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Chapter 37

  • The manor-house of Ferndean was a building of considerable antiquity, moderat_ize, and no architectural pretensions, deep buried in a wood.  I had heard o_t before.  Mr. Rochester often spoke of it, and sometimes went there.  Hi_ather had purchased the estate for the sake of the game covers.  He woul_ave let the house, but could find no tenant, in consequence of its ineligibl_nd insalubrious site.  Ferndean then remained uninhabited and unfurnished, with the exception of some two or three rooms fitted up for the accommodatio_f the squire when he went there in the season to shoot.
  • To this house I came just ere dark on an evening marked by the characteristic_f sad sky, cold gale, and continued small penetrating rain.  The last mile _erformed on foot, having dismissed the chaise and driver with the doubl_emuneration I had promised.  Even when within a very short distance of th_anor-house, you could see nothing of it, so thick and dark grew the timber o_he gloomy wood about it.  Iron gates between granite pillars showed me wher_o enter, and passing through them, I found myself at once in the twilight o_lose-ranked trees.  There was a grass-grown track descending the forest aisl_etween hoar and knotty shafts and under branched arches.  I followed it, expecting soon to reach the dwelling; but it stretched on and on, it would fa_nd farther: no sign of habitation or grounds was visible.
  • I thought I had taken a wrong direction and lost my way.  The darkness o_atural as well as of sylvan dusk gathered over me.  I looked round in searc_f another road.  There was none: all was interwoven stem, columnar trunk, dense summer foliage—no opening anywhere.
  • I proceeded: at last my way opened, the trees thinned a little; presently _eheld a railing, then the house—scarce, by this dim light, distinguishabl_rom the trees; so dank and green were its decaying walls.  Entering a portal, fastened only by a latch, I stood amidst a space of enclosed ground, fro_hich the wood swept away in a semicircle.  There were no flowers, no garden- beds; only a broad gravel-walk girdling a grass-plat, and this set in th_eavy frame of the forest.  The house presented two pointed gables in it_ront; the windows were latticed and narrow: the front door was narrow too, one step led up to it.  The whole looked, as the host of the Rochester Arm_ad 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 it_icinage.
  • “Can there be life here?” I asked.
  • Yes, life of some kind there was; for I heard a movement—that narrow front- door was unclosing, and some shape was about to issue from the grange.
  • It opened slowly: a figure came out into the twilight and stood on the step; _an without a hat: he stretched forth his hand as if to feel whether i_ained.  Dusk as it was, I had recognised him—it was my master, Edward Fairfa_ochester, and no other.
  • I stayed my step, almost my breath, and stood to watch him—to examine him, myself unseen, and alas! to him invisible.  It was a sudden meeting, and on_n which rapture was kept well in check by pain.  I had no difficulty i_estraining my voice from exclamation, my step from hasty advance.
  • His form was of the same strong and stalwart contour as ever: his port wa_till erect, his hair was still raven black; nor were his features altered o_unk: not in one year’s space, by any sorrow, could his athletic strength b_uelled or his vigorous prime blighted.  But in his countenance I saw _hange: that looked desperate and brooding—that reminded me of some wronge_nd fettered wild beast or bird, dangerous to approach in his sullen woe.  Th_aged eagle, whose gold-ringed eyes cruelty has extinguished, might look a_ooked that sightless Samson.
  • And, reader, do you think I feared him in his blind ferocity?—if you do, yo_ittle know me.  A soft hope blest with my sorrow that soon I should dare t_rop a kiss on that brow of rock, and on those lips so sternly sealed beneat_t: but not yet.  I would not accost him yet.
  • He descended the one step, and advanced slowly and gropingly towards th_rass-plat.  Where was his daring stride now?  Then he paused, as if he kne_ot which way to turn.  He lifted his hand and opened his eyelids; gaze_lank, and with a straining effort, on the sky, and toward the amphitheatre o_rees: 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 t_ish by touch to gain an idea of what lay around him: he met but vacanc_till; for the trees were some yards off where he stood.  He relinquished th_ndeavour, folded his arms, and stood quiet and mute in the rain, now fallin_ast on his uncovered head.  At this moment John approached him from som_uarter.
  • “Will you take my arm, sir?” he said; “there is a heavy shower coming on: ha_ou not better go in?”
  • “Let me alone,” was the answer.
  • John withdrew without having observed me.  Mr. Rochester now tried to wal_bout: 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 wife opened for me.  “Mary,” I said, “ho_re you?”
  • She started as if she had seen a ghost: I calmed her.  To her hurried “Is i_eally you, miss, come at this late hour to this lonely place?”  I answered b_aking her hand; and then I followed her into the kitchen, where John now sa_y a good fire.  I explained to them, in few words, that I had heard all whic_ad happened since I left Thornfield, and that I was come to see Mr.
  • Rochester.  I asked John to go down to the turn-pike-house, where I ha_ismissed 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 coul_e accommodated at the Manor House for the night; and finding tha_rrangements to that effect, though difficult, would not be impossible, _nformed 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 t_im, but do not give my name.”
  • “I don’t think he will see you,” she answered; “he refuses everybody.”
  • When she returned, I inquired what he had said.  “You are to send in your nam_nd your business,” she replied.  She then proceeded to fill a glass wit_ater, and place it on a tray, together with candles.
  • “Is that what he rang for?” I asked.
  • “Yes: he always has candles brought in at dark, though he is blind.”
  • “Give the tray to me; I will carry it in.”
  • I took it from her hand: she pointed me out the parlour door.  The tray shoo_s I held it; the water spilt from the glass; my heart struck my ribs loud an_ast.  Mary opened the door for me, and shut it behind me.
  • This parlour looked gloomy: a neglected handful of fire burnt low in th_rate; and, leaning over it, with his head supported against the high, old- fashioned mantelpiece, appeared the blind tenant of the room.  His old dog, Pilot, lay on one side, removed out of the way, and coiled up as if afraid o_eing 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 almos_nocked the tray from my hands.  I set it on the table; then patted him, an_aid softly, “Lie down!”  Mr. Rochester turned mechanically to _see_ what th_ommotion 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, stil_xcited.
  • “What is the matter?” he inquired.
  • “Down, Pilot!” I again said.  He checked the water on its way to his lips, an_eemed to listen: he drank, and put the glass down.  “This is you, Mary, is i_ot?”
  • “Mary is in the kitchen,” I answered.
  • He put out his hand with a quick gesture, but not seeing where I stood, he di_ot 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 th_lass,” 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 seize_e?”
  • “No delusion—no madness: your mind, sir, is too strong for delusion, you_ealth too sound for frenzy.”
  • “And where is the speaker?  Is it only a voice?  Oh!  I _cannot_ see, but _ust feel, or my heart will stop and my brain burst.  Whatever—whoever yo_re—be perceptible to 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 b_ore of her.”
  • The muscular hand broke from my custody; my arm was seized, m_houlder—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 bles_ou, 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 com_ack to 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, nor vacant like air, am I?”
  • “My living darling!  These are certainly her limbs, and these her features; but I cannot be so blest, after all my misery.  It is a dream; such dreams a_ have had at night when I have clasped her once more to my heart, as I d_ow; and kissed her, as thus—and felt that she loved me, and trusted that sh_ould not leave me.”
  • “Which I never will, sir, from this day.”
  • “Never will, says the vision?  But I always woke and found it an empt_ockery; and I was desolate and abandoned—my life dark, lonely, hopeless—m_oul athirst and forbidden to drink—my heart famished and never to be fed.
  • Gentle, soft dream, nestling in my arms now, you will fly, too, as you_isters have all fled before you: but kiss me before you go—embrace me, Jane.”
  • “There, sir—and there!”’
  • I pressed my lips to his once brilliant and now rayless eyes—I swept his hai_rom his brow, and kissed that too.  He suddenly seemed to arouse himself: th_onviction 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 _ining 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 left me five thousand pounds.”
  • “Ah! this is practical—this is real!” he cried: “I should never dream that.
  • Besides, there is that peculiar voice of hers, so animating and piquant, a_ell as soft: it cheers my withered heart; it puts life into it.—What, Janet!
  • Are you an independent woman?  A rich woman?”
  • “If you won’t let me live with you, I can build a house of my own close up t_our door, and you may come and sit in my parlour when you want company of a_vening.”
  • “But as you are rich, Jane, you have now, no doubt, friends who will loo_fter you, and not suffer you to devote yourself to a blind lameter like me?”
  • “I told you I am independent, sir, as well as rich: I am my own mistress.”
  • “And you will stay with me?”
  • “Certainly—unless you object.  I will be your neighbour, your nurse, you_ousekeeper.  I find you lonely: I will be your companion—to read to you, t_alk with you, to sit with you, to wait on you, to be eyes and hands to you.
  • Cease to look so melancholy, my dear master; you shall not be left desolate, so long as I live.”
  • He replied not: he seemed serious—abstracted; he sighed; he half-opened hi_ips as if to speak: he closed them again.  I felt a little embarrassed.
  • Perhaps I had too rashly over-leaped conventionalities; and he, like St. John, saw impropriety in my inconsiderateness.  I had indeed made my proposal fro_he idea that he wished and would ask me to be his wife: an expectation, no_he less certain because unexpressed, had buoyed me up, that he would claim m_t once as his own.  But no hint to that effect escaping him and hi_ountenance becoming more overcast, I suddenly remembered that I might hav_een all wrong, and was perhaps playing the fool unwittingly; and I bega_ently to withdraw myself from his arms—but he eagerly snatched me closer.
  • “No—no—Jane; you must not go.  No—I have touched you, heard you, felt th_omfort of your presence—the sweetness of your consolation: I cannot give u_hese joys.  I have little left in myself—I must have you.  The world ma_augh—may call me absurd, selfish—but it does not signify.  My very sou_emands you: it will be satisfied, or it will take deadly vengeance on it_rame.”
  • “Well, sir, I will stay with you: I have said so.”
  • “Yes—but you understand one thing by staying with me; and I understan_nother.  You, perhaps, could make up your mind to be about my hand an_hair—to wait on me as a kind little nurse (for you have an affectionate hear_nd a generous spirit, which prompt you to make sacrifices for those yo_ity), and that ought to suffice for me no doubt.  I suppose I should no_ntertain none but fatherly feelings for you: do you think so?  Come—tell me.”
  • “I will think what you like, sir: I am content to be only your nurse, if yo_hink it better.”
  • “But you cannot always be my nurse, Janet: you are young—you must marry on_ay.”
  • “I don’t care about being married.”
  • “You should care, Janet: if I were what I once was, I would try to make yo_are—but—a sightless block!”
  • He relapsed again into gloom.  I, on the contrary, became more cheerful, an_ook fresh courage: these last words gave me an insight as to where th_ifficulty lay; and as it was no difficulty with me, I felt quite relieve_rom my previous embarrassment.  I resumed a livelier vein of conversation.
  • “It is time some one undertook to rehumanise you,” said I, parting his thic_nd long uncut locks; “for I see you are being metamorphosed into a lion, o_omething of that sort.  You have a ‘faux air’ of Nebuchadnezzar in the field_bout you, that is certain: your hair reminds me of eagles’ feathers; whethe_our nails are grown like birds’ claws or not, I have not yet noticed.”
  • “On this arm, I have neither hand nor nails,” he said, drawing the mutilate_imb from his breast, and showing it to me.  “It is a mere stump—a ghastl_ight!  Don’t you think so, Jane?”
  • “It is a pity to see it; and a pity to see your eyes—and the scar of fire o_our forehead: and the worst of it is, one is in danger of loving you too wel_or all this; and making too much of you.”
  • “I thought you would be revolted, Jane, when you saw my arm, and my cicatrise_isage.”
  • “Did you?  Don’t tell me so—lest I should say something disparaging to you_udgment.  Now, let me leave you an instant, to make a better fire, and hav_he hearth swept up.  Can you tell when there is a good fire?”
  • “Yes; with the right eye I see a glow—a ruddy 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 thankful to 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, onl_ou forget.”
  • Summoning Mary, I soon had the room in more cheerful order: I prepared him, likewise, a comfortable repast.  My spirits were excited, and with pleasur_nd ease I talked to him during supper, and for a long time after.  There wa_o harassing restraint, no repressing of glee and vivacity with him; for wit_im I was at perfect ease, because I knew I suited him; all I said or di_eemed either to console or revive him.  Delightful consciousness!  It brough_o life and light my whole nature: in his presence I thoroughly lived; and h_ived in mine.  Blind as he was, smiles played over his face, joy dawned o_is forehead: his lineaments softened and warmed.
  • After supper, he began to ask me many questions, of where I had been, what _ad been doing, how I had found him out; but I gave him only very partia_eplies: it was too late to enter into particulars that night.  Besides, _ished to touch no deep-thrilling chord—to open no fresh well of emotion i_is heart: my sole present aim was to cheer him.  Cheered, as I have said, h_as: and yet but by fits.  If a moment’s silence broke the conversation, h_ould turn restless, touch me, then say, “Jane.”
  • “You are altogether a human being, Jane?  You are certain of that?”
  • “I conscientiously believe so, Mr. Rochester.”
  • “Yet how, on this dark and doleful evening, could you so suddenly rise on m_one hearth?  I stretched my hand to take a glass of water from a hireling, and it was given me by you: I asked a question, expecting John’s wife t_nswer 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 hour I am now spending with you.  Wh_an tell what a dark, dreary, hopeless life I have dragged on for months past?
  • Doing nothing, expecting nothing; merging night in day; feeling but th_ensation of cold when I let the fire go out, of hunger when I forgot to eat: and then a ceaseless sorrow, and, at times, a very delirium of desire t_ehold my Jane again.  Yes: for her restoration I longed, far more than fo_hat of my lost sight.  How can it be that Jane is with me, and says she love_e?  Will she not depart as suddenly as she came?  To-morrow, I fear I shal_ind her no more.”
  • A commonplace, practical reply, out of the train of his own disturbed ideas, was, I was sure, the best and most reassuring for him in this frame of mind.
  • I passed my finger over his eyebrows, and remarked that they were scorched, and that I would apply something which would make them grow as broad and blac_s ever.
  • “Where is the use of doing me good in any way, beneficent spirit, when, a_ome fatal moment, you will again desert me—passing like a shadow, whither an_ow to me unknown, and for me remaining afterwards undiscoverable?
  • “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 _xamine you close at hand: you talk of my being a fairy, but I am sure, yo_re more like a brownie.”
  • “Am I hideous, Jane?”
  • “Very, sir: you always were, you know.”
  • “Humph!  The wickedness has not been taken out of you, wherever you hav_ojourned.”
  • “Yet I have been with good people; far better than you: a hundred times bette_eople; possessed of ideas and views you never entertained in your life: quit_ore 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; an_hen I think 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 a sort of security that I shal_ppear at your breakfast table to finish it.  By the bye, I must mind not t_ise on your hearth with only a glass of water then: I must bring an egg a_he least, to say nothing of fried ham.”
  • “You mocking changeling—fairy-born and human-bred!  You make me feel as I hav_ot felt these twelve months.  If Saul could have had you for his David, th_vil 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 bee_ravelling these last three days, and I believe I am tired.  Good night.”
  • “Just one word, Jane: were there only ladies in the house where you hav_een?”
  • I laughed and made my escape, still laughing as I ran upstairs.  “A goo_dea!”  I thought with glee.  “I see I have the means of fretting him out o_is melancholy for some time to come.”
  • Very early the next morning I heard him up and astir, wandering from one roo_o another.  As soon as Mary came down I heard the question: “Is Miss Eyr_ere?”  Then: “Which room did you put her into?  Was it dry?  Is she up?  G_nd ask if she wants anything; and when she will come down.”
  • I came down as soon as I thought there was a prospect of breakfast.  Enterin_he room very softly, I had a view of him before he discovered my presence.
  • It was mournful, indeed, to witness the subjugation of that vigorous spirit t_ corporeal infirmity.  He sat in his chair—still, but not at rest: expectan_vidently; the lines of now habitual sadness marking his strong features.  Hi_ountenance reminded one of a lamp quenched, waiting to be re-lit—and alas! i_as not himself that could now kindle the lustre of animated expression: h_as dependent on another for that office!  I had meant to be gay and careless, but the powerlessness of the strong man touched my heart to the quick: still _ccosted him with what vivacity I could.
  • “It is a bright, sunny morning, sir,” I said.  “The rain is over and gone, an_here is a tender shining after it: you shall have a walk soon.”
  • I had wakened the glow: his features beamed.
  • “Oh, you are indeed there, my skylark!  Come to me.  You are not gone: no_anished?  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 the rising sun had rays.  Al_he melody on earth is concentrated in my Jane’s tongue to my ear (I am gla_t is not naturally a silent one): all the sunshine I can feel is in he_resence.”
  • The water stood in my eyes to hear this avowal of his dependence; just as if _oyal eagle, chained to a perch, should be forced to entreat a sparrow t_ecome its purveyor.  But I would not be lachrymose: I dashed off the sal_rops, and busied myself with preparing breakfast.
  • Most of the morning was spent in the open air.  I led him out of the wet an_ild wood into some cheerful fields: I described to him how brilliantly gree_hey were; how the flowers and hedges looked refreshed; how sparklingly blu_as the sky.  I sought a seat for him in a hidden and lovely spot, a dry stum_f a tree; nor did I refuse to let him, when seated, place me on his knee.
  • Why should I, when both he and I were happier near than apart?  Pilot la_eside us: all was quiet.  He broke out suddenly while clasping me in hi_rms—
  • “Cruel, cruel deserter!  Oh, Jane, what did I feel when I discovered you ha_led from Thornfield, and when I could nowhere find you; and, after examinin_our apartment, ascertained that you had taken no money, nor anything whic_ould serve as an equivalent!  A pearl necklace I had given you lay untouche_n its little casket; your trunks were left corded and locked as they had bee_repared for the bridal tour.  What could my darling do, I asked, lef_estitute and penniless?  And what did she do?  Let me hear now.”
  • Thus urged, I began the narrative of my experience for the last year.  _oftened considerably what related to the three days of wandering an_tarvation, because to have told him all would have been to inflic_nnecessary pain: the little I did say lacerated his faithful heart deepe_han 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 woul_ever have forced me to be his mistress.  Violent as he had seemed in hi_espair, he, in truth, loved me far too well and too tenderly to constitut_imself my tyrant: he would have given me half his fortune, without demandin_o much as a kiss in return, rather than I should have flung myself friendles_n the wide world.  I had endured, he was certain, more than I had confesse_o him.
  • “Well, whatever my sufferings had been, they were very short,” I answered: an_hen I proceeded to tell him how I had been received at Moor House; how I ha_btained the office of schoolmistress, &c.  The accession of fortune, th_iscovery of my relations, followed in due order.  Of course, St. John Rivers’ name came in frequently in the progress of my tale.  When I had done, tha_ame was immediately taken up.
  • “This St. John, then, is your cousin?”
  • “Yes.”
  • “You have spoken of him often: do you like him?”
  • “He was a very good man, sir; I could not help liking him.”
  • “A good man.  Does that mean a respectable well-conducted man of fifty?  O_hat 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 in hi_uiltlessness of vice, than in his prowess in virtue.”
  • “He is untiringly active.  Great and exalted deeds are what he lives t_erform.”
  • “But his brain?  That is probably rather soft?  He means well: but you shru_our shoulders to hear him talk?”
  • “He talks little, sir: what he does say is ever to the point.  His brain i_irst-rate, I should think not impressible, but vigorous.”
  • “Is he an able man, then?”
  • “Truly able.”
  • “A thoroughly educated man?”
  • “St. John is an accomplished and profound scholar.”
  • “His manners, I think, you said are not to your taste?—priggish and parsonic?”
  • “I never mentioned his manners; but, unless I had a very bad taste, they mus_uit it; they are polished, calm, and gentlemanlike.”
  • “His appearance,—I forget what description you gave of his appearance;—a sor_f raw curate, half strangled with his white neckcloth, and stilted up on hi_hick-soled high-lows, eh?”
  • “St. John dresses well.  He is a handsome man: tall, fair, with blue eyes, an_ 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 hol_f him: she stung him; but the sting was salutary: it gave him respite fro_he gnawing fang of melancholy.  I would not, therefore, immediately charm th_nake.
  • “Perhaps you would rather not sit any longer on my knee, Miss Eyre?” was th_ext somewhat unexpected observation.
  • “Why not, Mr. Rochester?”
  • “The picture you have just drawn is suggestive of a rather too overwhelmin_ontrast.  Your words have delineated very prettily a graceful Apollo: he i_resent to your imagination,—tall, fair, blue-eyed, and with a Grecia_rofile.  Your eyes dwell on a Vulcan,—a real blacksmith, 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 before you go” (and he retained me by _irmer grasp than ever), “you will be pleased just to answer me a question o_wo.”  He paused.
  • “What questions, Mr. Rochester?”
  • Then followed this cross-examination.
  • “St. John made you schoolmistress of Morton before he knew you were hi_ousin?”
  • “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 yo_re a talented 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 not ordinary.”
  • “I don’t know about that.”
  • “You had a little cottage near the school, you say: did he ever come there t_ee you?”
  • “Now and then?”
  • “Of an evening?”
  • “Once or twice.”
  • A pause.
  • “How long did you reside with him and his sisters after the cousinship wa_iscovered?”
  • “Five months.”
  • “Did Rivers spend much time with the ladies of his family?”
  • “Yes; the back parlour was both his study and 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 invention to vex me.”
  • “I beg your pardon, it is the literal truth: he asked me more than once, an_as as stiff about urging his point as ever you could be.”
  • “Miss Eyre, I repeat it, you can leave me.  How often am I to say the sam_hing?  Why do you remain pertinaciously perched on my knee, when I have give_ou notice to quit?”
  • “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 m_ittle Jane was all mine!  I had a belief she loved me even when she left me: that was an atom of sweet in much bitter.  Long as we have been parted, ho_ears as I have wept over our separation, I never thought that while I wa_ourning her, she was 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 ow_ccord.”
  • “Jane, I ever like your tone of voice: it still renews hope, it sounds s_ruthful.  When I hear it, it carries me back a year.  I forget that you hav_ormed a new tie.  But I am not a fool—go—”
  • “Where must I go, sir?”
  • “Your own way—with the husband you have chosen.”
  • “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 lov_im.  He loves (as he _can_ love, and that is not as you love) a beautifu_oung lady called Rosamond.  He wanted to marry me only because he thought _hould make a suitable missionary’s wife, which she would not have done.  H_s good and great, but severe; and, for me, cold as an iceberg.  He is no_ike you, sir: I am not happy at his side, nor near him, nor with him.  He ha_o indulgence for me—no fondness.  He sees nothing attractive in me; not eve_outh—only a few useful mental points.—Then I must leave you, sir, to go t_im?”
  • I shuddered involuntarily, and clung instinctively closer to my blind bu_eloved master.  He smiled.
  • “What, Jane!  Is this true?  Is such really the state of matters between yo_nd Rivers?”
  • “Absolutely, sir!  Oh, you need not be jealous!  I wanted to tease you _ittle to make you less sad: I thought anger would be better than grief.  Bu_f you wish me to love you, could you but see how much I _do_ love you, yo_ould be proud and content.  All my heart is yours, sir: it belongs to you; and with you it would remain, were fate to exile the rest of me from you_resence for ever.”
  • Again, as he kissed me, painful thoughts darkened 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, an_anted to speak for him, but dared not.  As he turned aside his face a minute, I saw a tear slide from under the sealed eyelid, and trickle down the manl_heek.  My heart swelled.
  • “I am no better than the old lightning-struck chestnut-tree in Thornfiel_rchard,” he remarked ere long.  “And what right would that ruin have to bid _udding 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, whether you ask them or not, because the_ake delight in your bountiful shadow; and as they grow they will lean toward_ou, and wind round you, because your strength offers them so safe a prop.”
  • Again he smiled: I gave him comfort.
  • “You speak of friends, Jane?” he asked.
  • “Yes, of friends,” I answered rather hesitatingly: for I knew I meant mor_han friends, but could not tell what other word to 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 it before.”
  • “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 you best_.”
  • “I will at least choose— _her I love best_.  Jane, will you marry me?”
  • “Yes, sir.”
  • “A poor blind man, whom you will have to lead about by the hand?”
  • “Yes, sir.”
  • “A crippled man, twenty years older than you, 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 deed in my life—if ever I thought a goo_hought—if ever I prayed a sincere and blameless prayer—if ever I wished _ighteous wish,—I am rewarded now.  To be your wife is, for me, to be as happ_s 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 _ove—to repose on what I trust: is that to make a sacrifice?  If so, the_ertainly I delight in sacrifice.”
  • “And to bear with my infirmities, Jane: to overlook my deficiencies.”
  • “Which are none, sir, to me.  I love you better now, when I can really b_seful to you, than I did in your state of proud independence, when yo_isdained every part but that of the giver and protector.”
  • “Hitherto I have hated to be helped—to be led: henceforth, I feel I shall hat_t no more.  I did not like to put my hand into a hireling’s, but it i_leasant to feel it circled by Jane’s little fingers.  I preferred utte_oneliness to the constant attendance of servants; but Jane’s soft ministr_ill 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 the world to wait for: we must b_arried instantly.”
  • He looked and spoke with eagerness: his old impetuosity was rising.
  • “We must become one flesh without any delay, Jane: there is but the licence t_et—then we marry.”
  • “Mr. Rochester, I have just discovered the sun is far declined from it_eridian, and Pilot is actually gone home to his dinner.  Let me look at you_atch.”
  • “Fasten it into your girdle, Janet, and keep it henceforward: I have no us_or 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 fin_lothes 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 i_uite hot.”
  • “Do you know, Jane, I have your little pearl necklace at this moment fastene_ound my bronze scrag under my cravat?  I have worn it since the day I lost m_nly treasure, as a memento of her.”
  • “We will go home through the wood: that will be the shadiest way.”
  • He pursued his own thoughts without heeding me.
  • “Jane! you think me, I daresay, an irreligious dog: but my heart swells wit_ratitude to the beneficent God of this earth just now.  He sees not as ma_ees, but far clearer: judges not as man judges, but far more wisely.  I di_rong: I would have sullied my innocent flower—breathed guilt on its purity: the Omnipotent snatched it from me.  I, in my stiff-necked rebellion, almos_ursed the dispensation: instead of bending to the decree, I defied it.
  • Divine justice pursued its course; disasters came thick on me: I was forced t_ass through the valley of the shadow of death.  _His_ chastisements ar_ighty; and one smote me which has humbled me for ever.  You know I was prou_f my strength: but what is it now, when I must give it over to foreig_uidance, as a child does its weakness?  Of late, Jane—only—only of late—_egan to see and acknowledge the hand of God in my doom.  I began t_xperience remorse, repentance; the wish for reconcilement to my Maker.  _egan sometimes to pray: very brief prayers they were, but very sincere.
  • “Some days since: nay, I can number them—four; it was last Monday night, _ingular mood came over me: one in which grief replaced frenzy—sorrow, sullenness.  I had long had the impression that since I could nowhere fin_ou, you must be dead.  Late that night—perhaps it might be between eleven an_welve o’clock—ere I retired to my dreary rest, I supplicated God, that, if i_eemed good to Him, I might soon be taken from this life, and admitted to tha_orld to come, where there was still hope of rejoining Jane.
  • “I was in my own room, and sitting by the window, which was open: it soothe_e to feel the balmy night-air; though I could see no stars and only by _ague, 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 i_nguish and humility, if I had not been long enough desolate, afflicted, tormented; and might not soon taste bliss and peace once more.  That I merite_ll I endured, I acknowledged—that I could scarcely endure more, I pleaded; and the alpha and omega of my heart’s wishes broke involuntarily from my lip_n the words—‘Jane!  Jane!  Jane!’”
  • “Did you speak these words aloud?”
  • “I did, Jane.  If any listener had heard me, he would have thought me mad: _ronounced 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,—some superstition I have in my blood, an_lways had: nevertheless, this is true—true at least it is that I heard what _ow relate.
  • “As I exclaimed ‘Jane!  Jane!  Jane!’ a voice—I cannot tell whence the voic_ame, but I know whose voice it was—replied, ‘I am coming: wait for me;’ and _oment after, went whispering on the wind the words—‘Where are you?’
  • “I’ll tell you, if I can, the idea, the picture these words opened to my mind: yet it is difficult to express what I want to express.  Ferndean is buried, a_ou see, in a heavy wood, where sound falls dull, and dies unreverberating.
  • ‘Where are you?’ seemed spoken amongst mountains; for I heard a hill-sent ech_epeat the words.  Cooler and fresher at the moment the gale seemed to visi_y brow: I could have deemed that in some wild, lone scene, I and Jane wer_eeting.  In spirit, I believe we must have met.  You no doubt were, at tha_our, in unconscious sleep, Jane: perhaps your soul wandered from its cell t_omfort mine; for those were your accents—as certain as I live—they wer_ours!”
  • Reader, it was on Monday night—near midnight—that I too had received th_ysterious summons: those were the very words by which I replied to it.  _istened to Mr. Rochester’s narrative, but made no disclosure in return.  Th_oincidence struck me as too awful and inexplicable to be communicated o_iscussed.  If I told anything, my tale would be such as must necessarily mak_ profound impression on the mind of my hearer: and that mind, yet from it_ufferings too prone to gloom, needed not the deeper shade of th_upernatural.  I kept these things then, and pondered them in my heart.
  • “You cannot now wonder,” continued my master, “that when you rose upon me s_nexpectedly last night, I had difficulty in believing you any other than _ere voice and vision, something that would melt to silence and annihilation, as the midnight whisper and mountain echo had melted before.  Now, I than_od!  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.  Onl_he last words of the worship were audible.
  • “I thank my Maker, that, in the midst of judgment, he has remembered mercy.  _umbly entreat my Redeemer to give me strength to lead henceforth a purer lif_han I have done hitherto!”
  • Then he stretched his hand out to be led.  I took that dear hand, held it _oment to my lips, then let it pass round my shoulder: being so much lower o_tature than he, I served both for his prop and guide.  We entered the wood, and wended homeward.