wohnzimmer winterlich dekorieren

wohnzimmer winterlich dekorieren

chapter xxxiv it was near christmas by the time all wassettled: the season of general holiday approached. i now closed morton school, taking carethat the parting should not be barren on my side. good fortune opens the hand as well as theheart wonderfully; and to give somewhat when we have largely received, is but toafford a vent to the unusual ebullition of the sensations. i had long felt with pleasure that many ofmy rustic scholars liked me, and when we

parted, that consciousness was confirmed:they manifested their affection plainly and strongly. deep was my gratification to find i hadreally a place in their unsophisticated hearts: i promised them that never a weekshould pass in future that i did not visit them, and give them an hour's teaching intheir school. mr. rivers came up as, having seen theclasses, now numbering sixty girls, file out before me, and locked the door, i stoodwith the key in my hand, exchanging a few words of special farewell with some half- dozen of my best scholars: as decent,respectable, modest, and well-informed

young women as could be found in the ranksof the british peasantry. and that is saying a great deal; for afterall, the british peasantry are the best taught, best mannered, most self-respectingof any in europe: since those days i have seen paysannes and bauerinnen; and the best of them seemed to me ignorant, coarse, andbesotted, compared with my morton girls. "do you consider you have got your rewardfor a season of exertion?" asked mr. rivers, when they were gone. "does not the consciousness of having donesome 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 ofregenerating your race be well spent?" "yes," i said; "but i could not go on forever so: i want to enjoy my own faculties as well as to cultivate those of otherpeople. i must enjoy them now; don't recall eithermy 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 atliberty, 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 someexcursion. 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- heartedness, because i cannot tell whatemployment you propose to yourself as a substitute for the one you arerelinquishing. what aim, what purpose, what ambition inlife have you now?" "my first aim will be to clean down (doyou comprehend the full force of the expression?)--to clean down moor housefrom 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 dayspreceding that on which your sisters are expected will be devoted by hannah and meto such a beating of eggs, sorting of currants, grating of spices, compounding of christmas cakes, chopping up of materialsfor mince-pies, and solemnising of other culinary rites, as words can convey but aninadequate notion of to the uninitiated like you. my purpose, in short, is to have all thingsin 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 wasdissatisfied. "it is all very well for the present," saidhe; "but seriously, i trust that when the first flush of vivacity is over, you willlook 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 sceneof 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: twomonths' grace i allow you for the full enjoyment of your new position, and forpleasing yourself with this late-found charm of relationship; but then, i hope you will begin to look beyond moor houseand morton, and sisterly society, and the selfish calm and sensual comfort ofcivilised affluence. i hope your energies will then once moretrouble 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 queen,and you try to stir me up to restlessness!

to what end?" "to the end of turning to profit thetalents which god has committed to your keeping; and of which he will surely oneday demand a strict account. jane, i shall watch you closely andanxiously--i warn you of that. and try to restrain the disproportionatefervour with which you throw yourself into commonplace home pleasures. don't cling so tenaciously to ties of theflesh; save your constancy and ardour for an adequate cause; forbear to waste them ontrite 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 was, and hard iworked; and so did hannah: she was charmed to see how jovial i could be amidst thebustle of a house turned topsy-turvy--how i could brush, and dust, and clean, and cook. and really, after a day or two of confusionworse confounded, it was delightful by degrees to invoke order from the chaosourselves had made. i had previously taken a journey to s--- topurchase some new furniture: my cousins having given me carte blanche to effectwhat alterations i pleased, and a sum

having been set aside for that purpose. the ordinary sitting-room and bedrooms ileft much as they were: for i knew diana and mary would derive more pleasure fromseeing again the old homely tables, and chairs, and beds, than from the spectacleof the smartest innovations. still some novelty was necessary, to giveto their return the piquancy with which i wished it to be invested. dark handsome new carpets and curtains, anarrangement of some carefully selected antique ornaments in porcelain and bronze,new coverings, and mirrors, and dressing- cases, for the toilet tables, answered the

end: they looked fresh without beingglaring. a spare parlour and bedroom i refurnishedentirely, with old mahogany and crimson upholstery: i laid canvas on the passage,and carpets on the stairs. when all was finished, i thought moor houseas complete a model of bright modest snugness within, as it was, at this season,a specimen of wintry waste and desert dreariness without. the eventful thursday at length came.they were expected about dark, and ere dusk fires were lit upstairs and below; thekitchen was in perfect trim; hannah and i were dressed, and all was in readiness.

st. john arrived first. i had entreated him to keep quite clear ofthe house till everything was arranged: and, indeed, the bare idea of thecommotion, at once sordid and trivial, going on within its walls sufficed to scarehim to estrangement. he found me in the kitchen, watching theprogress of certain cakes for tea, then baking. approaching the hearth, he asked, "if i wasat last satisfied with housemaid's work?" i answered by inviting him to accompany meon a general inspection of the result of my labours.

with some difficulty, i got him to make thetour of the house. he just looked in at the doors i opened;and when he had wandered upstairs and downstairs, he said i must have gonethrough a great deal of fatigue and trouble to have effected such considerable changes in so short a time: but not a syllable didhe utter indicating pleasure in the improved aspect of his abode.this silence damped me. i thought perhaps the alterations haddisturbed some old associations he valued. i inquired whether this was the case: nodoubt 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, imust have bestowed more thought on the matter than it was worth. how many minutes, for instance, had idevoted to studying the arrangement of this very room?--by-the-bye, could i tell himwhere such a book was?" i showed him the volume on the shelf: hetook it down, and withdrawing to his accustomed window recess, he began to readit. now, i did not like this, reader. st. john was a good man; but i began tofeel he had spoken truth of himself when he said he was hard and cold.

the humanities and amenities of life had noattraction for him--its peaceful enjoyments no charm. literally, he lived only to aspire--afterwhat was good and great, certainly; but still he would never rest, nor approve ofothers resting round him. as i looked at his lofty forehead, stilland pale as a white stone--at his fine lineaments fixed in study--i comprehendedall at once that he would hardly make a good husband: that it would be a tryingthing to be his wife. i understood, as by inspiration, the natureof his love for miss oliver; i agreed with him that it was but a love of the senses.

i comprehended how he should despisehimself for the feverish influence it exercised over him; how he should wish tostifle and destroy it; how he should mistrust its ever conducting permanently tohis happiness or hers. i saw he was of the material from whichnature hews her heroes--christian and pagan--her lawgivers, her statesmen, herconquerors: a steadfast bulwark for great interests to rest upon; but, at the fireside, too often a cold cumbrous column,gloomy and out of place. "this parlour is not his sphere," ireflected: "the himalayan ridge or caffre bush, even the plague-cursed guinea coastswamp would suit him better.

well may he eschew the calm of domesticlife; it is not his element: there his faculties stagnate--they cannot develop orappear to advantage. it is in scenes of strife and danger--wherecourage is proved, and energy exercised, and fortitude tasked--that he will speakand move, the leader and superior. a merry child would have the advantage ofhim on this hearth. he is right to choose a missionary'scareer--i see it now." "they are coming! they are coming!" criedhannah, throwing open the parlour door. at the same moment old carlo barkedjoyfully. out i ran.

it was now dark; but a rumbling of wheelswas audible. hannah soon had a lantern lit. the vehicle had stopped at the wicket; thedriver opened the door: first one well- known form, then another, stepped out. in a minute i had my face under theirbonnets, in contact first with mary's soft cheek, then with diana's flowing curls. they laughed--kissed me--then hannah:patted carlo, who was half wild with delight; asked eagerly if all was well; andbeing assured in the affirmative, hastened into the house.

they were stiff with their long and joltingdrive from whitcross, and chilled with the frosty night air; but their pleasantcountenances expanded to the cheerful firelight. while the driver and hannah brought in theboxes, they demanded st. john. at this moment he advanced from theparlour. they both threw their arms round his neckat once. he gave each one quiet kiss, said in a lowtone a few words of welcome, stood a while to be talked to, and then, intimating thathe supposed they would soon rejoin him in the parlour, withdrew there as to a placeof refuge.

i had lit their candles to go upstairs, butdiana had first to give hospitable orders respecting the driver; this done, bothfollowed me. they were delighted with the renovation anddecorations of their rooms; with the new drapery, and fresh carpets, and rich tintedchina vases: they expressed their gratification ungrudgingly. i had the pleasure of feeling that myarrangements met their wishes exactly, and that what i had done added a vivid charm totheir joyous return home. sweet was that evening. my cousins, full of exhilaration, were soeloquent in narrative and comment, that

their fluency covered st. john'staciturnity: he was sincerely glad to see his sisters; but in their glow of fervourand flow of joy he could not sympathise. the event of the day--that is, the returnof diana and mary--pleased him; but the accompaniments of that event, the gladtumult, the garrulous glee of reception irked him: i saw he wished the calmermorrow was come. in the very meridian of the night'senjoyment, about an hour after tea, a rap was heard at the door. hannah entered with the intimation that "apoor lad was come, at that unlikely time, to fetch mr. rivers to see his mother, whowas drawing away."

"where does she live, hannah?" "clear up at whitcross brow, almost fourmiles 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 darkthat 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 youwill be there in the morning." but he was already in the passage, puttingon his cloak; and without one objection, one murmur, he departed.

it was then nine o'clock: he did not returntill midnight. starved and tired enough he was: but helooked happier than when he set out. he had performed an act of duty; made anexertion; felt his own strength to do and deny, and 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 nosettled employment, but spent it in a sort of merry domestic dissipation. the air of the moors, the freedom of home,the dawn of prosperity, acted on diana and mary's spirits like some life-givingelixir: they were gay from morning till

noon, and from noon till night. they could always talk; and theirdiscourse, witty, pithy, original, had such charms for me, that i preferred listeningto, and sharing in it, to doing anything else. st. john did not rebuke our vivacity; buthe escaped from it: he was seldom in the house; his parish was large, the populationscattered, and he found daily business in visiting the sick and poor in its differentdistricts. one morning at breakfast, diana, afterlooking a little pensive for some minutes, asked him, "if his plans were yetunchanged."

"unchanged and unchangeable," was thereply. and he proceeded to inform us that hisdeparture from england was now definitively fixed for the ensuing year. "and rosamond oliver?" suggested mary, thewords seeming to escape her lips involuntarily: for no sooner had sheuttered them, than she made a gesture as if wishing to recall them. st. john had a book in his hand--it was hisunsocial custom to read at meals--he closed it, and looked up. "rosamond oliver," said he, "is about to bemarried to mr. granby, one of the best

connected and most estimable residents ins-, grandson and heir to sir frederic granby: i had the intelligence from herfather 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 aunion, 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 refittedfor their reception." the first time i found st. john alone afterthis communication, i felt tempted to inquire if the event distressed him: but heseemed so little to need sympathy, that, so far from venturing to offer him more, i experienced some shame at the recollectionof what i had already hazarded. besides, i was out of practice in talkingto him: his reserve was again frozen over, and my frankness was congealed beneath it. he had not kept his promise of treating melike his sisters; he continually made

little chilling differences between us,which did not at all tend to the development of cordiality: in short, now that i was acknowledged his kinswoman, andlived under the same roof with him, i felt the distance between us to be far greaterthan when he had known me only as the village schoolmistress. when i remembered how far i had once beenadmitted to his confidence, i could hardly comprehend his present frigidity. such being the case, i felt not a littlesurprised when he raised his head suddenly from the desk over which he was stooping,and said--

"you see, jane, the battle is fought andthe victory won." startled at being thus addressed, i did notimmediately reply: after a moment's hesitation i answered-- "but are you sure you are not in theposition 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 notmuch 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 saying, he returned to his papers andhis silence.

as our mutual happiness (i.e., diana's,mary's, and mine) settled into a quieter character, and we resumed our usual habitsand regular studies, st. john stayed more at home: he sat with us in the same room,sometimes for hours together. while mary drew, diana pursued a course ofencyclopaedic reading she had (to my awe and amazement) undertaken, and i faggedaway at german, he pondered a mystic lore of his own: that of some eastern tongue, the acquisition of which he thoughtnecessary to his plans. thus engaged, he appeared, sitting in hisown recess, quiet and absorbed enough; but that blue eye of his had a habit of leavingthe outlandish- looking grammar, and

wandering over, and sometimes fixing upon us, his fellow-students, with a curiousintensity of observation: if caught, it would be instantly withdrawn; yet ever andanon, it returned searchingly to our table. i wondered what it meant: i wondered, too,at the punctual satisfaction he never failed to exhibit on an occasion thatseemed to me of small moment, namely, my weekly visit to morton school; and still more was i puzzled when, if the day wasunfavourable, if there was snow, or rain, or high wind, and his sisters urged me notto go, he would invariably make light of their solicitude, and encourage me to

accomplish the task without regard to theelements. "jane is not such a weakling as you wouldmake her," he would say: "she can bear a mountain blast, or a shower, or a fewflakes of snow, as well as any of us. her constitution is both sound andelastic;--better calculated to endure variations of climate than many morerobust." and when i returned, sometimes a good dealtired, and not a little weather-beaten, i never dared complain, because i saw that tomurmur would be to vex him: on all occasions fortitude pleased him; thereverse was a special annoyance. one afternoon, however, i got leave to stayat home, because i really had a cold.

his sisters were gone to morton in mystead: i sat reading schiller; he, deciphering his crabbed oriental scrolls. as i exchanged a translation for anexercise, i happened to look his way: there i found myself under the influence of theever-watchful blue eye. how long it had been searching me throughand through, and over and over, i cannot tell: so keen was it, and yet so cold, ifelt for the moment superstitious--as if i were sitting in the room with somethinguncanny. "jane, what are you doing?""learning german." "i want you to give up german and learnhindostanee."

"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 hindostaneewas the language he was himself at present studying; that, as he advanced, he was aptto forget the commencement; that it would assist him greatly to have a pupil with whom he might again and again go over theelements, and so fix them thoroughly in his mind; that his choice had hovered for sometime between me and his sisters; but that he had fixed on me because he saw i couldsit at a task the longest of the three. would i do him this favour?

i should not, perhaps, have to make thesacrifice long, as it wanted now barely three months to his departure. st. john was not a man to be lightlyrefused: you felt that every impression made on him, either for pain or pleasure,was deep-graved and permanent. i consented. when diana and mary returned, the formerfound her scholar transferred from her to her brother: she laughed, and both she andmary agreed that st. john should never have persuaded them to such a step. he answered quietly--"i know it."

i found him a very patient, veryforbearing, and yet an exacting master: he expected me to do a great deal; and when ifulfilled his expectations, he, in his own way, fully testified his approbation. by degrees, he acquired a certain influenceover me that took away my liberty of mind: his praise and notice were more restrainingthan his indifference. i could no longer talk or laugh freely whenhe was by, because a tiresomely importunate instinct reminded me that vivacity (atleast in me) was distasteful to him. i was so fully aware that only seriousmoods and occupations were acceptable, that in his presence every effort to sustain orfollow 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 sistersand i stood round him, bidding him good- night, he kissed each of them, as was hiscustom; and, as was equally his custom, he gave me his hand. diana, who chanced to be in a frolicsomehumour (she was not painfully controlled by his will; for hers, in another way, wasas strong), exclaimed--

"st. john! you used to call jane your thirdsister, but you don't treat her as such: you should kiss her too."she pushed me towards him. i thought diana very provoking, and feltuncomfortably confused; and while i was thus thinking and feeling, st. john benthis head; his greek face was brought to a level with mine, his eyes questioned myeyes piercingly--he kissed me. there are no such things as marble kissesor ice kisses, or i should say my ecclesiastical cousin's salute belonged toone of these classes; but there may be experiment kisses, and his was anexperiment kiss. when given, he viewed me to learn theresult; it was not striking: i am sure i

did not blush; perhaps i might have turneda little pale, for i felt as if this kiss were a seal affixed to my fetters. he never omitted the ceremony afterwards,and the gravity and quiescence with which i underwent it, seemed to invest it for himwith a certain charm. as for me, i daily wished more to pleasehim; but to do so, i felt daily more and more that i must disown half my nature,stifle half my faculties, wrest my tastes from their original bent, force myself to the adoption of pursuits for which i had nonatural vocation. he wanted to train me to an elevation icould never reach; it racked me hourly to

aspire to the standard he uplifted. the thing was as impossible as to mould myirregular features to his correct and classic pattern, to give to my changeablegreen eyes the sea-blue tint and solemn lustre of his own. not his ascendancy alone, however, held mein thrall at present. of late it had been easy enough for me tolook sad: a cankering evil sat at my heart and drained my happiness at its source--theevil of suspense. perhaps you think i had forgotten mr.rochester, reader, amidst these changes of place and fortune.not for a moment.

his idea was still with me, because it wasnot a vapour sunshine could disperse, nor a sand-traced effigy storms could wash away;it was a name graven on a tablet, fated to last as long as the marble it inscribed. the craving to know what had become of himfollowed me everywhere; when i was at morton, i re-entered my cottage everyevening to think of that; and now at moor house, i sought my bedroom each night tobrood over it. in the course of my necessarycorrespondence with mr. briggs about the will, i had inquired if he knew anything ofmr. rochester's present residence and state of health; but, as st. john had

conjectured, he was quite ignorant of allconcerning him. i then wrote to mrs. fairfax, entreatinginformation on the subject. i had calculated with certainty on thisstep answering my end: i felt sure it would elicit an early answer. i was astonished when a fortnight passedwithout reply; but when two months wore away, and day after day the post arrivedand brought nothing for me, i fell a prey to the keenest anxiety. i wrote again: there was a chance of myfirst letter having missed. renewed hope followed renewed effort: itshone like the former for some weeks, then,

like it, it faded, flickered: not a line,not a word reached me. when half a year wasted in vain expectancy,my hope died out, and then i felt dark indeed.a fine spring shone round me, which i could not enjoy. summer approached; diana tried to cheer me:she said i looked ill, and wished to accompany me to the sea-side. this st. john opposed; he said i did notwant dissipation, i wanted employment; my present life was too purposeless, irequired an aim; and, i suppose, by way of supplying deficiencies, he prolonged still

further my lessons in hindostanee, and grewmore urgent in requiring their accomplishment: and i, like a fool, neverthought of resisting him--i could not resist him. one day i had come to my studies in lowerspirits than usual; the ebb was occasioned by a poignantly felt disappointment. hannah had told me in the morning there wasa letter for me, and when i went down to take it, almost certain that the long-looked for tidings were vouchsafed me at last, i found only an unimportant note frommr. briggs on business. the bitter check had wrung from me sometears; and now, as i sat poring over the

crabbed characters and flourishing tropesof an indian scribe, my eyes filled again. st. john called me to his side to read; inattempting to do this my voice failed me: words were lost in sobs. he and i were the only occupants of theparlour: diana was practising her music in the drawing-room, mary was gardening--itwas a very fine may day, clear, sunny, and breezy. my companion expressed no surprise at thisemotion, nor 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 allhaste, he sat calm and patient, leaning on his desk, and looking like a physicianwatching with the eye of science an expected and fully understood crisis in apatient's malady. having stifled my sobs, wiped my eyes, andmuttered something about not being very well that morning, i resumed my task, andsucceeded in completing it. st. john put away my books and his, lockedhis desk, and said-- "now, jane, you shall take a walk; and withme." "i will call diana and mary." "no; i want only one companion thismorning, 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 haveknown any medium in my dealings with positive, hard characters, antagonistic tomy own, between absolute submission and determined revolt. i have always faithfully observed the one,up to the very moment of bursting, sometimes with volcanic vehemence, into theother; and as neither present circumstances warranted, nor my present mood inclined me to mutiny, i observed careful obedience tost. john's directions; and in ten minutes i

was treading the wild track of the glen,side by side with him. the breeze was from the west: it came overthe hills, sweet with scents of heath and rush; the sky was of stainless blue; thestream descending the ravine, swelled with past spring rains, poured along plentiful and clear, catching golden gleams from thesun, and sapphire tints from the firmament. as we advanced and left the track, we troda soft turf, mossy fine and emerald green, minutely enamelled with a tiny whiteflower, and spangled with a star-like yellow blossom: the hills, meantime, shut us quite in; for the glen, towards itshead, wound to their very core.

"let us rest here," said st. john, as wereached the first stragglers of a battalion of rocks, guarding a sort of pass, beyondwhich the beck rushed down a waterfall; and where, still a little farther, the mountain shook off turf and flower, had only heathfor raiment and crag for gem--where it exaggerated the wild to the savage, andexchanged the fresh for the frowning--where it guarded the forlorn hope of solitude,and 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 stream, and returned to traverse the uncloudedheaven which coloured it: he removed his

hat, let the breeze stir his hair and kisshis brow. he seemed in communion with the genius ofthe haunt: with his eye he bade farewell to something. "and i shall see it again," he said aloud,"in dreams when i sleep by the ganges: and again in a more remote hour--when anotherslumber 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 neverspoke; neither he to me nor i to him: that

interval past, he recommenced-- "jane, i go in six weeks; i have taken myberth 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 he, "there 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 donot burn to enlist under the same banner,--

to join in the same enterprise." "all have not your powers, and it would befolly for the feeble to wish to march with the strong." "i do not speak to the feeble, or think ofthem: 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 rightto stir them up--to urge and exhort them to the effort--to show them what their giftsare, and why they were given--to speak heaven's message in their ear,--to offer

them, direct from god, a place in the ranksof 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 framinground and gathering over me: i trembled to hear some fatal word spoken which would atonce declare and rivet the spell. "and what does your heart say?" demandedst. john. "my heart is mute,--my heart is mute," ianswered, struck and thrilled. "then i must speak for it," continued thedeep, relentless voice. "jane, come with me to india: come as myhelpmeet and fellow-labourer."

the glen and sky spun round: the hillsheaved! it was as if i had heard a summons fromheaven--as if a visionary messenger, like him of macedonia, had enounced, "come overand help us!" but i was no apostle,--i could not beholdthe herald,--i could not receive his call. "oh, st. john!"i cried, "have some mercy!" i appealed to one who, in the discharge ofwhat he believed his duty, knew neither mercy nor remorse.he continued-- "god and nature intended you for amissionary's wife. it is not personal, but mental endowmentsthey 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 firstobjections: he was not irritated by them. indeed, as he leaned back against the cragbehind him, folded his arms on his chest, and fixed his countenance, i saw he wasprepared for a long and trying opposition, and had taken in a stock of patience to last him to its close--resolved, however,that that close should be conquest for him.

"humility, jane," said he, "is thegroundwork 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 thechiefest of sinners; but i do not suffer this sense of my personal vileness to dauntme. i know my leader: that he is just as wellas mighty; and while he has chosen a feeble instrument to perform a great task, hewill, from the boundless stores of his providence, supply the inadequacy of themeans to the end.

think like me, jane--trust like me. it is the rock of ages i ask you to leanon: 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 theaid you want: i can set you your task from hour to hour; stand by you always; help youfrom moment to moment. this i could do in the beginning: soon (fori know your powers) you would be as strong and apt as myself, and would not require myhelp." "but my powers--where are they for thisundertaking?

i do not feel them.nothing speaks or stirs in me while you talk. i am sensible of no light kindling--no lifequickening--no voice counselling or cheering. oh, i wish i could make you see how much mymind is at this moment like a rayless dungeon, with one shrinking fear fetteredin its depths--the fear of being persuaded by you to attempt what i cannotaccomplish!" "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 sundrytests: and what have i seen and elicited? in the village school i found you couldperform well, punctually, uprightly, labour uncongenial to your habits andinclinations; i saw you could perform it with capacity and tact: you could win whileyou controlled. in the calm with which you learnt you hadbecome suddenly rich, i read a mind clear of the vice of demas:--lucre had no unduepower over you. in the resolute readiness with which youcut your wealth into four shares, keeping but one to yourself, and relinquishing thethree others to the claim of abstract justice, i recognised a soul that revelledin 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 itinterested me; in the untiring assiduity with which you have since persevered in it- -in the unflagging energy and unshakentemper with which you have met its difficulties--i acknowledge the complementof 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 ahelper 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 would, these last wordsof his succeeded in making the way, which had seemed blocked up, comparatively clear. my work, which had appeared so vague, sohopelessly diffuse, condensed itself as he proceeded, and assumed a definite formunder his shaping hand. he waited for an answer. i demanded a quarter of an hour to think,before i again hazarded a reply. "very willingly," he rejoined; and rising,he strode a little distance up the pass,

threw himself down on a swell of heath, andthere lay still. {he threw himself down on a swell of heath,and there lay still: p389.jpg} "i can do what he wants me to do: i amforced to see and acknowledge that," i meditated,--"that is, if life be spared me. but i feel mine is not the existence to belong protracted under an indian sun. what then? he does not care for that: when my timecame to die, he would resign me, in all serenity and sanctity, to the god who gaveme. the case is very plain before me.

in leaving england, i should leave a lovedbut empty land--mr. rochester is not there; and if he were, what is, what can that everbe to me? my business is to live without him now:nothing so absurd, so weak as to drag on from day to day, as if i were waiting someimpossible change in circumstances, which might reunite me to him. of course (as st. john once said) i mustseek another interest in life to replace the one lost: is not the occupation he nowoffers me truly the most glorious man can adopt or god assign? is it not, by its noble cares and sublimeresults, the one best calculated to fill

the void left by uptorn affections anddemolished hopes? i believe i must say, yes--and yet ishudder. alas!if i join st. john, i abandon half myself: if i go to india, i go to premature death. and how will the interval between leavingengland for india, and india for the grave, be filled?oh, i know well! that, too, is very clear to my vision. by straining to satisfy st. john till mysinews ache, i shall satisfy him--to the finest central point and farthest outwardcircle of his expectations.

if i do go with him--if i do make thesacrifice he urges, i will make it absolutely: i will throw all on the altar--heart, vitals, the entire victim. he will never love me; but he shall approveme; i will show him energies he has not yet seen, resources he has never suspected.yes, i can work as hard as he can, and 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, andhas no more of a husband's heart for me than that frowning giant of a rock, downwhich the stream is foaming in yonder gorge.

he prizes me as a soldier would a goodweapon; and that is all. unmarried to him, this would never grieveme; but can i let him complete his calculations--coolly put into practice hisplans--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 knowthat the spirit was quite absent? can i bear the consciousness that everyendearment 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--notas his wife: i will tell him so."

i looked towards the knoll: there he lay,still as a prostrate column; his face turned to me: his eye beaming watchful andkeen. he started to his feet and approached me. "i am ready to go to india, if i may gofree." "your answer requires a commentary," hesaid; "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 thiscase. if you were my real sister it would bedifferent: i should take you, and seek no

wife. but as it is, either our union must beconsecrated and sealed by marriage, or it cannot exist: practical obstacles opposethemselves to any other plan. do you not see it, jane? consider a moment--your strong sense willguide you." i did consider; and still my sense, such asit was, directed me only to the fact that we did not love each other as man and wifeshould: and therefore it inferred we ought not to marry. i said so."st. john," i returned, "i regard you as a

brother--you, me as a sister: so let uscontinue." "we cannot--we cannot," he answered, withshort, sharp 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 mefrom england, the co-operation with me in my future labours--you do not object. you have already as good as put your handto the plough: you are too consistent to withdraw it.

you have but one end to keep in view--howthe work you have undertaken can best be done. simplify your complicated interests,feelings, thoughts, wishes, aims; merge all considerations in one purpose: that offulfilling with effect--with power--the mission of your great master. to do so, you must have a coadjutor: not abrother--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 caninfluence efficiently in life, and retain

absolutely till death." i shuddered as he spoke: i felt hisinfluence 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--fittedto my vocation. again i tell you it is not theinsignificant private individual--the mere man, with the man's selfish senses--i wishto mate: it is the missionary." "and i will give the missionary myenergies--it is all he wants--but not myself: that would be only adding the huskand 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 isunder his standard i enlist you. i cannot accept on his behalf a dividedallegiance: it must be entire." "oh! i will give my heart to god," i said. "you do not want it."i will not swear, reader, that there was not something of repressed sarcasm both inthe tone in which i uttered this sentence, and in the feeling that accompanied it.

i had silently feared st. john till now,because i had not understood him. he had held me in awe, because he had heldme in doubt. how much of him was saint, how much mortal,i could not heretofore tell: but revelations were being made in thisconference: the analysis of his nature was proceeding before my eyes. i saw his fallibilities: i comprehendedthem. i understood that, sitting there where idid, on the bank of heath, and with that handsome form before me, i sat at the feetof a man, caring as i. the veil fell from his hardness anddespotism.

having felt in him the presence of thesequalities, i felt his imperfection and took courage. i was with an equal--one with whom i mightargue--one whom, if i saw good, i might resist. he was silent after i had uttered the lastsentence, and i presently risked an upward glance at his countenance.his eye, bent on me, expressed at once stern surprise and keen inquiry. "is she sarcastic, and sarcastic to me!"it seemed to say. "what does this signify?"

"do not let us forget that this is a solemnmatter," he said ere long; "one of which we may neither think nor talk lightly withoutsin. i trust, jane, you are in earnest when yousay you will serve your heart to god: it is all i want. once wrench your heart from man, and fix iton your maker, the advancement of that maker's spiritual kingdom on earth will beyour chief delight and endeavour; you will be ready to do at once whatever furthersthat end. you will see what impetus would be given toyour efforts and mine by our physical and mental union in marriage: the only unionthat gives a character of permanent

conformity to the destinies and designs of human beings; and, passing over all minorcaprices--all trivial difficulties and delicacies of feeling--all scruple aboutthe degree, kind, strength or tenderness of mere personal inclination--you will hastento enter into that union at once." "shall i?" i said briefly; and i looked at hisfeatures, beautiful in their harmony, but strangely formidable in their stillseverity; at his brow, commanding but not open; at his eyes, bright and deep and searching, but never soft; at his tallimposing figure; and fancied myself in idea

his wife.oh! it would never do! as his curate, his comrade, all would beright: i would cross oceans with him in that capacity; toil under eastern suns, inasian deserts with him in that office; admire and emulate his courage and devotion and vigour; accommodate quietly to hismasterhood; smile undisturbed at his ineradicable ambition; discriminate thechristian from the man: profoundly esteem the one, and freely forgive the other. i should suffer often, no doubt, attachedto him only in this capacity: my body would be under rather a stringent yoke, but myheart and mind would be free.

i should still have my unblighted self toturn to: my natural unenslaved feelings with which to communicate in moments ofloneliness. there would be recesses in my mind whichwould be only mine, to which he never came, and sentiments growing there fresh andsheltered which his austerity could never blight, nor his measured warrior-march trample down: but as his wife--at his sidealways, and always restrained, and always checked--forced to keep the fire of mynature continually low, to compel it to burn inwardly and never utter a cry, though the imprisoned flame consumed vital aftervital--this would be unendurable.

"st. john!"i exclaimed, when 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 yourwife; i cannot marry you and become part of you." "a part of me you must become," he answeredsteadily; "otherwise the whole bargain is void. how can i, a man not yet thirty, take outwith me to india a girl of nineteen, unless she be married to me?

how can we be for ever together--sometimesin solitudes, sometimes amidst savage tribes--and unwed?" "very well," i said shortly; "under thecircumstances, quite as well as if i were either your real sister, or a man and aclergyman like yourself." "it is known that you are not my sister; icannot introduce you as such: to attempt it would be to fasten injurious suspicions onus both. and for the rest, though you have a man'svigorous brain, you have a woman's heart and--it would not do.""it would do," i affirmed with some disdain, "perfectly well.

i have a woman's heart, but not where youare concerned; for you i have only a comrade's constancy; a fellow-soldier'sfrankness, fidelity, fraternity, if you like; a neophyte's respect and submission to his hierophant: nothing more--don'tfear." "it is what i want," he said, speaking tohimself; "it is just what i want. and there are obstacles in the way: theymust be hewn down. jane, you would not repent marrying me--becertain of that; we must be married. i repeat it: there is no other way; andundoubtedly enough of love would follow upon marriage to render the union righteven in your eyes."

"i scorn your idea of love," i could nothelp saying, as i rose up and stood before him, leaning my back against the rock. "i scorn the counterfeit sentiment youoffer: yes, st. john, and i scorn you when you offer it."he looked at me fixedly, compressing his well-cut lips while he did so. whether he was incensed or surprised, orwhat, it was not easy to tell: he could command his countenance thoroughly. "i scarcely expected to hear thatexpression from you," he said: "i think i have done and uttered nothing to deservescorn."

i was touched by his gentle tone, andoverawed by his high, calm mien. "forgive me the words, st. john; but it isyour own fault that i have been roused to speak so unguardedly. you have introduced a topic on which ournatures are at variance--a topic we should never discuss: the very name of love is anapple of discord between us. if the reality were required, what shouldwe do? how should we feel?my dear cousin, abandon your scheme of marriage--forget it." "no," said he; "it is a long-cherishedscheme, and the only one which can secure

my great end: but i shall urge you nofurther at present. to-morrow, i leave home for cambridge: ihave many friends there to whom i should wish to say farewell. i shall be absent a fortnight--take thatspace of time to consider my offer: and do not forget that if you reject it, it is notme you deny, but god. through my means, he opens to you a noblecareer; as my wife only can you enter upon it. refuse to be my wife, and you limityourself for ever to a track of selfish ease and barren obscurity.

tremble lest in that case you should benumbered with those who have denied the faith, and are worse than infidels!"he had done. turning from me, he 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 themuttered. as i walked by his side homeward, i readwell in his iron silence all he felt towards me: the disappointment of anaustere and despotic nature, which has met resistance where it expected submission-- the disapprobation of a cool, inflexiblejudgment, which has detected in another

feelings and views in which it has no powerto sympathise: in short, as a man, he would have wished to coerce me into obedience: it was only as a sincere christian he bore sopatiently with my perversity, and allowed so long a space for reflection andrepentance. that night, after he had kissed hissisters, he thought proper to forget even to shake hands with me, but left the roomin silence. i--who, though i had no love, had muchfriendship for him--was hurt by the marked omission: so much hurt that tears startedto my eyes. "i see you and st. john have beenquarrelling, jane," said diana, "during

your walk on the moor. but go after him; he is now lingering inthe passage expecting you--he will make it up." i have not much pride under suchcircumstances: 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 cold, loose touch, he impressed onmy fingers! he was deeply displeased by what hadoccurred that day; cordiality would not

warm, nor tears move him. no happy reconciliation was to be had withhim--no cheering smile or generous word: but still the christian was patient andplacid; and when i asked him if he forgave me, he answered that he was not in the habit of cherishing the remembrance ofvexation; that he had nothing to forgive, not 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 nextday, as he had said he would. he deferred his departure a whole week, andduring that time he made me feel what severe punishment a good yet stern, aconscientious yet implacable man can inflict on one who has offended him. without one overt act of hostility, oneupbraiding word, he contrived to impress me momently with the conviction that i was putbeyond the pale of his favour. not that st. john harboured a spirit ofunchristian vindictiveness--not that he would have injured a hair of my head, if ithad been fully in his power to do so. both by nature and principle, he wassuperior to the mean gratification of

vengeance: he had forgiven me for saying iscorned him and his love, but he had not forgotten the words; and as long as he andi lived he never would forget them. i saw by his look, when he turned to me,that they were always written on the air between me and him; whenever i spoke, theysounded in my voice to his ear, and 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 thecorrupt man within him had a pleasure unimparted to, and unshared by, the pure christian, in evincing with what skill hecould, while acting and speaking apparently

just as usual, extract from every deed andevery phrase the spirit of interest and approval which had formerly communicated a certain austere charm to his language andmanner. to me, he was in reality become no longerflesh, but marble; his eye was a cold, bright, blue gem; his tongue a speakinginstrument--nothing more. all this was torture to me--refined,lingering torture. it kept up a slow fire of indignation and atrembling trouble of grief, which harassed and crushed me altogether. i felt how--if i were his wife, this goodman, pure as the deep sunless source, could

soon kill me, without drawing from my veinsa single drop of blood, or receiving on his own crystal conscience the faintest stainof crime. especially i felt this when i made anyattempt to propitiate him. no ruth met my ruth. he experienced no suffering fromestrangement--no yearning after reconciliation; and though, more than once,my fast falling tears blistered the page over which we both bent, they produced no more effect on him than if his heart hadbeen really a matter of stone or metal. to his sisters, meantime, he was somewhatkinder than usual: as if afraid that mere

coldness would not sufficiently convince mehow completely i was banished and banned, he added the force of contrast; and this i am sure he did not by force, but onprinciple. the night before he left home, happening tosee him walking in the garden about sunset, and remembering, as i looked at him, thatthis man, alienated as he now was, had once saved my life, and that we were near relations, i was moved to make a lastattempt to regain his friendship. i went out and approached him as he stoodleaning over the little gate; i spoke to the point at once.

"st. john, i am unhappy because you arestill angry with me. let us be friends." "i hope we are friends," was the unmovedreply; while he still watched the rising of the moon, which he had been contemplatingas i approached. "no, st. john, we are not friends as wewere. you know that.""are we not? that is wrong. for my part, i wish you no ill and allgood." "i believe you, st. john; for i am sure youare incapable of wishing any one ill; but,

as i am your kinswoman, i should desiresomewhat more of affection than that sort of general philanthropy you extend to merestrangers." "of course," he said."your wish is reasonable, and i am far from regarding you as a stranger." this, spoken in a cool, tranquil tone, wasmortifying and baffling enough. had i attended to the suggestions of prideand ire, i should immediately have left him; but something worked within me morestrongly than those feelings could. i deeply venerated my cousin's talent andprinciple. his friendship was of value to me: to loseit tried me severely.

i would not so soon relinquish the attemptto reconquer it. "must we part in this way, st. john? and when you go to india, will you leave meso, without a kinder word than you have yet spoken?"he now turned quite from the moon and faced "when i go to india, jane, will i leaveyou! what! do you not go to india?""you said i could not unless i married "and you will not marry me!you adhere to that resolution?" reader, do you know, as i do, what terrorthose cold people can put into the ice of their questions?

how much of the fall of the avalanche is intheir 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 littleforward, but it did not yet crash down. "once more, why this refusal?" he asked. "formerly," i answered, "because you didnot 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--quitewhite.

"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 manto forgive his fellow even until seventy- and-seven times." i had finished the business now. while earnestly wishing to erase from hismind the trace of my former offence, i had stamped on that tenacious surface anotherand far deeper impression, i 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 ofyou." a fresh wrong did these words inflict: theworse, because they touched on the truth. that bloodless lip quivered to a temporaryspasm. i knew the steely ire i had whetted. i was heart-wrung."you utterly misinterpret my words," i said, at once seizing his hand: "i have nointention to grieve or pain you--indeed, i have not." most bitterly he smiled--most decidedly hewithdrew his hand from mine.

"and now you recall your promise, and willnot go to india at all, i presume?" said he, after a considerable pause. "yes, i will, as your assistant," ianswered. a very long silence succeeded. what struggle there was in him betweennature and grace in this interval, i cannot tell: only singular gleams scintillated inhis eyes, and 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 toaccompany abroad a single man of mine.

i proved it to you in such terms as, ishould 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 sense, st. john: you are verging on nonsense. you pretend to be shocked by what i havesaid. you are not really shocked: for, with yoursuperior mind, you cannot be either so dull or so conceited as to misunderstand mymeaning.

i say again, i will be your curate, if youlike, but never your wife." again he turned lividly pale; but, asbefore, controlled his passion perfectly. he answered emphatically but calmly-- "a female curate, who is not my wife, wouldnever suit me. with me, then, it seems, you cannot go: butif you are sincere in your offer, i will, while in town, speak to a marriedmissionary, whose wife needs a coadjutor. your own fortune will make you independentof the society's aid; and thus you may still be spared the dishonour of breakingyour promise and deserting the band you engaged to join."

now i never had, as the reader knows,either given any formal promise or entered into any engagement; and this language wasall 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 convincedthat, go when and with whom i would, i should not live long in that climate."

"ah! you are afraid of yourself," he said,curling 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 committingsuicide. moreover, before i definitively resolve onquitting england, i will know for certain whether i cannot be of greater use byremaining in it than by leaving it." "what do you mean?" "it would be fruitless to attempt toexplain; but there is a point on which i have long endured painful doubt, and i cango nowhere till by some means that doubt is

removed." "i know where your heart turns and to whatit clings. the interest you cherish is lawless andunconsecrated. 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 said, "toremember you in my prayers, and to entreat god for you, in all earnestness, that youmay not indeed become a castaway.

i had thought i recognised in you one ofthe chosen. but god sees not as man sees: his will bedone--" he opened the gate, passed through it, andstrayed away down the glen. he was soon out of sight. on re-entering the parlour, i found dianastanding at the window, looking very thoughtful. diana was a great deal taller than i: sheput her hand on my shoulder, and, stooping, examined my face."jane," she said, "you 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 thewindow; you must forgive my being such a spy, but for a long time i have fancied ihardly know what. st. john is a strange being--" she paused--i did not speak: soon sheresumed-- "that brother of mine cherishes peculiarviews of some sort respecting you, i am sure: he has long distinguished you by anotice 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; "no, die, not one whit." "then why does he follow you so with hiseyes, and get you so frequently alone with him, and keep you so continually at hisside? mary and i had both concluded he wished youto 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 him, jane, won't you?and then he will stay in england." "far from that, diana; his sole idea inproposing 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 there, iam certain. you never shall go: you have not consented,have you, jane?" "i have refused to marry him--" "and have consequently displeased him?" shesuggested. "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 eventhe strong, and you are weak. st. john--you know him--would urge you toimpossibilities: 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 refusehis 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 giveup all thoughts of going out with her brother. "i must indeed," i said; "for when just nowi repeated the offer of serving him for a deacon, he expressed himself shocked at mywant of decency. he seemed to think i had committed animpropriety in proposing to accompany him unmarried: as if i had not from the firsthoped to find in him a brother, and 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 isnot 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 forlove, it follows that i am not formed for marriage. would it not be strange, die, to be chainedfor life to a man who regarded one but as a useful tool?""insupportable--unnatural--out of the

question!" "and then," i continued, "though i haveonly sisterly affection for him now, yet, if forced to be his wife, i can imagine thepossibility of conceiving an inevitable, strange, torturing kind of love for him, because he is so talented; and there isoften 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 ishowed 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," saiddiana. "he is a good and a great man; but heforgets, pitilessly, the feelings and claims of little people, in pursuing hisown large views. it is better, therefore, for theinsignificant to keep out of his way, lest, in his progress, he should trample themdown. 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 ascomposed as usual. i had thought he would hardly speak to me,and i was certain he had given up the pursuit of his matrimonial scheme: thesequel showed i was mistaken on both points. he addressed me precisely in his ordinarymanner, or what had, of late, been his ordinary manner--one scrupulously polite. no doubt he had invoked the help of theholy spirit to subdue the anger i had roused in him, and now believed he hadforgiven me once more.

for the evening reading before prayers, heselected the twenty-first chapter of revelation. it was at all times pleasant to listenwhile from his lips fell the words of the bible: never did his fine voice sound atonce so sweet and full--never did his manner become so impressive in its noble simplicity, as when he delivered theoracles of god: and to-night that voice took a more solemn tone--that manner a morethrilling meaning--as he sat in the midst of his household circle (the may moon shining in through the uncurtained window,and rendering almost unnecessary the light

of the candle on the table): as he satthere, bending over the great old bible, and described from its page the vision of the new heaven and the new earth--told howgod would come to dwell with men, how he would wipe away all tears from their eyes,and promised that there should be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, nor any more pain, because the former things werepassed away. the succeeding words thrilled me strangelyas he spoke them: especially as i felt, by the slight, indescribable alteration insound, that in uttering them, his eye had turned on me.

"he that overcometh shall inherit allthings; and i will be his god, and he shall be my son. but," was slowly, distinctly read, "thefearful, the unbelieving, &c., shall have their part in the lake which burneth withfire and brimstone, which is the second death." henceforward, i knew what fate st. johnfeared for me. a calm, subdued triumph, blent with alonging earnestness, marked his enunciation of the last glorious verses of that chapter. the reader believed his name was alreadywritten in the lamb's book of life, and he

yearned after the hour which should admithim 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 it,because the glory of god lightens it, and the lamb is the light thereof. in the prayer following the chapter, allhis energy gathered--all his stern zeal woke: he was in deep earnest, wrestlingwith god, and resolved on a conquest. he supplicated strength for the weak-hearted; guidance for wanderers from the fold: a return, even at the eleventh hour,for those whom the temptations of the world and the flesh were luring from the narrowpath.

he asked, he urged, he claimed the boon ofa brand snatched from the burning. earnestness is ever deeply solemn: first,as i listened to that prayer, i wondered at his; then, when it continued and rose, iwas touched by it, and at last awed. he felt the greatness and goodness of hispurpose so sincerely: others who heard him plead for it, could not but feel it too. the prayer over, we took leave of him: hewas to go at a very early hour in the morning. diana and mary having kissed him, left theroom--in compliance, i think, with a whispered hint from him: i tendered myhand, and wished him a pleasant journey.

"thank you, jane. as i said, i shall return from cambridge ina fortnight: that space, then, is yet left you for reflection. if i listened to human pride, i should sayno more to you of marriage with me; but i listen to my duty, and keep steadily inview my first aim--to do all things to the glory of god. my master was long-suffering: so will i be.i cannot give you up to perdition as a vessel of wrath: repent--resolve, whilethere is yet time. remember, we are bid to work while it isday--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 betterpart which shall not be taken from you!" he laid his hand on my head as he utteredthe last words. he had spoken earnestly, mildly: his lookwas not, indeed, that of a lover beholding his mistress, but it was that of a pastorrecalling his wandering sheep--or better, of a guardian angel watching the soul forwhich he is responsible. all men of talent, whether they be men offeeling or not; whether they be zealots, or aspirants, or despots--provided only theybe sincere--have their sublime moments,

when they subdue and rule. i felt veneration for st. john--venerationso 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 losemy own. i was almost as hard beset by him now as ihad been once before, in a different way, by another.i was a fool both times. to have yielded then would have been anerror of principle; to have yielded now would have been an error of judgment.

so i think at this hour, when i look backto the crisis through the quiet medium of time: i was unconscious of folly at theinstant. i stood motionless under my hierophant'stouch. my refusals were forgotten--my fearsovercome--my wrestlings paralysed. the impossible--i.e., my marriage withst. john--was fast becoming the possible. all was changing utterly with a suddensweep. religion called--angels beckoned--godcommanded--life rolled together like a scroll--death's gates opening, showedeternity beyond: it seemed, that for safety and bliss there, all here might besacrificed in a second.

the dim room was full of visions."could you decide now?" asked the missionary. the inquiry was put in gentle tones: hedrew me to him as gently. oh, that gentleness! how far more potent isit than force! i could resist st. john's wrath: i grewpliant as a reed under his kindness. yet i knew all the time, if i yielded now,i should not the less be made to repent, some day, of my former rebellion. his nature was not changed by one hour ofsolemn prayer: it was only elevated. "i could decide if i were but certain," ianswered: "were i but convinced that it is

god's will i should marry you, i could vowto marry you here and now--come afterwards what would!" "my prayers are heard!" ejaculated st.john. he pressed his hand firmer on my head, asif he claimed me: he surrounded me with his arm, almost as if he loved me (i sayalmost--i knew the difference--for i had felt what it was to be loved; but, like him, i had now put love out of thequestion, and thought only of duty). i contended with my inward dimness ofvision, before which clouds yet rolled. i sincerely, deeply, fervently longed to dowhat was right; and only that.

"show me, show 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 all,except st. john and myself, were now retired to rest.the one candle was dying out: the room was full of moonlight. my heart beat fast and thick: i heard itsthrob. suddenly it stood still to an inexpressiblefeeling that thrilled it through, and passed at once to my head and extremities.

the feeling was not like an electric shock,but it was quite as sharp, as strange, as startling: it acted on my senses as iftheir utmost activity hitherto had been but torpor, from which they were now summonedand forced to wake. they rose expectant: eye and ear waitedwhile the flesh quivered on my bones. "what have you heard? what do you see?" asked st. john.i saw nothing, but i heard a voice somewhere cry--"jane! jane! jane!"--nothing more."o god! what is it?"

i gasped. i might have said, "where is it?" for itdid not seem in the room--nor in the house- -nor in the garden; it did not come out ofthe air--nor from under the earth--nor from overhead. i had heard it--where, or whence, for everimpossible to know! and it was the voice of a human being--aknown, loved, well-remembered voice--that of edward fairfax rochester; and it spokein pain and woe, wildly, eerily, urgently. "i am coming!" i cried."wait for me!

oh, i 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 commented, as that spectre rose up blackby the black yew at the gate. "this is not thy deception, nor thywitchcraft: it is the work of nature.

she was roused, and did--no miracle--buther best." i broke from st. john, who had followed,and 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 wouldbe alone. he obeyed at once. where there is energy to command wellenough, obedience 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's, but effectivein its own fashion.

i seemed to penetrate very near a mightyspirit; and my soul rushed out in gratitude at his feet. i rose from the thanksgiving--took aresolve--and lay down, unscared, enlightened--eager but for the daylight. chapter xxxvi the daylight came.i rose at dawn. i busied myself for an hour or two witharranging my things in my chamber, drawers, and wardrobe, in the order wherein i shouldwish to leave them during a brief absence. meantime, i heard st. john quit his room.

he stopped at my door: i feared he wouldknock--no, but 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 thechristian's cross and the angel's crown. i shall expect your clear decision when ireturn this day fortnight. meantime, watch and pray that you enter notinto 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 mentally, "iswilling to do what is right; and my flesh, i hope, is strong enough to accomplish thewill of heaven, when once that will is distinctly known to me. at any rate, it shall be strong enough tosearch--inquire--to grope an outlet from this cloud of doubt, and find the open dayof certainty." it was the first of june; yet the morningwas overcast and chilly: rain beat fast on my casement.i heard the front-door open, and st. john pass out. looking through the window, i saw himtraverse the garden.

he took the way over the misty moors in thedirection of whitcross--there he would meet the coach. "in a few more hours i shall succeed you inthat track, cousin," thought i: "i too have a coach to meet at whitcross.i too have some to see and ask after in england, before i depart for ever." it wanted yet two hours of breakfast-time.i filled the interval in walking softly about my room, and pondering the visitationwhich had given my plans their present bent. i recalled that inward sensation i hadexperienced: for i could recall it, with

all its unspeakable strangeness. i recalled the voice i had heard; again iquestioned whence it came, as vainly as before: it seemed in me--not in theexternal world. i asked was it a mere nervous impression--adelusion? i could not conceive or believe: it wasmore like an inspiration. the wondrous shock of feeling had come likethe earthquake which shook the foundations of paul and silas's prison; it had openedthe doors of the soul's cell and loosed its bands--it had wakened it out of its sleep, whence it sprang trembling, listening,aghast; then vibrated thrice a cry on my

startled ear, and in my quaking heart andthrough my spirit, which neither feared nor shook, but exulted as if in joy over the success of one effort it had beenprivileged to make, independent of the cumbrous body. "ere many days," i said, as i terminated mymusings, "i 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 marythat i was going a journey, and should be absent at least four days."alone, jane?" they asked.

"yes; it was to see or hear news of afriend about whom i had for some time been uneasy." they might have said, as i have no doubtthey thought, that they had believed me to be without any friends save them: for,indeed, i had often said so; but, with their true natural delicacy, they abstained from comment, except that diana asked me ifi was sure i was well enough to travel. i looked very pale, she observed. i replied, that nothing ailed me saveanxiety of mind, which i hoped soon to alleviate.

it was easy to make my furtherarrangements; for i was troubled with no inquiries--no surmises. having once explained to them that i couldnot now be explicit about my plans, they kindly and wisely acquiesced in the silencewith which i pursued them, according to me the privilege of free action i should undersimilar 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 whitcross, waiting thearrival of the coach which was to take me to distant thornfield. amidst the silence of those solitary roadsand desert hills, i heard it approach from

a great distance. it was the same vehicle whence, a year ago,i had alighted one summer evening on this very spot--how desolate, and hopeless, andobjectless! it stopped as i beckoned. i entered--not now obliged to part with mywhole fortune as the price of its accommodation.once more on the road to thornfield, i felt like the messenger-pigeon flying home. it was a journey of six-and-thirty hours. i had set out from whitcross on a tuesdayafternoon, and early on the succeeding

thursday morning the coach stopped to waterthe horses at a wayside inn, situated in the midst of scenery whose green hedges and large fields and low pastoral hills (howmild of feature and verdant of hue compared with the stern north- midland moors ofmorton!) met my eye like the lineaments of a once familiar face. yes, i knew the character of thislandscape: 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 coach, gave a box i hadinto the ostler's charge, to be kept till i called for it; paid my fare; satisfied thecoachman, and was going: the brightening day gleamed on the sign of the inn, and iread in gilt letters, "the rochester arms." my heart leapt up: i was already on mymaster's very lands. it fell again: the thought struck it:-- "your master himself may be beyond thebritish channel, for aught you know: and then, if he is at thornfield hall, towardswhich you hasten, who besides him is there? his lunatic wife: and you have nothing todo 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 man, and inquire if mr. rochester be at home." the suggestion was sensible, and yet icould not force myself to act on it. i so dreaded a reply that would crush mewith despair. to prolong doubt was to prolong hope. i might yet once more see the hall underthe ray of her star.

there was the stile before me--the veryfields through which i had hurried, blind, deaf, distracted with a revengeful furytracking and scourging me, on the morning i fled from thornfield: ere i well knew what course i had resolved to take, i was in themidst of them. how fast i walked!how i ran sometimes! how i looked forward to catch the firstview of the well-known woods! with what feelings i welcomed single treesi knew, and familiar glimpses of meadow and hill between them! at last the woods rose; the rookeryclustered dark; a loud cawing broke the

morning stillness.strange delight inspired me: on i hastened. another field crossed--a lane threaded--andthere were the courtyard walls--the back offices: the house itself, the rookerystill hid. "my first view of it shall be in front," idetermined, "where its bold battlements will strike the eye nobly at once, andwhere i can single out my master's very window: perhaps he will be standing at it-- he rises early: perhaps he is now walkingin the orchard, or on the pavement in front.could i but see him!--but a moment! surely, in that case, i should not be somad 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 iswatching the sun rise over the pyrenees, or on the tideless sea of the south." i had coasted along the lower wall of theorchard--turned its angle: there was a gate just there, opening into the meadow,between two stone pillars crowned by stone balls.

from behind one pillar i could peep roundquietly at the full front of the mansion. i advanced my head with precaution,desirous to ascertain if any bedroom window-blinds were yet drawn up:battlements, windows, long front--all from this sheltered station were at my command. the crows sailing overhead perhaps watchedme while i took this survey. i wonder what they thought. they must have considered i was verycareful and timid at first, and that gradually i grew very bold and reckless. a peep, and then a long stare; and then adeparture from my niche and a straying out

into the meadow; and a sudden stop full infront of the great mansion, and a protracted, hardy gaze towards it. "what affectation of diffidence was this atfirst?" they might have demanded; "what stupid regardlessness now?"hear an illustration, reader. a lover finds his mistress asleep on amossy bank; he wishes to catch a glimpse of her fair face without waking her. he steals softly over the grass, careful tomake no sound; he pauses--fancying she has stirred: he withdraws: not for worlds wouldhe be seen. all is still: he again advances: he bendsabove her; a light veil rests on her

features: he lifts it, bends lower; now hiseyes anticipate the vision of beauty--warm, and blooming, and lovely, in rest. how hurried was their first glance!but how they fix! how he starts! how he suddenly and vehemently clasps inboth arms the form he dared not, a moment since, touch with his finger!how he calls aloud a name, and drops his burden, and gazes on it wildly! he thus grasps and cries, and gazes,because he no longer fears to waken by any sound he can utter--by any movement he canmake.

he thought his love slept sweetly: he findsshe is stone dead. i looked with timorous joy towards astately house: i saw a blackened ruin. no need to cower behind a gate-post,indeed!--to peep up at chamber lattices, fearing life was astir behind them! no need to listen for doors opening--tofancy steps on the pavement or the gravel- walk!the lawn, the grounds were trodden and waste: the portal yawned void. the front was, as i had once seen it in adream, but a well-like wall, very high and very fragile-looking, perforated withpaneless windows: no roof, no battlements,

no chimneys--all had crashed in. and there was the silence of death aboutit: the solitude of a lonesome wild. no wonder that letters addressed to peoplehere had never received an answer: as well despatch epistles to a vault in a churchaisle. the grim blackness of the stones told bywhat fate the hall had fallen--by conflagration: but how kindled?what story belonged to this disaster? what loss, besides mortar and marble andwood-work had followed upon it? had life been wrecked as well as property?if so, whose? dreadful question: there was no one here toanswer it--not even dumb sign, mute token.

in wandering round the shattered walls andthrough the devastated interior, i gathered evidence that the calamity was not of lateoccurrence. winter snows, i thought, had driftedthrough that void arch, winter rains beaten in at those hollow casements; for, amidstthe drenched piles of rubbish, spring had cherished vegetation: grass and weed grew here and there between the stones andfallen rafters. and oh! where meantime was the haplessowner of this wreck? in what land? under what auspices?my eye involuntarily wandered to the grey

church tower near the gates, and i asked,"is 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 inn, and thither, ere long, i returned.the host himself brought my breakfast into the parlour. i requested him to shut the door and sitdown: i had some questions to ask him. but when he complied, i scarcely knew howto begin; such horror had i of the possible answers. and yet the spectacle of desolation i hadjust left prepared me in a measure for a

tale of misery.the host was a respectable-looking, middle- 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 time, i thought: you are astranger to me. "i was the late mr. rochester's butler," headded. the late! i seem to have received, with full force,the blow i had been trying to evade. "the late!"i gasped.

"is he dead?" "i mean the present gentleman, mr. edward'sfather," he explained. i breathed again: my blood resumed itsflow. fully assured by these words that mr.edward--my mr. rochester (god bless him, wherever he was!)--was at least alive: was,in short, "the present gentleman." gladdening words! it seemed i could hear all that was tocome--whatever the disclosures might be-- with comparative tranquillity. since he was not in the grave, i couldbear, i thought, to learn that he was at

the antipodes."is mr. rochester living at thornfield hall now?" i asked, knowing, of course, what theanswer would be, but yet desirous of deferring the direct question as to wherehe really was. "no, ma'am--oh, no! no one is living there. i suppose you are a stranger in theseparts, or you would have heard what happened last autumn,--thornfield hall isquite a ruin: it was burnt down just about harvest-time.

a dreadful calamity! such an immensequantity of valuable property destroyed: hardly any of the furniture could be saved. the fire broke out at dead of night, andbefore 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. yes, that was ever the hour of fatality atthornfield. "was it known how it originated?" i demanded."they guessed, ma'am: they guessed.

indeed, i should say it was ascertainedbeyond a doubt. you are not perhaps aware," he continued,edging his chair a little nearer the table, and speaking low, "that 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 rumourthat such a person was at the hall; and who or what she was it was difficult toconjecture. they said mr. edward had brought her fromabroad, 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 answered, "turnedout to be mr. rochester's wife! the discovery was brought about in thestrangest way. there was a young lady, a governess at thehall, 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 somuch in love as he was: he was after her continually. they used to watch him--servants will, youknow, ma'am--and he set store on her past everything: for all, nobody but him thoughther so very handsome. she was a little small thing, they say,almost like a child. i never saw her myself; but i've heardleah, the house-maid, tell of her. leah liked her well enough. mr. rochester was about forty, and thisgoverness not twenty; and you see, when gentlemen of his age fall in love withgirls, 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 aparticular 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 certainthat it was her, and nobody but her, that set it going. she had a woman to take care of her calledmrs. poole--an able woman in her line, and very trustworthy, but for one fault--afault 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 ofit: but still it was dangerous; for when mrs. poole was fast asleep after the ginand 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, andgo roaming about the house, doing any wild mischief that came into her head. they say she had nearly burnt her husbandin his bed once: but i don't know about that.

however, on this night, she set fire firstto 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 nobodysleeping in it, fortunately. the governess had run away two monthsbefore; and for all mr. rochester sought her as if she had been the most preciousthing he had in the world, he never could hear a word of her; and he grew savage-- quite savage on his disappointment: henever was a wild man, but he got dangerous

after he lost her.he would be alone, too. he sent mrs. fairfax, the housekeeper, awayto her friends at a distance; but he did it handsomely, for he settled an annuity onher for life: and she deserved it--she was a very good woman. miss adele, a ward he had, was put toschool. he broke off acquaintance with all thegentry, 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 thehouse, except at night, when he walked just like a ghost about the grounds and in theorchard as if he had lost his senses--which it is my opinion he had; for a more spirited, bolder, keener gentleman than hewas 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 awill of his own, if ever man had. i knew him from a boy, you see: and for mypart, i have often wished that miss eyre had been sunk in the sea before she came tothornfield hall."

"then mr. rochester was at home when thefire broke out?" "yes, indeed was he; and he went up to theattics when all was burning above and below, and got the servants out of theirbeds 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 shewas on the roof, where she was standing, waving her arms, above the battlements, andshouting out till they could hear her a mile off: i saw her and heard her with myown eyes. she was a big woman, and had long blackhair: 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."{the next minute she lay smashed on the pavement: p413.jpg} "dead?""dead! ay, dead as the stones on which her brainsand blood were scattered." "good god!" "you may well say so, ma'am: it wasfrightful!"

he shuddered."and afterwards?" i urged. "well, ma'am, afterwards the house wasburnt to the ground: there are only some bits of walls standing now.""were any other lives lost?" "no--perhaps it would have been better ifthere had." "what do you mean?""poor mr. edward!" he ejaculated, "i little thought ever to have seen it! some say it was a just judgment on him forkeeping his first marriage secret, and wanting to take another wife while he hadone 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 be 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."yes, he is stone-blind, is 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 maysay, his kindness, in a way, ma'am: he wouldn't leave the house till every oneelse was out before him. as he came down the great staircase atlast, after mrs. rochester had flung herself from the battlements, there was agreat 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; butone eye was knocked out, and one hand so

crushed that mr. carter, the surgeon, hadto amputate it directly. the other eye inflamed: he lost the sightof that also. he is now helpless, indeed--blind and acripple." "where is he?where does he now live?" "at ferndean, a manor-house on a farm hehas, about thirty miles off: quite a desolate spot.""who is with him?" "old john and his wife: he would have noneelse. he is quite broken down, they say.""have you any sort of conveyance?" "we have a chaise, ma'am, a very handsomechaise."

"let it be got ready instantly; and if yourpost-boy can drive me to ferndean before dark this day, i'll pay both you and himtwice the hire you usually demand." chapter xxxvii the manor-house of ferndean was a buildingof considerable antiquity, moderate size, and no architectural pretensions, deepburied in a wood. i had heard of it before. mr. rochester often spoke of it, andsometimes went there. his father had purchased the estate for thesake of the game covers. he would have let the house, but could findno tenant, in consequence of its ineligible

and insalubrious site. ferndean then remained uninhabited andunfurnished, with the exception of some two or three rooms fitted up for theaccommodation of the squire when he went there in the season to shoot. to this house i came just ere dark on anevening marked by the characteristics of sad sky, cold gale, and continued smallpenetrating rain. the last mile i performed on foot, havingdismissed the chaise and driver with the double remuneration i had promised. even when within a very short distance ofthe manor-house, you could see nothing of

it, so thick and dark grew the timber ofthe gloomy wood about it. iron gates between granite pillars showedme where to enter, and passing through them, i found myself at once in thetwilight of close-ranked trees. there was a grass-grown track descendingthe forest aisle between hoar and knotty shafts and under branched arches. i followed it, expecting soon to reach thedwelling; but it stretched on and on, it would far and farther: no sign ofhabitation or grounds was visible. i thought i had taken a wrong direction andlost my way. the darkness of natural as well as ofsylvan dusk gathered over me.

i looked round in search of another road. there was none: all was interwoven stem,columnar trunk, dense summer foliage--no opening anywhere. i proceeded: at last my way opened, thetrees thinned a little; presently i beheld a railing, then the house--scarce, by thisdim light, distinguishable from the trees; so dank and green were its decaying walls. entering a portal, fastened only by alatch, i stood amidst a space of enclosed ground, from which the wood swept away in asemicircle. there were no flowers, no garden-beds; onlya broad gravel-walk girdling a grass-plat,

and this set in the heavy frame of theforest. the house presented two pointed gables inits front; the windows were latticed and narrow: the front door was narrow too, onestep led up to it. the whole looked, as the host of therochester arms had said, "quite 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. yes, life of some kind there was; for iheard a movement--that narrow front-door

was unclosing, and some shape was about toissue from the grange. it opened slowly: a figure came out intothe twilight and stood on the step; a man without a hat: he stretched forth his handas if to feel whether it rained. dusk as it was, i had recognised him--itwas my master, edward fairfax rochester, and no other. i stayed my step, almost my breath, andstood to watch him--to examine him, myself unseen, and alas! to him invisible.it was a sudden meeting, and one in which rapture was kept well in check by pain. i had no difficulty in restraining my voicefrom exclamation, my step from hasty

advance. his form was of the same strong andstalwart contour as ever: his port was still erect, his hair was still ravenblack; nor were his features altered or sunk: not in one year's space, by any sorrow, could his athletic strength bequelled or his vigorous prime blighted. but in his countenance i saw a change: thatlooked desperate and brooding--that reminded me of some wronged and fetteredwild beast or bird, dangerous to approach in his sullen woe. the caged eagle, whose gold-ringed eyescruelty has extinguished, might look as

looked that sightless samson. and, reader, do you think i feared him inhis blind ferocity?--if you do, you little know me. a soft hope blest with my sorrow that sooni should dare to drop a kiss on that brow of rock, and on those lips so sternlysealed beneath it: but not yet. i would not accost him yet. he descended the one step, and advancedslowly and gropingly towards the grass- plat.where was his daring stride now? then he paused, as if he knew not which wayto turn.

he lifted his hand and opened his eyelids;gazed blank, and with a straining effort, on the sky, and toward the amphitheatre oftrees: one saw that all to him was void darkness. he stretched his right hand (the left arm,the mutilated one, he kept hidden in his bosom); he seemed to wish by touch to gainan idea of what lay around him: he met but vacancy still; for the trees were someyards off where he stood. he relinquished the endeavour, folded hisarms, and stood quiet and mute in the rain, now falling fast on his uncovered head. at this moment john approached him fromsome 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 house, and,re-entering it, closed the door. i now drew near and knocked: john's wifeopened for me. "mary," i said, "how are you?" she started as if she had seen a ghost: icalmed her. to her hurried "is it really you, miss,come at this late hour to this lonely

place?" i answered by taking her hand; and then ifollowed her into the kitchen, where john now sat by a good fire. i explained to them, in few words, that ihad heard all which had happened since i left thornfield, and that i was come to seemr. rochester. i asked john to go down to the turn- pike-house, where i had dismissed the chaise, and bring my trunk, which i had left there:and then, while i removed my bonnet and shawl, i questioned mary as to whether i could be accommodated at the manor housefor the night; and finding that

arrangements to that effect, thoughdifficult, would not be impossible, i informed her i should stay. just at this moment the parlour-bell rang."when you go in," said i, "tell your master that a person wishes to speak to him, butdo not give my name." "i don't think he will see you," sheanswered; "he refuses everybody." when she returned, i inquired what he hadsaid. "you are to send in your name and yourbusiness," she replied. she then proceeded to fill a glass withwater, and place it on a tray, together with candles.

"is that what he rang for?"i asked. "yes: he always has candles brought in atdark, though he is blind." "give the tray to me; i will carry it in." i took it from her hand: she pointed me outthe parlour door. the tray shook as i held it; the waterspilt from the glass; my heart struck my ribs loud and fast. mary opened the door for me, and shut itbehind me. this parlour looked gloomy: a neglectedhandful of fire burnt low in the grate; and, leaning over it, with his headsupported against the high, old-fashioned

mantelpiece, appeared the blind tenant ofthe room. his old dog, pilot, lay on one side,removed out of the way, and coiled up as if afraid of being inadvertently trodden upon. pilot pricked up his ears when i came in:then he jumped up with a yelp and a whine, and bounded towards me: he almost knockedthe tray from my hands. i set it on the table; then patted him, andsaid softly, "lie down!" mr. rochester turned mechanically to seewhat the commotion was: but as he saw nothing, he returned and sighed. "give me the water, mary," he said.i approached him with the now only half-

filled glass; pilot followed me, stillexcited. "what is the matter?" he inquired. "down, pilot!"i again said. he checked the water on its way to hislips, and seemed to listen: he drank, and put the glass down. "this is you, mary, is it not?""mary is in the kitchen," i answered. he put out his hand with a quick gesture,but not seeing where i stood, he did not touch me. "who is this?who is this?" he demanded, trying, as it

seemed, to see with those sightless eyes--unavailing and distressing attempt! "answer me--speak again!" he ordered,imperiously and aloud. "will you have a little more water, sir?i spilt half of what was in the glass," i said. "who is it?what is it? who speaks?""pilot knows me, and john and mary know i am here. i came only this evening," i answered."great god!--what delusion has come over me?what sweet madness has seized me?"

"no delusion--no madness: your mind, sir,is too strong for delusion, your health too sound for frenzy.""and where is the speaker? is it only a voice? oh! i cannot see, but i must feel, or myheart will stop and my brain burst. whatever--whoever you are--be perceptibleto the touch or i cannot live!" he groped; i arrested his wandering hand,and prisoned it in both mine. "her very fingers!" he cried; "her small,slight fingers! if so there must be more of her." the muscular hand broke from my custody; myarm was seized, my shoulder--neck--waist--i

was entwined and gathered to him."is it jane? what is it? this is her shape--this is her size--""and this her voice," i added. "she is all here: her heart, too.god bless you, sir! i am glad to be so near you again." "jane eyre!--jane eyre," was all he said."my dear master," i answered, "i am jane eyre: i have found you out--i am come backto you." "in truth?--in the flesh? my living jane?""you touch me, sir,--you hold me, and fast

enough: i am not cold like a corpse, norvacant like air, am i?" "my living darling! these are certainly her limbs, and theseher features; but i cannot be so blest, after all my misery. it is a dream; such dreams as i have had atnight when i have clasped her once more to my heart, as i do now; and kissed her, asthus--and felt that she loved me, and trusted that she would not leave me." "which i never will, sir, from this day.""never will, says the vision? but i always woke and found it an emptymockery; and i was desolate and abandoned--

my life dark, lonely, hopeless--my soulathirst and forbidden to drink--my heart famished and never to be fed. gentle, soft dream, nestling in my armsnow, you will fly, too, as your sisters have all fled before you: but kiss mebefore you go--embrace me, jane." "there, sir--and there!"' i pressed my lips to his once brilliant andnow rayless eyes--i swept his hair from his brow, and kissed that too. he suddenly seemed to arouse himself: theconviction of the reality of all this seized him."it is you--is it, jane?

you are come back to me then?" "i am.""and you do not lie dead in some ditch under some stream?and you are not a pining outcast amongst strangers?" "no, sir!i am an independent woman now." "independent!what do you mean, jane?" "my uncle in madeira is dead, and he leftme five thousand pounds." "ah! this is practical--this is real!" hecried: "i should never dream that. besides, there is that peculiar voice ofhers, so animating and piquant, as well as

soft: it cheers my withered heart; it putslife into it.--what, janet! are you an independent woman? a rich woman?" "if you won't let me live with you, i canbuild a house of my own close up to your door, and you may come and sit in myparlour when you want company of an evening." "but as you are rich, jane, you have now,no doubt, friends who will look after you, and not suffer you to devote yourself to ablind lameter like me?" "i told you i am independent, sir, as wellas rich: i am my own mistress."

"and you will stay with me?""certainly--unless you object. i will be your neighbour, your nurse, yourhousekeeper. i find you lonely: i will be yourcompanion--to read to you, to walk with you, to sit with you, to wait on you, to beeyes and hands to you. cease to look so melancholy, my dearmaster; you shall not be left desolate, so long as i live." he replied not: he seemed serious--abstracted; he sighed; he half-opened his lips as if to speak: he closed them again.i felt a little embarrassed. perhaps i had too rashly over-leapedconventionalities; and he, like st. john,

saw impropriety in my inconsiderateness. i had indeed made my proposal from the ideathat he wished and would ask me to be his wife: an expectation, not the less certainbecause unexpressed, had buoyed me up, that he would claim me at once as his own. but no hint to that effect escaping him andhis countenance becoming more overcast, i suddenly remembered that i might have beenall wrong, and was perhaps playing the fool unwittingly; and i began gently to withdraw myself from his arms--but he eagerlysnatched me closer. "no--no--jane; you must not go.

no--i have touched you, heard you, felt thecomfort of your presence--the sweetness of your consolation: i cannot give up thesejoys. i have little left in myself--i must haveyou. the world may laugh--may call me absurd,selfish--but it does not signify. my very soul demands you: it will besatisfied, or it will take deadly vengeance on its frame.""well, sir, i will stay with you: i have said so." "yes--but you understand one thing bystaying with me; and i understand another. you, perhaps, could make up your mind to beabout my hand and chair--to wait on me as a

kind little nurse (for you have anaffectionate heart and a generous spirit, which prompt you to make sacrifices for those you pity), and that ought to sufficefor me no doubt. i suppose i should now entertain none butfatherly feelings for you: do you think so? come--tell me." "i will think what you like, sir: i amcontent to be only your nurse, if you think it better.""but you cannot always be my nurse, janet: you are young--you must marry one day." "i don't care about being married.""you should care, janet: if i were what i

once was, i would try to make you care--but--a sightless block!" he relapsed again into gloom. i, on the contrary, became more cheerful,and took fresh courage: these last words gave me an insight as to where thedifficulty lay; and as it was no difficulty with me, i felt quite relieved from myprevious embarrassment. i resumed a livelier vein of conversation. "it is time some one undertook torehumanise you," said i, parting his thick and long uncut locks; "for i see you arebeing metamorphosed into a lion, or something of that sort.

you have a 'faux air' of nebuchadnezzar inthe fields about you, that is certain: your hair reminds me of eagles' feathers;whether your nails are grown like birds' claws or not, i have not yet noticed." "on this arm, i have neither hand nornails," he said, drawing the mutilated limb from his breast, and showing it to me."it is a mere stump--a ghastly sight! don't you think so, jane?" "it is a pity to see it; and a pity to seeyour eyes--and the scar of fire on your forehead: and the worst of it is, one is indanger of loving you too well for all this; and making too much of you."

"i thought you would be revolted, jane,when you saw my arm, and my cicatrised visage.""did you? don't tell me so--lest i should saysomething disparaging to your judgment. now, let me leave you an instant, to make abetter fire, and have the hearth swept up. can you tell when there is a good fire?" "yes; with the right eye i see a glow--aruddy haze." "and you see the candles?""very dimly--each is a luminous cloud." "can you see me?" "no, my fairy: but i am only too thankfulto hear and feel you."

"when do you take supper?""i never take supper." "but you shall have some to-night. i am hungry: so are you, i daresay, onlyyou forget." summoning mary, i soon had the room in morecheerful order: i prepared him, likewise, a comfortable repast. my spirits were excited, and with pleasureand ease i talked to him during supper, and for a long time after. there was no harassing restraint, norepressing of glee and vivacity with him; for with him i was at perfect ease, becausei knew i suited him; all i said or did

seemed either to console or revive him. delightful consciousness!it brought to life and light my whole nature: in his presence i thoroughly lived;and he lived in mine. blind as he was, smiles played over hisface, joy dawned on his forehead: his lineaments softened and warmed. after supper, he began to ask me manyquestions, of where i had been, what i had been doing, how i had found him out; but igave him only very partial replies: it was too late to enter into particulars thatnight. besides, i wished to touch no deep-thrilling chord--to open no fresh well of

emotion in his heart: my sole present aimwas to cheer him. cheered, as i have said, he was: and yetbut by fits. if a moment's silence broke theconversation, he would turn restless, touch me, then say, "jane." "you are altogether a human being, jane?you are certain of that?" {you are altogether a human being, jane?you are certain of that?: p422.jpg} "i conscientiously believe so, mr.rochester." "yet how, on this dark and doleful evening,could you so suddenly rise on my lone hearth?

i stretched my hand to take a glass ofwater from a hireling, and it was given me by you: i asked a question, expectingjohn's wife to answer me, and your voice spoke at my ear." "because i had come in, in mary's stead,with the tray." "and there is enchantment in the very houri am now spending with you. who can tell what a dark, dreary, hopelesslife i have dragged on for months past? doing nothing, expecting nothing; mergingnight in day; feeling but the sensation of cold when i let the fire go out, of hungerwhen i forgot to eat: and then a ceaseless sorrow, and, at times, a very delirium ofdesire to behold my jane again.

yes: for her restoration i longed, far morethan for that of my lost sight. how can it be that jane is with me, andsays she loves me? will she not depart as suddenly as shecame? to-morrow, i fear i shall find her nomore." a commonplace, practical reply, out of thetrain of his own disturbed ideas, was, i was sure, the best and most reassuring forhim in this frame of mind. i passed my finger over his eyebrows, andremarked that they were scorched, and that i would apply something which would makethem grow as broad and black as ever. "where is the use of doing me good in anyway, beneficent spirit, when, at some fatal

moment, you will again desert me--passinglike a shadow, whither and how to me unknown, and for me remaining afterwardsundiscoverable? "have you a pocket-comb about you, sir?""what for, jane?" "just to comb out this shaggy black mane. i find you rather alarming, when i examineyou close at hand: you talk of my being a fairy, but i am sure, you are more like abrownie." "am i hideous, jane?" "very, sir: you always were, you know.""humph! the wickedness has not been taken out ofyou, wherever you have sojourned."

"yet i have been with good people; farbetter than you: a hundred times better people; possessed of ideas and views younever entertained in your life: quite more refined and exalted." "who the deuce have you been with?""if you twist in that way you will make me pull the hair out of your head; and then ithink you will cease to entertain doubts of my substantiality." "who have you been with, jane?" "you shall not get it out of me to-night,sir; you must wait till to-morrow; to leave my tale half told, will, you know, be asort of security that i shall appear at

your breakfast table to finish it. by the bye, i must mind not to rise on yourhearth with only a glass of water then: i must bring an egg at the least, to saynothing of fried ham." "you mocking changeling--fairy-born andhuman-bred! you make me feel as i have not felt thesetwelve months. if saul could have had you for his david,the evil spirit would have been exorcised without the aid of the harp.""there, sir, you are redd up and made decent. now i'll leave you: i have been travellingthese last three days, and i believe i am

tired.good night." "just one word, jane: were there onlyladies in the house where you have been?" i laughed and made my escape, stilllaughing as i ran upstairs. "a good idea!" i thought with glee."i see i have the means of fretting him out of his melancholy for some time to come." very early the next morning i heard him upand astir, wandering from one room to another.as soon as mary came down i heard the question: "is miss eyre here?"

then: "which room did you put her into?was it dry? is she up?go and ask if she wants anything; and when she will come down." i came down as soon as i thought there wasa prospect of breakfast. entering the room very softly, i had a viewof him before he discovered my presence. it was mournful, indeed, to witness thesubjugation of that vigorous spirit to a corporeal infirmity. he sat in his chair--still, but not atrest: expectant evidently; the lines of now habitual sadness marking his strongfeatures.

his countenance reminded one of a lampquenched, waiting to be re-lit--and alas! it was not himself that could now kindlethe lustre of animated expression: he was dependent on another for that office! i had meant to be gay and careless, but thepowerlessness of the strong man touched my heart to the quick: still i accosted himwith what vivacity i could. "it is a bright, sunny morning, sir," isaid. "the rain is over and gone, and there is atender shining after it: you shall have a walk soon." i had wakened the glow: his featuresbeamed.

"oh, you are indeed there, my skylark!come to me. you are not gone: not vanished? i heard one of your kind an hour ago,singing high over the wood: but its song had no music for me, any more than therising sun had rays. all the melody on earth is concentrated inmy jane's tongue to my ear (i am glad it is not naturally a silent one): all thesunshine i can feel is in her presence." the water stood in my eyes to hear thisavowal of his dependence; just as if a royal eagle, chained to a perch, should beforced to entreat a sparrow to become its purveyor.

but i would not be lachrymose: i dashed offthe salt drops, and busied myself with preparing breakfast.most of the morning was spent in the open air. i led him out of the wet and wild wood intosome cheerful fields: i described to him how brilliantly green they were; how theflowers and hedges looked refreshed; how sparklingly blue was the sky. i sought a seat for him in a hidden andlovely spot, a dry stump of a tree; nor did i refuse to let him, when seated, place meon his knee. why should i, when both he and i werehappier near than apart?

pilot lay beside us: all was quiet.he broke out suddenly while clasping me in his arms-- "cruel, cruel deserter! oh, jane, what did i feel when i discoveredyou had fled from thornfield, and when i could nowhere find you; and, afterexamining your apartment, ascertained that you had taken no money, nor anything whichcould serve as an equivalent! a pearl necklace i had given you layuntouched in its little casket; your trunks were left corded and locked as they hadbeen prepared for the bridal tour. what could my darling do, i asked, leftdestitute and penniless?

and what did she do?let me hear now." thus urged, i began the narrative of myexperience for the last year. i softened considerably what related to thethree days of wandering and starvation, because to have told him all would havebeen to inflict unnecessary pain: the little i did say lacerated his faithfulheart deeper than i wished. i should not have left him thus, he said,without any means of making my way: i should have told him my intention. i should have confided in him: he wouldnever have forced me to be his mistress. violent as he had seemed in his despair,he, in truth, loved me far too well and too

tenderly to constitute himself my tyrant:he would have given me half his fortune, without demanding so much as a kiss in return, rather than i should have flungmyself friendless on the wide world. i had endured, he was certain, more than ihad confessed to him. "well, whatever my sufferings had been,they were very short," i answered: and then i proceeded to tell him how i had beenreceived at moor house; how i had obtained the office of schoolmistress, &c. the accession of fortune, the discovery ofmy relations, followed in due order. of course, st. john rivers' name came infrequently in the progress of my tale.

when i had done, that name was immediatelytaken up. "this st. john, then, is your cousin?""yes." "you have spoken of him often: do you likehim?" "he was a very good man, sir; i could nothelp liking him." "a good man. does that mean a respectable well-conductedman of fifty? or what does it mean?""st john was only twenty-nine, sir." "'jeune encore,' as the french say. is he a person of low stature, phlegmatic,and plain.

a person whose goodness consists rather inhis guiltlessness of vice, than in his prowess in virtue." "he is untiringly active.great and exalted deeds are what he lives to perform.""but his brain? that is probably rather soft? he means well: but you shrug your shouldersto hear him talk?" "he talks little, sir: what he does say isever to the point. his brain is first-rate, i should think notimpressible, but vigorous." "is he an able man, then?""truly able."

"a thoroughly educated man?" "st. john is an accomplished and profoundscholar." "his manners, i think, you said are not toyour taste?--priggish and parsonic?" "i never mentioned his manners; but, unlessi had a very bad taste, they must suit it; they are polished, calm, andgentlemanlike." "his appearance,--i forget what descriptionyou gave of his appearance;--a sort of raw curate, half strangled with his whiteneckcloth, and stilted up on his thick- soled high-lows, eh?" "st. john dresses well.he is a handsome man: tall, fair, with blue

eyes, and a grecian profile."(aside.) "damn him!"--(to me.) "did you like him, jane?""yes, mr. rochester, i liked him: but you asked me that before."i perceived, of course, the drift of my interlocutor. jealousy had got hold of him: she stunghim; but the sting was salutary: it gave him respite from the gnawing fang ofmelancholy. i would not, therefore, immediately charmthe snake. "perhaps you would rather not sit anylonger on my knee, miss eyre?" was the next

somewhat unexpected observation. "why not, mr. rochester?""the picture you have just drawn is suggestive of a rather too overwhelmingcontrast. your words have delineated very prettily agraceful apollo: he is present to your imagination,--tall, fair, blue- eyed, andwith a grecian profile. your eyes dwell on a vulcan,--a realblacksmith, brown, broad-shouldered: and blind and lame into the bargain.""i never thought of it, before; but you certainly are rather like vulcan, sir." "well, you can leave me, ma'am: but beforeyou go" (and he retained me by a firmer

grasp than ever), "you will be pleased justto answer me a question or two." he paused. "what questions, mr. rochester?"then followed this cross-examination. "st. john made you schoolmistress of mortonbefore he knew you were his cousin?" "yes." "you would often see him?he would visit the school sometimes?" "daily.""he would approve of your plans, jane? i know they would be clever, for you are atalented creature!" "he approved of them--yes.""he would discover many things in you he

could not have expected to find? some of your accomplishments are notordinary." "i don't know about that." "you had a little cottage near the school,you say: did he ever come there to see you?""now and then?" "of an evening?" "once or twice."a pause. "how long did you reside with him and hissisters after the cousinship was discovered?"

"five months.""did rivers spend much time with the ladies of his family?" "yes; the back parlour was both his studyand ours: he sat near the window, and we by the table.""did he study much?" "a good deal." "what?""hindostanee." "and what did you do meantime?""i learnt german, at first." "did he teach you?" "he did not understand german.""did he teach you nothing?"

"a little hindostanee.""rivers taught you hindostanee?" "yes, sir." "and his sisters also?""no." "only you?""only me." "did you ask to learn?" "no.""he wished to teach you?" "yes."a second pause. "why did he wish it? of what use could hindostanee be to you?""he intended me to go with him to india."

"ah! here i reach the root of the matter.he wanted you to marry him?" "he asked me to marry him." "that is a fiction--an impudent inventionto vex me." "i beg your pardon, it is the literaltruth: he asked me more than once, and was as stiff about urging his point as ever youcould be." "miss eyre, i repeat it, you can leave me. how often am i to say the same thing?why do you remain pertinaciously perched on my knee, when i have given you notice toquit?" "because i am comfortable there."

"no, jane, you are not comfortable there,because your heart is not with me: it is with this cousin--this st. john.oh, till this moment, i thought my little jane was all mine! i had a belief she loved me even when sheleft me: that was an atom of sweet in much bitter. long as we have been parted, hot tears as ihave wept over our separation, i never thought that while i was mourning her, shewas loving another! but it is useless grieving. jane, leave me: go and marry rivers.""shake me off, then, sir,--push me away,

for i'll not leave you of my own accord.""jane, i ever like your tone of voice: it still renews hope, it sounds so truthful. when i hear it, it carries me back a year.i forget that you have formed a new tie. but i am not a fool--go--""where must i go, sir?" "your own way--with the husband you havechosen." "who is that?""you know--this st. john rivers." "he is not my husband, nor ever will be. he does not love me: i do not love him.he loves (as he can love, and that is not as you love) a beautiful young lady calledrosamond.

he wanted to marry me only because hethought i should make a suitable missionary's wife, which she would not havedone. he is good and great, but severe; and, forme, cold as an iceberg. he is not like you, sir: i am not happy athis side, nor near him, nor with him. he has no indulgence for me--no fondness. he sees nothing attractive in me; not evenyouth--only a few useful mental points.-- then i must leave you, sir, to go to him?" i shuddered involuntarily, and clunginstinctively closer to my blind but beloved master.he smiled.

"what, jane! is this true?is such really the state of matters between you and rivers?""absolutely, sir! oh, you need not be jealous! i wanted to tease you a little to make youless sad: i thought anger would be better than grief. but if you wish me to love you, could youbut see how much i do love you, you would be proud and content. all my heart is yours, sir: it belongs toyou; and with you it would remain, were

fate to exile the rest of me from yourpresence for ever." again, as he kissed me, painful thoughtsdarkened his aspect. "my seared vision!my crippled strength!" he murmured regretfully. i caressed, in order to soothe him.i knew of what he was thinking, and wanted to speak for him, but dared not. as he turned aside his face a minute, i sawa tear slide from under the sealed eyelid, and trickle down the manly cheek.my heart swelled. "i am no better than the old lightning-struck chestnut-tree in thornfield

orchard," he remarked ere long. "and what right would that ruin have to bida budding woodbine cover its decay with freshness?""you are no ruin, sir--no lightning-struck tree: you are green and vigorous. plants will grow about your roots, whetheryou ask them or not, because they take delight in your bountiful shadow; and asthey grow they will lean towards you, and wind round you, because your strengthoffers them so safe a prop." again he smiled: i gave him comfort."you speak of friends, jane?" he asked. "yes, of friends," i answered ratherhesitatingly: for i knew i meant more than

friends, but could not tell what other wordto employ. he helped me. "ah! jane.but i want a wife." "do you, sir?""yes: is it news to you?" "of course: you said nothing about itbefore." "is it unwelcome news?""that depends on circumstances, sir--on your choice." "which you shall make for me, jane.i will abide by your decision." "choose then, sir--her who loves youbest."

"i will at least choose--her i love best. jane, will you marry me?""yes, sir." "a poor blind man, whom you will have tolead about by the hand?" "a crippled man, twenty years older thanyou, whom you will have to wait on?" "yes, sir.""truly, jane?" "most truly, sir." "oh! my darling!god bless you and reward you!" "mr. rochester, if ever i did a good deedin my life--if ever i thought a good thought--if ever i prayed a sincere andblameless prayer--if ever i wished a

righteous wish,--i am rewarded now. to be your wife is, for me, to be as happyas i can be on earth." "because you delight in sacrifice.""sacrifice! what do i sacrifice? famine for food, expectation for content.to be privileged to put my arms round what i value--to press my lips to what i love--to repose on what i trust: is that to make a sacrifice? if so, then certainly i delight insacrifice." "and to bear with my infirmities, jane: tooverlook my deficiencies."

"which are none, sir, to me. i love you better now, when i can really beuseful to you, than i did in your state of proud independence, when you disdainedevery part but that of the giver and protector." "hitherto i have hated to be helped--to beled: henceforth, i feel i shall hate it no more. i did not like to put my hand into ahireling's, but it is pleasant to feel it circled by jane's little fingers. i preferred utter loneliness to theconstant attendance of servants; but jane's

soft ministry will be a perpetual joy.jane suits me: do i suit her?" "to the finest fibre of my nature, sir." "the case being so, we have nothing in theworld to wait for: we must be married instantly."he looked and spoke with eagerness: his old impetuosity was rising. "we must become one flesh without anydelay, jane: there is but the licence to get--then we marry." "mr. rochester, i have just discovered thesun is far declined from its meridian, and pilot is actually gone home to his dinner.let me look at your watch."

"fasten it into your girdle, janet, andkeep it henceforward: i have no use for it.""it is nearly four o'clock in the afternoon, sir. don't you feel hungry?""the third day from this must be our wedding-day, jane.never mind fine clothes and jewels, now: all that is not worth a fillip." "the sun has dried up all the rain-drops,sir. the breeze is still: it is quite hot." "do you know, jane, i have your littlepearl necklace at this moment fastened

round my bronze scrag under my cravat?i have worn it since the day i lost my only treasure, as a memento of her." "we will go home through the wood: thatwill be the shadiest way." he pursued his own thoughts without heedingme. "jane! you think me, i daresay, anirreligious dog: but my heart swells with gratitude to the beneficent god of thisearth just now. he sees not as man sees, but far clearer:judges not as man judges, but far more wisely. i did wrong: i would have sullied myinnocent flower--breathed guilt on its

purity: the omnipotent snatched it from me. i, in my stiff- necked rebellion, almostcursed the dispensation: instead of bending to the decree, i defied it. divine justice pursued its course;disasters came thick on me: i was forced to pass through the valley of the shadow ofdeath. his chastisements are mighty; and onesmote me which has humbled me for ever. you know i was proud of my strength: butwhat is it now, when i must give it over to foreign guidance, as a child does itsweakness? of late, jane--only--only of late--i beganto see and acknowledge the hand of god in

my doom.i began to experience remorse, repentance; the wish for reconcilement to my maker. i began sometimes to pray: very briefprayers they were, but very sincere. "some days since: nay, i can number them--four; it was last monday night, a singular mood came over me: one in which griefreplaced frenzy--sorrow, sullenness. i had long had the impression that since icould nowhere find you, you must be dead. late that night--perhaps it might bebetween eleven and twelve o'clock--ere i retired to my dreary rest, i supplicatedgod, that, if it seemed good to him, i might soon be taken from this life, and

admitted to that world to come, where therewas still hope of rejoining jane. "i was in my own room, and sitting by thewindow, which was open: it soothed me to feel the balmy night-air; though i couldsee no stars and only by a vague, luminous haze, knew the presence of a moon. i longed for thee, janet!oh, i longed for thee both with soul and flesh! i asked of god, at once in anguish andhumility, if i had not been long enough desolate, afflicted, tormented; and mightnot soon taste bliss and peace once more. that i merited all i endured, iacknowledged--that i could scarcely endure

more, i pleaded; and the alpha and omega ofmy heart's wishes broke involuntarily from my lips in the words--'jane! jane!jane!'" "did you speak these words aloud?""i did, jane. if any listener had heard me, he would havethought me mad: i pronounced them with such frantic energy.""and it was last monday night, somewhere near midnight?" "yes; but the time is of no consequence:what followed is the strange point. you will think me superstitious,--somesuperstition i have in my blood, and always

had: nevertheless, this is true--true atleast it is that i heard what i now relate. "as i exclaimed 'jane! jane!' a voice--i cannot tell whence thevoice came, but i know whose voice it was-- replied, 'i am coming: wait for me;' and amoment after, went whispering on the wind the words--'where are you?' "i'll tell you, if i can, the idea, thepicture these words opened to my mind: yet it is difficult to express what i want toexpress. ferndean is buried, as you see, in a heavywood, where sound falls dull, and dies unreverberating.

'where are you?' seemed spoken amongstmountains; for i heard a hill-sent echo repeat the words. cooler and fresher at the moment the galeseemed to visit my brow: i could have deemed that in some wild, lone scene, i andjane were meeting. in spirit, i believe we must have met. you no doubt were, at that hour, inunconscious sleep, jane: perhaps your soul wandered from its cell to comfort mine; forthose were your accents--as certain as i live--they were yours!" reader, it was on monday night--nearmidnight--that i too had received the

mysterious summons: those were the verywords by which i replied to it. i listened to mr. rochester's narrative,but made no disclosure in return. the coincidence struck me as too awful andinexplicable to be communicated or discussed. if i told anything, my tale would be suchas must necessarily make a profound impression on the mind of my hearer: andthat mind, yet from its sufferings too prone to gloom, needed not the deeper shadeof the supernatural. i kept these things then, and pondered themin my heart. "you cannot now wonder," continued mymaster, "that when you rose upon me so

unexpectedly last night, i had difficultyin believing you any other than a mere voice and vision, something that would melt to silence and annihilation, as themidnight whisper and mountain echo had melted before.now, i thank god! i know it to be otherwise. yes, i thank god!"he put me off his knee, rose, and reverently lifting his hat from his brow,and bending his sightless eyes to the earth, he stood in mute devotion. only the last words of the worship wereaudible.

"i thank my maker, that, in the midst ofjudgment, he has remembered mercy. i humbly entreat my redeemer to give mestrength to lead henceforth a purer life than i have done hitherto!"then he stretched his hand out to be led. i took that dear hand, held it a moment tomy lips, then let it pass round my shoulder: being so much lower of staturethan he, i served both for his prop and guide. we entered the wood, and wended homeward. chapter xxxviii--conclusion reader, i married him.a quiet wedding we had: he and i, the

parson and clerk, were alone present. when we got back from church, i went intothe kitchen of the manor-house, where mary was cooking the dinner and john cleaningthe knives, and i said-- "mary, i have been married to mr. rochesterthis morning." the housekeeper and her husband were bothof that decent phlegmatic order of people, to whom one may at any time safelycommunicate a remarkable piece of news without incurring the danger of having one's ears pierced by some shrillejaculation, and subsequently stunned by a torrent of wordy wonderment.

mary did look up, and she did stare at me:the ladle with which she was basting a pair of chickens roasting at the fire, did forsome three minutes hang suspended in air; and for the same space of time john's knives also had rest from the polishingprocess: but mary, bending again over the roast, said only--"have you, miss? well, for sure!" a short time after she pursued--"i seed yougo out with the master, but i didn't know you were gone to church to be wed;" and shebasted away. john, when i turned to him, was grinningfrom ear to ear.

"i telled mary how it would be," he said:"i knew what mr. edward" (john was an old servant, and had known his master when hewas the cadet of the house, therefore, he often gave him his christian name)--"i knew what mr. edward would do; and i was certainhe would not wait long neither: and he's done right, for aught i know.i wish you joy, miss!" and he politely pulled his forelock. "thank you, john.mr. rochester told me to give you and mary this."i put into his hand a five-pound note. without waiting to hear more, i left thekitchen.

in passing the door of that sanctum sometime after, i caught the words-- "she'll happen do better for him nor onyo't' grand ladies." and again, "if she ben't one o' th'handsomest, she's noan faal and varry good- natured; and i' his een she's fairbeautiful, onybody may see that." i wrote to moor house and to cambridgeimmediately, to say what i had done: fully explaining also why i had thus acted.diana and mary approved the step diana announced that she would just give metime to get over the honeymoon, and then she would come and see me. "she had better not wait till then, jane,"said mr. rochester, when i read her letter

to him; "if she does, she will be too late,for our honeymoon will shine our life long: its beams will only fade over your grave ormine." how st. john received the news, i don'tknow: he never answered the letter in which i communicated it: yet six months after hewrote to me, without, however, mentioning mr. rochester's name or alluding to mymarriage. his letter was then calm, and, though veryserious, kind. he has maintained a regular, though notfrequent, correspondence ever since: he hopes i am happy, and trusts i am not ofthose who live without god in the world, and only mind earthly things.

you have not quite forgotten little adele,have you, reader? i had not; i soon asked and obtained leaveof mr. rochester, to go and see her at the school where he had placed her. her frantic joy at beholding me again movedme much. she looked pale and thin: she said she wasnot happy. i found the rules of the establishment weretoo strict, its course of study too severe for a child of her age: i took her homewith me. i meant to become her governess once more,but i soon found this impracticable; my time and cares were now required byanother--my husband needed them all.

so i sought out a school conducted on amore indulgent system, and near enough to permit of my visiting her often, andbringing her home sometimes. i took care she should never want foranything that could contribute to her comfort: she soon settled in her new abode,became very happy there, and made fair progress in her studies. as she grew up, a sound english educationcorrected in a great measure her french defects; and when she left school, i foundin her a pleasing and obliging companion: docile, good-tempered, and well-principled. by her grateful attention to me and mine,she has long since well repaid any little

kindness i ever had it in my power to offerher. my tale draws to its close: one wordrespecting my experience of married life, and one brief glance at the fortunes ofthose whose names have most frequently recurred in this narrative, and i havedone. i have now been married ten years.i know what it is to live entirely for and with what i love best on earth. i hold myself supremely blest--blest beyondwhat language can express; because i am my husband's life as fully as he is mine. no woman was ever nearer to her mate than iam: ever more absolutely bone of his bone

and flesh of his flesh. i know no weariness of my edward's society:he knows none of mine, any more than we each do of the pulsation of the heart thatbeats in our separate bosoms; consequently, we are ever together. to be together is for us to be at once asfree as in solitude, as gay as in company. we talk, i believe, all day long: to talkto each other is but a more animated and an audible thinking. all my confidence is bestowed on him, allhis confidence is devoted to me; we are precisely suited in character--perfectconcord is the result.

mr. rochester continued blind the first twoyears of our union; perhaps it was that circumstance that drew us so very near--that knit us so very close: for i was then his vision, as i am still his right hand. literally, i was (what he often called me)the apple of his eye. he saw nature--he saw books through me; andnever did i weary of gazing for his behalf, and of putting into words the effect offield, tree, town, river, cloud, sunbeam-- of the landscape before us; of the weather round us--and impressing by sound on hisear what light could no longer stamp on his eye.

never did i weary of reading to him; neverdid i weary of conducting him where he wished to go: of doing for him what hewished to be done. and there was a pleasure in my services,most full, most exquisite, even though sad- -because he claimed these services withoutpainful shame or damping humiliation. he loved me so truly, that he knew noreluctance in profiting by my attendance: he felt i loved him so fondly, that toyield that attendance was to indulge my sweetest wishes. one morning at the end of the two years, asi was writing a letter to his dictation, he came and bent over me, and said--"jane,have you a glittering ornament round your

neck?" i had a gold watch-chain: i answered "yes.""and have you a pale blue dress on?" {and have you a pale blue dress on?:p435.jpg} i had. he informed me then, that for some time hehad fancied the obscurity clouding one eye was becoming less dense; and that now hewas sure of it. he and i went up to london. he had the advice of an eminent oculist;and he eventually recovered the sight of that one eye.

he cannot now see very distinctly: hecannot read or write much; but he can find his way without being led by the hand: thesky is no longer a blank to him--the earth no longer a void. when his first-born was put into his arms,he could see that the boy had inherited his own eyes, as they once were--large,brilliant, and black. on that occasion, he again, with a fullheart, acknowledged that god had tempered judgment with mercy. my edward and i, then, are happy: and themore so, because those we most love are happy likewise.

diana and mary rivers are both married:alternately, once every year, they come to see us, and we go to see them.diana's husband is a captain in the navy, a gallant officer and a good man. mary's is a clergyman, a college friend ofher brother's, and, from his attainments and principles, worthy of the connection.both captain fitzjames and mr. wharton love their wives, and are loved by them. as to st. john rivers, he left england: hewent to india. he entered on the path he had marked forhimself; he pursues it still. a more resolute, indefatigable pioneernever wrought amidst rocks and dangers.

firm, faithful, and devoted, full ofenergy, and zeal, and truth, he labours for his race; he clears their painful way toimprovement; he hews down like a giant the prejudices of creed and caste that encumberit. he may be stern; he may be exacting; he maybe ambitious yet; but his is the sternness of the warrior greatheart, who guards hispilgrim convoy from the onslaught of apollyon. his is the exaction of the apostle, whospeaks but for christ, when he says-- "whosoever will come after me, let him denyhimself, and take up his cross and follow me."

his is the ambition of the high master-spirit, which aims to fill a place in the first rank of those who are redeemed fromthe earth--who stand without fault before the throne of god, who share the last mighty victories of the lamb, who arecalled, and chosen, and faithful. st. john is unmarried: he never will marrynow. himself has hitherto sufficed to the toil,and the toil draws near its close: his glorious sun hastens to its setting. the last letter i received from him drewfrom my eyes human tears, and yet filled my heart with divine joy: he anticipated hissure reward, his incorruptible crown.

i know that a stranger's hand will write tome next, to say that the good and faithful servant has been called at length into thejoy of his lord. and why weep for this? no fear of death will darken st. john'slast hour: his mind will be unclouded, his heart will be undaunted, his hope will besure, his faith steadfast. his own words are a pledge of this-- "my master," he says, "has forewarned me.daily he announces more distinctly,-- 'surely i come quickly!' and hourly i moreeagerly respond,--'amen; even so come, lord jesus!'"

Subscribe to receive free email updates: