
trouble by being the first to commence a dialogue.

Looking up as I drew near--"You have a question to ask of me?" he
said.

Yes; I wish to know whether you have heard of any service I can
offer myself to undertake?

I found or devised something for you three weeks ago; but as you
seemed both useful and happy here--as my sisters had evidently
become attached to you, and your society gave them unusual pleasure-
I deemed it inexpedient to break in on your mutual comfort till
their approaching departure from Marsh End should render yours
necessary.


And they will go in three days now?I said.

Yes; and when they go, I shall return to the parsonage at Morton:
Hannah will accompany me; and this old house will be shut up.

I waited a few momentsexpecting he would go on with the subject
first broached: but he seemed to have entered another train of
reflection: his look denoted abstraction from me and my business.
I was obliged to recall him to a theme which was of necessity one of
close and anxious interest to me.

What is the employment you had in view, Mr. Rivers? I hope this
delay will not have increased the difficulty of securing it.

Oh, no; since it is in employment which depends only on me to give,
and you to accept.

He again paused: there seemed a reluctance to continue. I grew
impatient: a restless movement or twoand an eager and exacting
glance fastened on his faceconveyed the feeling to him as
effectually as words could have doneand with less trouble.

You need be in no hurry to hear,he said: "let me frankly tell
youI have nothing eligible or profitable to suggest. Before I
explainrecallif you pleasemy noticeclearly giventhat if I
helped youit must be as the blind man would help the lame. I am
poor; for I find thatwhen I have paid my father's debtsall the
patrimony remaining to me will be this crumbling grangethe row of
scathed firs behindand the patch of moorish soilwith the yewtrees
and holly-bushes in front. I am obscure: Rivers is an old
name; but of the three sole descendants of the racetwo earn the
dependant's crust among strangersand the third considers himself
an alien from his native country--not only for lifebut in death.
Yesand deemsand is bound to deemhimself honoured by the lot
and aspires but after the day when the cross of separation from
fleshly ties shall be laid on his shouldersand when the Head of
that church-militant of whose humblest members he is oneshall give
the word'Risefollow Me!'"

St. John said these words as he pronounced his sermonswith a
quietdeep voice; with an unflushed cheekand a coruscating
radiance of glance. He resumed


And since I am myself poor and obscure, I can offer you but a
service of poverty and obscurity. YOU may even think it degrading-for
I see now your habits have been what the world calls refined:
your tastes lean to the ideal, and your society has at least been
amongst the educated; but I consider that no service degrades which
can better our race. I hold that the more arid and unreclaimed the
soil where the Christian labourer's task of tillage is appointed
him--the scantier the meed his toil brings--the higher the honour.
His, under such circumstances, is the destiny of the pioneer; and
the first pioneers of the Gospel were the Apostles--their captain
was Jesus, the Redeemer, Himself.

Well?I saidas he again paused--"proceed."

He looked at me before he proceeded: indeedhe seemed leisurely to
read my faceas if its features and lines were characters on a
page. The conclusions drawn from this scrutiny he partially
expressed in his succeeding observations.

I believe you will accept the post I offer you,said heand hold
it for a while: not permanently, though: any more than I could


permanently keep the narrow and narrowing--the tranquil, hidden
office of English country incumbent; for in your nature is an alloy
as detrimental to repose as that in mine, though of a different
kind.

Do explain,I urgedwhen he halted once more.

I will; and you shall hear how poor the proposal is,--how trivial-how
cramping. I shall not stay long at Morton, now that my father
is dead, and that I am my own master. I shall leave the place
probably in the course of a twelve-month; but while I do stay, I
will exert myself to the utmost for its improvement. Morton, when I
came to it two years ago, had no school: the children of the poor
were excluded from every hope of progress. I established one for
boys: I mean now to open a second school for girls. I have hired a
building for the purpose, with a cottage of two rooms attached to it
for the mistress's house. Her salary will be thirty pounds a year:
her house is already furnished, very simply, but sufficiently, by
the kindness of a lady, Miss Oliver; the only daughter of the sole
rich man in my parish--Mr. Oliver, the proprietor of a needlefactory
and iron-foundry in the valley. The same lady pays for the
education and clothing of an orphan from the workhouse, on condition
that she shall aid the mistress in such menial offices connected
with her own house and the school as her occupation of teaching will
prevent her having time to discharge in person. Will you be this
mistress?

He put the question rather hurriedly; he seemed half to expect an
indignantor at least a disdainful rejection of the offer: not
knowing all my thoughts and feelingsthough guessing somehe could
not tell in what light the lot would appear to me. In truth it was
humble--but then it was shelteredand I wanted a safe asylum: it
was plodding--but thencompared with that of a governess in a rich
houseit was independent; and the fear of servitude with strangers
entered my soul like iron: it was not ignoble--not unworthy--not
mentally degradingI made my decision.

I thank you for the proposal, Mr. Rivers, and I accept it with all
my heart.

But you comprehend me?he said. "It is a village school: your
scholars will be only poor girls--cottagers' children--at the best
farmers' daughters. Knittingsewingreadingwritingciphering
will be all you will have to teach. What will you do with your
accomplishments? Whatwith the largest portion of your mind-sentiments--
tastes?"

Save them till they are wanted. They will keep.

You know what you undertake, then?

I do.

He now smiled: and not a bitter or a sad smilebut one well
pleased and deeply gratified.

And when will you commence the exercise of your function?

I will go to my house to-morrow, and open the school, if you like,
next week.

Very well: so be it.

He rose and walked through the room. Standing stillhe again


looked at me. He shook his head.

What do you disapprove of, Mr. Rivers?I asked.

You will not stay at Morton long: no, no!

Why? What is your reason for saying so?

I read it in your eye; it is not of that description which promises
the maintenance of an even tenor in life.

I am not ambitious.

He started at the word "ambitious." He repeatedNo. What made
you think of ambition? Who is ambitious? I know I am: but how did
you find it out?

I was speaking of myself.

Well, if you are not ambitious, you are--He paused.

What?

I was going to say, impassioned: but perhaps you would have
misunderstood the word, and been displeased. I mean, that human
affections and sympathies have a most powerful hold on you. I am
sure you cannot long be content to pass your leisure in solitude,
and to devote your working hours to a monotonous labour wholly void
of stimulus: any more than I can be content,he addedwith
emphasisto live here buried in morass, pent in with mountains--my
nature, that God gave me, contravened; my faculties, heavenbestowed,
paralysed--made useless. You hear now how I contradict
myself. I, who preached contentment with a humble lot, and
justified the vocation even of hewers of wood and drawers of water
in God's service--I, His ordained minister, almost rave in my
restlessness. Well, propensities and principles must be reconciled
by some means.

He left the room. In this brief hour I had learnt more of him than
in the whole previous month: yet still he puzzled me.

Diana and Mary Rivers became more sad and silent as the day
approached for leaving their brother and their home. They both
tried to appear as usual; bat the sorrow they had to struggle
against was one that could not be entirely conquered or concealed.
Diana intimated that this would be a different parting from any they
had ever yet known. It would probablyas far as St. John was
concernedbe a parting for years: it might be a parting for life.

He will sacrifice all to his long-framed resolves,she said:
natural affection and feelings more potent still. St. John looks
quiet, Jane; but he hides a fever in his vitals. You would think
him gentle, yet in some things he is inexorable as death; and the
worst of it is, my conscience will hardly permit me to dissuade him
from his severe decision: certainly, I cannot for a moment blame
him for it. It is right, noble, Christian: yet it breaks my
heart!And the tears gushed to her fine eyes. Mary bent her head
low over her work.

We are now without father: we shall soon be without home and
brother,she murmured

At that moment a little accident supervenedwhich seemed decreed by
fate purposely to prove the truth of the adagethat "misfortunes


never come singly and to add to their distresses the vexing one of
the slip between the cup and the lip. St. John passed the window
reading a letter. He entered.

Our uncle John is dead said he.

Both the sisters seemed struck: not shocked or appalled; the
tidings appeared in their eyes rather momentous than afflicting.

Dead?" repeated Diana.

Yes.

She riveted a searching gaze on her brother's face. "And what
then?" she demandedin a low voice.

What then, Die?he repliedmaintaining a marble immobility of
feature. "What then? Why--nothing. Read."

He threw the letter into her lap. She glanced over itand handed
it to Mary. Mary perused it in silenceand returned it to her
brother. All three looked at each otherand all three smiled--a
drearypensive smile enough.

Amen! We can yet live,said Diana at last.

At any rate, it makes us no worse off than we were before,
remarked Mary.

Only it forces rather strongly on the mind the picture of what
MIGHT HAVE BEEN,said Mr. Riversand contrasts it somewhat too
vividly with what IS.

He folded the letterlocked it in his deskand again went out.

For some minutes no one spoke. Diana then turned to me.

Jane, you will wonder at us and our mysteries,she saidand
think us hard-hearted beings not to be more moved at the death of so
near a relation as an uncle; but we have never seen him or known
him. He was my mother's brother. My father and he quarrelled long
ago. It was by his advice that my father risked most of his
property in the speculation that ruined him. Mutual recrimination
passed between them: they parted in anger, and were never
reconciled. My uncle engaged afterwards in more prosperous
undertakings: it appears he realised a fortune of twenty thousand
pounds. He was never married, and had no near kindred but ourselves
and one other person, not more closely related than we. My father
always cherished the idea that he would atone for his error by
leaving his possessions to us; that letter informs us that he has
bequeathed every penny to the other relation, with the exception of
thirty guineas, to be divided between St. John, Diana, and Mary
Rivers, for the purchase of three mourning rings. He had a right,
of course, to do as he pleased: and yet a momentary damp is cast on
the spirits by the receipt of such news. Mary and I would have
esteemed ourselves rich with a thousand pounds each; and to St. John
such a sum would have been valuable, for the good it would have
enabled him to do.

This explanation giventhe subject was droppedand no further
reference made to it by either Mr. Rivers or his sisters. The next
day I left Marsh End for Morton. The day afterDiana and Mary
quitted it for distant B-. In a weekMr. Rivers and Hannah
repaired to the parsonage: and so the old grange was abandoned.


CHAPTER XXXI

My homethenwhen I at last find a home--is a cottage; a little
room with whitewashed walls and a sanded floorcontaining four
painted chairs and a tablea clocka cupboardwith two or three
plates and dishesand a set of tea-things in delf. Abovea
chamber of the same dimensions as the kitchenwith a deal bedstead
and chest of drawers; smallyet too large to be filled with my
scanty wardrobe: though the kindness of my gentle and generous
friends has increased thatby a modest stock of such things as are
necessary.

It is evening. I have dismissedwith the fee of an orangethe
little orphan who serves me as a handmaid. I am sitting alone on
the hearth. This morningthe village school opened. I had twenty
scholars. But three of the number can read: none write or cipher.
Several knitand a few sew a little. They speak with the broadest
accent of the district. At presentthey and I have a difficulty in
understanding each other's language. Some of them are unmannered
roughintractableas well as ignorant; but others are docilehave
a wish to learnand evince a disposition that pleases me. I must
not forget that these coarsely-clad little peasants are of flesh and
blood as good as the scions of gentlest genealogy; and that the
germs of native excellencerefinementintelligencekind feeling
are as likely to exist in their hearts as in those of the best-born.
My duty will be to develop these germs: surely I shall find some
happiness in discharging that office. Much enjoyment I do not
expect in the life opening before me: yet it willdoubtlessif I
regulate my mindand exert my powers as I oughtyield me enough to
live on from day to day.

Was I very gleefulsettledcontentduring the hours I passed in
yonder barehumble schoolroom this morning and afternoon? Not to
deceive myselfI must reply--No: I felt desolate to a degree. I
felt--yesidiot that I am--I felt degraded. I doubted I had taken
a step which sank instead of raising me in the scale of social
existence. I was weakly dismayed at the ignorancethe povertythe
coarseness of all I heard and saw round me. But let me not hate and
despise myself too much for these feelings; I know them to be wrong-
that is a great step gained; I shall strive to overcome them. Tomorrow
I trustI shall get the better of them partially; and in a
few weeksperhapsthey will be quite subdued. In a few monthsit
is possiblethe happiness of seeing progressand a change for the
better in my scholars may substitute gratification for disgust.

Meantimelet me ask myself one question--Which is better?--To have
surrendered to temptation; listened to passion; made no painful
effort--no struggle;--but to have sunk down in the silken snare;
fallen asleep on the flowers covering it; wakened in a southern
climeamongst the luxuries of a pleasure villa: to have been now
living in FranceMr. Rochester's mistress; delirious with his love
half my time--for he would--ohyeshe would have loved me well for
a while. He DID love me--no one will ever love me so again. I
shall never more know the sweet homage given to beautyyouthand
grace--for never to any one else shall I seem to possess these
charms. He was fond and proud of me--it is what no man besides will
ever be.--But where am I wanderingand what am I sayingand above
allfeeling? Whether is it betterI askto be a slave in a
fool's paradise at Marseilles--fevered with delusive bliss one hour



-suffocating with the bitterest tears of remorse and shame the next-
or to be a village-schoolmistressfree and honestin a breezy
mountain nook in the healthy heart of England?

Yes; I feel now that I was right when I adhered to principle and
lawand scorned and crushed the insane promptings of a frenzied
moment. God directed me to a correct choice: I thank His
providence for the guidance!

Having brought my eventide musings to this pointI rosewent to my
doorand looked at the sunset of the harvest-dayand at the quiet
fields before my cottagewhichwith the schoolwas distant half a
mile from the village. The birds were singing their last strains


The air was mild, the dew was balm.

While I lookedI thought myself happyand was surprised to find
myself ere long weeping--and why? For the doom which had reft me
from adhesion to my master: for him I was no more to see; for the
desperate grief and fatal fury--consequences of my departure--which
might nowperhapsbe dragging him from the path of righttoo far
to leave hope of ultimate restoration thither. At this thoughtI
turned my face aside from the lovely sky of eve and lonely vale of
Morton--I say LONELYfor in that bend of it visible to me there was
no building apparent save the church and the parsonagehalf-hid in
treesandquite at the extremitythe roof of Vale Hallwhere the
rich Mr. Oliver and his daughter lived. I hid my eyesand leant my
head against the stone frame of my door; but soon a slight noise
near the wicket which shut in my tiny garden from the meadow beyond
it made me look up. A dog--old CarloMr. Rivers' pointeras I saw
in a moment--was pushing the gate with his noseand St. John
himself leant upon it with folded arms; his brow knithis gaze
grave almost to displeasurefixed on me. I asked him to come in.

No, I cannot stay; I have only brought you a little parcel my
sisters left for you. I think it contains a colour-box, pencils,
and paper.

I approached to take it: a welcome gift it was. He examined my
faceI thoughtwith austerityas I came near: the traces of
tears were doubtless very visible upon it.

Have you found your first day's work harder than you expected?he
asked.

Oh, no! On the contrary, I think in time I shall get on with my
scholars very well.

But perhaps your accommodations--your cottage--your furniture--have
disappointed your expectations? They are, in truth, scanty enough;
but--I interrupted


My cottage is clean and weather-proof; my furniture sufficient and
commodious. All I see has made me thankful, not despondent. I am
not absolutely such a fool and sensualist as to regret the absence
of a carpet, a sofa, and silver plate; besides, five weeks ago I had
nothing--I was an outcast, a beggar, a vagrant; now I have
acquaintance, a home, a business. I wonder at the goodness of God;
the generosity of my friends; the bounty of my lot. I do not
repine.

But you feel solitude an oppression? The little house there behind


you is dark and empty.

I have hardly had time yet to enjoy a sense of tranquillity, much
less to grow impatient under one of loneliness.

Very well; I hope you feel the content you express: at any rate,
your good sense will tell you that it is too soon yet to yield to
the vacillating fears of Lot's wife. What you had left before I saw
you, of course I do not know; but I counsel you to resist firmly
every temptation which would incline you to look back: pursue your
present career steadily, for some months at least.

It is what I mean to do,I answered. St. John continued


It is hard work to control the workings of inclination and turn the
bent of nature; but that it may be done, I know from experience.
God has given us, in a measure, the power to make our own fate; and
when our energies seem to demand a sustenance they cannot get--when
our will strains after a path we may not follow--we need neither
starve from inanition, nor stand still in despair: we have but to
seek another nourishment for the mind, as strong as the forbidden
food it longed to taste--and perhaps purer; and to hew out for the
adventurous foot a road as direct and broad as the one Fortune has
blocked up against us, if rougher than it.

A year ago I was myself intensely miserablebecause I thought I
had made a mistake in entering the ministry: its uniform duties
wearied me to death. I burnt for the more active life of the world-
for the more exciting toils of a literary career--for the destiny
of an artistauthororator; anything rather than that of a priest:
yesthe heart of a politicianof a soldierof a votary of glory
a lover of renowna luster after powerbeat under my curate's
surplice. I considered; my life was so wretchedit must be
changedor I must die. After a season of darkness and struggling
light broke and relief fell: my cramped existence all at once
spread out to a plain without bounds--my powers heard a call from
heaven to risegather their full strengthspread their wingsand
mount beyond ken. God had an errand for me; to bear which afarto
deliver it wellskill and strengthcourage and eloquencethe best
qualifications of soldierstatesmanand oratorwere all needed:
for these all centre in the good missionary.

A missionary I resolved to be. From that moment my state of mind
changed; the fetters dissolved and dropped from every faculty,
leaving nothing of bondage but its galling soreness--which time only
can heal. My father, indeed, imposed the determination, but since
his death, I have not a legitimate obstacle to contend with; some
affairs settled, a successor for Morton provided, an entanglement or
two of the feelings broken through or cut asunder--a last conflict
with human weakness, in which I know I shall overcome, because I
have vowed that I WILL overcome--and I leave Europe for the East.

He said thisin his peculiarsubduedyet emphatic voice; looking
when he had ceased speakingnot at mebut at the setting sunat
which I looked too. Both he and I had our backs towards the path
leading up the field to the wicket. We had heard no step on that
grass-grown track; the water running in the vale was the one lulling
sound of the hour and scene; we might well then start when a gay
voicesweet as a silver bellexclaimed


Good evening, Mr. Rivers. And good evening, old Carlo. Your dog
is quicker to recognise his friends than you are, sir; he pricked
his ears and wagged his tail when I was at the bottom of the field,
and you have your back towards me now.


It was true. Though Mr. Rivers had started at the first of those
musical accentsas if a thunderbolt had split a cloud over his
headhe stood yetat the close of the sentencein the same
attitude in which the speaker had surprised him--his arm resting on
the gatehis face directed towards the west. He turned at last
with measured deliberation. A visionas it seemed to mehad risen
at his side. There appearedwithin three feet of hima form clad
in pure white--a youthfulgraceful form: fullyet fine in
contour; and whenafter bending to caress Carloit lifted up its
headand threw back a long veilthere bloomed under his glance a
face of perfect beauty. Perfect beauty is a strong expression; but
I do not retrace or qualify it: as sweet features as ever the
temperate clime of Albion moulded; as pure hues of rose and lily as
ever her humid gales and vapoury skies generated and screened
justifiedin this instancethe term. No charm was wantingno
defect was perceptible; the young girl had regular and delicate
lineaments; eyes shaped and coloured as we see them in lovely
pictureslargeand darkand full; the long and shadowy eyelash
which encircles a fine eye with so soft a fascination; the pencilled
brow which gives such clearness; the white smooth foreheadwhich
adds such repose to the livelier beauties of tint and ray; the cheek
ovalfreshand smooth; the lipsfresh tooruddyhealthy
sweetly formed; the even and gleaming teeth without flaw; the small
dimpled chin; the ornament of richplenteous tresses--all
advantagesin shortwhichcombinedrealise the ideal of beauty
were fully hers. I wonderedas I looked at this fair creature: I
admired her with my whole heart. Nature had surely formed her in a
partial mood; andforgetting her usual stinted step-mother dole of
giftshad endowed thisher darlingwith a grand-dame's bounty.

What did St. John Rivers think of this earthly angel? I naturally
asked myself that question as I saw him turn to her and look at her;
andas naturallyI sought the answer to the inquiry in his
countenance. He had already withdrawn his eye from the Periand
was looking at a humble tuft of daisies which grew by the wicket.

A lovely evening, but late for you to be out alone,he saidas he
crushed the snowy heads of the closed flowers with his foot.

Oh, I only came home from S-(she mentioned the name of a large
town some twenty miles distant) "this afternoon. Papa told me you
had opened your schooland that the new mistress was come; and so I
put on my bonnet after teaand ran up the valley to see her: this
is she?" pointing to me.

It is,said St. John.

Do you think you shall like Morton?she asked of mewith a direct
and naive simplicity of tone and mannerpleasingif child-like.

I hope I shall. I have many inducements to do so.

Did you find your scholars as attentive as you expected?

Quite.

Do you like your house?

Very much.

Have I furnished it nicely?

Very nicely, indeed.


And made a good choice of an attendant for you in Alice Wood?

You have indeed. She is teachable and handy.(This thenI
thoughtis Miss Oliverthe heiress; favouredit seemsin the
gifts of fortuneas well as in those of nature! What happy
combination of the planets presided over her birthI wonder?)

I shall come up and help you to teach sometimes,she added. "It
will be a change for me to visit you now and then; and I like a
change. Mr. RiversI have been SO gay during my stay at S-. Last
nightor rather this morningI was dancing till two o'clock. The
-th regiment are stationed there since the riots; and the officers
are the most agreeable men in the world: they put all our young
knife-grinders and scissor merchants to shame."

It seemed to me that Mr. St. John's under lip protrudedand his
upper lip curled a moment. His mouth certainly looked a good deal
compressedand the lower part of his face unusually stern and
squareas the laughing girl gave him this information. He lifted
his gazetoofrom the daisiesand turned it on her. An
unsmilinga searchinga meaning gaze it was. She answered it with
a second laughand laughter well became her youthher rosesher
dimplesher bright eyes.

As he stoodmute and graveshe again fell to caressing Carlo.
Poor Carlo loves me,said she. "HE is not stern and distant to
his friends; and if he could speakhe would not be silent."

As she patted the dog's headbending with native grace before his
young and austere masterI saw a glow rise to that master's face.
I saw his solemn eye melt with sudden fireand flicker with
resistless emotion. Flushed and kindled thushe looked nearly as
beautiful for a man as she for a woman. His chest heaved onceas
if his large heartweary of despotic constrictionhad expanded
despite the willand made a vigorous bound for the attainment of
liberty. But he curbed itI thinkas a resolute rider would curb
a rearing steed. He responded neither by word nor movement to the
gentle advances made him.

Papa says you never come to see us now,continued Miss Oliver
looking up. "You are quite a stranger at Vale Hall. He is alone
this eveningand not very well: will you return with me and visit
him?"

It is not a seasonable hour to intrude on Mr. Oliver,answered St.
John.

Not a seasonable hour! But I declare it is. It is just the hour
when papa most wants company: when the works are closed and he has
no business to occupy him. Now, Mr. Rivers, DO come. Why are you
so very shy, and so very sombre?She filled up the hiatus his
silence left by a reply of her own.

I forgot!she exclaimedshaking her beautiful curled headas if
shocked at herself. "I am so giddy and thoughtless! DO excuse me.
It had slipped my memory that you have good reasons to be indisposed
for joining in my chatter. Diana and Mary have left youand Moor
House is shut upand you are so lonely. I am sure I pity you. Do
come and see papa."

Not to-night, Miss Rosamond, not to-night.

Mr. St. John spoke almost like an automaton: himself only knew the


effort it cost him thus to refuse.

Well, if you are so obstinate, I will leave you; for I dare not
stay any longer: the dew begins to fall. Good evening!

She held out her hand. He just touched it. "Good evening!" he
repeatedin a voice low and hollow as an echo. She turnedbut in
a moment returned.

Are you well?she asked. Well might she put the question: his
face was blanched as her gown.

Quite well,he enunciated; andwith a bowhe left the gate. She
went one way; he another. She turned twice to gaze after him as she
tripped fairy-like down the field; heas he strode firmly across
never turned at all.

This spectacle of another's suffering and sacrifice rapt my thoughts
from exclusive meditation on my own. Diana Rivers had designated
her brother "inexorable as death." She had not exaggerated.

CHAPTER XXXII

I continued the labours of the village-school as actively and
faithfully as I could. It was truly hard work at first. Some time
elapsed beforewith all my effortsI could comprehend my scholars
and their nature. Wholly untaughtwith faculties quite torpid
they seemed to me hopelessly dull; andat first sightall dull
alike: but I soon found I was mistaken. There was a difference
amongst them as amongst the educated; and when I got to know them
and they methis difference rapidly developed itself. Their
amazement at memy languagemy rulesand waysonce subsidedI
found some of these heavy-lookinggaping rustics wake up into
sharp-witted girls enough. Many showed themselves obligingand
amiable too; and I discovered amongst them not a few examples of
natural politenessand innate self-respectas well as of excellent
capacitythat won both my goodwill and my admiration. These soon
took a pleasure in doing their work wellin keeping their persons
neatin learning their tasks regularlyin acquiring quiet and
orderly manners. The rapidity of their progressin some instances
was even surprising; and an honest and happy pride I took in it:
besidesI began personally to like some of the best girls; and they
liked me. I had amongst my scholars several farmers' daughters:
young women grownalmost. These could already readwriteand
sew; and to them I taught the elements of grammargeography
historyand the finer kinds of needlework. I found estimable
characters amongst them--characters desirous of information and
disposed for improvement--with whom I passed many a pleasant evening
hour in their own homes. Their parents then (the farmer and his
wife) loaded me with attentions. There was an enjoyment in
accepting their simple kindnessand in repaying it by a
consideration--a scrupulous regard to their feelings--to which they
were notperhapsat all times accustomedand which both charmed
and benefited them; becausewhile it elevated them in their own
eyesit made them emulous to merit the deferential treatment they
received.

I felt I became a favourite in the neighbourhood. Whenever I went
outI heard on all sides cordial salutationsand was welcomed with
friendly smiles. To live amidst general regardthough it be but


the regard of working peopleis like "sitting in sunshinecalm and
sweet;" serene inward feelings bud and bloom under the ray. At this
period of my lifemy heart far oftener swelled with thankfulness
than sank with dejection: and yetreaderto tell you allin the
midst of this calmthis useful existence--after a day passed in
honourable exertion amongst my scholarsan evening spent in drawing
or reading contentedly alone--I used to rush into strange dreams at
night: dreams many-colouredagitatedfull of the idealthe
stirringthe stormy--dreams whereamidst unusual scenescharged
with adventurewith agitating risk and romantic chanceI still
again and again met Mr. Rochesteralways at some exciting crisis;
and then the sense of being in his armshearing his voicemeeting
his eyetouching his hand and cheekloving himbeing loved by
him--the hope of passing a lifetime at his sidewould be renewed
with all its first force and fire. Then I awoke. Then I recalled
where I wasand how situated. Then I rose up on my curtainless
bedtrembling and quivering; and then the stilldark night
witnessed the convulsion of despairand heard the burst of passion.
By nine o'clock the next morning I was punctually opening the
school; tranquilsettledprepared for the steady duties of the
day.

Rosamond Oliver kept her word in coming to visit me. Her call at
the school was generally made in the course of her morning ride.
She would canter up to the door on her ponyfollowed by a mounted
livery servant. Anything more exquisite than her appearancein her
purple habitwith her Amazon's cap of black velvet placed
gracefully above the long curls that kissed her cheek and floated to
her shoulderscan scarcely be imagined: and it was thus she would
enter the rustic buildingand glide through the dazzled ranks of
the village children. She generally came at the hour when Mr.
Rivers was engaged in giving his daily catechising lesson. Keenly
I feardid the eye of the visitress pierce the young pastor's
heart. A sort of instinct seemed to warn him of her entranceeven
when he did not see it; and when he was looking quite away from the
doorif she appeared at ithis cheek would glowand his marbleseeming
featuresthough they refused to relaxchanged
indescribablyand in their very quiescence became expressive of a
repressed fervourstronger than working muscle or darting glance
could indicate.

Of courseshe knew her power: indeedhe did notbecause he could
notconceal it from her. In spite of his Christian stoicismwhen
she went up and addressed himand smiled gailyencouraginglyeven
fondly in his facehis hand would tremble and his eye burn. He
seemed to saywith his sad and resolute lookif he did not say it
with his lipsI love you, and I know you prefer me. It is not
despair of success that keeps me dumb. If I offered my heart, I
believe you would accept it. But that heart is already laid on a
sacred altar: the fire is arranged round it. It will soon be no
more than a sacrifice consumed.

And then she would pout like a disappointed child; a pensive cloud
would soften her radiant vivacity; she would withdraw her hand
hastily from hisand turn in transient petulance from his aspect
at once so heroic and so martyr-like. St. Johnno doubtwould
have given the world to followrecallretain herwhen she thus
left him; but he would not give one chance of heavennor
relinquishfor the elysium of her loveone hope of the true
eternal Paradise. Besideshe could not bind all that he had in his
nature--the roverthe aspirantthe poetthe priest--in the limits
of a single passion. He could not--he would not--renounce his wild
field of mission warfare for the parlours and the peace of Vale
Hall. I learnt so much from himself in an inroad I oncedespite


his reservehad the daring to make on his confidence.

Miss Oliver already honoured me with frequent visits to my cottage.
I had learnt her whole characterwhich was without mystery or
disguise: she was coquettish but not heartless; exactingbut not
worthlessly selfish. She had been indulged from her birthbut was
not absolutely spoilt. She was hastybut good-humoured; vain (she
could not help itwhen every glance in the glass showed her such a
flush of loveliness)but not affected; liberal-handed; innocent of
the pride of wealth; ingenuous; sufficiently intelligent; gay
livelyand unthinking: she was very charmingin shorteven to a
cool observer of her own sex like me; but she was not profoundly
interesting or thoroughly impressive. A very different sort of mind
was hers from thatfor instanceof the sisters of St. John.
StillI liked her almost as I liked my pupil Adele; except that
for a child whom we have watched over and taughta closer affection
is engendered than we can give an equally attractive adult
acquaintance.

She had taken an amiable caprice to me. She said I was like Mr.
Riversonlycertainlyshe allowednot one-tenth so handsome,
though I was a nice neat little soul enough, but he was an angel.
I washowevergoodclevercomposedand firmlike him. I was a
lusus naturaeshe affirmedas a village schoolmistress: she was
sure my previous historyif knownwould make a delightful romance.

One eveningwhilewith her usual child-like activityand
thoughtless yet not offensive inquisitivenessshe was rummaging the
cupboard and the table-drawer of my little kitchenshe discovered
first two French booksa volume of Schillera German grammar and
dictionaryand then my drawing-materials and some sketches
including a pencil-head of a pretty little cherub-like girlone of
my scholarsand sundry views from naturetaken in the Vale of
Morton and on the surrounding moors. She was first transfixed with
surpriseand then electrified with delight.

Had I done these pictures? Did I know French and German? What a
love--what a miracle I was! I drew better than her master in the
first school in S-. Would I sketch a portrait of her, to show to
papa?

With pleasure,I replied; and I felt a thrill of artist--delight
at the idea of copying from so perfect and radiant a model. She had
then on a dark-blue silk dress; her arms and her neck were bare; her
only ornament was her chestnut tresseswhich waved over her
shoulders with all the wild grace of natural curls. I took a sheet
of fine card-boardand drew a careful outline. I promised myself
the pleasure of colouring it; andas it was getting late thenI
told her she must come and sit another day.

She made such a report of me to her fatherthat Mr. Oliver himself
accompanied her next evening--a tallmassive-featuredmiddle-aged
and grey-headed manat whose side his lovely daughter looked like a
bright flower near a hoary turret. He appeared a taciturnand
perhaps a proud personage; but he was very kind to me. The sketch
of Rosamond's portrait pleased him highly: he said I must make a
finished picture of it. He insistedtooon my coming the next day
to spend the evening at Vale Hall.

I went. I found it a largehandsome residenceshowing abundant
evidences of wealth in the proprietor. Rosamond was full of glee
and pleasure all the time I stayed. Her father was affable; and
when he entered into conversation with me after teahe expressed in
strong terms his approbation of what I had done in Morton school


and said he only fearedfrom what he saw and heardI was too good
for the placeand would soon quit it for one more suitable.

Indeed,cried Rosamondshe is clever enough to be a governess in
a high family, papa.

I thought I would far rather be where I am than in any high family
in the land. Mr. Oliver spoke of Mr. Rivers--of the Rivers family-with
great respect. He said it was a very old name in that
neighbourhood; that the ancestors of the house were wealthy; that
all Morton had once belonged to them; that even now he considered
the representative of that house mightif he likedmake an
alliance with the best. He accounted it a pity that so fine and
talented a young man should have formed the design of going out as a
missionary; it was quite throwing a valuable life away. It
appearedthenthat her father would throw no obstacle in the way
of Rosamond's union with St. John. Mr. Oliver evidently regarded
the young clergyman's good birthold nameand sacred profession as
sufficient compensation for the want of fortune.

It was the 5th of Novemberand a holiday. My little servantafter
helping me to clean my housewas gonewell satisfied with the fee
of a penny for her aid. All about me was spotless and bright-scoured
floorpolished grateand well-rubbed chairs. I had also
made myself neatand had now the afternoon before me to spend as I
would.

The translation of a few pages of German occupied an hour; then I
got my palette and pencilsand fell to the more soothingbecause
easier occupationof completing Rosamond Oliver's miniature. The
head was finished already: there was but the background to tint and
the drapery to shade off; a touch of carminetooto add to the
ripe lips--a soft curl here and there to the tresses--a deeper tinge
to the shadow of the lash under the azured eyelid. I was absorbed
in the execution of these nice detailswhenafter one rapid tap
my door unclosedadmitting St. John Rivers.

I am come to see how you are spending your holiday,he said.
Not, I hope, in thought? No, that is well: while you draw you
will not feel lonely. You see, I mistrust you still, though you
have borne up wonderfully so far. I have brought you a book for
evening solace,and he laid on the table a new publication--a poem:
one of those genuine productions so often vouchsafed to the
fortunate public of those days--the golden age of modern literature.
Alas! the readers of our era are less favoured. But courage! I
will not pause either to accuse or repine. I know poetry is not
deadnor genius lost; nor has Mammon gained power over eitherto
bind or slay: they will both assert their existencetheir
presencetheir liberty and strength again one day. Powerful
angelssafe in heaven! they smile when sordid souls triumphand
feeble ones weep over their destruction. Poetry destroyed? Genius
banished? No! Mediocrityno: do not let envy prompt you to the
thought. No; they not only livebut reign and redeem: and without
their divine influence spread everywhereyou would be in hell--the
hell of your own meanness.

While I was eagerly glancing at the bright pages of "Marmion" (for
Marmionit was)St. John stooped to examine my drawing. His tall
figure sprang erect again with a start: he said nothing. I looked
up at him: he shunned my eye. I knew his thoughts welland could
read his heart plainly; at the moment I felt calmer and cooler than
he: I had then temporarily the advantage of himand I conceived an
inclination to do him some goodif I could.


With all his firmness and self-control,thought Ihe tasks
himself too far: locks every feeling and pang within--expresses,
confesses, imparts nothing. I am sure it would benefit him to talk
a little about this sweet Rosamond, whom he thinks he ought not to
marry: I will make him talk.

I said firstTake a chair, Mr. Rivers.But he answeredas he
always didthat he could not stay. "Very well I responded,
mentally, stand if you like; but you shall not go just yetI am
determined: solitude is at least as bad for you as it is for me.
I'll try if I cannot discover the secret spring of your confidence
and find an aperture in that marble breast through which I can shed
one drop of the balm of sympathy."

Is this portrait like?I asked bluntly.

Like! Like whom? I did not observe it closely.

You did, Mr. Rivers.

He almost started at my sudden and strange abruptness: he looked at
me astonished. "Ohthat is nothing yet I muttered within. I
don't mean to be baffled by a little stiffness on your part; I'm
prepared to go to considerable lengths." I continuedYou observed
it closely and distinctly; but I have no objection to your looking
at it again,and I rose and placed it in his hand.

A well-executed picture,he said; "very softclear colouring;
very graceful and correct drawing."

Yes, yes; I know all that. But what of the resemblance? Who is it
like?

Mastering some hesitationhe answeredMiss Oliver, I presume.

Of course. And now, sir, to reward you for the accurate guess, I
will promise to paint you a careful and faithful duplicate of this
very picture, provided you admit that the gift would be acceptable
to you. I don't wish to throw away my time and trouble on an
offering you would deem worthless.

He continued to gaze at the picture: the longer he lookedthe
firmer he held itthe more he seemed to covet it. "It is like!" he
murmured; "the eye is well managed: the colourlightexpression
are perfect. It smiles!"

Would it comfort, or would it wound you to have a similar painting?
Tell me that. When you are at Madagascar, or at the Cape, or in
India, would it be a consolation to have that memento in your
possession? or would the sight of it bring recollections calculated
to enervate and distress?

He now furtively raised his eyes: he glanced at meirresolute
disturbed: he again surveyed the picture.

That I should like to have it is certain: whether it would be
judicious or wise is another question.

Since I had ascertained that Rosamond really preferred himand that
her father was not likely to oppose the matchI--less exalted in my
views than St. John--had been strongly disposed in my own heart to
advocate their union. It seemed to me thatshould he become the
possessor of Mr. Oliver's large fortunehe might do as much good
with it as if he went and laid his genius out to witherand his


strength to wasteunder a tropical sun. With this persuasion I now
answered


As far as I can see, it would be wiser and more judicious if you
were to take to yourself the original at once.

By this time he had sat down: he had laid the picture on the table
before himand with his brow supported on both handshung fondly
over it. I discerned he was now neither angry nor shocked at my
audacity. I saw even that to be thus frankly addressed on a subject
he had deemed unapproachable--to hear it thus freely handled--was
beginning to be felt by him as a new pleasure--an unhoped-for
relief. Reserved people often really need the frank discussion of
their sentiments and griefs more than the expansive. The sternestseeming
stoic is human after all; and to "burst" with boldness and
good-will into "the silent sea" of their souls is often to confer on
them the first of obligations.

She likes you, I am sure,said Ias I stood behind his chair
and her father respects you. Moreover, she is a sweet girl--rather
thoughtless; but you would have sufficient thought for both yourself
and her. You ought to marry her.

DOES she like me?he asked.

Certainly; better than she likes any one else. She talks of you
continually: there is no subject she enjoys so much or touches upon
so often.

It is very pleasant to hear this,he said--"very: go on for
another quarter of an hour." And he actually took out his watch and
laid it upon the table to measure the time.

But where is the use of going on,I askedwhen you are probably
preparing some iron blow of contradiction, or forging a fresh chain
to fetter your heart?

Don't imagine such hard things. Fancy me yielding and melting, as
I am doing: human love rising like a freshly opened fountain in my
mind and overflowing with sweet inundation all the field I have so
carefully and with such labour prepared--so assiduously sown with
the seeds of good intentions, of self-denying plans. And now it is
deluged with a nectarous flood--the young germs swamped--delicious
poison cankering them: now I see myself stretched on an ottoman in
the drawing-room at Vale Hall at my bride Rosamond Oliver's feet:
she is talking to me with her sweet voice--gazing down on me with
those eyes your skilful hand has copied so well--smiling at me with
these coral lips. She is mine--I am hers--this present life and
passing world suffice to me. Hush! say nothing--my heart is full of
delight--my senses are entranced--let the time I marked pass in
peace.

I humoured him: the watch ticked on: he breathed fast and low: I
stood silent. Amidst this hush the quartet sped; he replaced the
watchlaid the picture downroseand stood on the hearth.

Now,said hethat little space was given to delirium and
delusion. I rested my temples on the breast of temptation, and put
my neck voluntarily under her yoke of flowers. I tasted her cup.
The pillow was burning: there is an asp in the garland: the wine
has a bitter taste: her promises are hollow--her offers false: I
see and know all this.

I gazed at him in wonder.


It is strange,pursued hethat while I love Rosamond Oliver so
wildly--with all the intensity, indeed, of a first passion, the
object of which is exquisitely beautiful, graceful, fascinating--I
experience at the same time a calm, unwarped consciousness that she
would not make me a good wife; that she is not the partner suited to
me; that I should discover this within a year after marriage; and
that to twelve months' rapture would succeed a lifetime of regret.
This I know.

Strange indeed!I could not help ejaculating.

While something in me,he went onis acutely sensible to her
charms, something else is as deeply impressed with her defects:
they are such that she could sympathise in nothing I aspired to--cooperate
in nothing I undertook. Rosamond a sufferer, a labourer, a
female apostle? Rosamond a missionary's wife? No!

But you need not be a missionary. You might relinquish that
scheme.

Relinquish! What! my vocation? My great work? My foundation laid
on earth for a mansion in heaven? My hopes of being numbered in the
band who have merged all ambitions in the glorious one of bettering
their race--of carrying knowledge into the realms of ignorance--of
substituting peace for war--freedom for bondage--religion for
superstition--the hope of heaven for the fear of hell? Must I
relinquish that? It is dearer than the blood in my veins. It is
what I have to look forward to, and to live for.

After a considerable pauseI said--"And Miss Oliver? Are her
disappointment and sorrow of no interest to you?"

Miss Oliver is ever surrounded by suitors and flatterers: in less
than a month, my image will be effaced from her heart. She will
forget me; and will marry, probably, some one who will make her far
happier than I should do.

You speak coolly enough; but you suffer in the conflict. You are
wasting away.

No. If I get a little thin, it is with anxiety about my prospects,
yet unsettled--my departure, continually procrastinated. Only this
morning, I received intelligence that the successor, whose arrival I
have been so long expecting, cannot be ready to replace me for three
months to come yet; and perhaps the three months may extend to six.

You tremble and become flushed whenever Miss Oliver enters the
schoolroom.

Again the surprised expression crossed his face. He had not
imagined that a woman would dare to speak so to a man. For meI
felt at home in this sort of discourse. I could never rest in
communication with strongdiscreetand refined mindswhether male
or femaletill I had passed the outworks of conventional reserve
and crossed the threshold of confidenceand won a place by their
heart's very hearthstone.

You are original,said heand not timid. There is something
brave in your spirit, as well as penetrating in your eye; but allow
me to assure you that you partially misinterpret my emotions. You
think them more profound and potent than they are. You give me a
larger allowance of sympathy than I have a just claim to. When I
colour, and when I shade before Miss Oliver, I do not pity myself.


I scorn the weakness. I know it is ignoble: a mere fever of the
flesh: not, I declare, the convulsion of the soul. THAT is just as
fixed as a rock, firm set in the depths of a restless sea. Know me
to be what I am--a cold hard man.

I smiled incredulously.

You have taken my confidence by storm,he continuedand now it
is much at your service. I am simply, in my original state-stripped
of that blood-bleached robe with which Christianity covers
human deformity--a cold, hard, ambitious man. Natural affection
only, of all the sentiments, has permanent power over me. Reason,
and not feeling, is my guide; my ambition is unlimited: my desire
to rise higher, to do more than others, insatiable. I honour
endurance, perseverance, industry, talent; because these are the
means by which men achieve great ends and mount to lofty eminence.
I watch your career with interest, because I consider you a specimen
of a diligent, orderly, energetic woman: not because I deeply
compassionate what you have gone through, or what you still suffer.

You would describe yourself as a mere pagan philosopher,I said.

No. There is this difference between me and deistic philosophers:
I believe; and I believe the Gospel. You missed your epithet. I am
not a pagan, but a Christian philosopher--a follower of the sect of
Jesus. As His disciple I adopt His pure, His merciful, His
benignant doctrines. I advocate them: I am sworn to spread them.
Won in youth to religion, she has cultivated my original qualities
thus:- From the minute germ, natural affection, she has developed
the overshadowing tree, philanthropy. From the wild stringy root of
human uprightness, she has reared a due sense of the Divine justice.
Of the ambition to win power and renown for my wretched self, she
has formed the ambition to spread my Master's kingdom; to achieve
victories for the standard of the cross. So much has religion done
for me; turning the original materials to the best account; pruning
and training nature. But she could not eradicate nature: nor will
it be eradicated 'till this mortal shall put on immortality.'

Having said thishe took his hatwhich lay on the table beside my
palette. Once more he looked at the portrait.

She IS lovely,he murmured. "She is well named the Rose of the
Worldindeed!"

And may I not paint one like it for you?

CUI BONO? No.

He drew over the picture the sheet of thin paper on which I was
accustomed to rest my hand in paintingto prevent the cardboard
from being sullied. What he suddenly saw on this blank paperit
was impossible for me to tell; but something had caught his eye. He
took it up with a snatch; he looked at the edge; then shot a glance
at meinexpressibly peculiarand quite incomprehensible: a glance
that seemed to take and make note of every point in my shapeface
and dress; for it traversed allquickkeen as lightning. His lips
partedas if to speak: but he checked the coming sentence
whatever it was.

What is the matter?I asked.

Nothing in the world,was the reply; andreplacing the paperI
saw him dexterously tear a narrow slip from the margin. It
disappeared in his glove; andwith one hasty nod and "good



afternoon he vanished.


Well!" I exclaimedusing an expression of the districtthat caps
the globe, however!


Iin my turnscrutinised the paper; but saw nothing on it save a
few dingy stains of paint where I had tried the tint in my pencil.
I pondered the mystery a minute or two; but finding it insolvable
and being certain it could not be of much momentI dismissedand
soon forgot it.


CHAPTER XXXIII


When Mr. St. John wentit was beginning to snow; the whirling storm
continued all night. The next day a keen wind brought fresh and
blinding falls; by twilight the valley was drifted up and almost
impassable. I had closed my shutterlaid a mat to the door to
prevent the snow from blowing in under ittrimmed my fireand
after sitting nearly an hour on the hearth listening to the muffled
fury of the tempestI lit a candletook down "Marmion and
beginning -


Day set on Norham's castled steep
And Tweed's fair river broad and deep
And Cheviot's mountains lone;
The massive towersthe donjon keep
The flanking walls that round them sweep
In yellow lustre shone" -


I soon forgot storm in music.


I heard a noise: the windI thoughtshook the door. No; it was
St. John Riverswholifting the latchcame in out of the frozen
hurricane--the howling darkness--and stood before me: the cloak
that covered his tall figure all white as a glacier. I was almost
in consternationso little had I expected any guest from the
blocked-up vale that night.


Any ill news?I demanded. "Has anything happened?"


No. How very easily alarmed you are?he answeredremoving his
cloak and hanging it up against the doortowards which he again
coolly pushed the mat which his entrance had deranged. He stamped
the snow from his boots.


I shall sully the purity of your floor,said hebut you must
excuse me for once.Then he approached the fire. "I have had hard
work to get hereI assure you he observed, as he warmed his hands
over the flame. One drift took me up to the waist; happily the
snow is quite soft yet."


But why are you come?I could not forbear saying.


Rather an inhospitable question to put to a visitor; but since you
ask it, I answer simply to have a little talk with you; I got tired
of my mute books and empty rooms. Besides, since yesterday I have
experienced the excitement of a person to whom a tale has been half-
told, and who is impatient to hear the sequel.



He sat down. I recalled his singular conduct of yesterdayand
really I began to fear his wits were touched. If he were insane
howeverhis was a very cool and collected insanity: I had never
seen that handsome-featured face of his look more like chiselled
marble than it did just nowas he put aside his snow-wet hair from
his forehead and let the firelight shine free on his pale brow and
cheek as palewhere it grieved me to discover the hollow trace of
care or sorrow now so plainly graved. I waitedexpecting he would
say something I could at least comprehend; but his hand was now at
his chinhis finger on his lip: he was thinking. It struck me
that his hand looked wasted like his face. A perhaps uncalled-for
gush of pity came over my heart: I was moved to say


I wish Diana or Mary would come and live with you: it is too bad
that you should be quite alone; and you are recklessly rash about
your own health.

Not at all,said he: "I care for myself when necessary. I am
well now. What do you see amiss in me?"

This was said with a carelessabstracted indifferencewhich showed
that my solicitude wasat least in his opinionwholly superfluous.
I was silenced.

He still slowly moved his finger over his upper lipand still his
eye dwelt dreamily on the glowing grate; thinking it urgent to say
somethingI asked him presently if he felt any cold draught from
the doorwhich was behind him.

No, no!he responded shortly and somewhat testily.

Well,I reflectedif you won't talk, you may be still; I'll let
you alone now, and return to my book.

So I snuffed the candle and resumed the perusal of "Marmion." He
soon stirred; my eye was instantly drawn to his movements; he only
took out a morocco pocket-bookthence produced a letterwhich he
read in silencefolded itput it backrelapsed into meditation.
It was vain to try to read with such an inscrutable fixture before
me; nor could Iin impatienceconsent to be dumb; he might rebuff
me if my he likedbut talk I would.

Have you heard from Diana and Mary lately?

Not since the letter I showed you a week ago.

There has not been any change made about your own arrangements?
You will not be summoned to leave England sooner than you expected?

I fear not, indeed: such chance is too good to befall me.
Baffled so farI changed my ground. I bethought myself to talk
about the school and my scholars.

Mary Garrett's mother is better, and Mary came back to the school
this morning, and I shall have four new girls next week from the
Foundry Close--they would have come to-day but for the snow.

Indeed!

Mr. Oliver pays for two.

Does he?


He means to give the whole school a treat at Christmas.

I know.

Was it your suggestion?

No.

Whose, then?

His daughter's, I think.

It is like her: she is so good-natured.

Yes.

Again came the blank of a pause: the clock struck eight strokes.
It aroused him; he uncrossed his legssat erectturned to me.

Leave your book a moment, and come a little nearer the fire,he
said.

Wonderingand of my wonder finding no endI complied.

Half-an-hour ago,he pursuedI spoke of my impatience to hear
the sequel of a tale: on reflection, I find the matter will be
better managed by my assuming the narrator's part, and converting
you into a listener. Before commencing, it is but fair to warn you
that the story will sound somewhat hackneyed in your ears; but stale
details often regain a degree of freshness when they pass through
new lips. For the rest, whether trite or novel, it is short.

Twenty years agoa poor curate--never mind his name at this
moment--fell in love with a rich man's daughter; she fell in love
with himand married himagainst the advice of all her friends
who consequently disowned her immediately after the wedding. Before
two years passedthe rash pair were both deadand laid quietly
side by side under one slab. (I have seen their grave; it formed
part of the pavement of a huge churchyard surrounding the grim
soot-black old cathedral of an overgrown manufacturing town in shire.)
They left a daughterwhichat its very birthCharity
received in her lap--cold as that of the snow-drift I almost stuck
fast in to-night. Charity carried the friendless thing to the house
of its rich maternal relations; it was reared by an aunt-in-law
called (I come to names now) Mrs. Reed of Gateshead. You start--did
you hear a noise? I daresay it is only a rat scrambling along the
rafters of the adjoining schoolroom: it was a barn before I had it
repaired and alteredand barns are generally haunted by rats.--To
proceed. Mrs. Reed kept the orphan ten years: whether it was happy
or not with herI cannot saynever having been told; but at the
end of that time she transferred it to a place you know--being no
other than Lowood Schoolwhere you so long resided yourself. It
seems her career there was very honourable: from a pupilshe
became a teacherlike yourself--really it strikes me there are
parallel points in her history and yours--she left it to be a
governess: thereagainyour fates were analogous; she undertook
the education of the ward of a certain Mr. Rochester."

Mr. Rivers!I interrupted.

I can guess your feelings,he saidbut restrain them for a
while: I have nearly finished; hear me to the end. Of Mr.
Rochester's character I know nothing, but the one fact that he
professed to offer honourable marriage to this young girl, and that


at the very altar she discovered he had a wife yet alive, though a
lunatic. What his subsequent conduct and proposals were is a matter
of pure conjecture; but when an event transpired which rendered
inquiry after the governess necessary, it was discovered she was
gone--no one could tell when, where, or how. She had left
Thornfield Hall in the night; every research after her course had
been vain: the country had been scoured far and wide; no vestige of
information could be gathered respecting her. Yet that she should
be found is become a matter of serious urgency: advertisements have
been put in all the papers; I myself have received a letter from one
Mr. Briggs, a solicitor, communicating the details I have just
imparted. Is it not an odd tale?

Just tell me this,said Iand since you know so much, you surely
can tell it me--what of Mr. Rochester? How and where is he? What
is he doing? Is he well?

I am ignorant of all concerning Mr. Rochester: the letter never
mentions him but to narrate the fraudulent and illegal attempt I
have adverted to. You should rather ask the name of the governess-the
nature of the event which requires her appearance.

Did no one go to Thornfield Hall, then? Did no one see Mr.
Rochester?

I suppose not.

But they wrote to him?

Of course.

And what did he say? Who has his letters?

Mr. Briggs intimates that the answer to his application was not
from Mr. Rochester, but from a lady: it is signed 'Alice Fairfax.'

I felt cold and dismayed: my worst fears then were probably true:
he had in all probability left England and rushed in reckless
desperation to some former haunt on the Continent. And what opiate
for his severe sufferings--what object for his strong passions--had
he sought there? I dared not answer the question. Ohmy poor
master--once almost my husband--whom I had often called "my dear
Edward!"

He must have been a bad man,observed Mr. Rivers.

You don't know him--don't pronounce an opinion upon him,I said
with warmth.

Very well,he answered quietly: "and indeed my head is otherwise
occupied than with him: I have my tale to finish. Since you won't
ask the governess's nameI must tell it of my own accord. Stay! I
have it here--it is always more satisfactory to see important points
written downfairly committed to black and white."

And the pocket-book was again deliberately producedopenedsought
through; from one of its compartments was extracted a shabby slip of
paperhastily torn off: I recognised in its texture and its stains
of ultra-marineand lakeand vermillionthe ravished margin of
the portrait-cover. He got upheld it close to my eyes: and I
readtraced in Indian inkin my own handwritingthe words "JANE
EYRE"--the work doubtless of some moment of abstraction.

Briggs wrote to me of a Jane Eyre:he saidthe advertisements


demanded a Jane Eyre: I knew a Jane Elliott.--I confess I had my
suspicions, but it was only yesterday afternoon they were at once
resolved into certainty. You own the name and renounce the alias?

Yes--yes; but where is Mr. Briggs? He perhaps knows more of Mr.
Rochester than you do.

Briggs is in London. I should doubt his knowing anything at all
about Mr. Rochester; it is not in Mr. Rochester he is interested.
Meantime, you forget essential points in pursuing trifles: you do
not inquire why Mr. Briggs sought after you--what he wanted with
you.

Well, what did he want?

Merely to tell you that your uncle, Mr. Eyre of Madeira, is dead;
that he has left you all his property, and that you are now rich-merely
that--nothing more.

I!--rich?

Yes, you, rich--quite an heiress.

Silence succeeded.

You must prove your identity of course,resumed St. John
presently: "a step which will offer no difficulties; you can then
enter on immediate possession. Your fortune is vested in the
English funds; Briggs has the will and the necessary documents."

Here was a new card turned up! It is a fine thingreaderto be
lifted in a moment from indigence to wealth--a very fine thing; but
not a matter one can comprehendor consequently enjoyall at once.
And then there are other chances in life far more thrilling and
rapture-giving: THIS is solidan affair of the actual world
nothing ideal about it: all its associations are solid and sober
and its manifestations are the same. One does not jumpand spring
and shout hurrah! at hearing one has got a fortune; one begins to
consider responsibilitiesand to ponder business; on a base of
steady satisfaction rise certain grave caresand we contain
ourselvesand blood over our bliss with a solemn brow.

Besidesthe words LegacyBequestgo side by side with the words
DeathFuneral. My uncle I had heard was dead--my only relative;
ever since being made aware of his existenceI had cherished the
hope of one day seeing him: nowI never should. And then this
money came only to me: not to me and a rejoicing familybut to my
isolated self. It was a grand boon doubtless; and independence
would be glorious--yesI felt that--that thought swelled my heart.

You unbend your forehead at last,said Mr. Rivers. "I thought
Medusa had looked at youand that you were turning to stone.
Perhaps now you will ask how much you are worth?"

How much am I worth?

Oh, a trifle! Nothing of course to speak of--twenty thousand
pounds, I think they say--but what is that?

Twenty thousand pounds?

Here was a new stunner--I had been calculating on four or five
thousand. This news actually took my breath for a moment: Mr. St.
Johnwhom I had never heard laugh beforelaughed now.


Well,said heif you had committed a murder, and I had told you
your crime was discovered, you could scarcely look more aghast.

It is a large sum--don't you think there is a mistake?

No mistake at all.

Perhaps you have read the figures wrong--it may be two thousand!

It is written in letters, not figures,--twenty thousand.

I again felt rather like an individual of but average gastronomical
powers sitting down to feast alone at a table spread with provisions
for a hundred. Mr. Rivers rose now and put his cloak on.

If it were not such a very wild night,he saidI would send
Hannah down to keep you company: you look too desperately miserable
to be left alone. But Hannah, poor woman! could not stride the
drifts so well as I: her legs are not quite so long: so I must
e'en leave you to your sorrows. Good-night.

He was lifting the latch: a sudden thought occurred to me. "Stop
one minute!" I cried.

Well?

It puzzles me to know why Mr. Briggs wrote to you about me; or how
he knew you, or could fancy that you, living in such an out-of-theway
place, had the power to aid in my discovery.

Oh! I am a clergyman,he said; "and the clergy are often appealed
to about odd matters." Again the latch rattled.

No; that does not satisfy me!I exclaimed: and indeed there was
something in the hasty and unexplanatory reply whichinstead of
allayingpiqued my curiosity more than ever.

It is a very strange piece of business,I added; "I must know more
about it."

Another time.

No; to-night!--to-night!and as he turned from the doorI placed
myself between it and him. He looked rather embarrassed.

You certainly shall not go till you have told me all,I said.

I would rather not just now.

You shall!--you must!

I would rather Diana or Mary informed you.

Of course these objections wrought my eagerness to a climax:
gratified it must beand that without delay; and I told him so.

But I apprised you that I was a hard man,said hedifficult to
persuade.

And I am a hard woman,--impossible to put off.

And then,he pursuedI am cold: no fervour infects me.


Whereas I am hot, and fire dissolves ice. The blaze there has
thawed all the snow from your cloak; by the same token, it has
streamed on to my floor, and made it like a trampled street. As you
hope ever to be forgiven, Mr. Rivers, the high crime and
misdemeanour of spoiling a sanded kitchen, tell me what I wish to
know.

Well, then,he saidI yield; if not to your earnestness, to your
perseverance: as stone is worn by continual dropping. Besides, you
must know some day,--as well now as later. Your name is Jane Eyre?

Of course: that was all settled before.

You are not, perhaps, aware that I am your namesake?--that I was
christened St. John Eyre Rivers?

No, indeed! I remember now seeing the letter E. comprised in your
initials written in books you have at different times lent me; but I
never asked for what name it stood. But what then? Surely--

I stopped: I could not trust myself to entertainmuch less to
expressthe thought that rushed upon me--that embodied itself-that
in a secondstood out a strongsolid probability.
Circumstances knit themselvesfitted themselvesshot into order:
the chain that had been lying hitherto a formless lump of links was
drawn out straight--every ring was perfectthe connection
complete. I knewby instincthow the matter stoodbefore St.
John had said another word; but I cannot expect the reader to have
the same intuitive perceptionso I must repeat his explanation.

My mother's name was Eyre; she had two brothers; one a clergyman,
who married Miss Jane Reed, of Gateshead; the other, John Eyre,
Esq., merchant, late of Funchal, Madeira. Mr. Briggs, being Mr.
Eyre's solicitor, wrote to us last August to inform us of our
uncle's death, and to say that he had left his property to his
brother the clergyman's orphan daughter, overlooking us, in
consequence of a quarrel, never forgiven, between him and my father.
He wrote again a few weeks since, to intimate that the heiress was
lost, and asking if we knew anything of her. A name casually
written on a slip of paper has enabled me to find her out. You know
the rest.Again he was goingbut I set my back against the door.

Do let me speak,I said; "let me have one moment to draw breath
and reflect." I paused--he stood before mehat in handlooking
composed enough. I resumed


Your mother was my father's sister?

Yes.

My aunt, consequently?

He bowed.

My uncle John was your uncle John? You, Diana, and Mary are his
sister's children, as I am his brother's child?

Undeniably.

You three, then, are my cousins; half our blood on each side flows
from the same source?

We are cousins; yes.


I surveyed him. It seemed I had found a brother: one I could be
proud of--one I could love; and two sisterswhose qualities were
suchthatwhen I knew them but as mere strangersthey had
inspired me with genuine affection and admiration. The two girls
on whomkneeling down on the wet groundand looking through the
lowlatticed window of Moor House kitchenI had gazed with so
bitter a mixture of interest and despairwere my near kinswomen;
and the young and stately gentleman who had found me almost dying at
his threshold was my blood relation. Glorious discovery to a lonely
wretch! This was wealth indeed!--wealth to the heart!--a mine of
puregenial affections. This was a blessingbrightvividand
exhilarating;--not like the ponderous gift of gold: rich and
welcome enough in its waybut sobering from its weight. I now
clapped my hands in sudden joy--my pulse boundedmy veins thrilled.

Oh, I am glad!--I am glad!I exclaimed.

St. John smiled. "Did I not say you neglected essential points to
pursue trifles?" he asked. "You were serious when I told you you
had got a fortune; and nowfor a matter of no momentyou are
excited."

What can you mean? It may be of no moment to you; you have sisters
and don't care for a cousin; but I had nobody; and now three
relations,--or two, if you don't choose to be counted,--are born
into my world full-grown. I say again, I am glad!

I walked fast through the room: I stoppedhalf suffocated with the
thoughts that rose faster than I could receivecomprehendsettle
them:- thoughts of what mightcouldwouldand should beand that
ere long. I looked at the blank wall: it seemed a sky thick with
ascending stars--every one lit me to a purpose or delight. Those
who had saved my lifewhomtill this hourI had loved barrenlyI
could now benefit. They were under a yoke--I could free them:
they were scattered--I could reunite them: the independencethe
affluence which was minemight be theirs too. Were we not four?
Twenty thousand pounds shared equally would be five thousand each
justice--enough and to spare: justice would be done--mutual
happiness secured. Now the wealth did not weigh on me: now it was
not a mere bequest of coin--it was a legacy of lifehope
enjoyment.

How I looked while these ideas were taking my spirit by stormI
cannot tell; but I perceived soon that Mr. Rivers had placed a chair
behind meand was gently attempting to make me sit down on it. He
also advised me to be composed; I scorned the insinuation of
helplessness and distractionshook off his handand began to walk
about again.

Write to Diana and Mary to-morrow,I saidand tell them to come
home directly. Diana said they would both consider themselves rich
with a thousand pounds, so with five thousand they will do very
well.

Tell me where I can get you a glass of water,said St. John; "you
must really make an effort to tranquillise your feelings."

Nonsense! and what sort of an effect will the bequest have on you?
Will it keep you in England, induce you to marry Miss Oliver, and
settle down like an ordinary mortal?

You wander: your head becomes confused. I have been too abrupt in
communicating the news; it has excited you beyond your strength.


Mr. Rivers! you quite put me out of patience: I am rational
enough; it is you who misunderstand, or rather who affect to
misunderstand.

Perhaps, if you explained yourself a little more fully, I should
comprehend better.

Explain! What is there to explain? You cannot fail to see that
twenty thousand pounds, the sum in question, divided equally between
the nephew and three nieces of our uncle, will give five thousand to
each? What I want is, that you should write to your sisters and
tell them of the fortune that has accrued to them.

To you, you mean.

I have intimated my view of the case: I am incapable of taking any
other. I am not brutally selfish, blindly unjust, or fiendishly
ungrateful. Besides, I am resolved I will have a home and
connections. I like Moor House, and I will live at Moor House; I
like Diana and Mary, and I will attach myself for life to Diana and
Mary. It would please and benefit me to have five thousand pounds;
it would torment and oppress me to have twenty thousand; which,
moreover, could never be mine in justice, though it might in law. I
abandon to you, then, what is absolutely superfluous to me. Let
there be no opposition, and no discussion about it; let us agree
amongst each other, and decide the point at once.

This is acting on first impulses; you must take days to consider
such a matter, ere your word can be regarded as valid.

Oh! if all you doubt is my sincerity, I am easy: you see the
justice of the case?

I DO see a certain justice; but it is contrary to all custom.
Besides, the entire fortune is your right: my uncle gained it by
his own efforts; he was free to leave it to whom he would: he left
it to you. After all, justice permits you to keep it: you may,
with a clear conscience, consider it absolutely your own.

With me,said Iit is fully as much a matter of feeling as of
conscience: I must indulge my feelings; I so seldom have had an
opportunity of doing so. Were you to argue, object, and annoy me
for a year, I could not forego the delicious pleasure of which I
have caught a glimpse--that of repaying, in part, a mighty
obligation, and winning to myself lifelong friends.

You think so now,rejoined St. Johnbecause you do not know what
it is to possess, nor consequently to enjoy wealth: you cannot form
a notion of the importance twenty thousand pounds would give you; of
the place it would enable you to take in society; of the prospects
it would open to you: you cannot--

And you,I interruptedcannot at all imagine the craving I have
for fraternal and sisterly love. I never had a home, I never had
brothers or sisters; I must and will have them now: you are not
reluctant to admit me and own me, are you?

Jane, I will be your brother--my sisters will be your sisters-without
stipulating for this sacrifice of your just rights.

Brother? Yes; at the distance of a thousand leagues! Sisters?
Yes; slaving amongst strangers! I, wealthy--gorged with gold I
never earned and do not merit! You, penniless! Famous equality and
fraternisation! Close union! Intimate attachment!


But, Jane, your aspirations after family ties and domestic
happiness may be realised otherwise than by the means you
contemplate: you may marry.

Nonsense, again! Marry! I don't want to marry, and never shall
marry.

That is saying too much: such hazardous affirmations are a proof
of the excitement under which you labour.

It is not saying too much: I know what I feel, and how averse are
my inclinations to the bare thought of marriage. No one would take
me for love; and I will not be regarded in the light of a mere money
speculation. And I do not want a stranger--unsympathising, alien,
different from me; I want my kindred: those with whom I have full
fellow-feeling. Say again you will be my brother: when you uttered
the words I was satisfied, happy; repeat them, if you can, repeat
them sincerely.

I think I can. I know I have always loved my own sisters; and I
know on what my affection for them is grounded,--respect for their
worth and admiration of their talents. You too have principle and
mind: your tastes and habits resemble Diana's and Mary's; your
presence is always agreeable to me; in your conversation I have
already for some time found a salutary solace. I feel I can easily
and naturally make room in my heart for you, as my third and
youngest sister.

Thank you: that contents me for to-night. Now you had better go;
for if you stay longer, you will perhaps irritate me afresh by some
mistrustful scruple.

And the school, Miss Eyre? It must now be shut up, I suppose?

No. I will retain my post of mistress till you get a substitute.

He smiled approbation: we shook handsand he took leave.

I need not narrate in detail the further struggles I hadand
arguments I usedto get matters regarding the legacy settled as I
wished. My task was a very hard one; butas I was absolutely
resolved--as my cousins saw at length that my mind was really and
immutably fixed on making a just division of the property--as they
must in their own hearts have felt the equity of the intention; and
mustbesideshave been innately conscious that in my place they
would have done precisely what I wished to do--they yielded at
length so far as to consent to put the affair to arbitration. The
judges chosen were Mr. Oliver and an able lawyer: both coincided in
my opinion: I carried my point. The instruments of transfer were
drawn out: St. JohnDianaMaryand Ieach became possessed of a
competency.

CHAPTER XXXIV

It was near Christmas by the time all was settled: the season of
general holiday approached. I now closed Morton schooltaking care
that the parting should not be barren on my side. Good fortune
opens the hand as well as the heart wonderfully; and to give
somewhat when we have largely receivedis but to afford a vent to


the unusual ebullition of the sensations. I had long felt with
pleasure that many of my rustic scholars liked meand when we
partedthat consciousness was confirmed: they manifested their
affection plainly and strongly. Deep was my gratification to find I
had really a place in their unsophisticated hearts: I promised them
that never a week should pass in future that I did not visit them
and give them an hour's teaching in their school.

Mr. Rivers came up ashaving seen the classesnow numbering sixty
girlsfile out before meand locked the doorI stood with the key
in my handexchanging a few words of special farewell with some
half-dozen of my best scholars: as decentrespectablemodestand
well-informed young women as could be found in the ranks of the
British peasantry. And that is saying a great deal; for after all
the British peasantry are the best taughtbest manneredmost selfrespecting
of any in Europe: since those days I have seen paysannes
and Bauerinnen; and the best of them seemed to me ignorantcoarse
and besottedcompared with my Morton girls.

Do you consider you have got your reward for a season of exertion?
asked Mr. Riverswhen they were gone. "Does not the consciousness
of having done some real good in your day and generation give
pleasure?"

Doubtless.

And you have only toiled a few months! Would not a life devoted to
the task of regenerating your race be well spent?

Yes,I said; "but I could not go on for ever so: I want to enjoy
my own faculties as well as to cultivate those of other people. I
must enjoy them now; don't recall either my mind or body to the
school; I am out of it and disposed for full holiday."

He looked grave. "What now? What sudden eagerness is this you
evince? What are you going to do?"

To be active: as active as I can. And first I must beg you to set
Hannah at liberty, and get somebody else to wait on you.

Do you want her?

Yes, to go with me to Moor House. Diana and Mary will be at home
in a week, and I want to have everything in order against their
arrival.

I understand. I thought you were for flying off on some excursion.
It is better so: Hannah shall go with you.

Tell her to be ready by to-morrow then; and here is the schoolroom
key: I will give you the key of my cottage in the morning.

He took it. "You give it up very gleefully said he; I don't
quite understand your light-heartednessbecause I cannot tell what
employment you propose to yourself as a substitute for the one you
are relinquishing. What aimwhat purposewhat ambition in life
have you now?"

My first aim will be to CLEAN DOWN (do you comprehend the full
force of the expression?)--to CLEAN DOWN Moor House from chamber to
cellar; my next to rub it up with bees-wax, oil, and an indefinite
number of cloths, till it glitters again; my third, to arrange every
chair, table, bed, carpet, with mathematical precision; afterwards I
shall go near to ruin you in coals and peat to keep up good fires in


every room; and lastly, the two days preceding that on which your
sisters are expected will be devoted by Hannah and me to such a
beating of eggs, sorting of currants, grating of spices, compounding
of Christmas cakes, chopping up of materials for mince-pies, and
solemnising of other culinary rites, as words can convey but an
inadequate notion of to the uninitiated like you. My purpose, in
short, is to have all things in an absolutely perfect state of
readiness for Diana and Mary before next Thursday; and my ambition
is to give them a beau-ideal of a welcome when they come.

St. John smiled slightly: still he was dissatisfied.

It is all very well for the present,said he; "but seriouslyI
trust that when the first flush of vivacity is overyou will look a
little higher than domestic endearments and household joys."

The best things the world has!I interrupted.

No, Jane, no: this world is not the scene of fruition; do not
attempt to make it so: nor of rest; do not turn slothful.

I mean, on the contrary, to be busy.

Jane, I excuse you for the present: two months' grace I allow you
for the full enjoyment of your new position, and for pleasing
yourself with this late-found charm of relationship; but THEN, I
hope you will begin to look beyond Moor House and Morton, and
sisterly society, and the selfish calm and sensual comfort of
civilised affluence. I hope your energies will then once more
trouble you with their strength.

I looked at him with surprise. "St. John I said, I think you are
almost wicked to talk so. I am disposed to be as content as a
queenand you try to stir me up to restlessness! To what end?"

To the end of turning to profit the talents which God has committed
to your keeping; and of which He will surely one day demand a strict
account. Jane, I shall watch you closely and anxiously--I warn you
of that. And try to restrain the disproportionate fervour with
which you throw yourself into commonplace home pleasures. Don't
cling so tenaciously to ties of the flesh; save your constancy and
ardour for an adequate cause; forbear to waste them on trite
transient objects. Do you hear, Jane?

Yes; just as if you were speaking Greek. I feel I have adequate
cause to be happy, and I WILL be happy. Goodbye!

Happy at Moor House I wasand hard I worked; and so did Hannah:
she was charmed to see how jovial I could be amidst the bustle of a
house turned topsy-turvy--how I could brushand dustand clean
and cook. And reallyafter a day or two of confusion worse
confoundedit was delightful by degrees to invoke order from the
chaos ourselves had made. I had previously taken a journey to S- to
purchase some new furniture: my cousins having given me CARTE
BLANCHE TO effect what alterations I pleasedand a sum having been
set aside for that purpose. The ordinary sitting-room and bedrooms
I left much as they were: for I knew Diana and Mary would derive
more pleasure from seeing again the old homely tablesand chairs
and bedsthan from the spectacle of the smartest innovations.
Still some novelty was necessaryto give to their return the
piquancy with which I wished it to be invested. Dark handsome new
carpets and curtainsan arrangement of some carefully selected
antique ornaments in porcelain and bronzenew coveringsand
mirrorsand dressing-casesfor the toilet tablesanswered the


end: they looked fresh without being glaring. A spare parlour and
bedroom I refurnished entirelywith old mahogany and crimson
upholstery: I laid canvas on the passageand carpets on the
stairs. When all was finishedI thought Moor House as complete a
model of bright modest snugness withinas it wasat this seasona
specimen of wintry waste and desert dreariness without.

The eventful Thursday at length came. They were expected about
darkand ere dusk fires were lit upstairs and below; the kitchen
was in perfect trim; Hannah and I were dressedand all was in
readiness.

St. John arrived first. I had entreated him to keep quite clear of
the house till everything was arranged: andindeedthe bare idea
of the commotionat once sordid and trivialgoing on within its
walls sufficed to scare him to estrangement. He found me in the
kitchenwatching the progress of certain cakes for teathen
baking. Approaching the hearthhe askedIf I was at last
satisfied with housemaid's work?I answered by inviting him to
accompany me on a general inspection of the result of my labours.
With some difficultyI got him to make the tour of the house. He
just looked in at the doors I opened; and when he had wandered
upstairs and downstairshe said I must have gone through a great
deal of fatigue and trouble to have effected such considerable
changes in so short a time: but not a syllable did he utter
indicating pleasure in the improved aspect of his abode.

This silence damped me. I thought perhaps the alterations had
disturbed some old associations he valued. I inquired whether this
was the case: no doubt in a somewhat crest-fallen tone.

Not at all; he had, on the contrary, remarked that I had
scrupulously respected every association: he feared, indeed, I must
have bestowed more thought on the matter than it was worth. How
many minutes, for instance, had I devoted to studying the
arrangement of this very room?--By-the-bye, could I tell him where
such a book was?

I showed him the volume on the shelf: he took it downand
withdrawing to his accustomed window recesshe began to read it.

NowI did not like thisreader. St. John was a good man; but I
began to feel he had spoken truth of himself when he said he was
hard and cold. The humanities and amenities of life had no
attraction for him--its peaceful enjoyments no charm. Literallyhe
lived only to aspire--after what was good and greatcertainly; but
still he would never restnor approve of others resting round him.
As I looked at his lofty foreheadstill and pale as a white stone-at
his fine lineaments fixed in study--I comprehended all at once
that he would hardly make a good husband: that it would be a trying
thing to be his wife. I understoodas by inspirationthe nature
of his love for Miss Oliver; I agreed with him that it was but a
love of the senses. I comprehended how he should despise himself
for the feverish influence it exercised over him; how he should wish
to stifle and destroy it; how he should mistrust its ever conducting
permanently to his happiness or hers. I saw he was of the material
from which nature hews her heroes--Christian and Pagan--her
lawgiversher statesmenher conquerors: a steadfast bulwark for
great interests to rest upon; butat the firesidetoo often a cold
cumbrous columngloomy and out of place.

This parlour is not his sphere,I reflected: "the Himalayan ridge
or Caffre busheven the plague-cursed Guinea Coast swamp would suit
him better. Well may he eschew the calm of domestic life; it is not


his element: there his faculties stagnate--they cannot develop or
appear to advantage. It is in scenes of strife and danger--where
courage is provedand energy exercisedand fortitude tasked--that
he will speak and movethe leader and superior. A merry child
would have the advantage of him on this hearth. He is right to
choose a missionary's career--I see it now."

They are coming! they are coming!cried Hannahthrowing open the
parlour door. At the same moment old Carlo barked joyfully. Out I
ran. It was now dark; but a rumbling of wheels was audible. Hannah
soon had a lantern lit. The vehicle had stopped at the wicket; the
driver opened the door: first one well-known formthen another
stepped out. In a minute I had my face under their bonnetsin
contact first with Mary's soft cheekthen with Diana's flowing
curls. They laughed--kissed me--then Hannah: patted Carlowho was
half wild with delight; asked eagerly if all was well; and being
assured in the affirmativehastened into the house.

They were stiff with their long and jolting drive from Whitcross
and chilled with the frosty night air; but their pleasant
countenances expanded to the cheerful firelight. While the driver
and Hannah brought in the boxesthey demanded St. John. At this
moment he advanced from the parlour. They both threw their arms
round his neck at once. He gave each one quiet kisssaid in a low
tone a few words of welcomestood a while to be talked toand
thenintimating that he supposed they would soon rejoin him in the
parlourwithdrew there as to a place of refuge.

I had lit their candles to go upstairsbut Diana had first to give
hospitable orders respecting the driver; this doneboth followed
me. They were delighted with the renovation and decorations of
their rooms; with the new draperyand fresh carpetsand rich
tinted china vases: they expressed their gratification
ungrudgingly. I had the pleasure of feeling that my arrangements
met their wishes exactlyand that what I had done added a vivid
charm to their joyous return home.

Sweet was that evening. My cousinsfull of exhilarationwere so
eloquent in narrative and commentthat their fluency covered St.
John's taciturnity: he was sincerely glad to see his sisters; but
in their glow of fervour and flow of joy he could not sympathise.
The event of the day--that isthe return of Diana and Mary--pleased
him; but the accompaniments of that eventthe glad tumultthe
garrulous glee of reception irked him: I saw he wished the calmer
morrow was come. In the very meridian of the night's enjoyment
about an hour after teaa rap was heard at the door. Hannah
entered with the intimation that "a poor lad was comeat that
unlikely timeto fetch Mr. Rivers to see his motherwho was
drawing away."

Where does she live, Hannah?

Clear up at Whitcross Brow, almost four miles off, and moor and
moss all the way.

Tell him I will go.

I'm sure, sir, you had better not. It's the worst road to travel
after dark that can be: there's no track at all over the bog. And
then it is such a bitter night--the keenest wind you ever felt. You
had better send word, sir, that you will be there in the morning.

But he was already in the passageputting on his cloak; and without
one objectionone murmurhe departed. It was then nine o'clock:


he did not return till midnight. Starved and tired enough he was:
but he looked happier than when he set out. He had performed an act
of duty; made an exertion; felt his own strength to do and denyand
was on better terms with himself.

I am afraid the whole of the ensuing week tried his patience. It
was Christmas week: we took to no settled employmentbut spent it
in a sort of merry domestic dissipation. The air of the moorsthe
freedom of homethe dawn of prosperityacted on Diana and Mary's
spirits like some life-giving elixir: they were gay from morning
till noonand from noon till night. They could always talk; and
their discoursewittypithyoriginalhad such charms for me
that I preferred listening toand sharing in itto doing anything
else. St. John did not rebuke our vivacity; but he escaped from it:
he was seldom in the house; his parish was largethe population
scatteredand he found daily business in visiting the sick and poor
in its different districts.

One morning at breakfastDianaafter looking a little pensive for
some minutesasked himIf his plans were yet unchanged.

Unchanged and unchangeable,was the reply. And he proceeded to
inform us that his departure from England was now definitively fixed
for the ensuing year.

And Rosamond Oliver?suggested Marythe words seeming to escape
her lips involuntarily: for no sooner had she uttered themthan
she made a gesture as if wishing to recall them. St. John had a
book in his hand--it was his unsocial custom to read at meals--he
closed itand looked up

Rosamond Oliver,said heis about to be married to Mr. Granby,
one of the best connected and most estimable residents in S-,
grandson and heir to Sir Frederic Granby: I had the intelligence
from her father yesterday.

His sisters looked at each other and at me; we all three looked at
him: he was serene as glass.

The match must have been got up hastily,said Diana: "they cannot
have known each other long."

But two months: they met in October at the county ball at S-. But
where there are no obstacles to a union, as in the present case,
where the connection is in every point desirable, delays are
unnecessary: they will be married as soon as S- Place, which Sir
Frederic gives up to them, can he refitted for their reception.

The first time I found St. John alone after this communicationI
felt tempted to inquire if the event distressed him: but he seemed
so little to need sympathythatso far from venturing to offer him
moreI experienced some shame at the recollection of what I had
already hazarded. BesidesI was out of practice in talking to him:
his reserve was again frozen overand my frankness was congealed
beneath it. He had not kept his promise of treating me like his
sisters; he continually made little chilling differences between us
which did not at all tend to the development of cordiality: in
shortnow that I was acknowledged his kinswomanand lived under
the same roof with himI felt the distance between us to be far
greater than when he had known me only as the village
schoolmistress. When I remembered how far I had once been admitted
to his confidenceI could hardly comprehend his present frigidity.

Such being the caseI felt not a little surprised when he raised


his head suddenly from the desk over which he was stoopingand said
-

You see, Jane, the battle is fought and the victory won.

Startled at being thus addressedI did not immediately reply:
after a moment's hesitation I answered


But are you sure you are not in the position of those conquerors
whose triumphs have cost them too dear? Would not such another ruin
you?

I think not; and if I were, it does not much signify; I shall never
be called upon to contend for such another. The event of the
conflict is decisive: my way is now clear; I thank God for it!So
sayinghe returned to his papers and his silence.

As our mutual happiness (i.e.Diana'sMary'sand mine) settled
into a quieter characterand we resumed our usual habits and
regular studiesSt. John stayed more at home: he sat with us in
the same roomsometimes for hours together. While Mary drewDiana
pursued a course of encyclopaedic reading she had (to my awe and
amazement) undertakenand I fagged away at Germanhe pondered a
mystic lore of his own: that of some Eastern tonguethe
acquisition of which he thought necessary to his plans.

Thus engagedhe appearedsitting in his own recessquiet and
absorbed enough; but that blue eye of his had a habit of leaving the
outlandish-looking grammarand wandering overand sometimes fixing
upon ushis fellow-studentswith a curious intensity of
observation: if caughtit would be instantly withdrawn; yet ever
and anonit returned searchingly to our table. I wondered what it
meant: I wonderedtooat the punctual satisfaction he never
failed to exhibit on an occasion that seemed to me of small moment
namelymy weekly visit to Morton school; and still more was I
puzzled whenif the day was unfavourableif there was snowor
rainor high windand his sisters urged me not to gohe would
invariably make light of their solicitudeand encourage me to
accomplish the task without regard to the elements.

Jane is not such a weakling as you would make her,he would say:
she can bear a mountain blast, or a shower, or a few flakes of
snow, as well as any of us. Her constitution is both sound and
elastic;--better calculated to endure variations of climate than
many more robust.

And when I returnedsometimes a good deal tiredand not a little
weather-beatenI never dared complainbecause I saw that to murmur
would be to vex him: on all occasions fortitude pleased him; the
reverse was a special annoyance.

One afternoonhoweverI got leave to stay at homebecause I
really had a cold. His sisters were gone to Morton in my stead: I
sat reading Schiller; hedeciphering his crabbed Oriental scrolls.
As I exchanged a translation for an exerciseI happened to look his
way: there I found myself under the influence of the ever-watchful
blue eye. How long it had been searching me through and through
and over and overI cannot tell: so keen was itand yet so cold
I felt for the moment superstitious--as if I were sitting in the
room with something uncanny.

Jane, what are you doing?

Learning German.


I want you to give up German and learn Hindostanee.

You are not in earnest?

In such earnest that I must have it so: and I will tell you why.

He then went on to explain that Hindostanee was the language he was
himself at present studying; thatas he advancedhe was apt to
forget the commencement; that it would assist him greatly to have a
pupil with whom he might again and again go over the elementsand
so fix them thoroughly in his mind; that his choice had hovered for
some time between me and his sisters; but that he had fixed on me
because he saw I could sit at a task the longest of the three.
Would I do him this favour? I should notperhapshave to make the
sacrifice longas it wanted now barely three months to his
departure.

St. John was not a man to be lightly refused: you felt that every
impression made on himeither for pain or pleasurewas deep-graved
and permanent. I consented. When Diana and Mary returnedthe
former found her scholar transferred from her to her brother: she
laughedand both she and Mary agreed that St. John should never
have persuaded them to such a step. He answered quietly


I know it.

I found him a very patientvery forbearingand yet an exacting
master: he expected me to do a great deal; and when I fulfilled his
expectationshein his own wayfully testified his approbation.
By degreeshe acquired a certain influence over me that took away
my liberty of mind: his praise and notice were more restraining
than his indifference. I could no longer talk or laugh freely when
he was bybecause a tiresomely importunate instinct reminded me
that vivacity (at least in me) was distasteful to him. I was so
fully aware that only serious moods and occupations were acceptable
that in his presence every effort to sustain or follow any other
became vain: I fell under a freezing spell. When he said "go I
went; come I came; do this I did it. But I did not love my
servitude: I wished, many a time, he had continued to neglect me.

One evening when, at bedtime, his sisters and I stood round him,
bidding him good-night, he kissed each of them, as was his custom;
and, as was equally his custom, he gave me his hand. Diana, who
chanced to be in a frolicsome humour (SHE was not painfully
controlled by his will; for hers, in another way, was as strong),
exclaimed


St. John! you used to call Jane your third sisterbut you don't
treat her as such: you should kiss her too."

She pushed me towards him. I thought Diana very provokingand felt
uncomfortably confused; and while I was thus thinking and feeling
St. John bent his head; his Greek face was brought to a level with
minehis eyes questioned my eyes piercingly--he kissed me. There
are no such things as marble kisses or ice kissesor I should say
my ecclesiastical cousin's salute belonged to one of these classes;
but there may be experiment kissesand his was an experiment kiss.
When givenhe viewed me to learn the result; it was not striking:
I am sure I did not blush; perhaps I might have turned a little
palefor I felt as if this kiss were a seal affixed to my fetters.
He never omitted the ceremony afterwardsand the gravity and
quiescence with which I underwent itseemed to invest it for him
with a certain charm.


As for meI daily wished more to please him; but to do soI felt
daily more and more that I must disown half my naturestifle half
my facultieswrest my tastes from their original bentforce myself
to the adoption of pursuits for which I had no natural vocation. He
wanted to train me to an elevation I could never reach; it racked me
hourly to aspire to the standard he uplifted. The thing was as
impossible as to mould my irregular features to his correct and
classic patternto give to my changeable green eyes the sea-blue
tint and solemn lustre of his own.

Not his ascendancy alonehoweverheld me in thrall at present. Of
late it had been easy enough for me to look sad: a cankering evil
sat at my heart and drained my happiness at its source--the evil of
suspense.

Perhaps you think I had forgotten Mr. Rochesterreaderamidst
these changes of place and fortune. Not for a moment. His idea was
still with mebecause it was not a vapour sunshine could disperse
nor a sand-traced effigy storms could wash away; it was a name
graven on a tabletfated to last as long as the marble it
inscribed. The craving to know what had become of him followed me
everywhere; when I was at MortonI re-entered my cottage every
evening to think of that; and now at Moor HouseI sought my bedroom
each night to brood over it.

In the course of my necessary correspondence with Mr. Briggs about
the willI had inquired if he knew anything of Mr. Rochester's
present residence and state of health; butas St. John had
conjecturedhe was quite ignorant of all concerning him. I then
wrote to Mrs. Fairfaxentreating information on the subject. I had
calculated with certainty on this step answering my end: I felt
sure it would elicit an early answer. I was astonished when a
fortnight passed without reply; but when two months wore awayand
day after day the post arrived and brought nothing for meI fell a
prey to the keenest anxiety.

I wrote again: there was a chance of my first letter having missed.
Renewed hope followed renewed effort: it shone like the former for
some weeksthenlike itit fadedflickered: not a linenot a
word reached me. When half a year wasted in vain expectancymy
hope died outand then I felt dark indeed.

A fine spring shone round mewhich I could not enjoy. Summer
approached; Diana tried to cheer me: she said I looked illand
wished to accompany me to the sea-side. This St. John opposed; he
said I did not want dissipationI wanted employment; my present
life was too purposelessI required an aim; andI supposeby way
of supplying deficiencieshe prolonged still further my lessons in
Hindostaneeand grew more urgent in requiring their accomplishment:
and Ilike a foolnever thought of resisting him--I could not
resist him.

One day I had come to my studies in lower spirits than usual; the
ebb was occasioned by a poignantly felt disappointment. Hannah had
told me in the morning there was a letter for meand when I went
down to take italmost certain that the long-looked for tidings
were vouchsafed me at lastI found only an unimportant note from
Mr. Briggs on business. The bitter check had wrung from me some
tears; and nowas I sat poring over the crabbed characters and
flourishing tropes of an Indian scribemy eyes filled again.

St. John called me to his side to read; in attempting to do this my
voice failed me: words were lost in sobs. He and I were the only


occupants of the parlour: Diana was practising her music in the
drawing-roomMary was gardening--it was a very fine May dayclear
sunnyand breezy. My companion expressed no surprise at this
emotionnor did he question me as to its cause; he only said


We will wait a few minutes, Jane, till you are more composed.And
while I smothered the paroxysm with all hastehe sat calm and
patientleaning on his deskand looking like a physician watching
with the eye of science an expected and fully understood crisis in a
patient's malady. Having stifled my sobswiped my eyesand
muttered something about not being very well that morningI resumed
my taskand succeeded in completing it. St. John put away my books
and hislocked his deskand said


Now, Jane, you shall take a walk; and with me.

I will call Diana and Mary.

No; I want only one companion this morning, and that must be you.
Put on your things; go out by the kitchen-door: take the road
towards the head of Marsh Glen: I will join you in a moment.

I know no medium: I never in my life have known any medium in my
dealings with positivehard charactersantagonistic to my own
between absolute submission and determined revolt. I have always
faithfully observed the oneup to the very moment of bursting
sometimes with volcanic vehemenceinto the other; and as neither
present circumstances warrantednor my present mood inclined me to
mutinyI observed careful obedience to St. John's directions; and
in ten minutes I was treading the wild track of the glenside by
side with him.

The breeze was from the west: it came over the hillssweet with
scents of heath and rush; the sky was of stainless blue; the stream
descending the ravineswelled with past spring rainspoured along
plentiful and clearcatching golden gleams from the sunand
sapphire tints from the firmament. As we advanced and left the
trackwe trod a soft turfmossy fine and emerald greenminutely
enamelled with a tiny white flowerand spangled with a star-like
yellow blossom: the hillsmeantimeshut us quite in; for the
glentowards its headwound to their very core.

Let us rest here,said St. Johnas we reached the first
stragglers of a battalion of rocksguarding a sort of passbeyond
which the beck rushed down a waterfall; and wherestill a little
fartherthe mountain shook off turf and flowerhad only heath for
raiment and crag for gem--where it exaggerated the wild to the
savageand exchanged the fresh for the frowning--where it guarded
the forlorn hope of solitudeand a last refuge for silence.

I took a seat: St. John stood near me. He looked up the pass and
down the hollow; his glance wandered away with the streamand
returned to traverse the unclouded heaven which coloured it: he
removed his hatlet the breeze stir his hair and kiss his brow. He
seemed in communion with the genius of the haunt: with his eye he
bade farewell to something.

And I shall see it again,he said aloudin dreams when I sleep
by the Ganges: and again in a more remote hour--when another
slumber overcomes me--on the shore of a darker stream!

Strange words of a strange love! An austere patriot's passion for
his fatherland! He sat down; for half-an-hour we never spoke;
neither he to me nor I to him: that interval pasthe recommenced



Jane, I go in six weeks; I have taken my berth in an East Indiaman
which sails on the 20th of June.

God will protect you; for you have undertaken His work,I
answered.

Yes,said hethere is my glory and joy. I am the servant of an
infallible Master. I am not going out under human guidance, subject
to the defective laws and erring control of my feeble fellow-worms:
my king, my lawgiver, my captain, is the All-perfect. It seems
strange to me that all round me do not burn to enlist under the same
banner,--to join in the same enterprise.

All have not your powers, and it would be folly for the feeble to
wish to march with the strong.

I do not speak to the feeble, or think of them: I address only
such as are worthy of the work, and competent to accomplish it.

Those are few in number, and difficult to discover.

You say truly; but when found, it is right to stir them up--to urge
and exhort them to the effort--to show them what their gifts are,
and why they were given--to speak Heaven's message in their ear,--to
offer them, direct from God, a place in the ranks of His chosen.

If they are really qualified for the task, will not their own
hearts be the first to inform them of it?

I felt as if an awful charm was framing round and gathering over me:
I trembled to hear some fatal word spoken which would at once
declare and rivet the spell.

And what does YOUR heart say?demanded St. John.

My heart is mute,--my heart is mute,I answeredstruck and
thrilled.

Then I must speak for it,continued the deeprelentless voice.
Jane, come with me to India: come as my helpmeet and fellowlabourer.


The glen and sky spun round: the hills heaved! It was as if I had
heard a summons from Heaven--as if a visionary messengerlike him
of Macedoniahad enouncedCome over and help us!But I was no
apostle--I could not behold the herald--I could not receive his
call.

Oh, St. John!I criedhave some mercy!

I appealed to one whoin the discharge of what he believed his
dutyknew neither mercy nor remorse. He continued


God and nature intended you for a missionary's wife. It is not
personal, but mental endowments they have given you: you are formed
for labour, not for love. A missionary's wife you must--shall be.
You shall be mine: I claim you--not for my pleasure, but for my
Sovereign's service.

I am not fit for it: I have no vocation,I said.

He had calculated on these first objections: he was not irritated
by them. Indeedas he leaned back against the crag behind him


folded his arms on his chestand fixed his countenanceI saw he
was prepared for a long and trying oppositionand had taken in a
stock of patience to last him to its close--resolvedhoweverthat
that close should be conquest for him.

Humility, Jane,said heis the groundwork of Christian virtues:
you say right that you are not fit for the work. Who is fit for it?
Or who, that ever was truly called, believed himself worthy of the
summons? I, for instance, am but dust and ashes. With St. Paul, I
acknowledge myself the chiefest of sinners; but I do not suffer this
sense of my personal vileness to daunt me. I know my Leader: that
He is just as well as mighty; and while He has chosen a feeble
instrument to perform a great task, He will, from the boundless
stores of His providence, supply the inadequacy of the means to the
end. Think like me, Jane--trust like me. It is the Rock of Ages I
ask you to lean on: do not doubt but it will bear the weight of
your human weakness.

I do not understand a missionary life: I have never studied
missionary labours.

There I, humble as I am, can give you the aid you want: I can set
you your task from hour to hour; stand by you always; help you from
moment to moment. This I could do in the beginning: soon (for I
know your powers) you would be as strong and apt as myself, and
would not require my help.

But my powers--where are they for this undertaking? I do not feel
them. Nothing speaks or stirs in me while you talk. I am sensible
of no light kindling--no life quickening--no voice counselling or
cheering. Oh, I wish I could make you see how much my mind is at
this moment like a rayless dungeon, with one shrinking fear fettered
in its depths--the fear of being persuaded by you to attempt what I
cannot accomplish!

I have an answer for you--hear it. I have watched you ever since
we first met: I have made you my study for ten months. I have
proved you in that time by sundry tests: and what have I seen and
elicited? In the village school I found you could perform well,
punctually, uprightly, labour uncongenial to your habits and
inclinations; I saw you could perform it with capacity and tact:
you could win while you controlled. In the calm with which you
learnt you had become suddenly rich, I read a mind clear of the vice
of Demas:- lucre had no undue power over you. In the resolute
readiness with which you cut your wealth into four shares, keeping
but one to yourself, and relinquishing the three others to the claim
of abstract justice, I recognised a soul that revelled in the flame
and excitement of sacrifice. In the tractability with which, at my
wish, you forsook a study in which you were interested, and adopted
another because it interested me; in the untiring assiduity with
which you have since persevered in it--in the unflagging energy and
unshaken temper with which you have met its difficulties--I
acknowledge the complement of the qualities I seek. Jane, you are
docile, diligent, disinterested, faithful, constant, and courageous;
very gentle, and very heroic: cease to mistrust yourself--I can
trust you unreservedly. As a conductress of Indian schools, and a
helper amongst Indian women, your assistance will be to me
invaluable.

My iron shroud contracted round me; persuasion advanced with slow
sure step. Shut my eyes as I wouldthese last words of his
succeeded in making the waywhich had seemed blocked up
comparatively clear. My workwhich had appeared so vagueso
hopelessly diffusecondensed itself as he proceededand assumed a


definite form under his shaping hand. He waited for an answer. I
demanded a quarter of an hour to thinkbefore I again hazarded a
reply.

Very willingly,he rejoined; and risinghe strode a little
distance up the passthrew himself down on a swell of heathand
there lay still.

I CAN do what he wants me to do: I am forced to see and
acknowledge that,I meditated--"that isif life be spared me.
But I feel mine is not the existence to be long protracted under an
Indian sun. What then? He does not care for that: when my time
came to diehe would resign mein all serenity and sanctityto
the God who gave me. The case is very plain before me. In leaving
EnglandI should leave a loved but empty land--Mr. Rochester is not
there; and if he werewhat iswhat can that ever be to me? My
business is to live without him now: nothing so absurdso weak as
to drag on from day to dayas if I were waiting some impossible
change in circumstanceswhich might reunite me to him. Of course
(as St. John once said) I must seek another interest in life to
replace the one lost: is not the occupation he now offers me truly
the most glorious man can adopt or God assign? Is it notby its
noble cares and sublime resultsthe one best calculated to fill the
void left by uptorn affections and demolished hopes? I believe I
must sayYes--and yet I shudder. Alas! If I join St. JohnI
abandon half myself: if I go to IndiaI go to premature death.
And how will the interval between leaving England for Indiaand
India for the gravebe filled? OhI know well! Thattoois
very clear to my vision. By straining to satisfy St. John till my
sinews acheI SHALL satisfy him--to the finest central point and
farthest outward circle of his expectations. If I DO go with him-if
I DO make the sacrifice he urgesI will make it absolutely: I
will throw all on the altar--heartvitalsthe entire victim. He
will never love me; but he shall approve me; I will show him
energies he has not yet seenresources he has never suspected.
YesI can work as hard as he canand with as little grudging.

Consent, then, to his demand is possible: but for one item--one
dreadful item. It is--that he asks me to be his wife, and has no
more of a husband's heart for me than that frowning giant of a rock,
down which the stream is foaming in yonder gorge. He prizes me as a
soldier would a good weapon; and that is all. Unmarried to him,
this would never grieve me; but can I let him complete his
calculations--coolly put into practice his plans--go through the
wedding ceremony? Can I receive from him the bridal ring, endure
all the forms of love (which I doubt not he would scrupulously
observe) and know that the spirit was quite absent? Can I bear the
consciousness that every endearment he bestows is a sacrifice made
on principle? No: such a martyrdom would be monstrous. I will
never undergo it. As his sister, I might accompany him--not as his
wife: I will tell him so.

I looked towards the knoll: there he laystill as a prostrate
column; his face turned to me: his eye beaming watchful and keen.
He started to his feet and approached me.

I am ready to go to India, if I may go free.

Your answer requires a commentary,he said; "it is not clear."

You have hitherto been my adopted brother--I, your adopted sister:
let us continue as such: you and I had better not marry.

He shook his head. "Adopted fraternity will not do in this case.


If you were my real sister it would be different: I should take
youand seek no wife. But as it iseither our union must be
consecrated and sealed by marriageor it cannot exist: practical
obstacles oppose themselves to any other plan. Do you not see it
Jane? Consider a moment--your strong sense will guide you."

I did consider; and still my sensesuch as it wasdirected me only
to the fact that we did not love each other as man and wife should:
and therefore it inferred we ought not to marry. I said so. "St.
John I returned, I regard you as a brother--youme as a sister:
so let us continue."

We cannot--we cannot,he answeredwith shortsharp
determination: "it would not do. You have said you will go with me
to India: remember--you have said that."

Conditionally.

Well--well. To the main point--the departure with me from England,
the co-operation with me in my future labours--you do not object.
You have already as good as put your hand to the plough: you are
too consistent to withdraw it. You have but one end to keep in
view--how the work you have undertaken can best be done. Simplify
your complicated interests, feelings, thoughts, wishes, aims; merge
all considerations in one purpose: that of fulfilling with effect-with
power--the mission of your great Master. To do so, you must
have a coadjutor: not a brother--that is a loose tie--but a
husband. I, too, do not want a sister: a sister might any day be
taken from me. I want a wife: the sole helpmeet I can influence
efficiently in life, and retain absolutely till death.

I shuddered as he spoke: I felt his influence in my marrow--his
hold on my limbs.

Seek one elsewhere than in me, St. John: seek one fitted to you.

One fitted to my purpose, you mean--fitted to my vocation. Again I
tell you it is not the insignificant private individual--the mere
man, with the man's selfish senses--I wish to mate: it is the
missionary.

And I will give the missionary my energies--it is all he wants--but
not myself: that would be only adding the husk and shell to the
kernel. For them he has no use: I retain them.

You cannot--you ought not. Do you think God will be satisfied with
half an oblation? Will He accept a mutilated sacrifice? It is the
cause of God I advocate: it is under His standard I enlist you. I
cannot accept on His behalf a divided allegiance: it must be
entire.

Oh! I will give my heart to God,I said. "YOU do not want it."

I will not swearreaderthat there was not something of repressed
sarcasm both in the tone in which I uttered this sentenceand in
the feeling that accompanied it. I had silently feared St. John
till nowbecause I had not understood him. He had held me in awe
because he had held me in doubt. How much of him was sainthow
much mortalI could not heretofore tell: but revelations were
being made in this conference: the analysis of his nature was
proceeding before my eyes. I saw his fallibilities: I comprehended
them. I understood thatsitting there where I didon the bank of
heathand with that handsome form before meI sat at the feet of a
mancaring as I. The veil fell from his hardness and despotism.


Having felt in him the presence of these qualitiesI felt his
imperfection and took courage. I was with an equal--one with whom I
might argue--one whomif I saw goodI might resist.

He was silent after I had uttered the last sentenceand I presently
risked an upward glance at his countenance.

His eyebent on meexpressed at once stern surprise and keen
inquiry. "Is she sarcasticand sarcastic to ME!" it seemed to say.
What does this signify?

Do not let us forget that this is a solemn matter,he said ere
long; "one of which we may neither think nor talk lightly without
sin. I trustJaneyou are in earnest when you say you will serve
your heart to God: it is all I want. Once wrench your heart from
manand fix it on your Makerthe advancement of that Maker's
spiritual kingdom on earth will be your chief delight and endeavour;
you will be ready to do at once whatever furthers that end. You
will see what impetus would be given to your efforts and mine by our
physical and mental union in marriage: the only union that gives a
character of permanent conformity to the destinies and designs of
human beings; andpassing over all minor caprices--all trivial
difficulties and delicacies of feeling--all scruple about the
degreekindstrength or tenderness of mere personal inclination-you
will hasten to enter into that union at once."

Shall I?I said briefly; and I looked at his featuresbeautiful
in their harmonybut strangely formidable in their still severity;
at his browcommanding but not open; at his eyesbright and deep
and searchingbut never soft; at his tall imposing figure; and
fancied myself in idea HIS WIFE. Oh! it would never do! As his
curatehis comradeall would be right: I would cross oceans with
him in that capacity; toil under Eastern sunsin Asian deserts with
him in that office; admire and emulate his courage and devotion and
vigour; accommodate quietly to his masterhood; smile undisturbed at
his ineradicable ambition; discriminate the Christian from the man:
profoundly esteem the oneand freely forgive the other. I should
suffer oftenno doubtattached to him only in this capacity: my
body would be under rather a stringent yokebut my heart and mind
would be free. I should still have my unblighted self to turn to:
my natural unenslaved feelings with which to communicate in moments
of loneliness. There would be recesses in my mind which would be
only mineto which he never cameand sentiments growing there
fresh and sheltered which his austerity could never blightnor his
measured warrior-march trample down: but as his wife--at his side
alwaysand always restrainedand always checked--forced to keep
the fire of my nature continually lowto compel it to burn inwardly
and never utter a crythough the imprisoned flame consumed vital
after vital--THIS would be unendurable.

St. John!I exclaimedwhen I had got so far in my meditation.

Well?he answered icily.

I repeat I freely consent to go with you as your fellow-missionary,
but not as your wife; I cannot marry you and become part of you.

A part of me you must become,he answered steadily; "otherwise the
whole bargain is void. How can Ia man not yet thirtytake out
with me to India a girl of nineteenunless she be married to me?
How can we be for ever together--sometimes in solitudessometimes
amidst savage tribes--and unwed?"

Very well,I said shortly; "under the circumstancesquite as well


as if I were either your real sisteror a man and a clergyman like
yourself."

It is known that you are not my sister; I cannot introduce you as
such: to attempt it would be to fasten injurious suspicions on us
both. And for the rest, though you have a man's vigorous brain, you
have a woman's heart and--it would not do.

It would do,I affirmed with some disdainperfectly well. I
have a woman's heart, but not where you are concerned; for you I
have only a comrade's constancy; a fellow-soldier's frankness,
fidelity, fraternity, if you like; a neophyte's respect and
submission to his hierophant: nothing more--don't fear.

It is what I want,he saidspeaking to himself; "it is just what
I want. And there are obstacles in the way: they must be hewn
down. Janeyou would not repent marrying me--be certain of that;
we MUST be married. I repeat it: there is no other way; and
undoubtedly enough of love would follow upon marriage to render the
union right even in your eyes."

I scorn your idea of love,I could not help sayingas I rose up
and stood before himleaning my back against the rock. "I scorn
the counterfeit sentiment you offer: yesSt. Johnand I scorn you
when you offer it."

He looked at me fixedlycompressing his well-cut lips while he did
so. Whether he was incensed or surprisedor whatit was not easy
to tell: he could command his countenance thoroughly.

I scarcely expected to hear that expression from you,he said: "I
think I have done and uttered nothing to deserve scorn."

I was touched by his gentle toneand overawed by his highcalm
mien.

Forgive me the words, St. John; but it is your own fault that I
have been roused to speak so unguardedly. You have introduced a
topic on which our natures are at variance--a topic we should never
discuss: the very name of love is an apple of discord between us.
If the reality were required, what should we do? How should we
feel? My dear cousin, abandon your scheme of marriage--forget it.

No,said he; "it is a long-cherished schemeand the only one
which can secure my great end: but I shall urge you no further at
present. To-morrowI leave home for Cambridge: I have many
friends there to whom I should wish to say farewell. I shall be
absent a fortnight--take that space of time to consider my offer:
and do not forget that if you reject itit is not me you denybut
God. Through my meansHe opens to you a noble career; as my wife
only can you enter upon it. Refuse to be my wifeand you limit
yourself for ever to a track of selfish ease and barren obscurity.
Tremble lest in that case you should be numbered with those who have
denied the faithand are worse than infidels!"

He had done. Turning from mehe once more

Looked to river, looked to hill.

But this time his feelings were all pent in his heart: I was not
worthy to hear them uttered. As I walked by his side homewardI
read well in his iron silence all he felt towards me: the


disappointment of an austere and despotic naturewhich has met
resistance where it expected submission--the disapprobation of a
coolinflexible judgmentwhich has detected in another feelings
and views in which it has no power to sympathise: in shortas a
manhe would have wished to coerce me into obedience: it was only
as a sincere Christian he bore so patiently with my perversityand
allowed so long a space for reflection and repentance.

That nightafter he had kissed his sistershe thought proper to
forget even to shake hands with mebut left the room in silence.
I--whothough I had no lovehad much friendship for him--was hurt
by the marked omission: so much hurt that tears started to my eyes.

I see you and St. John have been quarrelling, Jane,said Diana
during your walk on the moor. But go after him; he is now
lingering in the passage expecting you--he will make it up.

I have not much pride under such circumstances: I would always
rather be happy than dignified; and I ran after him--he stood at the
foot of the stairs.

Good-night, St. John,said I.

Good-night, Jane,he replied calmly.

Then shake hands,I added.

What a coldloose touchhe impressed on my fingers! He was deeply
displeased by what had occurred that day; cordiality would not warm
nor tears move him. No happy reconciliation was to be had with him-
no cheering smile or generous word: but still the Christian was
patient and placid; and when I asked him if he forgave mehe
answered that he was not in the habit of cherishing the remembrance
of vexation; that he had nothing to forgivenot having been
offended.

And with that answer he left me. I would much rather he had knocked
me down.

CHAPTER XXXV

He did not leave for Cambridge the next dayas he had said he
would. He deferred his departure a whole weekand during that time
he made me feel what severe punishment a good yet sterna
conscientious yet implacable man can inflict on one who has offended
him. Without one overt act of hostilityone upbraiding wordhe
contrived to impress me momently with the conviction that I was put
beyond the pale of his favour.

Not that St. John harboured a spirit of unchristian vindictiveness-not
that he would have injured a hair of my headif it had been
fully in his power to do so. Both by nature and principlehe was
superior to the mean gratification of vengeance: he had forgiven me
for saying I scorned him and his lovebut he had not forgotten the
words; and as long as he and I lived he never would forget them. I
saw by his lookwhen he turned to methat they were always written
on the air between me and him; whenever I spokethey sounded in my
voice to his earand their echo toned every answer he gave me.

He did not abstain from conversing with me: he even called me as


usual each morning to join him at his desk; and I fear the corrupt
man within him had a pleasure unimparted toand unshared bythe
pure Christianin evincing with what skill he couldwhile acting
and speaking apparently just as usualextract from every deed and
every phrase the spirit of interest and approval which had formerly
communicated a certain austere charm to his language and manner. To
mehe was in reality become no longer fleshbut marble; his eye
was a coldbrightblue gem; his tongue a speaking instrument-nothing
more.

All this was torture to me--refinedlingering torture. It kept up
a slow fire of indignation and a trembling trouble of griefwhich
harassed and crushed me altogether. I felt how--if I were his wife
this good manpure as the deep sunless sourcecould soon kill me
without drawing from my veins a single drop of bloodor receiving
on his own crystal conscience the faintest stain of crime.
Especially I felt this when I made any attempt to propitiate him.
No ruth met my ruth. HE experienced no suffering from estrangement-
no yearning after reconciliation; and thoughmore than oncemy
fast falling tears blistered the page over which we both bentthey
produced no more effect on him than if his heart had been really a
matter of stone or metal. To his sistersmeantimehe was somewhat
kinder than usual: as if afraid that mere coldness would not
sufficiently convince me how completely I was banished and banned
he added the force of contrast; and this I am sure he did not by
forcebut on principle.

The night before he left homehappening to see him walking in the
garden about sunsetand rememberingas I looked at himthat this
manalienated as he now washad once saved my lifeand that we
were near relationsI was moved to make a last attempt to regain
his friendship. I went out and approached him as he stood leaning
over the little gate; I spoke to the point at once.

St. John, I am unhappy because you are still angry with me. Let us
be friends.

I hope we are friends,was the unmoved reply; while he still
watched the rising of the moonwhich he had been contemplating as I
approached.

No, St. John, we are not friends as we were. You know that.

Are we not? That is wrong. For my part, I wish you no ill and all
good.

I believe you, St. John; for I am sure you are incapable of wishing
any one ill; but, as I am your kinswoman, I should desire somewhat
more of affection than that sort of general philanthropy you extend
to mere strangers.

Of course,he said. "Your wish is reasonableand I am far from
regarding you as a stranger."

Thisspoken in a cooltranquil tonewas mortifying and baffling
enough. Had I attended to the suggestions of pride and ireI
should immediately have left him; but something worked within me
more strongly than those feelings could. I deeply venerated my
cousin's talent and principle. His friendship was of value to me:
to lose it tried me severely. I would not so soon relinquish the
attempt to reconquer it.

Must we part in this way, St. John? And when you go to India, will
you leave me so, without a kinder word than you have yet spoken?


He now turned quite from the moon and faced me.

When I go to India, Jane, will I leave you! What! do you not go to
India?

You said I could not unless I married you.

And you will not marry me! You adhere to that resolution?

Readerdo you knowas I dowhat terror those cold people can put
into the ice of their questions? How much of the fall of the
avalanche is in their anger? of the breaking up of the frozen sea in
their displeasure?

No. St. John, I will not marry you. I adhere to my resolution.

The avalanche had shaken and slid a little forwardbut it did not
yet crash down.

Once more, why this refusal?he asked.

Formerly,I answeredbecause you did not love me; now, I reply,
because you almost hate me. If I were to marry you, you would kill
me. You are killing me now.

His lips and cheeks turned white--quite white.

I SHOULD KILL YOU--I AM KILLING YOU? Your words are such as ought
not to be used: violent, unfeminine, and untrue. They betray an
unfortunate state of mind: they merit severe reproof: they would
seem inexcusable, but that it is the duty of man to forgive his
fellow even until seventy-and-seven times.

I had finished the business now. While earnestly wishing to erase
from his mind the trace of my former offenceI had stamped on that
tenacious surface another and far deeper impressionI had burnt it
in.

Now you will indeed hate me,I said. "It is useless to attempt to
conciliate you: I see I have made an eternal enemy of you."

A fresh wrong did these words inflict: the worsebecause they
touched on the truth. That bloodless lip quivered to a temporary
spasm. I knew the steely ire I had whetted. I was heart-wrung.

You utterly misinterpret my words,I saidat once seizing his
hand: "I have no intention to grieve or pain you--indeedI have
not."

Most bitterly he smiled--most decidedly he withdrew his hand from
mine. "And now you recall your promiseand will not go to India at
allI presume?" said heafter a considerable pause.

Yes, I will, as your assistant,I answered.

A very long silence succeeded. What struggle there was in him
between Nature and Grace in this intervalI cannot tell: only
singular gleams scintillated in his eyesand strange shadows passed
over his face. He spoke at last.

I before proved to you the absurdity of a single woman of your age
proposing to accompany abroad a single man of mine. I proved it to
you in such terms as, I should have thought, would have prevented


your ever again alluding to the plan. That you have done so, I
regret--for your sake.

I interrupted him. Anything like a tangible reproach gave me
courage at once. "Keep to common senseSt. John: you are verging
on nonsense. You pretend to be shocked by what I have said. You
are not really shocked: forwith your superior mindyou cannot be
either so dull or so conceited as to misunderstand my meaning. I
say againI will be your curateif you likebut never your wife."

Again he turned lividly pale; butas beforecontrolled his passion
perfectly. He answered emphatically but calmly


A female curate, who is not my wife, would never suit me. With me,
then, it seems, you cannot go: but if you are sincere in your
offer, I will, while in town, speak to a married missionary, whose
wife needs a coadjutor. Your own fortune will make you independent
of the Society's aid; and thus you may still be spared the dishonour
of breaking your promise and deserting the band you engaged to
join.

Now I never hadas the reader knowseither given any formal
promise or entered into any engagement; and this language was all
much too hard and much too despotic for the occasion. I replied


There is no dishonour, no breach of promise, no desertion in the
case. I am not under the slightest obligation to go to India,
especially with strangers. With you I would have ventured much,
because I admire, confide in, and, as a sister, I love you; but I am
convinced that, go when and with whom I would, I should not live
long in that climate.

Ah! you are afraid of yourself,he saidcurling his lip.

I am. God did not give me my life to throw away; and to do as you
wish me would, I begin to think, be almost equivalent to committing
suicide. Moreover, before I definitively resolve on quitting
England, I will know for certain whether I cannot be of greater use
by remaining in it than by leaving it.

What do you mean?

It would be fruitless to attempt to explain; but there is a point
on which I have long endured painful doubt, and I can go nowhere
till by some means that doubt is removed.

I know where your heart turns and to what it clings. The interest
you cherish is lawless and unconsecrated. Long since you ought to
have crushed it: now you should blush to allude to it. You think
of Mr. Rochester?

It was true. I confessed it by silence.

Are you going to seek Mr. Rochester?

I must find out what is become of him.

It remains for me, then,he saidto remember you in my prayers,
and to entreat God for you, in all earnestness, that you may not
indeed become a castaway. I had thought I recognised in you one of
the chosen. But God sees not as man sees: HIS will be done--

He opened the gatepassed through itand strayed away down the
glen. He was soon out of sight.


On re-entering the parlourI found Diana standing at the window
looking very thoughtful. Diana was a great deal taller than I: she
put her hand on my shoulderandstoopingexamined my face.

Jane,she saidyou are always agitated and pale now. I am sure
there is something the matter. Tell me what business St. John and
you have on hands. I have watched you this half hour from the
window; you must forgive my being such a spy, but for a long time I
have fancied I hardly know what. St. John is a strange being--

She paused--I did not speak: soon she resumed


That brother of mine cherishes peculiar views of some sort
respecting you, I am sure: he has long distinguished you by a
notice and interest he never showed to any one else--to what end? I
wish he loved you--does he, Jane?

I put her cool hand to my hot forehead; "NoDienot one whit."

Then why does he follow you so with his eyes, and get you so
frequently alone with him, and keep you so continually at his side?
Mary and I had both concluded he wished you to marry him.

He does--he has asked me to be his wife.

Diana clapped her hands. "That is just what we hoped and thought!
And you will marry himJanewon't you? And then he will stay in
England."

Far from that, Diana; his sole idea in proposing to me is to
procure a fitting fellow-labourer in his Indian toils.

What! He wishes you to go to India?

Yes.

Madness!she exclaimed. "You would not live three months thereI
am certain. You never shall go: you have not consentedhave you
Jane?"

I have refused to marry him--

And have consequently displeased him?she suggested.

Deeply: he will never forgive me, I fear: yet I offered to
accompany him as his sister.

It was frantic folly to do so, Jane. Think of the task you
undertook--one of incessant fatigue, where fatigue kills even the
strong, and you are weak. St. John--you know him--would urge you to
impossibilities: with him there would be no permission to rest
during the hot hours; and unfortunately, I have noticed, whatever he
exacts, you force yourself to perform. I am astonished you found
courage to refuse his hand. You do not love him then, Jane?

Not as a husband.

Yet he is a handsome fellow.

And I am so plain, you see, Die. We should never suit.

Plain! You? Not at all. You are much too pretty, as well as too
good, to be grilled alive in Calcutta.And again she earnestly


conjured me to give up all thoughts of going out with her brother.

I must indeed,I said; "for when just now I repeated the offer of
serving him for a deaconhe expressed himself shocked at my want of
decency. He seemed to think I had committed an impropriety in
proposing to accompany him unmarried: as if I had not from the
first hoped to find in him a brotherand habitually regarded him as
such."

What makes you say he does not love you, Jane?

You should hear himself on the subject. He has again and again
explained that it is not himself, but his office he wishes to mate.
He has told me I am formed for labour--not for love: which is true,
no doubt. But, in my opinion, if I am not formed for love, it
follows that I am not formed for marriage. Would it not be strange,
Die, to be chained for life to a man who regarded one but as a
useful tool?

Insupportable--unnatural--out of the question!

And then,I continuedthough I have only sisterly affection for
him now, yet, if forced to be his wife, I can imagine the
possibility of conceiving an inevitable, strange, torturing kind of
love for him, because he is so talented; and there is often a
certain heroic grandeur in his look, manner, and conversation. In
that case, my lot would become unspeakably wretched. He would not
want me to love him; and if I showed the feeling, he would make me
sensible that it was a superfluity, unrequired by him, unbecoming in
me. I know he would.

And yet St. John is a good man,said Diana.

He is a good and a great man; but he forgets, pitilessly, the
feelings and claims of little people, in pursuing his own large
views. It is better, therefore, for the insignificant to keep out
of his way, lest, in his progress, he should trample them down.
Here he comes! I will leave you, Diana.And I hastened upstairs
as I saw him entering the garden.

But I was forced to meet him again at supper. During that meal he
appeared just as composed as usual. I had thought he would hardly
speak to meand I was certain he had given up the pursuit of his
matrimonial scheme: the sequel showed I was mistaken on both
points. He addressed me precisely in his ordinary manneror what
hadof latebeen his ordinary manner--one scrupulously polite. No
doubt he had invoked the help of the Holy Spirit to subdue the anger
I had roused in himand now believed he had forgiven me once more.

For the evening reading before prayershe selected the twenty-first
chapter of Revelation. It was at all times pleasant to listen while
from his lips fell the words of the Bible: never did his fine voice
sound at once so sweet and full--never did his manner become so
impressive in its noble simplicityas when he delivered the oracles
of God: and to-night that voice took a more solemn tone--that
manner a more thrilling meaning--as he sat in the midst of his
household circle (the May moon shining in through the uncurtained
windowand rendering almost unnecessary the light of the candle on
the table): as he sat therebending over the great old Bibleand
described from its page the vision of the new heaven and the new
earth--told how God would come to dwell with menhow He would wipe
away all tears from their eyesand promised that there should be no
more deathneither sorrow nor cryingnor any more painbecause
the former things were passed away.


The succeeding words thrilled me strangely as he spoke them:
especially as I feltby the slightindescribable alteration in
soundthat in uttering themhis eye had turned on me.

He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God,
and he shall be my son. But,was slowlydistinctly readthe
fearful, the unbelieving, &c., shall have their part in the lake
which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.

HenceforwardI knew what fate St. John feared for me.

A calmsubdued triumphblent with a longing earnestnessmarked
his enunciation of the last glorious verses of that chapter. The
reader believed his name was already written in the Lamb's book of
lifeand he yearned after the hour which should admit him to the
city to which the kings of the earth bring their glory and honour;
which has no need of sun or moon to shine in itbecause the glory
of God lightens itand the Lamb is the light thereof.

In the prayer following the chapterall his energy gathered--all
his stern zeal woke: he was in deep earnestwrestling with God
and resolved on a conquest. He supplicated strength for the weakhearted;
guidance for wanderers from the fold: a returneven at
the eleventh hourfor those whom the temptations of the world and
the flesh were luring from the narrow path. He askedhe urgedhe
claimed the boon of a brand snatched from the burning. Earnestness
is ever deeply solemn: firstas I listened to that prayerI
wondered at his; thenwhen it continued and roseI was touched by
itand at last awed. He felt the greatness and goodness of his
purpose so sincerely: others who heard him plead for itcould not
but feel it too.

The prayer overwe took leave of him: he was to go at a very early
hour in the morning. Diana and Mary having kissed himleft the
room--in complianceI thinkwith a whispered hint from him: I
tendered my handand wished him a pleasant journey.

Thank you, Jane. As I said, I shall return from Cambridge in a
fortnight: that space, then, is yet left you for reflection. If I
listened to human pride, I should say no more to you of marriage
with me; but I listen to my duty, and keep steadily in view my first
aim--to do all things to the glory of God. My Master was longsuffering:
so will I be. I cannot give you up to perdition as a
vessel of wrath: repent--resolve, while there is yet time.
Remember, we are bid to work while it is day--warned that 'the night
cometh when no man shall work.' Remember the fate of Dives, who had
his good things in this life. God give you strength to choose that
better part which shall not be taken from you!

He laid his hand on my head as he uttered the last words. He had
spoken earnestlymildly: his look was notindeedthat of a lover
beholding his mistressbut it was that of a pastor recalling his
wandering sheep--or betterof a guardian angel watching the soul
for which he is responsible. All men of talentwhether they be men
of feeling or not; whether they be zealotsor aspirantsor
despots--provided only they be sincere--have their sublime moments
when they subdue and rule. I felt veneration for St. John-veneration
so strong that its impetus thrust me at once to the point
I had so long shunned. I was tempted to cease struggling with him-to
rush down the torrent of his will into the gulf of his existence
and there lose my own. I was almost as hard beset by him now as I
had been once beforein a different wayby another. I was a fool
both times. To have yielded then would have been an error of


principle; to have yielded now would have been an error of judgment.
So I think at this hourwhen I look back to the crisis through the
quiet medium of time: I was unconscious of folly at the instant.

I stood motionless under my hierophant's touch. My refusals were
forgotten--my fears overcome--my wrestlings paralysed. The
Impossible--I.E.my marriage with St. John--was fast becoming the
Possible. All was changing utterly with a sudden sweep. Religion
called--Angels beckoned--God commanded--life rolled together like a
scroll--death's gates openingshowed eternity beyond: it seemed
that for safety and bliss thereall here might be sacrificed in a
second. The dim room was full of visions.

Could you decide now?asked the missionary. The inquiry was put
in gentle tones: he drew me to him as gently. Ohthat gentleness!
how far more potent is it than force! I could resist St. John's
wrath: I grew pliant as a reed under his kindness. Yet I knew all
the timeif I yielded nowI should not the less be made to repent
some dayof my former rebellion. His nature was not changed by one
hour of solemn prayer: it was only elevated.

I could decide if I were but certain,I answered: "were I but
convinced that it is God's will I should marry youI could vow to
marry you here and now--come afterwards what would!"

My I prayers are heard!ejaculated St. John. He pressed his hand
firmer on my headas if he claimed me: he surrounded me with his
armALMOST as if he loved me (I say ALMOST--I knew the difference-for
I had felt what it was to be loved; butlike himI had now put
love out of the questionand thought only of duty). I contended
with my inward dimness of visionbefore which clouds yet rolled. I
sincerelydeeplyfervently longed to do what was right; and only
that. "Show meshow me the path!" I entreated of Heaven. I was
excited more than I had ever been; and whether what followed was the
effect of excitement the reader shall judge.

All the house was still; for I believe allexcept St. John and
myselfwere now retired to rest. The one candle was dying out:
the room was full of moonlight. My heart beat fast and thick: I
heard its throb. Suddenly it stood still to an inexpressible
feeling that thrilled it throughand passed at once to my head and
extremities. The feeling was not like an electric shockbut it was
quite as sharpas strangeas startling: it acted on my senses as
if their utmost activity hitherto had been but torporfrom which
they were now summoned and forced to wake. They rose expectant:
eye and ear waited while the flesh quivered on my bones.

What have you heard? What do you see?asked St. John. I saw
nothingbut I heard a voice somewhere cry


Jane! Jane! Jane!--nothing more.

O God! what is it?I gasped.

I might have saidWhere is it?for it did not seem in the room-nor
in the house--nor in the garden; it did not come out of the air-
nor from under the earth--nor from overhead. I had heard it-where
or whencefor ever impossible to know! And it was the voice
of a human being--a knownlovedwell-remembered voice--that of
Edward Fairfax Rochester; and it spoke in pain and woewildly
eerilyurgently.

I am coming!I cried. "Wait for me! OhI will come!" I flew to
the door and looked into the passage: it was dark. I ran out into


the garden: it was void.

Where are you?I exclaimed.

The hills beyond Marsh Glen sent the answer faintly back--"Where are
you?" I listened. The wind sighed low in the firs: all was
moorland loneliness and midnight hush.

Down superstition!I commentedas that spectre rose up black by
the black yew at the gate. "This is not thy deceptionnor thy
witchcraft: it is the work of nature. She was rousedand did--no
miracle--but her best."

I broke from St. Johnwho had followedand would have detained me.
It was MY time to assume ascendency. MY powers were in play and in
force. I told him to forbear question or remark; I desired him to
leave me: I must and would be alone. He obeyed at once. Where
there is energy to command well enoughobedience never fails. I
mounted to my chamber; locked myself in; fell on my knees; and
prayed in my way--a different way to St. John'sbut effective in
its own fashion. I seemed to penetrate very near a Mighty Spirit;
and my soul rushed out in gratitude at His feet. I rose from the
thanksgiving--took a resolve--and lay downunscaredenlightened-eager
but for the daylight.

CHAPTER XXXVI

The daylight came. I rose at dawn. I busied myself for an hour or
two with arranging my things in my chamberdrawersand wardrobe
in the order wherein I should wish to leave them during a brief
absence. MeantimeI heard St. John quit his room. He stopped at
my door: I feared he would knock--nobut a slip of paper was
passed under the door. I took it up. It bore these words


You left me too suddenly last night. Had you stayed but a little
longer, you would have laid your hand on the Christian's cross and
the angel's crown. I shall expect your clear decision when I return
this day fortnight. Meantime, watch and pray that you enter not
into temptation: the spirit, I trust, is willing, but the flesh, I
see, is weak. I shall pray for you hourly.--Yours, ST. JOHN.

My spirit,I answered mentallyis willing to do what is right;
and my flesh, I hope, is strong enough to accomplish the will of
Heaven, when once that will is distinctly known to me. At any rate,
it shall be strong enough to search--inquire--to grope an outlet
from this cloud of doubt, and find the open day of certainty.

It was the first of June; yet the morning was overcast and chilly:
rain beat fast on my casement. I heard the front-door openand St.
John pass out. Looking through the windowI saw him traverse the
garden. He took the way over the misty moors in the direction of
Whitcross--there he would meet the coach.

In a few more hours I shall succeed you in that track, cousin,
thought I: "I too have a coach to meet at Whitcross. I too have
some to see and ask after in Englandbefore I depart for ever."

It wanted yet two hours of breakfast-time. I filled the interval in
walking softly about my roomand pondering the visitation which had
given my plans their present bent. I recalled that inward sensation


I had experienced: for I could recall itwith all its unspeakable
strangeness. I recalled the voice I had heard; again I questioned
whence it cameas vainly as before: it seemed in ME--not in the
external world. I asked was it a mere nervous impression--a
delusion? I could not conceive or believe: it was more like an
inspiration. The wondrous shock of feeling had come like the
earthquake which shook the foundations of Paul and Silas's prison;
it had opened the doors of the soul's cell and loosed its bands--it
had wakened it out of its sleepwhence it sprang trembling
listeningaghast; then vibrated thrice a cry on my startled ear
and in my quaking heart and through my spiritwhich neither feared
nor shookbut exulted as if in joy over the success of one effort
it had been privileged to makeindependent of the cumbrous body.

Ere many days,I saidas I terminated my musingsI will know
something of him whose voice seemed last night to summon me.
Letters have proved of no avail--personal inquiry shall replace
them.

At breakfast I announced to Diana and Mary that I was going a
journeyand should be absent at least four days.

Alone, Jane?they asked.

Yes; it was to see or hear news of a friend about whom I had for
some time been uneasy.

They might have saidas I have no doubt they thoughtthat they had
believed me to be without any friends save them: forindeedI had
often said so; butwith their true natural delicacythey abstained
from commentexcept that Diana asked me if I was sure I was well
enough to travel. I looked very paleshe observed. I replied
that nothing ailed me save anxiety of mindwhich I hoped soon to
alleviate.

It was easy to make my further arrangements; for I was troubled with
no inquiries--no surmises. Having once explained to them that I
could not now be explicit about my plansthey kindly and wisely
acquiesced in the silence with which I pursued themaccording to me
the privilege of free action I should under similar circumstances
have accorded them.

I left Moor House at three o'clock p.m.and soon after four I stood
at the foot of the sign-post of Whitcrosswaiting the arrival of
the coach which was to take me to distant Thornfield. Amidst the
silence of those solitary roads and desert hillsI heard it
approach from a great distance. It was the same vehicle whencea
year agoI had alighted one summer evening on this very spot--how
desolateand hopelessand objectless! It stopped as I beckoned.
I entered--not now obliged to part with my whole fortune as the
price of its accommodation. Once more on the road to ThornfieldI
felt like the messenger-pigeon flying home.

It was a journey of six-and-thirty hours. I had set out from
Whitcross on a Tuesday afternoonand early on the succeeding
Thursday morning the coach stopped to water the horses at a wayside
innsituated in the midst of scenery whose green hedges and large
fields and low pastoral hills (how mild of feature and verdant of
hue compared with the stern North-Midland moors of Morton!) met my
eye like the lineaments of a once familiar face. YesI knew the
character of this landscape: I was sure we were near my bourne.

How far is Thornfield Hall from here?I asked of the ostler.


Just two miles, ma'am, across the fields.

My journey is closed,I thought to myself. I got out of the
coachgave a box I had into the ostler's chargeto be kept till I
called for it; paid my fare; satisfied the coachmanand was going:
the brightening day gleamed on the sign of the innand I read in
gilt lettersThe Rochester Arms.My heart leapt up: I was
already on my master's very lands. It fell again: the thought
struck it:


Your master himself may be beyond the British Channel, for aught
you know: and then, if he is at Thornfield Hall, towards which you
hasten, who besides him is there? His lunatic wife: and you have
nothing to do with him: you dare not speak to him or seek his
presence. You have lost your labour--you had better go no farther,
urged the monitor. "Ask information of the people at the inn; they
can give you all you seek: they can solve your doubts at once. Go
up to that manand inquire if Mr. Rochester be at home."

The suggestion was sensibleand yet I could not force myself to act
on it. I so dreaded a reply that would crush me with despair. To
prolong doubt was to prolong hope. I might yet once more see the
Hall under the ray of her star. There was the stile before me--the
very fields through which I had hurriedblinddeafdistracted
with a revengeful fury tracking and scourging meon the morning I
fled from Thornfield: ere I well knew what course I had resolved to
takeI was in the midst of them. How fast I walked! How I ran
sometimes! How I looked forward to catch the first view of the
well-known woods! With what feelings I welcomed single trees I
knewand familiar glimpses of meadow and hill between them!

At last the woods rose; the rookery clustered dark; a loud cawing
broke the morning stillness. Strange delight inspired me: on I
hastened. Another field crossed--a lane threaded--and there were
the courtyard walls--the back offices: the house itselfthe
rookery still hid. "My first view of it shall be in front I
determined, where its bold battlements will strike the eye nobly at
onceand where I can single out my master's very window: perhaps
he will be standing at it--he rises early: perhaps he is now
walking in the orchardor on the pavement in front. Could I but
see him!--but a moment! Surelyin that caseI should not be so
mad as to run to him? I cannot tell--I am not certain. And if I
did--what then? God bless him! What then? Who would be hurt by my
once more tasting the life his glance can give me? I rave: perhaps
at this moment he is watching the sun rise over the Pyreneesor on
the tideless sea of the south."

I had coasted along the lower wall of the orchard--turned its angle:
there was a gate just thereopening into the meadowbetween two
stone pillars crowned by stone balls. From behind one pillar I
could peep round quietly at the full front of the mansion. I
advanced my head with precautiondesirous to ascertain if any
bedroom window-blinds were yet drawn up: battlementswindowslong
front--all from this sheltered station were at my command.

The crows sailing overhead perhaps watched me while I took this
survey. I wonder what they thought. They must have considered I
was very careful and timid at firstand that gradually I grew very
bold and reckless. A peepand then a long stare; and then a
departure from my niche and a straying out into the meadow; and a
sudden stop full in front of the great mansionand a protracted
hardy gaze towards it. "What affectation of diffidence was this at
first?" they might have demanded; "what stupid regardlessness now?"


Hear an illustrationreader.

A lover finds his mistress asleep on a mossy bank; he wishes to
catch a glimpse of her fair face without waking her. He steals
softly over the grasscareful to make no sound; he pauses--fancying
she has stirred: he withdraws: not for worlds would he be seen.
All is still: he again advances: he bends above her; a light veil
rests on her features: he lifts itbends lower; now his eyes
anticipate the vision of beauty--warmand bloomingand lovelyin
rest. How hurried was their first glance! But how they fix! How
he starts! How he suddenly and vehemently clasps in both arms the
form he dared nota moment sincetouch with his finger! How he
calls aloud a nameand drops his burdenand gazes on it wildly!
He thus grasps and criesand gazesbecause he no longer fears to
waken by any sound he can utter--by any movement he can make. He
thought his love slept sweetly: he finds she is stone dead.

I looked with timorous joy towards a stately house: I saw a
blackened ruin.

No need to cower behind a gate-postindeed!--to peep up at chamber
latticesfearing life was astir behind them! No need to listen for
doors opening--to fancy steps on the pavement or the gravel-walk!
The lawnthe grounds were trodden and waste: the portal yawned
void. The front wasas I had once seen it in a dreambut a welllike
wallvery high and very fragile-lookingperforated with
paneless windows: no roofno battlementsno chimneys--all had
crashed in.

And there was the silence of death about it: the solitude of a
lonesome wild. No wonder that letters addressed to people here had
never received an answer: as well despatch epistles to a vault in a
church aisle. The grim blackness of the stones told by what fate
the Hall had fallen--by conflagration: but how kindled? What story
belonged to this disaster? What lossbesides mortar and marble and
wood-work had followed upon it? Had life been wrecked as well as
property? If sowhose? Dreadful question: there was no one here
to answer it--not even dumb signmute token.

In wandering round the shattered walls and through the devastated
interiorI gathered evidence that the calamity was not of late
occurrence. Winter snowsI thoughthad drifted through that void
archwinter rains beaten in at those hollow casements; foramidst
the drenched piles of rubbishspring had cherished vegetation:
grass and weed grew here and there between the stones and fallen
rafters. And oh! where meantime was the hapless owner of this
wreck? In what land? Under what auspices? My eye involuntarily
wandered to the grey church tower near the gatesand I askedIs
he with Damer de Rochester, sharing the shelter of his narrow marble
house?

Some answer must be had to these questions. I could find it nowhere
but at the innand thitherere longI returned. The host himself
brought my breakfast into the parlour. I requested him to shut the
door and sit down: I had some questions to ask him. But when he
compliedI scarcely knew how to begin; such horror had I of the
possible answers. And yet the spectacle of desolation I had just
left prepared me in a measure for a tale of misery. The host was a
respectable-lookingmiddle-aged man.

You know Thornfield Hall, of course?I managed to say at last.

Yes, ma'am; I lived there once.


Did you?Not in my timeI thought: you are a stranger to me.

I was the late Mr. Rochester's butler,he added.

The late! I seem to have receivedwith full forcethe blow I had
been trying to evade.

The late!gasped. "Is he dead?"

I mean the present gentleman, Mr. Edward's father,he explained.
I breathed again: my blood resumed its flow. Fully assured by
these words that Mr. Edward--MY Mr. Rochester (God bless him
wherever he was!)--was at least alive: wasin shortthe present
gentleman.Gladdening words! It seemed I could hear all that was
to come--whatever the disclosures might be--with comparative
tranquillity. Since he was not in the graveI could bearI
thoughtto learn that he was at the Antipodes.

Is Mr. Rochester living at Thornfield Hall now?I askedknowing
of coursewhat the answer would bebut yet desirous of deferring
the direct question as to where he really was.

No, ma'am--oh, no! No one is living there. I suppose you are a
stranger in these parts, or you would have heard what happened last
autumn,--Thornfield Hall is quite a ruin: it was burnt down just
about harvest-time. A dreadful calamity! such an immense quantity
of valuable property destroyed: hardly any of the furniture could
be saved. The fire broke out at dead of night, and before the
engines arrived from Millcote, the building was one mass of flame.
It was a terrible spectacle: I witnessed it myself.

At dead of night!I muttered. Yesthat was ever the hour of
fatality at Thornfield. "Was it known how it originated?" I
demanded.

They guessed, ma'am: they guessed. Indeed, I should say it was
ascertained beyond a doubt. You are not perhaps aware,he
continuededging his chair a little nearer the tableand speaking
lowthat there was a lady--a--a lunatic, kept in the house?

I have heard something of it.

She was kept in very close confinement, ma'am: people even for
some years was not absolutely certain of her existence. No one saw
her: they only knew by rumour that such a person was at the Hall;
and who or what she was it was difficult to conjecture. They said
Mr. Edward had brought her from abroad, and some believed she had
been his mistress. But a queer thing happened a year since--a very
queer thing.

I feared now to hear my own story. I endeavoured to recall him to
the main fact.

And this lady?

This lady, ma'am,he answeredturned out to be Mr. Rochester's
wife! The discovery was brought about in the strangest way. There
was a young lady, a governess at the Hall, that Mr. Rochester fell
in--

But the fire,I suggested.

I'm coming to that, ma'am--that Mr. Edward fell in love with. The
servants say they never saw anybody so much in love as he was: he


was after her continually. They used to watch him--servants will,
you know, ma'am--and he set store on her past everything: for all,
nobody but him thought her so very handsome. She was a little small
thing, they say, almost like a child. I never saw her myself; but
I've heard Leah, the house-maid, tell of her. Leah liked her well
enough. Mr. Rochester was about forty, and this governess not
twenty; and you see, when gentlemen of his age fall in love with
girls, they are often like as if they were bewitched. Well, he
would marry her.

You shall tell me this part of the story another time,I said;
but now I have a particular reason for wishing to hear all about
the fire. Was it suspected that this lunatic, Mrs. Rochester, had
any hand in it?

You've hit it, ma'am: it's quite certain that it was her, and
nobody but her, that set it going. She had a woman to take care of
her called Mrs. Poole--an able woman in her line, and very
trustworthy, but for one fault--a fault common to a deal of them
nurses and matrons--she KEPT A PRIVATE BOTTLE OF GIN BY HER, and now
and then took a drop over-much. It is excusable, for she had a hard
life of it: but still it was dangerous; for when Mrs. Poole was
fast asleep after the gin and water, the mad lady, who was as
cunning as a witch, would take the keys out of her pocket, let
herself out of her chamber, and go roaming about the house, doing
any wild mischief that came into her head. They say she had nearly
burnt her husband in his bed once: but I don't know about that.
However, on this night, she set fire first to the hangings of the
room next her own, and then she got down to a lower storey, and made
her way to the chamber that had been the governess's--(she was like
as if she knew somehow how matters had gone on, and had a spite at
her)--and she kindled the bed there; but there was nobody sleeping
in it, fortunately. The governess had run away two months before;
and for all Mr. Rochester sought her as if she had been the most
precious thing he had in the world, he never could hear a word of
her; and he grew savage--quite savage on his disappointment: he
never was a wild man, but he got dangerous after he lost her. He
would be alone, too. He sent Mrs. Fairfax, the housekeeper, away to
her friends at a distance; but he did it handsomely, for he settled
an annuity on her for life: and she deserved it--she was a very
good woman. Miss Adele, a ward he had, was put to school. He broke
off acquaintance with all the gentry, and shut himself up like a
hermit at the Hall.

What! did he not leave England?

Leave England? Bless you, no! He would not cross the door-stones
of the house, except at night, when he walked just like a ghost
about the grounds and in the orchard as if he had lost his senses-which
it is my opinion he had; for a more spirited, bolder, keener
gentleman than he was before that midge of a governess crossed him,
you never saw, ma'am. He was not a man given to wine, or cards, or
racing, as some are, and he was not so very handsome; but he had a
courage and a will of his own, if ever man had. I knew him from a
boy, you see: and for my part, I have often wished that Miss Eyre
had been sunk in the sea before she came to Thornfield Hall.

Then Mr. Rochester was at home when the fire broke out?

Yes, indeed was he; and he went up to the attics when all was
burning above and below, and got the servants out of their beds and
helped them down himself, and went back to get his mad wife out of
her cell. And then they called out to him that she was on the roof,
where she was standing, waving her arms, above the battlements, and


shouting out till they could hear her a mile off: I saw her and
heard her with my own eyes. She was a big woman, and had long black
hair: we could see it streaming against the flames as she stood. I
witnessed, and several more witnessed, Mr. Rochester ascend through
the sky-light on to the roof; we heard him call 'Bertha!' We saw
him approach her; and then, ma'am, she yelled and gave a spring, and
the next minute she lay smashed on the pavement.

Dead?

Dead! Ay, dead as the stones on which her brains and blood were
scattered.

Good God!

You may well say so, ma'am: it was frightful!

He shuddered.

And afterwards?I urged.

Well, ma'am, afterwards the house was burnt to the ground: there
are only some bits of walls standing now.

Were any other lives lost?

No--perhaps it would have been better if there had.

What do you mean?

Poor Mr. Edward!he ejaculatedI little thought ever to have
seen it! Some say it was a just judgment on him for keeping his
first marriage secret, and wanting to take another wife while he had
one living: but I pity him, for my part.

You said he was alive?I exclaimed.

Yes, yes: he is alive; but many think he had better he dead.

Why? How?My blood was again running cold. "Where is he?" I
demanded. "Is he in England?"

Ay--ay--he's in England; he can't get out of England, I fancy--he's
a fixture now.

What agony was this! And the man seemed resolved to protract it.

He is stone-blind,he said at last. "Yeshe is stone-blindis
Mr. Edward."

I had dreaded worse. I had dreaded he was mad. I summoned strength
to ask what had caused this calamity.

It was all his own courage, and a body may say, his kindness, in a
way, ma'am: he wouldn't leave the house till every one else was out
before him. As he came down the great staircase at last, after Mrs.
Rochester had flung herself from the battlements, there was a great
crash--all fell. He was taken out from under the ruins, alive, but
sadly hurt: a beam had fallen in such a way as to protect him
partly; but one eye was knocked out, and one hand so crushed that
Mr. Carter, the surgeon, had to amputate it directly. The other eye
inflamed: he lost the sight of that also. He is now helpless,
indeed--blind and a cripple.


Where is he? Where does he now live?

At Ferndean, a manor-house on a farm he has, about thirty miles
off: quite a desolate spot.

Who is with him?

Old John and his wife: he would have none else. He is quite
broken down, they say.

Have you any sort of conveyance?

We have a chaise, ma'am, a very handsome chaise.

Let it be got ready instantly; and if your post-boy can drive me to
Ferndean before dark this day, I'll pay both you and him twice the
hire you usually demand.

CHAPTER XXXVII

The manor-house of Ferndean was a building of considerable
antiquitymoderate sizeand no architectural pretensionsdeep
buried in a wood. I had heard of it before. Mr. Rochester often
spoke of itand sometimes went there. His father had purchased the
estate for the sake of the game covers. He would have let the
housebut could find no tenantin consequence of its ineligible
and insalubrious site. Ferndean then remained uninhabited and
unfurnishedwith the exception of some two or three rooms fitted up
for the accommodation of the squire when he went there in the season
to shoot.

To this house I came just ere dark on an evening marked by the
characteristics of sad skycold galeand continued small
penetrating rain. The last mile I performed on foothaving
dismissed the chaise and driver with the double remuneration I had
promised. Even when within a very short distance of the manorhouse
you could see nothing of itso thick and dark grew the
timber of the gloomy wood about it. Iron gates between granite
pillars showed me where to enterand passing through themI found
myself at once in the twilight of close-ranked trees. There was a
grass-grown track descending the forest aisle between hoar and
knotty shafts and under branched arches. I followed itexpecting
soon to reach the dwelling; but it stretched on and onit would far
and farther: no sign of habitation or grounds was visible.

I thought I had taken a wrong direction and lost my way. The
darkness of natural as well as of sylvan dusk gathered over me.
looked round in search of another road. There was none: all was
interwoven stemcolumnar trunkdense summer foliage--no opening
anywhere.

I proceeded: at last my way openedthe trees thinned a little;
presently I beheld a railingthen the house--scarceby this dim
lightdistinguishable from the trees; so dank and green were its
decaying walls. Entering a portalfastened only by a latchI
stood amidst a space of enclosed groundfrom which the wood swept
away in a semicircle. There were no flowersno garden-beds; only a
broad gravel-walk girdling a grass-platand this set in the heavy
frame of the forest. The house presented two pointed gables in its
front; the windows were latticed and narrow: the front door was


narrow tooone step led up to it. The whole lookedas the host of
the Rochester Arms had saidquite a desolate spot.It was as
still as a church on a week-day: the pattering rain on the forest
leaves was the only sound audible in its vicinage.

Can there be life here?I asked.

Yeslife of some kind there was; for I heard a movement--that
narrow front-door was unclosingand some shape was about to issue
from the grange.

It opened slowly: a figure came out into the twilight and stood on
the step; a man without a hat: he stretched forth his hand as if to
feel whether it rained. Dusk as it wasI had recognised him--it
was my masterEdward Fairfax Rochesterand no other.

I stayed my stepalmost my breathand stood to watch him--to
examine himmyself unseenand alas! to him invisible. It was a
sudden meetingand one in which rapture was kept well in check by
pain. I had no difficulty in restraining my voice from exclamation
my step from hasty advance.

His form was of the same strong and stalwart contour as ever: his
port was still erecthis heir was still raven black; nor were his
features altered or sunk: not in one year's spaceby any sorrow
could his athletic strength be quelled or his vigorous prime
blighted. But in his countenance I saw a change: that looked
desperate and brooding--that reminded me of some wronged and
fettered wild beast or birddangerous to approach in his sullen
woe. The caged eaglewhose gold-ringed eyes cruelty has
extinguishedmight look as looked that sightless Samson.

Andreaderdo you think I feared him in his blind ferocity?--if
you doyou little know me. A soft hope blest with my sorrow that
soon I should dare to drop a kiss on that brow of rockand on those
lips so sternly sealed beneath it: but not yet. I would not accost
him yet.

He descended the one stepand advanced slowly and gropingly towards
the grass-plat. Where was his daring stride now? Then he paused
as if he knew not which way to turn. He lifted his hand and opened
his eyelids; gazed blankand with a straining efforton the sky
and toward the amphitheatre of trees: one saw that all to him was
void darkness. He stretched his right hand (the left armthe
mutilated onehe kept hidden in his bosom); he seemed to wish by
touch to gain an idea of what lay around him: he met but vacancy
still; for the trees were some yards off where he stood. He
relinquished the endeavourfolded his armsand stood quiet and
mute in the rainnow falling fast on his uncovered head. At this
moment John approached him from some quarter.

Will you take my arm, sir?he said; "there is a heavy shower
coming on: had you not better go in?"

Let me alone,was the answer.

John withdrew without having observed me. Mr. Rochester now tried
to walk about: vainly--all was too uncertain. He groped his way
back to the houseandre-entering itclosed the door.

I now drew near and knocked: John's wife opened for me. "Mary I
said, how are you?"

She started as if she had seen a ghost: I calmed her. To her


hurried "Is it really youmisscome at this late hour to this
lonely place?" I answered by taking her hand; and then I followed
her into the kitchenwhere John now sat by a good fire. I
explained to themin few wordsthat I had heard all which had
happened since I left Thornfieldand that I was come to see Mr.
Rochester. I asked John to go down to the turn-pike-housewhere I
had dismissed the chaiseand bring my trunkwhich I had left
there: and thenwhile I removed my bonnet and shawlI questioned
Mary as to whether I could be accommodated at the Manor House for
the night; and finding that arrangements to that effectthough
difficultwould not be impossibleI informed her I should stay.
Just at this moment the parlour-bell rang.

When you go in,said Itell your master that a person wishes to
speak to him, but do not give my name.

I don't think he will see you,she answered; "he refuses
everybody."

When she returnedI inquired what he had said. "You are to send in
your name and your business she replied. She then proceeded to
fill a glass with water, and place it on a tray, together with
candles.

Is that what he rang for?" I asked.

Yes: he always has candles brought in at dark, though he is
blind.

Give the tray to me; I will carry it in.

I took it from her hand: she pointed me out the parlour door. The
tray shook as I held it; the water spilt from the glass; my heart
struck my ribs loud and fast. Mary opened the door for meand shut
it behind me.

This parlour looked gloomy: a neglected handful of fire burnt low
in the grate; andleaning over itwith his head supported against
the highold-fashioned mantelpieceappeared the blind tenant of
the room. His old dogPilotlay on one sideremoved out of the
wayand coiled up as if afraid of being inadvertently trodden upon.
P