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Chapter 35

  • He did not leave for Cambridge the next day, as he had said he would.  H_eferred his departure a whole week, and during that time he made me feel wha_evere punishment a good yet stern, a conscientious yet implacable man ca_nflict on one who has offended him.  Without one overt act of hostility, on_pbraiding word, he contrived to impress me momently with the conviction tha_ was put beyond the pale of his favour.
  • Not that St. John harboured a spirit of unchristian vindictiveness—not that h_ould have injured a hair of my head, if it had been fully in his power to d_o.  Both by nature and principle, he was superior to the mean gratificatio_f vengeance: he had forgiven me for saying I scorned him and his love, but h_ad not forgotten the words; and as long as he and I lived he never woul_orget them.  I saw by his look, when he turned to me, that they were alway_ritten on the air between me and him; whenever I spoke, they sounded in m_oice 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 eac_orning to join him at his desk; and I fear the corrupt man within him had _leasure unimparted to, and unshared by, the pure Christian, in evincing wit_hat skill he could, while acting and speaking apparently just as usual, extract from every deed and every phrase the spirit of interest and approva_hich had formerly communicated a certain austere charm to his language an_anner.  To me, he was in reality become no longer flesh, but marble; his ey_as a cold, bright, blue gem; his tongue a speaking instrument—nothing more.
  • All this was torture to me—refined, lingering torture.  It kept up a slow fir_f indignation and a trembling trouble of grief, which harassed and crushed m_ltogether.  I felt how—if I were his wife, this good man, pure as the dee_unless source, could soon kill me, without drawing from my veins a singl_rop of blood, or receiving on his own crystal conscience the faintest stai_f crime.  Especially I felt this when I made any attempt to propitiate him.
  • No ruth met my ruth.  _He_ experienced no suffering from estrangement—n_earning after reconciliation; and though, more than once, my fast fallin_ears blistered the page over which we both bent, they produced no more effec_n him than if his heart had been really a matter of stone or metal.  To hi_isters, meantime, he was somewhat kinder than usual: as if afraid that mer_oldness would not sufficiently convince me how completely I was banished an_anned, he added the force of contrast; and this I am sure he did not b_orce, but on principle.
  • The night before he left home, happening to see him walking in the garde_bout sunset, and remembering, as I looked at him, that this man, alienated a_e now was, had once saved my life, and that we were near relations, I wa_oved to make a last attempt to regain his friendship.  I went out an_pproached him as he stood leaning over the little gate; I spoke to the poin_t once.
  • “St. John, I am unhappy because you are still angry with me.  Let us b_riends.”
  • “I hope we are friends,” was the unmoved reply; while he still watched th_ising of the moon, which he had been contemplating as I approached.
  • “No, St. John, we are not friends as we were.  You know that.”
  • “Are we not?  That is wrong.  For my part, I wish you no ill and all good.”
  • “I believe you, St. John; for I am sure you are incapable of wishing any on_ll; but, as I am your kinswoman, I should desire somewhat more of affectio_han that sort of general philanthropy you extend to mere strangers.”
  • “Of course,” he said.  “Your wish is reasonable, and I am far from regardin_ou as a stranger.”
  • This, spoken in a cool, tranquil tone, was mortifying and baffling enough.
  • Had I attended to the suggestions of pride and ire, I should immediately hav_eft him; but something worked within me more strongly than those feeling_ould.  I deeply venerated my cousin’s talent and principle.  His friendshi_as of value to me: to lose it tried me severely.  I would not so soo_elinquish the attempt to reconquer it.
  • “Must we part in this way, St. John?  And when you go to India, will you leav_e so, without a kinder word than you have yet spoken?”
  • He now turned quite from the moon and faced me.
  • “When I go to India, Jane, will I leave you!  What! do you not go to India?”
  • “You said I could not unless I married you.”
  • “And you will not marry me!  You adhere to that resolution?”
  • Reader, do you know, as I do, what terror those cold people can put into th_ce of their questions?  How much of the fall of the avalanche is in thei_nger? of the breaking up of the frozen sea in their displeasure?
  • “No.  St. John, I will not marry you.  I adhere to my resolution.”
  • The avalanche had shaken and slid a little forward, but it did not yet cras_own.
  • “Once more, why this refusal?” he asked.
  • “Formerly,” I answered, “because you did not love me; now, I reply, becaus_ou almost hate me.  If I were to marry you, you would kill me.  You ar_illing me now.”
  • His lips and cheeks turned white—quite white.
  • “ _I should kill you_ — _I am killing you_?  Your words are such as ought no_o be used: violent, unfeminine, and untrue.  They betray an unfortunate stat_f mind: they merit severe reproof: they would seem inexcusable, but that i_s the duty of man to forgive his fellow even until seventy-and-seven times.”
  • I had finished the business now.  While earnestly wishing to erase from hi_ind the trace of my former offence, I had stamped on that tenacious surfac_nother and far deeper impression, I had burnt it in.
  • “Now you will indeed hate me,” I said.  “It is useless to attempt t_onciliate you: I see I have made an eternal enemy of you.”
  • A fresh wrong did these words inflict: the worse, because they touched on th_ruth.  That bloodless lip quivered to a temporary spasm.  I knew the steel_re I had whetted.  I was heart-wrung.
  • “You utterly misinterpret my words,” I said, at once seizing his hand: “I hav_o intention to grieve or pain you—indeed, I have not.”
  • Most bitterly he smiled—most decidedly he withdrew his hand from mine.  “An_ow you recall your promise, and will not go to India at all, I presume?” sai_e, after a considerable pause.
  • “Yes, I will, as your assistant,” I answered.
  • A very long silence succeeded.  What struggle there was in him between Natur_nd Grace in this interval, I cannot tell: only singular gleams scintillate_n his 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 proposin_o accompany abroad a single man of mine.  I proved it to you in such term_s, I should have thought, would have prevented your ever again alluding t_he 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 t_e shocked by what I have said.  You are not really shocked: for, with you_uperior mind, you cannot be either so dull or so conceited as t_isunderstand my meaning.  I say again, I will be your curate, if you like, but never your wife.”
  • Again he turned lividly pale; but, as before, controlled his passio_erfectly.  He answered emphatically but calmly—
  • “A female curate, who is not my wife, would never suit me.  With me, then, i_eems, you cannot go: but if you are sincere in your offer, I will, while i_own, speak to a married missionary, whose wife needs a coadjutor.  Your ow_ortune will make you independent of the Society’s aid; and thus you may stil_e spared the dishonour of breaking your promise and deserting the band yo_ngaged to join.”
  • Now I never had, as the reader knows, either given any formal promise o_ntered into any engagement; and this language was all much too hard and muc_oo despotic for the occasion.  I replied—
  • “There is no dishonour, no breach of promise, no desertion in the case.  I a_ot 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 _ister, I love you; but I am convinced that, go when and with whom I would, _hould 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 m_ould, I begin to think, be almost equivalent to committing suicide.
  • Moreover, before I definitively resolve on quitting England, I will know fo_ertain whether I cannot be of greater use by remaining in it than by leavin_t.”
  • “What do you mean?”
  • “It would be fruitless to attempt to explain; but there is a point on which _ave long endured painful doubt, and I can go nowhere till by some means tha_oubt is removed.”
  • “I know where your heart turns and to what it clings.  The interest yo_herish is lawless and unconsecrated.  Long since you ought to have crushe_t: 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, “to remember you in my prayers, and t_ntreat God for you, in all earnestness, that you may not indeed become _astaway.  I had thought I recognised in you one of the chosen.  But God see_ot as man sees: _His_ will be done—”
  • He opened the gate, passed through it, and strayed away down the glen.  He wa_oon out of sight.
  • On re-entering the parlour, I found Diana standing at the window, looking ver_houghtful.  Diana was a great deal taller than I: she put her hand on m_houlder, and, stooping, examined my face.
  • “Jane,” she said, “you are always agitated and pale now.  I am sure there i_omething the matter.  Tell me what business St. John and you have on hands.
  • I have watched you this half hour from the window; you must forgive my bein_uch a spy, but for a long time I have fancied I hardly know what.  St. Joh_s a strange being—”
  • She paused—I did not speak: soon she resumed—
  • “That brother of mine cherishes peculiar views of some sort respecting you, _m sure: he has long distinguished you by a notice and interest he neve_howed 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 his eyes, and get you so frequently alon_ith him, and keep you so continually at his side?  Mary and I had bot_oncluded he wished you to marry him.”
  • “He does—he has asked me to be his wife.”
  • Diana clapped her hands.  “That is just what we hoped and thought!  And yo_ill marry him, Jane, won’t you?  And then he will stay in England.”
  • “Far from that, Diana; his sole idea in proposing to me is to procure _itting 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, I a_ertain.  You never shall go: you have not consented, have you, Jane?”
  • “I have refused to marry him—”
  • “And have consequently displeased him?” she suggested.
  • “Deeply: he will never forgive me, I fear: yet I offered to accompany him a_is sister.”
  • “It was frantic folly to do so, Jane.  Think of the task you undertook—one o_ncessant fatigue, where fatigue kills even the strong, and you are weak.  St.
  • John—you know him—would urge you to impossibilities: with him there would b_o permission to rest during the hot hours; and unfortunately, I have noticed, whatever he exacts, you force yourself to perform.  I am astonished you foun_ourage to refuse his hand.  You do not love him then, Jane?”
  • “Not as a husband.”
  • “Yet he is a handsome fellow.”
  • “And I am so plain, you see, Die.  We should never suit.”
  • “Plain!  You?  Not at all.  You are much too pretty, as well as too good, t_e grilled alive in Calcutta.”  And again she earnestly conjured me to give u_ll thoughts of going out with her brother.
  • “I must indeed,” I said; “for when just now I repeated the offer of servin_im for a deacon, he expressed himself shocked at my want of decency.  H_eemed to think I had committed an impropriety in proposing to accompany hi_nmarried: as if I had not from the first hoped to find in him a brother, an_abitually 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 explaine_hat it is not himself, but his office he wishes to mate.  He has told me I a_ormed for labour—not for love: which is true, no doubt.  But, in my opinion, if I am not formed for love, it follows that I am not formed for marriage.
  • Would it not be strange, Die, to be chained for life to a man who regarded on_ut as a useful tool?”
  • “Insupportable—unnatural—out of the question!”
  • “And then,” I continued, “though I have only sisterly affection for him now, yet, if forced to be his wife, I can imagine the possibility of conceiving a_nevitable, strange, torturing kind of love for him, because he is s_alented; and there is often a certain heroic grandeur in his look, manner, and conversation.  In that case, my lot would become unspeakably wretched.  H_ould not want me to love him; and if I showed the feeling, he would make m_ensible that it was a superfluity, unrequired by him, unbecoming in me.  _now he would.”
  • “And yet St. John is a good man,” said Diana.
  • “He is a good and a great man; but he forgets, pitilessly, the feelings an_laims of little people, in pursuing his own large views.  It is better, therefore, for the insignificant to keep out of his way, lest, in hi_rogress, he should trample them down.  Here he comes!  I will leave you, Diana.”  And I hastened upstairs as I saw him entering the garden.
  • But I was forced to meet him again at supper.  During that meal he appeare_ust as composed as usual.  I had thought he would hardly speak to me, and _as certain he had given up the pursuit of his matrimonial scheme: the seque_howed I was mistaken on both points.  He addressed me precisely in hi_rdinary manner, or what had, of late, been his ordinary manner—on_crupulously polite.  No doubt he had invoked the help of the Holy Spirit t_ubdue the anger I had roused in him, and now believed he had forgiven me onc_ore.
  • For the evening reading before prayers, he selected the twenty-first chapte_f Revelation.  It was at all times pleasant to listen while from his lip_ell the words of the Bible: never did his fine voice sound at once so swee_nd full—never did his manner become so impressive in its noble simplicity, a_hen he delivered the oracles of God: and to-night that voice took a mor_olemn tone—that manner a more thrilling meaning—as he sat in the midst of hi_ousehold circle (the May moon shining in through the uncurtained window, an_endering almost unnecessary the light of the candle on the table): as he sa_here, bending over the great old Bible, and described from its page th_ision of the new heaven and the new earth—told how God would come to dwel_ith men, how He would wipe away all tears from their eyes, and promised tha_here should be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, nor any more pain, because the former things were passed away.
  • The succeeding words thrilled me strangely as he spoke them: especially as _elt, by the slight, indescribable alteration in sound, that in uttering them, his eye had turned on me.
  • “He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and h_hall be my son.  But,” was slowly, distinctly read, “the fearful, th_nbelieving, &c., shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fir_nd brimstone, which is the second death.”
  • Henceforward, I knew what fate St. John feared for me.
  • A calm, subdued triumph, blent with a longing earnestness, marked hi_nunciation of the last glorious verses of that chapter.  The reader believe_is name was already written in the Lamb’s book of life, and he yearned afte_he hour which should admit him to the city to which the kings of the eart_ring 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, all his energy gathered—all his ster_eal woke: he was in deep earnest, wrestling with God, and resolved on _onquest.  He supplicated strength for the weak-hearted; guidance fo_anderers from the fold: a return, even at the eleventh hour, for those who_he temptations of the world and the flesh were luring from the narrow path.
  • He asked, he urged, he claimed the boon of a brand snatched from the burning.
  • Earnestness is ever deeply solemn: first, as I listened to that prayer, _ondered at his; then, when it continued and rose, I was touched by it, and a_ast awed.  He felt the greatness and goodness of his purpose so sincerely: others who heard him plead for it, could not but feel it too.
  • The prayer over, we took leave of him: he was to go at a very early hour i_he morning.  Diana and Mary having kissed him, left the room—in compliance, _hink, with a whispered hint from him: I tendered my hand, and wished him _leasant journey.
  • “Thank you, Jane.  As I said, I shall return from Cambridge in a fortnight: that space, then, is yet left you for reflection.  If I listened to huma_ride, I should say no more to you of marriage with me; but I listen to m_uty, and keep steadily in view my first aim—to do all things to the glory o_od.  My Master was long-suffering: so will I be.  I cannot give you up t_erdition as a vessel of wrath: repent—resolve, while there is yet time.
  • Remember, we are bid to work while it is day—warned that ‘the night comet_hen no man shall work.’  Remember the fate of Dives, who had his good thing_n this life.  God give you strength to choose that better part which shal_ot be taken from you!”
  • He laid his hand on my head as he uttered the last words.  He had spoke_arnestly, mildly: his look was not, indeed, that of a lover beholding hi_istress, but it was that of a pastor recalling his wandering sheep—or better, of a guardian angel watching the soul for which he is responsible.  All men o_alent, whether they be men of feeling or not; whether they be zealots, o_spirants, or despots—provided only they be sincere—have their sublim_oments, when they subdue and rule.  I felt veneration for St. John—veneratio_o strong that its impetus thrust me at once to the point I had so lon_hunned.  I was tempted to cease struggling with him—to rush down the torren_f his will into the gulf of his existence, and there lose my own.  I wa_lmost as hard beset by him now as I had been once before, in a different way, by another.  I was a fool both times.  To have yielded then would have been a_rror of principle; to have yielded now would have been an error of judgment.
  • So I think at this hour, when I look back to the crisis through the quie_edium of time: I was unconscious of folly at the instant.
  • I stood motionless under my hierophant’s touch.  My refusals were forgotten—m_ears overcome—my wrestlings paralysed.  The Impossible— _i.e._ , my marriag_ith St. John—was fast becoming the Possible.  All was changing utterly with _udden sweep.  Religion called—Angels beckoned—God commanded—life rolle_ogether like a scroll—death’s gates opening, showed eternity beyond: i_eemed, that for safety and bliss there, all here might be sacrificed in _econd.  The dim room was full of visions.
  • “Could you decide now?” asked the missionary.  The inquiry was put in gentl_ones: he drew me to him as gently.  Oh, that gentleness! how far more poten_s it than force!  I could resist St. John’s wrath: I grew pliant as a ree_nder his kindness.  Yet I knew all the time, if I yielded now, I should no_he less be made to repent, some day, of my former rebellion.  His nature wa_ot changed by one hour of solemn prayer: it was only elevated.
  • “I could decide if I were but certain,” I answered: “were I but convinced tha_t is God’s will I should marry you, I could vow to marry you here an_ow—come afterwards what would!”
  • “My prayers are heard!” ejaculated St. John.  He pressed his hand firmer on m_ead, as if he claimed me: he surrounded me with his arm, _almost_ as if h_oved me (I say _almost_ —I knew the difference—for I had felt what it was t_e loved; but, like him, I had now put love out of the question, and though_nly of duty).  I contended with my inward dimness of vision, before whic_louds yet rolled.  I sincerely, deeply, fervently longed to do what wa_ight; and only that.  “Show me, show me the path!” I entreated of Heaven.  _as excited more than I had ever been; and whether what followed was th_ffect of excitement the reader shall judge.
  • All the house was still; for I believe all, except St. John and myself, wer_ow retired to rest.  The one candle was dying out: the room was full o_oonlight.  My heart beat fast and thick: I heard its throb.  Suddenly i_tood still to an inexpressible feeling that thrilled it through, and passe_t once to my head and extremities.  The feeling was not like an electri_hock, but it was quite as sharp, as strange, as startling: it acted on m_enses as if their utmost activity hitherto had been but torpor, from whic_hey were now summoned and forced to wake.  They rose expectant: eye and ea_aited while the flesh quivered on my bones.
  • “What have you heard?  What do you see?” asked St. John.  I saw nothing, but _eard a voice somewhere cry—
  • “Jane!  Jane!  Jane!”—nothing more.
  • “O God! what is it?” I gasped.
  • I might have said, “Where is it?” for it did not seem in the room—nor in th_ouse—nor in the garden; it did not come out of the air—nor from under th_arth—nor from overhead.  I had heard it—where, or whence, for ever impossibl_o know!  And it was the voice of a human being—a known, loved, well- remembered voice—that of Edward Fairfax Rochester; and it spoke in pain an_oe, wildly, eerily, urgently.
  • “I am coming!” I cried.  “Wait for me!  Oh, I will come!”  I flew to the doo_nd looked into the passage: it was dark.  I ran out into the garden: it wa_oid.
  • “Where are you?” I exclaimed.
  • The hills beyond Marsh Glen sent the answer faintly back—“Where are you?”  _istened.  The wind sighed low in the firs: all was moorland loneliness an_idnight hush.
  • “Down superstition!” I commented, as that spectre rose up black by the blac_ew at the gate.  “This is not thy deception, nor thy witchcraft: it is th_ork of nature.  She was roused, and did—no miracle—but her best.”
  • I broke from St. John, who had followed, and would have detained me.  It wa_my_ time to assume ascendency.  _My_ powers were in play and in force.  _old him to forbear question or remark; I desired him to leave me: I must an_ould be alone.  He obeyed at once.  Where there is energy to command wel_nough, 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, bu_ffective in its own fashion.  I seemed to penetrate very near a Might_pirit; and my soul rushed out in gratitude at His feet.  I rose from th_hanksgiving—took a resolve—and lay down, unscared, enlightened—eager but fo_he daylight.