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Full text of "Jane Eyre"




THE LIBRARY 

OF 

THE UNIVERSITY 
OF CALIFORNIA 

LOS ANGELES 



GIFT OF 

FREDERIC THOMAS BLANCHARD 

FOR THE 
ENGLISH READING ROOM 



THORNFIELD EDITION 
ILLUSTRATED 



LIFE AND WORKS OF 

THE SISTERS BRONTE 

o 

WITH PREFACES BY 

>C UITMPUDV \A/ADr 



MRS. HUMPHRY WARD 

AND ANNOTATIONS TO MRS. GASKELL'S 

LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE BY 

CLEMENT K. SHORTER 



IN SEVEN VOLUMES 

VOLUME I 
JANE EYRE 



THORNFIELD EDITION 



JANE EYRE 



BY 

CHARLOTTE BRONTE 

(CURRER BELL) 



WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY 

MRS. HUMPHRY WARD 



ILLUSTRATED WITH 
PORTRAITS AND VIEWS 




HARPER 6- BROTHERS PUBLISHERS 
NEW YORK AND LONDON 



Copyright 1899, by HARPER k BROTHERS 



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS 



PORTRAIT OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE . . . Frontispiece 

From the drawing by G. Richmond in the possession 
of the Rev. A. B. Nichols, B.A. 

FACSIMILE OF THE TITLE-PAGE OF THE FIRST 

EDITION /. vii 

ROCHESTER AND JANE EYRE . . . To face p. 168 

From a water-colour drawing by Frederick Walker, A.R.A. 

Views of places described in the work, reproduced from photo- 
graphs taken by Mr. W. Jt. Bland of Duffietd, Derby \ in 
conjunction with Mr. C. Harrow Keene of Derby : 

STONE GAPPE (Gateshead Halt) . . . To face p. 10 

THE RYDINGS (Thornfield Halt) ... "112 

HATHERSAGE CHURCH (Morton) ... " 400 

HATHERSAGE VILLAGE (Morton) ... " 416 

MOORSEATS, HATHERSAGE (Moor House, Morton) " 428 

MOORLAND SCENE NEAR HATHERSAGE (Morton) " 450 

WYCOLLER (THE HALL) (Ferndean Manor) . " 526 

WYCOLLER (BRIDGE) (Ferndean Manor) . " 548 




:/ >-^-<^ 



Facsimile of the Title-page of the First Edition 



JANE EYRE. 



EDITED BY 

C U R R E R BELL- 



IN THREE VOLUMES, 
VOL. I 



LONDON: 

SMITH, ELDER, AND CO., CORTOILL 
1847. 



INTRODUCTION 

TO 

JANE EYRE 



'JANE EYRE' was first published in October 1847. Half 
a century since this tale of the North by an unknown writer 
stole upon London, and, in the very midst of the serial publi- 
cation of ' Vanity Fair,' took the town by storm, obtaining for 
its author in the course of a few weeks a success which, as 
the creator of Becky Sharp afterwards said to her, a little 
sadly and sharply, 'it took me the work of ten years to 
achieve.' 

Half a century, in the view of the Roman Church, is often 
hardly sufficient to decide even the first step in the process 
of canonisation ; it is generally amply sufficient to decide all 
matters of literary rank and permanence. How has the ver- 
dict gone in the case of Currer Bell ? Have these fifty years 
'cut all meaning from the name,' or have they but filled it 
with a fuller content, wreathed it with memories and associa- 
tions that will for ever keep it luminous and delightful amid 
the dim tracts of the past ? 

Judging by the books that have been written and read in 
recent years, by the common verdict as to the Bronte sisters, 
their story, and their work, which prevails, almost without ex- 
ception, in the literary criticism of the present day; by the 
tone of personal tenderness, even of passionate homage, in 
which many writers speak of Charlotte and of Emily ; and by 
the increasing recognition which their books have obtained 



x JANE EYRE 

abroad, one may say with some confidence that the name and 
memory of the Brontes were never more alive than now, that 
' Honour and Fame have got about their graves ' for good 
and all, and that Charlotte and Emily Bronte are no less 
secure, at any rate, than Jane Austen or George Eliot or 
Mrs. Browning of literary recollection in the time to come. 

But if the Brontes live, their books live also. There are 
some names of the past Byron Voltaire that are far 
greater now, more full of magic and of spell, than the 
books associated with them that are, in fact, separable 
from the books, and could almost live on without them. But 
Charlotte Bronte is Jane Eyre and Lucy Snowe. You can- 
not think of her apart from what she has written, and every- 
thing that she wrote has the challenging quality of personal 
emotion or of passion, moving in a narrow range among very 
concrete things, and intimately fused throughout with the in- 
cidents and feelings of one small, intense experience : so that, 
if one finds, as one does find abundantly, that the Brontes are 
remembered, it must be that their books are read, that people 
still sit up into the night with 'Jane Eyre,' and are still as 
angry as they were at the first, that they can get no one to 
assure them of Paul Emmanuel's safe return. 

So it must be; and so, indeed, the personal experience of 
most of us can vouch that it is. Nevertheless, here and 
there one may hear a protesting voice. Here and there a 
reader and generally a reader of more subtlety and range 
than his fellows struck with the union of certain extrava- 
gances and certain dogmatisms in Charlotte Bronte's work, 
with the weakness of Anne's and the crudity of Emily's, will 
dare to say, ' Not at all ! The vitality of the Bronte fame 
does not mean primarily the vitality of the Bronte books. It 
is a vitality which springs from the English love of the pa- 
thetic and the picturesque, and the English tendency to sub- 
ordinate matters of art to matters of sentiment. Mrs. Gas- 
kell, herself an accomplished novelist, wrote an account of 
these lonely girls on a Yorkshire moor, struggling with pov- 
erty and consumption, developing genius in the very wrestle 
with death, taking the heaven of fame by violence, and per- 



INTRODUCTION xi 

ishing in the effort. She showed them to us oppressed by 
poverty and by daily contact with a vicious brother, and yet, 
through it all, remaining dutiful, loving, and virtuous, as the 
good English public likes them to be: she describes the 
deaths the piteous deaths of two of the sisters in the very 
moment, or on the very threshold, of success, and, finally, her 
narrative brought us to the death of Charlotte herself 
Charlotte snatched from happiness and from motherhood, 
after one brief year of married life : and so skilful is the tell- 
ing, so touching the story, that the great English heart goes 
out to it, and forthwith the Bronte books must be books of 
genius, because the Brontes are so interesting and their story 
so tragic.' 

Perhaps this explanation is put forward to account rather 
for the continuance of the Brontes' fame than for their origi- 
nal success. Such a critic would admit that 'Jane Eyre' 
is at least a vivid and exciting story; that 'Villette' has at 
least passages of extraordinary brilliance: but he will obsti- 
nately maintain, none the less, that other books, now forgot- 
ten, have had as much, and that the Bronte ' legend ' has 
unfairly strengthened the claim of the Bronte stories upon 
posterity. 

Let us see how such a contention stands in the case of 
' Jane Eyre.' ' Jane Eyre ' to run through a summary of 
the plot is the story of an orphan girl, reared at a Charity 
School amid many hardships, going out into the world as a 
governess, and falling in love with her employer, Mr. Roch- 
ester. She yields herself to her own passion and to his 
masterful love-making with an eager, an over-eager abandon- 
ment. The wedding-day is fixed ; the small marriage party 
assembles. But in the very church, and at the moment of 
the ceremony, it is revealed to Jane Eyre that Mr. Rochester 
has a wife living, a frenzied lunatic who has been confined 
for months in a corner of the same house where she and 
Rochester have had their daily dwelling; that Rochester 
has deliberately entrapped her, and that she stands on the 
edge of an abyss. The marriage party breaks up in confu- 
sion; and Rochester's next endeavour is to persuade the 



xii JANE EYRE 

stunned and miserable Jane to scout law and convention, and 
fly with him to love and foreign parts. He shows her the 
lunatic, in all the odious horror of her state, and Jane for- 
gives him on the spot, having never indeed, so far as ap- 
pears, felt any deep resentment of his conduct. Neverthe- 
less, she summons up courage to leave him. She steals away 
by night, and, after days of wandering and starvation, she 
finds a home with the Rivers family, who ultimately turn out 
to be her cousins. St. John Rivers, the brother of the fam- 
ily, an Evangelical clergyman possessed with a fanatical en- 
thusiasm for missionary life, observes the girl's strong and 
energetic nature, and makes up his mind to marry her, not 
in the least because he loves her, but because he thinks her 
fitted to be a missionary's wife. Her will is on the point of 
yielding to his, when she hears a mysterious midnight call 
from Rochester ; she hurries back to her master, to find him 
blinded and maimed by the fire which has destroyed his house 
and his mad wife together; and of course the end is happiness. 
Now certainly there never was a plot, which pretended to 
be a plot, of looser texture than that of ' Jane Eyre.' It 
abounds with absurdities and inconsistencies. The critics of 
Charlotte Bronte's time had no difficulty in pointing them 
out ; they He, indeed, on the surface for all to see. That 
such incidents should have happened to Jane Eyre in Mr. 
Rochester's house as did happen, without awakening her sus- 
picions ; that the existence of a lunatic should have been 
commonly known to all the servants of the house, yet wholly 
concealed from the governess; that Mr. Rochester should 
have been a man of honour and generosity, a man with whom 
not only Jane Eyre, but clearly the writer herself, is in love, 
and yet capable of deliberately betraying and deceiving a girl 
of twenty placed in a singularly helpless position ; these are 
the fundamental puzzles of the story. Mrs. Fairfax is a 
mystery throughout. How, knowing what she did, did she 
not inevitably know more? what was her real relation to 
Rochester ? to Jane Eyre ? These are questions that no 
one can answer out of the four corners of the book. The 
country-house party is a tissue of extravagance throughout; 



INTRODUCTION xiii 

the sarcasms and brutalities of the beautiful Miss Ingram 
are no more credible than the manners assumed by the aris- 
tocratic Rochester from the beginning towards his ward's 
governess, or the amazing freedom with which he pours into 
the ears of the same governess a virtuous girl of twenty, 
who has been no more than a few weeks under his roof the 
story of his relations with Adele's mother. 

Turn to the early scenes, for instance, between Jane and 
Rochester. They have been ' several days ' under the same 
roof ; it is Jane's second interview with her employer. Mr. 
Rochester, in Sultan fashion, sends for her and her pupil 
after dinner. He sits silent, while Jane's quick eye takes 
note of him. Suddenly he turns upon her. 

' You examine me, Miss Eyre,' said he ; 'do you think me 
handsome?' 

Jane, taken by surprise, delivers a stout negative, whereupon 
her employer, in caprice or pique, pursues the subject further: 

' Criticise me : does my forehead not please you ?' 

He lifted up the sable waves of hair which lay horizontally 
over his brow, and showed a solid enough mass of intellectual 
organs, but an abrupt deficiency where the suave sign of benev- 
olence should have risen. 
' Now, ma'am, am I a fool ?' 

Poor Jane gets out of the dilemma as best she can, and 
gradually this astonishing gentleman thaws, becomes conver- 
sational and kind. And this is how he puts the little gov- 
erness at her ease : 

' You look very much puzzled, Miss Eyre ; and though you 
are not pretty, any more than I am handsome, yet a puzzled air 
becomes you ; besides, it is convenient, for it keeps those search- 
ing eyes of yours away from my physiognomy, and busies them 
with the worsted flowers of the rug ; so puzzle on. Young lady, 
I am disposed to be gregarious and communicative to-night.' 

' Young lady, I am disposed to be gregarious and communica- 
te to - night /' Not even ' Mr. Rawchester ' could exceed 
this. Parody has nothing to add. 



xiv JANE EYRE 

The country - house party is equally far from anything 
known, either to realistic or romantic truth, even to the truth 
as it existed in the days of 'Jane Eyre's' Quarterly Re- 
viewer and the Cowan Bridge School. Listen to the badinage 
of the beautiful and accomplished Miss Ingram. She is mak- 
ing brutal fun of governesses, in order to be overheard by 
the shy and shrinking Jane behind the window-curtain. Miss 
Ingram, it should be remarked, has never seen Jane before, 
has no grievance against her, and can only be supposed to 
be displaying the aristocratic temper as such. It pleases her 
to describe a love affair that her childhood had discovered 
between her own governess and her brother's tutor. She 
tells how she and her precious brothers and sisters employed 
it the love affair 'as a sort of lever to hoist our dead- 
weights from the house.' 

'. . . Dear mamma, there, as soon as she got an inkling of the 
business, found out that it was of an immoral tendency. Did 
you not, my lady-mother?' 

' Certainly, my best. And I was quite right, depend on that ; 
there are a thousand reasons why liaisons between governesses 
and tutors should never be tolerated a moment in any well- 
regulated house ; firstly ' 

' Oh, gracious, mamrna ! spare us the enumeration ! An reste, 
we all know them : danger of bad example to the innocence of 
childhood distractions and consequent neglect of duty on the 
part of the attached mutual alliance and reliance; confidence 
thence resulting insolence accompanying mutiny and general 
blow-up. Am I right, Baroness Ingram, of Ingram Park ?' 

Baroness Ingram, of Ingram Park ! 

But Miss Ingram can also show herself as the gay and 
sprightly trifler with Rochester's well-bred homage. 

' Whenever I marry,' she continued, after a pause which none 
interrupted, ' I am resolved that my husband shall not be a rival, 
but a foil. Mr. Rochester, now sing, and I will play for you.' 

' I am all obedience,' was the response. 

' Here, then, is a Corsair-song. Know that I doat on Corsairs ; 
and for that reason sing it " con spirito." ' 

Commands from Miss Ingram's lips would put spirit into a 
mug of milk and water.' 



INTRODUCTION xv 

And so on. The whole scene from beginning to end is a 
piece of heavy grotesque, without either the truth or the fun 
of good satire. It was these pages, of course, and certain 
others like them in the book, that set George Henry Lewes 
preaching the 'mild eyes,' the 'truth,' and 'finish' of Miss 
Austen to the new and stormy genius which had produced 
' Jane Eyre.' And one may see, perhaps, in Charlotte's sore- 
ness, in the very vehemence that she shows under this particu- 
lar criticism, that, secretly, the shaft has gone home. She is, 
after all, infinitely shrewd, sensitive, and, in the end, just. She 
wrote a petulant letter to Mr. Lewes ; but she sent for ' Pride 
and Prejudice,' which she had never read, and the proba- 
bility is that, in spite of a natural antipathy, her quick eye 
took note at once of the fineness of stroke that goes to cari- 
cature itself in that immortal book ; that she pondered Mr. 
Collins and Lady Catharine de Burgh ; and that in the com- 
parative ease and urbanity which marked the painting of 
manners in ' Shirley,' the influence of her tilt with Lewes 
counts for something, 

As to the other weaknesses of plot and conception, they 
are very obvious and very simple. The 'arrangements' by 
which Jane Eyre is led to find a home in the Rivers house- 
hold, and becomes at once her uncle's heiress, and the good 
angel of her newly discovered cousins; the device of the 
phantom voice that recalls her to Rochester's side ; the fire 
that destroys the mad wife, and delivers into Jane's hands a 
subdued and helpless Rochester ; all these belong to that 
more mechanical and external sort of plot-making, which the 
modern novelist of feeling and passion as distinguished 
from the novelist of adventure prides himself on renouncing. 
To him the painting of a situation like that, say, in Benjamin 
Constant's ' Adolphe ' infinitely true, and wholly insoluble 
where the writer scorns to apply any coercive framework, 
any rough-and-ready 'plot' to his material, is the admirable 
and important thing. The true subject of ' Jane Eyre ' is the 
courage with which a friendless and loving girl confronts her 
own passion, and, in the interest of some strange social in- 
stinct which she knows as ' duty,' which she cannot explain 



xvi JANE EYRE 

and can only obey, tramples her love underfoot, and goes 
out miserable into the world. Beside this wrestle of the 
human will, everything else is trivial or vulgar. The various 
expedients legacies, uncles, fires, and coincidences by 
which Jane Eyre is ultimately brought to happiness, cheapen 
and degrade the book without convincing the reader. In 
fact to return to our advocatus diaboli ' " Jane Eyre " is on 
the one side a rather poor novel of incident, planned on the 
conventional pattern, and full of clumsy execution ; on an- 
other side it is a picture of passion and of ideas, for which in 
truth the writer had no sufficient equipment ; she moves im- 
prisoned, to quote Mr. Leslie Stephen, in " a narrow circle 
of thoughts ;" if you press it, the psychology of the book is 
really childish ; Rochester is absurd, Jane Eyre, in spite of 
the stir that she makes, only half-realised and half-conscious. 
Still, as a study of feeling, adapted to some extent to modern 
realist demands, the novel came at a happy moment. It is 
one of the signs, no doubt, that mark the transition from the 
old novel to the new, from the old novel of plot and coinci- 
dence to the new novel of psychology and character. But, 
given the defects of the book, how is it possible to assign it 
a high place in the history of that great modern art which 
has commanded the knowledge of a Tolstoy, and the mind 
of a Turgue'nieff, which is the subtle interpreter and not the 
vulgar stage-manager of nature, which shrinks from the mere- 
ly obvious and vigorous, and is ever pressing forward toward 
that more delicate, more complex, more elusive expression, 
satisfying in proportion to its incompleteness, which is the 
highest response of human genius to this unintelligible 
world ?' 



II 

So far the objector; yet, in spite of it all, 'Jane Eyre' per- 
sists, and Charlotte Bronte is with the immortals. What is it 
that a critic of this type forgets what item does he drop out 
of the reckoning which yet, in the addition, decides the sum ? 



INTRODUCTION xvii 

Simply, one might say, Charlotte Bronte herself. Litera- 
ture, says Joubert, has been called the expression of society ; 
and so no doubt it is, looked at as a whole. In the single 
writer, however, it appears rather as the expression of stud- 
ies, or temper, or personality. 'And this last is the best. 
There are books so fine that literature in them is but the 
expression of those that write them.' In other words, there 
are books where the writer seems to be everything, the mate- 
rial employed, the environment, almost nothing. The main 
secret of the charm that clings to Charlotte Bronte's books 
is, and will always be, the contact which they give us with 
her own fresh, indomitable, surprising personality surpris- 
ing, above all. In spite of its conventionalities of scheme, 
'Jane Eyre' has, in detail, in conversation, in the painting 
of character, that perpetual magic of the unexpected which 
overrides a thousand faults, and keeps the mood of the 
reader happy and alert. The expedients of the plot may irri- 
tate or chill the artistic sense ; the voice of the story-teller, 
in its inflections of passion, or feeling or reverie, charms and 
holds the ear, almost from first to last. The general plan 
maybe commonplace, the ideas even of no great profundity; 
but the book is original. How often in the early scenes of 
childhood or school-life does one instinctively expect the 
conventional solution, the conventional softening, the con- 
ventional prettiness or quaintness, that so many other story- 
tellers, of undoubted talent, could not have resisted ! And 
it never comes. Hammer-like, the blows of a passionate 
realism descend. Jane Eyre, the little helpless child, is 
never comforted ; Mrs. Reid, the cruel aunt, is never sorry 
for her cruelties ; Bessie, the kind nurse, is not very kind, 
she does not break the impression, she satisfies no instinct 
of poetic compensation, she only just makes the story credi- 
ble, the reader's assent possible. So, at Lowood, Helen 
Burns is not a suffering angel ; there is nothing consciously 
pretty or touching in the wonderful picture of her ; reality, 
with its discords, its infinite novelties, lends word and magic 
to the passion of Charlotte's memory of her dead sister ; all 
is varied, living, poignant, full of the inexhaustible savour of 



xviii JANE EYRE 

truth, and warm with the fire of the heart. So that at last, 
when pure pathos comes, when Helen sleeps herself to death 
in Jane's arms, when the struggle is over, and room is made 
for softness, for pity, the mind of the reader yields itself 
wholly, without reserve, to the working of an artist so 
masterful, so self-contained, so rightly frugal as to the great 
words and great emotions of her art. We are in the presence 
of the same kind of power as that which drew the death of 
Bazarov in ' Fathers and Sons ' a power which, in the 
regions covered by the experience of the mind behind it, 
' nothing common does nor mean,' which shrinks from the 
borrowed and the imitated and the insincere, as the patriot 
shrinks from treason. 

Personality then strong, free, passionate personality is 
the sole but the sufficient spell of these books. Can we 
analyse some of its elements ? so far, at least, as their 
literary expression is concerned ? 

In the first place, has it ever been sufficiently recognised 
that Charlotte Bronte is first and foremost an Irishwoman, 
that her genius is at bottom a Celtic genius ? When she 
first appeared at the Roehead school in 1831, as a child of 
fourteen, it was noticed by the schoolfellow to whom we owe 
so many early remembrances of her, that she ' spoke with a 
strong Irish accent.' Her father came from an Irish cabin 
in County Down ; her mother was of a Cornish family. The 
main characteristics indeed of the Celt are all hers disinter- 
estedness, melancholy, wildness, a way ward force and passion, 
for ever wooed by sounds and sights to which other natures 
are insensible by murmurs from the earth, by colours in the 
sky, by tones and accents of the soul, that speak to the Celtic 
sense as to no other. ' We shall never build the Parthenon,' 
said Renan of his own Breton race ; ' marble is not for us ; 
but we know how to grip the heart and the soul ; we have an 
art of piercing that belongs to us alone ; we plunge our hands 
into the entrails of man, and, like the witches of " Macbeth," 
we draw them back full of the secrets of the infinite. The 
great marvel of our art is to know how to make a charm out 
of the very disease that plagues us. A spring of eternal 



INTRODUCTION xix 

madness rises in the heart of our race. The " realm of faery," 
the most beautiful on earth, is our domain.' Idealism, un- 
derstood as a life-long discontent ; passion, conceived as an 
inner thirst and longing that wears and kills more often than 
it makes happy ; a love of home and kindred entwined with 
the very roots of life, so that home-sickness may easily ex- 
haust and threaten life ; an art directed rather to expression 
than to form ragged often and broken, but always poignant, 
always suggestive, touched with reverie and emotion ; who 
does not recognize in these qualities, these essentially Celtic 
qualities, the qualities of the Brontes ? 

Take this passage from Charlotte's letter to Miss Nussey, 
announcing Emily's death : 

The anguish of seeing her suffer is over ; the spectacle of the 
pains of death is gone by ; the funeral day is past. We feel she 
is at peace. No need now to tremble for the hard frost and the 
keen wind. Emily does not feel them. She died in a time of 
promise. We saw her taken from life in its prime. 

Or, again : 

I cannot forget Emily's death-day. It was very terrible. She 
was torn, conscious, panting, reluctant, though resolute, out of a 
happy life. 

Or, take the well-known outburst in ' Shirley,' where Char- 
lotte, writing in the desolate Haworth home after her sisters' 
deaths, turns from the description of Jessy Yorke, to think of 
Martha Taylor, Jessy Yorke's original, and of Martha's burial- 
day in Brussels : 

But, Jessy, I will write about you no more. This is an autumn 
evening, wet and wild. There is only one cloud in the sky ; but 
it curtains it from pole to pole. The wind cannot rest ; it hur- 
ries, sobbing, over hills of sullen outline, colourless with twilight 
and mist. Rain has beat all day on that church tower 

[ one thinks of her, lifting her eyes from her small writing, 
as she looks down the bare strip of garden to Haworth 
Church ] ; 



xx JANE EYRE 

it rises dark from the stony enclosure of its graveyard ; the 
nettles, the long grass, and the tombs all drip with wet. This 
evening reminds me too forcibly of another evening some years 
ago: a howling, rainy, autumn evening, too, when certain 
who had that day performed a pilgrimage to a grave new- 
made in a heretic cemetery, sat near a wood fire on the hearth 
of a foreign dwelling. They were merry and social, but they 
each knew that a gap, never to be filled, had been made in their 
circle. They knew they had lost something whose absence could 
never be quite atoned for, so long as they lived ; and they knew 
that heavy falling rain was soaking into the wet earth which 
covered their lost darling; and that the sad, sighing gale was 
mourning above her buried head. The fire warmed them ; Life 
and Friendship yet blessed them : but Jessy lay cold, coffined, 
solitary only the sod screening her from the storm. 

These passages surely have the Celtic quality, if ever writ- 
ing had. Rapid, yearning, broken speech ! there is no note 
more penetrating in our literature. 

Then, as to the Celtic pride, the Celtic shyness, the Celtic 
endurance, Charlotte Bronte was rich in them all. Her 
nature loves to give recoils from gifts. She will owe noth- 
ing to anyone ; she half enjoys, half dislikes, the kindnesses 
even of her friendly and considerate publisher ; and in society 
she will neither be exhibited nor patronised. Nor will she 
submit her judgment or taste ; she will swear to no man's 
words. Nothing is more curious than to mark the resolute, 
and even haughty, independence with which the little coun- 
trywoman approached for the first time the literary world and 
the celebrities of London. She breaks her shy silence at a 
dinner-table crowded with Macready worshippers to denounce 
Macready's acting ; when Thackeray comes to see her for 
the first time, she herself says, ' The giant sate before me ; I 
was moved to speak to him of some of his shortcomings 
(literary, of course) ; one by one the faults came into my 
head, and one by one I brought them out and sought some 
explanation or defence ;' so that Mr. Smith, sitting by, may 
well describe it as ' a queer scene.' She will have nothing 
to say to Miss Barrett's poetry ; and when she returns to 
Haworth, she says, with a touch of quiet and confident scorn, 



INTRODUCTION xxi 

that London people talk a great deal of writers and books 
who mean nothing in the country, nothing to England at 
large. As to the shyness, it was the torment of both her 
physical and mental life. The Celtic craving for solitude, 
the Celtic shrinking from all active competitive existence 
they were part of Charlotte's inmost nature, although per- 
petually crossed and checked, no doubt, by other influences 
driving her to utterance, to production, to sustained effort. 
And for endurance did not her short life, divided between 
labour, fame, and calamity, make, first and chief upon all who 
knew it, the impression of an unshaken and indomitable 
spirit ? The ' chainless soul ' was hers no less than Emily's, 
though she was far saner and sweeter than Emily. 

And all three qualities pride, shrinking, endurance are 
writ large in her books. With passion added, they are Jane 
Eyre and Lucy Snowe. They supply the atmosphere, the 
peculiar note, of all the stories. A contempt for mean and 
easy living, for common gains, and common luxuries, breathes 
in them, and makes them harsh and bracing as the air of her 
own moors. 

And one other Celtic quality there is in Charlotte Bronte 
and her books, which is responsible perhaps for half their 
defects. It is a quality of exuberance, of extravagance, of 
what her contemporaries called 'bad taste.' Charles Kings- 
ley threw ' Shirley' aside because the opening seemed to him 
vulgar. Miss Martineau expressed much the same judgment 
on ' Villette.' And there can be no doubt that there was in 
Miss Bronte a curious vein of recklessness, roughness, one 
might also say hoydenism that exists side by side with an 
exquisite delicacy and a true dignity, and is none the less 
Irish and Celtic for that. It disappears, so far as one can 
see. with the publication of 'Shirley;' but, up till then, it 
has to be reckoned with. It is conspicuous in the whole 
episode of ' the curates,' both in real life and in the pages of 
' Shirley ; ' it is visible especially in certain recently published 
letters to Miss Nussey, which one could wish had been left 
imprinted; and it makes the one shadow of excuse for the 
inexcusable 'Quarterly' article. There is one sentence in 



xxii JANE EYRE 

the first chapter 6f 'Shirley,' which may serve both as an 
illustration of this defect, and as a landmark pointing to 
certain radical differences of feeling that separate 1900 from 
1850. It occurs in the course of an address to the reader, 
warning him to expect neither sentiment, poetry, nor passion 
from the book before him. 'Calm your expectations; re- 
duce them to a lowly standard. ... It is not positively 
affirmed that you shall not have a taste of the exciting, per- 
haps towards the middle and close of the meal, but it is re- 
solved that the first dish set upon the table shall be one that 
a Catholic aye, even an Anglo-Catholic might eat on Good 
Friday on Passion Week : it shall be fold lentils and vinegar 
without oil ; it shall be unleavened bread with bitter herbs, and 
no roast lamb' 

These lines that I have thrown into italics were written in 
1850, five years after Newman's secession, in the midst no 
doubt of a swelling tide of Liberal reaction, destined, how- 
ever, as we all know now, to interfere very little with the 
spread and power of those deep undercurrents setting from 
the Oxford Movement. The hasty arrogance, the failure in 
feeling and right instinct, which the passage shows, mark the 
chief limitation and weakness in the artist who wrote it. It 
is a weakness of taste, a limitation, as Mr. Leslie Stephen 
would perhaps insist, of thought and idea. Taken together 
with the country-house scenes in 'Jane Eyre,' with some of 
the curate scenes in ' Shirley,' with various passages of raw 
didactic and rather shrill preaching, this utterance, and some 
others like it, suggest a lack of social intelligence, of a wide 
outlook, of that sense, above all, for measure and urbanity 
which belongs to other and more perfect art like George 
Sand's or to a more exquisitely tempered instinct like that 
of Burns. One returns to Kenan's explanation : ' We Celts 
shall never build a Parthenon ; marble is not for us.' Our 
art is uncertain and wavering ; liable to many lapses and 
false notes. But ! ' we lay our grip on heart and soul, we 
bring up from the depths of the human spirit the secrets of 
the infinite.' 



INTRODUCTION xxiii 



III 

The Irish and Celtic element in Charlotte Bronte, how- 
ever, is not all. Far from it. Crossing, controlling the 
wild impetuous temper of the Irishwoman is an influence 
from another world, an influence of habit and long associa- 
tion, breathed from Yorkshire, and the hard, frugal, persist- 
ent North. One has but to climb her Haworth hills to feel 
it flowing around one. Let it be in the winter, on some 
frosty white-rimed day, when the tops of the moors are lost 
in the cold mist, while a dim sun steals along their sides 
showing the great mills in the hollows, the ice -fringed 
streams, the bare half -poisoned woods, the rows of stone 
cottages, while the horse's hoofs ring sharp on the paving- 
stones of this Haworth Street that mounts stern and steep, 
without a relenting slope or zig-zag, heedless of the strained 
muscles of man or beast, from the busy factories below to 
the towered church and the little parsonage on the hill-top. 
The small stone houses mount with you on either hand, low, 
ugly, solid, without a trace of colour or ornament, the decent 
yet unlovely homes of a sturdy industrious race. The chim- 
neys pour out their smoke, the valley hums with life and toil. 
You stand at the top of the hill and look around you. Man- 
chester and the teeming Lancashire world are behind you. 
Bradford and Leeds in front of you. You can see nothing 
through the sun-lit fog, save the rolling forms of the moors 
bearing their dim ever-growing burden of houses ; but you 
know that you stand in the heart of working England, the 
England that goes through its labour and its play, its trade- 
unionism and its football, its weaving or its coal-mining, with 
equal vigour and tenacity, with all the English love of gain 
and the English thirst for success watchful, jealous, thrift}', 
absorbed in this very tangible earth, and the struggle to sub- 
due it, stained with many coarse and brutal things, scornful 
of the dreamer and the talker, and yet, by virtue of its very 
strength of striving life, its very excesses of rough force and 



xxiv JANE EYRE 

will, holding in its deep breast powers of passion and of 
drama unsuspected even by itself. 

Amid this rude full-blooded keen-brained world grew up 
the four wonderful children who had survived their fragile 
mother and their two elder sisters. From the beginning 
they showed the Celtic qualities the Celtic vision that re- 
makes the world, throws it into groups and pictures, seen 
with a magical edge and sharpness. Are they gathered on a 
winter's night round the kitchen fire with Tabby for a com- 
panion ? Charlotte a mere child sees the little scene as a 
whole, as a poet or a painter would see it, notes the winter 
storm and wind outside, the glow within, the quick-witted 
children, the old servant, throws it all into a fragment of 
vivid dialogue and writes it down realised, on record, for 
ever. Or a tramp, talking the language of religious mania, 
comes to the door. Again Charlotte marks him, stamps him 
into words, makes a permanent representative figure out of 
him, a figure of the imagination. Yet all the time there are 
secret bonds between these four small creatures the chil- 
dren of an Irish father and a Cornish mother and the stern 
practical Yorkshire world about them. For they come not 
from the typical and Catholic Ireland, but from the Ireland 
of the North, on which commerce and Protestantism have 
set their grasp, the Ireland which has half yielded itself to 
England. In the girls, at any rate, the Bible and Puritanism 
have mingled with their Celtic blood. Economy, self-disci- 
pline, constancy, self-repression, order, these things come 
easily to them, so far as the outer conduct of life is concern- 
ed. They take their revenge in dreams, in the whims and 
passions of the imagination. But they cook and clean and 
sew, they learn all the household arts that their aunt and 
Tabby can teach them. They are docile, hard-working, hard- 
living. They are poor, saving, industrious, keenly alive to 
the value of money and of work, like the world about them. 

And it is this mixture of Celtic dreaming with English 
realism and self-control which gives value and originality to 
all they do to Emily's 'Wuthering Heights,' to Charlotte's 
four stories. Lady Caroline Lamb, an Irishwoman like 



INTRODUCTION xxv 

Charlotte, could tear you a passion to tatters, in 'Glenarvon,' 
with a certain wild power. Take a passage at random : 

' Many can deceive,' said Glenarvon, mournfully gazing on 
Calantha whilst she wept ; ' but is your lover like the common 
herd ? Oh ! we have loved, my gentle mistress, better than 
they know how; we have dared the utmost: your mind and 
mine must not even be compared with theirs. Let the vulgar 
dissemble and fear let them talk idly in the unmeaning jargon 
they admire ; they never felt what we have felt ; they never 
dared what we have done : to win, and to betray, is with them 
an air a fancy ; and fit is the delight for the beings who can 
enjoy it. But if once I show myself again, the rabble must 
shrink at last ; they dare not stand before Glenarvon. Heaven 
or hell, I care not which, have cast a ray so bright around my 
brow that not all the perfidy of a heart as lost as mine, of a 
heart loaded, as you know too well, with crimes man shudders 
even to imagine not all the envy and malice of those whom my 
contempt has stung can lower me to their level. And you, 
Calantha, do you think you will ever learn to hate me, even 
were I to leave and to betray you ? Poor blighted flower to 
thy last wretched hour thou wouldst pine in unavailing recollec- 
tion and regret ; as Clytie, though bound and fettered to the 
earth, still fixes her uplifted eyes upon her own sun, who passes 
over regardless in his course, nor deigns to cast a look below !' 

This was passion, masterful passion, as a woman, Byron's 
pupil, conceived it, in 1816, the year of Charlotte Bronte's 
birth. It is instructive sometimes to look back at landmarks 
of this lesser kind. There is vigour in these sentences, but 
compare their vague and mouthing falsity with any conver- 
sation in 'Jane Eyre' above all, with the touches in the 
last scene between Jane and Rochester. Dwell on the mo- 
ment when Jane, carrying the tray, enters the blind man's 
presence ; notice how clear and true with the clearness and 
truth of poetry are all the stages of recognition and of 
rapture till Rochester says : 

' Hitherto I have hated to be helped to be led ; henceforth, 
I feel I shall hate it no more, I did not like to put my hand 
into a hireling's ; but it is pleasant to feel it circled by Jane's 



xxvi JANE EYRE 

little fingers. I preferred utter loneliness to the constant at- 
tendance of servants; but Jane's soft ministry will be a per- 
petual joy. Jane suits me ; do I suit her?' 

To the finest fibre of my nature, sir.' . . . 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 were audible. 

' I thank my Maker that in the midst of judgment He has 
remembered mercy. I humbly entreat my Redeemer to give 
me strength to lead henceforth a purer life than I have done 
hitherto.' 

Then he stretched out his hand to be led. I took that dear 
hand, held it a moment to my lips, then let it pass round my 
shoulder ; being so much lower of stature than he, 1 served both 
for his prop and guide. We entered the wood and wended 
homeward. 

What feeling, and what truth ! a truth all Charlotte's 
own, not Jane Austen's nor another's in which we may, if 
we will, detect the fusion of two races, the mingling of two 
worlds. 



IV 

As to the outer and material history of ' Jane Eyre,' it is 
written to some extent in Mrs. Gaskell's ' Life,' and has em* 
ployed the pens of many a critic and local antiquary since. 
We all know that Lowood is Cowan Bridge, that Helen 
Burns stands for Maria Bronte, that ' Miss Temple ' and 
' Miss Scatcherd ' were drawn from real people ; we are told 
that Thornfield Hall was suggested by one old Yorkshire 
house, and Ferndean Manor by another; that St. John 
Rivers had an original : we may take for granted that Char- 
lotte's own experiences as a governess have passed into the 
bitterness with which the rich and 'society' are described; 
and Mrs. Gaskell has recorded that, according to Charlotte's, 
own testimony, the incident of the midnight voice heard by 
Rochester and Jane was ' true ' and ' really happened.' 



INTRODUCTION xxvii 

Such identifications and researches will always have their 
interest, though the artist never sees as the critic sees, and is 
often filled with a secret amazement when he or she is led 
back to the scene or the person which is supposed to have 
furnished which did indeed furnish the germ, and the 
clay. The student will collect these details ; the reader will 
do well not to pay too much attention to them. The literary 
affiliations and connections of the book would be far more 
important and significant if one could trace them. But they 
are not easy to trace. 

If one gathers together the information to be gleaned from 
Mrs. Gaskell's ' Life ' and elsewhere, as to Charlotte's book 
education that voracious and continuous reading to which we 
have many references, one may arrive at a general outline, 
something of this kind. There were no children's books 
in Haworth Parsonage. The children there were nourish- 
ed upon the food of their elders : the Bible, Shakspeare, 
Addison, Johnson, Sheridan, Cowper, for the past ; Scott, 
Byron, Southey, Wordsworth, Coleridge, 'Blackwood's Mag- 
azine,' ' Eraser's Magazine,' and Leigh Hunt for the moderns ; 
on a constant supply of newspapers, Whig and Tory Char- 
lotte once said to a friend that she had taken an interest in 
politics since she was five years old on current biographies, 
such as Lockhart's Life of Burns, Moore's Lives of Byron 
and Sheridan, Southey's 'Nelson,' Wolfe's 'Remains;' and 
on miscellaneous readings of old Methodist magazines con- 
taining visions and miraculous conversions, Mrs. Rowe's 
' Letters from the Dead to the Living,' the ' British Essay- 
ists,' collected from the 'Rambler,' the 'Mirror,' and else- 
where, and stories from the ' Lady's Magazine.' They 
breathed, therefore, as far as books were concerned a brac- 
ing and stimulating air from the beginning. Nothing was 
softened or adapted for them. Before little Maria, the eldest 
girl, died, at the age of eleven, her father could discuss with 
her any current topic in which he himself was interested, as 
though she were grown-up and his equal. 

The Duke of Wellington was their nursery-hero, and Char- 
lotte, a child of twelve, recorded at the time the emotions 



xxviii JANE EYRE 

with which the news of Catholic Emancipation was received 
at Haworth Parsonage, and spent her leisure time at school, 
when she was fifteen, in fighting a Radical schoolfellow on 
behalf of the Duke and against Reform. 

Thus strongly were the foundations laid, deep in the rich 
main soil of English life and letters. The force and freedom 
with which these lonely girls wrote and thought from the be- 
ginning they owed largely to this first training. Later on, 
both in Charlotte and in Emily, certain foreign influences 
come in. Just as Emily certainly owed something to Hof- 
mann's Tales, so Charlotte probably owed much more, I 
am inclined to believe, than has yet been recognised to the 
books of French Romanticism, that great movement starting 
from Chateaubriand at the beginning of the century, and 
already at its height before 'Jane Eyre' was written. There 
are one or two pieces of evidence that bear on this point. 
In 1840, before the visit to Brussels, Charlotte writes that she 

has received ' another bale of French books from G ' 

apparently from the Taylors 'containing upwards of forty 
volumes. They are like the rest, clever, wicked, sophistical 
and immoral. The best of it is, that they give one a thor- 
ough idea of France and Paris.' If these were contempo- 
rary books, as, from the last sentence, one might suppose 
they were, it is worth while to inquire what writers were 
probably among them. By 1840 Victor Hugo had written 
'Marion Delorme,' ' Hernani,' 'Le Roi s'amuse,' ' Ruy Bias,' 
six volumes of poems, ' Notre Dame de Paris,' and much 
else. Alfred de Musset, who was thirty in 1840, had done all 
his work of importance, and sunk into premature exhaustion ; 
'Premieres Poesies,' 'Rolla,' 'Confession d'un Enfant du 
Siecle,' ' Espoir en Dieu' were they in the packet that reached 
Charlotte in 1840? George Sand, making her first great suc- 
cess with 'Indiana' in 1832, had produced 'Valentine,' ' Le'- 
lia,' 'Jacques,' 'Ldone Leoni,' 'Andre,' ' Mauprat,' and some 
others. Balzac, herald of another age and another world, had 
been ten years at work on the 'Comedie Humaine.' We know, 
however, from a letter of Charlotte's in 1848, that she never 
read a novel of Balzac's till after the publication of 'Jane Eyre.' 



INTRODUCTION xxix 

But she did read George Sand, as the same letter informs 
us, and the influence of that great romantic artist in whom 
restless imagination went hand in hand with a fine and 
chosen realism, was probably of some true importance in 
the development of Charlotte Bronte's genius. During her 
two years in Brussels, under the teaching of M. Heger 
who gave her passages from Victor Hugo to study as models 
of style, and was himself a keen reader, critic, and lecturer 
there can be little question that she made wide acquaintance 
with the French books of the day, and it was the day of 
Victor Hugo, Alfred de Musset and George Sand. It has 
not yet, I think, been pointed out that there is in ' Jacques ' 
a novel written in 1834 a very curious anticipation of the 
cry of Rochester to Jane. The passage occurs in a letter 
from Sylvia, the sisterly friend, to Jacques, about to become 
the husband of Fernande : 

Mon ame est habituee a vivre seule, Dieu le veut ainsi ; que 
vient faire la tienne dans ma solitude? Viens-tu m'avertir de 
quelque danger, ou m'annoncer quelque malheur plus epouvan- 
table que tous ceux auxquels a suffi mon courage ? L'autre soir 
j'etais assise au pied de la montagne ; le ciel etait voile, et le 
vent gemissait dans les arbres ; j'ai entendu distinctement, au 
milieu de ces sons d'une triste harmonic, le son de ta voix. 
Elle a jete trois ou quatre notes dans 1'espace, faibles, mais si 
pures et si saisissables que j'ai ete voir les buissons d'ou elle 
etait partie pour m'assurer que tu n'y etais pas. Ces choses-la 
m'ont rarement trompee; Jacques, il faut qu'il y ait un orage 
sur nos tetes. 

The suggestion, the romantic suggestion of these sentences 
may very possibly have come in Charlotte Bronte's way, may 
have mingled with, perhaps given birth to, some later fancy 
or experience, of which she spoke to Mrs. Gaskell, and so 
found shape ultimately in the thrilling scene of 'Jane Eyre.' 
Of direct imitation of George Sand there is nowhere any 
trace ; but in certain parts of ' Shirley,' in the ' Marriage of 
Genius and Humanity,' for instance, the stimulating influence 
of certain famous passages in ' L^lia ' suggests itself readily ; 
and throughout 'Villette' there is constantly something in 



xxx JANE EYRE 

her mode of approaching her subject, even in the turn of the 
sentences, especially in the use of participles, which is French 
rather than English. All the books testify to her pride in 
her French culture. She had won it at great cost ; it had 
opened fresh worlds to her, and she makes free use of it in 
numerous scenes of ' Shirley ' and ' Villette,' and in the whole 
portraiture of the Moores. 

The differences, of course, between her and the author of 
'Jacques' are great and fundamental. Charlotte Bronte's 
main stuff "is English, Protestant, law-respecting, conventional 
even. No judgment was ever more foolish than that which 
detected a social rebel in the writer of ' Jane Eyre.' She 
thought the French books, as we have seen, ' clever, wicked, 
sophistical, and immoral.' But she read them ; and for all 
her revolt from them, they quickened and fertilised her 
genius. More than this. The influence which she absorbed 
from them has given her a special place in our literature of 
imagination. She stands between Jane Austen, the gentle 
and witty successor of Miss Burney and Richardson, and 
George Eliot, upon whom played influences of quite another 
kind German, critical, scientific representing the world 
which succeeded the world of ' Hernani.' Midway appears 
the work of Charlotte Bronte, linked in various significant 
ways with the French romantic movement, which began with 
' Atala' in 1801, and had run its course abroad before 1847, 
the year of 'Jane Eyre.' One may almost say of it, indeed, 
that it belongs more to the European than to the special Eng- 
lish tradition. For all its strongly marked national and pro- 
vincial elements, it was very early understood and praised in 
France ; and it was of a French critic, and a French critic 
only, that Charlotte Bronte said with gratitude, in the case 
of Shirley, ' he follows Currer Bell through every winding, dis- 
cerns every point, discriminates every shade, proves himself 
master of the subject, and lord of the aim.' 

MARY A. WARD. 



TO 

W. M. THACKERA1 7 , Esq. 

THIS WORK 

fe IReepectfulh? flnecrfbefc 

BY THE AUTI1OK 



AUTHOR'S PREFACE 

A PREFACE to the first edition of 'Jane Eyre' being un- 
necessary, I gave none : this second edition demands a few 
words both of acknowledgment and miscellaneous remark. 

My thanks are due in three quarters. 

To the Public, for the indulgent ear it has inclined to a 
plain tale with few pretensions. 

To the Press, for the fair field its honest suffrage has 
opened to an obscure aspirant. 

To my Publishers, for the aid their tact, their energy, 
their practical sense, and frank liberality have afforded an 
unknown and unrecommended Author. 

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

Having thus acknowledged what I owe those who have 
aided and approved me, I turn to another class ; a small 
one, so far as I know, but not, therefore, to be overlooked. 
I mean the timorous or carping few who doubt the tendency 
of such books as 'Jane Eyre': in whose eyes whatever is 
unusual is wrong; whose ears detect in each protest against 
bigotry that parent of crime an insult to piety, that 
regent of God on earth. I would suggest to such doubters 



xxxiv PREFACE 

certain obvious distinctions ; I would remind them of certain 
simple truths. 

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

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

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

Ahab did not like Micaiah, because he never prophesied 
good concerning him, but evil : probably he liked the syco- 
phant son of Chenaanah better ; yet might Ahab have escaped 
a bloody death, had he but stopped his ears to flattery and 
opened them to faithful counsel. 

There is a man in our own days whose words are not 
framed to tickle delicate ears : who, to my thinking, comes 
before the great ones of society, much as the son of Imlah 
came before the throned Kings of Judah and Israel; and 
who speaks truth as deep, with a power as prophet-like and 
as vital a mien as dauntless and as daring. Is the satirist 



PREFACE xxxv 

of 'Vanity Fair' admired in high places? I cannot tell; 
but I think if some of those amongst whom he hurls the 
Greek fire of his sarcasm, and over whom he flashes the 
levin-brand of his denunciation, were to take his warnings 
in time they or their seed might yet escape a fatal Ramoth- 
Gilead. 

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

CURRER BELL. 

December 21, 1847. 



JANE EYRE 



CHAPTEE I 

THERE was no possibility of taking a walk that day. We 
had been wandering, indeed, in the leafless shrubbery an 
hour in the morning ; but since dinner (Mrs. Keed, when 
there was no company, dined early) the cold winter wind 
had brought with it clouds so sombre, and a rain so pene- 
trating, that further outdoor exercise was now out of the 
question. 

I was glad of it : I never liked long walks, especially on 
chilly afternoons : dreadful to me was the coming home in 
the raw twilight, with nipped fingers and toes, and a heart 
saddened by the chidings of Bessie, the nurse, and humbled 
by the consciousness of my physical inferiority to Eliza, 
John, and Georgiana Keed. 

The said Eliza, John, and Georgiana were now clustered 
round their mamma in the drawing-room : she lay reclined 
on the sofa by the fireside, and with her darlings about her 
(for the time neither quarrelling nor crying) looked perfectly 
happy. Me, she had dispensed from joining the group ; 
saying, ' She regretted to be under the necessity of keeping 
me at a distance ; but that until she heard from Bessie and 
could discover by her own observation that I was endeavour- 
ing in good earnest to acquire a more sociable and childlike 
disposition, a more attractive and sprightly manner some- 
thing lighter, franker, more natural, as it were she really 
must exclude me from privileges intended only for contented, 
happy, little children.' 

C 



2 JANE EYBE 

' What does Bessie say I have done ? ' I asked. 
' Jane, I don't like cavillers or questioners : besides, there 
is something truly forbidding in a child taking up her elders 
in that manner. Be seated somewhere ; and until you can 
speak pleasantly, remain silent.' 

A small breakfast-room adjoined the drawing-room. I 
slipped in there. It contained a bookcase : I soon possessed 
myself of a volume, taking care that it should be one stored 
with pictures. I mounted into the window-seat : gathering 
up my feet, I sat cross-legged like a Turk ; and, having 
drawn the red moreen curtain nearly close, I was shrined in 
double retirement. 

Folds of scarlet drapery shut in my view to the right 
hand ; to the left were the clear panes of glass, protecting, 
but not separating me from the drear November day. At 
intervals, while turning over the leaves of my book, I studied 
the aspect of that winter afternoon. Afar, it offered a pale 
blank of mist and cloud ; near, a scene of wet lawn and 
storm-beat shrub, with ceaseless rain sweeping away wildly 
before a long and lamentable blast. 

I returned to my book Bewick's ' History of British 
Birds ' : the letterpress thereof I cared little for, generally 
speaking; and yet there were certain introductory pages 
that, child as I was, I could not pass quite as a blank. They 
were those which treat of the haunts of sea-fowl ; of ' the 
solitary rocks and promontories ' by them only inhabited ; 
of the coast of Norway, studded with isles from its southern 
extremity, the Lindeness, or Naze, to the North Cape 

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

Nor could I pass unnoticed the suggestion of the bleak shores 
of Lapland, Siberia, Spitsbergen, Nova Zembla, Iceland, 
Greenland, with ' the vast sweep of the Arctic Zone, and 
those forlorn regions of dreary space that reservoir of frost 



and snow, where firm fields of ice, the accumulation of 
centuries of winters, glazed in Alpine heights above heights, 
surround the pole, and concentre the multiplied rigors of 
extreme cold.' Of these death-white realms I formed an 
idea of my own : shadowy, like all the half-comprehended 
notions that float dim through children's brains, but strangely 
impressive. The words in these introductory pages con- 
nected themselves with the succeeding vignettes, and gave 
significance to the rock standing up alone in a sea of billow 
and spray ; to the broken boat stranded on a desolate coast ; 
to the cold and ghastly moon glancing through bars of cloud 
at a wreck just sinking. 

I cannot tell what sentiment haunted the quite solitary 
churchyard, with its inscribed headstone ; its gate, its 
two trees, its low horizon, girdled by a broken wall, 
and its newly-risen crescent, attesting the hour of even- 
tide. 

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

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

So was the black, horned thing seated aloof on a rock, 
surveying a distant crowd surrounding a gallows. 

Each picture told a story; mysterious often to my 
undeveloped understanding and imperfect feelings, yet ever 
profoundly interesting: as interesting as the tales Bessie 
sometimes narrated on winter evenings, when she chanced 
to be in good humour ; and when, having brought her ironing- 
table to the nursery-hearth, she allowed us to sit about it, 
and while she got up Mrs. Eeed's lace frills, and crimped 
her night-cap borders, fed our eager attention with passages 
of love and adventure taken from old fairy tales and older 
ballads ; or (as at a later period I discovered) from the pages 
of ' Pamela,' and ' Henry, Earl of Moreland.' 

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



4 JANE EYRE 

' Boh ! Madame Mope ! ' cried the voice of John Eeed ; 
then he paused : he found the room apparently empty. 

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

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

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

' What do you want ? ' I asked, with awkward diffi- 
dence. 

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

John Reed was a schoolboy of fourteen years old ; four 
years older than I, for I was but ten ; large and stout for 
his age, with a dingy and unwholesome skin ; thick 
lineaments in a spacious visage, heavy limbs and large ex- 
tremities. He gorged himself habitually at table, which 
made him bilious, and gave him a dim and bleared eye and 
flabby cheeks. He ought now to have been at school ; but 
his mamma had taken him home for a month or two, ' on 
account of his delicate health.' Mr. Miles, the master, 
affirmed that he would do very well if he had fewer cakes 
and sweetmeats sent him from home ; but the mother's 
heart turned from an opinion so harsh, and inclined rather 
to the more refined idea that John's sallowness was owing 
to over-application and, perhaps, to pining after home. 

John had not much affection for his mother and sisters, 
and an antipathy to me. He bullied and punished me ; not 
two or three times in the week, nor once or twice in the day, 
but continually : every nerve I had feared him, and every 



morsel of flesh on my bones shrank when he came near. 
There were moments when I was bewildered by the terror 
he inspired, because I had no appeal whatever against 
either his menaces or his inflictions ; the servants did not 
like to offend their young master by taking my part against 
him, and Mrs. Eeed was blind and deaf on the subject : she 
never saw him strike or heard him abuse me, though he 
did both now and then in her very presence ; more 
frequently, however, behind her back. 

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

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

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

'What were you doing behind the curtain?' he 
asked. 

' I was reading.' 

' Show the book.' 

I returned to the window and fetched it thence. 

' You have no business to take our books ; you are a 
dependent, mamma says ; you have no money ; your father 
left you none ; you ought to beg, and not to live here with 
gentlemen's children like us, and eat the same meals we 
do, and wear clothes at our mamma's expense. Now, I'll 
teach you to rummage my book-shelves : for they are 
mine ; all the house belongs to me, or will do in a few years. 



6 JANE EYKE 

Go and stand by the door, out of the way of the mirror and 
the windows.' 

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

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

I had read Goldsmith's ' History of Kome,' and had 
formed my opinion of Nero, Caligula, &c. Also I had drawn 
parallels in silence, which I never thought thus to have 
declared aloud. 

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

He ran headlong at me : I felt him grasp my hair and 
my shoulder i he had closed with a desperate thing. I 
really saw in him a tyrant : a murderer. I felt a drop or 
two of blood from my head trickle down my neck, and was 
sensible of somewhat pungent suffering: these sensations 
for the time predominated over fear, and I received him in 
frantic sort. I don't very well know what I did with my 
hands, but he called me ' Eat ! rat ! ' and bellowed out 
aloud. Aid was near him : Eliza and Georgiana had run 
for Mrs. Reed, who was gone upstairs ; she now came upon 
the scene, followed by Bessie and her maid Abbot. We 
were parted : I heard the words : ' Dear ! dear ! What a 
fury to fly at Master John ! ' 

1 Did ever anybody see such a picture of passion ! ' 

Then Mrs. Eeed subjoined : ' Take her away to the red- 
room, and lock her in there.' Four hands were immediately 
laid upon me, and I was borne upstairs. 



CHAPTER II 

I RESISTED all the way : a new thing for me, and a circum- 
stance which greatly strengthened the bad opinion Bessie 
and Miss Abbot were disposed to entertain of me. The fact 
is, I was a trifle beside myself ; or rather out of myself, as 
the French would say : I was conscious that a moment's 
mutiny had already rendered me liable to strange penalties, 
and, like any other rebel slave, I felt resolved, in my despera- 
tion, to go all lengths. 

1 Hold her arms, Miss Abbot : she's like a mad cat.' 
' For shame ! for shame ! ' cried the lady's-maid. ' What 
shocking conduct, Miss Eyre, to strike a young gentleman, 
your benefactress's son ! Your young master.' 

1 Master ! How is he my master ? Am I a servant ? ' 
1 No ; you are less than a servant, for- you do nothing for 
your keep. There, sit down, and think over your wicked- 
ness.' 

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

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

Miss Abbot turned to divest a stout leg of the necessary 
ligature. This preparation for bonds, and the additional 
ignominy it inferred, took a little of the excitement out of me. 
' Don't take them off,' I cried ; ' I will not stir.' 
In guarantee whereof I attached myself to my seat by 
my hands. 



8 JANE EYRE 

4 Mind you don't,' said Bessie ; and when she had ascer- 
tained that I was really subsiding, she loosened her hold 
of me ; then she and Miss Abbot stood with folded arms, 
looking darkly and doubtfully on my face, as incredulous 
of my sanity. 

' She never did so before,' at last said Bessie, turning to 
the Abigail. 

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

Bessie answered not ; but ere long, addressing me, she 
said : 

' You ought to be aware, Miss, that you are under obliga- 
tions to Mrs. Keed : she keeps you : if she were to turn you 
off, you would have to go to the poor-house.' 

I had nothing to say to these words : they were not new 
to me : my very first recollections of existence included 
hints of the same kind. This reproach of my dependence 
had become a vague sing-song in my ear ; very painful and 
crushing, but only half intelligible. Miss Abbot joined in : 
' And you ought not to think yourself on an equality with 
the Misses Eeed and Master Reed, because Missis kindly 
allows you to be brought up with them. They will have a 
great deal of money, and you will have none : it is your 
place to be humble, and to try to make yourself agreeable 
to them.' 

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

' Besides,' said Miss Abbot, ' God will punish her : He 
might strike her dead in the midst of her tantrums, and 
then where would she go ? Come, Bessie, we will leave 
her : I wouldn't have her heart for anything. Say your 
prayers, Miss Eyre, when you are by yourself ; for if you 



JANE EYEE 9 

don't repent, something bad might be permitted to come 
down the chimney, and fetch you away.' 

They went, shutting the door, and locking it behind 
them. , 

The red-room was a spare chamber, very seldom slept 
in ; I might say never, indeed, unless when a chance influx 
of visitors at Gateshead Hall rendered it necessary to turn 
to account all the accommodation it contained : yet it was 
one of the largest and stateliest chambers in the mansion. 
A bed supported on massive pillars of mahogany, hung with 
curtains of deep red damask, stood out like a tabernacle in 
the centre ; the two large windows, with their blinds always 
drawn down, were half shrouded in festoons and falls of 
similar drapery ; the carpet was red ; the table at the foot 
of the bed was covered with a crimson cloth ; the walls 
were a soft fawn colour, with a blush of pink in it ; the 
wardrobe, the toilet-table, the chairs were of darkly-polished 
old mahogany. Out of these deep surrounding shades rose 
high, and glared white, the piled-up mattresses and pillows 
of the bed, spread with a snowy Marseilles counterpane. 
Scarcely less prominent was an ample, cushioned easy-chair 
near the head of the bed, also white, with a footstool before 
it ; and looking, as I thought, like a pale throne. 

This room was chill, because it seldom had a fire ; it was 
silent, because remote from the nursery and kitchens ; 
solemn, because it was known to be so seldom entered. 
The housemaid alone came here on Saturdays, to wipe from 
the mirrors and the furniture a week's quiet dust : and Mrs. 
Eeed herself, at far intervals, visited it to review the contents 
of a certain secret drawer in the wardrobe, where were stored 
divers parchments, her jewel-casket, and a miniature of her 
deceased husband ; and in those last words lies the secret 
of the red-room the spell which kept it so lonely in spite of 
its grandeur. 

Mr. Eeed had been dead nine years : it was in this 
chamber he breathed his last ; here he lay in state ; hence 
his coffin was borne by the undertaker's men ; and, since 



10 JANE EYBE 

that day, a sense of dreary consecration had guarded it from 
frequent intrusion. 

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

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

All John Reed's violent tyrannies, all his sisters' proud 
indifference, all his mother's aversion, all the servants' par- 
tiality, turned up in my disturbed mind like a dark deposit 
in a turbid well. Why was I always suffering, always 
browbeaten, always accused, for ever condemned? Why 
oould I never please ? Why was it useless to try to win any 
one's favour ? Eliza, who was headstrong and selfish, was 
respected. Georgiana, who had a spoiled temper, a very 
acrid spite, a captious and insolent carriage, was universally 
indulged. Her beauty, her pink cheeks and golden curls, 






." 
.?:S.>. V 

&&?' 



- : " 

' %/ '"" 




~-i ' 5 

- 



JANE EYEE 11 

seemed to give delight to all who looked at her, and to 
purchase indemnity for every fault. John, no one thwarted, 
much less punished ; though he twisted the necks of the 
pigeons, killed the little pea-chicks, set the dogs at the 
sheep, stripped the hothouse vines of their fruit, and broke 
the buds off the choicest plants in the conservatory : he 
called his mother ' old girl,' too ; sometimes reviled her for 
her dark skin, similar to his own ; bluntly disregarded her 
wishes ; not unfrequently tore and spoiled her silk attire ; 
and he was still 'her own darling.' I dared commit no 
fault ; I strove to fulfil every duty ; and I was termed 
naughty and tiresome, sullen and sneaking, from morning 
to noon, and from noon to night. 

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

' Unjust ! unjust ! ' said my reason, forced by the 
agonising stimulus into precocious though transitory 
power ; and Resolve, equally wrought up, instigated some 
strange expedient to achieve escape from insupportable 
oppression as running away, or, if that could not be 
effected, never eating or drinking more, and letting myself 
die. 

What a consternation of soul was mine that dreary 
afternoon 1 How all my brain was in tumult, and all my 
heart in insurrection 1 Yet in what darkness, what dense 
ignorance, was the mental battle fought ! I could not 
answer the ceaseless inward question why I thus suffered ; 
now, at the distance of I will not say how many years, I 
see it clearly. 

I was a discord in Gateshead Hall ; I was like nobody 
there ; I had nothing in harmony with Mrs. Reed or her 
children, or her chosen vassalage. If they did not love me, 
in fact, as little did I love them. They were not bound to 
regard with affection a thing that could not sympathise with 



12 JANE EYRE 

one amongst them ; a heterogeneous thing, opposed to them 
in temperament, in capacity, in propensities ; a useless thing, 
incapable of serving their interest, or adding to their 
pleasure ; a noxious thing, cherishing the germs of indigna- 
tion at their treatment, of contempt of their judgment. I 
know that had I been a sanguine, brilliant, careless, exacting, 
handsome, romping child though equally dependent and 
friendless Mrs. Heed would have endured my presence 
more complacently ; her children would have entertained 
for me more of the cordiality of fellow-feeling ; the servants 
would have been less prone to make me the scapegoat of 
the nursery. 

Daylight began to forsake the red-room ; it was past four 
o'clock, and the beclouded afternoon was tending to drear 
twilight. I heard the rain still beating continuously on the 
staircase window, and the wind howling in the grove behind 
the hall ; I grew by degrees cold as a stone, and then my 
courage sank. My habitual mood of humiliation, self-doubt, 
forlorn depression, fell damp on the embers of my decaying 
ire. All said I was wicked, and perhaps I might be so : 
what thought had I been but just conceiving of starving 
myself to death ? That certainly was a crime : and was I 
fit to die ? Or was the vault under the chancel of Gateshead 
Church an inviting bourne ? In such vault I had been told 
did Mr. Eeed lie buried ; and led by this thought to recall 
his idea, I dwelt on it with gathering dread. I could not re- 
member him ; but I knew that he was my own uncle my 
mother's brother that he had taken me when a parentless 
infant to his house ; and that in his last moments he had 
required a promise of Mrs. Eeed that she would rear and 
maintain me as one of her own children. Mrs. Eeed probably 
considered she had kept this promise ; and so she had, I 
dare say, as well as her nature would permit her ; but how 
could she really like an interloper not of her race, and un- 
connected with her, after her husband's death, by any tie ? 
It must have been most irksome to find herself bound by a 
hard-wrung pledge to stand in the stead of a parent to a 



JANE EtKE 13 

strange child she could not love, and to see an uncongenial 
alien permanently intruded on her own family group. 

A singular notion dawned upon me. I doubted not 
never doubted that if Mr. Keed had been alive he would 
have treated me kindly ; and now, as I sat looking at the 
white bed and overshadowed walls occasionally also turning 
a fascinated eye towards the dimly gleaming mirror I began 
to recall what I had heard of dead men, troubled in their 
graves by the violation of their last wishes, revisiting the 
earth to punish the perjured and avenge the oppressed ; and 
I thought Mr. Eeed's spirit, harassed by the wrongs of his 
sister's child, might quit its abode whether in the church 
vault, or in the unknown world of the departed and rise 
before me in this chamber. I wiped my tears and hushed 
rny sobs, fearful lest any sign of violent grief might waken a 
preternatural voice to comfort me, or elicit from the gloom 
some haloed face, bending over me with strange pity. This 
idea, consolatory in theory, I felt would be terrible if realised : 
with all my might I endeavoured to stifle it I endeavoured 
to be firm. Shaking my hair from my eyes, I lifted my head 
and tried to look boldly round the dark room. At this 
moment a light gleamed on the wall. Was it, I asked my- 
self, a ray from the moon penetrating some aperture in the 
blind ? No ; moonlight was still, and this stirred ; while I 
gazed, it glided up to the ceiling and quivered over my head. 
I can now conjecture readily that this streak of light was, in 
all likelihood, a gleam from a lantern, carried by some one 
across the lawn : but then, prepared as my mind was for 
horror, shaken as my nerves were by agitation, I thought 
the swift-darting beam was a herald of some coming vision 
from another world. My heart beat thick, my head grew 
hot ; a sound filled my ears, which I deemed the rushing of 
wings : something seemed near me ; I was oppressed, suffo- 
cated : endurance broke down ; I rushed to the door and shook 
the lock in desperate effort. Steps came running along the 
outer passage ; the key turned, Bessie and Abbot entered. 

' Miss Eyre, are you ill ? ' said Bessie. 



14 JANE EYRE 

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

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

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

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

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

1 What is all this ? ' demanded another voice, peremp- 
torily; and Mrs. Eeed came along the corridor, her cap 
flying wide, her gown rustling stormily. ' Abbot and Bessie, 
I believe I gave orders that Jane Eyre should be left in the 
red-room till I came to her myself.' 

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

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

' Oh aunt, have pity ! Forgive me ! I cannot endure it 
let me be punished some other way ! I shall be killed 
if ' 

1 Silence ! This violence is all most repulsive : ' and so, 
no doubt, she felt it. I was a precocious actress in her eyes : 
she sincerely looked on me as a compound of virulent pas- 
sions, mean spirit, and dangerous duplicity. 

Bessie and Abbot having retreated, Mrs. Keed, impatient 
of my now frantic anguish and wild sobs, abruptly thrust me 
back and locked me in, without farther parley. I heard her 
sweeping away ; and soon after she was gone I suppose I 
had a species of fit : unconsciousness closed the scene. 



CHAPTEE III 

THE next thing I remember is, waking up with a feeling as 
if I had had a frightful nightmare, and seeing before me a 
terrible red glare, crossed with thick black bars. I heard 
voices, too, speaking with a hollow sound, as if muffled by a 
rush of wind or water : agitation, uncertainty, and an all- 
predominating sense of terror confused my faculties. Ere 
long I became aware that some one was handling me ; lifting 
me up and supporting me in a sitting posture, and that more 
tenderly than I had ever been raised or upheld before. I 
rested my head against a pillow or an arm, and felt easy. 

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

I felt an inexpressible relief, a soothing conviction of 
protection and security, when I knew that there was a 
stranger in the room, an individual not belonging to Gates- 
head, and not related to Mrs. Heed. Turning from Bessie 
(though her presence was far less obnoxious to me than that 
of Abbot, for instance, would have been), I scrutinised the 
face of the gentleman : I knew him ; it was Mr. Lloyd, an 
apothecary, sometimes called in by Mrs. Eeed when the ser- 
vants were ailing : for herself and the children she employed 
a physician. 

' Well, who am I ? ' he asked. 

I pronounced his name, offering him at the same time 
my hand : he took it, smiling and saying, ' We shall do very 



16 JANE EYEE 

well by-and-by.' Then he laid me down, and addressing 
Bessie, charged her to be very careful that I was not dis- 
turbed during the night. Having given some further direc- 
tions, and intimated that he should call again the next day, 
he departed to my grief : I felt so sheltered and befriended 
while he sat in the chair near my pillow ; and as he closed 
the door after him all the room darkened and my heart 
again sank : inexpressible sadness weighed it down. 

' Do you feel as if you should sleep, Miss ? ' asked Bessie, 
rather softly. 

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

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

' No, thank you, Bessie.' 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



JANE EYEE 17 

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

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

Next day, by noon, I was up and dressed, and sat wrapped 
in a shawl by the nursery hearth. I felt physically weak 
and broken down ; but my worse ailment was an unutterable 
wretchedness of mind : a wretchedness which kept drawing 
from me silent tears ; no sooner had I wiped one salt drop 
from my cheek than another followed. Yet I thought I 
ought to have been happy, for none of the Reeds were there, 
they were all gone out in the carriage with their mamma : 
Abbot, too, was sewing in another room, and Bessie, as she 
moved hither and thither, putting away toys and arranging 
drawers, addressed to me every now and then a word of un- 
wonted kindness. This state of things should have been to 
me a paradise of peace, accustomed as I was to a life of 
ceaseless reprimand and thankless fagging ; but, in fact, my 
racked nerves were now in such a state that no calm could 
soothe, and no pleasure excite them agreeably. 

Bessie had been down into the kitchen, and she brought 
up with her a tart on a certain brightly painted china plate, 
whose bird of paradise, nestling in a wreath of convolvuli 
and rosebuds, had been wont to stir in me a most enthu- 
siastic sense of admiration ; and which plate I had often 
petitioned to be allowed to take in my hand in order to 
examine it more closely, but had always hitherto been 
deemed unworthy of such a privilege. This precious vessel 
was now placed on my knee, and I was cordially invited to 
eat the circlet of delicate pastry upon it. Vain favour ! 



18 JANE EYRE 

coming, like most other favour long deferred and often 
wished for, too late ! I could not eat the tart : and the 
plumage of the bird, the tints of the flowers, seemed strangely 
faded : I put both plate and tart away. Bessie asked if I 
would have a book : the word book acted as a transient 
stimulus, and I begged her to fetch ' Gulliver's Travels ' from 
the library. This book I had again and again perused with 
delight. I considered it a narrative of facts, and discovered 
in it a vein of interest deeper than what I found in fairy 
tales : for as to the elves, having sought them in vain among 
foxglove leaves and bells, under mushrooms and beneath the 
ground-ivy mantling old wall-nooks, I had at length made 
up my mind to the sad truth, that they were all gone out of 
England to some savage country where the woods were 
wilder and thicker, and the population more scant ; whereas, 
Liliput and Brobdingnag being, in my creed, solid parts of 
the earth's surface, I doubted not that I might one day, by 
taking a long voyage, see with my own eyes the little fields, 
houses, and trees, the diminutive people, the tiny cows, 
sheep, and birds of the one realm ; and the corn-fields forest- 
high, the mighty mastiffs, the monster cats, the tower-like 
men and women, of the other. Yet when this cherished 
volume was now placed in my hand when I turned over its 
leaves, and sought in its marvellous pictures the charm I had, 
till now, never failed to find all was eerie and dreary ; the 
giants were gaunt goblins, the pigmies malevolent and 
fearful imps, Gulliver a most desolate wanderer in most 
dread and dangerous regions. I closed the book, which I 
dared no longer peruse, and put it on the table, beside the 
untasted tart. 

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

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



JANE EYKE 19 

I had often heard the song before, and always with lively 
delight ; for Bessie had a sweet voice at least I thought so. 
But now, though her voice was still sweet, I found in its 
melody an indescribable sadness. Sometimes, preoccupied 
with her work, she sang the refrain very low, very lingerly ; 
' A long time ago ' came out like the saddest cadence of a 
funeral hymn. She passed into another ballad, this time a 
really doleful one. 

My feet they are sore, and my limbs they are weary ; 

Long is the way, and the mountains are wild ; 
Soon will the twilight close moonless and dreary 

Over the path of the poor orphan child. 

Why did they send me so far and so lonely, 

Up where the moors spread and grey rocks are piled ? 

Men are hard-hearted, and kind angels only 
Watch o'er the steps of a poor orphan child. 

Yet distant and soft the night-breeze is blowing, 
Clouds there are none, and clear stars beam mild ; 

God, in His mercy, protection is showing, 
Comfort and hope to the poor orphan child. 

Ev'n should I fall o'er the broken bridge passing, 
Or stray in the marshes, by false lights beguiled, 

Still will my Father, with promise and blessing, 
Take to His bosom the poor orphan child. 

There is a thought that for strength should avail me, 
Though both of shelter and kindred despoiled ; 

Heaven is a home, and a rest will not fail me ; 
God is a friend to the poor orphan child. 

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

1 What, already up ! ' said he, as he entered the nursery. 
' Well, nurse, how is she ? ' 

Bessie answered that I was doing very well. 

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



20 JANE EYKE 

' Yes, sir, Jane Eyre.' 

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

' No, sir.' 

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

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

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

' Oh fie, Miss ! ' said Bessie. 

The good apothecary appeared a little puzzled. I was 
standing before him ; he fixed his eyes on me very steadily : 
his eyes were small and grey : not very bright, but I daresay 
I should think them shrewd now : he had a hard-featured 
yet good-natured looking face. Having considered me at 
leisure, he said : ' What made you ill yesterday ? ' 

' She had a fall," said Bessie, again putting in her word. 

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

' I was knocked down,' was the blunt explanation jerked 
out of me by another pang of mortified pride : ' but that did 
not make me ill,' I added ; while Mr. Lloyd helped himself 
to a pinch of snuff. 

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

Bessie would rather have stayed, but she was obliged to 
go, because punctuality at meals was rigidly enforced at 
Gateshead Hall. 

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

1 1 was shut up in a room where there is a ghost till 
after dark.' 

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



JANE EYRE 21 

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

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

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

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

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

How much I wished to reply fully to this question ! 
How difficult it was to frame any answer ! Children can 
feel, but they cannot analyse their feelings ; and if the 
analysis is partially effected in thought, they know not how 
to express the result of the process in words. Fearful, 
however, of losing this first and only opportunity of relieving 
my grief by imparting it, I, after a disturbed pause, con- 
trived to frame a meagre, though, as far as it went, true 
response. 

' For one thing, I have no father or mother, brothers or 
sistei's.' 

' You have a kind aunt and cousins.' 

Again I paused ; then bunglingly enounced : ' But John 
Eeed knocked me down, and my aunt shut me up in the 
red-room.' 

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

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

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

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

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



22 JANE EYRE 

' Perhaps you may who knows ? Have you any rela- 
tions besides Mrs. Reed ? ' 

1 1 think not, sir.' 

' None belonging to your father ? ' 

1 1 don't know : I asked aunt Reed once, and she said 
possibly I might have some poor, low relations called Eyre, 
but she knew nothing about them.' 

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

I reflected. Poverty looks grim to grown people ; still 
more so to children : they have not much idea of industrious, 
working, respectable poverty ; they think of the word only 
as connected with ragged clothes, scanty food, fireless grates, 
rude manners, and debasing vices : poverty for me was, 
synonymous with degradation. 

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

' Not even if they were kind to you ? ' 

I shook my head : I could not see how poor people had 
the means of being kind ; and then to learn to speak like 
them, to adopt their manners, to be uneducated, to grow up 
like one of the poor women I saw sometimes nursing their 
children or washing their clothes at the cottage doors of the, 
village of Gateshead : no, I was not heroic enough to pur- 
chase liberty at the price of caste. 

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

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

' Would you like to go to school ? ' 

Again I reflected : I scarcely knew what school was ; 
Bessie sometimes spoke of it as a place where young ladies 
sat in the stocks, wore backboards, and were expected to be 
exceedingly genteel and precise : John Reed hated his 
school, and abused his master ; but John Reed's tastes 
were no rule for mine, and if Bessie's accounts of school 
discipline (gathered from the young ladies of a family where 
she had lived before coming to Gateshead) were somewhat 



appalling, her details of certain accomplishments attained by 
these same young ladies were, I thought, equally attractive. 
She boasted of beautiful paintings of landscapes and flowers 
by them executed ; of songs they could sing and pieces they 
could play, of purses they could net, of French books they 
could translate ; till my spirit was moved to emulation as I 
listened. Besides, school would be a complete change : it 
implied a long journey, an entire separation from Gateshead, 
an entrance into a new life. 

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

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

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

' Is that your mistress, nurse ? ' asked Mr. Lloyd. ' I 
should like to speak to her before I go.' 

Bessie invited him to walk into the breakfast-room, and 
led the way out. In the interview which followed between 
him and Mrs. Eeed, I presume, from after-occurrences, that 
the apothecary ventured to recommend my being sent to 
school; and the recommendation was no doubt readily 
enough adopted ; for as Abbot said, in discussing the subject 
with Bessie when both sat sewing in the nursery one night, 
after I was in bed, and, as they thought, asleep, ' Missis was, 
she dared say, glad enough to get rid of such a tiresome, ill- 
conditioned child, who always looked as if she were watch- 
ing everybody, and scheming plots underhand.' Abbot, I 
think, gave me credit for being a sort of infantine Guy 
Fawkes. 

On that same occasion I learned, for the first time, from 
Miss Abbot's communications to Bessie, that my father had 
been a poor clergyman ; that my mother had married him 
against the wishes of her friends, who considered the match 
beneath her ; that my grandfather Reed was so irritated at 



24 JANE EYEE 

her disobedience, he cut her off without a shilling ; that after 
my mother and father had been married a year, the latter 
caught the typhus fever while visiting among the poor of a 
large manufacturing town where his curacy was situated, 
and where that disease was then prevalent ; that my mother 
took the infection from him, and both died within a month 
of each other. 

Bessie, when she heard this narrative, sighed and said, 
' Poor Miss Jane is to be pitied, too, Abbot.' 

' Yes,' responded Abbot, ' if she were a nice, pretty child, 
one might compassionate her forlornness ; but one really 
cannot care for such a little toad as that.' 

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

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

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



CHAPTEE IV 

FROM my discourse with Mr. Lloyd, and from the above- 
reported conference between Bessie and Abbot, I gathered 
enough of hope to suffice as a motive for wishing to get well : 
a change seemed near, I desired and waited it in silence. It 
tarried, however : days and weeks passed : I had regained 
my normal state of health, but no new allusion was made to 
the subject over which I brooded. Mrs. Eeed surveyed me 
at times with a severe eye, but seldom addressed me : since 
my illness she had drawn a more marked line of separation 
than ever between me and her own children ; appointing me 
a small closet to sleep in by myself, condemning me to 
take my meals alone, and pass all my time in the nursery, 
while my cousins were constantly in the drawing-room. 
Not a hint, however, did she drop about sending me to 
school : still I felt an instinctive certainty that she would 
not long endure me under the same roof with her ; for her 
glance, now more than ever, when turned on me, expressed 
an insuperable and rooted aversion. 

Eliza and Georgiana, evidently acting according to orders, 
spoke to me as little as possible : John thrust his tongue in 
his cheek whenever he saw me, and once attempted chastise- 
ment ; but as I instantly turned against him, roused by the 
same sentiment of deep ire and desperate revolt which had 
stirred my corruption before, he thought it better to desist, 
and ran from me, uttering execrations, and vowing I had 
burst his nose. I had indeed levelled at that prominent 
feature as hard a blow as my knuckles could inflict ; and 
when I saw that either that or my look daunted him, I 
had the greatest inclination to follow up my advantage to 



26 JANE EYEE 

purpose ; but he was already with his mamma. I heard him 
in a blubbering tone commence the tale of how ' that nasty 
Jane Eyre ' had flown at him like a mad cat : he was stopped 
rather harshly ' Don't talk to me about her, John : I told 
you not to go near her ; she is not worthy of notice ; I do 
not choose that either you or your sisters should associate 
with her.' 

Here, leaning over the banister, I cried out suddenly, 
and without at all deliberating on my words, ' They are not 
fit to associate with me.' 

Mrs. Reed was rather a stout woman ; but on hearing 
this strange and audacious declaration, she ran nimbly up 
the stair, swept me like a whirlwind into the nursery, and 
crushing me down on the edge of my crib, dared me in an 
emphatic voice to rise from that place, or utter one syllable, 
during the remainder of the day. 

' What would uncle Eeed say to you, if he were alive ? ' 
was my scarcely voluntary demand. I say scarcely volun- 
tary, for it seemed as if my tongue pronounced words with- 
out my will consenting to their utterance : something spoke 
out of me over which I had no control. 

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

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

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

No\ ember, December, and half of January passed away. 



JANE EYKE 27 

Christmas and the New Year had been celebrated at Gates- 
head with the usual festive cheer ; presents had been inter- 
changed, dinners and evening parties given. From every 
enjoyment I was, of course, excluded : my share of the 
gaiety consisted in witnessing the daily apparelling of Eliza 
and Georgiana, and seeing them descend to the drawing- 
room, dressed out in thin muslin frocks and scarlet sashes, 
with hair elaborately ringletted ; and afterwards, in listening 
to the sound of the piano or the harp played below, to the 
passing to and fro of the butler and footman, to the jingling 
of glass and china as refreshments were handed, to the 
broken hum of conversation as the drawing-room doors 
opened and closed. When tired of this occupation, I would 
retire from the stairhead to the solitary and silent nursery : 
there, though somewhat sad, I was not miserable. To 
speak truth, I had not the least wish to go into company, 
for in company I was very rarely noticed ; and if Bessie had 
but been kind and companionable, I should have deemed it 
a treat to spend the evenings quietly with her, instead of 
passing them under the formidable eye of Mrs. Eeed, in a 
room full of ladies and gentlemen. But Bessie, as soon as 
she had dressed her young ladies, used to take herself off to 
the lively regions of the kitchen and housekeeper's room, 
generally bearing the candle along with her. I then sat 
with my doll on my knee, till the fire got low, glancing 
round occasionally to make sure that nothing worse than 
myself haunted the shadowy room ; and when the embers 
sank to a dull red, I undressed hastily, tugging at knots and 
strings as I best might, and sought shelter from cold and 
darkness in my crib. To this crib I always took my doll ; 
human beings must love something, and in the dearth of 
worthier objects of affection, I contrived to find a pleasure 
in loving and cherishing a faded graven image, shabby as a 
miniature scarecrow. It puzzles me now to remember with 
what absurd sincerity I doated on this little toy, half fancy- 
ing it alive and capable of sensation. I could not sleep 
unless it was folded in my night-gown ; and when it lay 



there safe and warm, I was comparatively happy, believing 
it to be happy likewise. 

Long did the hours seem while I waited the departure of 
the company, and listened for the sound of Bessie's step on 
the stairs : sometimes she would come up in the interval to 
seek her thimble or her scissors, or perhaps to bring me 
something by way of supper a bun or a cheese-cakethen 
she would sit on the bed while I ate it, and when I had 
finished, she would tuck the clothes round me, and twice 
she kissed me, and said, ' Good night, Miss Jane.' When 
thus gentle, Bessie seemed to me the best, prettiest, kindest 
being in the world ; and I wished most intensely that she 
would always be so pleasant and amiable, and never push 
me about, or scold, or task me unreasonably, as she was too 
often wont to do. Bessie Lee must, I think, have been a 
girl of good natural capacity, for she was smart in all she 
did, and had a remarkable knack of narrative ; so, at least, 
I judge from the impression made on me by her nursery 
tales. She was pretty, too, if my recollections of her face 
and person are correct. I remember her as a slim young 
woman, with black hair, dark eyes, very nice features, and 
good, clear complexion ; but she had a capricious and hasty 
temper, and indifferent ideas of principle or justice : still, 
such as she was, I preferred her to any one else at Gates- 
head Hall. 

It was the fifteenth of January, about nine o'clock in the 
morning : Bessie was gone down to breakfast ; my cousins had 
not yet been summoned to their mamma ; Eliza was putting on 
her bonnet and warm garden-coat to go and feed her poultry, 
an occupation of which she was fond : and not less so of selling 
the eggs to the housekeeper and hoarding up the money she 
thus obtained. She had a turn for traffic, and a marked 
propensity for saving ; shown not only in the vending of 
eggs and chickens, but also in driving hard bargains with 
the gardener about flower-roots, seeds, and slips of plants ; 
that functionary having orders from Mrs. Eeed to buy of 
his young lady all the products of her parterre she wished 



JANE EYEE 29 

to sell : and Eliza would have sold the hair off her head if 
she could have made a handsome profit thereby. As to her 
money, she first secreted it in odd corners, wrapped in a rag 
or an old curl-paper ; but some of these hoards having been 
discovered by the housemaid, Eliza, fearful of one day losing 
her valued treasure, consented to intrust it to her mother, 
at a usurious rate of interest fifty or sixty per cent. ; which 
interest she exacted every quarter, keeping her accounts in 
a little book with anxious accuracy. 

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

From this window were visible the porter's lodge and 
the carriage-road, and just as I had dissolved so much of 
the silver-white foliage veiling the panes as left room to 
look out, I saw the gates thrown open and a carriage roll 
through. I watched it ascending the drive with indifference : 
carriages often came to Gateshead, but none ever brought 
visitors in whom I was interested ; it stopped in front of 
the house, the door-bell rang loudly, the new-comer was 
admitted. All this being nothing to me, my vacant atten- 
tion soon found livelier attraction in the spectacle of a little 
hungry robin, which came and chirruped on the twigs of 



30 JANE EYEE 

the leafless cherry-tree nailed against the wall near the 
casement. The remains of my breakfast of bread and milk 
stood on the table, and having crumbled a morsel of roll, I was 
tugging at the sash to put out the crumbs on the window-sill, 
when Bessie came running upstairs into the nursery. 

' Miss Jane, take off your pinafore : what are you doing 
there ? Have you washed your hands and face this morn- 
ing ? ' I gave another tug before I answered, for I wanted 
the bird to be secure of its bread : the sash yielded ; I 
scattered the crumbs, some on the stone sill, some on th^ 
cherry-tree bough, then, closing the window, I replied : 
' No, Bessie ; I have only just finished dusting.' 

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

I was spared the trouble of answering, for Bessie seemed 
in too great a hurry to listen to explanations : she hauled 
me to the washstand, inflicted a merciless, but happily brief 
scrub on my face and hands with soap, water, and a coarse 
towel ; disciplined my head with a bristly brush, denuded 
me of my pinafore, and then, hurrying me to the top of the 
stairs, bid me go down directly, as I was wanted in the 
breakfast-room. 

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

I now stood in the empty hall ; before me was the break- 
fast-room door, and I stopped, intimidated and trembling. 
What a miserable little poltroon had fear, engendered of 
unjust punishment, made of me in those days ! I feared 
to return to the nursery, and feared to go forward to the 
parlour ; ten minutes I stood in agitated hesitation : the 



JANE EYBE 31 

vehement ringing of the breakfast-room bell decided me ; 
I must enter. 

' Who could want me ? ' I asked inwardly, as with both 
hands I turned the stiff door-handle, which, for a second or 
two, resisted my efforts. ' What should I see besides aunt 
Eeed in the apartment ? a man or a woman ? ' The handle 
turned, the door unclosed, and passing through and curtsey- 
ing low I looked up at a black pillar ! such, at least, 
appeared to me, at first sight, the straight, narrow, sable- 
clad shape standing erect on the rug : the grim face at the 
top was like a carved mask, placed above the shaft by way 
of capital. 

Mrs. Keed occupied her usual seat by the fireside : she 
made a signal to me to approach : I did so, and she intro- 
duced me to the stony stranger with the words : ' This is 
the little girl respecting whom I applied to you.' 

He, for it was a man, turned his head slowly towards 
where I stood, and having examined me with the two 
inquisitive-looking grey eyes which twinkled under a pair 
of bushy brows, said solemnly, and in a bass voice : ' Her 
size is small : what is her age ? ' 

' Ten years.' 

' So much ? ' was the doubtful answer ; and he prolonged 
his scrutiny for some minutes. Presently he addressed 
me: 

' Your name, little girl ? ' 

' Jane Eyre, sir.' 

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

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

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



32 JANE EYKE 

' Sorry indeed to hear it ! she and I must have some talk ; ' 
and bending from the perpendicular, he installed his person 
in the arm-chair, opposite Mrs. Reed's. ' Come here,' he 
said. 

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

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

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

' And what is hell ? Can you tell me that ? ' 

' A pit full of fire.' 

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

' No, sir.' 

' What must you do to avoid it ? ' 

I deliberated a moment ; my answer, when it did come, 
was objectionable : ' I must keep in good health and not 
die.' 

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

Not being in a condition to remove his doubt, I only 
cast my eyes down on the two large feet planted on the rug, 
and sighed, wishing myself far enough away. 

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

' Benefactress ! benefactress ! ' said I, inwardly : ' they all 
call Mrs. Eeed my benefactress ; if so, a benefactress is a 
disagreeable thing.' 

' Do you say your prayers night and morning ? ' con- 
tinued my interrogator. 



JANE EYBE 33 

' Yes, sir.' 

' Do you read your Bible ? ' 

' Sometimes.' 

' With pleasure ? Are you fond of it ? ' 

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

' And the Psalms ? I hope you like them ? ' 

'No, sir.' 

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

' Psalms are not interesting,' I remarked. 

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

I was about to propound a question, touching the 
manner in which that operation of changing my heart was 
to be performed, when Mrs. Eeed interposed, telling me to 
sit down ; she then proceeded to carry on the conversation 
herself. 

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

Well might I dread, well might I dislike Mrs. Eeed ; for 
it was her nature to wound me cruelly : never was I happy 
in her presence : however carefully I obeyed, however 

D 



34 JANE EYEE 

strenuously I strove to please her, my efforts were still 
repulsed and repaid by such sentences as the above. Now, 
uttered before a stranger, the accusation cut me to the heart : 
I dimly perceived that she was already obliterating hope 
from the new phase of existence which she destined me to 
enter ; I felt, though I could not have expressed the feeling, 
that she was sowing aversion and unkindness along my 
future path ; I saw myself transformed under Mr. Brockle- 
hurst's eye into an artful noxious child, and what could I do 
to remedy the injury ? 

' Nothing, indeed,' thought I, as I struggled to repress 
a sob, and hastily wiped away some tears, the impotent 
evidences of my anguish. 

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

' I should wish her to be brought up in a manner suiting 
her prospects,' continued my benefactress; 'to be made 
useful, to be kept humble : as for the vacations, she will, 
with your permission, spend them always at Lowood.' 

' Your decisions are perfectly judicious, madam,' returned 
Mr. Brocklehurst. ' Humility is a Christian grace, and one 
peculiarly appropriate to the pupils of Lowood : I, therefore, 
direct that especial care shall be bestowed on its cultivation 
amongst them. I have studied how best to mortify in them 
the worldly sentiment of pride ; and, only the other day, I 
had a pleasing proof of my success. My second daughter, 
Augusta, went with her mamma to visit the school, and on 
her return she exclaimed : " Oh, dear papa, how quiet and 
plain all the girls at Lowood look ; with their hair combed 
behind their ears, and their long pinafores, and those little 
holland pockets outside their frocks they are almost like 
poor people's children ! and," said she, " they looked at my 
dress and mamma's, as if they had never seen a silk gown 
before." ' 



JANE EYRE 35 

' This is the state of things I quite approve,' returned 
Mrs. Eeed ; ' had I sought ah 1 England over, I could scarcely 
have found a system more exactly fitting a child like Jane 
Eyre. Consistency, my dear Mr. Brocklehurst ; I advocate 
consistency in all things.' 

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

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

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

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

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

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

I 1 will, madam. Little girl, here is a book entitled the 
" Child's Guide " ; read it with prayer, especially that part 
containing "an account of the awfully sudden death of 

Martha G , a naughty child addicted to falsehood and 

deceit." ' 

With these words Mr. Brocklehurst put into my hand a 
thin pamphlet sewn in a. cover, and having rung for his 
carriage, he departed, 



36 JANE EYEE 

Mrs. Reed and I were left alone : some minutes passed 
in silence : she was sewing, I was watching her. Mrs. Reed 
might be at that time some six or seven and thirty ; she was 
a woman of rohust frame, square-shouldered and strong- 
limbed, not tall, and, though stout, not obese : she had a 
somewhat large face, the under- jaw being much developed 
and very solid ; her brow was low, her chin large and 
prominent, mouth and nose sufficiently regular ; under her 
light eyebrows glimmered an eye devoid of ruth ; her skin 
was dark and opaque, her hair nearly flaxen ; her constitu- 
tion was sound as a bell illness never came near her ; she 
was an exact, clever manager, her household and tenantry 
were thoroughly under her control; her children, only, at 
times defied her authority, and laughed it to scorn ; she 
dressed well, and had a presence and port calculated to set 
off handsome attire. 

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

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

1 Go out of the room ; return to the nursery/ was her 
mandate. My look or something else must have struck her 
as offensive, for she spoke with extreme, though suppressed 
irritation. I got up, I went to the door ; I came back 
again ; I walked to the window, across the room, then close 
up to her. 

Speak I must ; I had been trodden on severely, and must 
turn : but how ? What strength had I to dart retaliation at 



JANE EYRE 37 

toy antagonist ? I gathered my energies and launched them 
in this blunt sentence : ' I am not deceitful : if I were, I 
should say I loved you ; but I declare I do not love you : I 
dislike you the worst of anybody in the world except John 
Keed ; and this book about the liar, you may give to your 
girl, Georgiana, for it is she who tells lies, and not I.' 

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

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

That eye of hers, that voice stirred every antipathy I 
had. Shaking from head to foot, thrilled with ungovernable 
excitement, I continued : ' I am glad you are no relation of 
mine : I will never call you aunt again as long as I live. I 
will never come to see you when I am grown up ; and if 
any one asks me how I liked you, and how you treated me, 
I will say the very thought of you makes me sick, and that 
you treated me with miserable cruelty.' 

' How dare you affirm that, Jane Eyre ? ' 

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

Ere I had finished this reply my soul began to expand, 
to exult, with the strangest sense of freedom, of triumph, I 
ever felt. It seemed as if an invisible bond had burst, and 
that I had struggled out into unhoped-for liberty. Not 



38 JANE EYRE 

without cause was this sentiment : Mrs. Reed looked 
frightened ; her work had slipped from her knee ; she was 
lifting up her hands, rocking herself to and fro, and even 
twisting her face as if she would cry. 

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

1 No, Mrs. Reed.' 

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

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

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

1 Deceit is not my fault ! ' I cried out in a savage, high 
voice. 

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

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

' I will indeed send her to school soon,' murmured Mrs. 
Reed, sotto vocc, ; and gathering up her work, she abruptly 
quitted the apartment. 

I was left there alone winner of the field. It was the 
hardest battle I had fought, and the first victory I had 
gained : I stood awhile on the rug, where Mr. Brocklehurst 
had stood, and I enjoyed my conqueror's solitude. First, 
I smiled to myself and felt elate ; but this fierce pleasure 
subsided in me as fast as did the accelerated throb of my 
pulses. A child cannot quarrel with its elders, as I had 
done ; cannot give its furious feelings uncontrolled play, as 
I had given mine, without experiencing afterwards the pang 
of remorse and the chill of reaction. A ridge of lighted 
heath, alive, glancing, devouring, would have been a meet 
emblem of my mind when I accused and menaced Mrs. Reed : 



JANE EYEE 39 

the same ridge, black and blasted after the flames are dead, 
would have represented as meetly my subsequent condition, 
when half an hour's silence and reflection had shown me 
the madness of my conduct, and the dreariness of my hatred 
and hating position. 

Something of vengeance I had tasted for the first time ; 
as aromatic wine it seemed, on swallowing, warm and racy : 
its after-flavour, metallic and corroding, gave me a sensa- 
tion as if I had been poisoned. Willingly would I now 
have gone and asked Mrs. Reed's pardon ; but I knew, 
partly from experience and partly from instinct, that was 
the way to make her repulse me with double scorn, thereby 
re-exciting every turbulent impulse of my nature. 

I would fain exercise some better faculty than that of 
fierce speaking ; fain find nourishment for some less fiendish 
feeling than that of sombre indignation. I took a book 
some Arabian tales ; I sat down and endeavoured to read. 
I could make no sense of the subject ; my own thoughts 
swam always between me and the page I had usually found 
fascinating. I opened the glass-door in the breakfast-room : 
the shrubbery was quite still : the black frost reigned, 
unbroken by sun or breeze, through the grounds. I covered 
my head and arms with the skirt of my frock, and went out 
to walk in a part of the plantation which was quite seques- 
tered : but I found no pleasure in the silent trees, the 
falling fir-cones, the congealed relics of autumn, russet 
leaves, swept by past winds in heaps, and now stiffened 
together. I leaned against a gate, and looked into an empty 
field where no sheep were feeding, where the short grass 
was nipped and blanched. It was a very grey day ; a most 
opaque sky, ' ending on snaw," canopied all ; thence flakes 
fell at intervals, which settled on the hard path and on the 
hoary lea without melting. I stood, a wretched child 
enough, whispering to myself over and over again, ' What 
shall I do ? what shall I do ? ' 

All at once I heard a clear voice call, ' Miss Jane ! where 
are you ? Come to lunch ! ' 



40 JANE EYRE 

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

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

Bessie's presence, compared with the thoughts over 
which I had been brooding, seemed cheerful ; even though, 
as usual, she was somewhat cross. The fact is, after my 
conflict with and victory over Mrs. Reed, I was not disposed 
to care much for the nursemaid's transitory anger ; and I 
was disposed to bask in her youthful lightness of heart. I 
just put my two arms round her, and said, ' Come, Bessie ! 
don't scold.' 

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

' You are a strange child, Miss Jane,' she said, as she 
looked down at me : 'a little, roving, solitary thing : and 
you are going to school, I suppose ? ' 

I nodded. 

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

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

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

' What ! to get more knocks ? ' 

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

' I don't think you have, Bessie.' 

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



JANE EYEE 41 

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

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

1 1 don't think I shall ever be afraid of you again, Bessie, 
because I have got used to you; and I shall soon have 
another set of people to dread. 1 

' If you dread them, they'll dislike you.' 

' As you do, Bessie ? ' 

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

' You don't show it.' 

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

' Why, I shall soon be away from you, and besides ' 

I was going to say something about what had passed between 
me and Mrs. Eeed ; but on second thoughts I considered it 
better to remain silent on that head. 

' And so you're glad to leave me ? ' 

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

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

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



CHAPTER V 

FIVE o'clock had hardly struck on the morning of the 19th of 
January, when Bessie brought a candle into my closet, and 
found me already up and nearly dressed. I had risen half 
an hour before her entrance, and had washed my face, and put 
on my clothes by the light of a half-moon just setting, whose 
rays streamed through the narrow window near my crib. I 
was to leave Gateshead that day by a coach which passed 
the lodge gates at six A.M. Bessie was the only person yet 
risen ; she had lit a fire in the nursery, where she now pro- 
ceeded to make my breakfast. Few children can eat when 
excited with the thoughts of a journey ; nor could I. Bessie, 
having pressed me in vain to take a few spoonfuls of the 
boiled milk and bread she had prepared for me, wrapped 
up some biscuits in a paper and put them into my bag ; 
then she helped me on with my pelisse and bonnet, and 
wrapping herself in a shawl, she and I left the nursery. As 
we passed Mrs. Eeed's bedroom, she said, ' Will you go in 
and bid Missis good-bye ? ' 

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

' What did you say, Miss ? ' 

' Nothing : I covered my face with the bed-clothes, and 
turned from her to the wall.' 

' That was wrong, Miss Jane.' 

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



JANE EYEE 43 

' Oh, Miss Jane ! don't say so ! ' 

' Good-bye to Gateshead ! ' cried I, as we passed through 
the hall and went out at the front door. 

The moon was set, and it was very dark ; Bessie carried 
a lantern, whose light glanced on wet steps and gravel road 
sodden by a recent thaw. Baw and chill was the winter 
morning : my teeth chattered as I hastened down the drive. 
There was a light in the porter's lodge : when we reached 
it, we found the porter's wife just kindling her fire : my 
trunk, which had been carried down the evening before, 
stood corded at the door. It wanted but a few minutes of 
six, and shortly after that hour had struck the distant roll 
of wheels announced the coming coach ; I went to the door, 
and watched its lamps approach rapidly through the gloom. 

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

'Yes.' 

1 And how far is it ? ' 

' Fifty miles.' 

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

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

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

' Ay, ay I ' was the answer : the door was slapped to, a 
voice exclaimed, ' Ah 1 right,' and on we drove. Thus was I 
severed from Bessie and Gateshead : thus whirled away to 
unknown, and, as I then deemed, remote and mysterious 
regions. 

I remember but little of the journey : I only know that 
the day seemed to me of a preternatural length, and that we 
appeared to travel over hundreds of miles of road. We 
passed through several towns, and in one, a very large one, 
the coach stopped; the horses were taken out, and the 



44 JANE EYRE 

passengers alighted to dine. I was carried into an inn, 
where the guard wanted me to have some dinner ; but, as 
I had no appetite, he left me in an immense room with a 
fireplace at each end, a chandelier pendent from the ceiling, 
and a little red gallery high up against the wall filled with 
musical instruments. Here I walked about for a long time, 
feeling very strange, and mortally apprehensive of some one 
coming in and kidnapping me ; for I believed in kidnappers, 
their exploits having frequently figured in Bessie's fireside 
chronicles. At last the guard returned : once more I was 
stowed away in the coach, my protector mounted his own 
seat, sounded his hollow horn, and away we rattled over the 
1 stony street ' of L . 

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

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

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

I was stiff with long sitting, and bewildered with the 
noise and motion of the coach : gathering my faculties, I 
looked about me. Bain, wind, and darkness filled the air ; 
nevertheless, I dimly discerned a wall before me and a door 
open in it ; through this door I passed with my new guide : 
she shut and locked it behind her. There was now visible 
a house or houses for the building spread far with 
many windows, and lights buraing in some ; we went up a 
broad pebbly path, splashing wet, and were admitted at a 



JANE EMUS 45 

door ; then the servant led me through a passage into a 
room with a fire, where she left me alone. 

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

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

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

' She had better be put to bed soon ; she looks tired : 
' are you tired ? ' she asked, placing her hand on my 
shoulder. 

' A little, ma'am.' 

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

I explained to her that I had no parents. She inquired 
how long they had been dead ; then how old I was, what 
was my name, whether I could read, write, and sew a little : 
then she touched my cheek gently with her forefinger, and 
saying, ' She hoped I should be a good child,' dismissed me 
along with Miss Miller. 

The lady I had left might be about twenty-nine ; the one 
who went with me appeared some years younger : the first 
impressed me by her voice, look, and air. Miss Miller was 
more ordinary ; ruddy in complexion, though of a careworn 
countenance ; hurried in gait and action, like one who had 
always a multiplicity of tasks on hand : she looked, indeed, 



46 JANE EYEE 

what I afterwards found she really was, an tinder-teacher. 
Led by her, I passed from compartment to compartment, 
from passage to passage, of a large and irregular building ; 
till, emerging from the total and somewhat dreary silence 
pervading that portion of the house we had traversed, we 
came upon the hum of many voices, and presently entered 
a wide, long room, with great deal tables, two at each end, 
on each of which burnt a pair of candles, and seated all 
round on benches a congregation of girls of every age, from 
nine or ten to twenty. Seen by the dim light of the dips, 
their number to me appeared countless, though not in reality 
exceeding eighty ; they were uniformly dressed in brown 
stuff frocks of quaint fashion, and long holland pinafores. 
It was the hour of study; they were engaged in conning 
over their to-morrow's task, and the hum I had heard was 
the combined result of their whispered repetitions. 

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

' Monitors, collect the lesson-books and put them away ! ' 

Four tall girls arose from different tables, and going 
round, gathered the books and removed them. Miss Miller 
again gave the word of command : 

' Monitors, fetch the supper-trays ! ' 

The tall girls went out, and returned presently, each 
bearing a tray, with portions of something, I knew not what, 
arranged thereon, and a pitcher of water and mug in the 
middle of each tray. The portions were handed round ; 
those who liked took a draught of the water, the mug being 
common to all. When it came to my turn, I drank, for I 
was thirsty, but did not touch the food, excitement and 
fatigue rendering me incapable of eating :. I now saw, how- 
ever, that it was a thin oaten cake, shared into fragments. 

The meal over, prayers were read by Miss Miller, and 
the classes filed off, two and two, upstairs. Overpowered 
by this time with weariness, I scarcely noticed what sort of 
a place the bedroom was ; except that, like the schoolroom, 
I saw it was very long. To-night I was to be Miss Miller's 



JANE EYRE 47 

bedfellow ; she helped me to undress : when laid down I 
glanced at the long rows of beds, each of which was quickly 
filled with two occupants ; in ten minutes the single light 
was extinguished ; amidst silence and complete darkness, I 
fell asleep. 

The night passed rapidly : I was too tired even to dream ; 
I only once awoke to hear the wind rave in furious gusts, 
and the rain fall in torrents, and to be sensible that Miss 
Miller had taken her place by my side. When I again un- 
closed my eyes, a loud bell was ringing : the girls were up 
and dressing ; day had not yet begun to dawn, and a rush- 
light or two burnt in the room. I too rose reluctantly ; it 
was bitter cold, and I dressed as well as I could for shiver- 
ing, and washed when there was a basin at liberty, which 
did not occur soon, as there was but one basin to six girls on 
the stands down the middle of the room. Again the bell 
rang : all formed in file, two and two, and in that order 
descended the stairs and entered the cold and dimly-lit 
schoolroom : here prayers were read by Miss Miller; after- 
wards she called out : ' Form classes ! ' 

A great tumult succeeded for some minutes, during which 
Miss Miller repeatedly exclaimed, ' Silence ! ' and ' Order ! ' 
When it subsided, I saw them all drawn up in four semi- 
circles, before four chairs, placed at the four tables ; all held 
books in their hands, and a great book, like a Bible, lay on 
each table, before the vacant seat. A pause of some seconds 
succeeded, filled up by the low, vague hum of numbers ; 
Miss Miller walked from class to class, hushing this in- 
definite sound. 

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

Business now began : the day's Collect was repeated, 
then certain texts of Scripture were said, and to these 



48 JANE EYRE 

succeeded a protracted reading of chapters in the Bible, which 
lasted an hour. By the time that exercise was terminated 
day had fully dawned. The indefatigable bell now sounded 
for the fourth time : the classes were marshalled and 
marched into another room to breakfast : how glad I was to 
behold a prospect of getting something to eat ! I was now 
nearly sick from inanition, having taken so little the day 
before. 

The refectory was a great, low-ceiled, gloomy room ; on 
two long tables smoked basins of something hot, which, how- 
ever, to my dismay, sent forth an odour far from inviting. 
I saw a universal manifestation of discontent when the 
fumes of the repast met the nostrils of those destined to 
swallow it : from the van of the procession, the tall girls 
of the first class, rose the whispered words : ' Disgusting ! 
The porridge is burnt again ! ' 

' Silence ! ' ejaculated a voice ; not that of Miss Miller, 
but one of the upper teachers, a little and dark personage, 
smartly dressed, but of somewhat morose aspect, who in- 
stalled herself at the top of one table, while a more buxom 
lady presided at the other. I looked in vain for her I had 
first seen the night before ; she was not visible : Miss Miller 
occupied the foot of the table where I sat, and a strange, 
foreign looking, elderly lady, the French teacher, as I after- 
wards found, took the corresponding seat at the other board. 
A long grace was said and a hymn sung ; then a servant 
brought in some tea for the teachers, and the meal began. 

Eavenous, and now very faint, I devoured a spoonful or 
two of my portion without thinking of its taste ; but the 
first edge of hunger blunted, I perceived I had got in hand a 
nauseous mess : burnt porridge is almost as bad as rotten 
potatoes ; famine itself soon sickens over it. The spoons 
were moved slowly : I saw each girl taste her food and try 
to swallow it ; but in most cases the effort was soon re- 
linquished. Breakfast was over, and none had breakfasted. 
Thanks being returned for what we had not got, and a 
second hymn chanted, the refectory was evacuated for the 



JANE EYEE 49 

schoolroom. I was one of the last to go out, and in passing 
the tables, I saw one teacher take a basin of the porridge 
and taste it ; she looked at the others ; all their countenances 
expressed displeasure, and one of them, the stout one, 
whispered : ' Abominable stuff ! How shameful ! ' 

A quarter of an hour passed before lessons again began, 
during which the schoolroom w r as in a glorious tumult ; for 
that space of time, it seemed to be permitted to talk loud 
and more freely, and they used their privilege. The whole 
conversation ran on the breakfast, which one and all abused 
roundly. Poor things ! it was the sole consolation they had. 
Miss Miller was now the only teacher in the room : a group 
of great girls standing about her, spoke with serious and 
sullen gestures. 1 heard the name of Mr. Brocklehurst pro- 
nounced by some lips ; at which Miss Miller shook her head 
disapprovingly ; but she made no great effort to check the 
general wrath : doubtless she shared in it. 

A clock in the schoolroom struck nine ; Miss Miller left 
her circle, and standing in the middle of the room, cried : 
1 Silence ! To your seats ! ' 

Discipline prevailed : in five minutes the confused 
throng was resolved into order, and comparative silence 
quelled the Babel clamour of tongues. The upper teachers 
now punctually resumed their posts : but still, all seemed to 
wait. Banged on benches down the sides of the room, the 
eighty girls sat motionless and erect : a quaint assemblage 
they appeared, all with plain locks combed from their faces, 
not a curl visible ; in brown dresses, made high and sur- 
rounded by a narrow tucker about the throat, with little 
pockets of holland (shaped something like a Highlander's 
purse) tied in front of their frocks, and destined to serve the 
purpose of a work-bag : all too wearing woollen stockings 
and country-made shoes, fastened with brass buckles. 
Above twenty of those clad in this costume were full-grown 
girls, or rather young women ; it suited them ill, and gave 
an air of oddity even to the prettiest. 

J wa.s still looking at them, and also at intervals 



60 JANE EYEE 

examining the teachers none of whom precisely pleased me ; 
for the stout one was a little coarse, the dark one not a little 
fierce, the foreigner harsh and grotesque, and Miss Miller, 
poor thing ! looked purple, weatherbeaten, and overworked 
when, as my eye wandered from face to face, the whole 
school rose simultaneously, as if moved by a common spring. 

What was the matter ? I had heard no order given : I 
was puzzled. Ere I had gathered my wits, the classes were 
again seated : but as all eyes were now turned to one point, 
mine followed the general direction, and encountered the 
personage who had received me last night. She stood at 
the bottom of the long room, on the hearth ; for there was a 
fire at each end : she surveyed the two rows of girls silently 
and gravely. Miss Miller approaching, seemed to ask her a 
question, and having received her answer, went back to her 
place, and said aloud, ' Monitor of the first class, fetch the 
globes ! ' 

While the direction was being executed, the lady con- 
sulted moved slowly up the room. I suppose I have a 
considerable organ of Veneration, for I retain yet the sense 
of admiring awe with which my eyes traced her steps. Seen 
now, in broad daylight, she looked tall, fair, and shapely ; 
brown eyes, with a benignant light in their irids, and a fine 
pencilling of long lashes round, relieved the whiteness of her 
large front ; on each of her temples her hair, of a very dark 
brown, was clustered in round curls, according to the fashion 
of those times, when neither smooth bands nor long ringlets 
were in vogue ; her dress, also in the mode of the day, was 
of purple cloth, relieved by a sort of Spanish trimming of 
black velvet ; a gold watch (watches were not so common 
then as now) shone at her girdle. Let the reader add, to 
complete the picture, refined features ; a complexion, if pale, 
clear ; and a stately air and carriage, and he will have, at 
least, as clearly as words can give it, a correct idea of the 
exterior of Miss Temple Maria Temple, as I afterwards saw 
the name written in a prayer-book entrusted to me to carry 
to church. 



JANE EYBE 51 

The superintendent of Lowood (for such was this lady) 
having taken her seat before a pair of globes placed on one 
of the tables, summoned the first class round her, and com- 
menced giving a lesson in geography ; the lower classes 
were called by the teachers : repetitions in history, grammar, 
&c., went on for an hour ; writing and arithmetic succeeded, 
and music lessons were given by Miss Temple to some of 
the elder girls. The duration of each lesson was measured 
by the clock, which at last struck twelve. The superin- 
tendent rose : ' I have a word to address to the pupils,' said 
she. 

The tumult of cessation from lessons was already break- 
ing forth, but it sank at her voice. She went on : ' You 
had this morning a breakfast which you could not eat ; you 
must be hungry. I have ordered that a lunch of bread and 
cheese shall be served to all.' 

The teachers looked at her with a sort of surprise. 

' It is to be done on my responsibility,' she added, in an 
explanatory tone to them, and immediately afterwards left 
the room. 

The bread and cheese was presently brought in and dis- 
tributed, to the high delight and refreshment of the whole 
school. The order was now given, ' To the garden ! ' Each 
put on a coarse straw bonnet, with strings of coloured calico, 
and a cloak of grey frieze. I was similarly equipped, and, 
following the stream, I made my way into the open air. 

The garden was a wide inclosure, surrounded with walls 
so high as to exclude every glimpse of prospect ; a covered 
verandah ran down one side, and broad walks bordered a 
middle space divided into scores of little beds : these beds 
were assigned as gardens for the pupils to cultivate, and 
each bed had an owner. When full of flowers they would 
doubtless look pretty ; but now, at the latter end of January, 
all was wintry blight and brown decay. I shuddered as I 
stood and looked round me : it was an inclement day for 
outdoor exercise ; not positively rainy, but darkened by a 
drizzling yellow fog ; all underfoot was still soaking wet with 



52 JANE 

the floods of yesterday. The stronger among the girls ran 
about and engaged in active games, but sundry pale and thin 
ones herded together for shelter and warmth in the verandah ; 
and amongst these, as the dense mist penetrated to their 
shivering frames, I heard frequently the sound of a hollow 
cough. 

As yet I had spoken to no one, nor did anybody seem to 
take notice of me ; I stood lonely enough : but to that tec-ling 
of isolation I was accustomed ; it did not oppress me much. 
I leant against a pillar of the verandah, drew my grey mantle 
close about me, and, trying to forget the cold which nipped 
me without, and the unsatisfied hunger which gnawed me 
within, delivered myself up to the employment of watching 
and thinking. My reflections were too undefined and frag- 
mentary to merit record : I hardly yet knew where I was ; 
Gateshead and my past life seemed floated away to an im- 
measurable distance ; the present was vague and strange, 
and of the future I could form no conjecture. I looked 
round the convent-like garden, and then up at the house ; a 
large building, half of which seemed grey and old, the other 
half quite new. The new part, containing the schoolroom 
and dormitory, was lit by mullioned and latticed windows, 
which gave it a church-like aspect ; a stone tablet over the 
door, bore this inscription : 

LOWOOD INSTITUTION. 

THIS PORTION WAS REBUILT A.D. , BY NAOMI BROCKLEHCR8T, 

OF BROCKLEHURST HALL, IN THIS COUNTY. 

' Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and 
glorify your Father which is in heaven." ST. MATT. v. 18. 

I read these words over and over again : I felt that an 
explanation belonged to them, and was unable fully to 
penetrate their import. I was still pondering the significa- 
tion of ' Institution,' and endeavouring to make out a con- 
nection between the first words and the verse of Scripture, 
when I he sound of a cough close behind me, made me turn 
my head. I saw a girl sitting on a stone bench near ; she 



JANE EYEE 53 

was bent over a book, on the perusal of which she seemed 
intent : from where I stood I could see the title it was 
' Easselas ; ' a name that struck me as strange, and conse- 
quently attractive. In turning a leaf she happened to look 
up, and I said to her directly : ' Is your book interesting ? ' 
I had already formed the intention of asking her to lend it 
to me some day. 

' I like it,' she answered, after a pause of a second or 
two, during which she examined me. 

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

' You may look at it,' replied the girl, offering me the 
book. 

I did so; a brief examination convinced me that the 
contents were less taking than the title : ' Easselas ' looked 
dull to my trifling taste ; I saw nothing about fairies, nothing 
about genii; no bright variety seemed spread over the 
closely printed pages. I returned it to her ; she received it 
quietly, and without saying anything she was about to 
relapse into her former studious mood : again I ventured to 
disturb her : ' Can you tell me what the writing on that 
stone over the door means ? What is Lowood Institulion ? ' 

' This house where you are come to live.' 

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

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

' Both died before I can remember.' 

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



54 JANE EYKE 

'Do we pay no money? Do they keep us for no- 
thing ? ' 

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

' Then why do they call us charity children ? ' 

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

'Who subscribes?' 

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

' Who was Naomi Brocklehurst ? ' 

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

'Why?' 

' Because he is treasurer and manager of the establish- 
ment.' 

' Then this house does not belong to that tall lady who 
wears a watch, and who said we were to have some bread 
and cheese.' 

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

' Does he live here ? ' 

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

' Is he a good man ? ' 

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

' Did you say that tall lady was called Miss Temple ? ' 

'Yes.' 

' And what are the other teachers called ? ' 

' The one with red cheeks is called Miss Smith ; she attends 
to the work, and cuts out for we make our own clothes, 
our frocks, and pelisses, and everything ; the little one with 
black hair is Miss Scatcherd ; she teaches history and 
grammar, and hears the second class repetitions ; and the 
one who wears a shawl, and has a pocket-handkerchief tied 



JANE EYEB 55 

to her side with a yellow riband, is Madam Pierrot : she 
comes from Lisle, in Prance, and teaches French.' 

1 Do you like the teachers ? ' 

' Well enough.' 

' Do you like the little black one, and the Madame ? 

I cannot pronounce her name as you do.' 

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

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

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

' Have you been long here ? ' 

' Two years.' 

' Are you an orphan ? ' 

' My mother is dead.' 

' Are you happy here ? ' 

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

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

After dinner, we immediately adjourned to the school- 
room : lessons recommenced, and were continued till five 
o'clock. 

The only marked event of the afternoon was, that I saw 
the girl with whom I had conversed in the verandah, dis- 
missed in disgrace, by Miss Scatcherd, from a history class, 
and sent to stand in the middle of the large schoolroom. 
The punishment seemed to me in a high degree ignominious, 



56 JANE EYKE 

especially for so great a girl she looked thirteen or up- 
wards. I expected she would show signs of great distress 
and shame ; but to my surprise she neither wept nor 
blushed : composed, though grave, she stood, the central 
mark of all eyes. ' How can she bear it so quietly so 
firmly ? ' I asked of myself. ' Were I in her place, it seems 
to me I should wish the earth to open and swallow me up. 
She looks as if she were thinking of something beyond 
her punishment beyond her situation : of something not 
round her nor before her. I have heard of day-dreams is 
she in a day-dream now ? Her eyes are fixed on the floor, 
but I am sure they do not see it her sight seems turned in, 
gone down into her heart : she is looking at what she can 
remember, I believe ; not at what is really present. I 
wonder what sort of a girl she is whether good or 
naughty ? ' 

Soon after five P.M. we had another meal, consisting of a 
small mug of coffee, and half a slice of brown bread. I 
devoured my bread and drank my coffee with relish ; but I 
should have been glad of as much more I was still hungry. 
Half an hour's recreation succeeded, then study : then the 
glass of water and the piece of oat-cake, prayers and bed, 
Such was my first day at Lowood. 



CHAPTEE VI 

THE next day commenced as before, getting up and dressing 
by rush-light ; but this morning we were obliged to dispense 
with the ceremony of washing : the water in the pitchers 
was frozen. A change had taken place in the weather the 
preceding evening, and a keen north-east wind, whistling 
through the crevices of our bedroom windows all night long, 
had made us shiver in our beds, and turned the contents of 
the ewers to ice. 

Before the long hour and a half of prayers and Bible 
reading was over, I felt ready to perish with cold. Break- 
fast-time came at last, and this morning the porridge was 
not burnt ; the quality was eatable, the quantity small ; 
how small my portion seemed ! I wished it had been 
doubled. 

In the course of the day I was enrolled a member of the 
fourth class, and regular tasks and occupations were assigned 
me : hitherto, I had only been a spectator of the proceedings 
at Lowood, I was now to become an actor therein. At first, 
being little accustomed to learn by heart, the lessons ap- 
peared to me both long and difficult : the frequent change 
from task to task, too, bewildered me ; and I was glad, 
when, about three o'clock in the afternoon, Miss Smith put 
into my hands a border of muslin two yards long, together 
with needle, thimble, &c., and sent me to sit in a quiet 
corner of the schoolroom, with directions to hem the same. 
At that hour most of the others were sewing likewise ; but 
one class still stood round Miss Scatcherd's chair reading, 
and as all was quiet, the subject of their lessons could be 
heard, together with the manner in which each girl acquitted 



58 JANE EYEE 

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

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

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

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

Burns made no answer : I wondered at her silence. 

' Why/ thought I, ' does she not explain that she could 
neither clean her nails nor wash her face, as the water was 
frozen ? ' 

My attention was now called off by Miss Smith desiring 
me to hold a skein of thread : while she was winding it, she 
talked to me from time to time, asking whether I had ever 
been at school before, whether I could mark, stitch, knit, 



JANE EYKE 59 

&c. ; till she dismissed me, I could not pursue my observa- 
tions on Miss Scatcherd's movements. When I returned to 
my seat, that lady was just delivering an order, of which I 
did not catch the import ; but Burns immediately left the 
class, and, going into the small inner room where the books 
were kept, returned in half a minute, carrying in her hand a 
bundle of twigs tied together at one end. This ominous tool 
she presented to Miss Scatcherd with a respectful curtsy ; 
then she quietly, and without being told, unloosed her 
pinafore, and the teacher instantly and sharply inflicted on 
her neck a dozen strokes with the bunch of twigs. Not a 
tear rose to Burns' eye ; and, while I paused from my 
sewing, because my fingers quivered at this spectacle with a 
sentiment of unavailing and impotent anger, not a feature of 
her pensive face altered its ordinary expression. 

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

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

The play-hour in the evening I thought the pleasantest 
fraction of the day at Lowood : the bit of bread, the draught 
of coffee swallowed at five o'clock had revived vitality, if it had 
not satisfied hunger ; the long restraint of the day was 
slackened ; the schoolroom felt warmer than in the morning 
its fires being allowed to burn a little more brightly to 
supply, in some measure, the place of candles, not yet 
introduced; the ruddy gloaming, the licensed uproar, the 
confusion of many voices, gave one a welcome sense of 
liberty. 

On the evening of the day on which I had seen Miss 
Scatcherd flog her pupil, Burns, I wandered as usual among 
the forms and tables and laughing groups without a com- 
panion, yet not feeling lonely ; when I passed the windows, 
I now and then lifted a blind and looked out ; it snowed fast, 



eo JANE 

a drift was already forming against the lower panes ; putting 
my ear close to the window, I could distinguish from the 
gleeful tumult within, the disconsolate moan of the wind out- 
side. 

Probably, if I had lately left a good home and kind 
parents, this would have been the hour when I should most 
keenly have regretted the separation : that wind would then 
have saddened my heart ; this obscure chaos would have 
disturbed my peace : as it was, I derived from both a strange 
excitement, and reckless and feverish, I wished the wind to 
howl more wildly, the gloom to deepen to darkness, and the 
confusion to rise to clamour. 

Jumping over forms, and creeping under tables, I made 
my way to one of the fire-places : there, kneeling by the high 
wire fender, I found Burns, absorbed, silent, abstracted from 
all round her by the companionship of a book, which she 
read by the dim glare of the embers. 

' Is it still " Kasselas " ? ' I asked, coming behind her. 

' Yes,' she said, ' and I have just finished it.' 

And in five minutes more she shut it up. I was glad of 
this. 

' Now,' thought I, ' I can perhaps get her to talk.' I sat 
down by her on the floor. 

' What is your name besides Burns ? ' 

'Helen.' 

' Do you come a long way from here ? ' 

' I come from a place further north ; quite on the borders 
of Scotland.' 

' Will you ever go back ? ' 

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

' You must wish to leave Lowood ? ' 

'No : why should I? I was sent to Low r ood to get an 
education ; and it would be of no use going away until I 
have attained that object.' 

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

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



JANE EYEE 61 

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

' Probably you would do nothing of the sort : but if you 
did, Mr. Brocklehurst would expel you from the school ; 
that would be a great grief to your relations. It is far better 
to endure patiently a smart which nobody feels but yourself, 
than to commit a hasty action whose evil consequences will 
extend to all connected with you ; and, besides, the Bible 
bids us return good for evil.' 

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

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

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

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

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

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

' Is Miss Temple as severe to you as Miss Scatcherd ? ' 



62 JANE EYRE 

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

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

' That is curious,' said I : 'it is so easy to be care- 
ful.' 

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

1 It was mere chance : the subject on which we had been 
.reading had interested me. This afternoon, instead of 
dreaming of Deepden, I was wondering how a man who 
wished to do right could act so unjustly and unwisely as 
Charles the First sometimes did; and I thought what a 
pity it was that, with his integrity and conscientiousness, he 
could see no farther than the prerogatives of the crown. If 
he had but been able to look to a distance, and see to what 
they call the spirit of the age was tending ! Still, I like 
Charles I respect him I pity him, poor murdered king I 



JANE EYKE 63 

Yes, his enemies were the worst : they shed blood they had 
no right to shed. How dared they kill him ! ' 

Helen was talking to herself now : she had forgotten I 
could not very well understand her that I was ignorant, or 
nearly so, of the subject she discussed. I recalled her to my 
level. 

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

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

1 Well, then, with Miss Temple you are good ? ' 

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

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

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

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

1 Heathens and savage tribes hold that doctrine ; but 
Christians and civilised nations disown it.' 

' How ? I don't understand.' 

' It is not violence that best overcomes hate nor ven- 
geance that most certainly heals injury.' 



64 JANE EYRE 

' What then ? ' 

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

' What does he say ? ' 

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

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

In her turn, Helen Burns asked me to explain, and I 
proceeded forthwith to pour out, in my own way, the tale 
of my sufferings and resentments. Bitter and truculent 
when excited, I spoke as I felt, without reserve or softening. 

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

' Well,' I asked impatiently, ' is not Mrs. Reed a hard- 
hearted, bad woman ? ' 

' She has been unkind to you, no doubt ; because, you 
see, she dislikes your cast of character, as Miss Scatcherd 
does mine : but how minutely you remember all she has 
done and said to you ! What a singularly deep impression 
her injustice seems to have made on your heart ! No ill- 
usage so brands its record on my feelings. Would you not 
be happier if you tried to forget her severity, together with 
the passionate emotions it excited ? Life appears to me too 
short to be spent in nursing animosity, or registering wrongs. 
We are, and must be, one and all, burdened with faults in 
this world : but the time will soon come when, I trust, we 
shall put them off in putting off our corruptible bodies ; 
when debasement and sin will fall from us with this 
cumbixnis frame of flesh, and only the spark of the spirit will 
remain, the impalpable principle of life and thought, pure 
as when it left the Creator to inspire the creature : whence 
it came it will return ; perhaps again to be communicated 
to some being higher than man perhaps to pass through 
gradations of glory, from the pale human soul to brighten to 
the seraph ! Surely it will never, on the contrary, be suffered 



JANE EYRE 65 

feo degenerate from man to fiend? No; I cannot believe 
that : I hold another creed ; which no one ever taught me, 
and which I seldom mention ; but in which I delight, and 
to which I cling : for it extends hope to all : it makes 
Eternity a rest a mighty home, not a terror and an abyss. 
Besides, with this creed, I can so clearly distinguish between 
the criminal and his crime ; I can so sincerely forgive the 
first while I abhor the last : with this creed revenge never 
worries my heart, degradation never too deeply disgusts me, 
injustice never crushes me too low : I live in calm, looking 
to the end. 1 

Helen's head, always drooping, sank a little lower as she 
finished this sentence. I saw by her look she wished no 
longer to talk to me, but rather to converse with her own 
thoughts. She was not allowed much time for meditation : 
a monitor, a great rough girl, presently came up, exclaiming 
in a strong Cumberland accent, 

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

Helen sighed as her reverie fled, and getting up, obeyed 
the monitor without reply as without delay. 



CHAPTEE VII 

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

During January, February, and part of March, the deep 
snows, and, after their melting, the almost impassable roads, 
prevented our stirring beyond the garden walls, except to go 
to church ; but within these limits we had to pass an hour 
every day in the open air. Our clothing was insufficient to 
protect us from the severe cold : we had no boots, the snow 
got into our shoes and melted there ; our ungloved hands 
became numbed and covered with chilblains, as were our 
feet : I remember well the distracting irritation I endured 
from this cause every evening, when my feet inflamed ; and 
the torture of thrusting the swelled, raw, and stiff toes into my 
shoes in the morning. Then the scanty supply of food was 
distressing: with the keen appetites of growing children, 
we had scarcely sufficient to keep alive a delicate invalid. 
From this deficiency of nourishment resulted an abuse, 
which pressed hardly on the younger pupils : whenever the 
famished great girls had an opportunity, they would coax or 
menace the little ones out of their portion. Many a time I 
have shared between two claimants the precious morsel of 
brown bread distributed at tea-time ; and after relinquishing 
to a third, half the contents of my mug of coffee, I have 
swallowed the remainder with an accompaniment of secret 
tears, forced from me by the exigency of hunger. 



JANE EYEE 67 

Sundays were dreary days in that wintry season. We 
had to walk two miles to Brocklebridge Church, where our 
patron officiated. We set out cold, we arrived at church 
colder : during the morning service we became almost para- 
lysed. It was too far to return to dinner, and an allowance 
of cold meat and bread, in the same penurious proportion 
observed in our ordinary meals, was served round between 
the services. 

At the close of the afternoon service we returned by an 
exposed and hilly road, where the bitter winter wind, blowing 
over a range of snowy summits to the north, almost flayed 
the skin from our faces. 

I can remember Miss Temple walking lightly and rapidly 
along our drooping line, her plaid cloak, which the frosty 
wind fluttered, gathered close about her, and encouraging 
us, by precept and example, to keep up our spirits, and 
march forward, as she said, ' like stalwart soldiers.' The 
other teachers, poor things, were generally themselves too 
much dejected to attempt the task of cheering others. 

How we longed for the light and heat of a blazing fire 
when we got back ! But, to the little ones at least, this was 
denied : each hearth in the schoolroom was immediately 
surrounded by a double row of great girls, and behind them 
the younger children crouched in groups, wrapping then- 
starved arms in their pinafores. 

A little solace came at tea-time, in the shape of a double 
ration of bread a whole, instead of a half, slice with the 
delicious addition of a thin scrape of butter : it was the heb- 
domadal treat to which we all looked forward from Sabbath 
to Sabbath. I generally contrived to reserve a moiety of this 
bounteous repast for myself ; but the remainder I was in- 
variably obliged to part with. 

The Sunday evening was spent in repeating, by heart, 
the Church Catechism, and the fifth, sixth, and seventh 
chapters of St. Matthew ; and in listening to a long sermon, 
read by Miss Miller, whose irrepressible yawns attested her 
weariness. A frequent interlude of these performances was 



68 JANE EYRE 

the enactment of the part of Eutychus by some half dozen 
of little girls ; who, overpowered with sleep, would fall down, 
if not out of the third loft, yet off the fourth form, and be 
taken up half dead. The remedy was, to thrust them 
forward into the centre of the schoolroom, and oblige them 
to stand there till the sermon was finished. Sometimes 
their feet failed them, and they sank together in a heap ; 
they were then propped up with the monitors' high stools. 

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

One afternoon (I had then been three weeks at Lowood), as 
I was sitting with a slate in my hand, puzzling over a sum 
in long division, my eyes, raised in abstraction to the window, 
caught sight of a figure just passing: I recognised almost 
instinctively that gaunt outline ; and when two minutes 
after, all the school, teachers included, rose en masse, it was 
not necessary for me to look up in order to ascertain whose 
entrance they thus greeted. A long stride measured the 
schoolroom, and presently beside Miss Temple, who herself 
had risen, stood the same black column which had frowned 
on me so ominously from the hearth-rug of Gateshead. I 
now glanced sideways at this piece of architecture. Yes, I 
was right : it was Mr. Brocklehurst, buttoned up in a sur- 
tout, and looking longer, narrower, and more rigid than 
ever. 

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



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

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

He paused. 

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

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

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

Mr. Brocklehurst nodded. 

' Well, for once it may pass ; but please not to let the 
circumstance occur too often. And there is another thing 
which surprised me : I find, in settling accounts with the 
housekeeper, that a lunch, consisting of bread and cheese, 



70 JANE EYBE 

has twice been served out to the girls during the past 
fortnight. How is this ? I look over the regulations, and I 
find no such meal as lunch mentioned. Who introduced 
this innovation ? and by what authority ? ' 

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

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

Mr. Brocklehurst again paused perhaps overcome by 
his feelings. Miss Temple had looked down when he first 
began to speak to her ; but she now gazed straight before 
her, and her face, naturally pale as marble, appeared to be 
assuming also the coldness and fixity of that material; 



JANE EYKE 71 

especially her mouth, closed as if it would have required a 
sculptor's chisel to open it, and her brow settled gradually 
into petrified severity. 

Meantime, Mr. Brocklehurst, standing on the hearth with 
his hands behind his back, majestically surveyed the whole 
school. Suddenly his eye gave a blink, as if it had met 
something that either dazzled or shocked its pupil ; turning, 
he said in more rapid accents than he had hitherto used : 
' Miss Temple, Miss Temple, what what is that girl with 
curled hair? Eed hair, ma'am, curled curled all over?' 
And extending his cane he pointed to the awful object, his 
hand shaking as he did so. 

' It is Julia Severn,' replied Miss Temple, very quietly. 

1 Julia Severn, ma'am ! And why has she, or any other, 
curled hair ? Why, in defiance of every precept and principle 
of this house, does she conform to the world so openly 
here in an evangelical, charitable establishment as to wear 
her hair one mass of curls ? ' 

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

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

Miss Temple passed her handkerchief over her lips, as if 
to smooth away the involuntary smile that curled them ; she 
gave the order, however, and when the first class could take 
in what was required of them, they obeyed. Leaning a 
little back on my bench, I could see the looks and grimaces 
with which they commented on this manoeuvre : it was a 
pity Mr. Brocklehurst could not see them too ; he would 
perhaps have felt that, whatever he might do with the 



72 JANE EYRE 

outside of the cup and platter, the inside was further beyond 
his interference than he imagined. 

He scrutinised the reverse of these living medals some 
five minutes, then pronounced sentence. These words fell 
like the knell of doom : ' All those top-knots must be cut 
off.' 

Miss Temple seemed to remonstrate. 

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

Mr. Brocklehurst was here interrupted : three other 
visitors, ladies, now entered the room. They ought to have 
come a little sooner to have heard his lecture on dress, for 
they were splendidly attired in velvet, silk, and furs. The 
two younger of the trio (fine girls of sixteen and seventeen) 
had grey beaver hats, then in fashion, shaded with ostrich 
plumes, and from under the brim of this graceful head-dress 
fell a profusion of light tresses, elaborately curled ; the 
elder lady was enveloped in a costly velvet shawl, trimmed 
with ermine, and she wore a false front of French curls. 

These ladies were deferentially received by Miss Temple, 
as Mrs. and the Misses Brocklehurst, and conducted to seats 
of honour at the top of the room. It seems they had come 
in the carriage with their reverend relative, and had been 
conducting a rummaging scrutiny of the rooms upstairs, 
while he transacted business with the housekeeper, questioned 
the laundress, and lectured the superintendent. They now 
proceeded to address divers remarks and reproofs to Miss 
Smith, who was charged with the care of the linen and the 
inspection of the dormitories : but I had no time to listen to 
what they said ; other matters called off and enchained my 
attention. 



JANE EYKE 73 

Hitherto, while gathering up the discourse of Mr. 
Brocklehurst and Miss Temple, I had not, at the same time, 
neglected precautions to secure my personal safety ; which 
I thought would be effected, if I could only elude observa- 
tion. To this end, I had sat well back on the form, and 
while seeming to be busy with my sum, had held my slate 
in such a manner as to conceal my face : I might have 
escaped notice, had not my treacherous slate somehow 
happened to slip from my hand and falling with an ob- 
trusive crash, directly drawn every eye upon me ; I knew it 
was all over now, and, as I stooped to pick up the two 
fragments of slate, I rallied my forces for the worst. It 
came. 

' A careless girl ! ' said Mr. Brocklehurst, and im- 
mediately after 'It is the new pupil, I perceive.' And 
before I could draw breath, ' I must not forget I have a 
word to say respecting her.' Then aloud : how loud it 
seemed to me ! ' Let the child who broke her slate, come 
forward ! ' 

Of my own accord, I could not have stirred : I was 
paralysed : but the two great girls who sat on each side of 
me, set me on my legs and pushed me towards the dread 
judge, and then Miss Temple gently assisted me to his very 
feet, and I caught her whispered counsel, 'Don't be 
afraid, Jane, I saw it was an accident ; you shall not be 
punished.' 

The kind whisper went to my heart like a dagger. 

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

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

' Place the child upon it.' 

And I was placed there, by whom I don't know : I was 
in no condition to note particulars : I was only aware that 



74 JANE EYRE 

.they had hoisted me up to the height of Mr. Brocklehurst's 
nose, that he was within a yard of me, and that a spread of 
shot orange and purple silk pelisses, and a cloud of silvery 
plumage extended and waved below me. 

Mr. Brocklehurst hemmed. 

' Ladies,' said he, turning to his family ; ' Miss Temple, 
teachers, and children, you all see this girl ? ' 

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

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

A pause in which I began to steady the palsy of my 
nerves, and to feel that the Rubicon was passed ; and that 
the trial, no longer to shirked, must be firmly sustained. 

' My dear children,' pursued the black marble clergyman, 
with pathos, ' this is a sad, a melancholy occasion ; for it 
becomes my duty to warn you, that this girl, who might be 
one of God's own lambs, is a little castaway : not a member 
of the true flock, but evidently an interloper and an alien. 
You must be on your guard against her ; you must shun her 
example : if necessary, avoid her company, exclude her from 
your sports, and shut her out from your converse. Teachers, 
you must watch her: keep your eyes on her movements, 
weigh well her words, scrutinise her actions, punish her 
body to save her soul : if, indeed, such salvation be possible, 
for (my tongue falters while I tell it) this girl, this child, 
the native of a Christian land, worse than many a little 
heathen who says its prayers to Brahma and kneels before 
Juggernaut this girl is a liar ! ' 

Now came a pause of ten minutes ; during which I, by 
this time in perfect possession of my wits, observed all the 
female Brocklehursts produce their pocket-handkerchiefs 
and apply them to their optics, while the elderly lady swayed 



JANE EYEE 75 

herself to and fro, and the two younger ones whispered, 
' How shocking ! ' 

Mr. Brocklehurst resumed. 

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

With this sublime conclusion, Mr. Brocklehurst adjusted 
the top button of his surtout, muttered something to his 
family, who rose, bowed to Miss Temple, and then all the 
great people sailed in state from the room. Turning at the 
door, my judge said : ' Let her stand hah* an hour longer 
on that stool, and let no one speak to her during the re- 
mainder of the day.' 

There was I, then, mounted aloft : I, who had said I 
could not bear the shame of standing on my natural feet in 
the middle of the room, was now exposed to general view 
on a pedestal of infamy. What my sensations were, no 
language can describe : but just as they all rose, stifling my 
breath and constricting my throat, a girl came up and passed 
me : in passing, she lifted her eyes. What a strange light 
inspired them ! What an extraordinary sensation that ray 
sent through me 1 How the new feeling bore me up ! It 
was as if a martyr, a hero, had passed a slave or victim, and 
imparted strength in the transit. I mastered the rising 
hysteria, lifted up my head, and took a firm stand on the 
stool. Helen Burns asked some slight question about her 
work of Miss Smith, was chidden for the triviality of the 
inquiry, returned to her place, and smiled at me as she again 
went by. What a smile ! I remember it. now, and I know 



76 JANE EYRE 

that it was the effluence of fine intellect, of true courage ; it 
lit up her marked lineaments, her thin face, her sunken grey 
eye, like a reflection from the aspect of an angel. Yet at 
that moment Helen Burns wore on her arm ' the untidy 
badge ' ; scarcely an hour ago I had heard her condemned 
by Miss Scatcherd to a dinner of bread and water on the 
morrow, because she had blotted an exercise in copying it 
out. Such is the imperfect nature of man ! such spots are 
there on the disc of the clearest planet ; and eyes like Miss 
Scatcherd's can only see those minute defects, and are blind 
to the full brightness of the orb. 



CHAPTER VIII 

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

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

' Come, eat something,' she said ; but I put both away 
from me, feeling as if a drop or a crumb would have choked 
me in my present condition. Helen regarded me, probably 
with surprise : I could not now abate my agitation, though I 



78 JANE EYKE 

tried hard ; I continued to weep aloud. She sat down on 
the ground near me, embraced her knees with her arms, and 
rested her head upon them ; in that attitude she remained 
silent as an Indian. I was the first who spoke : ' Helen, 
why do you stay with a girl whom everybody believes to be 
a liar?' 

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

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

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

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

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

' Well, Helen ? ' said I, putting my hand into hers : she 
chafed my fingers gently to warm them, and went on : 

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

' No ; I know I should think well of myself ; but that is 
not enough : if others don't love me, I would rather die than 
live I cannot bear to be solitary and hated, Helen. Look 
here ; to gain some real affection from you, or Miss Temple, 
or any other whom I truly love, I would willingly submit to 



JANE EYRE 79 

have the bone of my arm broken, or to let a bull toss me, or 
to stand behind a kicking horse, and let it dash its hoof at 
my chest,' 

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

1 was silent : Helen had calmed me ; but in the tran- 
quillity she imparted there was an alloy of inexpressible 
sadness. I felt the impression of woe as she spoke, but I 
could not tell whence it came ; and when, having done 
speaking, she breathed a little fast and coughed a short 
cough, I momentarily forgot my own sorrows to yield to a 
vague concern for her. 

Besting my head on Helen's shoulder, I put my arms 
round her waist ; she drew me to her, and we reposed in 
silence. We had not sat long thus, when another person 
came in. Some heavy clouds, swept from the sky by a 
rising wind, had left the moon bare ; and her light, stream- 
ing in through a window near, shone full both on us and on 
the approaching figure, which we at once recognised as Miss 
Temple. 



80 JANE EYEE 

' I came on purpose to find you, Jane Eyre,' said she ; 
1 1 want you in my room ; and aa Helen Burns is with you, 
she may come too.' 

We went ; following the superintendent's guidance, we 
had to thread some intricate passages, and mount a stair- 
case before we reached her apartment; it contained a 
good fire, and looked cheerful. Miss Temple told Helen 
Burns to be seated in a low arm-chair on one side of the 
hearth, and herself taking another, she called me to her 
side. 

' Is it all over ? ' she asked, looking down at my face. 
1 Have you cried your grief away ? ' 

' I am afraid I never shall do that.' 

1 Why ? ' 

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

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

' Shall I, Miss Temple ? 

1 You will,' said she, passing her arm round me. ' And 
now tell me who is the lady whom Mr. Brocklehurst called 
your benefactress ? ' 

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

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

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

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

I resolved, in the depth of my heart, that I would be 
most moderate most correct ; and, having reflected a fe\y 



JANE EYRE 81 

minutes in order to arrange coherently what I had to say, I 
told her all the story of my sad childhood. Exhausted by 
emotion, my language was more subdued than it generally 
was when it developed that sad theme ; and mindful of 
Helen's warnings against the indulgence of resentment, I 
infused into the narrative far less of gall and wormwood 
than ordinary. Thus restrained and simplified, it sounded 
more credible : I felt as I went on that Miss Temple fully 
believed me. 

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

I had finished : Miss Temple regarded me a few minutes 
in silence ; she then said: ' I know something of Mr. Lloyd; 
I shall write to him ; if his reply agrees with your statement, 
you shall be publicly cleared from every imputation : to me, 
Jane, you are clear now.' 

She kissed me, and still keeping me at her side (where I 
was well contented to stand, for I derived a child's pleasure 
from the contemplation of her face, her dress, her one or two 
ornaments, her white forehead, her clustered and shining 
curls, and beaming dark eyes), she proceeded to address 
Helen Burns. 

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

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

1 And the pain in your chest ? ' 

1 It is a little better.' 

Miss Temple got up, took her hand and examined her 
pulse ; then she returned to her own seat : as she resumed 
it, I heard her sigh low. She was pensive a few minutes, 
then rousing herself, she said cheerfully : ' But you two are 



82 JANE EYEE 

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

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

And a tray was soon brought. How pretty, to my eyes, 
did the china cups and bright teapot look, placed on the 
little round table near the fire ! How fragrant was the 
steam of the beverage, and the scent of the toast ! of which, 
however, I, to my dismay (for I was beginning to be hungry), 
discerned only a very small portion : Miss Temple discerned 
it too : ' Barbara,' said she, ' can you not bring a little more 
bread and butter ? There is not enough for three.' 

Barbara went out : she returned soon : ' Madam, Mrs. 
Harden says she has sent up the usual quantity.' 

Mrs. Harden, be it observed, was the housekeeper: a 
woman after Mr. Brocklehurst's own heart, made up of equal 
parts of whalebone and iron. 

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

Having invited Helen and me to approach the table, and 
placed before each of us a cup of tea with one delicious but 
thin morsel of toast, she got up, unlocked a drawer, and 
taking from it a parcel wrapped in paper, disclosed presently 
to our eyes a good-sized seed-cake. 

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

We feasted that evening as on nectar and ambrosia ; and 
not the least delight of the entertainment was the smile of 
gratification with which our hostess regarded us, as we 
satisfied our famished appetites on the delicate fare she 
liberally supplied. Tea over and the tray removed, she 
again summoned us to the fire ; we sat one on each side of her, 



JANE EYBE 83 

and now a conversation followed between her and Helen, 
which it was indeed a privilege to be admitted to hear. 

Miss Temple had always something of serenity in her 
air, of state in her mien, of refined propriety in her language, 
which precluded deviation into the ardent, the excited, the 
eager: something which chastened the pleasure of those 
who looked on her and listened to her, by a controlling sense 
of awe ; and such was my feeling now ; but as to Helen 
Burns, I was struck with wonder. 

The refreshing meal, the brilliant fire, the presence and 
kindness of her beloved instructress, or, perhaps, more than 
all these, something in her own unique mind, had roused 
her powers within her. They woke, they kindled : first, they 
glowed in the bright tint of her cheek, which till this hour I 
had never seen but pale and bloodless ; then they shone in 
the liquid lustre of her eyes, which had suddenly acquired a 
beauty more singular than that of Miss Temple's a beauty 
neither of fine colour nor long eyelash, nor pencilled brow, 
but of meaning, of movement, of radiance. Then her soul 
sat on her lips, and language flowed, from what source I 
cannot tell : has a girl of fourteen a heart large enough, 
vigorous enough, to hold the swelling spring of pure, full, 
fervid eloquence ? Such was the characteristic of Helen's 
discourse on that, to me, memorable evening; her spirit 
seemed hastening to live within a very brief span as much 
as many live during a protracted existence. 

They conversed of things I had never heard of : of nations 
and times past ; of countries far away : of secrets of nature 
discovered or guessed at : they spoke of books : how many 
they had read ! What stores of knowledge they possessed ! 
Then they seemed so familiar with French names and 
French authors : but my amazement reached its climax 
when Miss Temple asked Helen if she sometimes snatched 
a moment to recall the Latin her father had taught her, and 
taking a book from a shelf, bade her read and construe a 
page of ' Virgil ' ; and Helen obeyed, my organ of Veneration 
expanding at every sounding line. She had scarcely finished 



84 JANE EYRE 

ere the bell announced bedtime : no delay could be admitted ; 
Miss Temple embraced us both, saying, as she drew us to 
her heart : ' God bless you, my children ! ' 

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

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

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

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

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



JANE EYEE 85 

Thus relieved of a grievous load, I from that hour set to 
work afresh, resolved to pioneer my way through every 
difficulty : I toiled hard, and my success was proportionate 
to my efforts ; my memory, not naturally tenacious, improved 
with practice : exercise sharpened my wits ; in a few weeks 
I was promoted to a higher class ; in less than two months 
I was allowed to commence French and drawing. I learned 
the first two tenses of the verb Etre, and sketched my first 
cottage (whose walls, by-the-by, outrivalled in slope those of 
the leaning tower of Pisa), on the same day. That night, 
on going to bed, I forgot to prepare in imagination the 
Barmecide supper of hot roast potatoes, or white bread and 
new milk, with which I was wont to amuse my inward 
cravings : I feasted instead on the spectacle of ideal draw- 
ings, which I saw in the dark ; all the work of my own 
hands : freely pencilled houses and trees, picturesque rocks 
and ruins, Cuyp-like groups of cattle, sweet paintings of 
butterflies hovering over unblown roses, of birds picking at 
ripe cherries, of wrens' nests enclosing pearl-like eggs, 
wreathed about with young ivy sprays. I examined, too, in 
thought, the possibility of my ever being able to translate 
currently a certain little French story-book which Madame 
Pierrot had that day shown me; nor was that problem 
solved to my satisfaction ere I fell sweetly asleep. 

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

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



CHAPTER IX 

BUT the privations, or rather the hardships, of Lowood 
lessened. Spring drew on : she was indeed already come ; 
the frosts of winter had ceased ; its snows were melted, its 
cutting winds ameliorated. My wretched feet, flayed and 
swollen to lameness by the sharp air of January, began to 
heal and subside under the gentler breathings of April ; the 
nights and mornings no longer by their Canadian tempera- 
ture froze the very blood in our veins ; we could now endure 
the play-hour passed in the gaiden : sometimes on a sunny 
day it began even to be pleasant and genial, and a greenness 
grew over those brown beds, which, freshening daily, 
suggested the thought that Hope traversed them at night, 
and left each morning brighter traces of her steps. Flowers 
peeped out amongst the leaves ; snowdrops, crocuses, purple 
auriculas, and golden-eyed pansies. On Thursday after- 
noons (half-holidays) we now took walks, and found still 
sweeter flowers opening by the wayside, under the hedges. 

I discovered, too, that a great pleasure, an enjoyment 
which the horizon only bounded, lay all outside the high and 
spike-guarded walls of our garden : this pleasure consisted in 
prospect of noble summits girdling a great hill-hollow, rich 
in verdure and shadow ; in a bright beck, full of dark stones 
and sparkling eddies. How different had this scene looked 
when I viewed it laid out beneath the iron sky of winter, 
stiffened in frost, shrouded with snow! when mists as 
chill as death wandered to the impulse of east winds along 
those purple peaks, and rolled down ' ing ' and holm till they 
blended with the frozen fog of the beck ! That beck itself 
was then a torrent, turbid and curbless : it tore asunder the 



JANE EYBE 87 

wood, and sent a raving sound through the air, often thick- 
ened with wild rain or whirling sleet ; and for the forest on 
its banks, that showed only ranks of skeletons. 

April advanced to May : a bright, serene May it was ; 
days of blue sky, placid sunshine, and soft western or 
southern gales filled up its duration. And now vegetation 
matured with vigour ; Lowood shook loose its tresses ; it 
became all green, all flowery ; its great elm, ash, and oak 
skeletons were restored to majestic life; woodland plants 
sprang up profusely in its recesses ; unnumbered varieties 
of moss filled its hollows, and it made a strange ground- 
sunshine out of the wealth of its wild primrose plants : I 
have seen their pale gold gleam in overshadowed spots like 
scatterings of the sweetest lustre. All this I enjoyed often 
and fully, free, unwatched, and almost alone : for this un- 
wonted liberty and pleasure there was a cause, to which it 
now becomes my task to advert. 

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

That forest-dell, where Lowood lay, was the cradle of 
fog and fog-bred pestilence ; which, quickening with the 
quickening spring, crept into the Orphan Asylum, breathed 
typhus through its crowded schoolroom and dormitory, 
and, ere May arrived, transformed the seminary into a 
hospital. 

Semi -starvation and neglected colds had predisposed 
most of the pupils to receive infection : forty-five out of the 
eighty girls lay ill at one time. Classes were broken up, 
rules relaxed. The few who continued well were allowed 
almost unlimited licence ; because the medical attendant 
insisted on the necessity of frequent exercise to keep them 
in health : and had it been otherwise, no one had leisure 
to watch or restrain them. Miss Temple's whole attention 
was absorbed by the patients : she lived in the sick-room, 
never quitting it except to snatch a few hours' rest at night. 



The teachers Were fully occupied with packing Up and 
making other necessary preparations for the departure of 
those girls who were fortunate enough to have friends and 
relations able and willing to remove them from the seat of 
contagion. Many, already smitten, went home only to die : 
some died at the school, and were buried quietly and quickly, 
the nature of the malady forbidding delay. 

While disease had thus become an inhabitant of Lowood, 
and death its frequent visitor ; while there was gloom and 
fear within its walls ; while its rooms and passages steamed 
with hospital smells, the drug and the pastille striving vainly 
to overcome the effluvia of mortality, that bright May shone 
unclouded over the bold hills and beautiful woodland out of 
doors. Its garden, too, glowed with flowers ; hollyhocks had 
sprung up tall as trees, lilies had opened, tulips and roses 
were in bloom ; the borders of the little beds were gay with 
pink thrift and crimson double-daisies ; the sweetbriers gave 
out, morning and evening, their scent of spice and apples ; 
and these fragrant treasures were all useless for most of the 
inmates of Lowood, except to furnish now and then a hand- 
ful of herbs and blossoms to put in a coffin. 

But I, and the rest who continued well, enjoyed fully the 
beauties of the scene and season : they let us ramble in the 
wood, like gipses, from morning till night ; we did what we 
liked, went where we liked: we lived better too. Mr. 
Brocklehurst and his family never came near Lowood now : 
household matters were not scrutinised into ; the cross 
housekeeper was gone, driven away by the fear of infection ; 
her successor, who had been matron at the Lowton Dis- 
pensary, unused to the ways of her new abode, provided 
with comparative liberality. Besides, there were fewer to 
feed: the sick could eat little; our breakfast-basins were 
better filled : when there was no time to prepare a regular 
dinner, which often happened, she would give us a large 
piece of cold pie, or a thick slice of bread and cheese, and 
this we carried away with us to the wood, where we each 
chose the spot we liked best, and dined sumptuously. 



JANE EYEE 89 

My favourite seat was a smooth and broad stone, rising 
white and dry from the very middle of the beck, and only to 
be got at by wading through the water ; a feat I accom- 
plished barefoot. The stone was just broad enough to 
accommodate, comfortably, another girl and me, at that 
time my chosen comrade one Mary Ann Wilson ; a shrewd, 
observant personage, whose society I took pleasure in, partly 
because she was witty and original, and partly because she 
had a manner which set me at my ease. Some years older 
than I, she knew more of the world, and could tell me many 
things I liked to hear : with her my curiosity found gratifi- 
cation : to my faults also she gave ample indulgence, never 
imposing curb or rein on anything I said. She had a turn 
for narrative, I for analysis ; she liked to inform, I to ques- 
tion ; so we got on swimmingly together, deriving much 
entertainment, if not much improvement, from our mutual 
intercourse. 

And where, meantime, was Helen Burns ? Why did I 
not spend these sweet days of liberty with her ? Had I 
forgotten her ? or was I so worthless as to have grown tired 
of her pure society ? Surely the Mary Ann Wilson I have 
mentioned was inferior to my first acquaintance : she could 
only tell me amusing stories, and reciprocate any racy and 
pungent gossip I chose to indulge in ; while, if I have spoken 
truth of Helen, she was qualified to give those who enjoyed 
the privilege of her converse, a taste of far higher things. 

True, reader ; and I knew and felt this : and though I 
am a defective being, with many faults and few redeeming 
points, yet I never tired of Helen Barns ; nor ever ceased 
to cherish for her a sentiment of attachment, as strong, 
tender, and respectful as any that ever animated my heart. 
How could it be otherwise, when Helen, at all times and 
under all circumstances, evinced for me a quiet and faithful 
friendship, which ill-humour never soured, nor irritation ever 
troubled ? But Helen was ill at present : for some weeks 
she had been removed from my sight to I knew not what 
room upstairs. She was not, 1 was told, in the hospital 



90 JANE EYKE 

portion of the house with the fever patients ; for her com- 
plaint was consumption, not typhus : and by consumption 
I, in my ignorance, understood something mild, which time 
and care would be sure to alleviate. 

I was confirmed in this idea by the fact of her once or 
twice coming downstairs on very warm sunny afternoons, 
and being taken by Miss Temple into the garden : but, on 
these occasions, I was not allowed to go and speak to her ; 
I only saw her from the schoolroom window, and then not 
distinctly ; for she was much wrapped up, and sat at a dis- 
tance under the verandah. 

One evening, in the beginning of June, I had stayed out 
very late with Mary Ann in the wood ; we had, as usual, 
separated ourselves from the others, and had wandered far : 
so far that we lost our way, and had to ask it at a lonely 
cottage, where a man and woman lived, who looked after a 
herd of half-wild swine that fed on the mast in the wood. 
When we got back, it was after moon-rise : a pony, which 
we knew to be the surgeon's, was standing at the garden 
door. Mary Ann remarked that she supposed some one 
must be very ill, as Mr. Bates had been sent for at that time 
of the evening. She went into the house ; I stayed behind a 
few minutes to plant in my garden a handful of roots I had 
dug up in the forest, and which I feared would wither if I 
left them till the morning. This done, I lingered yet a little 
longer : the flowers smelt so sweet as the dew fell ; it was 
such a pleasant evening, so serene, so warm ; the still glow- 
ing west promised so fairly another fine day on the morrow ; 
the moon rose with such majesty in the grave east. I was 
noting these things and enjoying them as a child might, 
when it entered my mind as it had never done before : 

1 How sad to be lying now on a sick bed, and to be in 
danger of dying ! This world is pleasant it would be 
dreary to be called from it, and to have to go who knows 
where ? ' 

And then my mind made its first earnest effort to com- 
prehend what had been infused into it concerning heaven 



JANE EYBE 91 

and hell : and for the first time it recoiled, baffled ; and for 
the first time glancing behind, on each side, and before it, it 
saw all round an unf athomed gulf : it felt the one point 
where it stood the present ; all the rest was formless cloud 
and vacant depth : and it shuddered at the thought of totter- 
ing, and plunging amid that chaos. While pondering this 
new idea, I heard the front door open ; Mr. Bates came out, 
and with him was a nurse. After she had seen him mount 
his horse and depart, she was about to close the door, but I 
ran up to her. 

' How is Helen Burns ? ' 

1 Very poorly ,' was the answer. 

' Is it her Mr. Bates has been to see ? ' 

' Yes.' 

1 And what does he say about her ? ' 

1 He says she'll not be here long.' 

This phrase, uttered in my hearing yesterday, would have 
only conveyed the notion that she was about to be removed 
to Northumberland, to her own home. I should not have 
suspected that it meant she was dying ; but I knew instantly 
now : it opened clear on my comprehension that Helen 
Burns was numbering her last days in this world, and that 
she was going to be taken to the region of spirits, if such 
region there were. I experienced a shock of horror, then a 
strong thrill of grief, then a desire a necessity to see her, 
and I asked in what room she lay. 

' She is in Miss Temple's room,' said the nurse. 

' May I go up and speak to her ? ' 

' Oh no, child ! It is not likely ; and now it is time for 
you to come in ; you'll catch the fever if you stop out when 
the dew is falling.' 

The nurse closed the front door ; I went in by the side 
entrance which led to the schoolroom : I was just in time ; 
it was nine o'clock, and Miss Miller was calling the pupils to 
go to bed. 

It might be two hours later, probably near eleven, when 
I not having been able to fall asleep, and deeming, from 



92 JANU EYBE 

the perfect silence of the dormitory, that my companions 
were all wrapt in profound repose rose softly, put on my 
frock over my night-dress, and, without shoes, crept from the 
apartment, and set off in quest of Miss Temple's room. It 
was quite at the other end of the house ; but I knew my 
way ; and the light of the unclouded summer moon, entering 
here and there at passage windows, enabled me to find it 
without difficulty. An odour of camphor and burnt vinegar 
warned me when I came near the fever room : and I passed 
its door quickly, fearful lest the nurse who sat up all night 
should hear me. I dreaded being discovered and sent back ; 
for I rmtst see Helen, I must embrace her before she died, 
I must give her one last kiss, exchange with her one 
last word. 

Having descended a staircase, traversed a portion of the 
house below, and succeeded in opening and shutting, without 
noise, two doors, I reached another flight of steps ; these I 
mounted, and then just opposite to me was Miss Temple's 
room. A light shone through the key-hole, and from under 
the door ; a profound stillness pervaded the vicinity. 
Coming near, I found the door slightly ajar; probably to 
admit some fresh air into the close abode of sickness. 
Indisposed to hesitate, and full of impatient impulses 
soul and senses quivering with keen throes I put it back 
and looked in. My eye sought Helen, and feared to find 
death. 

Close by Miss Temple's bed, and half covered with its 
white curtains, there stood a little crib. I saw the outline of 
a form under the clothes, but the face was hid by the hang- 
ings : the nurse I had spoken to in the garden sat in an 
easy-chair, asleep ; an unsnuffed candle burnt dimly on the 
table. Miss Temple was not to be seen ; I knew afterwards 
that she had been called to a delirious patient in the fever- 
room. I advanced ; then paused by the crib side : my hand 
was on the curtain, but I preferred speaking before I with- 
drew it. I still recoiled at the dread of seeing a corpse. 

' Helen 1 ' I whispered softly, ' are you awake ? ' 



JANE EYRE 93 

She stirred herself, put back the curtain, and I saw her 
face, pale, wasted, but quite composed : she looked so little 
changed that my fear was instantly dissipated. 

' Can it be you, Jane ? ' she asked in her own gentle 
voice. 

' Oh ! ' I thought, ' she is not going to die : they are 
mistaken : she could not speak and look so calmly if she 
were.' 

I got on to her crib and kissed her : her forehead was 
cold, and her cheek both cold and thin, and so were her 
hand and wrist ; but she smiled as of old. 

' Why are you come here, Jane ? It is past eleven 
o'clock : I heard it strike some minutes since.' 

I 1 came to see you, Helen : I heard you were very ill, and 
I could not sleep till I had spoken to you.' 

1 You came to bid me good-bye, then : you are just in time 
probably.' 

'Are you going somewhere, Helen? Are you going 
home?' 

' Yes ; to my long home my last home.' 

' No, no, Helen ! ' I stopped distressed. While I tried 
to devour my tears, a fit of coughing seized Helen ; it did 
not, however, wake the nurse ; when it was over, she lay some 
minutes exhausted ; then she whispered : ' Jane, your little 
feet are bare ; lie down and cover yourself with my quilt.' 

I did so : she put her arm over me, and I nestled close to 
her. After a long silence, she resumed ; still whispering, 

' I am very happy, Jane ; and when you hear that I am 
dead, you must be sure and not grieve : there is nothing to 
grieve about. We all must die one day, and the illness 
which is removing me is not painful ; it is gentle and 
gradual : my mind is at rest. I leave no one to regret me 
much : I have only a father ; and he is lately married, and 
will not miss me. By dying young, I shall escape great suffer- 
ings. I had not qualities or talents to make my way very 
well in the world ; I should have been continually at 
fault.' 



94 JANE EYEE 

' But where are you going to, Helen ? Can you see ? 
Do you know ? ' 

' I believe : I have faith : I am going to God.' 

' Where is God ? "What is God ? ' 

4 My Maker and yours, who will never destroy what he 
created. I rely implicitly on his power, and confide wholly 
in his goodness : I count the hours till that eventful one 
arrives which shall restore me to him, reveal him to 
me.' 

' You are sure, then, Helen, that there is such a place as 
heaven ; and that our souls can get to it when we die ? ' 

' I am sure there is a future state ; I believe God is 
good ; I can resign my immortal part to him without any 
misgiving. God is my father ; God is my friend : I love 
him ; I believe he loves me. 

' And shall I see you again, Helen, when I die ? ' 

' You will come to the same region of happiness : be 
received by the same mighty, universal Parent, no doubt, 
dear Jane.' 

Again I questioned; but this time only in thought. 
' Where is that region ? Does it exist ? ' And I clasped my 
arms closer round Helen ; she seemed dearer to me than 
ever ; I felt as if I could not let her go ; I lay with my 
face hidden on her neck. Presently she said in the sweetest 
tone, ' How comfortable I am ! That last fit of coughing 
has tired me a little ; I feel as if I could sleep : but don't 
leave me, Jane ; I like to have you near me.' 

' I'll stay with you, dear Helen : no one shall take me 
away.' 

' Are you warm, darling ? ' 

1 Yes.' 

1 Good-night, Jane.' 

1 Good-night, Helen.' 

She kissed me, and I her ; and we both soon slumbered. 

When I awoke it was day : an unusual movement 
roused me, I looked up; I was in somebody's arms; the 
nurse held me ; she was carrying me through the passage 



JANE EYRE 95 

back to the dormitory. I was not reprimanded for leaving 
my bed ; people had something else to think about : no 
explanation was afforded then to my many questions ; but 
a day or two afterwards I learned that Miss Temple, on 
returning to her own room at dawn, had found me laid in a 
little crib ; my face against Helen Burns's shoulder, my 
arms round her neck. I was asleep, and Helen was dead. 
Her grave is in Brocklebridge churchyard : for fifteen 
years after her death it was only covered by a grassy mound ; 
but now a grey marble tablet marks the spot, inscribed with 
her name, and the word ' Resurgam.' 



.-u 



CHAPTER X 

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

When the typhus fever had fulfilled its mission of devas- 
tation at Lowood, it gradually disappeared from thence ; but 
not till its virulence and the number of its victims had 
drawn public attention on the school. Inquiry was made 
into the origin of the scourge, and by degrees various facts 
came out which excited public indignation in a high degree. 
The unhealthy nature of the site ; the quantity and quality of 
the children's food; the brackish, fetid water used in its 
preparation ; the pupils' wretched clothing and accommoda- 
tion : all these things were discovered ; and the discovery 
produced a result mortifying to Mr. Brocklehurst, but 
beneficial to the institution. 

Several wealthy and benevolent individuals in the 
county subscribed largely for the erection of a more con- 
venient building in a better situation ; new regulations were 
made ; improvements in diet and clothing introduced ; the 
funds of the school were entrusted to the management of a 
committee. Mr. Brocklehurst, who, from his wealth and 
family connections, could not be overlooked, still retained 
the post of treasurer ; but he was aided in the discharge of 
his duties by gentlemen of rather more enlarged and sym- 
pathising minds : his office of inspector, too, was shared by 



JANE BYKE 97 

those who knew how to combine reason with strictness, 
comfort with economy, compassion with uprightness. 
The school, thus improved, became in time a truly useful 
and noble institution. I remained an inmate of its walls, 
after its regeneration, for eight years : six as pupil, and two 
as teacher ; and in both capacities I bear my testimony to 
its value and importance. 

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

Miss Temple, through all changes, had thus far continued 
superintendent of the seminary : to her instruction I owed 
the best part of my acquirements ; her friendship and society 
had been my continual solace : she had stood me in the stead 
of mother, governess, and, latterly, companion. At this period 
she married, removed with her husband (a clergyman, an 
excellent man, almost worthy of such a wife) to a distant 
county, and consequently was lost to me. 

From the day she left I was no longer the same : with 
her was gone every settled feeling, every association that 
had made Lowood in some degree a home to me. I had 
imbibed from her something of her nature and much of her 
habits : more harmonious thoughts : what seemed better- 
regulated feelings had become the inmates of my mind. I 
had given in allegiance to duty and order ; I was quiet ; I 
believed I was content : to the eyes of others, usually even to 
my own, I appeared a disciplined and subdued character. 

But destiny, in the shape of the Rev. Mr. Nasmyth, came 
between me and Miss Temple : I saw her in her travelling 
dress step into a post-chaise, shortly after the marriage 

H 



98 JANE EYRE 

ceremony ; I watched the chaise mount the hill and dis- 
appear beyond its brow ; and then retired to my own room, 
and there spent in solitude the greatest part of the half-holi- 
day granted in honour of the occasion. 

I walked about the chamber most of the time. I im- 
agined myself only to be regretting my loss, and thinking how 
to repair it ; but when my reflections were concluded, and I 
looked up and found that the afternoon was gone, and even- 
ing far advanced, another discovery dawned on me, namely, 
that in the interval I had undergone a transforming process ; 
that my mind had put off all it had borrowed of Miss Temple 
or rather that she had taken with her the serene atmo- 
sphere I had been breathing in her vicinity and that now I 
was left in my natural element, and beginning to feel the 
stirring of old emotions. It did not seem as if a prop were 
withdrawn, but rather as if a motive were gone ; it was not 
the power to be tranquil which had failed me, but the reason 
for tranquillity was no more. My world had for some years 
been in Lowood : my experience had been of its rules and 
systems ; now I remembered that the real world was wide, 
and that a varied field of hopes and fears, of sensations and 
excitements, awaited those who had courage to go forth into 
its expanse, to seek real knowledge of life amidst its perils. 

I went to my window, opened it, and looked out. There 
were the two wings of the building ; there was the garden ; 
there were the skirts of Lowood ; there was the hilly horizon. 
My eye passed all other objects to rest on those most remote, 
the blue peaks : it was those I longed to surmount ; all 
within their boundary of rock and heath seemed prison- 
ground, exile limits. I traced the white road winding round 
the base of one mountain, and vanishing in a gorge between 
two : how I longed to follow it further ! I recalled the 
time when I had travelled that very road in a coach ; I re- 
membered descending that hill at twilight : an age seemed to 
have elapsed since the day which brought me first to Lowood, 
and I had never quitted ii since. My vacations had all 
been spent at school : Mrs. Beed had never sent for me to 



JANE EYKE 99 

Gateshead ; neither she nor any of her family had ever been 
to visit me. I had had no communication by letter or 
message with the outer world : school-rules, school-duties, 
school-habits and notions, and voices, and faces, and phrases, 
and costumes, and preferences, and antipathies : such was 
what I knew of existence. And now I felt that it was not 
enough : I tired of the routine of eight years in one after- 
noon. I desired liberty ; for liberty I gasped ; for liberty I 
uttered a prayer; it seemed scattered on the wind then 
faintly blowing. I abandoned it and framed a humbler 
supplication ; for change, stimulus : that petition, too, 
seemed swept off into vague space : ' Then,' I cried, half 
desperate, ' grant me at least a new servitude ! ' 

Here a bell, ringing the hour of supper, called me down- 
stairs. 

I was not free to resume the interrupted chain of my 
reflections till bedtime : even then a teacher who occupied 
the same room with me kept me from the subject to which 
I longed to recur, by a prolonged effusion of small talk. 
How I wished sleep would silence her ! It seemed as if, 
could I but go back to the idea which had last entered my 
mind as I stood at the window, some inventive suggestion 
would rise for my relief. 

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

' A new servitude ! There is something in that,' I 
soliloquised (mentally, be it understood; I did not talk 
aloud). ' I know there is, because it does not sound too 
sweet; it is not like such words as Liberty, Excitement, 
Enjoyment : delightful sounds truly ; but no more than 
sounds for me ; and so hollow and fleeting that it is mere 
waste of time to listen to them. But Servitude ! That 
must be matter of fact, Any one may serve : I have 



100 JANE EYRE 

served here eight years; now all I want is to serve else- 
where. Can I not get so much of my own will ? Is not 
the thing feasible ? Yes yes the end is not so difficult ; 
if I had only a brain active enough to ferret out the means 
of attaining it.' 

I sat up in bed by way of arousing this said brain : it 
was a chilly night ; I covered my shoulders with a shawl, 
and then I proceeded to think again with all my might. 

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

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

A kind fairy, in my absence, had surely dropped the 
required suggestion on my pillow ; for as I lay down it came 
quietly and naturally to my mind : ' Those who want 

situations advertise ; you must advertise in the shire 

Herald.' 

' How ? I know nothing about advertising.' 

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

This scheme I went over twice, thrice ; it was then 



JANE EYBE 101 

digested in my mind : I had it in a clear practical form ; I 
felt satisfied, and fell asleep. 

With earliest day I was up : I had my advertisement 
written, inclosed, and directed before the bell rang to rouse 
the school : it ran thus : 

' A young lady accustomed to tuition ' (had I not been a 
teacher two years ?) ' is desirous of meeting with a situation 
in a private family where the children are under fourteen ' 
(I thought that as I was barely eighteen, it would not do to 
undertake the guidance of pupils nearer my own age). ' She 
is qualified to teach the usual branches of a good English 
education, together with French, Drawing, and Music ' (in 
those days, reader, this now narrow catalogue of accomplish- 
ments would have been held tolerably comprehensive). 
' Address, J. E., Post-office, Lowton, shire.' 

This document remained locked in my drawer all day : 
after tea, I asked leave of the new superintendent to go 
to Lowton, in order to perform some small commissions for 
myself and one or two of my fellow-teachers ; permission 
was readily granted : I went. It was a walk of two miles, 
and the evening was wet, but the days were still long; I 
visited a shop or two, slipped the letter into the post-office, 
and came back through heavy rain, with streaming garments, 
but with a relieved heart. 

The succeeding week seemed long : it came to an end 
at last, however, like all sublunary things, and once more, 
towards the close of a pleasant autumn day, I found myself 
afoot on the road to Lowton. A picturesque track it was, by 
the way, lying along the side of the beck and through the 
sweetest curves of the dale : but that day I thought more 
of the letters, that might or might not be awaiting me at the 
little burgh whither I was bound, than of the charms of lea 
and water. 

My ostensible errand on this occasion was to get measured 
for a pair of shoes ; so I discharged that business first, and 
when it was done, I stepped across the clean and quiet little 
street from the shoemaker's to the post-office; it was kept 



102 JANE EYBE 

by an old dame, who wore horn spectacles on her nose and 
black mittens on her hands. 

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

She peered at me over her spectacles, and then she opened 
a drawer, and fumbled among its contents for a long time 
so long that my hopes began to falter. At last, having held 
a document before her glasses for nearly five minutes, she 
presented it across the counter, accompanying the act by 
another inquisitive and mistrustful glance it was for J. E. 

' Is there only one ? ' I demanded. 

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

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

'If J. E., who advertised in the shire Herald of last 

Thursday, possesses the acquirements mentioned, and if she 
is in a position to give satisfactory references as to character 
and competency ; a situation can be offered her where there 
is but one pupil a little girl, under ten years of age and 
where the salary is thirty pounds per annum. J. E. is 
requested to send references, name, address, and all par- 
citulars to the direction, " Mrs. Fairfax, Thornfield, near 
Millcote, shire." ' 

I examined the document long : the writing was old- 
fashioned and rather uncertain, like that of an elderly lady. 



JANE EYEE 103 

This circumstance was satisfactory : a private fear had 
haunted me that, in thus acting for myself, and by my own 
guidance, I ran the risk of getting into some scrape ! and, 
above all things, I wished the result of my endeavours to be 
respectable, proper, en rkgle. I now felt that an elderly lady 
was no bad ingredient in the business I had on hand. Mrs. 
Fairfax ! I saw her in a black gown and widow's cap, 
frigid, perhaps, but not uncivil : a model of elderly English 
respectability. Thornfield ! that, doubtless, was the name of 
her house a neat, orderly spot, I was sure, though I failed 
in my efforts to conceive a correct plan of the premises. 

Millcote, shire. I brushed up my recollections of the 

map of England ; yes, I saw it, both the shire and the town. 

shire was seventy miles nearer London than the remote 

county where I now resided ; that was a recommendation to 
me. I longed to go where there was life and movement. 
Millcote was a large manufacturing town on the banks of the 

A : a busy place, enough, doubtless : so much the better ; 

it would be a complete change at least. Not that my fancy 
was much captivated by the idea of long chimneys and 
clouds of smoke ' but,' I argued, ' Thornfield will, probably, 
be a good way from the town.' 

Here the socket of the candle dropped, and the wick went 
out. 

Next day new steps were to be taken ; my plans could 
no longer be confined to my own breast ; I must impart them 
in order to achieve their success. Having sought and 
obtained an audience of the superintendent during the noon- 
tide recreation, I told her I had a prospect of getting a new 
situation where the salary would be double what I now 
received (for at Lowood I only got fifteen pounds per 
annum), and requested she would break the matter for me to 
Mr. Brocklehurst, or some of the committee, and ascertain 
whether they would permit me to mention them as references. 
She obligingly consented to act as mediatrix in the matter. 
The next day she laid the affair before Mr. Brocklehurst, 
who said that Mrs. Reed must be written to, as she was my 



104 JANE EYKE 

natural guardian. A note was accordingly addressed to that 
lady, who returned for answer, that ' I might do as I pleased : 
she had long relinquished all interference in my affairs.' 
This note went the round of the committee, and, at last, after 
what appeared to me most tedious delay, formal leave was 
given me to better my condition if I could ; and an assurance 
added that, as I had always conducted myself well, both as 
teacher and pupil, at Lowood, a testimonial of character and 
capacity, signed by the inspectors of that institution, should 
forthwith be furnished me. 

This testimonial I accordingly received in about a month, 
forwarded a copy of it to Mrs. Fairfax, and got that lady's 
reply, stating that she was satisfied, and fixing that day 
fortnight as the peiiod for my assuming the post of governess 
in her house. 

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

The box was corded, the card nailed on. In half an hour 
the carrier was to call for it to take it to Lowton, whither I 
myself was to repair at an early hour the next morning to 
meet the coach. I had brushed my black stuff travelling 
di'ess, prepared my bonnet, gloves, and muff; sought in all 
my drawers to see that no article was left behind ; and now, 
having nothing more to do, I sat down and tried to rest. I 
could not, though I had been on foot all day I could not 
now repose an instant I was too much excited. A phase of 
my life was closing to-night, a new one opening to-morrow : 
impossible to slumber in the interval ; I must watch 
feverishly while the change was being accomplished. 

' Miss,' said a servant who met me in the lobby, where I 
was wandering like a troubled spirit, ' a person below wishes 
to see you.' 

' The carrier, no doubt,' I thought, and ran downstairs 
without inquiry. I was passing the back parlour, or teachers' 



JANE EYEE 105 

sitting-room, the door of which was half-open, to go to the 
kitchen, when someone ran out. 

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

I looked. I saw a woman attired like a well-dressed 
servant, matronly, yet still young ; very good-looking, with 
black hair and eyes, and lively complexion. 

' Well, who is it ? ' she asked, in a voice and with a smile 
I half recognised ! ' You've not quite forgotten me, I think, 
Miss Jane ? ' 

In another second I was embracing and kissing her 
rapturously. ' Bessie ! Bessie ! Bessie ! ' that was all I 
said; whereat she half laughed, half cried, and we both 
went into the parlour. By the fire stood a little fellow of 
three years old, in plaid frock and trousers. 

' That is my little boy,' said Bessie, directly. 

' Then you are married, Bessie ? ' 

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

' And you don't live at Gateshead ? ' 

I 1 live at the lodge : the old porter has left.' 

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

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

' Georgiana is handsome, I suppose, Bessie ? ' 

'Very. She went up to London last winter with her 
mamma, and there everybody admired her, and a young lord 
fell in love with her: but his relations were against the 
match ; and what do you think ? he and Miss Georgia a 



106 JANE EYRE 

made it up to run away : but they were found out and 
stopped. It was Miss Reed that found them out : I believe 
she was envious ; and now she and her sister lead a cat and 
dog life together ; they are always quarrelling.' 

' Well, and what of John Reed ? ' 

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

' What does he look like ? ' 

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

' And Mrs. Reed ? ' 

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

' Did she send you here, Bessie ? ' 

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

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

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

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

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



JANE EYRE 107 

'A little.' 

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

' The Miss Eeeds could not play as well ! ' said she exult- 
ingly. ' I always said you would surpass them in learning : 
and can you draw ? ' 

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

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

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

' And you can work on muslin and canvas ? ' 

' I can.' 

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

' Never in my life.' 

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

' What foreign country was he going to, Bessie ? ' 

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



108 JANE EYKE 

' Madeira ? ' I suggested. 

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

' So he went ? ' 

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

' Very likely,' I returned ; ' or perhaps clerk or agent to 
a wine-merchant.' 

Bessie and I conversed about old times an hour longer, 
and then she was obliged to leave me. I saw her again for 
a few minutes the next morning at Lowton, while I was 
waiting for the coach. We parted finally at the door of the 
' Brocklehurst Arms ' there. Each went our separate way : 
she set off for the brow of Lowood Fell to meet the convey- 
ance which was to take her back to Gateshead ; I mounted 
the vehicle which was to bear me to new duties and a new 
life in the unknown environs of Millcote. 



CHAPTER XI 

A NEW chapter in a novel is something like a new scene in 
a play : and when I draw up the curtain this time, reader, 
you must fancy you see a room in the ' George Inn ' at 
Millcote, with such large figured papering on the walls as 
inn rooms have ; such a carpet, such furniture, such orna- 
ments on the mantelpiece, such prints ; including a portrait 
of George the Third, and another of the Prince of Wales, 
and a representation of the death of Wolfe. All this is 
visible to you by the light of an oil lamp hanging from the 
ceiling, and by that of an excellent fire, near which I sit 
in my cloak and bonnet ; my muff and umbrella lie on tho 
table, and I am warming away the numbness and chill con- 
tracted by sixteen hours' exposure to the rawness of an 
October day : I left Lowton at four o'clock A.M., and the 
Millcote town clock is now just striking eight. 

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

It is a very strange sensation to inexperienced youth to 
feel itself quite alone in the world, cut adrift from every 



110 JANE EYRE 

connection, uncertain whether the port to which it is bound 
can be reached, and prevented by many impediments from 
returning to that it has quitted. The charm of adventure 
sweetens that sensation, the glow of pride warms it ; but 
then the throb of fear disturbs it ; and fear with me became 
predominant, when half an hour elapsed and still I was 
alone. I bethought myself to ring the bell. 

' Is there a place in this neighbourhood called Thorn- 
field ? ' I asked of the waiter who answered the summons. 

' Thornfield ? I don't know, ma'am ; I'll inquire at the 
bar.' He vanished, but reappeared instantly : ' Is your 
name Eyre, Miss ? ' 

' Yes.' 

' Person here waiting for you.' 

I jumped up, took my muff and umbrella, and hastened 
into the inn-passage : a man was standing by the open 
door, and in the lamp-lit street I dimly saw a one-horse 
conveyance. 

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

' Yes.' He hoisted it on to the vehicle, which was a sort 
of car, and then I got in : before he shut me up I asked him 
how far it was to Thornfield. 

' A matter of six miles.' 

1 How long shall we be before we get there ? ' 

' Happen an hour and a half.' 

He fastened the car door, climbed to his own seat out- 
side, and we set off. Our progress was leisurely, and gave me 
ample time to reflect ; I was content to be at length so near 
the end of my journey ; and as I leaned back in the com- 
fortable though not elegant conveyance, I meditated much 
at my ease. 

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



JANE EYEE 111 

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

I let down the window and looked out : Millcote was 
behind us ; judging by the number of its lights, it seemed 
a place of considerable magnitude, much larger than Lowton. 
We were now, as far as I could see, on a sort of common ; 
but there were houses scattered all over the district ; I felt 
we were in a different region to Lowood, more populous, less 
picturesque ; more stirring, less romantic. 

The roads were heavy, the night misty ; my conductor 
let his horse walk all the way, and the hour and a half ex- 
tended, I verily believe, to two hours ; at last he turned 
in his seat and said : ' You're noan so far fro' Thornfield 
now.' 

Again I looked out : we were passing a church : I saw 
its low broad tower against the sky, and its bell was tolling 
a quarter ; I saw a narrow galaxy of lights too, on a hill- 
side, marking a village or hamlet. About ten minutes after 
the driver got down and opened a pair of gates ; we passed 
through, and they clashed to behind us. We now slowly 
ascended a drive, and came upon the long front of a house : 
candle-light gleamed from one curtained bow-window ; all 
the rest were dark. The car stopped at the front door ; it 
was opened by a maidservant ; I alighted and went in. 

' Will you walk this way, ma'am,' said the girl ; and I 
followed her across a square hall with high doors all round : 
she ushered me into a room whose double illumination of 
fire and candle at first dazzled me, contrasting as it did with 
the darkness to which my eyes had been for two hours 



112 JANE EYKE 

inured ; when I could see, however, a cozy and agreeable 
picture presented itself to my view. 

A snug, small room ; a round tahle by a cheerful fire ; 
an armchair high-backed and old-fashioned, wherein sat the 
neatest imaginable little elderly lady, in widow's cap, black 
silk gown, and snowy muslin apron : exactly like what I had 
fancied Mrs. Fairfax, only less stately and milder-looking. 
She was occupied in knitting ; a large cat sat demurely at 
her feet ; nothing in short was wanting to complete the 
beau ideal of domestic comfort. A more reassuring intro- 
duction for a new governess could scarcely be conceived : 
there was no grandeur to overwhelm, no stateliness tc 
embarrass ; and then, as I entered, the old lady got up, and 
promptly and kindly came forward to meet me. 

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

1 Mrs. Fairfax, I suppose ? ' said I. 

' Yes, you are right : do sit down.' 

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

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

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

'Now, then, draw nearer to the fire,' she conitnued. 
' You've brought your luggage with you, haven't you, my dear? ' 

' Yes, ma'am.' 

1 I'll see it carried into your room,' she said, and bustled 
out. 

1 She treats me like a visitor,' thought I. ' I little 
expected such a reception ; I anticipated only coldness and 
stiffness : this is not like what I have heard of the treat- 
ment of governesses ; but I rnust not exult too soon.' 




THE RYDINGS (THORNFIELD HALL). 



JANE EYEE 113 

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

1 Shall I have the pleasure of seeing Miss Fairfax to- 
night ? ' I asked, when I had partaken of what she offered 
me. 

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

I repeated the question more distinctly. 

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

' Indeed ! Then she is not your daughter ? ' 

' No, I have no family.' 

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

' I am so glad,' she continued, as she sat down opposite to 
me, and took the cat on her knee ; ' I am so glad you are come ; 
it will be quite pleasant living here now with a companion. 
To be sure it is pleasant at any time ; for Thornfield is a 
fine old hall, rather neglected of late years perhaps, but still 
it is a respectable place ; yet you know in winter time one 
feels dreary quite alone, in the best quarters. I say alone 
Leah is a nice girl to be sure, and John and his wife are very 
decent people ; but then you see they are only servants, and 
one can't converse with them on terms of equality : one must 
keep them at due distance, for fear of losing one's authority. 
I'm sure last winter (it was a very severe one, if you recollect, 
and when it did not snow, it rained and blew) not a crea- 
ture but the butcher and postman came to the house from 



114 JANE EYRE 

November till February ; and I really got quite melancholy 
with sitting night after night alone. I had Leah in to read to 
me sometimes ; but I don't think the poor girl liked the 
task much : she felt it confining. In spring and summer 
one got on better : sunshine and long days make such a 
difference ; and then, just at the commencement of this 
autumn, little Adela Varens came and her nurse : a child 
makes a house alive all at once; and now you are here 
I shall be quite gay.' 

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

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

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

When Mrs. Fairfax had bidden me a kind good-night, and 
I had fastened my door, gazed leisurely round, and in some 



JANE EYBE 116 

measure effaced the eerie impression made by that wide hall, 
that dark and spacious staircase, and that long, cold gallery, 
by the livelier aspect of my little room, I remembered that 
after a day of bodily fatigue and mental anxiety I was now 
at last in safe haven. The impulse of gratitude swelled my 
heart, and I knelt down at the bedside, and offered up thanks 
where thanks were due ; not forgetting, ere I rose, to implore 
aid on my further path, and the power of meriting the kind- 
ness which seemed so frankly offered me before it was 
earned. My couch had no thorns in it that night ; my solitary 
room no fears. At once weary and content, I slept soon 
and soundly : when I awoke it was broad day. 

The chamber looked such a bright little place to me as 
the sun shone in between the gay blue chintz window curtains, 
showing papered walls and a carpeted floor, so unlike the 
bare planks and stained plaster of Lowood that my spirits 
rose at the view. Externals have a great effect on the 
young : I thought that a fairer era of life was beginning for 
me, one that was to have its flowers and pleasures, as well 
as its thorns and toils. My faculties, roused by the change 
of scene, the new field offered to hope, seemed all astir. 
I cannot precisely define what they expected, but it was 
something pleasant : not perhaps that day or that month, 
but at an indefinite future period. 

I rose ; I dressed myself with care : obliged to be plain 
for I had no article of attire that was not made with 
extreme simplicity I was still by nature solicitous to be 
neat. It was not my habit to be disregardful of appearance, 
or careless of the impression I made : on the contrary, I 
ever wished to look as well as I could, and to please as 
much as my want of beauty would permit. I sometimes 
regretted that I was not handsomer : I sometimes wished 
to have rosy cheeks, a straight nose, and small cherry 
mouth ; I desired to be tall, stately, and finely developed in 
figure ; I felt it a misfortune that I was so little, so pale, 
and had features so irregular and so marked. And why 
had I these aspirations and these regrets? It would be 



116 JANE EYKE 

difficult to say : I could not then distinctly say it to myself ; yet 
I had a reason, and a logical, natural reason too. However, 
when I had brushed my hair very smooth, and put on my black 
frock which, Quaker-like as it was, at least had the merit 
of fitting to a nicety and adjusted my clean white tu. ker, 
I thought I should do respectably enough to appear before 
Mrs. Fairfax ; and that my new pupil would not at least 
recoil from me with antipathy. Having opened my chamber 
window, and seen that I left all things straight and neat on 
the toilet table, I ventured forth. 

Traversing the long and matted gallery, I descended the 
slippery steps of oak ; then I gained the hall : I halted there 
a minute : I looked at some pictures on the walls (one I 
remember represented a grim man in a cuirass, and one 
a lady with powdered hair and a pearl necklace), at a bronze 
lamp pendent from the ceiling, at a great clock whose case 
was of oak curiously carved, and ebon black with time and 
rubbing. Everything appeared very stately and imposing 
to me : but then I was so little accustomed to grandeur. The 
hall-door, which was half of glass, stood open ; I stepped 
over the threshold. It was a fine autumn morning; the 
early sun shone serenely on embrowned groves and still 
green fields : advancing on to the lawn, I looked up and 
surveyed the front of the mansion. It was three stories 
high, of proportions not vast, though considerable : a 
gentleman's manor-house, not a nobleman's seat : battle- 
ments round the top gave it a picturesque look. Its grey 
front stood out well from the background of a rookery, 
whose cawing tenants were now on the wing : they flew over 
the lawn and grounds to alight in a great meadow, from which 
these were separated by a sunk fence, and where an array of 
mighty old thorn trees, strong, knotty, and broad as oaks, at 
once explained the etymology of the mansion's designation. 
Farther off were hills : not so lofty as those round Lowood, 
nor so craggy, nor so like barriers of separation from the 
living world ; but yet quiet and lonely hills enough, and seem- 
ing to embrace Thornfield with a seclusion I had not expected 



JANE EYEE 117 

to find existent so near the stirring locality of Millcote. A 
little hamlet whose roofs were blent with trees straggled up 
the side of one of these hills ; the church of the district stood 
nearer Thornfield: its old tower-top looked over a knoll 
between the house and gates. 

I was yet enjoying the calm prospect and pleasant fresh 
air, yet listening with delight to the cawing of the rooks, yet 
surveying the wide, hoary front of the hall, and thinking 
what a great place it was for one lonely little dame like 
Mrs. Fairfax to inhabit, when that lady appeared at the 
door. 

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

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

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

I Mr. Eochester ! ' I exclaimed. ' Who is he ? ' 

' The owner of Thornfield/ she responded quietly. ' Did 
you not know he was called Eochester ? ' 

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

I 1 thought,' I continued, ' Thornfield belonged to you.' 

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



118 JANE EYRE 

to me ; I consider myself quite in the light of an ordinary 
housekeeper: my employer is always civil, and I expect 
nothing more.' 

' And the little girl my pupil ? ' 

' She is Mr. Rochester's ward ; he commissioned me to find 
a governess for her. He intends to have her brought up in 

shire, I believe. Here she comes with her " bonne," as 

she calls her nurse. The enigma then was explained : this 
affable and kind little widow was no great dame, but a 
dependent like myself. I did not like her the worse for 
that ; on the contrary, I felt better pleased than ever. The 
equality between her and me was real ; not the mere result 
of condescension on her part : so much the better my 
position was all the freer. 

As I was meditating on this discovery, a little girl, 
followed by her attendant, came running up the lawn. I 
looked at my pupil, who did not at first appear to notice me : 
she was quite a child, perhaps seven or eight years old, 
slightly built, with a pale, small-featured face, and a re- 
dundancy of hair falling in curls to her waist. 

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

' C'est la ma gouvernante ? ' said she, pointing to me, and 
addressing her nurse ; who answered : ' Mais oui, certaine- 
ment.' 

' Are they foreigners ? ' I inquired, amazed at hearing 
the French language. 

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

Fortunately I had had the advantage of being taught 
French by a French lady ; and as I had always made a 
point of conversing with Madame Pierrot as often as I 



JANE EYRE 119 

could, and had, besides, during the last seven years, learnt 
a portion of French by heart daily applying myself to take 
pains with my accent, and imitating as closely as possible the 
pronunciation of my teacher I had acquired a certain degree 
of readiness and correctness in the language, and was not 
likely to be much at a loss with Mademoiselle Adela. She 
came and shook hands with me when she heard that I was 
her governess ; and as I led her into breakfast I addressed 
some phrases to her in her own tongue : she replied briefly 
at first, but after we were seated at the table, and she had 
examined me some ten minutes with her large hazel eyes, 
she suddenly commenced chattering fluently. 

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

' Eyre Jane Eyre.' 

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

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



120 JANE EYEE 

I understood her very well, for I had been accustomed to 
the fluent tongue of Madame Pierrot. 

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

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

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

She had finished her breakfast, so 1 permitted her to give 
a specimen of her accomplishments. Descending from her 
chair, she came and placed herself on my knee ; then, folding 
her little hands demurely before her, shaking back her curls 
and lifting her eyes to the ceiling, she commenced singing a 
song from some opera. It was the strain of a forsaken lady, 
who, after bewailing the perfidy of her lover, calls pride to 
her aid ; desires her attendant to deck her in her brightest 
jewels and richest robes, and resolves to meet the false one 
that night at a ball, and prove to him, by the gaiety of her 
demeanour, how little his desertion has affected her. 

The subject seemed strangely chosen for an infant singer ; 
but I suppose the point of the exhibition lay in hearing the 
notes of love and jealousy warbled with the lisp of child- 
hood ; and in very bad taste that point was : at least I 
thought so. 

Adele sang the canzonette tunefully enough, and with 
the nai'vet6 of her age. This achieved, she jumped from 
my knee and said, ' Now, Mademoiselle, I will repeat you 
some poetry.' 

Assuming an attitude, she began ' La Ligue des Eats : 
fable de la Fontaine.' She then declaimed the little piece 
with an attention to punctuation and emphasis, a flexibility 
of voice and an appropriateness of gesture, very unusual 



JANE EYEE 121 

indeed at her age, and which proved she had been carefully 
trained. 

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

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

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

1 With Madame Fr6d6ric and her husband : she took 
care of me, but she is nothing related to me. I think she is 
poor, for she had not so fine a house as mamma. I was not 
long there. Mr. Eochester asked me if I would like to go 
and live with him in England, and I said yes ; for I knew 
Mr. Eochester before I knew Madame Fr6d6ric, and he was 
always kind to me and gave me pretty dresses and toys. 
But you see he has not kept his word, for he has brought me 
to England, and now he is gone back again himself, and I 
never see him.' 

After breakfast Adele and I withdrew to the library ; 
which room, it appears, Mr. Eochester had directed should 
be used as the schoolroom. Most of the books were locked 
up behind glass doors ; but there was one bookcase left open, 
containing everything that could be needed in the way of 
elementary works, and several volumes of light literature, 
poetry, biography, travels, a few romances, &c. I suppose 
he had considered that these were all the governess would 
require for her private perusal ; and, indeed, they contented 
me amply for the present ; compared with the scanty pick- 
ings I had now and then been able to glean at Lowood, they 
seemed to offer an abundant harvest of entertainment and 
information. In this room, too, there was a cabinet piano, 
quite new and of superior tone ; also an easel for painting, 
and a pair of globes. 

I found my pupil sufficiently docile, though disinclined to 
apply : she had not been used to regular occupation of any 



122 JANE EYEE 

kind. I felt it would be injudicious to confine her too much 
at first ; so, when I had talked to her a great deal, and got 
her to learn a little, and when the morning had advanced to 
noon, I allowed her to return to her nurse. I then proposed 
to occupy myself till dinner-time in drawing some little 
sketches for her use. 

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

1 What a beautiful room ! ' I exclaimed, as I looked round ; 
for I had never before seen any half so imposing. 

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

She pointed to a wide arch corresponding to the window, 
and hung like it with a Tyrian-dyed curtain, now looped up. 
Mounting to it by two broad steps and looking through, I 
thought I caught a glimpse of a fairy place, so bright to my 
novice eyes appeared the view beyond. Yet it was merely a 
very pretty drawing-room, and within it a boudoir, both 
spread with white carpets, on which seemed laid brilliant 
garlands of flowers ; both ceiled with snowy mouldings of 
white grapes and vine-leaves, beneath which glowed in rich 
contrast crimson couches and ottomans ; while the orna- 
ments on the pale Parian mantelpiece were of sparkling 
Bohemian glass, ruby red ; and between the windows large 
mirrors repeated the general blending of snow and fire. 

' In what order you keep these rooms, Mrs. Faixfax ! ' 
said I. ' No dust, no canvas coverings : except that the air 
feels chilly, one would think they were inhabited daily.' 



JANE EYEE 123 

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

' Is Mr. Eochester an exacting, fastidious sort of man ? ' 

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

' Do you like him ? Is he generally liked ? ' 

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

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

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

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

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

' In what way is he peculiar ? ' 

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

This was all the account I got from Mrs. Fairfax of her 
employer and mine. There are people who seem to have no 
notion of sketching a character, or observing and describing 
salient points, either in persons or things : the good lady 
evidently belonged to this class ; my queries puzzled, but 



124 JANE EYRE 

did not draw her out. Mr. Rochester was Mr. Rochester 
in her eyes ; a gentleman, a landed proprietor nothing 
more : she inquired and searched no further, and evidently 
wondered at my wish to gain a more definite notion of his 
identity. 

When we left the dining-room, she proposed to show me 
over the rest of the house ; and I followed her upstairs and 
downstairs, admiring as I went ; for all was well arranged 
and handsome. The large front chambers I thought espe- 
cially grand; and some of the third-story rooms, though 
dark and low, were interesting from their air of antiquity. 
The furniture once appropriated to the lower apartments had 
from time to time been removed here, as fashions changed ; 
and the imperfect light entering by their narrow casements 
showed bedsteads of a hundred years old ; chests in oak or 
walnut, looking, with their strange carvings of palm branches 
and cherubs' heads, like types of the Hebrew ark ; rows of 
venerable chairs, high-backed and narrow ; stools still more 
antiquated, on whose cushioned tops were yet apparent 
traces of half-effaced embroideries, wrought by fingers that 
for two generations had been coffin-dust. All these relics 
gave to the third story of Thornfield Hall the aspect of a 
home of the past : a shrine of memory. I liked the hush, 
the gloom, the quaintness of these retreats in the day ; but I 
by no means coveted a night's repose on one of those wide 
and heavy beds : shut in, some of them, with doors of oak ; 
shaded, others, with wrought old-English hangings crusted 
with thick work, portraying effigies of strange flowers, and 
stranger birds, and strangest human beings, all which 
would have looked strange, indeed, by the pallid gleam of 
moonlight. 

' Do the servants sleep in these rooms ? ' I asked. 

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

' So I think : you have no ghost, then ? ' 



JANE EYEE 125 

1 None that I ever heard of," returned Mrs. Fairfax, 
smiling. 

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

1 I believe not. And yet it is said the Eochesters have 
been rather a violent than a quiet race in their time : per- 
haps, though, that is the reason they rest tranquilly in their 
graves now.' 

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

' On to the leads ; will you come and see the view from 
thence ? ' I followed still, up a very narrow staircase to the 
attics, and thence by a ladder and through a trap-door to the 
roof of the hall. I was now on a level with the crow colony, 
and could see into their nests. Leaning over the battle- 
ments and looking far down, I surveyed the grounds laid 
out like a map : the bright and velvet lawn closely girdling 
the grey base of the mansion; the field, wide as a park, 
dotted with its ancient timber ; the wood, dun and sere, 
divided by a path visibly overgrown, greener with moss than 
the trees were with foliage ; the church at the gates, the 
road, the tranquil hills, all reposing in the autumn day's 
sun : the horizon bounded by a propitious sky, azure, mar- 
bled with pearly white. No feature in the scene was extra- 
ordinary, but all was pleasing. When I turned from it and 
repassed the trap-door, I could scarcely see my way down 
the ladder: the attic seemed black as a vault compared 
with that arch of blue air to which I had been looking up, 
and to that sunlit scene of grove, pasture, and green hill of 
which the hall was the centre, and over which I had been 
gazing with delight. 

Mrs. Fahrfax stayed behind a moment to fasten the trap- 
door ; I, by dint of groping, found the outlet from the attic, 
and proceeded to descend the narrow garret staircase. I 
lingered in the long passage to which this led, separating 
the front and back rooms of the third story : narrow, low, 
and dim, with only one little window at the far end, and 



126 JANE EYKE 

looking, with its two rows of small black doors all shut, like 
a corridor in some Bluebeard's castle. 

While I paced softly on the last sound I expected to 
hear in so still a region, a laugh, struck my ear. It was a 
curious laugh ; distinct, formal, mirthless. I stopped : the 
sound ceased, only for an instant ; it began again louder : 
for at first, though distinct, it was very low. It passed off 
in a clamorous peal that seemed to wake an echo in every 
lonely chamber ; though it originated but in one, and I could 
have pointed out the door whence the accents issued. 

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

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

' Did you hear it ? ' I again inquired. 

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

The laugh was repeated in its low, syllabic tone, and 
terminated in an odd murmur. 

' Grace ! ' exclaimed Mrs. Fairfax. 

I really did not expect any Grace to answer; for the 
laugh was as tragic, as preternatural a laugh as any I ever 
heard ; and, but that it was high noon, and that no circum- 
stance of ghostliness accompanied the curious cachinnation, 
but that neither scene nor season favoured fear, I should 
have been superstitiously afraid. However, the event 
showed me I was a fool for entertaining a sense even of 
surprise. 

The door nearest me opened, and a servant came out, 
a woman of between thirty and forty ; a set, square-made 
figure, red-haired, and with a hard, plain face : any apparition 
less romantic or less ghostly could scarcely be conceived. 

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

' She is a person we have to sew and assist Leah in her 



JANE EYBE 127 

housemaid's work,' continued the widow ; ' not altogether 
unobjectionable in some points, but she does well enough. 
By-the-by, how have you got on with your new pupil this 
morning ? ' 

The conversation, thus turned on Adele, continued till we 
reached the light and cheerful region below. Adele came 
running to meet us in the hall, exclaiming, ' Mesdames, 
vous etes servies ! ' adding, ' J'ai bien faim, moi ! ' 

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



CHAPTER XII 

THE promise of a smooth career, which my first calm 
introduction to Thornfield Hall seemed to pledge, was not 
belied on a longer aquaintance with the place and its 
inmates. Mrs. Fairfax turned out to be what she appeared, 
a placid- tempered, kind-natured woman, of competent 
education and average intelligence. My pupil was a lively 
child, who had been spoilt and indulged, and therefore 
was sometimes wayward; but as she was committed 
entirely to my care, and no injudicious interference from 
any quarter ever thwarted my plans for her improvement, 
she soon forgot her little freaks, and became obedient 
and teachable. She had no great talents, no marked traits 
of character, no peculiar development of feeling or taste 
which raised her one inch above the ordinary level of child- 
hood ; but neither had she any deficiency or vice which sunk 
her below it. She made reasonable progress, entertained 
for me a vivacious, though perhaps not very profound, 
affection ; and by her simplicity, gay prattle, and efforts to 
please, inspired me, in return, with a degree of attachment 
sufficient to make us both content in each other's society. 

This, par parenthtse, will be thought cool language by 
persons who entertain solemn doctrines about the angelic 
nature of children, and the duty of those charged with their 
education to conceive for them an idolatrous devotion : but 
I am not writing to flatter parental egotism, to echo cant, or 
prop up humbug ; I am merely telling the truth. I felt a 
conscientious solicitude for Adele's welfare and progress, 
and a quiet liking to her little self ; just as I cherished 
towards Mrs. Fairfax a thankfulness for her kindness, and a 



JANE EYKE 129 

pleasure in her society proportionate to the tranquil regard 
she had for me, and the moderation of her mind and 
character. 

Anybody may blame me who likes when I add further 
that now and then, when I took a walk by myself in the 
grounds, when I went down to the gates and looked 
through them along the road, or when, while Adele played 
with her nurse, and Mrs. Fairfax made jellies in the store- 
room, I climbed the three staircases, raised the trap-door of 
the attic, and having reached the leads, looked out afar 
over sequestered field and hill, and along dim sky-line that 
then I longed for a power of vision which might overpass 
that limit ; which might reach the busy world, towns, 
regions full of life I had heard of but never seen : that then 
I desired more of practical experience than I possessed ; more 
of intercourse with my kind, of acquaintance with variety of 
character, than was here within my reach. I valued what 
was good in Mrs. Fairfax, and what was good in Adele ; 
but I believed in the existence of other and more vivid kinds 
of goodness, and what I believed in I wished to behold. 

Who blames me ? Many, no doubt ; and I shall be 
called discontented. I could not help it : the restlessness 
was in my nature ; it agitated me to pain sometimes. Then 
my sole relief was to walk along the corridor of the third 
story, backwards and forwards, safe in the silence and 
solitude of the spot and allow my mind's eye to dwell on 
whatever bright visions rose before it and, certainly, they 
were many and glowing ; to let my heart be heaved by the 
exultant movement, which, while it swelled it in trouble, 
expanded it with life ; and, best of all, to open my inward 
ear to a tale that was never ended a tale my imagina- 
tion created, and narrated continuously ; quickened with all 
of incident, life, fire, feeling, that I desired and had not in 
my actual existence. 

It is in vain to say human beings ought to be satisfied 
with tranquillity : they must have action ; and they will 
make it if they cannot find it. Millions are condemned 

K 



130 JANE EYEE 

to a stiller doom than mine, and millions are in silent revolt 
against their lot. Nobody knows how many rebellions besides 
political rebellions ferment in the masses of life which people 
earth. Women are supposed to be very calm generally : but 
women feel just as men feel ; they need exercise for their 
faculties and a field for their efforts as much as their brothers 
do ; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagna- 
tion, precisely as men would suffer ; and it is narrow-minded 
in their more privileged fellow-creatures to say that they 
ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting 
stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. 
It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they 
seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced 
necessary for their sex. 

When thus alone I not unfrequently heard Grace Poole's 
laugh : the same peal, the same low, slow ha ! ha ! which, 
when first heard, had thrilled me : I heard, too, her eccentric 
murmurs ; stranger than her laugh. There were days when 
she was quite silent ; but there were others when I could 
not account for the sounds she made. Sometimes I saw her ; 
she would come out of her room with a basin, or a plate, or 
a tray in her hand, go down to the kitchen, and shortly return, 
generally (oh, romantic reader, forgive me for telling the 
plain truth :) bearing a pot of porter. Her appearance 
always acted as a damper to the curiosity raised by her oral 
oddities : hard-featured and staid, she had no point to which 
interest could attach. I made some attempts to draw her 
into conversation, but she seemed a person of few words : a 
monosyllabic reply usually cut short every effort of that sort. 

The other members of the household, viz. John and his 
wife, Leah the housemaid, and Sophie the French nurse, 
were decent people : but in no respect remarkable. With 
Sophie I used to talk French, and sometimes I asked her 
questions about her native country; but she was not of 
a descriptive or narrative turn, and generally gave such 
vapid and confused answers as were calculated rather to 
check than encourage inquiry. 



JANE EYEE 131 

October, November, December passed away. One after- 
noon in January Mrs. Fairfax had begged a holiday for 
Adele because she had a cold ; and, as Adele seconded the 
request with an ardour that reminded me how precious 
occasional holidays had been to me in my own childhood, I 
accorded it, deeming that I did well in showing pliability on 
the point. It was a fine, calm day, though very cold ; I was 
tired of sitting still in the library through a whole long 
morning : Mrs. Fairfax hai just written a letter which was 
waiting to be posted, so I put on my bonnet and cloak and 
volunteered to carry it to Hay ; the distance, two miles, 
would be a pleasant winter afternoon walk. Having seen 
Adele comfortably seated in her little chair by Mrs. Fairfax's 
parlour fireside, and given her her best wax doll (which I 
usually kept enveloped in silver paper in a drawer) to play 
with, and a story-book for change of amusement ; and 
having replied to her ' Eevenez bientot, ma bonne amie, ma 
chere Mdlle. Jeannette,' with a kiss, I set out. 

The ground was hard, the air was still, my road was 
lonely ; I walked fast till I got warm, and then I walked 
slowly to enjoy and analyse the species of pleasure brooding 
for me in the hour and situation. It was three o'clock ; the 
church bell tolled as I passed under the belfry : the charm of 
the hour lay in its approaching dimness, in the low-gliding 
and pale-beaming sun. I was a mile from Thornfield, in a 
lane noted for wild roses in summer, for nuts and black- 
berries in autumn, and even now possessing a few coral 
treasures in hips and haws, but whose best winter delight 
lay in its utter solitude and leafless repose. If a breath of 
air stirred, it made no sound here ; for there was not a holly, 
not an evergreen to rustle, and the stripped hawthorn and 
hazel bushes were as still as the white, worn stones which 
causewayed the middle of the path. Far and wide, on each 
side, there were only fields, where no cattle now browsed ; and 
the little brown birds, which stirred occasionally in the hedge, 
looked like single russet leaves that had forgotten to drop. 

This lane inclined uphill all the way to Hay : having 



132 JANE EYRE 

reached the middle I sat down on a stile which led thence 
into a field. Gathering my mantle about me, and sheltering 
my hands in my muff, I did not feel the cold, though it froze 
keenly ; as was attested by a sheet of ice covering the cause- 
way, where a little brooklet, now congealed, had overflowed 
after a rapid thaw some days since. From my seat I could 
look down on Thornfield : the grey and battlemented hall was 
the principal object in the vale below me ; its woods and 
dark rookery rose against the west. I lingered till the sun 
went down amongst the trees, and sank crimson and clear 
behind them. I then turned eastward. 

On the hilltop above me sat the rising moon ; pale yet as 
a cloud, but brightening momently : she looked over Hay, 
which, half lost in trees, sent up a blue smoke from its few 
chimneys; it was yet a mile distant, but in the absolute 
hush I could hear plainly its thin murmurs of life. My ear 
too felt the flow of currents ; in what dales and depths I could 
not tell : but there were many hills beyond Hay, and 
doubtless many becks threading their passes. That evening 
calm betrayed alike the tinkle of the nearest streams, the 
sough of the most remote. 

A rude noise broke on these fine ripplings and whisper- 
ings, at once so far away and so clear : a positive tramp, 
tramp ; a metallic clatter, which effaced the soft wave- 
wanderings ; as, in a picture, the solid mass of a crag, or the 
rough boles of a great oak, drawn in dark and strong on the 
foreground, efface the aerial distance of azure hill, sunny 
horizon, and blended clouds, where tint melts into tint. 

The din was on the causeway ; a horse was coming ; the 
windings of the lane yet hid it, but it approached. I was 
just leaving the stile ; yet, as the path was narrow, I sat 
still to let it go by. In those days I was young, and all 
sorts of fancies bright and dark tenanted my mind : the 
memories of nursery stories were there amongst other 
rubbish ; and when they recurred, maturing youth added to 
them a vigour and vividness beyond what childhood could 
give. As this horse approached, and as I watched for it to 



JANE EYRE 133 

appear through the dusk, I remembered certain of Bessie's 
tales, wherein figured a North-of -England spirit, called a 
' Gy trash,' which, in the form of horse, mule, or large dog, 
haunted solitary ways, and sometimes came upon belated 
travellers, as this horse was now coming upon me. 

It was very near, but not yet in sight, when, in addition 
to the tramp, tramp, I heard a rush under the hedge, and 
close down by the hazel stems glided a great dog, whose 
black and white colour made him a distinct object against 
the trees. It was exactly one mask of Bessie's Gytrash, a 
lion-like creature with long hair and a huge head : it passed 
me, however, quietly enough ; not staying to look up, with 
strange pretercanine eyes, in my face, as I half expected it 
would. The horse followed, a tall steed, and on its back a 
rider. The man, the human being, broke the spell at once. 
Nothing ever rode the Gytrash : it was always alone ; and 
goblins, to my notions, though they might tenant the dumb 
carcases of beasts, could scarce covet shelter in the common- 
place human form. No Gytrash was this, only a traveller 
taking the short cut to Millcote. He passed, and I went on : 
a few steps, and I turned : a sliding sound and an exclama- 
tion of ' What the deuce is to do now ? ' and a clattering 
tumble, arrested my attention. Man and horse were down ; 
they had slipped on the sheet of ice which glazed the cause- 
way. The dog came bounding back, and seeing his master 
in a predicament, and hearing the horse groan, barked till 
the evening hills echoed the sound, which was deep in 
proportion to his magnitude. He snuffed round the prostrate 
group, and then he ran up to me ; it was all he could do, 
there was no other help at hand to summon. I obeyed him, 
and walked down to the traveller, by this time struggling 
himself free of his steed. His efforts were so vigorous I 
thought he could not be much hurt ; but I asked him the 
question : ' Are you injured, sir?' 

I think he was swearing, but am not certain ; however, 
he was pronouncing some formula which prevented him 
from replying to me directly. 



134 JANE EYRE 

' Can I do anything ? ' I asked again. 

' You must just stand on one side,' he answered as he rose, 
first to his knees, and then to his feet. I did ; whereupon 
began a heaving, stamping, clattering process, accompanied 
by a barking and baying which removed me effectually some 
yards' distance ; but I would not be driven quite away till I 
saw the event. This was finally fortunate ; the horse was 
re-established, and the dog was silenced with a ' Down, 
Pilot ! ' The traveller now, stooping, felt his foot and leg, as 
if trying whether they were sound ; apparently something 
ailed them, for he halted to the stile whence I had just risen, 
and sat down. 

I was in the mood for being useful, or at least officious, I 
think, for I now drew near him again. 

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

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

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



JANE EYRE 135 

shunned them as one would fire, lightning, or anything else 
that is bright but antipathetic. 

If even this stranger had smiled and been good-humoured 
to me when I addressed him ; if he had put off my offer of 
assistance gaily and with thanks, I should have gone on my 
way and not felt any vocation to renew inquiries : but the 
frown, the roughness of the traveller, set me at my ease : 
I retained my station when he waved to me to go, and 
announced : ' I cannot think of leaving you, sir, at so late 
an hour, in this solitary lane, till I see you are fit to mount 
your horse.' 

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

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

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

' You live just below do you mean at that house with 
the battlements ? ' pointing to Thornfield Hall, on which the 
moon cast a hoary gleam, bringing it out distinct and pale 
from the woods, that, by contrast with the western sky, now 
seemed one mass of shadow. 

' Yes, sir.' 

' Whose house is it ? ' 

1 Mr. Rochester's.' 

' Do you know Mr. Rochester ? ' 

c No, I have never seen him.' 

' He is not resident, then ? ' 

'No.' 

I Can you tell me where he is ? ' 

I 1 cannot.' 

' You are not a servant at the hall, of course. You 

are ' He stopped, ran his eye over my dress, which, as 

usual, was quite simple ; a black merino cloak, a black 



136 JANE EYRE 

beaver bonnet : neither of them half fine enough for a lady's- 
maid. He seemed puzzled to decide what I was : I helped 
him. 

' I am the governess.' 

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

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

' Yes, sir.' 

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

No.' 

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

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

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

I came. ' Excuse me,' he continued : ' necessity compels 
me to make you useful.' He laid a heavy hand on my 
shoulder, and leaning on me with some stress, limped to his 
horse. Having once caught the bridle, he mastered it 
directly, and sprang to his saddle ; grimacing grimly as he 
made the effort, for it wrenched his sprain.' 

' Now,' said he, releasing his under lip from a hard bite, 
' just hand me my whip ; it lies there under the hedge.' 

I sought it and found it. 

' Thank you : now make haste with the letter to Hay, 
a,nd return as fast as you can.' 



JANE EYEE 137 

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

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

I took up my muff and walked on. The incident had 
occurred and was gone for me : it was an incident of no 
moment, no romance, no interest in a sense ; yet it marked 
with change one single hour of a monotonous life. My help 
had been needed and claimed ; I had given it : I was pleased 
to have done something ; trivial, transitory though the deed 
was, it was yet an active thing, and I was weary of an 
existence all passive. The new face, too, was like a new 
picture introduced to the gallery of memory ; and it was 
dissimilar to all the others hanging there : firstly, because it 
was masculine ; and, secondly, because it was dark, strong, 
and stern. I had it still before me when I entered Hay, 
and slipped the letter into the post-office ; I saw it as I 
walked fast down hill all the way home. When I came to 
the stile, I stopped a minute, looked round and listened, with 
an idea that a horse's hoof might ring on the causeway again, 
and that a rider in a cloak, and a Gytrash-like Newfoundland 
dog, might be again apparent : I saw only the hedge and a 
pollard willow before me, rising up still and straight to meet 
the moonbeams ; I heard only the faintest waft of wind 
roaming fitful among the trees round Thornfield, a mile 
distant ; and when I glanced down in the direction of the 
murmur, my eye, traversing the hall-front, caught a light 
kindling in a window : it reminded me that I was late, and 
I hurried on. 

I did not like re-entering Thornfield. To pass its thresh- 
old was to return to stagnation ; to cross the silent hall, to 
ascend the darksome staircase, to seek my own lonely little 
room, and then to meet tranquil Mrs. Fairfax, and spend 
the long winter evening with her, and her only, was to quell 
wholly the faint excitement wakened by my walk, to slip 



138 JANE EYRE 

again over my faculties the viewless fetters of an uniform 
and too still existence ; of an existence whose very privileges 
of security and ease I was becoming incapable of appreciating. 
What good it would have done me at that time to have been 
tossed in the storms of an uncertain struggling life, and to 
have been taught by rough and bitter experience to long for 
the calm amidst which I now repined ! Yes, just as much 
good as it would do a man tired of sitting still in a ' too easy 
chair ' to take a long walk ; and just as natural was the wish 
to stir, under my circumstances, as it would be under his. 

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

The hall was not dark, nor yet was it lit, only by the 
high-hung bronze lamp : a warm glow suffused both it and 
the lower steps of the oak staircase. This ruddy shine issued 
from the great dining-room, whose two-leaved door stood 
open, and showed a genial fire in the grate, glancing on 
marble hearth and brass fireirons, and revealing purple 
draperies and polished furniture, in the most pleasant radiance. 
It revealed, too, a group near the mantelpiece : I had scarcely 
caught it, and scarcely become aware of a cheerful mingling 
of voices, amongst which I seemed to distinguish the tones 
of Adele, when the door closed. 



JANE EYEE 139 

I hastened to Mrs. Fairfax's room : there was a fire there 
too, but no candle, and no Mrs. Fairfax. Instead, all alone, 
sitting upright on the rug, and gazing with gravity at the 
blaze, I beheld a great black and white long-haired dog, just 
like the Gytrash of the lane. It was so like it that I went 
forward and said ' Pilot,' and the thing got up and came to 
me and snuffed me. I caressed him, and he wagged his 
great tail : but he looked an eerie creature to be alone with, 
and I could not tell whence he had come. I rang the bell, for 
I wanted a candle ; and I wanted, too, to get an account of 
this visitant. Leah entered. 

' What dog is this ? ' 

' He came with master.' 

1 With whom ? ' 

1 With master Mr. Eochester he is just arrived.' 

' Indeed ! and is Mrs. Fairfax with him ? ' 

1 Yes, and Miss Adela ; they are in the dining-room, and 
John is gone for a surgeon : for master has had an accident ; 
his horse fell and his ankle is sprained.' 

1 Did the horse fall in Hay Lane ? ' 

' Yes, coming dow r n hill ; it slipped on some ice.' 

' Ah ! Bring me a candle, will you, Leah ? ' 

Leah brought it ; she entered, followed by Mrs. Fairfax, 
who repeated the news ; adding that Mr. Carter the surgeon 
was come, and was now with Mr. Eochester : then she 
hurried out to give orders about tea, and I went upstairs to 
take off my things. 



CHAPTER XIII 

MB. ROCHESTER, it seems, by the surgeon's orders, went to 
bed early that night ; nor did he rise soon next morning. 
When he did come down, it was to attend to business : his 
agent and some of his tenants were arrived, and waiting to 
speak with him. 

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

Adele was not easy to teach that day; she could not 
apply : she kept running to the door and looking over the 
banisters to see if she could get a glimpse of Mr. Rochester ; 
then she coined pretexts to go downstairs, in order, as I 
shrewdly suspected, to visit the library, where I knew she 
was not wanted ; then, when I got a little angry, and made 
her sit still, she continued to talk incessantly of her ' ami, 
Monsieur Edouard Fairfax de Rochester,' as she dubbed him 
(I had not before heard his prenomens), and to conjecture 
what presents he had brought her : for it appears he had 
intimated the night before, that when his luggage came from 



JANE EYRE Ul 

Millcote there would be found amongst it a little box in 
whose contents she had an interest. 

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

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

In the clear embers I was tracing a view, not unlike a 
picture I remembered to have seen of the castle of Heidel- 
berg, on the Rhine, when Mrs. Fairfax came in, breaking up 
by her entrance the fiery mosaic I had been piecing together, 
and scattering too some heavy unwelcome thoughts that were 
beginning to throng on my solitude. 

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

' When is his tea-time ? ' I inquired. 

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

' Is it necessary to change my frock ? ' 

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

This additional ceremony seemed somewhat stately : how- 
ever, I repaired to my room, and, with Mrs. Fairfax's aid, 



142 JANE EYKE 

replaced my black stuff dress by one of black silk : the best 
and the only additional one I had, except one of light grey, 
which, in my Lowood notions of the toilette, I thought too 
fine to be worn, except on first-rate occasions. 

' You want a brooch,' said Mrs. Fairfax. I had a single 
little pearl ornament which Miss Temple gave me as a part- 
ing keepsake : I put it on, and then we went downstairs. 
Unused as I was to strangers, it was rather a trial to appear 
thus formally summoned in Mr. Bochester's presence. I let 
Mrs. Fairfax precede me into the dining-room, and kept in 
her shade as we crossed that apartment ; and, passing the 
arch, whose curtain was now dropped, entered the elegant 
recess beyond. 

Two wax candles stood lighted on the table, and two on 
the mantelpiece ; basking in the light and heat of a superb 
fire lay Pilot Adele knelt near him. Half reclined on a 
couch appeared Mr. Eochester, his foot supported by the 
cushion ; he was looking at Adele and the dog : the fire shone 
full on his face. I knew my traveller with his broad and 
jetty eyebrows ; his square forehead, made squarer by the 
horizontal sweep of his black hair. I recognised his decisive 
nose, more remarkable for character than beauty ; his full 
nostrils, denoting, I thought, choler ; his grim mouth, chin, 
and jaw yes, all three were very grim, and no mistake. 
His shape, now divested of cloak, I perceived harmonised in 
squareness with his physiognomy : I suppose it was a good 
figure in the athletic sense of the term broad-chested and 
thin-flanked, though neither tall nor graceful. 

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

' Here is Miss Eyre, sir,' said Mrs. Fairfax, in her quiet 
way. He bowed, still not taking his eyes from the group of 
the dog and child. 

' Let Miss Eyre be seated,' said he : and there was some- 
thing in the forced stiff bow, in the impatient yet formal tone, 



JANE EYBE 143 

which seemed further to express, ' What the deuce is it to me 
whether Miss Eyre be there or not ? At this moment I am 
not disposed to accost her.' 

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

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

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

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

I did as requested. As he took the cup from my hand, 
Adele, thinking the moment propitious for making a request 
in my favour, cried out : ' N'est-ce pas, monsieur, qu'il y a 
un cadeau pour Mademoiselle Eyre, dans votre petit coffre ? ' 

' Who talks of cadeaux ? ' said he gruffly : ' did you 
expect a present, Miss Eyre ? Are you fond of presents ? ' 
and he searched my face with eyes that I saw were dark, 
irate, and piercing. 

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

' Generally thought ? But what do you think ? ' 



144 JANE EYRE 

1 1 should be obliged to take time, sir, before I could give 
you an answer worthy of your acceptance : a present has 
many faces to it, has it not? and one should consider all 
before pronouncing an opinion as to its nature.' 

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

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

' Oh, don't fall back on over-modesty I I have examined 
Adele, and find you have taken great pains with her ; she is 
not bright, she has no talents ; yet in a short time she has 
made much improvement.' 

' Sir, you have now given me my " cadeau " ; I am 
obliged to you : it is the meed teachers most covet ; praise 
of their pupil's progress.' 

' Humph ! ' said Mr. Rochester, and he took his tea in 
silence. 

' Come to the fire,' said the master, when the tray was 
taken away, and Mrs. Fairfax had settled into a corner with 
her knitting ; while Adele was leading me by the hand round 
the room, showing me the beautiful books and ornaments 
on the consoles and chiffonnieres. We obeyed, as in duty 
bound; Adele wanted to take a seat on my knee, but she 
was ordered to amuse herself with Pilot. 

' You have been resident in my house three months ? ' 

' Yes, sir.' 

1 And you came from ? ' 

' From Lowood school, in shire.' 

1 Ah ! a charitable concern. How long were you there?' 

' Eight years.' 

' Eight years ! you must be tenacious of life. I thought 



JANE EYEE 145 

half the time in such a place would have done up any con- 
stitution ! No wonder you have rather the look of another 
world. I marvelled where you had got that sort of face. 
When you came on me in Hay Lane last night, I thought 
unaccountably of fairy tales, and had half a mind to demand 
whether you had bewitched my horse : I am not sure yet. 
Who are your parents ? ' 

' I have none.' 

' Nor ever had, I suppose : do you remember them ? ' 

No.' 

' I thought not. And so you were waiting for your 
people when you sat on that stile ? ' 

' For whom, sir ? ' 

'For the men in green: it was a proper moonlight 
evening for them. Did I break through one of your rings, 
that you spread that damned ice on the causeway ? ' 

I shook my head. ' The men in green all forsook 
England a hundred years ago,' said I, speaking as seriously 
as he had done. ' And not even in Hay Lane, or the fields 
about it, could you find a trace of them. I don't think 
either summer or harvest, or winter moon, will ever shine 
on their revels more.' 

Mrs. Fairfax had dropped her knitting, and, with raised 
eyebrows, seemed wondering what sort of talk this was. 

' Well,' resumed Mr. Eochester, ' if you disown parents 
you must have some sort of kinsfolk : uncles and aunts ? ' 

' No ; none that I ever saw.' 

1 And your home ? ' 

' I have none.' 

I Where do your brothers and sisters live ? ' 
4 1 have no brothers or sisters.' 

' Who recommended you to come here ? ' 

I 1 advertised, and Mrs. Fairfax answered my advertise- 
ment.' 

' Yes,' said the good lady, who now knew what ground 
we were upon, ' and I am daily thankful for the choice 
Providence led me to make. Miss Eyre has been an 



146 JANE EYRE 

invaluable companion to me, and a kind and careful teacher 
to Adele.' 

' Don't trouble yourself to give her a character," returned 
Mr. Rochester : ' eulogiums will not bias me ; I shall judge 
for myself. She began by felling my horse.' 

' Sir?' said Mrs. Fairfax. 

' I have to thank her for this sprain.' 

The widow looked bewildered. 

1 Miss Eyre, have you ever lived in a town ? ' 

' No, sir.' 

' Have you seen much society ? ' 

' None but the pupils and teachers of Lowood ; and now 
the inmates of Thornfield.' 

' Have you read much ? ' 

1 Only such books as came in my way ; and they have not 
been numerous or very learned.' 

' You have lived the life of a nun : no doubt you are well 
drilled in religious forms; Brocklehurst, who I understand 
directs Lowood, is a parson, is he not ? ' 

' Yes, sir.' 

' And you girls probably worshipped him, as a convent 
full of religieuses would worship their director ? ' 

' Oh, no.' 

' You are very cool ! No ! What ! A novice not wor- 
ship her priest ! That sounds blasphemous.' 

' I disliked Mr. Brocklehurst ; and I was not alone in the 
feeling. He is a harsh man ; at once pompous and meddling : 
he cut off our hair ; and for economy's sake bought us bad 
needles and thread, with which we could hardly sew.' 

' That was very false economy, 1 remarked Mrs. Fairfax, 
who now again caught the drift of the dialogue., 

' And was that the head and front of his offending ? ' 
demanded Mr. Rochester. 

'He starved us when he had the sole superintendence 
of the provision department, before the committee was 
appointed ; and he bored us with long lectures once a week, 
and with evening readings from books of his own inditing, 



JANE EYKE 147 

about sudden deaths and judgments, which made us afraid 
to go to bed.' 

' What age were you when you went to Lowood? ' 

' About ten.' 

' And you stayed there eight years : you are now, then, 
eighteen ? ' 

I assented. 

' Arithmetic, you see, is useful ; without its aid I should 
hardly have been able to guess your age. It is a point diffi- 
cult to fix where the features and countenance are so much 
at variance as in your case. And now, what did you learn at 
Lowood ? Can you play ? ' 

1 A little.' 

' Of course : that is the established answer. Go into the 
library I mean, if you please. (Excuse my tone of 
command ; I am used to say " Do this," and it is done : I 
cannot alter my customary habits for one new inmate.) 
Go, then, into the library ; take a candle with you ; leave the 
door open ; sit down to the piano, and play a tune.' 

I departed, obeying his directions. 

' Enough ! ' he called out in a few minutes. ' You play 
a little, I see, like any other English schoolgirl : perhaps 
rather better than some, but not well.' 

I closed the piano and returned. Mr. Kochester con- 
tinued : 

' Adele showed me some sketches this morning which she 
said were yours. I don't know whether they were entirely 
of your doing : probably a master aided you ? ' 

' No, indeed ! ' I interjected. 

' Ah ! that pricks pride. Well, fetch me your portfolio, 
if you can vouch for its contents being original ; but don't 
pass your word unless you are certain : I can recognise 
patchwork.' 

' Then I will say nothing, and you shall judge for your- 
self, sir.' 

I brought the portfolio from the library. 

1 Approach the table,' said he ; and I wheeled it to his 



148 JANE EYRE 

couch. Adele and Mrs. Fairfax drew near to see the 
pictures. 

' No crowding,' said Mr. Rochester : ' take the drawings 
from my hand as I finish with them ; but don't push your 
faces up to mine.' 

He deliberately scrutinised each sketch and painting. 
Three he laid aside ; the others, when he had examined them, 
he swept from him. 

' Take them off to the other table, Mrs. Fairfax/ said he, 
1 and look at them with Adele ; you ' (glancing at me) 
' resume your seat, and answer my questions. I perceive 
these pictures were done by one hand : was that hand 
yours?' 
1 Yes.' 

1 And when did you find time to do them ? They have 
taken much time, and some thought.' 

' I did them in the last two vacations I spent at Lowood, 
when I had no other occupation.' 
' Where did you get your copies ? ' 
' Out of my head.' 

' That head I see now on your shoulders ? ' 
Yes, sir.' 

Has it other furniture of the same kind within ? ' 
' I should think it may have : I should hope better.' 
He spread the pictures before him, and again surveyed 
them alternately. 

While he is so occupied I will tell you, reader, what they 
are : and first, I must premise that they are nothing wonder- 
ful. The subjects had, indeed, risen vividly on my mind. 
As I saw them with the spiritual eye, before I attempted to 
embody them, they were striking ; but my hand would not 
second my fancy, and in each case it had wrought out but a 
pale portrait of the thing I had conceived. 

These pictures were in water-colours. The first repre- 
sented clouds low and livid, rolling over a swollen sea : all 
the distance was in eclipse ; so, too, was the foreground ; 
or, rather, the nearest billows, for there was no land. One 



JANE EYRE 149 

gleam of light lifted into relief a half -submerged mast, on 
which sat a cormorant, dark and large, with wings flecked 
with foam : its beak held a gold bracelet, set with gems, that 
I had touched with as brilliant tints as my palette could 
yield, and as glittering distinctness as my pencil could im- 
part. Sinking below the bird and mast, a drowned corpse 
glanced through the green water ; a fair arm was the only 
limb clearly visible, whence the bracelet had been washed 
or torn. 

The second picture contained for foreground only the dim 
peak of a hill, with grass and some leaves slanting as if by 
a breeze. Beyond and above spread an expanse of sky, 
dark blue as at twilight : rising into the sky was a woman's 
shape to the bust, portrayed in tints as dusk and soft as I 
could combine. The dim forehead was crowned with a star ; 
the lineaments below were seen as through the suffusion of 
vapour ; the eyes shone dark and wild ; the hair streamed 
shadowy, like a beamless cloud torn by storm or by electric 
travail. On the neck lay a pale reflection like moonlight ; 
the same faint lustre touched the train of thin clouds 
from which rose and bowed this vision of the Evening 
Star. 

The third showed the pinnacle of an iceberg piercing a 
polar winter sky : a muster of northern lights reared their 
dim lances, close serried, along the horizon. Throwing these 
into distance, rose, in the foreground, a head, a colossal 
head, inclined towards the iceberg, and resting against it. 
Two thin hands, joined under the forehead, and supporting 
it, drew up before the lower features a sable veil ; a brow 
quite bloodless, white as bone, and an eye hollow and fixed, 
blank of meaning but for the glassiness of despair, alone 
were visible. Above the temples, amidst wreathed turban 
folds of black drapery, vague in its character and consistency 
as cloud, gleamed a ring of white flame, gemmed with 
sparkles of a more lurid tinge. This pale crescent was ' The 
likeness of a Kingly Crown ' ; what it diademed was ' the 
shape which shape had none.' 



150 JANE EYRE 

' Were you happy when you painted these pictures ? ' 
asked Mr. Rochester, presently. 

1 1 was absorbed, sir : yes, and I was happy. To paint 
them, in short, was to enjoy one of the keenest pleasures I 
have ever known.' 

4 That is not saying much. Your pleasures, by your own 
account, have been few ; but I daresay you did exist in a 
kind of artist's dreamland while you blent and arranged 
these strange tints. Did you sit at them long each day ? ' 

' I had nothing else to do, because it was the vacation, 
and I sat at them from morning bill noon, and from noon 
till night : the length of the midsummer days favoured 
my inclination to apply.' 

1 And you felt self-satisfied with the result of your ardent 
labours ? ' 

' Far from it. I was tormented by the contrast between 
my idea and my handiwork : in each case I had imagined 
something which I was quite powerless to realise.' 

' Not quite : you have secured the shadow of your 
thought : but no more, probably. You had not enough of 
the artist's skill and science to give it full being : yet the 
drawings are, for a schoolgirl, peculiar. As to the thoughts, 
they are elfish. These eyes in the Evening Star you must 
have seen in a dream. How could you make them look so 
clear, and yet not at all brilliant ? for the planet above quella 
their rays. And what meaning is that in their solemn 
depth ? And who taught you to paint wind ? There is a 
high gale in that sky, and on this hilltop. Where did you 
see Latmos ? For that is Latmos. There, put the drawings 
away ! ' 

I had scarce tied the strings of the portfolio, when, 
looking at his watch, he said abruptly, ' It is nine o'clock : 
what are you about, Miss Eyre, to let Adele sit up so long ? 
Take her to bed.' 

Adele went to kiss him before quitting the room : he 
endured the caress, but scarcely seemed to relish it more 
than Pilot would have done, nor so much. 



JANE EYRE 151 

1 1 wish you all good-night, now,' said he, making a 
movement of the hand towards the door, in token that he 
was tired of our company, and wished to dismiss us. Mrs. 
Fairf ax folded up her knitting : I took my portfolio : we 
curtseyed to him, received a frigid bow in return, and so 
withdrew. 

1 You said Mr. Rochester was not strikingly peculiar, Mrs. 
Fairfax,' I observed, when I rejoined her in her room, after 
putting Adele to bed. 

Well, is he?' 

' I think so : he is very changeful and abrupt.' 

1 True : no doubt he may appear so to a stranger, but I 
am so accustomed to his manner I never think of it; and 
then, if he has peculiarities of temper, allowance should be 
made.' 

'Why?' 

' Partly because it is his nature and we can none of us 
help our nature ; and, partly, he has painful thoughts, no 
doubt, to harass him, and make his spirits unequal.' 

' What about ? ' 

' Family troubles, for one thing.' 

' But he has no family.' 

' Not now, but he has had or, at least, relatives. He 
lost his elder brother a few years since.' 

' His elder brother ? ' 

' Yes. The present Mr. Eochester has not been very long 
in possession of the property ; only about nine years.' 

' Nine years is a tolerable time. Was he so very fond of 
his brother as to be still inconsolable for his loss ? ' 

' Why, no perhaps not. I believe there were some mis- 
understandings between them. Mr. Bowland Eochester was 
not quite just to Mr. Edward ; and, perhaps, he prejudiced 
his father against him. The old gentleman was fond of 
money, and anxious to keep the family estate together. He 
did not like to diminish the property by division, and yet he 
was anxious that Mr. Edward should have wealth too, to 
keep up the consequence of the name ; and, soon after he 



152 JANE EYRE 

was of age, some steps were taken that were not quite fair, 
and made a great deal of mischief. Old Mr. Rochester and 
Mr. Rowland combined to bring Mr. Edward into what he 
considered a painful position, for the sake of making his 
fortune : what the precise nature of that position was I 
never clearly knew, but his spirit could not brook what he 
had to suffer in it. He is not very forgiving : he broke with 
his family, and now for many years he has led an unsettled 
kind of life. I don't think he has ever been resident at 
Thornfield for a fortnight together since the death of his 
brother without a will left him master of the estate ; and, 
indeed, no wonder he shuns the old place.' 

' Why should he shun it ? ' 
Perhaps he thinks it gloomy.' 

The answer was evasive I should have liked something 
clearer ; but Mrs. Fairfax either could not, or would not, give 
me more explicit information of the origin and nature of Mr. 
Rochester's trials. She averred they were a mystery to 
herself, and that what she knew was chiefly from conjecture. 
It was evident, indeed, that she wished me to drop the subject, 
which I did accordingly. 



CHAPTER XIV 

FOB several subsequent days I saw little of Mr. Rochester. 
In the mornings he seemed much engaged with business, 
and in the afternoon gentlemen from Millcote or the neigh- 
bourhood called, and sometimes stayed to dine with him. 
When his sprain was well enough to admit of horse exercise, 
he rode out a good deal ; probably to return these visits, as 
he generally did not come back till late at night. 

During this interval even Adele was seldom sent for to 
his presence, and all my acquaintance with him was confined 
to an occasional rencontre in the hall, on the stairs, or in the 
gallery, when he would sometimes pass me haughtily and 
coldly, just acknowledging my presence by a distant nod or 
a cool glance, and sometimes bow and smile with gentleman- 
like affability. His changes of mood did not offend me, 
because I saw that I had nothing to do with their alternation ; 
the ebb and flow depended on causes quite disconnected 
with me. 

One day he had had company to dinner, and had sent 
for my portfolio ; in order, doubtless, to exhibit its contents. 
The gentlemen went away early, to attend a public meeting 
at Millcote, as Mrs. Fairfax informed me ; but the night 
being wet and inclement, Mr. Eochester did not accompany 
them. Soon after they were gone, he rang the bell: a 
message came that I and Adele were to go downstairs. I 
brushed Adele's hair and made her neat, and having ascer- 
tained that I was myself in my usual Quaker trim, where 
there was nothing to retouch all being too close and plain, 
braided locks included, to admit of disarrangement we 
descended, Adele wondering whether the petit coffre was at 



154 JANE EYEE 

length come ; for, owing to some mistake, its arrival had 
hitherto been delayed. She was gratified : there it stood, a 
little carton, on the table when we entered the dining-room. 
She appeared to know it by instinct. 

' Ma boite I ma bolte ! ' exclaimed she, running towards it. 

1 Yes there is your " boite " at last : take it into a 
corner, you genuine daughter of Paris, and amuse yourself 
with disembowelling it,' said the deep and rather sarcastic 
voice of Mr. Kochester, proceeding from the depths of an 
immense easy-chair at the fireside. 'And mind,' he con- 
tinued, ' don't bother me with any details of the anatomical 
process, or any notice of the condition of the entrails : let 
yoifr operation be conducted in silence : tiens-toi tranquille, 
enfant ; comprends-tu ? ' 

Adele seemed scarcely to need the warning ; she had 
already retired to a sofa with her treasure, and was busy 
untying the cord which secured the lid. Having removed 
this impediment, and lifted certain silvery envelopes of tissue- 
paper, she merely exclaimed : ' Oh ciel ! Que c'est beau ! ' 
and then remained absorbed in ecstatic contemplation. 

' Is Miss Eyre there ? ' now demanded the master, half 
rising from his seat to look round to the door, near which I 
still stood. 

1 Ah ! well ; come forward : be seated here.' He drew a 
chair near his own. ' I am not fond of the prattle of 
children,' he continued ; ' for, old bachelor as I am, I have 
no pleasant associations connected with their lisp. It would 
be intolerable to me to pass a whole evening ttte-d-tete with 
a brat. Don't draw that chair further off, Miss Eyre ; sit 
down exactly where I placed it if you please, that is. 
Confound these civilities ! I continually forget them. Nor 
do I particularly affect simple-minded old ladies. By-the-bye, 
I must have mine in mind ; it won't do to neglect her ; she 
is a Fairfax, or wed to one ; and blood is said to be thicker 
than water.' 

He rang and despatched an invitation to Mrs. Fairfax, who 
soon arrived, knitting-basket in hand. 



JANE EYEE 155 

1 Good-evening, madam ; I sent to you for a charitable 
purpose : I have forbidden Adele to talk to me about her 
presents, and she is bursting with repletion ; have the good- 
ness to serve her as auditress and interlocutrice : it will be 
one of the most benevolent acts you ever performed.' 

Adele, indeed, no sooner saw Mrs. Fairfax than she 
summoned her to the sofa, and there quickly filled her lap 
with the porcelain, the ivory, the waxen contents of her 
' boite ' ; pouring out, meantime, explanations and raptures 
in such broken English as she was mistress of. 

' Now I have performed the part of a good host,' pursued 
Mr. Eochester, 'put my guests into the way of amusing 
each other, I ought to be at liberty to attend to my own 
pleasure. Miss Eyre, draw your chair still a little further 
forward : you are yet too far back ; I cannot see you without 
disturbing my position in this comfortable chair, which I 
have no mind to do.' 

I did as I was bid, though I would much rather have 
remained somewhat in the shade : but Mr. Eochester had 
such a direct way of giving orders, it seemed a matter of 
course to obey him promptly. 

We were, as I have said, in the dining-room : the lustre, 
which had been lit for dinner, filled the room with a festal 
breadth of light ; the large fire was all red and clear ; the 
purple curtains hung rich and ample before the lofty window 
and loftier arch ; everything was still, save the subdued 
chat of Adele (she dared not speak loud), and, filling up 
each pause, the beating of winter rain against the panes. 

Mr. Eochester, as he sat in his damask-covered chair, 
looked different to what I had seen him look before ; not 
quite so stern much less gloomy. There was a smile on 
his lips, and his eyes sparkled, whether with wine or not I 
am not sure ; but I think it very probable. He was, in 
short, in his after-dinner mood ; more expanded and genial, 
and also more self-indulgent than the frigid and rigid 
temper of the morning : still he looked preciously grim, 
cushioning his massive head against the swelling back of 



156 JANE EYEE 

his chair, and receiving the light of the fire on his granite- 
hewn features, and in his great, dark eyes ; for he had great, 
dark eyes, and very fine eyes too not without a certain 
change in their depths sometimes, which, if it was not soft- 
ness, reminded you, at least, of that feeling. 

He had been looking two minutes at the fire, and I 
had been looking the same length of time at him, when 
turning suddenly, he caught my gaze fastened on his 
physiognomy. 

' You examine me, Miss Eyre,' said he : 'do you think 
me bandsome ? ' 

I should, if I had deli berated, have replied to this 
question by something conventionally vague and polite ; but 
the answer somehow slipped from my tongue before I was 
aware : ' No, sir.' 

1 Ah ! By my word ! there is something singular about 
you,' said he : ' you have the air of a little nonnette ; quaint, 
quiet, grave, and simple, as you sit with your hands before 
you, and your eyes generally bent on the carpet (except, by- 
the-bye, when they are directed piercingly to my face ; as 
just now, for instance) ; and when one asks you a question, 
or makes a remark to which you are obliged to reply, you 
rap out a round rejoinder, which, if not blunt, is at least 
brusque. What do you mean by it ? ' 

' Sir, I was too plain : I beg your pardon. I ought to 
have replied that it was not easy to give an impromptu 
answer to a question about appearances ; that tastes differ ; 
that beauty is of little consequence, or something of that 
sort.' 

' You ought to have replied no such thing. Beauty of 
little consequence, indeed ! And so, under pretence of 
softening the previous outrage, of stroking and soothing me 
into placidity, you stick a sly penknife under my ear ! Go 
on : what fault do you find with me, pray? I suppose I 
have all my limbs and all my features like any other man ? ' 

' Mr. Eochester, allow me to disown my first answer. I 
intended no pointed repartee : it was only a blunder.' 



JANE EYEE 157 

' Just so : I think so : and you shall be answerable for 
it. Criticise me : doas my forehead not please you ? ' 

He lifted up the sable waves of hair which lay horizont- 
ally over his brow, and showed a solid enough mass of 
intellectual organs, but an abrupt deficiency where the suave 
sign of benevolence should have risen. 
' Now, ma'am, am I a fool ? ' 

' Far from it, sir. You would, perhaps, think me rude if 
I inquired in return whether you are a philanthropist ? ' 

' There again ! Another stick of the penknife, when she 
pretended to pat my head : and that is because I said I did 
not like the society of children and old women (low be it 
spoken !). No, young lady, I am not a general philan- 
thropist ; but I bear a conscience ; ' and he pointed to the 
prominences which are said to indicate that faculty, and 
which, fortunately for him, were sufficiently conspicuous ; 
giving, indeed, a marked breadth to the upper part of his 
head : ' and, besides, I once had a kind of rude tenderness 
of heart. When I was as old as you I was a feeling fellow 
enough ; partial to the unfledged, unfostered, and unlucky ; 
but fortune has knocked me about since : she has even 
kneaded me with her knuckles, and now I flatter myself I 
am hard and tough as an India-rubber ball; pervious, 
though, through a chink or two still, and with one sentient 
point in the middle of the lump. Yes : does that leave hope 
for me ? ' 

' Hope of what, sir ? ' 

' Of my final re-transformation from India-rubber back 
to flesh ? ' 

' Decidedly he has had too much wine,' I thought ; and I 
did not know what answer to make to his queer question : how 
could I tell whether he was capable of being re-transformed ? 
' You look very much puzzled, Miss Eyre ; and though you 
are not pretty any more than I am handsome, yet a puzzled air 
becomes you; besides, it is convenient, for it keeps those 
searching eyes of yours away from my physiognomy, and 
busies them with the worsted flowers of the rug ; so puzzle 



158 JANE EYRE 

on. Young lady, I ain disposed to be gregarious and com- 
municative to-night.' 

With this announcement he rose from his chair, and 
stood, leaning his arm on the marble mantelpiece : in that 
attitude his shape was seen plainly as well as his face ; his 
unusual breadth of chest, disproportionate almost to his 
length of limb. I am sure most people would have thought 
him an ugly man ; yet there was so much unconscious pride 
in his port ; so much ease in his demeanour ; such a look of 
complete indifference to his own external appearance ; so 
haughty a reliance on the power of other qualities, intrinsic 
or adventitious, to atone for the lack of mere personal attrac- 
tiveness, that, in looking at him, one inevitably shared the 
indifference, and, even in a blind, imperfect sense, put faith 
in the confidence. 

' I am disposed to be gregarious and communicative to- 
night,' he repeated ; ' and that is why I sent for you : the fire 
and the chandelier were not sufficient company for me ; nor 
would Pilot have been, for none of these can talk. Adele is a 
degree better, but still far below the mark ; Mrs. Fairfax 
ditto ; you, I am persuaded, can suit me if you will : you 
puzzled me the first evening I invited you down here. I 
have almost forgotten you since : other ideas have driven 
yours from my head ; but to-night I am resolved to be at 
ease ; to dismiss what importunes, and recall what pleases. 
It would please me now to draw you out to learn more of 
you therefore speak.' 

Instead of speaking, I smiled ; and not a very complacent 
or submissive smile either. 

' Speak,' he urged. 

1 What about, sir ? ' 

' Whatever you like. I leave both the choice of subject 
and the manner of treating it entirely to yourself.' 

Accordingly I sat and said nothing : ' If he expects me to 
talk for the mere sake of talking and showing off, he will 
find he has. addressed himself to the wrong person/ I 
thought. 



JANE EYEii 159 

' You are dumb, Miss Eyre.' 

I was dumb still. He bent his head a little towards me, 
and with a single hasty glance seemed to dive into my eyes. 

' Stubborn ? ' he said, ' and annoyed. Ah, it is consistent. I 
put my request in an absurd, almost insolent form. Miss Eyre, 
I beg your pardon. The fact is, once for all, I don't wish to 
treat you like an inferior : that is (correcting himself), I claim 
only such superiority as must result from twenty years' 
difference in age and a century's advance in experience. 
This is legitimate, et j'y tiens, as A dele would say ; and it is 
by virtue of this superiority and this alone that I desire 
you to have the goodness to talk to me a little now, and 
divert my thoughts, which are galled with dwelling on one 
point cankering as a rusty nail.' 

He had deigned an explanation ; almost an apology : I 
did not feel insensible to his condescension, and would not 
seem so. 

' I am willing to amuse you if I can, sir : quite willing ; 
but I cannot introduce a topic, because how do I know what 
will interest you ? Ask me questions, and I will do my best 
to answer them.' 

' Then, in the first place, do you agree with me that I 
have a right to be a little masterful, abrupt ; perhaps ex- 
acting, sometimes, on the grounds I stated ; namely, that I 
am old enough to be your father, and that I have battled 
through a varied experience with many men of many nations, 
and roamed over half the globe, while you have lived quietly 
with one set of people in one house ? ' 

' Do as you please, sir.' 

1 That is no answer ; or rather it is a very irritating, 
because a very evasive one ; reply clearly.' 

' I don't think, sir, you have a right to command me 
merely because you are older than I, or because you have 
seen more of the world than I have ; your claim to superiority 
depends on the use you have made of your time and ex- 
perience.' 

1 Humph ! Promptly spoken. But I won't allow that, 



160 JANE EYBE 

seeing that it would never suit my case ; as I have made 
an indifferent, not to say a bad, use of both advantages. 
Leaving superiority out of the question, then, you must 
still agree to receive my orders now and then, without being 
piqued or hurt by the tone of command will you ? ' 

I smiled : I thought to myself Mr. Kochester is peculiar 
he seems to forget that he pays me 30Z. per annum for 
receiving his orders. 

1 The smile is very well,' said he, catching instantly the 
passing expression ; ' but speak too.' 

' I was thinking, sir, that very few masters would trouble 
themselves to inquire whether or not their paid subordinates 
were piqued and hurt by their orders.' 

' Paid subordinates ! What, you are my paid subordinate, 
are you ? Oh, yes, I had forgotten the salary ! Well, then, 
on that mercenary ground, will you agree to let me hector a 
little ? ' 

' No, sir, not on that ground : but, on the ground that 
you did forget it, and that you care whether or not a depen- 
dent is comfortable in his dependency, I agree heartily.' 

'And will you consent to dispense with a great many 
conventional forms and phrases, without thinking that the 
omission arises from insolence ? ' 

'I am sure, sir, I should never mistake informality for 
insolence : one I rather like, the other nothing free-born 
would submit to, even for a salary.' 

' Humbug ! Most things free-born will submit to any- 
thing for a salary ; therefore, keep to yourself, and don't 
venture on generalities of which you are intensely ignorant. 
However, I mentally shake hands with you for your answer, 
despite its inaccuracy ; and as much for the manner in which 
it was said as for the substance of the speech : the manner 
was frank and sincere ; one does not often see such a manner : 
no, on the contrary, affectation, or coldness, or stupid, coarse- 
minded misapprehension of one's meaning are the usual 
rewards of candour. Not three in three thousand raw school- 
girl governesses would have answered me as you nave just 



JANE EYRE 161 

done. But I don't mean to flatter you : if you are cast in a 
different mould to the majority, it is no merit of yours : 
Nature did it. And then, after all, I go too fast in my con- 
clusions : for what I yet know, you may be no better than 
the rest ; you may have intolerable defects to counterbalance 
your few good points.' 

' And so may you,' I thought. My eye met his as the 
idea crossed my mind : he seemed to read the glance, answer- 
ing as if its import had been spoken as well as imagined : 

' Yes, yes, you are right,' said he ; ' I have plenty of faults 
of my own : I know it, and I don't wish to palliate them, I 
assure you. God wot I need not be too severe about others ; 
I have a past existence, a series of deeds, a colour of life to 
contemplate within my own breast, which might well call 
my sneers and censures from my neighbours to myself. I 
started, or rather (for, like other defaulters, I like to lay 
half the blame on ill fortune and adverse circumstances) 
was thrust on to a wrong tack at the age of one-and-twenty, 
and have never recovered the right course since : but I 
might have been very different ; I might have been as good 
as you wiser, almost as stainless. I envy you your peace 
of mind, your clean conscience, your unpolluted memory. 
Little girl, a memory without blot or contamination must 
be an exquisite treasure an inexhaustible source of pure 
refreshment : is it not ? ' 

1 How was your memory when you were eighteen, sir ? ' 

' All right then ; limpid, salubrious : no gush of bilge 
water had turned it to fetid puddle. I was your equal at 
eighteen quite your equal. Nature meant me to be, on 
the whole, a good man, Miss Eyre : one of the better kind ; 
and you see I am not so. You would say you don't see it : 
at least I flatter myself I read as much in your eye (beware, 
by-the-bye, what you express with that organ, I am quick at 
interpreting its language). Then take my word for it, I am 
not a villain : you are not to suppose that not to attribute 
to me any such bad eminence ; but, owing, I verily believe, 
rather to circumstances than to my natural bent, I am a trite 

M 



162 JANE EYRE 

commonplace sinner, hackneyed in all the poor petty dissipa- 
tions with which the rich and worthless try to put on life. 
Do you wonder that I avow this to you ? Know, that in 
the course of your future life you will often find yourself 
elected the involuntary confidant of your acquaintances' 
secrets : people will instinctively find out, as I have done, 
that it is not your forte to tell of yourself, but to listen 
while others talk of themselves ; they will feel, too, that 
you listen with no malevolent scorn of their indiscretion, 
but with a kind of innate sympathy ; not the less comfort- 
ing and encouraging because it is very unobtrusive in its 
manifestations.' 

' How do you know ? how can you guess all this, sir ? ' 

' I know it well ; therefore I proceed almost as freely 
as if I were writing my thoughts in a diary. You would 
say, I should have been superior to circumstances ; so 
I should so I should ; but you see I was not. When 
fate wronged me, I had not the wisdom to remain cool : I 
turned desperate ; then I degenerated. Now, when any 
vicious simpleton excites my disgust by his paltry ribaldry, 
I cannot flatter myself that I am better than he : I am forced 
to confess that he and I are on a level. I wish I had stood 
firm God knows I do ! Dread remorse when you are 
tempted to err, Miss Eyre : remorse is the poison of life.' 

'Repentance is said to be its cure, sir.' 

' It is not its cure. Reformation may be its cure ; and I 
could reform I have strength yet for that if but where 
is the use of thinking of it, hampered, burdened, cursed as I 
am ? Besides, since happiness is irrevocably denied me, I 
have a right to get pleasure out of life : and I will get it, 
cost what it may.' 

' Then you will degenerate still more, sir.' 

' Possibly : yet why should I, if I can get sweet, fresh 
pleasure ? And I may get it as sweet and fresh as the wild 
honey the bee gathers on the moor.' 

' It will sting it will taste bitter, sir.' 

' How do you know ? you never tried it. How very 



JANE EYRE 163 

serious how very solemn you look : and you are as ignorant 
of the matter as this cameo head ' (taking one from the 
mantelpiece). ' You have no right to preach to me, you 
neophyte, that have not passed the porch of life, and are 
absolutely unacquainted with its mysteries.' 

' I only remind you of your own words, sir : you said 
error brought remorse, and you pronounced remorse the 
poison of existence.' 

'And who talks of error now? I scarcely think the 
notion that flitted across my brain was an error. I believe 
it was an inspiration rather than a temptation : it was very 
genial, very soothing, I know that. Here it comes again ! 
It is no devil, I assure you ; or if it be, it has put on the 
robes of an angel of light. I think I must admit so fair a 
guest when it asks entrance to my heart.' 

' Distrust it, sir ; it is not a true angel.' 

' Once more, how do you know ? By what instinct do 
you pretend to distinguish between a fallen seraph of the 
abyss and a messenger from the eternal throne between 
a guide and a seducer ? ' 

' I judged by your countenance, sir ; which was troubled : 
when you said the suggestion had returned upon you. I 
feel sure it will work you more misery if you listen to it.' 

' Not at all it bears the most gracious message in 
the world : for the rest, you are not my conscience-keeper, 
so don't make yourself uneasy. Here, come in, bonny 
wanderer ! ' 

He said this as if he spoke to a vision, viewless to any 
eye but his own ; then, folding his arms, which he had half 
extended, on his chest, he seemed to enclose in their embrace 
the invisible being. 

1 Now,' he continued, again addressing me, ' I have 
received the pilgrim a disguised deity, as I verily believe. 
Already it has done me good : my heart was a sort of 
charnel ; it will now be a shrine.' 

' To speak truth, sir, I don't understand you at all : I 
cannot keep up the conversation, because it has got out of 



164 JANE EYRE 

my depth. Only one thing I know : you said you were not 
as good as you should like to be, and that you regi'etted your 
own imperfection ; one thing I can comprehend : you inti- 
mated that to have a sullied memory was a perpetual bane. 
It seems to me, that if you tried hard, you would in time 
find it possible to become what you yourself would approve ; 
and that if from this day you began with resolution to 
correct your thoughts and actions, you would in a few years 
have laid up a new and stainless store of recollections, to 
which you might revert with pleasure.' 

' Justly thought ; rightly said, Miss Eyre ; and, at this 
moment, I am 'paving hell with energy.' 

'Sir?' 

' I am laying down good intentions, which I believe 
durable as flint. Certainly, my associates and pursuits shall 
be other than they have been.' 

1 And better ? ' 

'And better so much better as pure ore is than foul 
dross. You seem to doubt me ; I don't doubt myself : I 
know what my aim is, what my motives are ; and at this 
moment I pass a law, unalterable as that of the Medes and 
Persians, that both are right.' 

'They cannot be, sir, if they require a new statute to 
legalise them.' 

' They are, Miss Eyre, though they absolutely require a 
new statute; unheard-of combinations of circumstances 
demand unheard-of rules.' 

' That sounds a dangerous maxim, sir ; because one can 
see at once that it is liable to abuse.' 

' Sententious sage ! so it is : but I swear by my household 
gods not to abuse it.' 

1 You are human and fallible.' 

' I am : so are you what then ? ' 

' The human and fallible should not arrogate a power 
with which the divine and perfect alone can be safely 
entrusted.' 

1 What power ? ' 



JANH EYfcE 165 

' That of saying of any strange, unsanotioned line of 
action, " Let it be right." ' 

' " Let it be right " the very words : you have pronounced 
them.' 

' May it be right then,' I said, as I rose, deeming it useless 
to continue a discourse which was all darkness to me ; and, 
besides, sensible that the character of my interlocutor was 
beyond my penetration ; at least, beyond its present reach ; 
and feeling the uncertainty, the vague sense of insecurity, 
which accompanies a conviction of ignorance. 

1 Where are you going ? ' 

' To put Adele to bed : it is past her bedtime.' 

1 You are afraid of me, because I talk like a Sphinx.' 

' Your language is enigmatical, sir : but though I am 
bewildered, I am certainly not afraid.' 

' You are afraid your self-love dreads a blunder.' 

' In that sense I do feel apprehensive I have no wish to 
talk nonsense.' 

' If you did, it would be in such a grave, quiet manner, I 
should mistake it for sense. Do you never laugh, Miss Eyre ? 
Don't trouble yourself to answer I see, you laugh rarely ; 
but you can laugh very merrily : believe me, you are not 
naturally austere, any more than I am naturally vicious. 
The Lowood constraint still clings to you somewhat; con- 
trolling your features, muffling your voice, and restricting 
your limbs ; and you fear in the presence of a man and a 
brother or father, or master, or what you will to smile too 
gaily, speak too freely, or move too quickly : but, in time, I 
think you will learn to be natural with me, as I find it 
impossible to be conventional with you ; and then your looks 
and movements will have more vivacity and variety than 
they dare offer now. I see at intervals the glance of a 
curious sort of bird through the close-set bars of a cage ; a 
vivid, restless, resolute captive is there ; were it but free, it 
would soar cloud-high. You are still bent on going ? ' 

' It has struck nine, sir.' 

' Never mind, wait a minute : Adele is not ready to go to 



166 JANE EYKE 

bed yet. My position, Miss Eyre, with my back to the fire, and 
my face to the room, favours observation. While talking to 
you, I have also occasionally watched Adele ; (I have my own 
reasons for thinking her a curious study, reasons that I may, 
nay that I shall, impart to you some day ;) she pulled out of 
her box, about ten minutes ago, a little pink silk frock ; rap- 
ture lit her face as she unfolded it; coquetry runs in her 
blood, blends with her brains, and seasons the marrow of her 
bones. " II faut que je 1'essaie," cried she ; " et a 1'instant 
meme ! " and she rushed out of the room. She is now with 
Sophie, undergoing a robing process : in a few minutes she 
will re-enter ; and I know what I shall see, a miniature of 
Celine Varens, as she used to appear on the boards at the 

rising of : but never mind that. However, my tenderest 

feelings are about to receive a shock : such is my presenti- 
ment ; stay now, to see whether it will be realised.' 

Ere long Adele's little foot was heard tripping across the 
hall. She entered, transformed as her guardian had pre- 
dicted. A dress of rose-coloured satin, very short, and as 
full in the skirt as it could be gathered, replaced the brown 
frock she had previously worn ; a wreath of rosebuds circled 
her forehead ; her feet were dressed in silk stockings and 
small white satin sandals. 

' Est-ce que ma robe va bien ? ' cried she, bounding for- 
wards ; ' et mes souliers ? et mes has ? Tenez, je croix que 
je vais danser.' 

And spreading out her dress, she chass^ed across the 
room ; till, having reached Mr. Kochester, she wheeled 
lightly round before him on tiptoe, then dropped on one 
knee at his feet, exclaiming : 

' Monsieur, je vous remercie mille fois de votre bont6 ' ; 
then rising, she added, ' C'est comme cela que maman faisait, 
n'est-ce pas, monsieur ? ' 

1 Pre-cise-ly ! ' was the answer ; ' and, " comme cela," she 
charmed my English gold out of my British breeches pocket. 
I have been green, too, Miss Eyre, ay, grass green : not a 
more vernal tint freshens you now than once freshened me. 



JANE EYEE 167 

My Spring is gone, however : but it has left me that French 
floweret on my hands ; which, in some moods, I would fain 
be rid of. Not valuing now the root whence it sprang ; 
having found that it was of a sort which nothing but gold 
dust could manure, I have but half a liking to the blossom : 
especially when it looks so artificial as just now. I keep it 
and rear it rather on the Roman Catholic principle of expiating 
numerous sins, great or small, by one good work. I'll explain 
all this some day. Good-night.' 



CHAPTER XV 

MB. EOCHESTER did, on a future occasion, explain it. 

It was one afternoon, when he chanced to meet me and 
Adele in the grounds ; and while she played with Pilot and 
her shuttlecock, he asked me to walk up and down a long 
beech avenue within sight of her. 

He then said that she was the daughter of a French opera- 
dancer, C61ine Varens, towards whom he had once cherished 
what he called a ' grande passion.' This passion Celine had 
professed to return with even superior ardour. He thought 
himself her idol ; ugly as he was : he believed, as he said, 
that she preferred his ' taille d'athlete ' to the elegance of the 
Apollo Belvidere. 

' And, Miss Eyre, so much was I flattered by this pre- 
ference of the Gallic sylph for her British gnome, that I 
installed her in an hotel ; gave her a complete establishment 
of servants, a carriage, cashmeres, diamonds, dentelles, &c. 
In short, I began the process of ruining myself in the received 
style, like any other spoony. I had not, it seems, the 
originality to chalk out a new road to shame and destruction, 
but trod the old track with stupid exactness not to deviate an 
Inch from the beaten centre. I had as I deserved to have 
the fate of all other spoonies. Happening to call one evening 
when C61ine did not expect me, I found her out ; but it was 
a warm night, and I was tired with strolling through Paris, 
so I sat down in her boudoir; happy to breathe the air 
consecrated so lately by her presence. No, I exaggerate ; 
I never thought there was any consecrating virtue about her : 
it was rather a sort of pastille perfume she had left, a scent 
pf musk and amber, than an odour of sanctity. I was just 



JANE EYRE 169 

beginning to stifle with the fumes of conservatory flowers 
and sprinkled essences, when I bethought myself to open the 
window and step out on to the balcony. It was moonlight 
and gas-light besides, and very still and serene. The balcony 
was furnished with a chair or two ; I sat down, took out a 
cigar, I will take one now, if you will excuse me.' 

Here ensued a pause, filled up by the producing and 
lighting of a cigar ; having placed it to his lips and breathed 
a trail of Havannah incense on the freezing and sunless air, 
he went on : 

' I liked bonbons too, in those days, Miss Eyre, and I was 
croquant overlook the barbarism crogwowtf chocolate com- 
fits, and smoking alternately, watching meantime the 
equipages that rolled along the fashionable streets towards 
the neighbouring opera-house, when in an elegant close 
carriage drawn by a beautiful pair of English horses, and 
distinctly seen in the brilliant city-night, I recognised the 
" voiture " I had given Celine. She was returning : of course 
my heart thumped with impatience against the iron rails I 
leant upon. The carriage stopped, as I had expected, at the 
hotel door ; my flame (that is the very word for an opera 
inamorata) alighted : though muffled in a cloak an unne- 
cessary encumbrance, by-the-bye, on so warm a June evening 
I knew her instantly by her little foot, seen peeping from 
the skirt of her dress, as she skipped from the carriage-step. 
Bending over the balcony, I was about to murmur, " Mon 
ange " in a tone, of course, which should be audible to 
the ear of love alone when a figure jumped from the 
carriage after her ; cloaked also ; but that was a spurred 
heel which had rung on the pavement, and that was a hatted 
head which now passed under the arched porte-coch&re of the 
hotel. 

' You never felt jealousy, did you, Miss Eyre ? Of course 
not : I need not ask you : because you never felt love. You 
have both sentiments yet to experience : your soul sleeps ; 
the shock is yet to be given which shall waken it. You 
think all existence lapses in as quiet a flow as that in which 



170 JANE EYKE 

your youth has hitherto slid away. Floating on with closed 
eyes and muffled ears, you neither see the rocks bristling not 
far off in the bed of the flood, nor hear the breakers boil at 
their base. But I tell you and you may mark my words 
you will come some day to a craggy pass of the channel, 
where the whole of life's stream will be broken up into whirl 
and tumult, foam and noise : either you will be dashed to 
atoms on crag points, or lifted up and borne on by some 
master wave into a calmer current as I am now. 

' I like this day : I like that sky of steel ; I like the stern- 
ness and stillness of the world under this frost. I like 
Thornfield : its antiquity ; its retirement ; its old crow-trees 
and thorn-trees ; its grey facade, and lines of dark windows 
reflecting that metal welkin : and yet how long have I 
abhorred the very thought of it ; shunned it like a great plague- 
house ! How I do still abhor ' 

He ground his teeth and was silent : he arrested his step 
and struck his boot against the hard ground. Some hated 
thought seemed to have him in its grip, and to hold him BO 
tightly that he could not advance. 

We were ascending the avenue when he thus paused ; 
the hall was before us. Lifting his eye to its battlements, he 
cast over them a glare such as I never saw before or since. 
Pain, shame, ire impatience, disgust, detestation seemed 
momentarily to hold a quivering conflict in the large pupil 
dilating under his ebon eyebrow. Wild was the wrestle which 
should be paramount ; but another feeling rose and tri- 
umphed : something hard and cynical ; self-willed and 
resolute : it settled his passion and petrified his countenance : 
he went on : ' During the moment I was silent, Miss Eyre, 
I was arranging a point with my destiny. She stood there, 
by that beech-trunk a hag like one of those who appeared 
to " Macbeth " on the heath of Forres. " You like Thorn- 
field ? " she said, lifting her finger ; and then she wrote in the 
air a memento, which ran in lurid hieroglyphics all along 
the house -front, between the upper and lower row of windows. 
" Like it if you can ! " " Like it if you dare 1 " 



JANE EYEE 171 

' " I will like it," said I. " I dare like it ; " and (he sub- 
joined moodily) I will keep my word : I will break obstacles 
to happiness, to goodness yes, goodness ; I wish to be a 
better man than I have been ; than I am as Job's leviathan 
broke the spear, the dart and the habergeon, hindrances 
which others count as iron and brass I will esteem but straw 
and rotten wood.' 

Adele here ran before him with her shuttlecock. ' Away ! ' 
he cried harshly ; ' keep at a distance, child ; or go in to 
Sophie ! ' Continuing then to pursue his walk in silence, I 
ventured to recall him to the point whence he had abruptly 
diverged : ' Did you leave the balcony, sir,' I asked, ' when 
Mdlle. Varens entered ? ' 

I almost expected a rebuff for this hardly well-timed 
question : but, on the contrary, waking out of his scowling 
abstraction, he turned his eyes towards me, and the shade 
seemed to clear off his brow. ' Oh, I had forgotten Celine I 
Well, to resume. When I saw my charmer thus come in 
accompanied by a cavalier, I seemed to hear a hiss, and the 
green snake of jealousy, rising on undulating coils from the 
moonlit balcony, glided within my waistcoat, and ate its 
way in two minutes to my heart's core. Strange ! ' he 
exclaimed, suddenly starting again from the point. ' Strange 
that I should choose you for the confidant of all this, young 
lady : passing strange that you should listen to me quietly, 
as if it were the most usual thing in the world for a man like 
me to tell stories of his opera-mistresses to a quaint, inexperi- 
enced girl like you ! But the last singularity explains the 
first, as I intimated once before : you, with your gravity, 
considerateness, and caution, were made to be the recipient 
of secrets. Besides, I know what sort of a mind I have 
placed in communication with my own : I know it is one not 
liable to take infection : it is a peculiar mind ; it is an 
unique one. Happily I do not mean to harm it : but, if I 
did, it would not take harm from me. The more you and 
I converse, the better ; for while I cannot blight you, you 
may refresh me,' After this digression, he proceeded ; ' I 



172 JANE EYRE 

remained in the balcony. " They will come to her boudoir, 
no doubt," thought I : " let me prepare an ambush." So 
putting my hand in through the open window, I drew the 
curtain over it, leaving only an opening through which I 
could take observations ; then I closed the casement, all but 
a chink just wide enough to furnish an outlet to lovers' 
whispered vows : then I stole back to my chair ; and as I 
resumed it the pair came in. My eye was quickly at the 
aperture. Celine's chambermaid entered, lit a lamp, left it 
on the table, and withdrew. The couple were thus revealed 
to me clearly: both removed their cloaks, and there was 
" the Varens " shining in satin and jewels, my gifts of 
course, and there was her companion in an officer's uniform ; 
and I knew him for a young rou6 of a vicomte a brainless 
and vicious youth whom I had sometimes met in society, 
and had never thought of hating because I despised him so 
absolutely. On recognising him, the fang of the snake, 
jealousy, was instantly broken ; because at the same 
moment my love for Celine sank under an extinguisher. A 
woman who could betray me for such a rival was not worth 
contending for : she deserved only scorn ; less, however, 
than I, who had been her dupe. 

' They began to talk ; their conversation eased me com- 
pletely : frivolous, mercenary, heartless, and senseless, it 
was rather calculated to weary than enrage a listener. 
A card of mine lay on the table ; this being perceived, brought 
my name under discussion. Neither of them possessed 
energy or wit to belabour me soundly ; but they insulted me 
as coarsely as they could in their little way : especially Celine ; 
who even waxed rather brilliant on my personal defects 
deformities she termed them. Now it had been her custom 
to launch out into fervent admiration of what she called my 
" beaut6 male " : wherein she differed diametrically from you, 
who told me point-blank, at the second interview, that you 
did not think me handsome. The contrast struck me at the 
time, and ' 

Adele here came running up again. 



JANE EYKE 173 

' Monsieur, John has just been to say that your agent has 
called and wishes to see you.' 

' Ah ! in that case I must abridge. Opening the window, 
I walked in upon them ; liberated Celine from my protection ; 
gave her notice to vacate her hotel ; offered her a purse for 
immediate exigencies ; disregarded screams, hysterics, prayers, 
protestations, convulsions ; made an appointment with the 
vicomte for a meeting at the Bois de Boulogne. Next 
morning I had the pleasure of encountering him ; left a 
bullet in one of his poor etiolated arms, feeble as the wing of 
a chicken in the pip, and then thought I had done with the 
whole crew. But unluckily the Varens, six months before, 
had given me this filette Adele ; who she affirmed was my 
daughter ; and perhaps she may be, though I see no 
proofs of such grim paternity written in her countenance. 
Pilot is more like me than she. Some years after I had 
broken with the mother she abandoned her child and ran 
away to Italy with a musician or singer. I acknowledged 
no natural claim on Adele's part to be supported by me ; nor 
do I now acknowledge any, for I am not her father; but 
hearing that she was quite destitute, I e'en took the poor 
thing out of the slime and mud of Paris, and transplanted it 
here, to grow up clean in the wholesome soil of an English 
country garden. Mrs. Fairfax found you to train it; but 
now you know that it is the illegitimate offspring of a French 
opera-girl, you will perhaps think differently of your post 
and protegee. You will be coming to me some day with 
notice that you have found another place that you beg me 
to look out for a new governess, &c. eh ? ' 

' No. Adele is not answerable for either her mother's 
faults or yours. I have a regard for her, and now that I 
know she is, in a sense, parentless forsaken by her mother 
and disowned by you, sir I shall cling closer to her than 
before. How could I possibly prefer the spoilt pet of a 
wealthy family, who would hate her governess as a nuisance, 
to a lonely little orphan, who leans towards her as a 
friend?' 



174 JANE EYEE 

' Oh, that is the light in which you view it 1 Well, I 
must go in now ; and you too : it darkens.' 

But I stayed out a few minutes longer with Adele and 
Pilot ran a race with her, and played a game of battledore 
and shuttlecock. When we went in, and I had removed her 
bonnet and coat, I took her on my knee ; kept her there an 
hour, allowing her to prattle as she liked, not rebuking even 
some little freedoms and trivialities into which she was apt 
to stray when much noticed ; and which betrayed in her a 
superficiality of character, inherited probably from her 
mother, hardly congenial to an English mind. Still she had 
her merits ; and I was disposed to appreciate all that was 
good in her to the utmost. I sought in her countenance 
and features a likeness to Mr. Eochester, but found none 
no trait, no turn of expression announced relationship. It 
was a pity : if she could but have been proved to resemble 
him, he would have thought more of her. 

It was not till after I had withdrawn to my own 
chamber for the night that I steadily reviewed the tale 
Mr. Eochester had told me. As he had said, there was 
probably nothing at all extraordinary in the substance of the 
narrative itself a wealthy Englishman's passion for a 
French dancer, and her treachery to him, were everyday 
matters enough, no doubt, in society but there was some- 
thing decidedly strange in the paroxysm of emotion which 
had suddenly seized him, when he was in the act of 
expressing the present contentment of his mood, and his 
newly-revived pleasure in the old hall and its environs. I 
meditated wonderingly on this incident : but gradually 
quitting it, as I found it for the present inexplicable, I turned 
to the consideration of my master's manner to myself. The 
confidence he had thought fit to repose in me seemed a 
tribute to my discretion. I regarded and accepted it as 
such. His deportment had now for some weeks been more 
uniform towards me than at the first. I never seemed in 
his way ; he did not take fits of chilling hauteur ; when he 
met me unexpectedly, the encounter seemed welcome he 



JAN"E tfYBE 175 

had always a word and sometimes a smile for me ; when 
summoned by formal invitation to his presence, I was 
honoured by a cordiality of reception that made me feel I 
really possessed the power to amuse him, and that these 
evening conferences were sought as much for his pleasure as 
for my benefit. 

I, indeed, talked comparatively little ; but I heard him 
talk with relish. It was his nature to be communicative 
he liked to open to a mind unacquainted with the world 
glimpses of its scenes and ways (I do not mean its corrupt 
scenes and wicked ways, but such as derived their interest 
from the great scale on which they were acted, the strange 
novelty by which they were characterised) ; and I had a keen 
delight in receiving the new ideas he offered, in imagining 
the new pictures he portrayed, and following him in thought 
through the new regions he disclosed, never startled or 
troubled by one noxious allusion. 

The ease of his manner freed me from painful restraint ; 
the friendly frankness, as correct as cordial, with which he 
treated me, drew me to him. I felt at times as if he were 
my relation, rather than my master : yet he was imperious 
sometimes still ; but I did not mind that ; I saw it was his 
way. So happy, so gratified did I become with this new 
interest added to life, that I ceased to pine after kindred. 
My thin crescent-destiny seemed to enlarge ; the blanks of 
existence were filled up ; my bodily health improved ; I 
gathered flesh and strength. 

And was Mr. Eochester now ugly in my eyes? No, 
reader. Gratitude, and many associations, all pleasurable 
and genial, made his face the object I best liked to see ; his 
presence in a room was more cheering than the brightest 
fire. Yet I had not forgotten his faults indeed, I could not, 
for he brought them frequently before me. He was proud, 
sardonic, harsh to inferiority of every description. In my 
secret soul I knew that his great kindness to me was balanced 
by unjust severity to many others. He was moody, too 
unaccountably so. I more than once, when sent for to read 



176 JANE EYKE 

to him, found him sitting in his library alone, with his head 
bent on his folded arms ; and, when he looked up, a morose, 
almost a malignant scowl, blackened his features. But I 
believed that his moodiness, his harshness, and his former 
faults of morality (I say former, for now he seemed corrected 
of them) had their source in some cruel cross of fate. I 
believed he was naturally a man of better tendencies, higher 
principles, and purer tastes than such as circumstances had 
developed, education instilled, or destiny encouraged. I 
thought there were excellent materials in him ; though for 
the present they hung together somewhat spoiled and 
tangled. I cannot deny that I grieved for his grief, whatever 
that was, and would have given much to assuage it. 

Though I had now extinguished my candle and was laid 
down in bed, I could not sleep for thinking of his look when 
he paused in the avenue, and told how his destiny had risen 
up before him, and dared him to be happy at Thornfield. 

1 Why not ? ' I asked myself. ' What alienates him from 
the house ? Will he leave it again soon ? Mrs. Fairfax said 
he seldom stayed here longer than a fortnight at a time, and 
he has now been resident eight weeks. If he does go, the 
change will be doleful. Suppose he should be absent spring, 
summer, and autumn : how joyless sunshine and fine days 
will seem.' 

I hardly know whether I had slept or not after this 
musing; at any rate, I started wide awake on hearing a 
vague murmur, peculiar and lugubrious, which sounded, I 
thought, just above me. I wished I had kept my candle 
burning : the night was drearily dark ; my spirits were 
depressed. I rose and sat up in bed, listening. The sound 
was hushed. 

I tried again to sleep ; but my heart beat anxiously : my 
inward tranquillity was broken. The clock, far down in the 
hall, stnick two. Just then it seemed my chamber-door was 
touched ; as if fingers had swept the panels in groping a way 
along the dark gallery outside. I said, ' Who is there ? ' 
Nothing answered. I was chilled with fear, 



JANE EYEE 177 

All at once I remembered that it might be Pilot : who, 
when the kitchen-door chanced to be left open, not unfre- 
quently found his way up to the threshold of Mr. Rochester's 
chamber : I had seen him lying there myself, in the mornings. 
The idea calmed me somewhat : I lay down. Silence com- 
poses the nerves ; and as an unbroken hush now reigned 
again through the whole house, I began to feel the return of 
slumber. But it was not fated that I should sleep that 
night. A dream had scarcely approached my ear, when it 
fled affrighted, scared by a marrow-freezing incident enough. 

This was a demoniac laugh low, suppressed, and deep 
uttered, as it seemed, at the very key-hole of my chamber- 
door. The head of my bed was near the door, and I thought 
at first the goblin-laugher stood at my bedside or rather, 
crouched by my pillow : but I rose, looked round, and could 
see nothing ; while, as I still gazed, the unnatural sound 
was reiterated : and I knew it came from behind the panels. 
My first impulse was to rise and fasten the bolt ; my next 
again, to cry out, ' Who is there ? ' 

Something gurgled and moaned. Ere long, steps 
retreated up the gallery towards the third story staircase : a 
door had lately been made to shut in that staircase ; I heard 
it open and close, and all was still. 

1 Was that Grace Poole ? and is she possessed with a 
devil ? ' thought I. Impossible now to remain longer by 
myself : I must go to Mrs. Fairfax. I hurried on my frock 
and a shawl ; I withdrew the bolt, and opened the door with 
a trembling hand. There was a candle burning just outside, 
left on the matting in the gallery. I was surprised at this 
circumstance : but still more was I amazed to perceive 
the air quite dim, as if filled with smoke ; and, while look- 
ing to the right hand and left, to find whence these blue 
wreaths issued, I became further aware of a strong smell of 
burning. 

Something creaked : it was a door ajar ; and that door 
was Mr. Rochester's, and the smoke rushed in a cloud from 
thence. , I thought no more of Mrs. Fairfax ; I thought no 



178 JANE EYRE 

more of Grace Poole or the laugh : in an instant, I waa 
within the chamber. Tongues of flame darted round the 
bed : the curtains were on fire. In the midst of blaze and 
vapour, Mr. Rochester lay stretched motionless, in deep 
sleep. 

' Wake ! wake ! ' I cried I shook him, but he only 
murmured and turned : the smoke had stupefied him. Not 
a moment could be lost : the very sheets were kindling. I 
rushed to his basin and ewer; fortunately, one was wide 
and the other deep, and both were filled with water. I 
heaved them up, deluged the bed and its occupant, flew back 
to my own room, brought my own water-jug, baptized the 
couch afresh, and, by God's aid, succeeded in extinguishing 
the flames which were devouring it. 

The hiss of the quenched element, the breakage of a 
pitcher which I flung from my hand when I had emptied it, 
and, above all, the splash of the shower-bath I had liberally 
bestowed, roused Mr. Rochester at last. Though it was 
now dark, I knew he was awake ; because I heard him 
fulminating strange anathemas at finding himself lying in a 
pool of water. 

' Is there a flood ? ' he cried. 

1 No, sir/ I answered , ' but there has been a fire : get up, 
do, you are quenched now , I will fetch you a candle.' 

'In the name of all the elves in Christendom, is that 
Jane Eyre ? ' he demanded. ' What have you done with me, 
witch, sorceress ? Who is in the room beside you ? Have 
you plotted to drown me ? ' 

' I will fetch you a candle, sir ; and, in Heaven's name, get 
up. Somebody has plotted something : you cannot too soon 
find out who and what it is.' 

' There I am up now ; but at your peril you fetch a 
candle yet : wait two minutes till I get into some dry gar- 
ments, if any dry there be yes, here is my dressing-gown. 
Now run ! ' 

I did run ; I brought the candle which still remained in 
the gallery. He took it from my hand, held it up, and 



JANE EYEE 179 

surveyed the bed, all blackened and scorched, the sheets 
drenched, the carpet round swimming in water. 

' What is it ? and who did it ? ' he asked. 

I briefly related to him what had transpired : the strange 
laugh I had heard in the gallery : the step ascending to the 
third story ; the smoke, the smell of fire which had con- 
ducted me to his room ; in what state I had found matters 
there, and how I had deluged him with all the water I could 
lay hands on. 

He listened very gravely ; his face, as I went on, ex- 
pressed more concern than astonishment ; he did not im- 
mediately speak when I had concluded. 

' Shall I call Mrs. Fairfax ? ' I asked. 

' Mrs. Fairfax ? No : what the deuce would you call her 
for? What can she do ? Let her sleep unmolested.' 

' Then I will fetch Leah, and wake John and his wife.' 

' Not at all : just be still. You have a shawl on ? If you 
are not warm enough, you may take my cloak yonder ; wrap 
it about you, and sit down in the arm-chair : there, I will 
put it on. Now place your feet on the stool, to keep them 
out of the wet. I am going to leave you a few minutes. I 
shall take the candle. Bemain where you are till I return : 
be as still as a mouse. I must pay a visit to the third story. 
Don't move, remember, or call any one.' 

He went : I watched the light withdraw. He passed up 
the gallery very softly, unclosed the staircase door with as 
little noise as possible, shut it after him, and the last ray 
vanished. I was left in total darkness. I listened for some 
noise, but heard nothing. A very long time elapsed. I 
grew weary : it was cold, in spite of the cloak ; and then I 
did not see the use of staying, as I was not to rouse the 
house. I was on the point of risking Mr. Eochester's dis- 
pleasure, by disobeying his orders, when the light once more 
gleamed dimly on the gallery-wall, and I heard his unshod 
feet tread the matting. ' I hope it is he,' thought I, ' and 
not something worse.' 

He re-entered, pale and very gloomy. ' I have found it 



180 JAtffi 

all out," said he, setting his candle down on the wash-stand ; 
1 it is as I thought.' 

' How, sir ? ' 

He made no reply, but stood with his arms folded, look- 
ing on the ground. At the end of a few minutes, he inquired 
in rather a peculiar tone : ' I forget whether you said you 
saw anything when you opened your chamber door.' 

1 No, sir, only the candlestick on the ground.' 

' But you heard an odd laugh ? You have heard that 
laugh before, I should think, or something like it ? ' 

' Yes, sir : there is a woman who sews here, called Grace 
Poole she laughs in that way. She is a singular person.' 

' Just so. Grace Poole you have guessed it. She is, as 
you say, singular, very. Well, I shall reflect on the subject. 
Meantime, I am glad that you are the only person, besides 
myself, acquainted with the precise details of to-night's inci- 
dent. You are no talking fool : say nothing about it. I will 
account for this state of affairs (pointing to the bed) : and 
now return to your own room. I shall do very well on the 
sofa in the library for the rest of the night. It is near 
four : in two hours the servants will be up.' 

' Good-night, then, sir,' said I, departing. 

He seemed surprised very inconsistently so, as he had 
just told me to go. 

' What ! ' he exclaimed, ' are you quitting me already : 
and in that way ? ' 

1 You said I might go, sir.' 

' But not without taking leave ; not without a word or two 
ot acknowledgment and good will : not, in short, in that brief, 
dry fashion. Why, you have saved my life ! snatched me 
from a horrible and excruciating death ! and you walk past 
me as if we were mutual strangers ! At least shake hands.' 

He held out his hand ; I gave him mine : he took it first 
in one, then in both his own. 

' You have saved my life : I have a pleasure in owing you 
so immense a debt. I cannot say more. Nothing else that 
has being would have been tolerable to me in the character 



JANE EYEE 181 

of creditor for such an obligation : but you : it is different ; 
I feel your benefits no burden, Jane.' 

He paused ; gazed at me : words almost visible trembled 
on his lips, but his voice was checked. 

' Good night again, sir. There is no debt, benefit, burden, 
obligation, in the case.' 

' I knew,' he continued, ' you would do me good in some 
way, at some time ; I saw it in your eyes when I first beheld 
you : their expression and smile did not (again he stopped) 
did not (he proceeded hastily) strike delight to my very inmost 
heart so for nothing. People talk of natural sympathies ; I 
have heard of good genii there are grains of truth in the 
wildest fable. My cherished preserver, good night ! ' 

Strange energy was in his voice, strange fire in his look. 

' I am glad I happened to be awake,' I said ; and then I 
was going. 

I What ! you will go ? ' 
' I am cold, sir.' 

' Cold ? Yes, and standing in a pool ! Go, then, Jane ; 
go t ' But he still retained my hand, and I could not free 
it. I bethought myself of an expedient. 

I 1 think I hear Mrs. Fairfax move, sir,' said I. 

' Well, leave me.' He relaxed his fingers, and I was 
gone. 

I regained my couch, but never thought of sleep. Till 
morning dawned I was tossed on a buoyant but unquiet sea, 
where billows of trouble rolled under surges of joy. I thought 
sometimes I saw beyond its wild waters a shore, sweet as the 
hills of Beulah ; and now and then a freshening gale wakened 
by hope, bore my spirit triumphantly towards the bourne ; 
but I could not reach it, even in fancy, a counteracting 
breeze blew off land, and continually drove me back. Sense 
would resist delirium, judgment would warn passion. Too 
feverish to rest, I rose as soon as day dawned. 



CHAPTER XVI 

I BOTH wished and feared to see Mr. Rochester on the day 
which followed this sleepless night. I wanted to hear his 
voice again, yet feared to meet his eye. During the early 
part of the morning, I momentarily expected his coming. 
He was not in the frequent habit of entering the school- 
room ; but he did step in for a few minutes sometimes, and 
I had the impression that he was sure to visit it that day. 

But the morning passed just as usual. Nothing happened 
to interrupt the quiet course of Adele's studies ; only, soon 
after breakfast, I heard some bustle in the neighbourhood of 
Mr. Rochester's chamber, Mrs. Fairfax's voice, and Leah's, 
and the cook's that is, John's wife and even John's own 
gruff tones. There were exclamations of, ' What a mercy 
master was not burnt in his bed ! ' ' It is always dangerous 
to keep a candle lit at night.' ' How providential that he 
had presence of mind to think of the water-jug ! ' 'I 
wonder he waked nobody ! ' ' It is to be hoped he will not 
take cold with sleeping on the library sofa,' &c. 

To much confabulation succeeded a sound of scrubbing 
and setting to-rights ; and when I passed the room, in going 
downstairs to dinner, I saw through the open door that all 
was again restored to complete order only the bed was 
stripped of its hangings. Leah stood up in the window-seat, 
rubbing the panes of glass dimmed with smoke. I was 
about to address her, for I wished to know what account 
had been given of the affair ; but, on advancing, I saw a 
second person in the chamber a woman sitting on a chair 
by the bedside, and sewing rings to new curtains, That 
woman was no other than Grace Poole, 



JANE EYRE 183 

There she sat, staid and taciturn-looking, as usual, in her 
brown stuff gown, her check apron, white handkerchief, and 
cap. She was intent on her work, in which her whole 
thoughts seemed absorbed. On her hard forehead, and in her 
commonplace features, was nothing either of the paleness or 
desperation one would have expected to see marking the 
countenance of a woman who had attempted murder, and 
whose intended victim had followed her last night to her lair, 
and (as I believed) charged her with the crime she wished 
to perpetrate. I was amazed confounded. She looked up, 
while I still gazed at her : no start, no increase or failure of 
colour betrayed emotion, consciousness of guilt, or fear of 
detection. She said, ' Good morning, Miss,' in her usual 
phlegmatic and brief manner ; and taking up another ring 
and more tape, vent on with her sewing. 

' I will put her to some test," thought I. ' Such absolute 
impenetrability is past comprehension.' 

' Good morning, Grace,' I said. ' Has anything happened 
here ? I thought I heard the servants all talking together a 
while ago.' 

1 Only master had been reading in his bed last night. 
He fell asleep with his candle lit, and the curtains got on 
fire ; but, fortunately, he awoke before the bed-clothes or the 
wood-work caught, and contrived to quench the flame with 
the water in the ewer.' 

' A strange affair ! ' I said, in a low voice ; then, looking 
at her fixedly, ' Did Mr. Eochester wake nobody ? Did no 
one hear him move ? ' 

She again raised her eyes to me ; and this time there was 
something of consciousness in their expression. She seemed 
to examine me warily ; then she answered, ' The servants 
sleep so far off, you know, Miss, they would not be likely to 
hear. Mrs. Fairfax's room and yours are the nearest to 
master's ; but Mrs. Fairfax said she heard nothing : when 
people get elderly, they often sleep heavy.' She paused, and 
then added, with a sort of assumed indifference, but still in 
a marked and significant tone, 'But you are young, Miss, 



184 JANE EYRE 

and I should say a light sleeper. Perhaps you may have 
heard a noise ? ' 

' I did,' said I, dropping my voice, so that Leah, who was 
still polishing the panes, could not hear me, ' and at first I 
thought it was Pilot ; but Pilot cannot laugh, and I am certain 
I heard a laugh, and a strange one.' 

She took a new needleful of thread, waxed it carefully, 
threaded her needle with a steady hand, and then observed, 
with perfect composure, ' It is hardly likely master would 
laugh, I should think, Miss, when he was in such danger: 
you must have been dreaming.' 

' I was not dreaming,' I said, with some warmth, for her 
brazen coolness provoked me. Again she looked at me, and 
with the same scrutinising and conscious eye. 

' Have you told master that you heard a laugh ? ' she 
inquired. 

' I have not had the opportunity of speaking to him this 
morning.' 

' You did not think of opening your door and looking out 
into the gallery ? ' she further asked. 

She appeared to be cross-questioning me attempting to 
draw from me information unawares. The idea struck me 
that if she discovered I knew or suspected her guilt, she 
would be playing off some of her malignant pranks on me. 
I thought it advisable to be on my guard. 

' On the contrary/ said I, ' I bolted my door.' 

' Then you are not in the habit of bolting your door every 
night before you get into bed ? ' 

' Fiend ! she wants to know my habits, that she may lay 
her plans accordingly ! ' Indignation again prevailed over 
prudence ; I replied sharply, ' Hitherto I have often omitted 
to fasten the bolt : I did not think it necessary. I was not 
aware any danger or annoyance was to be dreaded at 
Thornfield Hall ; but in future ' (and I laid marked stress on 
the words) ' I shall take good care to make all secure before 
I venture to lie down.' 

'It will be wise so to do,' was her answer. 'This 



JANE EYRE 185 

neighbourhood is as quiet as any I know, and I never heard 
of the hall being attempted by robbers since it was a house 
though there are hundreds of pounds' worth of plate in the 
plate-closet, as is well known. And you see, for such a large 
house, there are very few servants, because master has never 
lived here much, and when he does come, being a bachelor, 
he needs little waiting on ; but I always think it best to err 
on the safe side : a door is soon fastened, and it is as well to 
have a drawn bolt between one and any mischief that may 
be about. A deal of people, Miss, are for trusting all to 
Providence ; but I say Providence will not dispense with the 
means, though He often blesses them when they are used 
discreetly.' And here she closed her harangue : a long one 
for her, and uttered with the demureness of a Quakeress. 

I still stood absolutely dumfoundered at what appeared 
to me her miraculous self-possession and most inscrutable 
hypocrisy, when the cook entered. 

' Mrs. Poole,' said she, addressing Grace, ' the servants' 
dinner will soon be ready. Will you come down ? ' 

' No. Just put my pint of porter and bit of pudding on 
a tray, and I'll carry it upstairs.' 

' You'll have some meat ? ' 

' Just a morsel, and a taste of cheese, that's all.' 

' And the sago ? ' 

1 Never mind it at present. I shall be coming down before 
tea-time. I'll make it myself.' 

The cook here turned to me, saying that Mrs. Fairfax was 
waiting for me : so I departed. 

I hardly heard Mrs. Fairfax's account of the curtain 
conflagration during dinner, so much was I occupied in 
puzzling my brains over the enigmatical character of Grace 
Poole, and still more in pondering the problem of her position 
at Thornfield ; in questioning why she had not been given 
into custody that morning, or, at the very least, dismissed 
from her master's service. He had almost as much as declared 
his conviction of her criminality last night : what mysterious 
cause withheld him from accusing her ? Why had he enjoined 



186 JANE EYEE 

me, too, to secrecy ? It was strange a bold, vindictive, and 
haughty gentleman seemed somehow in the power of one of 
the meanest of his dependants ; so much in her power, that 
even when she lifted her hand against his life, he dared not 
openly charge her with the attempt, much less punish her 
for it. 

Had Grace been young and handsome, I should have been 
tempted to think that tenderer feelings than prudence or 
fear influenced Mr. Eochester in her behalf; but, hard- 
favoured and matronly as she was, the idea could not be 
admitted. ' Yet,' I reflected, ' she has been young once ; her 
youth would be contemporary with her master's. Mrs. 
Fairfax told me once she had lived here many years. I 
don't think she can ever have been pretty ; but, for aught I 
know, she may possess originality and strength of character 
to compensate for the want of personal advantages. Mr. 
Eochester is an amateur of the decided and eccentric Grace 
is eccentric at least. What if a former caprice (a freak very 
possible to a nature so sudden and headstrong as his) has 
delivered him into her power, and she now exercises over his 
actions a secret influence, the result of his own indiscretion, 
which he cannot shake off, and dare not disregard ? ' But, 
having reached this point of conjecture, Mrs. Poole's square, 
flat figure, and uncomely, dry, even coarse face, recurred so 
distinctly to my mind's eye, that I thought, ' No ; impossible 1 
my supposition cannot be correct. Yet,' suggested the secret 
voice which talks to us in our own hearts, ' you are not 
beautiful either, and perhaps Mr. Eochester approves you 
at any rate, you have often felt as if he did ; and last night 
remember his words ; remember his look ; remember his 
voice ! ' 

I well remembered all language, glance, and tone 
seemed at the moment vividly renewed. I was now in 
the schoolroom. Adele was drawing. I bent over her 
and directed her pencil. She looked up with a sort of 
start. 

' Qu'avez-vous, mademoiselle ? ' said she ; ' Vos doigts 



JANE EYRE 187 

tremblenfc comme la feuille, et vos joues sont rouges : mais, 
rouges comme des cerises ! ' 

' I am hot, Adele, with stooping ! ' She went on sketch- 
ing, I went on thinking. 

I hastened to drive from my mind the hateful notion I 
had been conceiving respecting Grace Poole : it disgusted 
me. I compared myself with her, and found we were 
different. Bessie Leaven had said I was quite a lady ; and 
she spoke truth : I was a lady. And now I looked much 
better than I did when Bessie saw me : I had more colour 
and more flesh ; more life, more vivacity ; because I had 
brighter hopes and keener enjoyments. 

'Evening approaches/ said I, as I looked towards the 
window. ' I have never heard Mr. Eochester's voice or step 
in the house to-day ; but surely I shall see him before night : 
I feared the meeting in the morning: now I desire it, 
because expectation has been so long baffled that it is 
grown impatient.' 

When dusk actually closed, and when Adele left me to 
go and play in the nursery with Sophie, I did most keenly 
desire it. I listened for the bell to ring below ; I listened 
for Leah coming up with a message ; I fancied sometimes I 
heard Mr. Rochester's own tread, and I turned to the door, 
expecting it to open and admit him. The door remained 
shut : darkness only came in through the window. Still it 
was not late : he often sent for me at seven and eight o'clock, 
and it was yet but six. Surely I should not be wholly 
disappointed to-night, when I had so many things to say to 
him ! I wanted again to introduce the subject of Grace 
Poole, and to hear what he would answer ; I wanted to ask 
him plainly if he really believed it was she who had made 
last night's hideous attempt ; and if so, why he kept her 
wickedness a secret. It little mattered whether my curiosity 
irritated him ; I knew the pleasure of vexing and soothing 
him by turns ; it was one I chiefly delighted in, and a sure 
instinct always prevented me from going too far : beyond 
the verge of provocation I never ventured; on the extreme 



183 JANE 

brink I liked well to try my skill. Retaining every minute 
form of respect, every propriety of my station, I could still 
meet him in argument without fear or uneasy restraint : this 
suited both him and me. 

A tread creaked on the stairs at last ; Leah made her 
appearance, but it was only to intimate that tea was ready 
in Mrs. Fairfax's room. Thither I repaired, glad at least to 
go downstairs, for that brought me, I imagined, nearer to 
Mr. Rochester's presence. 

' You must want your tea,' said the good lady, as I joined 
her, 'you ate so little at dinner. I am afraid,' she con- 
tinued, ' you are not well to-day, you look flushed and 
feverish.' 

1 Oh, quite well I I never felt better.' 

1 Then you must prove it by evincing a good appetite ; 
will you fill the tea-pot while I knit off this needle ? ' 
Having completed her task, she rose to draw down the 
blind which she had hitherto kept up, by way, I suppose, of 
making the most of daylight : though dusk was now fast 
deepening into total obscurity. 

' It is fair to-night,' said she, as she looked through the 
panes, ' though not starlight ; Mr. Rochester has, on the 
whole, had a favourable day for his journey.' 

' Journey ! Is Mr. Rochester gone anywhere ? I did 
not know he was out.' 

' Oh, he set off the moment he had breakfasted ! He is 
gone to the Leas, Mr. Eshton's place, ten miles on the other 
side Millcote ; I believe there is quite a party assembled 
there Lord Ingram, Sir George Lynn, Colonel Dent, and 
others.' 

1 Do you expect him back to-night ? ' 

' No nor to-morrow either ; I should think he is very 
likely to stay a week or more. When these fine, fashionable 
people get together, they are so surrounded by elegance and 
gaiety, so well provided with all that can please and entertain, 
they are in no hurry to separate. Gentlemen, especially, are 
often in request on such occasions ; and Mr. Rochester is so 



JANE EYEE 189 

talented and so lively in society, that I believe he is a general 
favourite the ladies are very fond of him though you 
would not think his appearance calculated to recommend him 
particularly in their eyes ; but I suppose his acquirements 
and abilities, perhaps his wealth and good blood, make 
amends for any little fault of look.' 

' Are there ladies at the Leas ? ' 

' There are Mrs. Eshton and her three daughters very 
elegant young ladies, indeed ; and there are the Honourable 
Blanche and Mary Ingram most beautiful women, I sup- 
pose : indeed, I have seen Blanche, six or seven years since, 
when she was a girl of eighteen. She came here to a Christ- 
mas ball and party Mr. Kochester gave. You should have 
seen the dining-room that day how richly it was decorated, 
how brilliantly lit up ! I should think there were fifty ladies 
and gentlemen present all of the first county families ; and 
Miss Ingram was considered the belle of the evening.' 

' You saw her, you say, Mrs. Fairfax : what was she 
like?' 

' Yes, I saw her. The dining-room doors were thrown 
open, and, as it was Christmas-time, the servants were 
allowed to assemble in the hall, to hear some of the ladies 
sing and play. Mr. Eochester would have me to come in, 
and I sat down in a quiet corner and watched them. I 
never saw a more splendid scene : the ladies were magnifi- 
cently dressed ; most of them at least most of the younger 
ones looked handsome, but Miss Ingram was certainly the 
queen.' 

' And what was she like ? ' 

' Tall, fine bust, sloping shoulders, long, graceful neck ; 
olive complexion, dark and clear ; noble features ; eyes 
rather like Mr. Bochester's, large and black, and as brilliant 
as her jewels. And then she had such a fine head of hair, 
raven-black, and so becomingly arranged ; a crown of thick 
plaits behind, and in front the longest, the glossiest curls I 
ever saw. She was dressed in pure white, an amber-coloured 
scarf was passed over her shoulder and across her breast, tied 



190 JANE EYEE 

at the side, and descending in long, fringed ends below her 
knee. She wore an amber-coloured flower, too, in her hair : 
it contrasted well with the jetty mass of her curls.' 

1 She was greatly admired, of course ? ' 

1 Yes, indeed, and not only for her beauty, but for her 
accomplishments. She was one of the ladies who sang ; a 
gentleman accompanied her on the piano. She and Mr. 
Eochester sang a duet.' 

' Mr. Eochester ? I was not aware he could sing.' 

1 Oh ! he has a fine bass voice, and an excellent taste for 
music.' 

' And Miss Ingram, what sort of a voice had she ? ' 

' A very rich and powerful one she sang delightfully 
it was a treat to listen to her ; and she played afterwards. 
I am no judge of music, but Mr. Eochester is, and I heard 
him say her execution was remarkably good.' 

' And this beautiful and accomplished lady is not yet 
married ? ' 

' It appears not : I fancy neither she nor her sister have 
very large fortunes. Old Lord Ingram's estates were chiefly 
entailed, and the eldest son came in for everything almost.' 

' But I wonder no wealthy nobleman or gentleman has 
taken a fancy to her : Mr. Eochester, for instance. He is 
rich, is he not ? ' 

' Oh 1 yes. But you see there is a considerable difference 
in age : Mr. Eochester is near forty ; she is but twenty-five.' 

' What of that ? More unequal matches are made every 
day.' 

' True : yet I should scarcely fancy Mr. Eochester would 
entertain an idea of the sort. But you eat nothing : you 
have scarcely tasted since you began tea.' 

' No : I am too thirsty to eat. Will you let me have 
another cup ? ' 

I was about again to revert to the probability of a union 
between Mr. Eochester and the beautiful Blanche ; but Adele 
came in, and the conversation was turned into another 
channel. 



JANE EYBE 191 

When once more alone, I reviewed the information I 
had got; looked into my heart, examined its thoughts 
and feelings, and endeavoured to bring back with a strict 
hand such as had been straying through imagination's 
boundless and trackless waste, into the safe fold of common 
sense. 

Arraigned at my own bar, Memory having given her 
evidence of the hopes, wishes, sentiments I had been cherish- 
ing since last night of the general state of mind in which I 
had indulged for nearly a fortnight past ; Keason having come 
forward and told in her own quiet way, a plain, unvarnished 
tale, showing how I had rejected the real, and rabidly 
devoured the ideal ; I pronounced judgment to this effect : 
That a greater fool than Jane Eyre had never breathed the 
breath of life : that a more fantastic idiot had never surfeited 
herself on sweet lies, and swallowed poison as if it were 
nectar. 

' You' I said, ' a favourite with Mr. Eochester ? You 
gifted with the power of pleasing him ? You of importance 
to him in any way ? Go ! your folly sickens me. And you 
have derived pleasure from occasional tokens of preference 
equivocal tokens, shown by a gentleman of family, and a 
man of the world, to a dependant and a novice. How dared 
you ? Poor stupid dupe ! Could not even self-interest make 
you wiser ? You repeated to yourself this morning the brief 
scene of last night ? Cover your face and be ashamed ! 
He said something in praise of your eyes, did he ? Blind 
puppy ! Open their bleared lids and look on your own 
accursed senselessness ! It does good to no woman to be 
flattered by her superior, who cannot possibly intend to 
marry her ; and it is madness in all women to let a secret 
love kindle within them, which, if unreturned and unknown, 
must devour the life that feeds it ; and, if discovered and 
responded to, must lead, ignis-fatuus-like, into miry wilds, 
whence there is no extrication. 

'Listen, then, Jane Eyre, to your sentence : to-morrow, 
place the glass before you, and draw in chalk your own 



192 JANE EYRE 

picture, faithfully; without softening one defect: omit no 
harsh line, smooth away no displeasing irregularity ; write 
under it, " Portrait of a Governess, disconnected, poor, and 
plain." 

' Afterwards, take a piece of smooth ivory you have one 
prepared in your drawing-box : take your palette, mix your 
freshest, finest, clearest tints ; choose your most delicate 
camel-hair pencils ; delineate carefully the loveliest face you 
can imagine ; paint it in your softest shades and sweetest 
hues, according to the description given by Mrs. Fairfax of 
Blanche Ingram : remember the raven ringlets, the Oriental 
eye ; what ! you revert to Mr. Rochester as a model ! 
Order ! No snivel ! no sentiment ! no regret ! I will 
endure only sense and resolution. Recall the august yet 
harmonious lineaments, the Grecian neck and bust : let the 
round and dazzling arm be visible, and the delicate hand ; 
omit neither diamond ring nor gold bracelet ; portray faith- 
fully the attire, aerial lace and glistening satin, graceful 
scarf and golden rose : call it " Blanche, an accomplished 
lady of rank." 

' Whenever, in future, you should chance to fancy Mr. 
Rochester thinks well of you, take out these two pictures 
and compare them : say, " Mr. Rochester might probably 
win that noble lady's love, if he chose to strive for it ; is it 
likely he would waste a serious thought on this indigent 
and insignificant plebeian ? " 

1 I'll do it,' I resolved : and having framed this determina- 
tion, I grew calm, and fell asleep. 

I kept my word. An hour or two sufficed to sketch my 
own portrait in crayons ; and in less than a fortnight I had 
completed an ivory miniature of an imaginary Blanche 
Ingram. It looked a lovely face enough, and when compared 
with the real head in chalk, the contrast was as great as self- 
oontrol could desire. I derived benefit from the task : it had 
kept my head and hands employed, and had given force and 
fixedness to the new impressions I wished to stamp indelibly 
on my heart. 



JANE EYKE 193 

Ere long, I had reason to congratulate myself on the 
course of wholesome discipline to which I had thus forced 
my feelings to submit: thanks to it, I was able to meet 
subsequent occurrences with a decent calm; which, had 
they found me unprepared, I should probably have been 
unequal to maintain, even externally. 

o 



CHAPTER XVII 

A WEEK passed, and uo news arrived of Mr. Rochester : ten 
days, and still he did not come. Mrs. Fairfax said she 
should not be surprised if he were to go straight from the 
Leas to London, and thence to the continent and not show 
his face again at Thornfield for a year to come : he had not 
unfrequently quitted it in a manner quite as abrupt and 
unexpected. When I heard this I was beginning to feel a 
strange chill and failing at the heart. I was actually per- 
mitting myself to experience a sickening sense of disappoint- 
ment : but rallying my wits, and recollecting my principles, I 
at once called my sensations to order ; and it was wonderful 
how I got over the temporary blunder how I cleared up the 
mistake of supposing Mr. Rochester's movements a matter in 
which I had any cause to take a vital interest. Not that I 
humbled myself by a slavish notion of inferiority : on the 
contrary, I just said ' You have nothing to do with the 
master of Thornfield, further than to receive the salary he 
gives you for teaching his protegee, and to be grateful for such 
respectful and kind treatment as, if you do your duty, you 
have a right to expect at his hands. Be sure that is the only 
tie he seriously acknowledges between you and him : so don't 
make him the object of your fine feelings, your raptures, 
agonies, and so forth. He is not of your order : keep to your 
caste, and be too self-respecting to lavish the love of the 
whole heart, soul, and strength, where such a gift is not 
wanted and would be despised.' 

I went on with my day's business tranquilly, but ever 
and anon vague suggestions kept wandering across my brain 
of reasons why I should quit Thornfield ; and I kept in- 



JANE EYEE 195 

voluntarily framing advertisements and pondering conjectures 
about new situations ; these thoughts I did not think it 
necessary to check ; they might germinate and bear fruit if 
they could. 

Mr. Eochester had been absent upwards of a fortnight, 
when the post brought Mrs. Fairfax a letter. 

1 It is from the master,' said she as she looked at the 
direction. ' Now I suppose we shall know whether we are 
to expect his return or not.' 

And while she broke the seal and perused the document, 
I went on taking my coffee (we were at breakfast) ; it was 
hot, and I attributed to that circumstance a fiery glow which 
suddenly rose to my face. Why my hand shook, and why I 
involuntarily spilt half the contents of my cup into my 
saucer, I did not choose to consider. 

' Well I sometimes think we are too quiet ; but we run 
a chance of being busy enough now : for a little while at 
least,' said Mrs. Fairfax, still holding the note before her 
spectacles. 

Ere I permitted myself to request an explanation, I tied 
the string of Adele's pinafore, which happened to be loose : 
having helped her also to another bun, and refilled her mug 
with milk, I said, nonchalantly : ' Mr. Eochester is not 
likely to return soon, I suppose ? ' 

' Indeed, he is in three days, he says ; that will be next 
Thursday ; and not alone either. I don't know how many of 
the fine people at the Leas are coming with him. He sends 
directions for all the best bedrooms to be prepared ; and the 
library and drawing-rooms are to be cleaned out ; and I am 
to get more kitchen hands from the George Inn, at Millcote, 
and from wherever else I can ; and the ladies will bring their 
maids and the gentlemen their valets : so we shall have a 
full house of it.' And Mrs. Fairfax swallowed her breakfast 
and hastened away to commence operations. 

The three days were, as she had foretold, busy enough. I 
had thought all the rooms at Thornfield beautifully clean and 
well-arranged, but it appears I was mistaken. Three women 



196 JANE EYKE 

were got to help ; and such scrubbing, such brushing, such 
washing of paint and beating of carpets, such taking down 
and putting up of pictures, such polishing of mirrors and 
lustres, such lighting of fires in bedrooms, such airing of 
sheets and feather-beds on hearths, I never beheld either 
before or since. Adele ran quite wild in the midst of it : the 
preparations for company, and the prospect of their arrival, 
seemed to throw her into ecstacies. She would have Sophie 
to look over all her ' toilettes,' as she called frocks ; to furbish 
up any that were ' passees,' and to air and arrange the new. 
For herself, she did nothing but caper about in the front 
chambers, jump on and off the bedsteads, and lie on the mat- 
tresses and piled-up bolsters and pillows before the enormous 
fires roaring in the chimneys. From school duties she 
was exonerated : Mrs. Fairfax had pressed me into her 
service, and I was all day in the storeroom, helping (or 
hindering) her and the cook ; learning to make custards and 
cheesecakes and French pastry, to truss game and garnish 
dessert dishes. 

The party were expected to arrive on Thursday afternoon, 
in time for dinner at six. During the intervening period I 
had no time to nurse chimeras ; and I believe I was as active 
and gay as anybody Adele excepted. Still, now and then, 
I received a damping check to my cheerfulness ; and was, in 
spite of myself, thrown back on the region of doubts and 
portents, and dark conjectures. This was when I chanced to 
see the third story staircase door (which of late had always 
been kept locked) open slowly, and give passage to the form 
of Grace Poole, in prim cap, white apron, and handkerchief ; 
when I watched her glide along the gallery, her quiet tread 
muffled in a list slipper ; when I saw her look into the 
bustling, topsy-turvy bedrooms, just say a word, perhaps, 
to the charwoman about the proper way to polish a grate, or 
clean a marble mantelpiece, or take stains from papered 
walls, and then pass on. She would thus descend to the 
kitchen once a day, eat her dinner, smoke a moderate- pipe 
on the hearth, and go back, carrying her pot of porter with 



her, for her private solace, in her own gloomy, upper haunt. 
Only one hour in the twenty-four did she pass with her 
fellow- servants below ; all the rest of her time was spent in 
some low-ceiled, oaken chamber of the third story : there she 
sat and sewed and probably laughed drearily to herself 
as companionless as a prisoner in his dungeon. 

The strangest thing of all was, that not a soul in the 
house, except me, noticed her habits, or seemed to marvel at 
them ; no one discussed her position or employment ; no one 
pitied her solitude or isolation. I once, indeed, overheard 
part of a dialogue between Leah and one of the charwomen, 
of which Grace formed the subject. Leah had been saying 
something I had not caught, and the charwomen remarked 
' She gets good wages, I guess ? ' 

' Yes,' said Leah ; ' I wish I had as good ; not that mine 
are to complain of, there's no stinginess at Thornfield ; but 
they're not one-fifth of the sum Mrs. Poole receives. And 
she is laying by : she goes every quarter to the bank at 
Millcote. I should not wonder but she has saved enough to 
keep her independent if she liked to leave ; but I suppose 
she's got used to the place ; and then she's not forty yet, and 
strong and able for anything. It is too soon for her to give 
up business.' 

' She is a good hand, I daresay,' said the charwoman. 

4 Ah ! she understands what she has to do, nobody 
better,' rejoined Leah, significantly ; ' and it is not every one 
could fill her shoes ; not for all the money she gets.' 

4 That it is not ! ' was the reply. ' I wonder whether 
master ' 

The charwoman was going on ; but here Leah turned and 
perceived me, and she instantly gave her companion a 
nudge. 

4 Doesn't she know ? ' I heard the woman whisper. 

Leah shook her head, arid the conversation was of course 
dropped. All I had gathered from it amounted to this, that 
there was a mystery at Thornfield ; and that from participa- 
tion in that mystery I was purposely excluded. 



198 JANE EYEB 

Thursday came : all work had been completed the previous 
evening ; carpets were laid down, bed-hangings festooned, 
radiant white counterpanes spread, toilet-tables arranged, 
furniture rubbed, flowers piled in vases : both chambers and 
saloons looked as fresh and bright as hands could make them. 
The hall, too, was scoured ; and the great carved clock, as 
well as the steps and banisters of the staircase, were polished 
to the brightness of glass : in the dining-room, the sideboard 
flashed resplendent with plate ; in the drawing-room and 
boudoir, vases of exotics bloomed on all sides. 

Afternoon arrived : Mrs. Fairfax assumed her best black 
satin gown, her gloves, and her gold watch ; for it was her 
part to receive the company to conduct the ladies to their 
rooms, &c. Adele, too, would be dressed : though I thought 
that she had little chance of being introduced to the party 
that day, at least. However, to please her, I allowed Sophie 
to apparel her in one of her short, full muslin frocks. For 
myself, I had no need to make any change ; I should not be 
called upon to quit my sanctum of the schoolroom; for a 
sanctum it was now become to me ' a very pleasant refuge 
in time of trouble.' 

It had been a mild, serene spring day ; one of those days 
which, towards the end of March or the beginning of April, 
rise shining over the earth as heralds of summer. It was 
drawing to an end now ; but the evening was even warm, 
and I sat at work in the schoolroom with the window 
open. 

' It gets late,' said Mrs. Fairfax, entering in rustling state. 
' I am glad I ordered dinner an hour after the time Mr. 
Eochester mentioned ; for it is past six now. I have sent 
John down to the gates to see if there is anything on the 
road : one can see a long way from thence in the direction 
of Millcote.' She went to the window. ' Here he is ! ' said 
she. ' Well, John ' (leaning out), ' any news ? ' 

' They're coming, ma'am,' was the answer. ' They'll be 
here in ten minutes.' 

Adele flew to the window. I followed; taking care to 



JANE EYEE 199 

stand on one side, so that, screened by the curtain, I could 
see without being seen. 

The ten minutes John had given seemed very long, but 
at last wheels were heard ; four equestrians galloped up the 
drive, and after them came two open carriages. Fluttering 
veils and waving plumes filled the vehicles ; two of the 
cavaliers were young, dashing-looking gentlemen ; the third 
was Mr. Rochester, on his black horse, Mesrour ; Pilot 
bounding before him : at his side rode a lady, and he 
and she were the first of the party. Her purple riding- 
habit almost swept the ground, her veil streamed long on the 
breeze; mingling with its transparent folds, and gleaming 
through them, shone rich raven ringlets. 

' Miss Ingram ! ' exclaimed Mrs. Fairfax, and away she 
hurried to her post below. 

The cavalcade, following the sweep of the drive, quickly 
turned the angle of the house, and I lost sight of it. Adele 
now petitioned to go down ; but I took her on my knee and 
gave her to understand that she must not on any account 
think of venturing in sight of the ladies, either now or at any 
other time, unless expressly sent for; that Mr. Eochester 
would be very angry, &c. ' Some natural tears she shed ' on 
being told this ; but as I began to look very grave, she 
consented at last to wipe them. 

A joyous stir was now audible in the hall ; gentlemen's 
deep tones and ladies' silvery accents blent harmoniously 
together, and distinguishable above all, though not loud, was 
the sonorous voice of the master of Thornfield Hall, welcom- 
ing his fair and gallant guests under its roof. Then light 
steps ascended the stairs ; and there was a tripping through 
the gallery, and soft cheerful laughs, and opening and closing 
doors, and, for a time, a hush. 

' Elles changent de toilettes,' said Adele ; who, listen- 
ing attentively had followed every movement ; and she 
sighed. 

Chez maman,' said she, ' quand il y avait du monde, je 
le suivais partout, au salon et & leurs chambres ; souvent je 



200 JANE EYEE 

regardais les femmes de chambre coiffer et habiller les dames, 
et c't'-tai t si amusant : comme cela on apprend.' 

' Don't you feel hungry, Adele ? ' 

4 Mais oui, mademoiselle : voila cinq ou six heures que 
nous n'avons pas mangeV 

' Well now, while the ladies are in their rooms, I will 
venture down and get you something to eat.' 

And issuing from my asylum with precaution, I sought a 
backstairs which conducted directly to the kitchen. All in 
that region was fire and commotion ; the soup and fish were 
in the last stage of projection, and the cook hung over her 
crucibles in a frame of mind and body threatening sponta- 
neous combustion. In the servants' hall two coachmen and 
three gentlemen's gentlemen stood or sat round the fire ; the 
Abigails, I suppose, were upstairs with their mistresses : the 
new servants that had been hired from Millcote were bustling 
about everywhere. Threading this chaos, I at last reached 
the larder ; there I took possession of a cold chicken, a roll 
of bread, some tarts, a plate or two, and a knife and fork : 
with this booty I made a hasty retreat. I had regained the 
gallery, and was just shutting the back-door behind me, when 
an accelerated hum warned me that the ladies were about to 
issue from their chambers. I could not proceed to the 
schoolroom without passing some of their doors, and running 
the risk of being surprised with my cargo of victualage; 
so I stood -still at this end, which, being windowless, was 
dark : quite dark now, for the sun was set and twilight 
gathering. 

Presently the chambers gave up their fair tenants one 
after another ; each came out gaily and airily, with dress 
that gleamed lustrous through the dusk. For a moment 
they stood grouped together at the other extremity of the 
gallery, conversing in a key of sweet subdued vivacity ; they 
then descended the staircase almost as noiselessly as a bright 
mist rolls down a hill. Their collective appearance had left 
on me an impression of high-born elegance, such as I had 
never before received, 



JANE EYRE 201 

I found Adele peeping through the schoolroom door, 
which she held ajar. ' What beautiful ladies ! ' cried she 
in English. ' Oh, I wish I might go to them ! Do you 
think Mr. Rochester will send for us by-and-by, after 
dinner ? ' 

' No, indeed, I don't ; Mr. Rochester has something else 
to think about. Never mind the ladies to-night; perhaps 
you will see them to-morrow ; here is your dinner.' 

She was really hungry, so the chicken and tarts served 
to divert her attention for a time. It was well I secured 
this forage ; or both she, I and Sophie, to whom I con- 
veyed a share of our repast, would have run a chance 
of getting no dinner at all : every one downstairs was 
too much engaged to think of us. The dessert was not 
carried out till after nine ; and at ten footmen were still 
running to and fro with trays and coffee-cups. I allowed 
Adele to sit up much later than usual; for she declared 
she could not possibly go to sleep while the doors kept 
opening and shutting below, and people bustling about. 
Besides, she added, a message might possibly come from 
Mr. Rochester when she was undressed; 'et alors quel 
dommage ! ' 

I told her stories as long as she would listen to them; 
and then for a change I took her out into the gallery. The 
hall lamp was now lit, and it amused her to look over the 
balustrade and watch the servants passing backwards and 
forwards. When the evening was far advanced, a sound of 
music issued from the drawing-room, whither the piano had 
been removed. Adele and I sat down on the top step of the 
stairs to listen. Presently a voice blent with the rich tones 
of the instrument ; it was a lady who sang, and very sweet 
her notes were. The solo over, a duet followed, and then a 
glee : a joyous conversational murmur filled up the intervals. 
I listened long : suddenly I discovered that my ear was 
wholly intent on analysing the mingled sounds, and trying 
to discriminate amidst the confusion of accents those of 
Mr. Rochester ; and when it caught them, which it soon did, 



202 JANE EYRE 

it found a further task in framing thet ones, rendered by 
distance inarticulate, into words. 

The clock struck eleven. I locked at Adele, whose head 
leant against my shoulder ; her eyes were waxing heavy, 
so I took her up in my arms and carried her off to bed. It 
was near one before the gentlemen and ladies sought their 
chambers. 

The next day was as fine as its predecessor ; it was 
devoted by the party to an excursion to some sight in the 
neighbourhood. They set out early in the forenoon, some 
on horseback, the rest in carriages ; I witnessed both the 
departure and the return. Miss Ingram, as before, was the 
only lady equestrian ; and, as before, Mr. Eochester galloped 
at her side ; the two rode a little apart from the rest. I 
pointed out this circumstance to Mrs. Fairfax, who was 
standing at the window with me : 

'You said it was not likely they should think of being 
married,' said I, 'but you see Mr. Rochester evidently 
prefers her to any of the other ladies.' 

' Yes ; I daresay : no doubt he admires her.' 

1 And she him,' I added ; ' look how she leans her head 
towards him as if she were conversing confidentially; I 
wish I could see her face ; I have never had a glimpse of 
it yet.' 

' You will see her this evening,' answered Mrs. Fairfax. 
1 1 happened to remark to Mr. Rochester how much Adele 
wished to be introduced to the ladies, and he said : ' Oh ! let 
her come into the drawing-room after dinner ; and request 
Miss Eyre to accompany her.' 

' Yes he said that from mere politeness : I need not go, 
I am sure,' I answered. 

'Well, I observed to him that as you were unused to 
company, I did not think you would like appearing before 
so gay a party all strangers and he replied, in his quick 
way : " Nonsense ! If she objects, tell her it is my particular 
wish ; and if she resists, say I shall come and fetch her in 
case of contumacy." ' 



JANE EYEE 203 

4 1 will not give him that trouble/ I answered. ' I will 
go, if no better may be : but I don't like it. Shall you be 
there, Mrs. Fairfax ? ' 

' No ; I pleaded off, and he admitted my plea. I'll tell 
you how to manage so as to avoid the embarrassment of 
making a formal entrance, which is the most disagreeable 
part of the business. You must go into the drawing-room 
while it is empty, before the ladies leave the dinner-table ; 
choose your seat in any quiet nook you like ; you need not 
stay long after the gentlemen come in, unless you please : 
just let Mr. Bochester see you are there and then slip away 
nobody will notice you.' 

' Will these people remain long, do you think ? ' 

1 Perhaps two or three weeks ; certainly not more. After 
the Easter recess, Sir George Lynn, who was lately elected 
member for Millcote, will have to go up to town and take 
his seat ; I daresay Mr. Eochester will accompany him : it 
surprises me that he has already made so protracted a stay 
at Thornfield.' 

It was with some trepidation that I perceived the hour 
approach when I was to repair with my charge to the draw- 
ing-room. Adele had been in a state of ecstasy all day, after 
hearing she was to be presented to the ladies in the evening ; 
and it was not till Sophie commenced the operation of dress- 
ing her that she sobered down. Then the importance of the 
process quickly steadied her ; and by the time she had her 
curls arranged in .well-smoothed,, drooping clusters, her pink 
satin frock put on, her long sash tied, and her lace mittens 
adjusted, she looked as grave as any judge. N,o need to warn 
her not to disarrange her attire : when, she was dressed, she 
sat demurely down in her little chair, taking care previously 
to lift up the satin skirt for fear she should crease it, and 
assured me she would not stir thence till I was ready. This 
I quickly was ; my best dress (the silver-grey one, purchased 
for Miss Temple's wedding, and never worn since) was soon 
put on ; my hair was soon smoothed ; my sole ornament, 
the pearl brooch, soon assumed. We descended. m .. 



204 JANE EYRE 

Fortunately there was another entrance to the drawing- 
room than that through the saloon where they were all 
seated at dinner. We found the apartment vacant, a large 
fire burning silently on the marble hearth, and wax candles 
shining in bright solitude, amid the exquisite flowers with 
which the tables were adorned. The crimson curtain hung 
before the arch : slight as was the separation this drapery 
formed from the party in the adjoining saloon, they spoke in 
so low a key that nothing of their conversation could be dis- 
tinguished beyond a soothing murmur. 

Adele, who appeared to be still under the influence of a 
most solemnising impression, sat down, without a word, on 
the footstool I pointed out to her. I retired to a window- 
seat, and, taking a book from a table near, endeavoured to 
read. Adele brought her stool to my feet ; ere long she 
touched my knee. 

1 What is it, Adele ? ' 

' Est-ce que je ne puis pas prendre une seule de ces fleurs 
magnifiques, mademoiselle ? Seulement pour computer ma 
toilette.' 

' You think too much of your " toilette," Adele, but you 
may have a flower.' And I took a rose from a vase and 
fastened it in her sash. She sighed a sigh of ineffable 
satisfaction, as if her cup of happiness were now full. I 
turned my face away to conceal a smile I could not suppress : 
there was something ludicrous as well as painful in the little 
Parisienne's earnest and innate devotion to matters of dress. 

A soft sound of rising now became audible ; the curtain 
was swept back from the arch ; through it appeared the 
dining-room, with its lit lustre pouring down light on the 
silver and glass of a magnificent dessert-service covering a 
long table ; a band of ladies stood in the opening ; they 
entered, and the curtain fell behind them. 

There were but eight, yet somehow as they flocked in, 
they gave the impression of a much larger number. Some of 
them were very tall, many were dressed in white, and all had a 
sweeping amplitude of array that seemed to magnify their 



JANE EtfRE 

persons as a mist magnifies the moon. I rose and curtseyed 
to them ; one or two bent their heads in return, the others 
only stared at me. 

They dispersed about the room, reminding me, by the 
lightness and buoyancy of their movements, of a flock of 
white plumy birds. Some of them threw themselves in 
half -reclining positions on the sofas and ottomans, some bent 
over the tables and examined the flowers and books, the rest 
gathered in a group round the fire all talked in a low but 
clear tone which seemed habitual to them. I knew their 
names afterwards, and may as well mention them now. 

First there was Mrs. Eshton and two of her daughters. 
She had evidently been a handsome woman, and was well pre- 
served still. Of her daughters, the eldest, Amy, was rather 
little ; naive, and childlike in face and manner, and piquant 
in form : her white muslin dress and blue sash became her 
well. The second, Louisa, was taller and more elegant in 
figure, with a very pretty face, of that order the French term 
' minois chiffonn6 ' : both sisters were fair as lilies. 

Lady Lynn was a large and stout personage of about 
forty, very erect, very haughty-looking, richly dressed in a 
satin robe of changeful sheen : her dark hair shone glossily 
under the shade of an azure plume, and within the circlet of 
a band of gems. 

Mrs. Colonel Dent was less showy, but, I thought, more 
ladylike. She had a slight figure, a pale, gentle face, and 
fair hair. Her black satin dress, her scarf of rich foreign 
lace, and her pearl ornaments, pleased me better than the 
rainbow radiance of the titled dame. 

But the three most distinguished partly, perhaps, 
because the tallest figures of the band were the Dowager 
Lady Ingram and her daughters, Blanche and Mary. 
They were all three of the loftiest stature of woman. 
The dowager might be between forty and fifty ; her shape 
was still fine ; her hair (by candlelight at least) still black ; 
her teeth, too, were still apparently perfect. Most people 
would have termed her a splendid woman of her age : 



206 JANE EYRE 

and so she was, no doubt, physically speaking ; but then there 
was an expression of almost insupportable haughtiness in 
her bearing and countenance. She had Koman features and 
a double chin, disappearing into a throat like a pillar : these 
features appeared to me not only inflated and darkened, but 
even furrowed with pride ; and the chin was sustained 
by the same principle, in a position of almost preternatural 
erectness. She had, likewise, a fierce and a hard eye : it 
reminded me of Mrs. Keed's ; she mouthed her words in 
speaking ; her voice was deep, its inflections very pompous, 
very dogmatical very intolerable, in short. A crimson 
velvet robe, and a shawl turban of some gold-wrought Indian 
fabric, invested her (I suppose she thought) with a truly 
imperial dignity. 

Blanche and Mary were of equal stature straight and 
tall as poplars. Mary was too slim for her height ; but 
Blanche was moulded like a Dian. I regarded her, of 
course, with special interest. First, I wished to see whether 
her appearance accorded with Mrs. Fairfax's description ; 
secondly, whether it at all resembled the fancy miniature I had 
painted of her ; and thirdly it will out ! whether it were 
such as I should fancy likely to suit Mr. Bochester's taste. 

As far as person went, she answered point for point, both 
to my picture and Mrs. Fairfax's description. The noble 
bust, the sloping shoulders, the graceful neck, the dark eyes 
and black ringlets were all there but her face ? Her face 
was like her mother's ; a youthful unfurrowed likeness : 
the same low brow, the same high features, the same pride. 
It was not, however, so saturnine a pride : she laughed con- 
tinually ; her laugh was satirical, and so was the habitual 
expression of her arched and haughty lip. 

Genius is said to be self-conscious : I cannot tell whether 
Miss Ingram was a genius, but she was self-conscious 
remarkably self-conscious indeed. She entered into a dis- 
course on botany with the gentle Mrs. Dent. It seems Mrs. 
Dent had not studied that science : though, as she said, she 
liked flowers, ' especially wild ones ' ; Miss Ingram had, and 



JANE EYKE 207 

she ran over its vocabulary with an air. I presently 
perceived she was (what is vernacularly termed) trailing 
Mrs. Dent; that is playing on her ignorance; her trail 
might be clever, but it was decidedly not good-natured. 
She played ; her execution was brilliant ; she sang ; her 
voice was fine ; she talked French apart to her mamma ; 
and she talked it well, with fluency and with a good accent. 

Mary had a milder and more open countenance than 
Blanche ; softer features too, and a skin some shades fairer 
(Miss Ingram was dark as a Spaniard) but Mary was 
deficient in life ; her face lacked expression, her eye lustre ; 
she had nothing to say, and having once taken her seat, 
remained fixed like a statue in its niche. The sisters were 
both attired in spotless white. * 

And did I now think Miss Ingram such a choice as Mr. 
Eochester would be likely to make ? I could not tell I did 
not know his taste in female beauty. If he liked the majestic, 
she was the very type of majesty : then she was accomplished, 
sprightly. Most gentlemen would admire her, I thought ; 
and that he did admire her, I already seemed to have 
obtained proof : to remove the last shade of doubt, it 
remained but to see them together. 

You are not to suppose, reader, that Adele has all this 
time been sitting, motionless, on the stool at my feet : no ; 
when the ladies entered, she rose, advanced to meet them, 
made a stately reverence, and said, with gravity, 'Bon 
jour, mesdames.' 

And Miss Ingram had looked down at her with a mocking 
air, and exclaimed, ' Oh, what a little puppet ! ' 

Lady Lynn had remarked, ' It is Mr. ^Rochester's ward, 
I suppose the little French girl he was speaking of.' 

Mrs. Dent had kindly taken her hand, and given her a 
kiss. Amy and Louisa Eshton had cried out simul- 
taneously 

' What a love of a child ! ' 

And then they had called her to a sofa, where she now 
sat, ensconced between them, chattering alternately in French 



208 JANE EYBE 

and broken English : absenting not only the young ladies' 
attention, but that of Mrs. Eshton and Lady Lynn, and 
getting spoilt to her heart's content. 

At last coffee is brought in, and the gentlemen are 
summoned. I sit in the shade if any shade there be in this 
brilliantly-lit apartment ; the window curtain half hides me. 
Again the arch yawns : they come. The collective appear- 
ance of the gentlemen, like that of the ladies, is very 
imposing : they are all costumed in black ; most of them are 
tall, some young. Henry and Frederick Lynn are very 
dashing sparks, indeed ; and Colonel Dent is a fine soldierly 
man. Mr. Eshton, the magistrate of the district, is gentle- 
man-like : his hair is quite white, his eyebrows and whiskers 
still dark, which gives him something of the appearance of a 
' pere noble de theatre.' Lord Ingram, like his sisters, is 
very tall ; like them, also, he is handsome ; but he shares 
Mary's apathetic and listless look : he seems to have more 
length of limb than vivacity of blood or vigour of brain. 

And where is Mr. Eochester ? 

He comes in last : I am not looking at the arch, yet I 
see him enter. I try to concentrate my attention on those 
netting-needles, on the meshes of the purse I am forming I 
wish to think only of the work I have in my hands, to see 
only the silver beads and silk threads that lie in my lap ; 
whereas, I distinctly behold his figure, and I inevitably recall 
the moment when I last saw it : just after I had rendered 
him, what he deemed an essential service and he, holding 
my hand, and looking down on my face, surveyed me with 
eyes that revealed a heart full and eager to overflow ; in 
whose emotions I had a part. How near had I approached 
him at that moment ! What had occurred since, calculated to 
change his and my relative positions ? Yet now, how distant, 
how far estranged we were ! So far estranged, that I did 
not expect him to come and speak to me. I did not wonder, 
when, without looking at me, he took a seat at the other side 
of the room, and began conversing with some of the ladies. 

No sooner did I see that his attention was riveted on 



JANE EYEE 209 

them, and that I might gaze without being observed, than 
my eyes were drawn involuntarily to his face : I could not 
keep their lids under control : they would rise, and the irids 
would fix on him. I looked, and had an acute pleasure in 
looking, a precious, yet poignant pleasure ; pure gold, with 
a steelly point of agony : a pleasure like what the thirst- 
perishing man might feel who knows the well to which he has 
crept is poisoned, yet stoops and drinks divine draughts 
nevertheless. 

Most true is it that ' beauty is in the eye of the gazer.' 
My master's colourless, olive face, square, massive brow, 
broad and jetty eyebrows, deep eyes, strong features, firm, 
grim mouth, all energy, decision, will, were not beautiful, 
according to rule ; but they were more than beautiful to me . 
they were full of an interest, an influence that quite mastered 
me, that took my feelings from my own power and fettered 
them in his. I had not intended to love him: the reader 
knows I had wrought hard to extirpate from my soul the 
germs of love there detected ; and now, at the first renewed 
view of him, they spontaneously revived, green and strong ! 
He made me love him without looking at me. 

I compared him with his guests. What was the gallant 
grace of the Lynns, the languid elegance of Lord Ingram, 
even the military distinction of Colonel Dent, contrasted with 
his look of native pith and genuine power? I had no 
sympathy with their appearance, their expression ; yet I 
could imagine that most observers would call them attractive, 
handsome, imposing ; while they would pronounce Mr. 
Eochester at once harsh-featured and melancholy-looking. 
I saw them smile, laugh it was nothing; the light of the 
candles had as much soul in it as their smile ; the tinkle of 
the bell as much significance as their laugh. I saw Mr. 
Eochester smile his stern features softened ; his eye grew 
both brilliant and gentle, its ray both searching and sweet. 
He was talking, at the moment, to Louisa and Amy Eshton. 
I wondered to see them receive with calm that look which 
seemed to me so penetrating ; I expected their eyes to fall. 



210 JANE EYRE 

their colour to rise under it ; yet I was glad when I found 
they were in no sense moved. ' He is not to them what he 
is to me/ I thought : ' he is not of their kind. I believe 
he is of mine; I am sure he is, I feel akin to him, I 
understand the language of his countenance and movements ; 
though rank and wealth sever us widely, I have something 
in my brain and heart, in my blood and nerves, that assimi- 
lates me mentally to him. Did I say, a few days since, that 
I had nothing to do with him but to receive my salary at his 
hands ? Did I forbid myself to think of him in any other 
light than as a paymaster ? Blasphemy against nature ! 
Every good, true, vigorous feeling I have, gathers impulsively 
round him. I know I must conceal my sentiments ; I must 
smother hope ; I must remember that he cannot care much 
for me. For when I say that I am of his kind, I do not mean 
that I have his force to influence, and his spell to attract ; I 
mean only that I have certain tastes and feelings in common 
with him. I must then repeat continually that we are for 
ever sundered ; and yet, while I breathe and think I must 
love him.' 

Coffee is handed. The ladies, since the gentlemen 
entered, have become lively as larks; conversation waxes 
brisk and merry. Colonel Dent and Mr. Eshton argue on 
politics ; their wives listen. The two proud dowagers, Lady 
Lynn and Lady Ingram, confabulate together. Sir George 
whom, by-the-by, I have forgotten to describe a very big 
and very fresh-looking country gentleman, stands before 
their sofa, coffee-cup in hand, and occasionally puts in a 
word. Mr. Frederick Lynn has taken a seat beside Mary 
Ingram, and is showing her the engravings of a splendid 
volume ; she looks, smiles now and then, but apparently 
says little. The tall and phlegmatic Lord Ingram leans 
with folded arms on the chair-back of the little and lively 
Amy Eshton; she glances up at him, and chatters like a 
wren : she likes him better than she does Mr. Rochester. 
Henry Lynn has taken possession of an ottoman at the feet 
of Louisa ; Adele shares it with him : he is trying to talk 



JANE EYEE 211 

French with her, and Louisa laughs at his blunders. With 
whom will Blanche Ingram pair ? She is standing alone at 
the table, bending gracefully over an album. She seems 
waiting to be sought ; but she will not wait too long : she 
herself selects a mate. 

Mr. Eochester, having quitted the Eshtons, stands on 
the hearth as solitary as she stands by the table ; she con- 
fronts him, taking her station on the opposite side of the 
mantelpiece. 

' Mr. Eochester, I thought you were not fond of 
children ? ' 

' Nor am I.' 

' Then, what induced you to take charge of such a little 
doll as that ? ' (pointing to Adele). ' Where did you pick 
her up ? ' 

' I did not pick her up, she was left on my hands.' 

' You should have sent her to school.' 

' I could not afford it ; schools are so dear.' 

' Why, I suppose you have a governess for her ; I saw a 
person with her just now is she gone ? Oh, no, there she 
is still behind the window-curtain. You pay her, of course. 
I should think it quite as expensive more so, for you have 
them both to keep in addition.' 

I feared or should I say, hoped the allusion to me 
would make Mr. Eochester glance my way ; and I involun- 
tarily shrank further into the shade ; but he never turned 
his eyes. 

' I have not considered the subject,' said he indifferently, 
looking straight before him. 

' No you men never do consider economy and common 
sense. You should hear mamma on the chapter of gov- 
ernesses. Mary and I have had, I should think, a dozen at 
least in our day ; half of them detestable and the rest 
ridiculous, and all incubi were they not, mamma ? ' 
' Did you speak, my own ? ' 

The young lady thus claimed as the dowager's special 
property reiterated her question with an explanation. 



212 JANE EYKE 

' My dearest, don't mention governesses ; the word 
makes me nervous. I have suffered a martyrdom from 
their incompetency and caprice ; I thank Heaven I have 
now done with them ! ' 

Mrs. Dent here bent over to the pious lady, and whispered 
something in her ear ; I suppose, from the answer elicited, 
it was a reminder that one of the anathematised race was 
present. 

' Tant pis ! ' said her ladyship, ' I hope it may do her 
good.' Then, in a lower tone, but still loud enough for me 
to hear, ' I noticed her ; I am a judge of physiognomy, and 
in hers I see all the faults of her class.' 

' What are they, madam ? ' inquired Mr. Kochester 
aloud. 

' I will tell you in your private ear,' replied she, wagging 
her turban three times with portentous significancy. 

' But my curiosity will be past its appetite ; it craves food 
now.' 

' Ask Blanche ; she is nearer you than I.' 

' Oh, don't refer him to me, mamma ! I have just one 
word to say of the whole tribe ; they are a nuisance. Not 
that I ever suffered much from them ; I took care to turn the 
tables. What tricks Theodore and I used to play on our 
Miss Wilsons, and Mrs. Greys, and Madame Jouberts ! 
Mary was always too sleepy to join in a plot with spirit. The 
best fun was with Madame Joubert. Miss Wilson was a poor 
sickly thing, lachrymose and low-spirited : not worth the 
trouble of vanquishing, in short ; and Mrs. Grey was coarse 
and insensible : no blow took effect on her. But poor 
Madame Joubert ! I see her yet in her raging passions, when 
we had driven her to extremities spilt our tea, crumbled our 
bread and butter, tossed our books up to the ceiling, and 
played a charivari with the ruler and desk, the fender and 
fire-irons. Theodore, do you remember those merry days ? ' 

' Yaas, to be sure I do,' drawled Lord Ingram ; ' and the 
poor old stick used to cry out, " Oh, you villains childs ! " and 
then we sermonised her on the presumption of attempting to 



JANE EYRE 213 

teach such clever blades as we were, when she was herself 
so ignorant.' 

' We did ; and Tedo, you know I helped you in prose- 
cuting (or persecuting) your tutor, whey-faced Mr. Vining 
the parson in the pip, as we used to call him. He and Miss 
Wilson took the liberty of falling in love with each other 
at least Tedo and I thought so ; we surprised sundry tender 
glances and sighs which we interpreted as tokens of " la 
belle passion," and I promise you the public soon had the 
benefit of our discovery ; we employed it as a sort of lever to 
hoist our dead-weights from the house. Dear mamma, there, 
as soon as she got an inkling of the business, found out that 
it was of an immoral tendency. Did you not, my lady- 
mother ? ' 

' Certainly, my best. And I was quite right, depend on 
that : there are a thousand reasons why liaisons between 
governesses and tutors should never be tolerated a moment 
in any well-regulated house ; firstly, ' 

1 Oh, gracious, mamma ! Spare us the enumeration ! Au 
reste, we all know them : danger of bad example to innocence 
of childhood distractions and consequent neglect of duty 
on the part of the attached mutual alliance and reliance ; 
confidence thence resulting insolence accompanying 
mutiny and general blow-up. Am I right, Baroness Ingram, 
of Ingram Park ? ' 

' My lily-flower, you are right now, as always.' 

' Then no more need be said ; change the subject." 

Amy Eshton, not hearing or not heeding this dictum, 
joined in with her soft infantine tone : ' Louisa and I used to 
quiz our governess too ; but she was such a good creature, she 
would bear anything ; nothing put her out. She was never 
cross with us ; was she, Louisa ? ' 

' No, never ; we might do what we pleased ransack her 
desk and her workbox, and turn her drawers inside out ; 
and she was so good-natured, she would give us anything 
we asked for.' 

'I suppose now,' said Miss Ingram, curling her lips 



214 JANE EYRE 

sarcastically, ' we shall have an abstract of the memoirs of all 
the governesses extant ; in order to avert such a visitation, 
I again move the introduction of a new topic. Mr. Rochester, 
do you second my motion ? ' 

' Madam, I support you on this point as on every other.' 
' Then on me be the onus of bringing it forward. Signer 
Eduardo, are you in voice to-night? ' 

1 Donna Bianca, if you command it, I will be.' 
1 Then, signer, I lay on you my sovereign behest to fur- 
bish up your lungs and other vocal organs, as they will be 
wanted on my royal service.' 

' Who would not be the Rizzio of so divine a Mary ? ' 
1 A fig for Rizzio 1 ' cried she, tossing her head with all 
its curls, as she moved to the piano. ' It is my opinion the 
fiddler David must have been an insipid sort of fellow ; I like 
black Both well better. To my mind a man is nothing without 
a spice of the devil in him ; and history may say what it will 
of James Hepburn, but I have a notion he was just the sort 
of wild, fierce, bandit hero whom I could have consented to 
gift with my hand.' 

1 Gentlemen, you hear I Now which of you most re- 
sembles Bothwell ? ' cried Mr. Rochester. 

' I should say the preference lies with you,' responded 
Colonel Dent. 

' On my honour, I am much obliged to you,' was the reply, 
Miss Ingram, who had now seated herself with proud grace 
at the piano, spreading out her snowy robes in queenly ampli- 
tude, commenced a brilliant prelude ; talking meantime. 
She appeared to be on her high-horse to-night; both her 
words and her air seemed intended to excite not only the 
admiration, but the amazement of her auditors; she was 
evidently bent on striking them as something very dashing 
and daring indeed. 

' Oh, I am so sick of the young men of the present day ! ' 
exclaimed she, rattling away at the instrument. ' Poor 
puny things not fit to stir a step beyond papa's park-gates : 
nor to go even so far without mamma's permission and 



JANE 

guardianship ! Creatures so absorbed in care about their 
pretty faces and their white hands, and their small feet ; as if 
a man had anything to do with beauty ! As if loveliness 
were not the special prerogative of woman her legitimate 
appanage and heritage ! I grant an ugly woman is a blot on 
the fair face of creation ; but as to the gentlemen, let them 
be solicitous to possess only strength and valour : let their 
motto be Hunt, shoot, and fight ; the rest is not worth a 
fillip. Such should be my device, were I a man.' 

' Whenever I marry,' she continued after a pause which 
none interrupted, ' I am resolved my husband shall not be a 
rival, but a foil to me. I will suffer no competitor near the 
throne ; I shall exact an undivided homage ; his devotions 
shall not be shared between me and the shape he sees in his 
mirror. Mr. Eochester, now sing, and I will play for you.' 

' I am all obedience,' was the response. 

'Here then is a Corsair-song. Know that I doat on 
Corsairs ; and for that reason, sing it " con spirito." ' 

' Commands from Miss Ingram's lips would put spirit 
into a mug of milk and water.' 

' Take care, then : if you don't please me, I will shame 
you by showing how such things should be done.' 

' That is offering a premium on incapacity ; I shall now 
endeavour to fail.' 

' Gardez-vous en bien ! If you err wilfully, I shall devise 
a proportionate punishment.' 

' Miss Ingram ought to be clement, for she has it in her 
power to inflict a chastisement beyond mortal endurance.' 

' Ha ! explain ! ' commanded the lady. 

' Pardon me, madam ; no need of explanation ; your own 
fine sense must inform you that one of your frowns would 
be a sufficient substitute for capital punishment.' 

' Sing ! ' said she, and again touching the piano, she 
commenced an accompaniment in spirited style. 

' Now is my time to slip away,' thought I ; but the tones 
that then severed the air arrested me. Mrs. Fairfax had 
said Mr. Rochester possessed a fine voice ; he did a mellow 



216 JANU 

powerful bass, into which he threw his own feeling, his own 
force ; finding a way through the ear to the heart, and there 
waking sensation strangely. I waited till the last deep and 
full vibration had expired till the tide of talk, checked an 
instant, had resumed its flow ; I then quitted my sheltered 
corner and made my exit by the side-door, which was 
fortunately near. Thence a narrow passage led into the 
hall ; in crossing it, I perceived my sandal was loose ; I 
stopped to tie it, kneeling down for that purpose on the mat 
at the foot of the staircase. I heard the dining-room door 
unclose ; a gentleman came out ; rising hastily, I stood face 
to face with him ; it was Mr. Eochester. 

' How do you do ? ' he asked. 

' I am very well, sir.' 

' Why did you not come and speak to me in the room ? ' 

I thought I might have retorted the question on him who 
put it ; but I would not take that freedom. I answered : 
' I did not wish to disturb you, as you seemed engaged, sir.' 

' What have you been doing during my absence ? ' 

' Nothing particular ; teaching Adele as usual.' 

' And getting a good deal paler than you were as I saw 
at first sight. What is the matter ? ' 

' Nothing at all, sir.' 

'Did you take any cold that night you half drowned 
me?' 

' Not the least.' 

1 Eeturn to the drawing-room ; you are deserting too 
early.' 

' I am tired, sir.' 

He looked at me for a minute. 

' And a little depressed,' he said. ' What about ? Tell 
me.' 

' Nothing nothing, sir. I am not depressed.' 

' But I affirm that you are : so much depressed that a few 
more words would bring tears to your eyes indeed, they are 
there now, shining and swimming ; and a bead has slipped 
from the lash and fallen on to the flag. If I had time, and 



JANE EYRE 217 

was not in mortal dread of some prating prig of a servant 
passing, I would know what all this means. Well, to-night 
I excuse you ; but understand that so long as my visitors 
stay, I expect you to appear in the drawing-room every 
evening ; it is my wish ; don't neglect it. Now go, and 

send Sophie for Adele. Good-night, my ' He stopped, 

bit his lip, and abruptly left me. 



CHAPTEB XVIII 

MERRY days were these at Thornfield Hall ; and busy days 
too : how different from the first three months of stillness, 
monotony, and solitude I had passed beneath its roof ! All 
sad feelings seemed now driven from the house, all gloomy 
associations forgotten : there was life everywhere, movement 
all day long. You could not now traverse the gallery, once 
so hushed, nor enter the front chambers, once so tenantless, 
without encountering a smart lady's maid, or a dandy 
valet. 

The kitchen, the butler's pantry, the servants' hall, the 
entrance hall, were equally alive ; and the saloons were only 
left void and still when the blue sky and halcyon sunshine of 
the genial spring weather called their occupants out into the 
grounds. Even when that weather was broken, and con- 
tinuous rain set in for some days, no damp seemed cast over 
enjoyment ; indoor amusements only became more lively 
and varied, in consequence of the stop put to outdoor 
gaiety. 

I wondered what they were going to do the first evening 
a change of entertainment was proposed ; they spoke of 
' playing charades,' but in my ignorance I did not understand 
the term. The servants were called in, the dining-room 
tables wheeled away, the lights otherwise disposed, the chairs 
placed in a semicircle opposite the arch. While Mr. Eochester 
and the other gentlemen directed these alterations, the ladies 
were running up and down stairs ringing for their maids. 
Mrs. Fairfax was summoned to give information respecting 
the resources of the house in shawls, dresses, draperies of 
any kind; and certain wardrobes of the third story were 



ransacked, and their contents, in the shape of brocaded and 
hooped petticoats, satin sacques, black modes, lace lappets, 
&c., were brought down in armfuls by the Abigails ; then a 
selection was made, and such things as were chosen were 
carried to the boudoir within the drawing-room. 

Meantime, Mr. Kochester had again summoned the ladies 
round him, and was selecting certain of their number to be of 
his party. ' Miss Ingram is mine, of course,' said he ; after- 
wards he named the two Misses Eshton, and Mrs. Dent. He 
looked at me ; I happened to be near him, as I had been 
fastening the clasp of Mrs. Dent's bracelet, which had got 
loose. 

' Will you play ? ' he asked. I shook my head. He did 
not insist, which I rather feared he would have done ; he 
allowed me to return quietly to my usual seat. 

He and his aids now withdrew behind the curtain ; the 
other party, which was headed by Colonel Dent, sat down on 
the crescent of chairs. One of the gentlemen, Mr. Eshton, 
observing me, seemed to propose that I should be asked to 
join them ; but Lady Ingram instantly negatived the 
notion. 

1 No,' I heard her say : ' she looks too stupid for any 
game of the sort.' 

Ere long, a bell tinkled, and the curtain drew up. 
Within the arch the bulky figure of Sir George Lynn, whom 
Mr. Eochester had likewise chosen, was seen enveloped in a 
white sheet ; before him, on a table, lay open a large book ; 
and at his side stood Amy Eshton, draped in Mr. Kochester's 
cloak, and holding a book in her hand. Somebody, unseen, 
rang the bell merrily ; then Adele (who had insisted on being 
one of her guardian's party), bounded forward, scattering 
round her the contents of a basket of flowers she carried on 
her arm. Then appeared the magnificent figure of Miss 
Ingram, clad in white, a long veil on her head, and a wreath 
of roses round her brow ; by her side walked Mr. Eochester, 
and together they drew near the table. They knelt, while 
Mrs. Dent and Louisa Eshton, dressed also in white, took up 



220 JANE EYRfi 

their stations behind them. A ceremony followed, in dumb 
show, in which it was easy to recognise the pantomime of a 
marriage. At its termination Colonel Dent and his party 
consulted in whispers for two minutes, then the Colonel called 
out, ' Bride ! ' Mr. Bochester bowed, and the curtain 
fell. 

A considerable interval elapsed before it again rose. Its 
second rising displayed a more elaborately prepared scene than 
the last. The drawing-room, as I have before observed, was 
raised two steps above the dining-room, and on the top of the 
upper step, placed a yard or two back within the room, 
appeared a large marble basin, which I recognised as an 
ornament of the conservatory where it usually stood, 
surrounded by exotics, and tenanted by gold fish and 
whence it must have been transported with some trouble, on 
account of its size and weight. 

Seated on the carpet, by the side of this basin, was seen 
Mr. Eochester, costumed in shawls, with a turban on his 
head. His dark eyes and swarth skin and Paynim features 
suited the costume exactly : he looked the very model of an 
Eastern emir ; an agent or a victim of the bowstring. 
Presently advanced into view Miss Ingram. She, too, was 
attired in Oriental fashion : a crimson scarf tied sash-like 
round the waist ; an embroidered handkerchief knotted about 
her temples ; her beautifully-moulded arms bare, one of them 
up-raised in the act of supporting a pitcher, poised gracefully 
on her head. Both her cast of form and feature, her 
complexion and her general air, suggested the idea of some 
Israelitish princess of the patriarchal days ; and such was 
doubtless the character she intended to represent. 

She approached the basin, and bent over it as if to fill her 
pitcher ; she again lifted it to her head. The personage on 
the well- brink now seemed to accost her; to make some 
request, ' She hasted, let down her pitcher on her hand and 
gave him to drink.' From the bosom of his robe he then 
produced a casket, opened it and showed magnificent 
bracelets and earrings ; she acted astonishment and admira- 



JANE EYRE 221 

tion ; kneeling, he laid the treasure at her feet ; incredulity 
and delight were expressed by her looks and gestures ; the 
stranger fastened the bracelets on her arms, and the rings 
in her ears. It was Eliezer and Rebecca ; the camels only 
were wanting. 

The divining party again laid their heads together ; 
apparently they could not agree about the word or syllable 
this scene illustrated. Colonel Dent, their spokesman, 
demanded ' the tableau of the Whole ' ; whereupon the 
curtain again descended. 

On its third rising only a portion of the drawing-room 
was disclosed ; the rest being concealed by a screen, hung 
with some sort of dark and coarse drapery. The marble 
basin was removed ; in its place stood a deal table and a 
kitchen chair: these objects were visible by a very dim 
light proceeding from a horn lantern, the wax candles being 
all extinguished. 

Amidst this sordid scene sat a man with his clenched 
hands resting on his knees, and his eyes bent on the ground. 
I knew Mr. Rochester ; though the begrimed face, the 
disordered dress (his coat hanging loose from one arm, as if 
it had been almost torn from his back in a scuffle), the 
desperate and scowling countenance, the rough, bristling 
hair might well have disguised him. As he moved a chain 
clanked ; to his wrists were attached fetters. 

' Bridewell I ' exclaimed Colonel Dent, and the charade 
was solved. 

A sufficient interval having elapsed for the performers to 
resume their ordinary costume, they re-entered the dining- 
room. Mr. Rochester led in Miss Ingram ; she was compli- 
menting him on his acting. 

' Do you know,' said she, ' that, of the three characters, I 
liked you in the last best ? Oh, had you but lived a few 
years earlier, what a gallant gentleman-highwayman you 
would have made ! ' 

1 Is all the soot washed from my face ? ' he asked, turning 
it towards her. 



222 JANE EYRE 

1 Alas, yes ; the more's the pity ! Nothing could be mord 
becoming to your complexion than that ruffian's rouge.' 

' You would like a hero of the road then ? ' 

' An English hero of the road would be the next best thing 
to an Italian bandit ; and that could only be surpassed by a 
Levantine pirate.' 

1 Well, whatever I am, remember you are my wife ; we 
were married an hour since, in the presence of all these 
witnesses.' She giggled, and her colour rose. 

' Now, Dent,' continued Mr. Rochester, ' it is your turn.' 
And as the other party withdrew, he and his band took the 
vacated seats. Miss Ingram placed herself at her leader's 
right hand ; the other diviners filled the chairs on each side 
of him and her. I did not now watch the actors ; I no longer 
waited with interest for the curtain to rise ; my attention was 
absorbed by the spectators ; my eyes, erewhile fixed on the 
arch, were now irresistibly attracted to the semicircle of chairs, 
What charade Colonel Dent and his party played, what word 
they chose, how they acquitted themselves, I no longer 
remember ; but I still see the consultation which followed 
each scene : I see Mr. Rochester turn to Miss Ingram, and 
Miss Ingram to him ; I see her incline her head towards him 
till the jetty curls almost touch his shoulder and wave against 
his cheek ; I hear their mutual whisperings ; I recall their 
interchanged glances ; and something even of the feeling 
roused by the spectacle returns in memory at this moment. 

I have told you, reader, that I had learnt to love Mr. 
Rochester; I could not unlove him now, merely because I 
found that he had ceased to notice me because I might pass 
hours in his presence and he would never once turn his eyes 
in my direction because I saw all his attentions appropriated 
by a great lady, who scorned to touch me with the hem of 
her robes as she passed ; who, if ever her dark and imperious 
eye fell on me by chance, would withdraw it instantly as from 
an object too mean to merit observation. I could not unlove 
him, because I felt sure he would soon marry this very lady 
because I read daily in her a proud security in his inten- 



JANE EYKE 223 

tions respecting her because I witnessed hourly in him 
a style of courtship which, if careless and choosing rather 
to be sought than to seek, was yet, in its very carelessness, 
captivating, and in its very pride, irresistible. 

There was nothing to cool or banish love in these cir- 
cumstances ; though much to create despair. Much too, you 
will think, reader, to engender jealousy ; if a woman, in my 
position, could presume to be jealous of a woman in Miss 
Ingram's. But I was not jealous; or very rarely; the 
nature of the pain I suffered could not be explained by that 
word. Miss Ingram was a mark beneath jealousy : she was 
too inferior to excite the feeling. Pardon the seeming paradox ; 
I mean what I say. She was very showy, but she was not 
genuine : she had a fine person, many brilliant attainments ; 
but her mind was poor, her heart barren by nature ; nothing 
bloomed spontaneously on that soil ; no unforced natural 
fruit delighted by its freshness. She was not good ; she 
was not original : she used to repeat sounding phrases from 
books : she never offered, nor had, an opinion of her own. 
She advocated a high tone of sentiment ; but she did not 
know the sensations of sympathy and pity ; tenderness and 
truth were not in her. Too often she betrayed this, by the 
undue vent she gave to a spiteful antipathy she had con- 
ceived against little Adele : pushing her away with some 
contumelious epithet if she happened to approach her ; some- 
times ordering her from the room, and always treating her 
with coldness and acrimony. Other eyes besides mine 
watched these manifestations of character watched them 
closely, keenly, shrewdly. Yes : the future bridegroom, Mr. 
Kochester himself, exercised over his intended a ceaseless 
surveillance : and it was from this sagacity this guarded- 
ness of his this perfect, clear consciousness of his fair one's 
defects this obvious absence of passion in his sentiments 
towards her, that my ever-torturing pain arose. 

I saw he was going to marry her, for family, perhaps 
political reasons ; because her rank and connexions suited 
him ; I felt he had not given her his love, and that her 



224 JANE EYBE 

qualifications were ill adapted to win from him that treasure. 
This was the point this was where the nerve was touched 
and teased this was where the fever was sustained and fed : 
she could not charm him. 

If she had managed the victory at once, and he had 
yielded and sincerely laid his heart at her feet, I should have 
covered my face, turned to the wall, and (figuratively) have 
died to them. If Miss Ingram had been a good and noble 
woman, endowed with force, fervour, kindness, sense, I 
should have had one vital struggle with two tigers jealousy 
and despair : then, my heart torn out and devoured, I should 
have admired her acknowledged her excellence, and been 
quiet for the rest of my days : and the more absolute her 
superiority, the deeper would have been my admiration 
the more truly tranquil my quiescence. But as matters 
really stood, to watch Miss Ingram's efforts at fascinating 
Mr. Bochester ; to witness their repeated failure herself 
unconscious that they did fail ; vainly fancying that each 
shaft launched hit the mark, and infatuatedly pluming her- 
self on success, when her pride and self-complacency repelled 
further and further what she wished to allure to witness 
this, was to be at once under ceaseless excitation and ruth- 
less restraint. 

Because, when she failed, I saw how she might have 
succeeded. Arrows that continually glanced off from Mr. 
Eochester's breast and fell harmless at his feet, might, I 
knew, if shot by a surer hand, have quivered keen in his 
proud heart have called love into his stern eye and softness 
into his sardonic face ; or, better still, without weapons a 
silent conquest might have been won. 

' Why can she not influence him more, when she is 
privileged to draw so near to him ? ' I asked myself. ' Surely 
she cannot truly like him, or not like him with true affection. 
If she did, she need not coin her smiles so lavishly, flash her 
glances so unremittingly, manufacture airs so elaborate, 
graces so multitudinous. It seems to me that she might, by 
merely sitting quietly at his side, saying little and looking 



JANE EYKE 225 

less, get nigher his heart. I have seen in his face a far 
different expression from that which hardens it now while 
she is so vivaciously accosting him ; but then it came of 
itself, it was not elicited by meretricious arts and calculated 
manoeuvres ; and one had but to accept it to answer what 
he asked without pretension, to address him when needful 
without grimace and it increased and grew kinder and 
more genial, and warmed one like a fostering sunbeam. 
How will she manage to please him when they are married ? 
I do not think she will manage it ; and yet it might be 
managed and his wife might, I verily believe, be the very 
happiest woman the sun shines on.' 

I have not yet said anything condemnatory of Mr 
Rochester's project of marrying for interest and connexions 
It surprised me when I first discovered that such was his 
intention ; I had thought him a man unlikely to be influenced 
by motives so commonplace in his choice of a wife ; but the 
longer I considered the position, education, &c., of the parties, 
the less I felt justified in judging and blaming either him or 
Miss Ingram, for acting in conformity to ideas and principles 
instilled into them, doubtless, from their childhood. All 
their class held these principles ; I supposed, then, they had 
reasons for holding them such as I could not fathom. It 
seemed to me that, were I a gentleman like him, I would 
take to my bosom only such a wife as I could love ; but the 
very obviousness of the advantages to the husband's own 
happiness, offered by this plan, convinced me that there 
must be arguments against its general adoption of which I 
was quite ignorant ; otherwise I felt sure all the world 
would act as I wished to act. 

But in other points, as well as this, I was growing very 
lenient to my master : I was forgetting all his faults, for 
which I had once kept a sharp look-out. It had formerly 
been my endeavour to study all sides of his character ; to 
take the bad with the good ; and from the just weighing of 
both to form an equitable judgment. Now I saw no bad. 
The sarcasm that had repelled, the harshness that had 

Q 



226 JANE EYRE 

startled me once, were only like keen condiments in a choice 
dish : their presence was pungent, but their absence would 
be felt as comparatively insipid. And as for the vague 
something was it a sinister or a sorrowful, a designing or a 
desponding expression ? that opened upon a careful observer, 
now and then, in his eye and closed again before one could 
fathom the strange depth partially disclosed ; that something 
which used to make me fear and shrink, as if I had been 
wandering amongst volcanic-looking hills, and had suddenly 
felt the ground quiver, and seen it gape ; that something I 
at intervals beheld still, and with throbbing heart, but not 
with palsied nerves. Instead of wishing to shun, I longed 
only to dare to divine it ; and I thought Miss Ingram 
happy, because one day she might look into the abyss at her 
leisure, explore its secrets, and analyse their nature. 

Meantime, while I thought only of my master and his 
future bride saw only them, heard only their discourse, 
and considered only their movements of importance the 
rest of the party were occupied with their own separate 
interests and pleasures. The ladies Lynn and Ingram 
continued to consort in solemn conferences, when they 
nodded their two turbans at each other, and held up their 
four hands in confronting gestures of surprise, or mystery, 
or horror, according to the theme on which their gossip ran, 
like a pair of magnified puppets. Mild Mrs. Dent talked 
with good-natured Mrs. Eshton ; and the two sometimes 
bestowed a courteous word or smile on me. Sir George 
Lynn, Colonel Dent, and Mr. Eshton discussed politics, or 
county affairs, or justice business. Lord Ingram flirted 
with Amy Eshton ; Louisa played and sang to and with one 
of the Messrs. Lynn ; and Mary Ingram listened languidly 
to the gallant speeches of the other. Sometimes all, as with 
one consent, suspended their by-play to observe and listen 
to the principal actors ; for, after all, Mr. Rochester, and 
because closely connected with him Miss Ingram, were the 
life and soul of the party. If he was absent from the room 
an hour, a perceptible dulness seemed to steal over the 



JANE EYRE 227 

spirits of his guests, and his re-entrance was sure to give a 
fresh impulse to the vivacity of conversation. 

The want of his animating influence appeared to be 
peculiarly felt one day that he had been summoned to 
Millcote on business, and was not likely to return till late. 
The afternoon was wet : a walk the party had proposed to 
take to see a gipsy camp, lately pitched on a common beyond 
Hay, was consequently deferred. Some of the gentlemen 
were gone to the stables; the younger ones, together with 
the younger ladies, were playing billiards in the billiard- 
room. The dowagers Ingram and Lynn sought solace in a 
quiet game at cards. Blanche Ingram, after having repelled, 
by supercilious taciturnity, some efforts of Mrs. Dent and 
Mrs. Eshton to draw her into conversation, had first 
murmured over some sentimental tunes and airs on the 
piano, and then, having fetched a novel from the library, 
had flung herself in haughty listlessness on a sofa, and 
prepared to beguile, by the spell of fiction, the tedious hours 
of absence. The room and the house were silent ; only now 
and then the merriment of the billiard players was heard 
from above. 

It was verging on dusk, and the clock had already given 
warning of the hour to dress for dinner, when little Adele, 
who knelt by me in the drawing-room window-seat, ex- 
claimed, ' Voila Monsieur Eochester, qui revient ! ' 

I turned, and Miss Ingram darted forwards from her 
sofa ; the others, too, looked up from their several occupa- 
tions; for at the same time a crunching of wheels, and a 
splashing tramp of horse-hoofs became audible on the wet 
gravel. A post-chaise was approaching. 

' What can possess him to come home in that style ? ' 
said Miss Ingram. ' He rode Mesrour (the black horse), did 
he not, when he went out ? and Pilot was with him, what 
has he done with the animals ? ' 

As she said this, she approached her tall person and 
ample garments so near the window, that I was obliged to 
bend back almost to the breaking of my spine ; in her 



228 JANE EYEE 

eagerness she did not observe me at first, but when she did, 
she curled her lip and moved to another casement. The 
post-chaise stopped, the driver rang the door bell, and a 
gentleman alighted, attired in travelling garb ; but it was 
not Mr. Rochester ; it was a tall, fashionable-looking man, a 
stranger. 

' Provoking ! ' exclaimed Miss Ingram : ' you tiresome 
monkey ! ' (apostrophising Adele) ' who perched you up in 
the window to give false intelligence ? ' and she cast on me 
an angry glance, as if I were in fault. 

Some parleying was audible in the hall, and soon the 
new-comer entered. He bowed to Lady Ingram, as deeming 
her the eldest lady present. 

' It appears I come at an inopportune time, madam,' said 
he ; ' when my friend, Mr. Rochester, is from home ; but I 
arrive from a very long journey, and I think I may presume 
so far on old and intimate acquaintance as to instal myself 
here till he returns.' 

His manner was polite ; his accent, in speaking, struck 
me as being somewhat unusual, not precisely foreign, but 
still not altogether English; his age might be about Mr. 
Rochester's, between thirty and forty ; his complexion was 
singularly sallow ; otherwise he was a fine-looking man, at 
first sight especially. On closer examination you detected 
something in his face that displeased ; or rather, that failed 
to please. His features were regular, but too relaxed ; his 
eye was large and well cut, but the life looking out of it was 
a tame, vacant life at least so I thought. 

The sound of the dressing-bell dispersed the party. It 
was not till after dinner that I saw him again ; he then 
seemed quite at his ease. But I liked his physiognomy even 
less than before ; it struck me as being, at the same time, 
unsettled and inanimate. His eye wandered, and had no 
meaning in its wandering ; this gave him an odd look, such 
as I never remembered to have seen. For a handsome and 
not an unamiable-looking man, he repelled me exceedingly ; 
there was no power in that smooth-skinned face of a full 



oval shape ; no firmness in that aquiline nose, and small 
cherry mouth ; there was no thought on the low, even fore- 
head ; no command in that blank, brown eye. 

As I sat in my usual nook, and looked at him with the 
light of the girandoles on the mantelpiece beaming full over 
him for he occupied an arm-chair, drawn close to the fire, 
and kept shrinking still nearer, as if he were cold I com- 
pared him with Mr. Kochester. I think (with deference be 
it spoken) the contrast could not be much greater between a 
sleek gander and a fierce falcon : between a meek sheep and 
the rough-coated keen-eyed dog, its guardian. 

He had spoken of Mr. Kochester as an old friend. A 
curious friendship theirs must have been : a pointed illus- 
tration, indeed, of the old adage that ' extremes meet.' 

Two or three of the gentlemen sat near him, and I 
caught at times scraps of their conversation across the room. 
At first I could not make much sense of what I heard ; for 
the discourse of Louisa Eshton and Mary Ingram, who sat 
nearer to me, confused the fragmentary sentences that 
reached me at intervals. These last were discussing the 
stranger : they both called him a ' beautiful man.' Louisa 
said he was ' a love of a creature,' and she ' adored him ' : 
and Mary instanced his ' pretty little mouth, and nice nose,' 
as her ideal of the charming. 

' And what a sweet-tempered forehead he has ! ' cried 
Louisa, ' so smooth none of those frowning irregularities 
I dislike so much : and such a placid eye and smile 1 ' 

And then, to my great relief, Mr. Henry Lynn summoned 
them to the other side of the room, to settle some point 
about the deferred excursion to Hay Common. 

I was now able to concentrate my attention on the group 
by the fire, and I presently gathered that the new-comer 
was called Mr. Mason : then I learnt that he was but just 
arrived in England, and that he came from some hot 
country : which was the reason, doubtless, his face was so 
sallow, and that he sat so near the hearth, and wore a surtout 
in the house. Presently the words, Jamaica, Kingston, 



230 JANE EYRE 

Spanish Town, indicated the West Indies as his residence ; 
and it was with no little surprise I gathered, ere long, that 
he had there first seen and become acquainted with Mr. 
Rochester. He spoke of his friend's dislike of the burning 
heats, the hurricanes, and rainy seasons of that region. I 
knew Mr. Rochester had been a traveller : Mrs. Fairfax had 
said so ; but I thought the continent of Europe Had bounded 
his wanderings : till now I had never heard a hint given of 
visits to more distant shores. 

I was pondering these things, when an incident, and 
a somewhat unexpected one, broke the thread of my 
musings. Mr. Mason, shivering as some one chanced to 
open the door, asked for more coal to be put on the fire, 
which had burnt out its flame, though its mass of cinder still 
shone hot and red. The footman who brought the coal, in 
going out, stopped near Mr. Eshton's chair, and said some- 
thing to him in a low voice, of which I heard only the words, 
' old woman,' ' quite troublesome.' 

' Tell her she shall be put in the stocks if she does not 
take herself off,' replied the magistrate. 

' No stop ! ' interrupted Colonel Dent. ' Don't send 
her away, Eshton ; we might turn the thing to account ; 
better consult the ladies.' And speaking aloud, he continued, 
4 Ladies, you talked of going to Hay Common to visit the 
gipsy camp ; Sam, here, says that one of the old Mother 
Bunches is in the servants' hall at this moment, and insists 
upon being brought in before "the quality," to tell them 
their fortunes. Would you like to see her ? ' 

4 Surely, colonel,' cried Lady Ingram, ' you would not 
encourage such a low impostor. Dismiss her, by all means, 
at once ! ' 

4 But I cannot persuade her to go away, my lady,' said the 
footman ; ' nor can any of the servants : Mrs. Fairfax is with 
her just now, entreating her to be gone ; but she has taken 
a chair in the chimney-corner, and says nothing shall stir 
her from it till she gets leave to come in here.' 

' What does she want ? ' asked Mrs. Eshton. 



JANE EYRE 231 

'"To tell the gentry their fortunes," she says, ma'am; 
and she swears she must and will do it.' 

' What is she like ? ' inquired the Misses Eshton in a 
breath. 

' A shockingly ugly old creature, miss ; almost as black 
as a crock.' 

' Why, she's a real sorceress ! ' cried Frederick Lynn. 
' Let us have her in, of course.' 

' To be sure,' rejoined his brother ; ' it would be a thousand 
pities to throw away such a chance of fun.' 

' My dear boys, what are you thinking about ? ' exclaimed 
Mrs. Lynn. 

' I cannot possibly countenance any such inconsistent 
proceeding,' chimed in the Dowager Ingram. 

'Indeed, mamma, but you can and will,' pronounced 
the haughty voice of Blanche, as she turned round on the 
piano-stool ; where till now she had sat silent, apparently 
examining sundry sheets of music. ' I have a curiosity to 
hear my fortune told : therefore, Sam, order the beldame 
forwards.' 

' My darling Blanche ! recollect ' 

' I do I recollect all you can suggest ; and I must have 
my will quick, Sam ! ' 

' Yes yes yes ! ' cried all the juveniles, both ladies 
and gentlemen. ' Let her come it will be excellent 
sport ! ' 

The footman still lingered. ' She looks such a rough 
one,' said he. 

' Go ! ' ejaculated Miss Ingram, and the man went. 

Excitement instantly seized the whole party : a running 
fire of raillery and jests was proceeding when Sam re- 
turned. 

' She won't come now,' said he. ' She says it's not her 
mission to appear before the " vulgar herd " (them's her 
words). I must show her into a room by herself, and 
then those who wish to consult her must go to her one 
by one,' 



232 JANE EYEE 

' You see now, my queenly Blanche,' began Lady Ingram, 

' she encroaches. Be advised, my angel girl and ' 

' Show her into the library, of course,' cut in the ' angel 
girl.' ' It is not my mission to listen to her before the 
vulgar herd either : I mean to have her all to myself. Is 
there a fire in the library ? ' 

' Yes, ma'am but she looks such a tinkler.' 
' Cease that chatter, blockhead ! and do my bidding.' 
Again Sam vanished ; and mystery, animation, expecta- 
tion rose to full flow once more. 

I She's ready now,' said the footman, as he reappeared. 
1 She wishes to know who will be her first visitor.' 

I 1 think I had better just look in upon her before any of 
the ladies go,' said Colonel Dent. 

' Tell her, Sam, a gentleman is coming.' 

Sam went and returned. 

1 She says, sir, that she'll have no gentlemen ; they need 
not trouble themselves to come near her : nor,' he added, 
with difficulty suppressing a titter, ' any ladies either, except 
the young and single.' 

' By Jove, she has taste ! ' exclaimed Henry Lynn. 

Miss Ingram rose solemnly : ' I go first,' she said, in a 
tone which might have befitted the leader of a forlorn hope, 
mounting a breach in the van of his men. 

' Oh, my best ! oh, my dearest ! pause reflect ! ' was 
her mamma's cry ; but she swept past her in stately silence, 
passed through the door which Colonel Dent held open, and 
we heard her enter the library. 

A comparative silence ensued. Lady Ingram thought it 
' le cas ' to wring her hands : which she did accordingly. 
Miss Mary declared she felt, for her part, she never dared 
venture. Amy and Louisa Eshton tittered under their 
breath, and looked a little frightened. 

The minutes passed very slowly : fifteen were counted 
before the library -door again opened. Miss Ingram returned 
to us through the arch. 

Would she laugh ? Would she take it as a joke ? All 



JANE EYEE 233 

eyes met her with a glance of curiosity, and she met all eyes 
with one of rebuff and coldness : she looked neither flurried 
nor merry ; she walked stiffly to her seat, and took it in 
silence. 

' Well, Blanche ? ' said Lord Ingram. 

' What did she say, sister ? ' asked Mary. 

' What did you think ? How do you feel ? Is she a real 
fortune-teller ? ' demanded the Misses Eshton. 

' Now, now, good people," returned Miss Ingram, ' don't 
press upon me. Really your organs of wonder and credulity 
are easily excited : you seem by the importance you all my 
good mamma included ascribe to this matter absolutely 
to believe we have a genuine witch in the house, who is in 
close alliance with the old gentleman. I have seen a gipsy- 
vagabond ; she has practised in hackneyed fashion the 
science of palmistry, and told me what such people usually 
tell. My whim is gratified ; and now I think Mr. Eshton 
will do well to put the hag in the stocks to-morrow morning, 
as he threatened.' 

Miss Ingram took a book, leant back in her chair, and 
so declined further conversation. I watched her for nearly 
half an hour : during all that time she never turned a page, 
and her face grew momently darker, more dissatisfied, and 
more sourly expressive of disappointment. She had obviously 
not heard anything to her advantage : and it seemed to me, 
from her prolonged fit of gloom and taciturnity, that she 
herself, notwithstanding her professed indifference, attached 
undue importance to whatever revelations had been made her. 

Meantime, Mary Ingram, Amy and Louisa Eshton, 
declared they dared not go alone ; and yet they all wished to 
go. A negotiation was opened through the medium of the 
ambassador, Sam ; and after much pacing to and fro, tilL 
I think, the said Sam's calves must have ached with the 
exercise, permission was at last, with great difficulty 
extorted from the rigorous Sibyl, for the three to wait upon 
her in a body. 

Their visit was not so still as Miss Ingram's had been ; 



234 JANE EYEE 

we heard hysterical giggling and little shrieks proceeding 
from the library ; and at the end of about twenty minutes 
they burst the door open, and came running across the hall, 
as if they were half-scared out of their wits. 

1 I'm sure she is something not right ! ' they cried one and 
all. ' She told us such things ! She knows all about us ! ' 
and they sank breathless into the various seats the gentlemen 
hastened to bring them. 

Pressed for further explanation they declared she had 
told them of things they had said and done when they were 
mere children ; described books and ornaments they had in 
their boudoirs at home ; keepsakes that different relations had 
presented to them. They affirmed that she had even divined 
their thoughts, and had whispered in the ear of each the 
name of the person she liked best in the world, and informed 
them of what they most wished for. 

Here the gentlemen interposed with earnest petitions to 
be further enlightened on these two last-named points ; but 
they got only blushes, ejaculations, tremors, and titters, in 
return for their importunity. The matrons, meantime, offered 
vinaigrettes and wielded fans ; and again and again re- 
iterated the expression of their concern that their warning 
had not been taken in time ; and the elder gentlemen 
laughed, and the younger urged their services on the agitated 
fair ones. 

In the midst of the tumult, and while my eyes and ears 
were fully engaged in the scene before me, I heard a hem 
close at my elbow : I turned and saw Sam. 

'If you please, miss, the gipsy declares that there is 
another young single lady in the room who has not been to 
her yet, and she swears she will not go till she has seen all. 
I thought it must be you : there is no one else for it. What 
shall I tell her ? ' 

' Oh, I will go by all means,' I answered ; and I was glad 
of the unexpected opportunity to gratify my much-excited 
curiosity. I slipped out of the room, unobserved by any eye 
for the company were gathered in one mass about the 



JANE EYRE 235 

trembling trio just returned and I closed the door quietly 
behind me. 

' If you like, miss,' said Sam, ' I'll wait in the hall for 
you ; and if she frightens you, just call and I'll come in.' 

' No, Sam, return to the kitchen : I am not in the least 
afraid.' Nor was I ; but I was a good deal interested and 
excited. 



CHAPTER XIX 

THE library looked tranquil enough as I entered it, and the 
Sibyl if Sibyl she were was seated snugly enough in an 
easy chair at the chimney-corner. She had on a red cloak 
and a black bonnet : or rather, a broad-brimmed gipsy hat, 
tied down with a striped handkerchief under her chin. 
An extinguished candle stood on the table : she was 
bending over the fire, and seemed reading in a little black 
book, like a prayer-book, by the light of the blaze : she 
muttered the words to herself, as most old women do, while 
she read ; she did not desist immediately on my entrance : it 
appeared she wished to finish a paragraph. 

I stood on the rug and warmed my hands, which 
were rather cold with sitting at a distance from the drawing- 
room fire. I felt now as composed as ever I did in my life : 
there was nothing indeed in the gipsy's appearance to trouble 
one's calm. She shut her book and slowly looked up ; her 
hat-brim partially shaded her face, yet I could see as she 
raised it, that it was a strange one. It looked all brown 
and black : elf-locks bristled out from beneath a white band 
which passed under her chin, and came half over her cheeks 
or rather jaws ; her eye confronted me at once, with a bold 
and direct gaze. 

4 Well, and you want your fortune told ? ' she said in a 
voice as decided as her glance, as harsh as her features. 

' I don't care about it, mother ; you may please yourself ; 
but I ought to warn you, I have no faith.' 

4 It's like your impudence to say so : I expected it of you ; 
I heard it in your step as you crossed the threshold.' 

' Did you? You've a quick ear.' 



JANE EYBE 237 

' I have ; and a quick eye, and a quick brain.' 

' You need them all in your trade.' 

1 1 do ; especially when I've customers like you to deal 
with. Why don't you tremble ? ' 

' I'm not cold.' 

' Why don't you turn pale ? ' 

' I am not sick.' 

' Why don't you consult my art.' 

' I'm not silly.' 

The old crone ' nichered ' a laugh under her bonnet and 
bandage : she then drew out a short, black pipe, and lighting 
it began to smoke. Having indulged a while in this seda- 
tive, she raised her bent body, took the pipe from her lips, 
and while gazing steadily at the fire, said very deliberately : 
' You are cold ; you are sick ; and you are silly." 

' Prove it/ I rejoined. 

' I will ; in few words. You are cold, because you are 
alone : no contact strikes the fire from you that is in you. 
You are sick : because the best of feelings, the highest and 
the sweetest given to man, keeps far away from you. You 
are silly, because, suffer as you may, you will not beckon it 
to approach ; nor will you stir one step to meet it where it 
waits you.' 

She again put her short, black pipe to her lips, and re- 
newed her smoking with vigour. 

1 You might say all that to almost any one who, you 
knew, lived as a solitary dependant in a great house.' 

' I might say it to almost any one ; but would it be true 
of almost any one ? ' 

' In my circumstances.' 

' Yes ; just so, in your circumstances : but find me 
another precisely placed as you are.' 

1 It would be easy to find you thousands.' 

' You could scarcely find me one. If you knew 
it, you are peculiarly situated : very near happiness ; 
yes ; within reach of it. The materials are all prepared ; 
there only wants a movement to combine them. Chanoe 



238 JANE EYBE 

laid them somewhat apart ; let them be once approached 
and bliss results.' 

'I don't understand enigmas. I never could guess a 
riddle in my life.' 

' If you wish me to speak more plainly, show me your 
palm.' 

' And I must cross it with silver, I suppose ? ' 

' To be sure.' 

I gave her a shilling : she put it into an old stocking-foot 
which she took out of her pocket, and having tied it round 
and returned it, she told me to hold out my hand. I did. 
She approached her face to the palm, and pored over it with- 
out touching it. 

' It is too fine,' said she. ' I can make nothing of such a 
hand as that ; almost without lines : besides, what is in a 
palm ? Destiny is not written there.' 

' I believe you,' said I. 

' No,' she continued, ' it is in the face : on the forehead, 
about the eyes, in the eyes themselves, in the lines of the 
mouth. Kneel, and lift up your head.' 

' Ah ! now you are coming to reality,' I said as I obeyed 
her. ' I shall begin to put some faith in you presently.' 

I knelt within half a yard of her. She stirred the fire, so 
that a ripple of light broke from the disturbed coal : the glare, 
however, as she sat, only threw her face into deeper shadow : 
mine, it illumined. 

' I wonder with what feelings you came to me to-night,' 
she said, when she had examined me a while. ' I wonder 
what thoughts are busy in your heart during all the hours 
you sit in yonder room with the fine people flitting before you 
like shapes in a magic lantern : just as little sympathetic 
communion passing between you and them, as if they were 
really mere shadows of human forms and not the actual 
substance.' 

' I feel tired often, sleepy sometimes ; but seldom sad.' 

' Then you have some secret hope to buoy you up and 
please you with whispers of the future ? ' 



JANE EYEE 239 

1 Not I. The utmost I hope is, to save money enough 
out of my earnings to set up a school some day in a little 
house rented by myself.' 

' A mean nutriment for the spirit to exist on : and sitting 
in that window-seat (you see I know your habits) ' 

' You have learned them from the servants.' 

' Ah ! you think yourself sharp. Well perhaps I have : 
to speak truth, I have an acquaintance with one of them 
Mrs. Poole ' 

I started to my feet when I heard the name. 

1 You have have you ? ' thought I ; ' there is diablerie in 
the business after all, then ! ' 

' Don't be alarmed,' continued the strange being ; ' she's 
a safe hand, is Mrs. Poole : close and quiet : any one may 
repose confidence in her. But, as I was saying : sitting in 
that window-seat, do you think of nothing but your future 
school ? Have you no present interest in any of the com- 
pany who occupy the sofas and chairs before you ? Is there 
not one face you study ? One figure whose movements you 
follow with, at least, curiosity ? ' 

' I like to observe all the faces, and all the figures.' 

' But do you never single one from the rest or it may 
be, two ? ' 

' I do frequently ; when the gestures or looks of a pair 
seem telling a tale : it amuses me to watch them.' 

' What tale do you like best to hear ? ' 

1 Oh, I have not much choice ! They generally run on 
the same theme courtship ; and promise to end in the same 
catastrophe m arriage. ' 

' And do you like that monotonous theme ? ' 

' Positively, I don't care about it : it is nothing to me.' 

' Nothing to you ? When a lady, young and full of life 
and health, charming with beauty and endowed with the gifts 
of rank and fortune, sits and smiles in the eyes of a gentle- 
man you ' 

' I what ? ' 

' You know and, perhaps, think well of ? ' 



240 JANE EYRE 

1 1 don't know the gentlemen here. I have scarcely inter- 
changed a syllable with one of them ; and as to thinking well 
of them, I consider some respectable and stately, and middle- 
aged, and others young, dashing, handsome and lively : but 
certainly they are all at liberty to be the recipients of whose 
smiles they please, without my feeling disposed to consider 
the transaction of any moment to me.' 

' You don't know the gentlemen here ? You have not 
exchanged a syllable with one of them ? Will you say that 
of the master of the house ? ' 

' He is not at home.' 

1 A profound remark ! A most ingenious quibble ! He 
went to Millcote this morning, and will be back here to-night, 
or to-morrow : does that circumstance exclude him from 
the list of your acquaintance blot him, as it were, out of 
existence ? ' 

' No : but I can scarcely see what Mr. Rochester has to 
do with the theme you had introduced.' 

' I was talking of ladies smiling in the eyes of gentlemen ; 
and of late so many smiles have been shed into Mr. 
Rochester's eyes that they overflow like two cups filled 
above the brim : have you never remarked that ? ' 

' Mr. Rochester has a right to enjoy the society of his 
guests.' 

' No question about his right : but have you never ob- 
served that, of all the tales told here about matrimony, Mr. 
Rochester has been favoured with the most lively and the 
most continuous ? ' 

' The eagerness of a listener quickens the tongue of a 
narrator.' I said this rather to myself than to the gipsy ; 
whose strange talk, voice, manner, had by this time wrapped 
me in a kind of dream. One unexpected sentence came from 
her lips after another, till I got involved in a web of mystifi- 
cation ; and wondered what unseen spirit had been sitting 
for weeks by my heart watching its workings and taking 
record of every pulse. 

' Eagerness of a listener 1 ' repeated she : ' yes ; Mr. 



JANE EYRE 241 

Rochester has sat by the hour, his ear inclined to the 
fascinating lips that took such delight in their task of com- 
municating ; and Mr. Rochester was so willing to receive 
and looked so grateful for the pastime given him : you have 
noticed this ? ' 

' Grateful ! I cannot remember detecting gratitude in 
his face.' 

' Detecting ! You have analysed, then. And what did 
you detect, if not gratitude ? ' 

I said nothing. 

' You have seen love : have you not ? and, looking for- 
ward, you have seen him married and beheld his bride 
happy ? ' 

' Humph ! Not exactly. Your witch's skill is rather at 
fault sometimes.' 

' What the devil have you seen, then ? ' 

' Never mind : I came here to inquire, not to confess. Is 
it known that Mr. Rochester is to be married ? ' 

' Yes ; and to the beautiful Miss Ingram.' 

1 Shortly ? ' 

1 Appearances would warrant that conclusion ; and, no 
doubt (though, with an audacity that wants chastising out of 
you, you seem to question it), they will be a superlatively 
happy pair. He must love such a handsome, noble, witty, 
accomplished lady ; and probably she loves him : or, if not 
his person, at least his purse. I know she considers the 
Rochester estate eligible to the last degree ; though (God 
pardon me !) I told her something on that point about an 
hour ago, which made her look wondrous grave : the corners 
of her mouth fell half an inch. I would advise her black- 
aviced suitor to look out : if another comes with a longer, or 
clearer rent-roll, he's dished ' 

' But, mother, I did not come to hear Mr. Rochester's 
fortune : I came to hear my own ; and you have told me 
nothing of it.' 

' Your fortune is yet doubtful : when I examined your 
face, one trait contradicted another. Chance has meted you 



242 JANE EYRE 

a measure of happiness : that I know. I knew it before I 
came here this evening. She has laid it carefully on one side 
for you. I saw her do it. It depends on yourself to stretch 
out your hand, and take it up ; but whether you will do so, 
is the problem I study. Kneel again on the rug.' 

' Don't keep me long ; the fire scorches me.' 

I knelt. She did not stoop towards me, but only gazed 
leaning back in her chair. She began muttering, 'The 
flame flickers in the eye, the eye shines like dew : it looks 
soft and full of feeling ; it smiles at my jargon : it is 
susceptible ; impression follows impression through its 
clear sphere ; where it ceases to smile, it is sad ; an 
unconscious lassitude weighs on the lid: that signifies 
melancholy resulting from loneliness. It turns from me ; it 
will not suffer farther scrutiny ; it seems to deny, by a mock- 
ing glance, the truth of the discoveries I have already made, 
to disown the charge both of sensibility and chagrin : its 
pride and reserve only confirm me in my opinion. The eye 
is favourable. 

' As to the mouth, it deli ghts at times in laughter ; it is 
disposed to impart all that the brain conceives; though I 
daresay it would be silent on much the heart experiences. 
Mobile and flexible, it was never intended to be compressed in 
the eternal silence of solitude : it is a mouth which should 
speak much and smile often and have human affection for 
its interlocutor. That feature too is propitious. 

' I see no enemy to a fortunate issue but in the brow ; and 
that brow professes to say, " I can live alone, if self-respect 
and circumstances require me so to do. I need not sell my soul 
to buy bliss. I have an inward treasure, born with me, 
which can keep me alive if all extraneous delights should be 
withheld ; or offered only at a price I cannot afford to give." 
The forehead declares, " Eeason sits firm and holds the reins, 
and she will not let the feelings burst away and hurry her to 
wild chasms. The passions may rage furiously, like true 
heathens, as they are ; and the desires may imagine all sorts 
of vain things : but judgment shall still have the last word 



JANE EYBE 243 

in every argument, and the casting vote in every decision. 
Strong wind, earthquake-shock, and fire may pass by : but 
I shall follow the guiding of that still small voice which 
interprets the dictates of conscience." 

' Well said, forehead ; your declaration shall be respected. 
I have formed my plans right plans I deem them and in 
them I have attended to the claims of conscience, the 
counsels of reason. I know how soon youth would fade 
and bloom perish, if, in the cup of bliss offered, but one dreg 
of shame, or one flavour of remorse were detected; and I 
do not want sacrifice, sorrow, dissolution such is not my 
taste. I wish to foster, not to blight to earn gratitude, not 
to wring tears of blood no, nor of brine : my harvest must be 
in smiles, in endearments, in sweet. That will do. I think 
I rave in a kind of exquisite delirium. I should wish now 
to protract this moment ad infinitum ; but I dare not. So 
far I have governed myself thoroughly. I have acted as 
I inwardly swore I would act ; but farther might try me 
beyond my strength. Eise, Miss Eyre : leave me ; " the play 
is played out." ' 

Where was I? Did I wake or sleep? Had I been 
dreaming? Did I dream still? The old woman's voice 
had changed : her accent, her gesture, and all were familiar 
to me as my own face in a glass as the speech of my own 
tongue. I got up, but did not go. I looked ; I stirred the 
fire, and I looked again : but she drew her bonnet and her 
bandage closer about her face, and again beckoned me to 
depart. The flame illuminated her hand stretched out : 
roused now, and on the alert for discoveries, I at once 
noticed that hand. It was no more the withered limb of eld 
than my own ; it was a rounded supple member, with 
smooth fingers, symmetrically turned ; a broad ring flashed 
on the little finger, and stooping forward, I looked at it, and 
saw a gem I had seen a hundred times before. Again I 
looked at the face ; which was no longer turned from me 
on the contrary, the bonnet was doffed, the bandage displaced, 
the head advanced. 



244 JANE EYKE 

1 Well, Jane, do you know me ? ' asked the familiar voice. 

1 Only take off the red cloak, sir, and then ' 

' But the string is in a knot help me. 1 

1 Break it, sir.' 

1 There, then" Off, ye lendings ! " ' 

And Mr. Kochester stepped out of his disguise. 

' Now, sir, what a strange idea ! ' 

1 But well carried out, eh ? Don't you think so ? ' 

1 With the ladies you must have managed well.' 

1 But not with you ? ' 

1 You did not act the character of a gipsy with me.' 

1 What character did I act ? My own ? ' 

' No ; some unaccountable one. In short, I believe you 
have been trying to draw me out or in ; you have been 
talking nonsense to make me talk nonsense. It is scarcely 
fair, sir.' 

' Do you forgive me, Jane ? ' 

' I cannot tell till I have thought it all over. If, on re- 
flection, I find I have fallen into no great absurdity, I 
shall try to forgive you ; but it was not right.' 

' Oh ! you have been very correct very careful, very 
sensible.' 

I reflected, and thought, on the whole, I had. It was a 
comfort ; but, indeed, I had been on my guard almost from 
the beginning of the interview. Something of masquerade I 
suspected. I knew gipsies and fortune-tellers did not express 
themselves as this seeming old woman had expressed her- 
self ; besides, I had noted her feigned voice, her anxiety to 
conceal her features. But my mind had been running on 
Grace Poole that living enigma, that mystery of mysteries, 
as I considered her. I had never thought of Mr. Eochester. 

' Well,' said he, ' what are you musing about ? What 
does that grave smile signify ? ' 

' Wonder and self-congratulation, sir. I have your per- 
mission to retire now, I suppose ? ' 

'No; stay a moment; and tell me what the people in 
the drawing-room yonder are doing.' 



JANE EYEE 245 

1 Discussing the gipsy, I daresay. 

I Sit down ! Let me hear what they said about me.' 

I 1 had better not stay long, sir ; it must be near eleven 
o'clock. Oh ! are you aware, Mr. Rochester, that a stranger 
has arrived here since you left this morning ? ' 

' A stranger ! no ; who can it be ? I expected no one ; 
is he gone ? ' 

' No ; he said he had known you long, and that he 
could take the liberty of installing himself here till you 
returned.' 

' The devil he did ! Did he give his name ? ' 

1 His name is Mason, sir ; and he comes from the West 
Indies ; from Spanish Town, in Jamaica, I think.' 

Mr. Rochester was standing near me ; he had taken my 
hand, as if to lead me to a chair. As I spoke, he gave my 
wrist a convulsive grip ; the smile on his lips froze : appa- 
rently a spasm caught his breath. 

'Mason! the West Indies!' he said, in the tone one 
might fancy a speaking automaton to enounce its single 
words ; ' Mason ! the West Indies ! ' he reiterated ; and he 
went over the syllables three times, growing, in the intervals 
of speaking, whiter than ashes : he hardly seemed to know 
what he was doing. 

' Do you feel ill, sir ? ' I inquired. 

' Jane, I've got a blow ; I've got a blow, Jane ! ' he 
staggered. 

1 Oh ! lean on me, sir.' 

' Jane, you offered me your shoulder once before ; let me 
have it now.' 

1 Yes, sir, yes ; and my arm.' 

He sat down, and made me sit beside him. Holding my 
hand in both his own, he chafed it ; gazing on me, at the 
same time, with the most troubled and dreary look. 

1 My little friend ! ' said he, ' I wish I were in a quiet 
island with only you ; and trouble, and danger, and hideous 
recollections removed from me.' 

' Can I help you, sir ?- I'd give my life to serve you.' 



246 JANE EYRE 

' Jane, if aid is wanted, I'll seek it at your hands ; I 
promise you that.' 

' Thank you, sir ; tell me what to do, I'll try, at least, 
to do it.' 

' Fetch me now, Jane, a glass of wine from the dining- 
room ; they will be at supper there ; and tell me if Mason is 
with them, and what he is doing.' 

I went. I found all the party in the dining-room at 
supper, as Mr. Rochester had said ; they were not seated at 
table, the supper was arranged on the side-board ; each 
had taken what he chose, and they stood about here and 
there in groups, their plates and glasses in their hands. 
Every one seemed in high glee ; laughter and conversation 
were general and animated. Mr. Mason stood near the fire, 
talking to Colonel and Mrs. Dent, and appeared as merry as 
any of them. I filled a wine-glass (I saw Miss Ingram watch 
me frowningly as I did so : she thought I was taking a liberty, 
I daresay), and I returned to the library. 

Mr. Rochester's extreme pallor had disappeared, and he 
looked once more firm and stern. He took the glass from 
my hand. 

' Here is to your health, ministrant spirit ! ' he said : he 
swallowed the contents and returned it to me. ' What are 
they doing, Jane ? ' 

' Laughing and talking, sir.' 

' They don't look grave and mysterious, as if they had 
heard something strange ? ' 

' Not at all they are full of jests and gaiety.' 

1 And Mason ? ' 

1 He was laughing too.' 

' If all these people came in a body and spat at me, what 
would you do, Jane ? ' 

' Turn them out of the room, sir, if I could.' 

He half smiled. ' But if I were to go to them, and they 
only looked at me coldly, and whispered sneeringly amongst 
each other, and then dropt off and left me one by one, what 
then ? Would you go with them ? ' 



JANE EYKE 247 

' I rather think not, sir : I should have more pleasure in 
staying with you.' 

' To comfort me ? ' 

' Yes, sir, to comfort you, as well as I could.' 

' And if they laid you under a ban for adhering to me ? ' 

' I, probably, should know nothing about their ban ; and 
if I did, I should care nothing about it.' 

' Then, you could dare censure for my sake ? ' 

' I could dare it for the sake of any friend who deserved 
my adherence ; as you, I am sure, do.' 

' Go back now into the room ; step quietly up to Mason, 
and whisper in his ear that Mr. Rochester is come and 
wishes to see him : show him in here and then leave me.' 

' Yes, sir.' 

I did his behest. The company all stared at me as I 
passed straight among them. I sought Mr. Mason, delivered 
the message, and preceded him from the room : I ushered 
him into the library, and then I went upstairs. 

At a late hour, after I had been in bed some time, I 
heard the visitors repair to their chambers : I distinguished 
Mr. Eochester's voice, and heard him say, ' This way, 
Mason ; this is your room.' 

He spoke cheerfully : the gay tones set my heart at ease 
I was soon asleep. 



CHAPTER XX 

I HAD forgotten to draw my curtain, which -I usually did ; 
and also to let down my window-blind. The consequence 
was, that when the moon, which was full and bright (for the 
night was fine), came in her course to that space in the sky 
opposite my casement, and looked in at me through the 
unveiled panes, her glorious gaze roused me. Awaking in 
the dead of night, I opened my eyes on her disk silver- 
white and crystal-clear. It was beautiful, but too solemn : I 
half rose, and stretched my arm to draw the curtain. 

Good God ! What a cry ! 

The night its silence its rest, was rent in twain, by a 
savage, a sharp, a shrilly sound that ran from end to end of 
Thornfield Hall. 

My pulse stopped : my heart stood still ; my stretched 
arm was paralysed. The cry died, and was not renewed. 
Indeed, whatever being uttered that fearful shriek could not 
soon repeat it : not the widest- winged condor on the Andes 
could, twice in succession, send out such a yell from the 
cloud shrouding his eyrie. The thing delivering such utter- 
ance must rest ere it could repeat the effort. 

It came out of the third story ; for it passed overhead. 
And overhead yes, in the room just above my chamber 
ceiling I now heard a struggle : a deadly one it seemed 
from the noise ; and a half -smothered voice shouted' Help ! 
help ! help ! ' three times rapidly. 

' Will no one come ? ' it cried ; and then, while the stag 
gering and stamping went on wildly, I distinguished through 
plank and plaster : ' Rochester ! Rochester ! for God's sake, 
come ! ' 



JANE EYRE 249 

A chamber door opened : some one ran, or rushed, along 
the gallery. Another step stamped on the flooring above, and 
something fell ; and there was silence. 

I had put on some clothes, though horror shook all my 
limbs : I issued from my apartment. The sleepers were all 
aroused : ejaculations, terrified murmurs, sounded in every 
room ; door after door unclosed : one looked out and another 
looked out ; the gallery filled. Gentlemen and ladies alike had 
quitted their beds ; and ' Oh ! what is it ? ' ' Who is hurt ? ' 
' What has happened ? ' ' Fetch a light ! ' ' Is it fire ? ' 
1 Are there robbers ? ' ' Where shall we run ? ' was demanded 
confusedly on all hands. But for the moonlight they would 
have been in complete darkness. They ran to and fro ; they 
crowded together; some sobbed, some stumbled: the con- 
fusion was inextricable. 

1 Where the devil is Rochester ? ' cried Colonel Dent. ' I 
cannot find him in his bed.' 

' Here ! here ! ' was shouted in return. ' Be composed, 
all of you : I'm coming.' 

And the door at the end of the gallery opened, and Mr. 
Rochester advanced with a candle : he had just descended 
from the upper story. One of the ladies ran to him directly ; 
she seized his arm : it was Miss Ingram. 

' What awful event has taken place ? ' said she. ' Speak ! 
let us know the worst at once ! ' 

1 But don't pull me down or strangle me,' he replied : for 
the Misses Eshton were clinging about him now ; and the 
two dowagers, in vast white wrappers, were bearing down on 
him like ships in full sail. 

1 All's right ! all's right ! ' he cried. ' It's a mere 
rehearsal of Much Ado About Nothing. Ladies, keep off ; 
or I shall wax dangerous.' 

And dangerous he looked : his black eyes darted sparks. 
Calming himself by an effort, he added : ' A servant has had 
the nightmare ; that is all. She's an excitable, nervous 
person : she construed her dream into an apparition, or 
something of that sort, no doubt ; and has taken a fit with 



250 JANE EYEE 

fright. Now, then, I must see you all back into your rooms ; 
for, till the house is settled she cannot be looked after. 
Gentlemen, have the goodness to set the ladies the example. 
Miss Ingram, I am sure you will not fail in evincing 
superiority to idle terrors. Amy and Louisa, return to your 
nests like a pair of doves, as you are. Mesdames ' (to the 
dowagers), ' you will take cold to a dead certainty, if you stay 
in this chill gallery any longer.' 

And so, by dint of alternate coaxing and commanding, he 
contrived to get them all once more enclosed in their separate 
dormitories. I did not wait to be ordered back to mine ; but 
retreated unnoticed : as unnoticed I had left it. 

Not, however, to go to bed : on the contrary, I began and 
dressed myself carefully. The sounds I had heard after the 
scream, and the words that had been uttered, had probably 
been heard only by me ; for they had proceeded from the 
room above mine : but they assured me that it was not a 
servant's dream which had thus struck horror through the 
house ; and that the explanation Mr. Rochester had given 
was merely an invention framed to pacify his guests. I 
dressed, then, to be ready for emergencies. When dressed, 
I sat a long time by the window, looking out over the silent 
grounds and silvered fields, and waiting for I knew not what. 
It seemed to me that some event must follow the strange cry, 
struggle, and call. 

No : stillness returned : each murmur and movement 
ceased gradually, and in about an hour Thornfield Hall was 
again as hushed as a desert. It seemed that sleep and night 
had resumed their empire. Meantime the moon declined : 
she was about to set. Not liking to sit in the cold and 
darkness, I thought I would lie down on my bed, dressed as 
I was. I left the window, and moved with little noise across 
the carpet ; as I stooped to take off my shoes, a cautious 
hand tapped low at the door. 

1 Am I wanted ? ' I asked. 

' Are you up ? ' asked the voice I expected to hear, viz, 
my master's, 



JANE EYBE 251 

' Yes, sir.' 

' And dressed ? ' 

' Yes.' 

' Come out, then, quietly.' 

I obeyed. Mr. Bochester stood in the gallery, holding a 
light. 

' I want you,' he said : ' come this way : take your time 
and make no noise.' 

My slippers were thin : I could walk the matted floor as 
softly as a cat. He glided up the gallery and up the stairs, 
and stopped in the dark, low corridor of the fateful third story : 
I had followed and stood at his side. 

' Have you a sponge in your room ? ' he asked in a 
whisper. 

' Yes, sir.' 

' Have you any salts volatile salts ? ' 

' Yes.' 

' Go back and fetch both.' 

I returned, sought the sponge on the wash-stand, the 
salts in my drawer, and once more retraced my steps. He 
still waited ; he held a key in his hand : approaching one of 
the small, black doors, he put it in the lock ; he paused and 
addressed me again. 

' You don't turn sick at the sight of blood ? ' 

' I think I shall not : I have never been tried yet.' 

I felt a thrill while I answered him ; but no coldness, 
and no faintness. 

' Just give me your hand,' he said ; ' it will not do to 
risk a fainting fit.' 

I put my fingers into his. ' Warm and steady,' was his 
remark : he turned the key and opened the door. 

I saw a room I remembered to have seen before ; the 
day Mrs. Fairfax showed me over the house : it was hung 
with tapestry ; but the tapestry was now looped up in one 
part, and there was a door apparent, which had then been 
concealed. This door was open ; a light shone out of the 
room within : I heard thence a snarling, snatching sound, 



JANE EYRE 

almost like a dog quarrelling. Mr. Rochester, putting down 
his candle, said to me, ' Wait a minute,' and he went forward 
to the inner apartment. A shout of laughter greeted his 
entrance ; noisy at first, and terminating in Grace Poole's 
own goblin ha ! ha ! SJie then was there. He made some 
sort of arrangement, without speaking: though I heard a 
low voice address him : he came out and closed the door 
behind him. 

' Here, Jane ! ' he said ; and I walked round to the other 
side of a large bed, which with its drawn curtains concealed 
a considerable portion of the chamber. An easy-chair was 
near the bed-head : a man sat in it, dressed with the 
exception of his coat ; he was still ; his head leant back ; 
his eyes were closed. Mr. Rochester held the candle over 
him ; I recognised in his pale and seemingly lifeless face the 
stranger, Mason : I saw too that his linen on one side, and 
one arm, was almost soaked in blood. 

' Hold the candle,' said Mr. Rochester, and I took it ; he 
fetched a basin of water from the wash-stand : ' Hold that,' 
said he. I obeyed. He took the sponge, dipped it in and 
moistened the corpse-like face : he asked for my smelling- 
bottle, and applied it to the nostrils. Mr. Mason shortly 
unclosed his eyes ; he groaned. Mr. Rochester opened the 
shirt of the wounded man, whose arm and shoulder were 
bandaged : he sponged away blood, trickling fast down. 

' Is there immediate danger,' murmured Mr. Mason. 

' Pooh ! No a mere scratch. Don't be so overcome, 
man : bear up ! I'll fetch a surgeon for you now, myself : 
you'll be able to be removed by morning, I hope. Jane,' he 
continued. 

'Sir?' 

' I shall have to leave you in this room with this gentle- 
man, for an hour, or perhaps two hours ; you will sponge 
the blood as I do when it returns : if he feels faint, you will 
put the glass of water on that stand to his lips, and your 
salts to his nose. You will not speak to him on any pretext 
and Richard it will be at the peril of your life if you 



JANE EYEE 253 

speak to her : open your lips agitate yourself and I'll not 
answer for the consequences.' 

Again the poor man groaned : he looked as if he dared 
not move : fear, either of death or of something else, 
appeared almost to paralyse him. Mr. Eochester put the 
now bloody sponge into my hand, and I proceeded to use it 
as he had done. He watched me a second, then saying, 
1 Eemember ! No conversation,' he left the room. I 
experienced a strange feeling as the key grated in the 
lock, and the sound of his retreating step ceased to be 
heard. 

Here then I was in the third story, fastened into one of 
its mystic cells ; night around me ; a pale and bloody 
spectacle under my eyes and hands; a murderess hardly 
separated from me by a single door : yes that was appal- 
ling the rest I could bear ; but I shuddered at the thought 
of Grace Poole bursting out upon me. 

I must keep to my post, however. I must watch this 
ghastly countenance these blue, still lips forbidden to 
unclose these eyes now shut, now opening, now wandering 
through the room, now fixing on me, and ever glazed with 
the dulness of horror. I must dip my hand again and again 
in the basin of blood and water, and wipe away the trickling 
gore. I must see the light of the unsnuffed candle wane on 
my employment ; the shadows darken on the wrought-antique 
tapestry round me, and grow black under the hangings of 
the vast old bed, and quiver strangely over the doors of a 
great cabinet opposite whose front, divided into twelve 
panels, bore in grim design the heads of the twelve apostles, 
each inclosed in its separate panel as in a frame ; while 
above them at the top rose an ebon crucifix and a dying 
Christ. 

According as the shifting obscurity and flickering gleam 
hovered here or glanced there, it was now the bearded 
physician, Luke, that bent his brow ; now St. John's long 
hair that waved ; and anon the devilish face of Judas, 
that grew out of the panel, and seemed gathering life and 



254 JANE EYRE 

threatening a revelation of the arch-traitor of Satan himself 
in his subordinate's form. 

Amidst all this, I had to listen as well as watch : to listen 
for the movements of the wild beast or the fiend in yonder 
side den. But since Mr. Rochester's visit it seemed spell- 
bound : all the night I heard but three sounds at three 
long intervals, a step creak, a momentary renewal of the 
snarling, canine noise, and a deep human groan. 

Then my own thoughts worried me. What crime was 
this, that lived incarnate in this sequestered mansion, and 
could neither be expelled nor subdued by the owner ? What 
mystery, that broke out, now in fire and now in blood, at the 
deadest hours of night ? What creature was it, that, masked 
in an ordinary woman's face and shape, uttered the voice, now 
of a mocking demon, and anon of a carrion-seeking bird 
of prey ? 

And this man I bent over this commonplace, quiet 
stranger how had he become involved in the web of horror ? 
and why had the Fury flown at him ? What made him seek 
this quarter of the house at an untimely season, when he 
should have been asleep in bed ? I had heard Mr. Rochester 
assign him an apartment below what brought him here ? 
And why, now, was he so tame under the violence or 
treachery done him ? Why did he so quietly submit to the 
concealment Mr. Rochester enforced ? Why did Mr. Roches- 
ter enforce this concealment ? His guest had been outraged, 
his own life on a former occasion had been hideously plotted 
against; and both attempts he smothered in secrecy and 
sank in oblivion ! Lastly, I saw Mr. Mason was submissive 
to Mr. Rochester ; that the impetuous will of the latter held 
complete sway over the inertness of the former : the few 
words which had passed between them assured me of this. 
It was evident that in their former intercourse, the passive 
disposition of the one had been habitually influenced by the 
active energy of the other : whence then had arisen 
Mr. Rochester's dismay when he heard of Mr. Mason's 
arrival? Why had the mere name of this, unresisting 



JANE EYRE 255 

individual whom his word now sufficed to control like 
a child fallen on him, a few hours since, as a thunderbolt 
might fall on an oak ? 

Oh ! I could not forget his look and his paleness when 
he whispered : ' Jane, I have got a blow I have got a blow, 
Jane.' I could not forget how the arm had trembled which 
he had rested on my shoulder : and it was no light matter 
which could thus bow the resolute spirit and thrill the 
vigorous frame of Fairfax Rpchester. 

' When will he come ? When will he come ? ' I cried 
inwardly, as the night lingered and lingered as my bleeding 
patient drooped, moaned, sickened : and neither day nor aid 
arrived. I had, again and again, held the water to Mason's 
white lips ; again and again offered him the stimulating salts : 
my efforts seemed ineffectual : either bodily or mental 
suffering, or loss of blood, or all three combined, were fast 
prostrating his strength. He moaned so, and looked so weak, 
wild, and lost, I feared he was dying ; and I might not even 
speak to him. 

The candle, wasted at last, went out ; as it expired, I 
perceived streaks of grey light edging the window curtains : 
dawn was then approaching. Presently I heard Pilot bark 
far below, out of his distant kennel in the courtyard : hope 
revived. Nor was it unwarranted : in five minutes more the 
grating key, the yielding lock, warned me my watch was 
relieved. It could not have lasted more than two hours : 
many a week has seemed shorter. 

Mr. Rochester entered, and with him the surgeon he had 
been to fetch. 

' Now, Carter, be on the alert,' he said to this last : ' I 
give you but half an hour for dressing the wound, fastening 
the bandages, getting the patient downstairs and all.' 

' But is he fit to move, sir ? ' 

' No doubt of it ; it is nothing serious : he is nervous, his 
spirits must be kept up. Come set to work.' 

Mr. Rochester drew back the thick curtain, drew up the 
holland blind, let in all the daylight he could ; and I was 



256 JANE EYRE 

surprised and cheered to see how far dawn was advanced : 
what rosy streaks were beginning to brighten the east. Then 
he approached Mason, whom the surgeon was already 
handling. 

' Now, my good fellow, how are you ? ' he asked. 

' She's done for me, I fear,' was the faint reply. 

' Not a whit ! courage ! This day fortnight you'll hardly 
be a pin the worse of it : you've lost a little blood ; that's all. 
Carter, assure him there's no danger.' 

' I can do that conscientiously,' said Carter, who had now 
undone the bandages ; ' only I wish I could have got here 
sooner : he would not have bled so much but how is this ? 
The flesh on the shoulder is torn as well as cut. This 
wound was not done with a knife : there have been teeth 
here ! ' 

' She bit me,' he murmured. ' She worried me like a 
tigress, when Eochester got the knife from her.' 

4 You should not have yielded : you should have grappled 
with her at once," said Mr. Kochester. 

'But under such circumstances, what could one do?' 
returned Mason. ' Oh, it was frightful ! ' he added, shudder- 
ing. ' And I did not expect it : she looked so quiet at first.' 

1 1 warned you,' was his friend's answer ; ' I said be on 
your guard when you go near her. Besides, you might have 
waited till to-morrow, and had me with you : it was mere 
folly to attempt the interview to-night and alone.' 

' I thought I could have done some good.' 

' You thought ! you thought ! Yes ; it makes me 
impatient to hear you : but, however, you have suffered, and 
are likely to suffer enough for not taking my advice ; so I'll 
say no more. Carter hurry ! hurry ! The sun will soon 
rise, and I must have him off.' 

' Directly, sir ; the shoulder is just bandaged. I must 
look to this other wound in the arm : she has had her teeth 
here too, I think.' 

1 She sucked the blood : she said she'd drain my heart,' 
said Mason. 



JANE EYRE 257 

I saw Mr. Rochester shudder: a singularly marked 
expression of disgust, horror, hatred, warped his countenance 
almost to distortion ; but he only said : ' Come, be silent, 
Richard, and never mind her gibberish : don't repeat it.' 

' I wish I could forget it,' was the answer. 

' You will when you are out of the country : when 
you get back to Spanish Town, you may think of her as 
dead and buried or rather, you need not think of her 
at all.' 

' Impossible to forget this night ! ' 

' It is not impossible : have some energy, man. You 
thought you were as dead as a herring two hours since, and 
you are all alive and talking now. There ! Carter has done 
with you or nearly so; I'll make you decent in a trice. 
Jane ' (he turned to me for the first time since his re- 
entrance), ' take this key : go down into my bedroom, and 
walk straight forward into my dressing-room ; open the top 
drawer of the wardrobe and take out a clean shirt and neck- 
handkerchief : bring them here ; and be nimble.' 

I went ; sought the repository he had mentioned, found 
the articles named and returned with them. 

' Now,' said he, ' go to the other side of the bed while I 
order his toilet ; but don't leave the room : you may be 
wanted again.' 

I retired as directed. 

'Was anybody stirring below when you went down, 
Jane ? ' inquired Mr. Rochester, presently. 

' No, sir ; all was very still.' 

' We shall get you off cannily, Dick : and it will be better, 
both for your sake, and for that of the poor creature in 
yonder. I have striven long to avoid exposure, and I should 
not like it to come at last. Here, Carter, help him on with 
his waistcoat. Where did you leave your furred cloak? 
You can't travel a mile without that, I know, in this damned 
cold climate. In your room? Jane, run down to Mr. 
Mason's room, the one next mine, and fetch a cloak you 
will see there.' 

B 



258 JANE EYEE 

Again I ran, and again returned, bearing an immense 
mantle lined and edged with fur. 

' Now I've another errand for you,' said my untiring 
master ; ' you must away to my room again. What a mercy 
you are shod with velvet, Jane ! a clod-hopping messenger 
would never do at this juncture. You must open the middle 
drawer of my toilet- table and take out a little phial and a 
little glass you will find there, quick ! ' 

I flew thither and back, bringing the desired vessels. 

' That's well ! Now, doctor, I shall take the liberty of 
administering a dose myself ; on my own responsibility. I 
got this cordial at Rome of an Italian charlatan a fellow 
you would have kicked, Carter. It is not a thing to be used 
indiscriminately, but it is good upon occasion : as now, for 
instance. Jane, a little water.' 

He held out the tiny glass, and I half filled it from the 
water bottle on the wash-stand. 

' That will do now wet the lip of the phial.' 

I did so : he measured twelve drops of a crimson liquid, 
and presented it to Mason. 

I Drink, Richard : it will give you the heart you lack, for 
an hour or so.' 

' But will it hurt me ? is it inflammatory ? ' 

' Drink 1 drink ! drink ! ' 

Mr. Mason obeyed, because it was evidently useless to 
resist. He was dressed now : he still looked pale, but he 
was no longer gory and sullied. Mr. Rochester let him sit 
three minutes after he had swallowed the liquid ; he then 
took his arm. 

' Now I am sure you can get on your feet,' he said 
'try.' 

The patient rose. 

' Carter, take him under the other shoulder. Be of good 
cheer, Richard ; step out that's it ! ' 

' I do feel better,' remarked Mr. Mason. 

I 1 am sure you do. Now, Jane, trip on before us away 
to the backstairs ; unbolt the side-passage door, and tell the 



JANE EYEE 259 

driver of the post-chaise you will see in the yard or just 
outside, for I told him not to drive his rattling wheels over 
the pavement to be ready ; we are coming : and, Jane, if 
any one is about, come to the foot of the stairs and hem.' 

It was by this time half-past five, and the sun was on the 
point of rising ; but I found the kitchen still dark and silent. 
The side-passage door was fastened; I opened it with as 
little noise as possible : all the yard was quiet ; but the gates 
stood wide open, and there was a post-chaise, with horses 
ready harnessed, and driver seated on the box, stationed 
outside. I approached him, and said the gentlemen were 
coming ; he nodded : then I looked carefully round and 
listened. The stillness of early morning slumbered every- 
where ; the curtains were yet drawn over the servants' 
chamber windows; little birds were just twittering in the 
blossom-blanched orchard trees, whose boughs drooped like 
white garlands over the wall enclosing one side of the yard ; 
the carriage horses stamped from time to time in their closed 
stables : all else was still. 

The gentlemen now appeared. Mason, supported by 
Mr. Eochester and the surgeon, seemed to walk with tolerable 
ease : they assisted him into the chaise ; Carter followed. 

' Take care of him,' said Mr. Eochester to the latter, ' and 
keep him at your house till he is quite well : I shall ride 
over in a day or two to see how he gets on. Eiohard, how 
is it with you ? ' 

' The fresh air revives me, Fairfax.' 

' Leave the window open. on his side, Garter ; there is no 
wind good-bye, Dick,' 

' Fairfax ' 

'Well, what is it?' 

'Let her be taken care of ; let her be treated as tenderly 
as may be : let her ' he stopped and burst into tears. 

' I do my best ; and have done it, and will do it,' was the 
answer : he shut up the chaise door, and the vehicle drove 
away. 

' Yet would to God there was a,n end of all this I ' added 



260 JANE EYRE 

Mr. Rochester, as he closed and barred the heavy yard-gates. 
This done, he moved with slow step and abstracted air 
towards a door in the wall bordering the orchard. I, sup- 
posing he had done with me, prepared to return to the 
house ; again, however, I heard him call ' Jane ! ' He had 
opened the portal and stood at it, waiting for me. 

4 Come where there is some freshness, for a few moments,' 
he said ; ' that house is a mere dungeon : don't you feel it 
so?' 

' It seems to me a splendid mansion, sir.' 

1 The glamour of inexperience is over your eyes,' he 
answered ; ' and you see it through a charmed medium : you 
cannot discern that the gilding is slime and the silk draperies 
cobwebs ; that the marble is sordid slate, and the polished 
woods mere refuse chips and scaly bark. Now here ' (he 
pointed to the leafy enclosure we had entered) ' all is real, 
sweet, and pure.' 

He strayed down a walk edged with box; with apple 
trees, pear trees, and cherry trees on one side, and a border 
on the other, full of all sorts of old-fashioned flowers, stocks, 
sweet-williams, primroses, pansies, mingled with southern- 
wood, sweet-briar, and various fragrant herbs. They were 
fresh now as a succession of April showers and gleams, 
followed by a lovely spring morning, could make them : the 
sun was just entering the dappled east, and his light illumined 
the wreathed and dewy orchard trees and shone down the 
quiet walks under them. 

' Jane, will you have a flower ? ' 

He gathered a half -blown rose, the first on the bush, and 
offered it to me. 

' Thank you, sir.' 

' Do you like this sunrise, Jane ? That sky with its high 
and light clouds which are sure to melt away as the day 
waxes warm this placid and balmy atmosphere ? ' 

' I do, very much.' 

' You have passed a strange night, Jane.' 

'Yes, sir.' 



JANE EYRE 261 

' And it has made you look pale were you afraid when I 
left you alone with Mason ? ' 

' I was afraid of some one coming out of the inner room.' 

' But I had fastened the door I had the key in my 
pocket : I should have been a careless shepherd if I had left 
a lamb my pet lamb so near a wolf's den, unguarded : you 
were safe.' 

1 Will Grace Poole live here still, sir ? ' 

' Oh, yes ! don't trouble your head about her put the 
thing out of your thoughts.' 

' Yet it seems to me your life is hardly secure while she 
stays.' 

' Never fear I will take care of myself.' 

' Is the danger you apprehended last night gone by now 
sir?' 

' I cannot vouch for that till Mason is out of England : 
nor even then. To live, for me, Jane, is to stand on a crater- 
crust which may crack and spue fire any day.' 

' But Mr. Mason seems a man easily led. Your influence, 
sir, is evidently potent with him : he will never set you at 
defiance, or wilfully injure you.' 

' Oh, no ! Mason will not defy me ; nor, knowing it, will 
he hurt me but, unintentionally, he might in a moment, by 
one careless word, deprive me, if not of life, yet for ever of 
happiness.' 

' Tell him to be cautious, sir : let him know what you fear, 
and show him how to avert the danger.' 

He laughed sardonically, hastily took my hand, and as 
hastily threw it from him. 

' If I could do that, simpleton, where would the danger 
be ? Annihilated in a moment. Ever since I have known 
Mason I have only had to say to him " Do that," and the 
thing has been done. But I cannot give him orders in this 
case : I cannot say " Beware of harming me, Ei chard " ; for 
it is imperative that I should keep him ignorant that harm 
to me is possible. Now you look puzzled ; and I will 
puzzle you farther. You are my little friend, are you not ? ' 



262 JANE EYRE 

' I like to serve you, sir, and to obey you in all that is 
right.' 

' Precisely : I see you do. I see genuine contentment in 
your gait and mien, your eye and face, when you are helping 
me and pleasing me working for me, and with me, in, as you 
characteristically say, ' all that is right ' : for if I bid you do 
what you thought wrong, there would be no light-footed 
running, no neat-handed alacrity, no lively glance and anim- 
ated complexion. My friend would then turn to me, quiet 
and pale, and would say, " No, sir ; that is impossible : I can- 
not do it, because it is wrong ; " and would become immutable 
as a fixed star. Well, you too have power over me, and may 
injure me : yet I dare not show you where I am vulnerable, 
lest, faithful and friendly as you are, you should transfix me 
at once.' 

' If you have no more to fear from Mr. Mason than you 
have from me, sir, you are very safe.' 

' God grant it may be so ! Here, Jane, is an arbour ; sit 
down.' 

The arbour was an arch in the wall, lined with ivy ; it 
contained a rustic seat. Mr. Rochester took it, leaving room, 
however, for me : but I stood before him. 

' Sit,' he said ; ' the bench is long enough for two. You 
don't hesitate to take a place at my side, do you ? Is that 
wrong, Jane ? ' 

I answered him by assuming it : to refuse would, I felt, 
have been unwise. 

* Now, my little friend, while the sun drinks the dew 
while all the flowers in this old garden awake and expand, 
and the birds fetch their young ones' breakfast out of the 
cornfield, and the early bees do their first spell of work I'll 
put a case to you ; which you must endeavour to suppose 
your own : but first, look at me, and tell me you are at ease, 
and not fearing that I err in detaining you, or that you err 
in staying.' 

' No, sir ; I am content.' 

' Well then, Jane, call to aid your fancy suppose you 



JANE EYEE 263 

were no longer a girl well reared and disciplined, but a wild 
boy indulged from childhood upwards ; imagine yourself in 
a remote foreign land ; conceive that you there commit a 
capital error, no matter of what nature or from what motives, 
but one whose consequences must follow you through life 
and taint all your existence. Mind, I don't say a crime ', I 
am not speaking of shedding of blood or any other guilty 
act, which might make the perpetrator amenable to the law : 
my word is error. The results of what you have done 
become in time to you utterly insupportable ; you take 
measures to obtain relief : unusual measures, but neither 
unlawful nor culpable. Still you are miserable ; for hope 
has quitted you on the very confines of life : your sun at 
noon darkens in an eclipse, which you feel will not leave it 
till the time of setting. Bitter and base associations have 
become the sole food of your memory : you wander here and 
there, seeking rest in exile : happiness in pleasure I mean 
in heartless, sensual pleasure such as dulls intellect and 
blights feeling. Heart-weary and soul-withered, you come 
home after years of voluntary banishment ; you make a new 
acquaintance how or where no matter : you find in this 
stranger much of the good and bright qualities which you 
have sought for twenty years, and never before encountered ; 
and they are all fresh, healthy, without soil and without 
taint. Such society revives, regenerates : you feel better 
days come back higher wishes, purer feelings ; you desire 
to recommence your life, and to spend what remains to you 
of days in a way more worthy of an immortal being. To 
attain this end, are you justified in overleaping an obstacle 
of custom a mere conventional impediment, which neither 
your conscience sanctifies nor your judgment approves ? ' 

He paused for an answer : and what was I to say ? Oh, 
for some good spirit to suggest a judicious and satisfactory 
response ! Vain aspiration ! The west wind whispered in 
the ivy round me ; but no gentle Ariel borrowed its breath 
as a medium of speech : the birds sang in the tree-tops ; but 
their song, however sweet, was inarticulate. 



264 JANE EYRE 

Again Mr. Eochester propounded his query. 

' Is the wandering and sinful, but now rest-seeking and 
repentant, man justified in daring the world's opinion, in 
order to attach to him for ever this gentle, gracious, genial 
stranger ; thereby securing his own peace of mind and 
regeneration of life ? ' 

' Sir,' I answered, ' a wanderer's repose or a sinner's 
reformation should never depend on a fellow-creature. Men 
and women die ; philosophers falter in wisdom, and Christians 
in goodness : if any one you know has suffered and erred, 
let him look higher than his equals for strength to amend, 
and solace to heal.' 

' But the instrument the instrument ! God, who does 
the work, ordains the instrument. I have myself I tell it 
you without parable been a wordly, dissipated, restless 
man ; and I believe I have found the instrument for my cure, 
in ' 

He paused : the birds went on carolling, the leaves lightly 
rustling. I almost wondered they did not check their songs 
and whispers to catch the suspended revelation : but they 
would have had to wait many minutes so long was the 
silence protracted. At last I looked up at the tardy speaker : 
he was looking eagerly at me. 

' Little friend,' said he, in quite a changed tone while 
his face changed too ; losing all its softness and gravity, and 
becoming harsh and sarcastic ' you have noticed my tender 
penchant for Miss Ingram : don't you think if I married her 
she would regenerate me with a vengeance ? ' 

He got up instantly, went quite to the other end of 
the walk, and when he came back he was humming a 
tune. 

' Jane, Jane,' said he, stopping before me, ' you are quite 
pale with your vigils: don't you curse me for disturbing 
your rest ? ' 

' Curse you ? No sir.' 

' Shake hands in confirmation of the word. What cold 
fingers ! They were warmer last night when I touched them 



JANE EYKE 265 

at the door of the mysterious chamber. Jane, when will 
you watch with me again ? ' 

' Whenever I can be useful, sir.' 

1 For instance, the night before I am married ! I am sure 
I shall not be able to sleep. Will you promise to sit up 
with me to bear me company? To you I can talk of my 
lovely one : for now you have seen her and know her.' 

' Yes, sir.' 

1 She's a rare one, is she not, Jane ? ' 

' Yes, sir.' 

'A strapper a real strapper, Jane: big, brown, and 
buxom ; with hair just such as the ladies of Carthage must 
have had. Bless me ! there's Dent and Lynn in the stables ! 
Go in by the shrubbery, through that wicket.' 

As I went one way, he went another, and I heard him in 
the yard, saying cheeringly : ' Mason got the start of you 
all this morning ; he was gone before sunrise : I rose at four 
to see him off.' 



CHAPTER XXI 

PRESENTIMENTS are strange things ! and so are sympathies ; 
and so are signs : and the three combined make one mystery 
to which humanity has not yet found the key. I never 
laughed at presentiments in my life ; because I have had 
strange ones of my own. Sympathies, I believe, exist : (for 
instance, between far-distant, long-absent, wholly estranged 
relatives ; asserting, notwithstanding their alienation, the 
unity of the source to which each traces his origin) whose 
workings baffle mortal comprehension. And signs, for aught 
we know, may be but the sympathies of Nature with man. 

When I was a little girl, only six years old, I, one night, 
heard Bessie Leaven say to Martha Abbot that she had been 
dreaming about a little child ; and that to dream of children 
was a sure sign of trouble, either to one's self or one's kin. 
The saying might have worn out of my memory, had not a 
circumstance immediately followed which served indelibly to 
fix it there. The next day Bessie was sent for home to the 
deathbed of her little sister. 

Of late I had often recalled this saying and this incident ; 
for during the past week scarcely a night had gone over my 
couch that had not brought with it a dream of an infant : 
which I sometimes hushed in my arms, sometimes dandled 
on my knee, sometimes watched playing with daisies on a 
lawn ; or again, dabbling its hands in running water. It 
was a wailing child this night, and a laughing one the next : 
now it nestled close to me, and now it ran from me ; but 
whatever mood the apparition evinced, whatever aspect it 
wore, it failed not for seven successive nights to meet me 
the moment I entered the land of slumber. 



JANE EYEE 267 

I did not like this iteration of one idea this strange 
recurrence of one image ; and I grew nervous as bedtime 
approached, and the hour of the vision drew near. It was 
from companionship with this baby-phantom I had been 
roused on that moonlight night when I heard the cry ; and 
it was on the afternoon of the day following I was summoned 
downstairs by a message that some one wanted me in Mrs. 
Fairfax's room. On repairing thither, I found a man waiting 
for me, having the appearance of a gentleman's servant : he 
was dressed in deep mourning, and the hat he held in his 
hand was surrounded with a crape band. 

' I daresay you hardly remember me, miss,' he said, rising 
as I entered ; ' but my name is Leaven : I lived coachman 
with Mrs. Eeed when you were at Gateshead eight or nine 
years since, and I live there still.' 

' Oh, Eobert ! how do you do ? I remember you very 
well : you used to give me a ride sometimes on Miss 
Georgiana's bay pony. And how is Bessie? You are 
married to Bessie ? ' 

' Yes, miss : my wife is very hearty, thank you ; she 
brought me another little one about two months since we 
have three now and both mother and child are thriving.' 

' And are the family well at the house, Eobert ? ' 

' I am sorry I can't give you better news of them, miss : 
they are very badly at present in great trouble.' 

' I hope no one is dead,' I said glancing at his black dress. 
He too looked down at the crape round his hat and replied, 
' Mr. John died yesterday was a week, at his chambers in 
London.' ^y. 

'Mr. John?' 

1 Yes.' 

' And how does his mother bear it ? ' 

' Why you see, Miss Eyre, it is not a common mishap : 
his life has been very wild : these last three years he gave him- 
self up to strange ways ; and his death was shocking.' 

' I heard from Bessie he was not doing well.' 

' Doing well ! He could not do worse ; he ruined his 



268 JANE EYBE 

health and his estate amongst the worst men and the worst 
women. He got into debt and into jail : his mother helped 
him out twice, but as soon as he was free he returned to his 
old companions and habits. His head was not strong : the 
knaves he lived amongst fooled him beyond anything I 
ever heard. He came down to Gateshead about three weeks 
ago and wanted missus to give up all to him. Missis refused : 
her means have long been much reduced by his extravagance ; 
so he went back again, and the next news was that he was 
dead. How he died, God knows ! they say he killed him- 
self.' 

I was silent : the tidings were frightful. Robert Leaven re- 
sumed : ' Missishad been out of health herself for some time : 
she had got very stout, but was not strong with it ; and the loss 
of money and fear of poverty were quite breaking her down. 
The information about Mr. John's death and the manner of 
it came too suddenly : it brought on a stroke. She was three 
days without speaking ; but last Tuesday she seemed rather 
better : she appeared as if she wanted to say something, and 
kept making signs to my wife and mumbling. It was only 
yesterday morning, however, that Bessie understood she 
was pronouncing your name ; and at last she made out the 
words, " Bring Jane fetch Jane Eyre : I want to speak 
to her." Bessie is not sure whether she is in her 
right mind, or means anything by the words ; but she told 
Miss Reed and Miss Georgiana, and advised them to send 
for you. The young ladies put it off at first : but their 
mother grew so restless, and said, " Jane, Jane," so many 
times, that at last they consented. I left Gateshead yester- 
day ; and if you can get ready, miss, I should like to take 
you back with me early to-morrow morning.' 

' Yes, Robert, I shall be ready : it seems to me that I 
ought to go.' 

' I think so too, miss. Bessie said she was sure you 
would not refuse : but I suppose you will have to ask leave 
before you can get off? ' 

' Yes ; and I will do it now ' ; and having directed him to 



JANE EYEE 269 

the servants' hall, and recommended him to the care of 
John's wife, and the attentions of John himself, I went in 
search of Mr. Rochester. 

He was not in any of the lower rooms ; he was not in the 
yard, the stables, or the grounds. I asked Mrs. Fairfax if 
she had seen him ; yes : she believed he was playing 
billiards with Miss Ingram. To the billiard-room I hastened : 
the click of balls and the hum of voices resounded thence : 
Mr. Eochester, Miss Ingram, the two Misses Eshton, and 
their admirers, were all busied in the game. It required 
some courage to disturb so interesting a party ; my errand, 
however, was one I could not defer, so I approached the 
master where he stood at Miss Ingram's side. She turned 
as I drew near and looked at me haughtily : her eyes seemed 
to demand, ' What can the creeping creature want now ? ' 
and when I said, in a low voice, ' Mr. Eochester,' she made 
a movement as if tempted to order me away. I remember 
her appearance at the moment, it was very graceful and 
very striking : she wore a morning robe of sky-blue crape ; 
a gauzy azure scarf was twisted in her hair. She had been 
all animation with the game, and irritated pride did not 
lower the expression of her haughty lineaments. 

'Does that person want you?' she inquired of Mr. 
Eochester ; and Mr. Eochester turned to see who the ' person ' 
was. He made a curious grimace, one of his strange and 
equivocal demonstrations threw down his cue and followed 
me from the room. 

' Well, Jane ? ' he said, as he rested his back against the 
schoolroom door, which he had shut. 

' If you please, sir, I want leave of absence for a week or 
two.' 

1 What to do ? Where to go ? ' 

' To see a sick lady who has sent for me.' 

' What sick lady ? Where does she live ? ' 

' At Gateshead, in shire.' 

' shire ? That is a hundred miles off ! Who may 

she be that sends for people to see her that distance ? ' 



270 JANE EYRE 

4 Her name is Reed, sir, Mrs. Reed.' 

' Reed of Gateshead ? There was a Reed of Gateshead, 
a magistrate.' 

4 It is his widow, sir.' 

' And what have you to do with her ? How do you know 
her?' 

' Mr. Reed was my uncle, my mother's brother.' 

4 The deuce he was ! You never told me that before : 
you always said you had no relations.' 

4 None that would own me, sir. Mr. Reed is dead, and 
his wife cast me off.' 

'Why?' 

4 Because I was poor, and burdensome, and she disliked 
me.' 

4 But Reed left children ? you must have cousins ? Sir 
George Lynn was talking of a Reed of Gateshead, yesterday 
who, he said, was one of the veriest rascals on town ; and 
Ingram was mentioning a Georgiana Reed of the same place, 
who was much admired for her beauty, a season or two agoi 
in London.' 

4 John Reed is dead, too, sir : he ruined himself and half- 
ruined his family, and is supposed to have committed suicide. 
The news so shocked his mother that it brought on an 
apoplectic attack.' 

1 And what good can you do her ? Nonsense, Jane ! 
I would never think of running a hundred miles to see an 
old lady who will, perhaps, be dead before you reach 
her : besides, you say she cast you off.' 

4 Yes, sir, but that is long ago ; and when her circum- 
stances were very different : I could not be easy to neglect 
her wishes now.' 

4 How long will you stay ? 

4 As short a time as possible, sir.' 

4 Promise me only to stay a week ' 

4 1 had better not pass my word : I might be obliged to 
break it.' 

4 At all events you will come back : you will not be 



JANE EYEE 271 

induced under any pretext to take up a permanent residence 
with her.' 

' Oh, no ! I shall certainly return if all be well.' 

1 And who goes with you ? You don't travel a hundred 
miles alone.' 

' No, sir, she has sent her coachman.' 

1 A person to be trusted ? ' 

' Yes, sir, he has lived ten years in the family.' 

Mr. Eochester meditated. ' When do you wish to go ? ' 

' Early to-morrow morning, sir.' 

1 Well, you must have some money ; you can't travel 
without money, and I daresay you have not much : I have 
given you no salary yet. How much have you in the world, 
Jane ? ' he asked, smiling. 

I drew out my purse ; a meagre thing it was. ' Five 
shillings, sir.' He took the purse, poured the hoard into his 
palm and chuckled over it as if its scantiness pleased him. 
Soon he produced his pocket-book : ' Here,' said he, offering 
me a note : it was fifty pounds, and he owed me but fifteen. 
I told him I had no change. 

I 1 don't want change : you know that. Take your wages.' 
I declined accepting more than was my due. He scowled 

at first ; then, as if recollecting something, he said : ' Eight, 
right ! Better not give you all now : you would, perhaps, 
stay away three months if you had fifty pounds. There are 
ten : is it not plenty ? ' 

' Yes, sir, but now you owe me five.' 

'Come back for it then: I am your banker for forty 
pounds.' 

' Mr. Eochester, I may as well mention another matter of 
business to you while I have the opportunity.' 

'Matter of business ? I'm curious to hear it.' 

' You have as good as informed me, sir, that you are 
going shortly to be married ? ' 

1 Yes : what then ? ' 

' In that case, sir, Adele ought to go to school : I am sure 
you will perceive the necessity of it.' 



272 JANE EYKE 

' To get her out of my bride's way ; who might otherwise 
walk over her rather too emphatically. There's sense in the 
suggestion ; not a doubt of it : Adele, as you say, must go to 
school; and you, of course, must march straight to the 
devil?' 

' I hope not, sir : but I must seek another situation some- 
where.' 

' In course ! ' he exclaimed, with a twang of voice and a 
distortion of features equally fantastic and ludicrous. He 
looked at me some minutes. 

'And old Madam Reed, or the Misses, her daughters, 
will be solicited by you to seek a place, I suppose ? ' 

' No, sir ; I am not on such terms with my relatives as 
would justify me in asking favours of them but I shall 
advertise.' 

' You shall walk up the pyramids of Egypt ! ' he growled. 
At your peril you advertise ! I wish I had only offered you 
a sovereign instead of ten pounds. Give me back nine 
pounds, Jane ; I've a use for it.' 

' And so have I, sir,' I returned, putting my hands and 
my purse behind me. ' I could not spare the money on any 
account.' 

' Little niggard ! ' said he, ' refusing me a pecuniary 
request ! Give me five pounds, Jane.' 

' Not five shillings, sir ; nor five pence.' 

' Just let me look at the cash.' 

' No, sir ; you are not to be trusted.' 

' Jane t ' 

' Sir ? ' 

' Promise me one thing.' 

1 I'll promise you anything, sir, that I think I am likely 
to perform.' 

Not to advertise : and to trust this quest of a situation 
to me. I'll find you one in time.' 

' I shall be glad so to do, sir, if you, in your turn, will 
promise that I and Adele shall be both safe out of the house 
before your bride eaters it.' 



JANE EYEE 273 

' Very well ! very well ! I'll pledge my word on it. You 
go to-morrow, then ? ' 

' Yes, sir ; early.' 

1 Shall you come down to the drawing-room after dinner ? ' 

1 No, sir, I must prepare for the journey.' 

' Then you and I must bid good-bye for a little while ? ' 

' I suppose so, sir.' 

' And how do people perform that ceremony of parting, 
Jane ? Teach me ; I'm not quite up to it.' 

' They say, Farewell ; or any other form they prefer.' 

' Then say it.' 

' Farewell, Mr. Rochester, for the present.' 

' What must I say ? ' 

' The same, if you like, sir.' 

' Farewell, Miss Eyre, for the present : is that all ? ' 

1 Yes.' 

' It seems stingy, to my notions, and dry and unfriendly. 
I should like something else : a little addition to the rite. If 
one shook hands, for instance ; but no that would not 
content me either. So you'll do no more than say Farewell, 
Jane ? ' 

' It is enough, sir : as much good -will may be conveyed 
in one hearty word as in many.' 

' Very likely ; but it is blank and cool " farewell." ' 

1 How long is he going to stand with his back against that 
door ? ' I asked myself ; ' I want to commence my packing.' 
The dinner-bell rang, and suddenly away he bolted, without 
another syllable : I saw him no more during the day, and 
was off before he had risen in the morning. 

I reached the lodge at Gateshead about five o'clock in the 
afternoon of the first of May : I stepped in there before going 
up to the hall. It was very clean and neat : the ornamental 
windows were hung with little white curtains ; the floor was 
spotless ; the grate and fire-irons were burnished bright, and 
the fire burnt clear. Bessie sat on the hearth nursing her 
last-born, and Bobert and his sister played quietly in a 
corner. 



274 JANE EYRE 

' Bless you ! I knew you would come ! ' exclaimed Mrs. 
Leaven, as I entered. 

' Yes, Bessie,' said I, after I had kissed her ; ' and I 
trust I am not too late. How is Mrs. Reed ? Alive still, I 
hope.' 

' Yes, she is alive ; and more sensible and collected than 
she was. The doctor says she may linger a week or two yet ; 
but he hardly thinks she will finally recover.' 

' Has she mentioned me lately ? ' 

' She was talking of you only this morning, and wishing 
you would come : but she is sleeping now ; or was ten 
minutes ago, when I was up at the house. She generally lies 
in a kind of lethargy all the afternoon, and wakes up about 
six or seven. Will you rest yourself here an hour, miss, and 
then I will go up with you ? ' 

Robert here entered, and Bessie laid her sleeping child 
in the cradle and went to welcome him : afterwards she 
insisted on my taking off my bonnet and having some tea ; 
for she said I looked pale and tired. I was glad to accept 
her hospitality; and I submitted to be relieved of my 
travelling garb just as passively as I used to let her undress 
me when a child. 

Old times crowded fast back on me as I watched her 
bustling about setting out the tea-tray with her best china, 
cutting bread-and-butter, toasting a tea-cake, and, between 
whiles, giving little Robert or Jane an occasional tap or push, 
just as she used to give me in former days. Bessie had 
retained her quick temper as well as her light foot and good 
looks. 

Tea ready, I was going to approach the table ; but she 
desired me to sit still, quite in her old, peremptory tones. I 
must be served at the fireside, she said ; and she placed 
before me a little round stand with my cup and a plate of 
toast, absolutely as she used to accommodate me with some 
privately purloined dainty on a nursery chair : and I smiled 
and obeyed her as in bygone days. 

She wanted to know if I was happy at Thornfield Hall, 



JANE EYKE 275 

and what sort of a person the mistress was ; and when I 
told her there was only a master, whether he was a nice 
gentleman, and if I liked him. I told her he was rather an 
ugly man, but quite a gentleman ; and that he treated me 
kindly, and I was content. Then I went on to describe to 
her the gay company that had lately been staying at the 
house : and to these details Bessie listened with interest : 
they were precisely of the kind she relished. 

In such conversation an hour was soon gone : Bessie 
restored to me my bonnet, &c., and, accompanied by her, I 
quitted the lodge for the hall. It was also accompanied by 
her that I had, nearly nine years ago, walked down the path 
I was now ascending. On a dark, misty, raw morning in 
January, I had left a hostile roof with a desperate and 
embittered heart a sense of outlawry and almost of 
reprobation to seek the chilly harbourage of Lowood : that 
bourne so far away and unexplored. The same hostile roof 
now again rose before me : my prospects were doubtful yet ; 
and I had yet an aching heart. I still felt as a wanderer on 
the face of the earth ; but I experienced firmer trust in 
myself and my own powers, and less withering dread of 
oppression. The gaping wound of my wrongs, too, was now 
quite healed ; and the flame of resentment extinguished. 

' You shall go into the breakfast-room first,' said Bessie, 
as she preceded me through the hall ; ' the young ladies will 
be there.' 

In another moment I was within that apartment. There 
was every article of furniture looking just as it did on the 
morning I was first introduced to Mr. Brocklehurst : the very 
rug he had stood upon still covered the hearth. Glancing 
at the book-cases, I thought I could distinguish the two 
volumes of ' Bewick's British Birds ' occupying their old place 
on the third shelf, and ' Gulliver's Travels' and the ' Arabian 
Nights' ranged just above. The inanimate objects were not 
changed : but the living things had altered past recognition. 

Two young ladies appeared before me ; one very tall, 
almost as tall as Miss Ingram, very thin too, with a sallow 



276 JANE EYKE 

face and severe mien. There was something ascetic in her 
look, which was augmented by the extreme plainness of a 
straight-skirted, black, stuff dress, a starched linen collar, 
hair combed away from the temples, and the nun-like ornament 
of a string of ebony beads and a crucifix. This I felt sure 
was Eliza, though I could trace little resemblance to her 
former self in that elongated and colourless visage. 

The other was as certainly Georgiana : but not the 
Georgiana I remembered the slim and fairy-like girl of eleven. 
This was a full-blown, very plump damsel, fair as wax- work ; 
with handsome and regular features, languishing blue eyes, 
and ringleted yellow hair. The hue of her dress was black 
too ; but its fashion was so different from her sister's so 
much more flowing and becoming it looked as stylish as 
the other's looked puritanical. 

In each of the sisters there was one trait of the mother 
and only one : the thin and pallid elder daughter had her 
parent's Cairngorm eye : the blooming and luxuriant 
younger girl had her contour of jaw and chin, perhaps a 
little softened, but still imparting an indescribable hardness 
to the countenance, otherwise so voluptuous and buxom. 

Both ladies, as I advanced, rose to welcome me, and both 
addressed me by the name of ' Miss Eyre.' Eliza's greeting 
was delivered in a short, abrupt voice, without a smile ; and 
then she sat down again, fixed her eyes on the fire, and 
seemed to forget me. Georgiana added to her ' How d'ye 
do ? ' several common-places about my journey, the weather 
and so on, uttered in rather a drawling tone : and accom- 
panied by sundry side-glances that measured me from head 
to foot now traversing the folds of my drab merino pelisse, 
and now lingering on the plain trimming of my cottage 
bonnet. Young ladies have a remarkable way of letting you 
know that they think you a ' quiz ' without actually saying 
the words. A certain superciliousness of look, coolness of 
manner, nonchalance of tone, express fully their sentiments 
on the point, without committing them by any positive rude- 
ness in word or deed. 



JANE EYEE 277 

A sneer, however, whether covert or open, had now no 
longer that power over me it once possessed: as I sat 
between my cousins, I was surprised to find how easy I felt 
under the total neglect of the one and the semi-sarcastic 
attentions of the other Eliza did not mortify, nor Georgiana 
ruffle me. The fact was, I had other things to think about ; 
within the last few months feelings had been stirred in me 
so much more potent than any they could raise pains and 
pleasures so much more acute and exquisite had been excited, 
than any it was in their power to inflict or bestow that 
their airs gave me no concern either for good or bad. 

' How is Mrs. Eeed ? ' I asked soon, looking calmly at 
Georgiana ; who thought fit to bridle at the direct addressi 
as if it were an unexpected liberty. 

1 Mrs. Reed ? Ah ! mama you mean ; she is extremely 
poorly : I doubt if you can see her to-night.' 

' If,' said I, ' you would just step upstairs and tell her I 
am come, I should be much obliged to you.' 

Georgiana almost started, and she opened her blue eyes 
wild and wide. ' I know she had a particular wish to see 
me,' I added, ' and I would not defer attending to her desire 
longer than is absolutely necessary.' 

' Mama dislikes being disturbed in an evening,' remarked 
Eliza. I soon rose, quietly took off my bonnet and gloves, 
uninvited, and said I would just step out to Bessie who 
was, I dared say, in the kitchen and ask her to ascertain 
whether Mrs. Reed was disposed to receive me or not to- 
night. I went, and having found Bessie and despatched her 
on my errand, I proceeded to take further measures. It had 
heretofore been my habit always to shrink from arrogance : 
received as I had been to-day, I should, a year ago, have re- 
solved to quit Gateshead the very next morning ; now, it 
was disclosed to me all at once, that that would be a foolish 
plan. I had taken a journey of a hundred miles to see my 
aunt, and I must stay with her till she was better or dead : 
as to her daughters' pride or folly, I must put it on one side ; 
make myself independent of it. So I addressed the house- 



278 JANE EYRE 

keeper ; asked her to show me a room, told her I should pro- 
bably be a visitor here for a week or two, had my trunk con- 
veyed to my- chamber, and followed it thither myself : I met 
Bessie on the landing. 

' Missis is awake/ said she ; ' I have told her you are 
here : come and let us see if she will know you.' 

I did not need to be guided to the well-known room : to 
which I had so often been summoned for chastisement or 
reprimand in former days. I hastened before Bessie, I softly 
opened the door : a shaded light stood on the table, for it was 
now getting dark. There was the great four-post bed with 
amber hangings as of old : there the toilet-table, the arm- 
chair, and the foot-stool : at which I had a hundred times 
been sentenced to kneel, to ask pardon for offences, by me, 
uncommitted. I looked into a certain corner near, half- 
expecting to see the slim outline of a once-dreaded switch ; 
which used to lurk there, waiting to leap out imp-like and 
lace my quivering palm or shrinking neck. I approached 
the bed ; I opened the curtains and leant over the high-piled 
pillows. 

Well did I remember Mrs. Eeed's face, and I eagerly 
sought the familiar image. It is a happy thing that time 
quells the longings of vengeance, and hushes the promptings 
of rage and aversion : I had left this woman in bitterness and 
hate, and I came back to her now with no other emotion than 
a sort of ruth for her great sufferings, and a strong yearning 
to forget and forgive all injuries to be reconciled and clasp 
hands in amity. 

The well-known face was there : stern, relentless as ever 
there was that peculiar eye which nothing could melt ; 
and the somewhat raised, imperious, despotic eyebrow. How 
often had it lowered on me menace and hate ! and how the 
recollection of childhood's terrors and sorrows revived as I 
traced its harsh line now ! And yet I stooped down and 
kissed her : she looked at me. 

' Is this Jane Eyre ? ' she said. 

' Yes, aunt Beed. How are you, dear aunt ? ' 



JANE EYB 279 

I had once vowed that I would never call her aunt again : 
I thought it no sin to forget and break that vow now. My 
fingers had fastened on her hand which lay outside the 
sheet : had she pressed mine kindly, I should at that moment 
have experienced true pleasure. But unimpressionable 
natures are not so soon softened, nor are natural antipathies 
so readily eradicated : Mrs. Eeed took her hand away, and, 
turning her face rather from me, she remarked that the night 
was warm. Again she regarded me, so icily, I felt at once 
that her opinion of me her feeling towards me was 
unchanged, and unchangeable. I knew by her stony eye 
opaque to tenderness, indissoluble to tears that she was 
resolved to consider me bad to the last ; because to believe 
me good, would give her no generous pleasure : only a sense 
of mortification. 

I felt pain, and then I felt ire ; and then I felt a determi- 
nation to subdue her to be her mistress in spite both of her 
nature and her will. My tears had risen, just as in childhood : 
I ordered them back to their source. I brought a chair 
to the bed-head : I sat down and leaned over the pillow. 

' You sent for me,' I said, ' and I am here ; and it is my 
intention to stay till I see how you get on.' 

' Oh, of course ! You have seen my daughters ? ' 

' Yes.' 

' Well, you may tell them I wish you to stay till I can talk 
some things over with you I have on my mind : to-night it 
is too late, and I have a difficulty in recalling them. But 
there was something I wished to say let me see ' 

The wandering look and changed utterance told what 
wreck had taken place in her once-vigorous frame. Turning 
restlessly, she drew the bed-clothes round her; my elbow, 
resting on a corner of the quilt, fixed it down : she was at 
once irritated. 

' Sit up ! ' said she ; ' don't annoy me with holding the 
clothes fast are you Jane Eyre ? ' 

I 1 am Jane Eyre.' 

' I have had more trouble with that child than any one 



280 JANE EYKE 

would believe. Such a burden to be left on my hands and 
so much annoyance as she caused me, daily and hourly, with 
her incomprehensible disposition, and her sudden starts of 
temper, and her continual, unnatural watchings of one's 
movements ! I declare she talked to me once like something 
mad, or like a fiend no child ever spoke or looked as she 
did ; I was glad to get her away from the house. What did 
they do with her at Lowood ? The fever broke out there, 
and many of the pupils died. She, however, did not die: 
but I said she did I wish she had died ! ' 

' A strange wish, Mrs. Eeed : why do you hate her so ? ' 
' I had a dislike to her mother always ; for she was my 
husband's only sister, and a great favourite with him : he 
opposed the family's disowning her when she made her low 
marriage ; and when news came of her death, he wept like a 
simpleton. He would send for the baby ; though I entreated 
him rather to put it out to nurse and pay for its mainten- 
ance. I hated it the first time I set my eyes on it a sickly, 
whining, pining thing ! It would wail in its cradle all night 
long not screaming heartily like any other child, but whim- 
pering and moaning. Beed pitied it ; and he used to nurse 
it and notice it as if it had been his own : more, indeed, than 
he ever noticed his own at that age. He would try to make 
my children friendly to the little beggar : the darlings could 
not bear it, and he was angry with them when they showed 
their dislike. In his last illness, he had it brought continually 
to his bedside ; and but an hour before he died, he bound me 
by vow to keep the creature. I would as soon have been 
charged with a pauper brat out of a workhouse : but he 
was weak, naturally weak. John does not at all resemble 
his father, and I am glad of it : John is like me and like my 
brothers he is quite a Gibson. Oh, I wish he would cease 
tormenting me with letters for money ! I have no more 
money to give him : we are getting poor. I must send away 
half the servants and shut up part of the house ; or let it off. 
I can never submit to do that yet how are we to get on ? 
Two-thirds of my income goes in paying the interest of 



JANE EYRE 281 

mortgages. John gambles dreadfully, and always loses 
poor boy ! He is beset by sharpers : John is sunk and 
degraded his look is frightful I feel ashamed for him when 
I see him.' 

She was getting much excited. ' I think I had better 
leave her new," said I to Bessie, who stood on the other side 
of the bed. 

' Perhaps you had, miss : but she often talks in this way 
towards night in the morning she is calmer.' 

I rose. ' Stop ! ' exclaimed Mrs. Eeed. ' There is 
another thing I wished to say. He threatens me he con- 
tinually threatens me with his own death, or mine : and I 
dream sometimes that I see him laid out with a great wound 
in his throat, or with a swollen and blackened face. I am 
come to a strange pass : I have heavy troubles. What is to 
be done ? How is the ^oney to be had ? ' 

Bessie now endeavoured to persuade her to take a sedative 
draught : she succeeded with difficulty. Soon after, Mrs. 
Eeed grew more composed, and sank into a dozing state. I 
then left her. 

More than ten days elapsed before I had again any conver- 
sation with her. She continued either delirious or lethargic ; 
and the doctor forbade every thing which could painfully 
excite her. Meantime, I got on as well as I could with 
Georgiana and Eliza. They were very cold, indeed, at first. 
Eliza would sit half the day sewing, reading, or writing, and 
scarcely utter a word either to me or her sister. Georgiana 
would chatter nonsense to her canary bird by the hour, and 
take no notice of me. But I was determined not to seem at 
a loss for occupation or amusement : I had brought my 
drawing materials with me, and they served me for both. 

Provided with a case of pencils, and some sheets of 
paper, I used to take a seat apart from them, near the window, 
and busy myself in sketching fancy vignettes, representing 
any scene that happened momentarily to shape itself in the 
ever-shifting kaleidoscope of imagination : a glimpse of sea 
between two rocks ; the rising moon, and a ship crossing its 



282 JANE EYRE 

disk ; a group of reeds and water-flags, and a naiad's head 
crowned with lotus-flowers, rising out of them ; an elf sitting 
in a hedge-sparrow's nest, under a wreath of hawthorn- 
bloom. 

One morning I fell to sketching a face : what sort of a 
face it was to be, I did not care or know. I took a soft 
black pencil, gave it a broad point, and worked away. Soon 
I had traced on the paper a broad and prominent forehead, 
and a square lower outline of visage : that contour gave me 
pleasure ; my fingers proceeded actively to fill it with features. 
Strongly-marked horizontal eyebrows must be traced under 
that brow ; then followed, naturally, a well-defined nose, 
with a straight ridge and full nostrils ; then a flexible-looking 
mouth, by no means narrow ; then a firm chin, with a 
decided cleft .down the middle of it : of course, some black 
whiskers were wanted, and some jetty hair, tufted on the 
temples, and waved above the forehead. Now for the eyes : 
I had left them to the last, because they required the most 
careful working. I drew them large ; I shaped them well : 
the eyelashes I traced long and sombre ; the irids lustrous 
and large. ' Good ! but not quite the thing,' I thought, as I 
surveyed the effect : ' They want more force and spirit ; ' 
and I wrought the shades blacker, that the lights might flash 
more brilliantly a happy touch or two secured success. 
There, I had a friend's face under my gaze ; and what did it 
signify that those young ladies turned their backs on me ? 
I looked at it ; I smiled at the speaking likeness : I was 
absorbed and content. 

' Is that a portrait of some one you know ? ' asked Eliza, 
who had approached me unnoticed. I responded that it 
was merely a fancy head, and hurried it beneath the other 
sheets. Of course, I lied : it was, in fact, a very faithful 
representation of Mr. Rochester. But what was that to her, 
or to any one but myself ? Georgiana also advanced to look. 
The other drawings pleased her much, but she called that ' an 
ugly man.' They both seemed surprised at my skill. I offered 
to sketch their portraits ; and each, in turn, sat for a pencil 



JANE EYRE 283 

outline. Then Georgiana produced her album. I promised 
to contribute a water-colour drawing : this put her at once 
into good humour. She proposed a walk in the grounds. 
Before we had been out two hours, we were deep in a con- 
fidential conversation : she had favoured me with a 
description of the brilliant winter she had spent in London 
two seasons ago of the admiration she had there excited 
the attention she had received : and I even got hints of the 
titled conquest she had made. In the course of the afternoon 
and evening these hints were enlarged on : various soft 
conversations were reported, and sentimental scenes repre- 
sented ; and, in short, a volume of a novel of fashionable 
life was that day improvised by her for my benefit. The 
communications were renewed from day to day : they always 
ran on the same theme herself, her loves, and woes. It 
was strange she never once adverted either to her mother's 
illness, or her brother's death, or the present gloomy state of 
the family prospects. Her mind seemed wholly taken up 
with reminiscences of past gaiety, and aspirations after dis- 
sipations to come. She passed about five minutes each day 
in her mother's sick-room and no more. 

Eliza still spoke little : she had evidently no time to talk. 
I never saw a busier person than she seemed to be : yet it 
was difficult to say what she did : or rather, to discover 
any result of her diligence. She had an alarum to call her 
up early. I know not how she occupied herself before 
breakfast, but after that meal she divided her time into 
regular portions ; and each hour had its allotted task. 
Three times a day she studied a little book, which I found, 
on inspection, was a Common Prayer-book. I asked her 
once what was the great attraction of that volume, and she 
said ' the Rubric.' Three hours she gave to stitching, with 
gold thread, the border of a square crimson cloth, almost 
large enough for a carpet. In answer to my inquiries after 
the use of this article, she informed me it was a covering for 
the altar of a new church lately erected near Gateshead. 
Two hours she devoted to her diary ; two to working by 



284 .JANE EYfcE 

herself in the kitchen-garden ; and one to the regulation of 
her accounts. She seemed to want no company ; no con- 
versation. I believe she was happy in her way: this routine 
sufficed to her ; and nothing annoyed her so much as the 
occurrence of any incident which forced her to vary its clock- 
work regularity. 

She told me one evening, when more disposed to be 
communicative than usual, that John's conduct, and the 
threatened ruin of the family, had been a source of profound 
affliction to her : but she had now, she said, settled her 
mind, and formed her resolution. Her own fortune she had 
taken care to secure ; and when her mother died, and it 
was wholly improbable, she tranquilly remarked, that she 
should either recover or linger long, she would execute a 
long-cherished project: seek a retirement where punctual 
habits would be permanently secured from disturbance, and 
place safe barriers between herself and a frivolous world. I 
asked if Georgiana would accompany her. 

' Of course not. Georgiana and she had nothing in 
common : they never had had. She would not be burdened 
with her society for any consideration. Georgiana should 
take her own course ; and she, Eliza, would take hers.' 

Georgiana, when not unburdening her heart to me, spent 
most of her time in lying on the sofa, fretting about the 
dulness of the house, and wishing over and over again that 
her aunt Gibson would send her an invitation up to town. 
' It would be so much better,' she said, ' if she could only 
get out of the way for a month or two, till all was over.' I 
did not ask what she meant by ' all being over,' but I suppose 
she referred to the expected decease of her mother and the 
gloomy sequel of funeral rites. Eliza generally took no more 
notice of her sister's indolence and complaints than if no 
such murmuring, lounging object had been before her. One 
day, however, as she put away her account book, and un- 
folded her embroidery, she suddenly took her up thus : 
' Georgiana, a more vain and absurd animal than you, was 
certainly never allowed to cumber the earth. You had no 



JANE EYEE 285 

right to be born : for you make no use of life. Instead of 
living for, in, and with yourself, as a reasonable being ought, 
you seek only to fasten your feebleness on some other 
person's strength : if no one can be found willing to burden 
her or himself with such a fat, weak, puffy, useless thing, 
you cry out that you are ill-treated, neglected, miserable. 
Then, too, existence for you must be a scene of continual 
change and excitement, or else the world is a dungeon : you 
must be admired, you must be courted, you must be flattered 
you must have music, dancing, and society or you 
languish, you die away. Have you no sense to devise a 
system which will make you independent of all efforts, and 
all wills, but your own ? Take one day ; share it into 
sections ; to each section apportion its task : leave no stray 
unemployed quarters of an hour, ten minutes, five minutes, 
include all; do each piece of business in its turn with 
method, with rigid regularity. The day will close almost 
before you are aware it has begun ; and you are indebted to 
no one for helping you to get rid of one vacant moment ; you 
have had to seek no one's company, conversation, sympathy, 
forbearance : you have lived, in short, as an independent 
being ought to do. Take this advice : the first and last I 
shall offer you ; then you will not want me or anyone else, 
happen what may. Neglect it go on as heretofore, craving, 
whining, and idling and suffer the results of your idiocy, 
however bad and insufferable they may be. I tell you this 
plainly ; and listen : for though I shall no more repeat what 
I am now about to say, I shall steadily act on it. After my 
mother's death, I wash my hands of you : from the day hei 
coffin is carried to the vault in Gateshead Church, you and 
I will be as separate as if we had never known each other. 
You need not think that because we chanced to be born of 
the same parents, I shall suffer you to fasten me down by 
even the feeblest claim ; I can tell you this if the whole 
human race, ourselves excepted, were swept away, and we 
two stood alone on the earth, I would leave you in the old 
world, and betake myself to the new.' 



286 JANE EYRE 

She closed her lips. 

' You might have spared yourself the trouble of delivering 
that tirade,' answered Georgiana. ' Everybody knows 
you are the most selfish, heartless creature in existence : 
and / know your spiteful hatred towards me ; I have 
had a specimen of it before in the trick you played me 
about Lord Edwin Vere : you could not bear me to be 
raised above you, to have a title, to be received into circles 
where you dare not show your face, and so you acted the 
spy and informer, and ruined my prospects for ever.' 
Georgiana took out her handkerchief and blew her nose for 
an hour afterwards ; Eliza sat cold, impassible, and 
assiduously industrious. 

True, generous feeling is made small account of by some : 
but here were two natures rendered, the one intolerably acrid, 
the other despicably savourless for the want of it. Feeling 
without judgment is a washy draught indeed ; but judg- 
ment untempered by feeling is too bitter and husky a morsel 
for human deglutition. 

It was a wet and windy afternoon : Georgiana had fallen 
asleep on the sofa over the perusal of a novel ; Eliza was 
gone to attend a saint's-day service at the new church for 
in matters of religion she was a rigid formalist : no weather 
ever prevented the punctual discharge of what she con- 
sidered her devotional duties : fair or foul, she went to 
church thrice every Sunday, and as often on week-days as 
there were prayers. 

I bethought myself to go upstairs and see how the dying 
woman sped, who lay there almost unheeded: the very 
servants paid her but a remittent attention : the hired nurse, 
being little looked after, would slip out of the room whenever 
she could. Bessie was faithful ; but she had her own family 
to mind, and could only come occasionally to the hall. I 
found the sick-room unwatched, as I had expected : no nurse 
was there ; the patient lay still, and seemingly lethargic ; 
her livid face sunk in the pillows : the fire was dying in the 
grate. I renewed the fuel, re-arranged the bedclothes, 



JANE EYKE 287 

gazed awhile on her who could not now gaze on me, and 
then I moved away to the window. 

The rain beat strongly against the panes, the wind blew 
tempestuously : ' One lies there,' I thought, ' who will soon 
be beyond the war of earthly elements. Whither will that 
spirit now struggling to quit its material tenement flit 
when at length released ? ' 

In pondering the great mystery, I thought of Helen 
Burns, recalled her dying words her faith her doctrine of 
the equality of disembodied souls. I was still listening in 
thought to her well-remembered tones still picturing her 
pale and spiritual aspect, her wasted face and sublime gaze, 
as she lay on her placid deathbed, and whispered her long- 
ing to be restored to her divine Father's bosom when a 
feeble voice murmured from the couch behind : ' Who is 
that ? ' 

I knew Mrs. Eeed had not spoken for days : was she 
reviving ? I went up to her. 

' It is I, aunt Keed.' 

' Who I ? ' was her answer. ' Who are you ? ' looking 
at me with surprise and a sort of alarm, but still not wildly. 
' You are quite a stranger to me where is Bessie ? ' 

' She is at the lodge, aunt." 

' Aunt ! ' she repeated. ' Who calls me aunt ? You are 
not one of the Gibsons ; and yet I know you that face, and 
the eyes and forehead are quite familiar to me : you are like 
why, you are like Jane Eyre ! ' 

I said nothing : I was afraid of occasioning some shock 
by declaring my identity. 

' Yet,' said she, ' I am afraid it is a mistake : my thoughts 
deceive me. I wished to see Jane Eyre, and I fancy a 
likeness where none exists : besides, in eight years she must 
be so changed.' 

I now gently assured her that J was the person she 
supposed and desired me to be : and seeing that I was under- 
stood, and that her- senses were quite collected, I explained 
how Bessie had sent her husband to fetch me from Thornneld. 



288 JANE EYRE 

' I am very ill, I know,' she said ere long. ' I was trying 
to turn myself a few minutes since, and find I cannot move 
a limb. It is as well I should ease my mind before I die : 
what we think little of in health, burdens us at such an hour 
as the present is to me. Is the nurse here ? or is there no 
one in the room but you ? ' 

I assured her we were alone. 

' Well, I have twice done you a wrong which I regret 
now. One was in breaking the promise which I gave my 

husband to bring you up as my own child ; the other ' she 

stopped. 'After all, it is of no great importance, perhaps,' 
she murmured to herself : ' and then I may get better ; and 
to humble myself so to her is painful.' 

She made an effort to alter her position, but failed : her 
face changed ; she seemed to experience some inward sensa- 
tion the precursor, perhaps, of the last pang. 

' Well : I must get it over. Eternity is before me : I 
had better tell her. Go to my dressing-case, open it, and 
take out a letter you will see there.' 

I obeyed her directions. 

' Bead the letter,' she said. 

It was short, and thus conceived : 

1 MADAM, 

' WILL you have the goodness to send me the 
address of my niece, Jane Eyre, and to tell me how she is : it 
is my intention to write shortly and desire her to come to 
me at Madeira. Providence has blessed my endeavours to 
secure a competency ; and as I am unmarried and childless, 
I wish to adopt her during my life, and bequeath her at my 
death whatever I may have to leave. 

' I am, Madam, &c. &c. 

1 JOHN EYEE, Madeira.' 

It was dated three years back. 

' Why did I never hear of this ? ' I asked. 

' Because I disliked you too fixedly and thoroughly ever 



JANE EYKE 289 

to lend a hand in lifting you to prosperity. I could not for- 
get your conduct to me, Jane the fury with which you 
once turned on me ; the tone in which you declared you ab- 
horred me the worst of anybody in the world ; the unchildlike 
look and voice with which you affirmed that the very thought 
of me made you sick, and asserted that I had treated you 
with miserable cruelty. I could not forget my own sensa- 
tions when you thus started up and poured out the venom 
of your mind : I felt fear, as if an animal that I had struck or 
pushed had looked up at me with human eyes and cursed 
me in a man's voice. Bring me some water ! Oh, make 
haste ! ' 

' Dear Mrs. Eeed,' said I, as I offered her the draught 
she required, ' think no more of all this, let it pass away 
from your mind. Forgive me for my passionate language : I 
was a child then ; eight, nine years have passed since that 
day.' 

She heeded nothing of what I said ; but when she had 
tasted the water and drawn breath, she went on thus : ' I 
tell you I could not forget it ; and I took my revenge : for 
you to be adopted by your uncle, and placed in a state of 
ease and comfort, was what I could not endure. I wrote to 
him ; I said I was sorry for his disappointment, but Jane 
Eyre was dead : she had died of typhus fever at Lowood- 
Now act as you please : write and contradict my assertion 
expose my falsehood as soon as you like. You were born, 
I think, to be my torment : my last hour is racked by the 
recollection of a deed which, but for you, I should never 
have been tempted to commit.' 

'If you could but be persuaded to think no more 
of it, aunt, and to regard me with kindness and forgive- 
ness ' 

' You have a very bad disposition," said she, ' and one to 
this day I feel it impossible to understand: how for nine 
years you could be patient and quiescent under any treat- 
ment, and in the tenth break out all fire and violence, I can 
never comprehend.' 

u 



290 JANE EYKE 

' My disposition is not so bad as you think : I am pas- 
sionate, but not vindictive. Many a time, as a little child, I 
should have been glad to love you if you would have let me ; 
and I long earnestly to be reconciled to you now : kiss me, 
aunt.' 

I approached my cheek to her lips : she would not touch 
it. She said I oppressed her by leaning over the bed ; and 
again demanded water. As I laid her down for I raised 
her and supported her on my arm while she drank I 
covered her ice-cold and clammy hand with mine : the 
feeble fingers shrank from my touch the glazing eyes 
shunned my gaze. 

1 Love me, then, or hate me, as you will,' I said at last ; 
' you have my full and free forgiveness : ask now for God's ; 
and be at peace.' 

Poor, suffering woman ! it was too late for her to make 
now the effort to change her habitual frame of mind : liv- 
ing, she had ever hated me dying, she must hate me 
still. 

The nurse now entered, and Bessie followed. I yet 
lingered half an hour longer, hoping to see some sign of 
amity : but she gave none. She was fast relapsing into 
stupor ; nor did her mind again rally : at twelve o'clock that 
night she died. I was not present to close her eyes ; nor 
were either of her daughters. They came to tell us the next 
morning that all was over. She was by that time laid out. 
Eliza and I went to look at her : Georgiana, who had burst 
out into loud weeping, said she dared not go. There was 
stretched Sarah Keed's once robust and active frame, rigid 
and still : her eye of flint was covered with its cold lid ; her 
brow and strong traits wore yet the impress of her inexorable 
soul. A strange and solemn object was that corpse to me. 
I gazed on it with gloom and pain : nothing soft, nothing 
sweet, nothing pitying, or hopeful, or subduing, did it 
inspire ; only a grating anguish for her woes not my loss 
and a sombre tearless dismay at the tearfulness of death in 
such a form. 



JANE EYRE 291 

Eliza surveyed her parent calmly. After a silence of 
some minutes she observed, ' With her constitution she 
should have lived to a good old age : her life was shortened 
by trouble.' And then a spasm constricted her mouth for 
an instant : as it passed away she turned and left the room, 
and so did I. Neither of us had dropped a tear. 



CHAPTER XXII 

MB. ROCHESTER had given me but one week's leave of 
absence : yet a month elapsed before I quitted Gateshead. 
I wished to leave immediately after the funeral ; but 
Georgiana entreated me to stay till she could get off to 
London : whither she was now at last invited by her uncle, 
Mr. Gibson ; who had come down to direct his sister's 
interment and settle the family affairs. Georgiana said she 
dreaded being left alone with Eliza ; from her she got neither 
sympathy in her dejection, support in her fears, nor aid in her 
preparations ; so I bore with her feeble-minded quailings, and 
selfish lamentations, as well as I could, and did my best in 
sewing for her, and packing her dresses. It is true that 
while I worked she would idle ; and I thought to myself, 
' If you and I were destined to live always together, cousin, 
we would commence matters on a different footing. I 
should not settle tamely down into being the forbearing 
party ; I should assign you your share of labour, and 
compel you to accomplish it, or else it should be left 
undone : I should insist, also, on your keeping some of those 
drawling, half -insincere complaints hushed in your own 
breast. It is only because our connection happens to be 
very transitory, and comes at a peculiarly mournful season, 
that I consent thus to render it so patient and compliant on 
my part.' 

At last I saw Georgiana off ; but now it was Eliza's turn 
to request me to stay another week. Her plans required all 
her time and attention, she said : she was about to depart 
for some unknown bourne ; and .all day long she stayed in 
her own room, her door bolted within, filling trunks, empty- 



JANE EYRE 293 

ing drawers, burning papers, and holding no communication 
with anyone. She wished me to look after the house, to see 
callers, and answer notes of condolence. 

One morning she told me I was at liberty. ' And/ she 
added, ' I am obliged to you for your valuable services and 
discreet conduct ! There is some difference between living 
with such a one as you, and with Georgiana : you perform 
your own part in life, and burden no one. To-morrow,' she 
continued, ' I set out for the Continent. I shall take up my 
abode in a religious house near Lisle a nunnery you 
would call it : there I shall be quiet and unmolested. I 
shall devote myself for a time to the examination of the 
Roman Catholic dogmas, and to a careful study of the 
workings of their system ; if I find it to be, as I half suspect 
it is, the one best calculated to ensure the doing of all things 
decently and in order, I shall embrace the tenets of Rome 
and probably take the veil.' 

I neither expressed surprise at this resolution nor 
attempted to dissuade her from it. ' The vocation will fit 
you to a hair,' I thought : ' much good may it do you ! ' 

When we parted, she said: 'Good-bye, cousin Jane 
Eyre ; I wish you well : you have some sense.' 

I then returned : ' You are not without sense, cousin 
Eliza ; but what you have I suppose in another year will be 
walled up alive in a French convent. However, it is not 
my business, and so it suits you I don't much care.' 

1 You are in the right,' said she : and with these words 
we each went our separate way. As I shall not have 
occasion to refer either to her or her sister again, I may as well 
mention here that Georgiana made an advantageous match 
with a wealthy worn-out man of fashion ; and that Eliza 
actually took the veil, and is at this day superior of the 
convent where she passed the period of her novitiate : and 
which she endowed with her fortune. 

How people feel when they are returning home from an 
absence, long or short, I did not know : I had never ex- 
perienced the sensation. I had known what it was to come 



294 JANE EYEE 

back to Gateshead when a child, after a long walk to be 
scolded for looking cold or gloomy ; and later, what it was 
to come back from church to Lowood to long for a plen- 
teous meal and a good fire, and to be unable to get either. 

Neither of these returnings were very pleasant or 
desirable : no magnet drew me to a given point, increasing 
in its strength of attraction the nearer I came. The return 
to Thornfield was yet to be tried. 

My journey seemed tedious very tedious : fifty miles 
one day, a night spent at an inn ; fifty miles the next day. 
During the first twelve hours I thought of Mrs. Reed in her 
last moments : I saw her disfigured and discoloured face, 
and heard her strangely altered voice. I mused on the 
funeral day, the coffin, the hearse, the black train of tenants 
and servants few was the number of relatives the gaping 
vault, the silent church, the solemn service. Then I thought 
of Eliza and Georgiana : I beheld one the cynosure of a 
ball-room, the other the inmate of a convent cell ; and I 
dwelt on and analysed their separate peculiarities of person 
and character. The evening arrival at the great town of 

scattered these thoughts ; night gave them quite another 

turn : laid down on my traveller's bed, I left reminiscence 
for anticipation. 

I was going back to Thornfield : but how long was I to 
stay there ? Not long ; of that I was sure. I had heard 
from Mrs. Fairfax in the interim of my absence : the party 
at the hall was dispersed; Mr. Rochester had left for 
London three weeks ago, but he was then expected to return 
in a fortnight. Mrs. Fairfax surmised that he was gone to 
make arrangements for his wedding, as he had talked of 
purchasing a new carriage : she said the idea of his marrying 
Miss Ingram still seemed strange to her ; but from what 
everybody said, and from what she had herself seen, she 
could no longer doubt that the event would shortly take 
place. 'You would be strangely incredulous if you did 
doubt it,' was my mental comment. ' I don't doubt it.' 

The question followed, ' Where was I to go ? ' I dreamt 



JANE EYKE 295 

of Miss Ingram all the night : in a vivid morning dream I 
saw her closing the gates of Thornfield against me and 
pointing me out another road ; and Mr. Rochester looked on 
with his arms folded smiling sardonically, as it seemed, at 
both her and me. 

I had not notified to Mrs. Fairfax the exact day of my 
return ; for I did not wish either car or carriage to meet me 
at Millcote. I proposed to walk the distance quietly by 
myself ; and very quietly, after leaving my box in the ostler's 
care, did I slip away from the George Inn, about six o'clock 
of a June evening, and take the old road to Thornfield : a 
road which lay chiefly through fields, and was now little 
frequented. 

It was not a bright or splendid summer evening, though 
fair and soft : the haymakers were at work all along the 
road ; and the sky, though far from cloudless, was such as 
promised well for the future : its blue where blue was 
visible was mild and settled, and its cloud strata high and 
thin. The west, too, was warm : no watery gleam chilled 
it it seemed as if there was a fire lit, an altar burning 
behind its screen of marbled vapour, and out of apertures 
shone a golden redness. 

I felt glad as the road shortened before me : so glad 
that I stopped once to ask myself what that joy meant : 
and to remind reason that it was not to my home I was 
going, or to a permanent resting-place, or to a place where 
fond friends looked out for me and waited my arrival. ' Mrs. 
Fairfax will smile you a calm welcome, to be sure,' said I ; 
' and little Adele will clap her hands and jump to see you : 
but you know very well you are thinking of another than 
they ; and that he is not thinking of you.' 

But what is so headstrong as youth ? What so blind as 
inexperience ? These affirmed that it was pleasure enough 
to have the privilege of again looking on Mr. Eochesler, 
whether he looked on me or not ; and they added ' Hasten ! 
hasten ! be with him while you may : but a few more days 
or weeks, at most, and you are parted with him for ever ! ' 



296 JANE EYRE 

And then I strangled a new-born agony a deformed thing 
which I could not persuade myself to own and rear and 
ran on. 

They are making hay, too, in Thornfield meadows : or, 
rather, the labourers are just quitting their work, and re- 
turning home with their rakes on their shoulders : now, at 
the hour I arrive. I have but a field or two to traverse, and 
then I shall cross the road and reach the gates. How full 
the hedges are of roses ! But I have no time to gather any ; 
I want to be at the house. I passed a tall briar, shooting 
leafy and flowery branches across the path ; I see the 
narrow stile with stone steps; and I see Mr. Eochester 
sitting there, a book and a pencil in his hand : he is writing. 

Well, he is not a ghost ; yet every nerve I have is un- 
strung : for a moment I am beyond my own mastery. What 
does it mean ? I did not think I should tremble in this way 
when I saw him or lose my voice or the power of motion 
in his presence. I will go back as soon as I can stir : I need 
not make an absolute fool of myself. I know another way 
to the house. It does not signify if I knew twenty ways ; 
for he has seen me. 

' Hillo ! ' he cries ; and he puts up his book and his 
pencil. ' There you are ! Come on, if you please.' 

I suppose I do come on ; though in what fashion I know 
not : being scarcely cognisant of my movements, and 
solicitous only to appear calm ; and, above all, to control the 
working muscles of my face which I feel rebel insolently 
against my will, and struggle to express what I had resolved 
to conceal. But I have a veil it is down : I may make shift 
yet to behave with decent composure. 

' And this is Jane Eyre ? Are you coming from Millcote, 
and on foot ? Yes just one of your tricks : not to send for 
a carriage, and come clattering over street and road like a 
common mortal, but to steal into the vicinage of your home 
along with twilight, just as if you were a dream or a shade. 
What the deuce have you done with yourself this last 
month ? ' 



JANE EYEE 297 

' I have been with my aunt, sir, who is dead.' 
1 A true Janian reply ! Good angels be my guard ! She 
comes from the other world from the abode of people who 
are dead ; and tells me so when she meets me alone here in 
the gloaming ! If I dared, I'd touch you, to see if you are 
substance or shadow, you elf ! but I'd as soon offer to take 
hold of a blue ignis fatuus light in a marsh. Truant ! 
truant ! ' he added, when he had paused an instant. ' Absent 
from me a whole month : and forgetting me quite, I'll be 
sworn ! ' 

I knew there would be pleasure in meeting my master 
again ; even though broken by the fear that he was so soon 
to cease to be my master, and by the knowledge that I was 
nothing to him : but there was ever in Mr. Kochester (so at 
least I thought) such a wealth of the power of communicating 
happiness, that to taste but of the crumbs he scattered to 
stray and stranger birds like me was to feast genially. His 
last words were balm : they seemed to imply that it imported 
something to him whether I forgot him or not. And he had 
spoken of Thornfield as my home would that it were my 
home! 

He did not leave the stile, and I hardly liked to ask to 
go by. I inquired soon if he had not been to London. 
' Yes : I suppose you found that out by second-sight.' 
' Mrs. Fairfax told me in a letter.' 
1 And did she inform you what I went to do ? ' 
1 Oh, yes, sir ! Everybody knew your errand.' 
' You must see the carriage, Jane, and tell me if you don't 
think it will suit Mrs. Eochester exactly ; and whether she 
won't look like Queen Boadicea, leaning back against those 
purple cushions. I wish, Jane, I were a trifle better adapted 
to match with her externally. Tell me now, fairy as you 
are, can't you give me a charm, or a philter, or something 
of that sort, to make me a handsome man ? ' 

' It would be past the power of magic, sir ; ' and, in 
thought, I added, ' A loving eye is all the charm needed : to 



298 JANE EYEfi 

such you are handsome enough ; or rather, your sternness 
has a power beyond beauty.' 

Mr. Eochester had sometimes read my unspoken thoughts 
with an acumen to me incomprehensible : in the present 
instance he took no notice of my abrupt vocal response ; but 
he smiled at me with a certain smile he had of his own, and 
which he used but on rare occasions. He seemed to think 
it too good for common purposes : it was the real sunshine 
of feeling he shed it over me now. 

1 Pass, Janet,' said he, making room for me to cross the 
stile : ' go up home, and stay your weary little wandering 
feet at a friend's threshold.' 

All I had now to do was to obey him in silence : no need 
for me to colloquise further. I got over the stile without a 
word, and meant to leave him calmly. An impulse held me 
fast, a force turned me round. I said or something in 
me said for me, and in spite of me : 

' Thank you, Mr. Eochester, for your great kindness. I 
am strangely glad to get back again to you ; and wherever 
you are is my home my only home.' 

I walked on so fast that even he could hardly have over- 
taken me had he tried. Little Adele was half wild with 
delight when she saw me. Mrs. Fairfax received me with 
her usual plain friendliness. Leah smiled ; and even Sophie 
bid me ' bon soir ' with glee. This was very pleasant : there 
is no happiness like that of being loved by your fellow- 
creatures, and feeling that your presence is an addition to 
their comfort. 

I, that evening, shut my eyes resolutely against the 
future : I stopped my ears against the voice that kept warn- 
ing me of near separation and coming grief. When tea was 
over and Mrs. Fairfax had taken her knitting, and I had 
assumed a low seat near her, and Adele, kneeling on the 
carpet, had nestled close up to me, and a sense of mutual 
affection seemed to surround us with a ring of golden peace, 
I uttered a silent prayer that we might not be parted far or 
soon; but when, as we thus sat, Mr. Eochester entered, 



JANE EYRE 299 

unannounced, and looking at us, seemed to take pleasure in 
the spectacle of a group so amicable when he said he sup- 
posed the old lady was all right now that she had got her 
adopted daughter back again, and added that he saw Adele 
was ' pr6te a croquer sa petite maman Anglaise ' I half 
ventured to hope that he would, even after his marriage, 
keep us together somewhere under the shelter of his pro- 
tection, and not quite exiled from the sunshine of his 
presence. 

A fortnight of dubious calm succeeded my return to 
Thornfield Hall. Nothing was said- of the master's marriage, 
and I saw no preparation going on for such an event. 
Almost every day I asked Mrs. Fairfax if she had yet heard 
anything decided : her answer was always in the negative. 
Once, she said, she had actually put the question to Mr. 
Rochester as to when he was going to bring his bride 
home ; but he had answered her only by a joke, and one 
of his queer looks, and she could not tell what to make of 
him. 

One thing specially surprised me, and that was, there 
were no journeyings backward and forward, no visits to 
Ingram Park : to be sure it was twenty miles off, on the 
borders of another county ; but what was that distance to 
an ardent lover ? To so practised and indefatigable a horse- 
man as Mr. Rochester it would be but a morning's ride. I 
began to cherish hopes I had no right to conceive : that the 
match was broken off; that rumour had been mistaken; 
that one or both parties had changed their minds. I used 
to look at my master's face to see if it were sad or fierce ; 
but I could not remember the time when it had been so 
uniformly clear of clouds or evil feelings. If, in the moments 
I and my pupil spent with him, I lacked spirits and sank 
into inevitable dejection, he became even gay. Never had 
he called me more frequently to his presence ; never been 
kinder to me when there and, alas ! never had I loved him 
so well. 



CHAPTEK XXIII 

A SPLENDID Midsummer shone over England : skies so pure, 
suns so radiant as were then seen in long succession, seldom 
favour, even singly, our wave-girt land. It was as if a band 
of Italian days had come from the South, like a flock of 
glorious passenger birds, and lighted to rest them on the 
cliffs of Albion. The hay was all got in ; the fields round 
Thornfield were green and shorn ; the roads white and 
baked ; the trees were in their dark prime ; hedge and wood, 
full-leaved and deeply tinted, contrasted well with the sunny 
hue of the cleared meadows between. 

On Midsummer-eve, Adele, weary with gathering wild 
strawberries in Hay Lane half the day, had gone to bed with 
the sun. I watched her drop asleep, and when I left her I 
sought the garden. 

It was now the sweetest hour of the twenty-four : ' Day 
its fervid fires had wasted,' and dew fell cool on panting plain 
and scorched summit. Where the sun had gone down in 
simple state pure of the pomp of clouds spread a solemn 
purple, burning with the light of red jewel and furnace flame 
at one point, on one hill-peak, and extending high and wide, 
soft and still softer, over half heaven. The east had its own 
charm of fine, deep blue, and its own modest gem, a rising 
and solitary star : soon it would boast the moon ; but she 
was yet beneath the horizon. 

I walked a while on the pavement ; but a subtle, well- 
known scent that of a cigar stole from some window; I saw 
the library casement open a handbreath ; I knew I might be 
watched thence ; so I went apart into the orchard. No nook 
in the grounds more sheltered and more Eden-like ; it was 



JANE EYRU sol 

full of trees, it bloomed with flowers : a very high wall shut 
it out from the court, on one side ; on the other, a beech 
avenue screened it from the lawn. At the bottom was a 
sunk fence ; its sole separation from lonely fields ; a winding 
walk, bordered with laurels and terminating in a giant 
horse-chestnut, circled at the base by a seat, led down to 
the fence. Here one could wander unseen. While such 
honey-dew fell, such silence reigned, such gloaming gathered, 
I felt as if I could haunt such shade for ever : but in thread- 
ing the flower and fruit parterres at the upper part of the 
inclosure, enticed there by the light the now-rising moon 
casts on this more open quarter, my step is stayed not by 
sound, not by sight, but once more by a warning fragrance. 

Sweet briar and southernwood, jasmine, pink, and rose, 
have long been yielding their evening sacrifice of incense : 
this new scent is neither of shrub nor flower ; it is I know 
it well it is Mr. Rochester's cigar. I look round, and I 
listen. I see trees laden with ripening fruit. I hear a 
nightingale warbling in a wood half a mile off ; no moving 
form is visible, no coming step audible ; but that perfume 
increases : I must flee. I make for the wicket leading to the 
shrubbery, and I see Mr. Rochester entering. I step aside 
into the ivy recess ; he will not stay long : he will soon 
return whence he came, and if I sit still he will never see me. 

But no eventide is as pleasant to him as to me, and this 
antique garden as attractive ; and he strolls on, now lifting 
the gooseberry tree branches to look at the fruit, large as 
plums, with which they are laden ; now taking a ripe cherry 
from the wall ; now stooping towards a knot of flowers, either 
to inhale their fragrance or to admire the dew-beads on their 
petals. A great moth goes humming by me ; it alights on a 
plant at Mr. Rochester's foot : he sees it, and bends to 
examine it. 

' Now he has his back towards me,' thought I, ' and he 
is occupied too ; perhaps, if I walk softly, I can slip away 
unnoticed.' 

I trod on an edging of turf that the crackle of the pebbly 



302 JANE EYRE 

gravel might not betray me : he was standing among the 
beds at a yard or two distant from where I had to pass ; the 
moth apparently engaged him. ' I shall get by very well,' I 
meditated. As I crossed his shadow, thrown long over the 
garden by the moon, not yet risen high, he said qu'etly 
without turning : ' Jane, come and look at this fellow.' 

I had made no noise : he had not eyes behind could his 
shadow feel ? I started at first, and then I approached him. 

1 Look at his wings,' said he ; 'he reminds me rather of a 
West Indian insect ; one does not often see so large and gay 
a night-rover in England : there ! he is flown.' 

The moth roamed away. I was sheepishly retreating 
also ; but Mr. Bochester followed me, and when we reached 
the wicket, he said : ' Turn back : on so lovely a night it is 
a shame to sit in the house ; and surely no one can wish to 
go to bed while sunset is thus at meeting with moonrise.' 

It is one of my faults that, though my tongue is some- 
times prompt enough at an answer, there are times when it 
sadly fails me in framing an excuse ; and always the lapse 
occurs at some crisis, when a facile word or plausible pretext 
is specially wanted to get me out of painful embarrassment. 
I did not like to walk at this hour alone with Mr. Rochester 
in the shadowy orchard ; but I could not find a reason to 
allege for leaving him. I followed with lagging step, and 
thoughts busily bent on discovering a means of extrication ; 
but he himself looked so composed, and so grave also, I 
became ashamed of feeling any confusion : the evil if evil 
existent or prospective there was seemed to lie with me 
only ; his mind was unconscious and quiet. 

' Jane,' he recommenced, as we entered the laurel walk, 
and slowly strayed down in the direction of the sunk fence 
and the horse-chestnut, ' Thornfield is a pleasant place in 
summer, is it not ? ' 

' Yes, sir.' 

1 You must have become in some degree attached to the 
house, you, who have an eye for natural beauties, and a good 
deal of the organ of Adhesiveness ? ' 



JANE EYEE 303 

' I am attached to it, indeed.' 

' And though I don't comprehend how it is, I perceive 
you have acquired a degree of regard for that foolish little 
child, Adele, too ; and even for simple dame Fairfax ? ' 

' Yes, sir ; in different ways, I have an affection for both.' 

1 And would be sorry to part with them ? ' 

' Yes.' 

' Pity ! ' he said, and sighed and paused. ' It is always 
the way of events in this life,' he continued presently : ' no 
sooner have you got settled in a pleasant resting-place, than 
a voice calls out to you to rise and move on, for the hour of 
repose is expired.' 

' Must I move on, sir ? ' I asked. ' Must I leave Thorn- 
field?' 

' I believe you must, Jane. I am sorry, Janet, but I 
believe indeed you must.' 

This was a blow : but I did not let it prostrate me. 

' Well, sir, I shall be ready when the order to march 
comes.' 

' It is come now I must give it to-night.' 

' Then you are going to be married, sir ? ' 

' Ex-act-ly pre-cise-ly : with your usual acuteness, you 
have hit the nail straight on the head.' 

' Soon, sir ? ' 

'Very soon, my that is, Miss Eyre: and you'll re- 
remember, Jane, the first time I, or Eumour, plainly inti- 
mated to you that it was my intention to put my old 
bachelor's neck into the sacred noose, to enter into the holy 
estate of matrimony to take Miss Ingram to my bosom, in 
short (she's an extensive armful : but that's not to the point 
one can't have too much of such a very excellent thing as my 
beautiful Blanche) : well, as I was saying listen to me, Jane ! 
You're not turning your head to look after more moths, are 
you ? That was only a lady-clock, child, ' flying away home.' 
I wish to remind you that it was you who first said to me, 
with that discretion I respect in you with that foresight, 
prudence, and humility which befit your responsible and 



304 JANE EYBE 

dependent position that in case I married Miss Ingram 
both you and little Adele had better trot forthwith. I pass 
over the sort of slur conveyed in this suggestion on the 
character of my beloved ; indeed, when you are far away, 
Janet, I'll try to forget it : I shall notice only its wisdom ; 
which is such that I have made it my law of action. Adele 
must go to school; and you, Miss Eyre, must get a new 
situation.' 

1 Yes, sir, I will advertise immediately : and meantime, I 

suppose ' I was going to say, ' I suppose I may stay here 

till I find another shelter to betake myself to : ' but I stopped, 
feeling it would not do to risk a long sentence, for my voice 
was not quite under command. 

' In about a month I hope to be a bridegroom,' continued 
Mr. Eochester ; ' and in the interim I shall myself look out 
for employment and an asylum for you.' 

' Thank you, sir ; I am sorry to give ' 

1 Oh, no need to apologise ! I consider that when a de- 
pendent does her duty as well as you have done yours, she 
has a sort of claim upon her employer for any little assist- 
ance he can conveniently render her ; indeed I have already, 
through my future mother-in-law, heard of a place that J 
think will suit : it is to undertake the education of the five 
daughters of Mrs. Dionysius O'Gall, of Bitternutt Lodge, 
Connaught, Ireland. You'll like Ireland, I think : they're 
such warm-hearted people there, they say.' 

' It is a long way off, sir.' 

1 No matter a girl of your sense will not object to the 
voyage or the distance.' 

' Not the voyage, but the distance : and then the sea is 
a barrier ' 

' From what, Jane ? ' 

1 From England and from Thornfield : and ' 

'Well?' 

' From you, sir.' 

I said this almost involuntarily ; and, with as little 
sanction of free will, my tears gushed out. I did not cry 



JANE EYRE 305 

so as to be heard, however; I avoided sobbing. The 
thought of Mrs. O'Gall and Bitternutt Lodge struck cold to 
my heart ; and colder the thought of all the brine and foam, 
destined, as it seemed, to rush between me and the master 
at whose side I now walked ! and coldest the remembrance 
of the wider ocean wealth, caste, custom intervened between 
me and what I naturally and inevitably loved. 

1 It is a long way,' I again said. 

' It is to be sure ; and when you get to Bitternutt Lodge, 
Connaught, Ireland, I shall never see you again, Jane : 
that's morally certain. I never go over to Ireland, not 
having myself much of a fancy for the country. We have 
been good friends, Jane ; have we not ? ' 

' Yes, sir." 

1 And when friends are on the eve of separation, they like 
to spend the little time that remains to them close to each 
other. Come we'll talk over the voyage and the parting 
quietly, half an hour or so, while the stars enter into their 
shining life up in heaven yonder : here is the chestnut tree : 
here is the bench at its old roots. Come, we will sit there 
in peace to-night, though we should never more be destined 
to sit there together.' He seated me and himself. 

' It is a long way to Ireland, Janet, and I am sorry to 
send my little friend on such weary travels ; but if I can't 
do better, how is it to be helped ? Are you anything akin to 
me, do you think, Jane ? ' 

I could risk no sort of answer by this time : my heart 
was full. 

' Because,' he said, ' I sometimes have a queer feeling 
with regard to you especially when you are near me, as 
now : it is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, 
tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated 
in the corresponding quarter of your little frame. And if 
that boisterous channel, and two hundred miles or so of land 
come broad between us, I am afraid that cord of communion 
will be snapt ; and then I've a nervous notion I should take 
to bleeding inwardly. As for you you'd forget me.' 



306 JANE EYRE 

' That I never should, sir : you know ' impossible to 
proceed. 

'Jane, do you hear that nightingale singing in the wood? 
Listen 1 ' 

In listening, I sobbed convulsively ; for I could repress 
what I endured no longer ; I was obliged to yield, and I 
was shaken from head to foot with acute distress. When 
I did speak, it was only to express an impetuous wish that 
I had never been born, or never come to Thornfield. 

1 Because you are sorry to leave it ? ' 

The vehemence of emotion, stirred by grief and love 
within me, was claiming mastery, and struggling for full 
sway ; and asserting a right to predominate : to overcome, 
to live, rise, and reign at last ; yes, and to speak. 

' I grieve to leave Thornfield : I love Thornfield I love 
it, because I have lived in it a full and delightful life, 
momentarily at least. I have not been trampled on. I 
have not been petrified. I have not been buried with inferior 
minds, and excluded from every glimpse of communion with 
what is bright and energetic, and high. I have talked, face 
to face, with what I reverence ; with what I delight in, 
with an original, a vigorous, an expanded mind. I have 
known you, Mr. Rochester ; and it strikes me with terror 
and anguish to feel I absolutely must be torn from you for 
ever. I see the necessity of departure ; and it is like looking 
on the necessity of death.' 

' Where do you see the necessity ? ' he asked, suddenly. 

' Where ? You, sir, have placed it before me.' 

1 In what shape ? ' 

' In the shape of Miss Ingram ; a noble and beautiful 
woman, your bride.' 

' My bride ! What bride ? I have no bride ! ' 

1 But you will have.' 

1 Yes ; I will ! I will ! ' He set his teeth. 

' Then I must go you have said it yourself.' 

' No : you must stay ! I swear it and the oath shall 
be kept.' 



JANE EYKE 307 

' I tell you I must go ! ' I retorted, roused to something 
like passion. ' Do you think I can stay to become nothing 
to you ? Do you think I am an automaton ? a machine 
without feelings ? and can bear to have my morsel of bread 
snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed 
from my cup ? Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, 
plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless ? You think 
wrong ! I have as much soul as you, and full as much 
heart 1 And if God had gifted me with some beauty and 
much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave 
me, as it is now for me to leave you. I am not talking to 
you now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, 
nor even of mortal flesh it is my spirit that addresses 
your spirit ; just as if both had passed through the grave, and 
we stood at God's feet, equal, as we are ! ' 

' As we are ! ' repeated Mr. Kochester ' so,' he added, 
enclosing me in his arms, gathering me to his breast, press- 
ing his lips on my lips : ' so, Jane 1 ' 

' Yes, so, sir,' I rejoined : ' and yet not so ; for you are a 
married man or as good as a married man, and wed to one 
inferior to you to one with whom you have no sympathy 
whom I do not believe you truly love ; for I have seen 
and heard you sneer at her. I would scorn such a union : 
therefore I am better than you let me go ! ' 

' Where, Jane ? To Ireland ? ' 

' Yes to Ireland. I have spoken my mind, and can go 
anywhere now.' 

' Jane, be still ; don't struggle so, like a wild, frantic bird 
that is rending its own plumage in its desperation.' 

' I am no bird ; and no net ensnares me : I am a free 
human being with an independent will ; which I now exert 
to leave you.' 

Another effort set me at liberty, and I stood erect before 
him. 

' And your will shall decide your destiny,' he said : ' I 
offer you my hand, my heart, and a share of all my 
possessions.' 



308 JANfi EYRE 

' You play a farce, which I merely laugh at.' 

' I ask you to pass through life at my side to be my 
second self, and best earthly companion.' 

' For that fate you have already made your choice, and 
must abide by it.' 

' Jane, be still a few moments ; you are over-excited : I 
will be still too.' 

A waft of wind came sweeping down the laurel walk, and 
trembled through the boughs of the chestnut : it wandered 
away away to an indefinite distance it died. The 
nightingale's song was then the only voice of the hour : in 
listening to it, I again wept. Mr. Eochester sat quiet, look- 
ing at me gently and seriously. Some time passed before 
he spoke ; he at last said : ' Come to my side, Jane, and let 
us explain and understand one another.' 

1 1 will never again come to your side : I am torn away 
now, and cannot return.' 

' But, Jane, I summon you as my wife : it is you only I 
intend to marry.' 

I was silent : I thought he mocked me. 

1 Come, Jane come hither.' 

1 Your bride stands between us.' 

He rose, and with a stride reached me. 

' My bride is here,' he said, again drawing me to him, 
' because my equal is here, and my likeness. Jane, will you 
marry me ? ' 

Still I did not answer, and still I writhed myself from 
his grasp : for I was still incredulous. 

' Do you doubt me, Jane ? ' 

' Entirely.' 

' You have no faith in me ? ' 

1 Not a whit.' 

' Am I a liar in your eyes ? ' he asked passionately. 
' Little sceptic, you shall be convinced. What love have I for 
Miss Ingram ? None : and that you know. What love has she 
for me ? None : as I have taken pains to prove ; I caused a 
rumour to reach her that my fortune was not a third of 



JANE EYEE 309 

what was supposed, and after that I presented myself to see 
the result ; it was coldness both from her and her mother- 
I would not I could not marry Miss Ingram. You you 
strange you almost unearthly thing ! I love as my own 
flesh. You poor and obscure, and small and plain as you 
are I entreat to accept me as a husband.' 

' What, me ! ' I ejaculated : beginning in his earnestness 
and especially in his incivility to credit his sincerity : 
1 me who have not a friend in the world but you if you are 
my friend : not a shilling but what you have given me ? ' 

' You, Jane. I must have you for my own entirely my 
own. Will you be mine ? Say yes, quickly.' 

' Mr. Rochester, let me look at your face : turn to the 
moonlight.' 

1 Why ? ' 

' Because I want to read your countenance ; turn I ' 

1 There : you will find it scarcely more legible than a 
crumpled, scratched page. Read on : only make haste, for I 
suffer.' 

His face was very much agitated and very much flushed, 
and there were strong workings in the features, and strange 
gleams in the eyes. 

' Oh, Jane, you torture me ! ' he exclaimed. ' With that 
searching and yet faithful and generous look, you torture 
me ! ' 

' How can I do that ? If you are true, and your offer 
real, my only feelings to you must be gratitude and devotion 
they cannot torture.' 

' Gratitude ! ' he ejaculated ; and added wildly ' Jane, 
accept me quickly. Say, Edward give me my name 
Edward I will marry you." 

1 Are you in earnest ? Do you truly love me ? Do you 
sincerely wish me to be your wife ? ' 

4 1 do ; and if an oath is necessary to satisfy you, I swear it.' 

' Then, sir, I will marry you.' 

' Edward my little wife ! ' 

' Dear Edward ! ' 



310 JANE EYRE 

' Come to me come to me entirely now,' said he : and 
added, in his deepest tone, speaking in my ear as his cheek 
was laid on mine, ' Make my happiness I will make yours.' 

' God pardon me ! ' he subjoined ere long ; ' and man 
meddle not with me : I have her, and will hold her.' 

' There is no one to meddle, sir. I have no kindred to 
interfere.' 

' No that is the best of it,' he said. 

And if I had loved him less I should have thought his 
accent and look of exultation savage ; but, sitting by him, 
roused from the nightmare of parting called to the 
paradise of union I thought only of the bliss given me to 
drink in so abundant a flow. Again and again he said, ' Are 
you happy, Jane ? ' And again and again I answered, ' Yes.' 
After which he murmured, ' It will atone it will atone. 
Have I not found her friendless, and cold, and comfortless ? 
Will I not guard, and cherish, and solace her ? Is there not 
love in my heart, and constancy in my resolves ? It will 
expiate at God's tribunal. I know my Maker sanctions what 
I do. For the world's judgment I wash my hands thereof. 
For man's opinion I defy it.' 

But what had befallen the night ? The moon was not 
yet set, and we were all in shadow : I could scarcely see my 
master's face, near as I was. And what ailed the chestnut 
tree ? it writhed and groaned ; while wind roared in the 
laurel walk, and came sweeping over us. 

' We must go in/ said Mr. Rochester : ' the weather 
changes. I could have sat with thee till morning, Jane.' 

1 And so/ thought I, ' could I with you.' I should have 
said so, perhaps, but a livid, vivid spark leapt out of a 
cloud at which I was looking, and there was a crack, a crash, 
and a close rattling peal ; and I thought only of hiding my 
dazzled eyes against Mr. Rochester's shoulder. 

The rain rushed down. He hurried me up the walk, 
through the grounds, and into the house ; but we were quite 
wet before we could pass the threshold. He was taking off 
my shawl in the hall, and shaking the water out of my 



JANE EYBE 311 

loosened hair, when Mrs. Fairfax emerged from her room. 
I did not observe her at first, nor did Mr. Eochester. The 
lamp was lit. The clock was on the stroke of twelve. 

' Hasten to take off your wet things,' said he ; ' and before 
you go, good-night good-night, my darling ! ' 

He kissed me repeatedly. When I looked up, on leaving 
his arms, there stood the widow, pale, grave, and amazed. 
I only smiled at her, and ran upstairs. ' Explanation will 
do for another time,' thought I. Still, when I reached my 
chamber, I felt a pang at the idea that she should even 
temporarily misconstrue what she had seen. But joy soon 
effaced every other feeling ; and loud as the wind blew, near 
and deep as the thunder crashed, fierce and frequent as the 
lightning gleamed, cataract-like as the rain fell during a 
storm of two hours' duration, I experienced no fear, and little 
awe. Mr. Eochester came thrice to my door in the course 
of it, to ask if I was safe and tranquil : and that was comfort, 
that was strength for anything. 

Before I left my bed in the morning, little Adele came 
running in to tell me that the great horse-chestnut at the 
bottom of the orchard had been struck by lightning in the 
night, and half of it split away. 



CHAPTER XXIV 

As I rose and dressed, I thought over what had happened, 
and wondered if it were a dream. I could not be certain of 
the reality till I had seen Mr. Rochester again, and heard 
him renew his words of love and promise. 

While arranging my hair, I looked at my face in the glass, 
and felt it was no longer plain : there was hope in its aspect, 
and life in its colour ; and my eyes seemed as if they had 
beheld the fount of fruition, and borrowed beams from the 
lustrous ripple. I had often been unwilling to look at my 
master, because I feared he could not be pleased at my look ; 
but I was sure I might lift my face to his now, and not cool 
his affection by its expression. I took a plain but clean 
and light summer dress from my drawer and put it on : it 
seemed no attire had ever so well become me ; because none 
had I ever worn in so blissful a mood. 

I was not surprised, when I ran down into the hall, to 
see that a brilliant June morning had succeeded to the 
tempest of the night ; and to feel, through the open glass 
door, the breathing of a fresh and fragrant breeze. Nature 
must be gladsome when I was so happy. A beggar-woman 
and her little boy pale, ragged objects both were coming 
up the walk, and I ran down and gave them all the money 
I happened to have in my purse some three or four 
shillings : good or bad, they must partake of my jubilee. 
The rooks cawed, and blither birds sang ; but nothing was 
so merry or so musical as my own rejoicing heart. 

Mrs. Fairfax surprised me by looking out of the window 
with a sad countenance, and saying gravely : ' Miss Eyre, 
will you come to breakfast ? ' During the meal she was 



JANE EYRE 313 

quiet and cool : but I could not undeceive her then. I 
must wait for my master to give explanations ; and so must 
she. I ate what I could, and then I hastened upstairs. I 
met Adele leaving the school-room. 

' Where are you going ? It is time for lessons.' 

1 Mr. Rochester has sent me away to the nursery.' 

' Where is he ? ' 

1 In there,' pointing to the apartment she had left ; and 
I went in, and there he stood. 

' Come and bid me good-morning,' said he. I gladly 
advanced ; and it was not merely a cold word now, or even 
a shake of the hand that I received, but an embrace and a 
kiss. It seemed natural ; it seemed genial to be so well- 
loved, so caressed by him. 

1 Jane, you look blooming, and smiling, and pretty,' said 
he : ' truly pretty this morning. Is this my pale, little elf ? Is 
this my mustard-seed? This little sunny-faced girl with 
the dimpled cheek and rosy lips ; the satin-smooth hazel 
hair, and the radiant hazel eyes ? ' (I had green eyes, reader ; 
but you must excuse the mistake : for him they were new- 
dyed, I suppose.) 

' It is Jane Eyre, sir.' 

' Soon to be Jane Rochester,' he added : ' in four weeks, 
Janet, not a day more. Do you hear that ? ' 

I did, and I could not quite comprehend it : it made me 
giddy. The feeling, the announcement sent through me, was 
something stronger than was consistent with joy some- 
thing that smote and stunned : it was, I think, almost fear. 

' You blushed, and now you are white, Jane : what is 
that for ? ' 

' Because you gave me a new name Jane Rochester ; 
and it seems so strange.' 

' Yes, Mrs. Rochester,' said he ; ' young Mrs. Rochester 
Fairfax Rochester's girl-bride.' 

' It can never be, sir ; it does not sound likely. Human 
beings never enjoy complete happiness in this world. I 
was not born for a different destiny to the rest of my species ; 



314 JANE EYRE 

to imagine such a lot befalling me is a fairy tale a day- 
dream." 

' Which I can and will realise. I shall begin to-day. 
This morning I wrote to my banker in London to send me 
certain jewels he has in his keeping, heir-looms for the 
ladies of Thornfield. In a day or two I hope to pour them 
into your lap : for every privilege, every attention shall be 
yours, that I would accord a peer's daughter, if about to 
marry her.' 

' Oh, sir ! never mind jewels ! I don't like to hear 
them spoken of. Jewels for Jane Eyre sounds unnatural and 
strange : I would rather not have them.' 

' I will myself put the diamond chain round your neck, 
and the circlet on your forehead, which it will become : 
for nature, at least, has stamped her patent of nobility on this 
brow, Jane ; and I will clasp the bracelets on these fine 
wrists, and load these fairy-like fingers with rings.' 

' No, no, sir ! think of other subjects, and speak of other 
things, and in another strain. Don't address me as if I 
were a beauty ; I am your plain, Quakerish governess.' 

' You are a beauty, in my eyes ; and a beauty just after 
the desire of my heart, delicate and aerial.' 

' Puny and insignificant, you mean. You are dreaming, 
sir, or you are sneering. For God's sake, don't be ironical ! ' 

' I will make the world acknowledge you a beauty too,' 
he went on, while I really became uneasy at the strain he 
had adopted ; because I felt he was either deluding himself, 
or trying to delude me. ' I will attire my Jane in satin and 
lace, and she shall have roses in her hair ; and I will cover 
the head I love best with a priceless veil.' 

1 And then you won't know me, sir ; and I shall not be 
your Jane Eyre any longer, but an ape in a harlequin's 
jacket, a jay in borrowed plumes. I would as soon see 
you, Mr. Rochester, tricked out in stage-trappings, as myself 
clad in a court-lady's robe ; and I don't call you handsome, 
sir, though I love you most dearly : far too dearly to flatter 
you. Don't flatter me.' 



JANE EYKE 315 

He pursued his theme, however, without noticing my 
deprecation. ' This very day I shall take you in the carriage 
to Millcote, and you must choose some dresses for yourself. 
I told you we shall be married in four weeks. The wedding 
is to take place quietly, in the church down below yonder ; 
and then I shall waft you away at once to town. After a 
brief stay there, I shall bear my treasure to regions nearer 
the sun : to French vineyards and Italian plains ; and she 
shall see whatever is famous in old story and in modern 
record : she shall taste, too, of the life of cities ; and she 
shall learn to value herself by just comparison with others.' 

' Shall I travel ? and with you, sir ? ' 

' You shall sojourn at Paris, Eome, and Naples : at 
Florence, Venice, and Vienna : all the ground I have 
wandered over shall be re-trodden by you : wherever I 
stamped my hoof, your sylph's foot shall step also. Ten 
years since, I flew through Europe half mad ; with disgust, 
hate, and rage, as my companions ; now I shall revisit it 
healed and cleansed, with a very angel as my comforter.' 

I laughed at him as he said this. ' I am not an angel/ I 
asserted ; ' and I will not be one till I die : I will be myself. 
Mr. Kochester, you must neither expect nor exact anything 
celestial of me for you will not get it, any more than I 
shall get it of you : which I do not at all anticipate.' 

' What do you anticipate of me ? ' 

' For a little while you will perhaps be as you are now, 
a very little while ; and then you will turn cool ; and then 
you will be capricious ; and then you will be stern, and I 
shall have much ado to please you : but when you get well 
used to me, you will perhaps like me again like me, I say, 
not love me. I suppose your love will effervesce in six 
months, or less. I have observed in books written by men, 
that period assigned .as the farthest to which a husband's 
ardour extends. Yet, after all, as a friend and companion, 
I hope never to become quite distasteful to my dear 
master.' 

' Distasteful ! and like you again ! I think I shall like 



316 JANE 

you again and yet again : and I will make you confess I 
do not only like, but love you with truth, fervour, con- 
stancy.' 

' Yet are you not capricious, sir ? ' 

' To women who please me only by their faces, I am the 
very devil when I find out they have neither souls nor hearts 
when they open to me a perspective of flatness, triviality, 
and perhaps imbecility, coarseness, and ill-temper : but to 
the clear eye and eloquent tongue, to the soul made of fire, 
and the character that bends but does not break at once 
supple and stable, tractable and consistent I am ever tender 
and true.' 

' Had you ever experience of such a character, sir ? Did 
you ever love such an one ? ' 

' I love it now.' 

1 But before me : if I, indeed, in any respect come up to 
that difficult standard ? ' 

' I never met your likeness. Jane : you please me, and 
you master me you seem to submit, and I like the sense of 
pliancy you impart : and while I am twining the soft, silken 
skein round my finger, it sends a thrill up my arm to my 
heart. I am influenced conquered ; and the influence is 
sweeter than I can express ; and the conquest I undergo has 
a witchery beyond any triumph I can win. Why do you 
smile, Jane ? What does that inexplicable, that uncanny 
turn of countenance mean ? ' 

' I was thinking, sir (you will excuse the idea ; it was 
involuntary), I was thinking of Hercules and Samson with 
their charmers ' 



' You were, you little elfish- 



1 Hush, sir ! You don't talk very wisely just now ; any 
more than those gentlemen acted very wisely. However, 
had they been married, they would no doubt by their severity 
as husbands have made up for their softness as suitors ; and 
so will you, I fear. I wonder how you will answer me a 
year hence, should I ask a favour it does not suit your con- 
venience or pleasure to grant.' 



JANE EYRE 317 

' Ask me something now, Janet the least thing : I desire 
to be entreated ' 

1 Indeed, I will, sir ; I have my petition all ready.' 

' Speak ! But if you look up and smile with that coun- 
tenance, I shall swear concession before I know to what, and 
that will make a fool cf me.' 

' Not at all, sir ; I ask only this : don't send for the jewels, 
and don't crown me with roses : you might as well put a 
border of gold lace round that plain pocket handkerchief you 
have there.' 

' I might as well " gild refined gold." I know it : your 
request is granted then for the time. I will remand the 
order I despatched to my banker. But you have not yet 
asked for anything ; you have prayed a gift to be withdrawn : 
try again.' 

' Well, then, sir ; have the goodness to gratify my 
curiosity, which is much piqued on one point.' 

He looked disturbed. ' What ? what ? ' he said hastily. 
' Curiosity is a dangerous petition : it is well I have not 
taken a vow to accord every request ' 

'But there can be no danger in complying with this, 
sir.' 

' Utter it, Jane : but I wish that instead of a mere 
inquiry into perhaps, a secret, it was a wish for half my 
estate.' 

1 Now, king Ahasuerus ! What do I want with half your 
estate ? Do you think I am a Jew-usurer, seeking good in- 
vestment in land ? I would much rather have all your 
confidence. You will not exclude me from your confidence, 
if you admit me to your heart ? ' 

'You are welcome to all my confidence that is worth 
having, Jane : but for God's sake don't desire a useless 
burden ! Don't long for poison don't turn out a downright 
Eve on my hands ! ' 

' Why not, sir ? You have just been telling me how much 
you liked to be conquered, and how pleasant over-persuasion 
is to you. Don't you think I had better take advantage of 



318 JANE EYKE 

the confession, and begin and coax, and entreat even cry 
and be sulky if necessary for the sake of a mere essay of 
my power ? ' 

' I dare you to any such experiment. Encroach, presume, 
and the game is up.' 

' Is it, sir ? You soon give in. How stern you look 
now ! Your eyebrows have become as thick as my finger, 
and your forehead resembles, what, in some very astonishing 
poetry, I once saw styled " a blue-piled thunderloft." That 
will be your married look, sir, I suppose ? ' 

' If that will be your married look, I, as a Christian, will 
soon give up the notion of consorting with a mere sprite or 
salamander. But what had you to ask, thing? out with 
it!' 

' There, you are less than civil now ; and I like rudeness a 
great deal better than flattery. I had rather be a thing than 
an angel. This is what I have to ask : Why did you take 
such pains to make me believe you wished to marry Miss 
Ingram ? ' 

' Is that all ? Thank God, it is no worse ! ' 

And now he unknit his black brows ; looked down, 
smiling at me, and stroked my hair, as if well pleased at 
seeing a danger averted. 

' I think I may confess,' he continued, ' even although I 
should make you a little indignant, Jane and I have seen 
what a fire-spirit you can be when you are indignant. You 
glowed in the cool moonlight last night, when you mutinied 
against fate, and claimed your rank as my equal. Janet, 
by-the-by, it was you who made me the offer.' 

' Of course, I did. But to the point if you please, sir 
Miss Ingram ? ' 

'Well, I feigned courtship of Miss Ingram, because I 
wished to render you as madly in love with me as I was with 
you ; and I knew jealousy would be the best ally I could call 
in for the furtherance of that end.' 

' Excellent ! now you are small not one whit bigger 
than the end of my little finger. It was a burning shame, 



and a scandalous disgrace to act in that way. Did you 
think nothing of Miss Ingram's feelings, sir ? ' 

' Her feelings are concentrated in one- -pride; and that 
needs humbling. Were you jealous, Jane ? ' 

' Never mind, Mr. Rochester : it is in no way interesting 
to you to know that. Answer me truly once more. Do you 
think Miss Ingram will not suffer from your dishonest 
coquetry ? Won't she feel forsaken and deserted ? ' 

' Impossible ! when I told you how she, on the contrary, 
deserted me : the idea of my insolvency cooled, or rather 
extinguished, her flame in a moment.' 

1 You have a curious designing mind, Mr. Eochester. I 
am afraid your principles on some points are eccentric.' 

' My principles were never trained, Jane : they may have 
grown a little awry for want of attention.' 

' Once again, seriously ; may I enjoy the great good that 
has been vouchsafed to me, without fearing that any one 
else is suffering the bitter pain I myself felt a while ago ? ' 

' That you may, my good little girl : there is not another 
being in the world has the same pure love for me as yourself 
for I lay that pleasant unction to my soul, Jane, a belief 
in your affection.' 

I turned my lips to the hand that lay on my shoulder. I 
loved him very much more than I could trust myself to 
say more than words had power to express. 

1 Ask something more,' he said presently ; ' it is my delight 
to be entreated, and to yield.' 

I was again ready with my request. 

' Communicate your intentions to Mrs. Fairfax, sir : she 
saw me with you last night in the hall, and she was shocked. 
Give her some explanation before I see her again. It pains 
me to be misjudged by so good a woman.' 

' Go to your room, and put on your bonnet,' he replied. 
' I mean you to accompany me to Millcote this morning ; 
and while you prepare for the drive, I will enlighten the old 
lady's understanding. Did she think, Janet, you had given 
the world for love, and considered it well lost ? ' 



320 JANE EYRE 

' I believe she thought I had forgotten my station, and 
yours, sir.' 

' Station ! station ! your station is in my heart, and on 
the necks of those who would insult you, now or hereafter 
Go.' 

I was soon dressed ; and when I heard Mr. Rochester 
quit Mrs. Fairfax's parlour, I hurried down to it. The old 
lady had been reading her morning portion of Scripture - 
the lesson for the day ; her Bible lay open before her, and 
her spectacles were upon it. Her occupation, suspended by 
Mr. Rochester's announcement, seemed now forgotten : her 
eyes, fixed on the blank wall opposite, expressed the surprise 
of a quiet mind, stirred by unwonted tidings. Seeing me, 
she roused herself : she made a sort of effort to smile, and 
framed a few words of congratulation ; but the smile expired, 
and the sentence was abandoned unfinished. She put up 
her spectacles, shut the Bible, and pushed her chair back 
from the table. 

I 1 feel so astonished,' she began, ' I hardly know what to 
say to you, Miss Eyre. I have surely not been dreaming, 
have I? Sometimes I half fall asleep when I am sitting 
alone, and fancy things that have never happened. It has 
seemed to me more than once when I have been in a doze, 
that my dear husband, who died fifteen years since, has 
come in and sat down beside me ; and that I have even 
heard him call me by my name, Alice, as he used to do. 
Now, can you tell me whether it is actually true that Mr. 
Rochester has asked you to marry him ? Don't laugh at me. 
But I really thought he came in here five minutes ago, and 
said, that in a month you would be his wife.' 

1 He has said the same thing to me,' I replied. 

' He has ! Do you believe him ? Have you accepted 
him?' 

' Yes.' 

She looked at me bewildered. 

' I could never have thought it. He is a proud man : all 
the Rochesters were proud : and his father, at least, liked 



JANE EYKE 321 

money. He, too, has always been called careful. He 
means to marry you ? ' 

' He tells me so.' 

She surveyed my whole person : in her eyes I read that 
they had there found no charm powerful enough to solve 
the enigma. 

' It passes me ! ' she continued : ' but no doubt it is true 
since you say so. How it will answer, I cannot tell : I 
really don't know. Equality of position and fortune is often 
advisable in such cases ; and there are twenty years of 
difference in your ages. He might almost be your father.' 

' No, indeed, Mrs. Fairfax ! ' exclaimed I, nettled : ' he is 
nothing like my father ! No one, who saw us together, 
would suppose it for an instant. Mr. Kochester looks as 
young, and is as young, as some men at five-and-twenty.' 

' Is it really for love he is going to marry you ? ' she 
asked. 

I was so hurt by her coldness and scepticism that the 
tears rose to my eyes. 

' I am sorry to grieve you,' pursued the widow ; ' but you 
are so young, and so little acquainted with men, I wished to 
put you on your guard. It is an old saying that " all is not 
gold that glitters ; " and in this case I do fear there will 
be something found to be different to what either you or I 
expect.' 

' Why ? am I a monster ? ' I said : ' is it impossible that 
Mr. Kochester should have a sincere affection for me ? ' 

1 No : you are very well ; and much improved of late : 
and Mr. Kochester, I daresay, is fond of you. I have 
always noticed that you were a sort of pet of his. There are 
times when, for your sake, I have been a little uneasy at his 
marked preference, and have wished to put you on your 
guard : but I did not like to suggest even the possibility of 
wrong. I knew such an idea would shock, perhaps offend 
you ; and you were so discreet, and so thoroughly modest 
and sensible, I hoped you might be trusted to protect your- 
self. Last night I cannot tell you what I suffered when I 

Y 



322 JANE EYKE 

sought all over the house, and could find you nowhere, nor 
the master either ; and then, at twelve o'clock, saw you 
come in with him.' 

' Well, never mind that now,' I interrupted impatiently : 
' it is enough that all was right.' 

'I hope all will be right in the end,' she said: 'but 
believe me, you cannot be too careful. Try and keep Mr. 
Eochester at a distance: distrust yourself as well as him. 
Gentlemen in his station are not accustomed to marry their 
governesses.' 

I was growing truly irritated : happily, Adele ran in. 

'Let me go, let me go to Millcote too!' she cried. 
' Mr. Eochester won't : though there is so much room in the 
new carriage. Beg him to let me go, mademoiselle.' 

' That I will, Adele ; ' and I hastened away with her, 
glad to quit my gloomy monitress. The carriage was ready : 
they were bringing it round to the front, and my master was 
pacing the pavement, Pilot following him backwards and for- 
wards. 

' Adele may accompany us, may she not, sir ? ' 

' I told her no. I'll have no brats ! I'll have only you.' 

' Do let her go, Mr. Eochester, if you please : it would be 
better.' 

' Not it : she will be a restraint.' 

He was quite peremptory, both in look and voice. The 
chill of Mrs. Fairfax's warnings, and the damp of her doubts 
were upon me : something of unsubstantiality and uncer- 
tainty had beset my hopes. I half lost the sense of power 
over him. I was about mechanically to obey him, with- 
out further remonstrance ; but as he helped me into the 
carriage, he looked at my face. 

' What is the matter ? ' he asked ; ' all the sunshine is 
gone. Do you really wish the bairn to go ? Will it annoy 
you if she is left behind ? ' 

' I would far rather she went, sir.' 

' Then off for your bonnet, and back, like a flash of light- 
ning ! ' cried he to Adele. 



JANE EYRE 323 

She obeyed him with what speed she might. 

' After all, a single morning's interruption will not matte 
much,' said he, ' when I mean shortly to claim you your 
thoughts, conversation, and company for life.' 

Adele, when lifted in, commenced kissing me, hy way of 
expressing her gratitude for my intercession : she was in- 
stantly stowed away into a corner on the other side of him. 
She then peeped round to where I sat ; so stern a neighbour 
was too restrictive : to him, in his present fractious mood 
she dared whisper no observations, nor ask of him any 
information. 

' Let her come to me,' I entreated : ' she will, perhaps, 
trouble you, sir : there is plenty of room on this side.' 

He handed her over as if she had been a lap-dog ; ' I'll 
send her to school yet,' he said, but now he was smiling. 

Adele heard him, and asked if she was to go to school 
' sans mademoiselle.' 

' Yes," he replied, ' absolutely sans mademoiselle ; for I 
am to take mademoiselle to the moon, and there I shall seek 
a cave in one of the white valleys among the volcano-tops, 
and mademoiselle shall live with me there, and only me.' 

' She will have nothing to eat : you will starve her,' 
observed Adele. i&q & 

' I shall gather manna for her morning and night : the 
plains and hillsides in the moon are bleached with manna, 
Adele/ 

' She will want to warm herself : what will she do for a 
fire?' 

' Fire rises out of the lunar mountains : when she is cold, 
I'll carry her up to a peak and lay her down on the edge of 
a crater.' 

' Oh, qu'elle y sera mal peu confortable ! And her 
clothes, they will wear out : how can she get new ones ? ' 

Mr. Rochester professed to be puzzled. 'Hem?' said 
he. ' What would you do, Adele ? Cudgel your brains for 
an expedient. How would a white or a pink cloud answer 



324 JANE EYBE 

for a gown, do you think ? And one could cut a pretty 
enough scarf out of a rainbow.' 

' She is far better as she is/ concluded Adele, after 
musing some time : ' besides, she would get tired of living 
with only you in the moon. If I were mademoiselle, I would 
never consent to go with you.' 

' She has consented : she has pledged her word.' 

1 But you can't get her there : there is no road to the 
moon : it is all air ; and neither you nor she can fly.' 

' Adele, look at that field.' We were now outside Thorn- 
field gates, and bowling lightly along the smooth road to 
Millcote, where the dust was well-laid by the thunder-storm, 
and where the low hedges and lofty timber trees on each 
side glistened green, and rain-refreshed. 

'In that field, Adele, I was walking late one evening 
about a fortnight since the evening of the day you helped 
me to make hay in the orchard meadows ; and as I was tired 
with raking swaths, I sat down to rest me on a stile ; and 
there I took out a little book and a pencil, and began to 
write about a misfortune that befell me long ago and a wish 
I had for happy days to come : I was writing away very fast, 
though daylight was fading from the leaf, when something 
came up the path and stopped two yards off me. I looked 
at it. It was a little thing with a veil of gossamer on its 
head. I beckoned it to come near me ; it stood soon at my 
knee. I never spoke to it, and it never spoke to me, in 
words : but I read its eyes, and it read mine ; and our 
speechless colloquy was to this effect : It was a fairy, and 
come from Elf-land, it said ; and its errand was to make me 
happy : I must go with it out of the common world to a 
lonely place such as the moon, for instance and it nodded 
its head towards her horn, rising over Hay-hill : it told me 
of the alabaster cave and silver vale where we might live. I 
said I should like to go ; but reminded it, as you did me, that 
I had no wings to fly.' 

' " Oh," returned the fairy, " that does not signify ! Here 
is a talisman will remove all difficulties ; " and she held out 



JANE! EtEfi 

a pretty gold ring. " Put it," she said, " on the fourth finger 
of my left hand, and I am yours, and you are mine ; and we 
shall leave earth, and make our own heaven yonder." She 
nodded again at the moon. The ring, Adele, is in my 
breeches-pocket, under the disguise of a sovereign : but I 
mean soon to change it to a ring again.' 

' But what has mademoiselle to do with it ? I don't care 
for the fairy : you said it was mademoiselle you would take 
to the moon ? ' 

' Mademoiselle is a fairy,' he said, whispering mysteri- 
ously. Whereupon I told her not to mind his badinage ; and 
she, on her part, evinced a fund of genuine French scepti- 
cism : denominating Mr. Eochester ' un vrai menteur,' and 
assuring him that she had made no account whatever of his 
' Contes de f6e,' and that ' du reste, il n'y avait pas de fees, 
et quand m6me il y en avait,' she was sure they would never 
appear to him, nor ever give him rings, or offer to live with 
him in the moon. The hour spent at Millcote was a some- 
what harassing one to me. Mr. Eochester obliged me to go 
to a certain silk warehouse : there I was ordered to choose 
half a dozen dresses. I hated the business, I begged leave to 
defer it : no it should be gone through with now. By dint 
of entreaties expressed in energetic whispers I reduced the 
half-dozen to two : these, however, he vowed he would 
select himself. With anxiety I watched his eye rove over the 
gay stores : he fixed on a rich silk of the most brilliant 
amethyst dye, and a superb pink satin. I told him in a new 
series of whispers, that he might as well buy me a gold 
gown and a silver bonnet at once : I should certainly never 
venture to wear his choice. With infinite difficulty, for he 
was stubborn as a stone, I persuaded him to make an 
exchange in favour of a sober black satin and pearl-grey 
silk. ' It might pass for the present,' he said ; ' but he would 
yet see me glittering like a parterre.' 

Glad was I to get him out of the silk warehouse, and then 
out of a jeweller's shop : the more he bought me, the more 
my cheek burned with a sense of annoyance and degradation. 



326 JANE EYEE 

As \ve re-entered the carriage, and I sat back feverish and 
fagged, I remembered what in the hurry of events, dark and 
bright, I had wholly forgotten the letter of my uncle, 
John Eyre, to Mrs. Reed : his intention to adopt me and make 
me his legatee. ' It would, indeed, be a relief,' I thought, 
' if I had ever so small an independency ; I never can bear 
being dressed like a doll by Mr. Eochester, or sitting like a 
second Danae with the golden shower falling daily round 
me. I will write to Madeira the moment I get home, and 
tell my uncle John I am going to be married, and to whom : 
if I had but a prospect of one day bringing Mr. Eochester 
an accession of fortune, I could better endure to be kept by 
him now.' And somewhat relieved by this idea (which I 
failed not to execute that day), I ventured once more to meet 
my master's and lover's eye ; which most pertinaciously 
sought mine, though I averted both face and gaze. He 
smiled ; and I thought his smile was such as a sultan might, 
in a blissful and fond moment, bestow on a slave his gold 
and gems had enriched : I crushed his hand, which was ever 
hunting mine, vigorously, and thrust it back to him red with 
the passionate pressure 

' You need not look in that way,' I said : ' if you do 
I'll wear nothing but my old Lowood frocks to the end of 
the chapter. I'll be married in this lilac gingham you 
may make a dressing-gown for yourself out of the pearl- 
grey silk, and an infinite series of waistcoats out of the black 
satin.' 

He chuckled ; he rubbed his hands : ' Oh, it is rich to see 
and hear her ! ' he exclaimed. ' Is she original ? Is she 
piquant ? I would not exchange this one little English girl 
for the grand Turk's whole seraglio ; gazelle-eyes, houri 
forms, and all ! ' 

The Eastern allusion bit me again : ' I'll not stand you an 
inch in the stead of a seraglio,' I said ; ' so don't consider me 
an equivalent for one ; if you have a fancy for anything in 
that line, away with you, sir, to the bazaars of Stamboul 



JANE EYEE 327 

without delay; and lay out in extensive slave-purchases 
some of that spare cash you seem at a loss to spend satisfac- 
torily here.' 

' And what will you do, Janet, while I am bargaining for 
so many tons of flesh and such an assortment of black 
eyes ? ' 

' I'll be preparing myself to go out as a missionary to 
preach liberty to them that are enslaved your harem 
inmates amongst the rest. I'll get admitted there, and I'll 
stir up mutiny ; and you, three-tailed bashaw as you are, 
sir, shall in a trice find yourself fettered amongst our hands : 
nor will I, for one, consent to cut your bonds till you have 
signed a charter, the most liberal that despot ever yet con- 
ferred.' 

' I would consent to be at your mercy, Jane.' 

1 1 would have no mercy, Mr. Rochester, if you supplicated 
for it with an eye like that. While you looked so, I should be 
certain that whatever charter you might grant under 
coercion, your first act, when released, would be to violate 
its conditions.' 

'Why, Jane, what would you have? I fear you will 
compel me to go through a private marriage ceremony, 
besides that performed at the altar. You will stipulate, I 
see, for peculiar terms what will they be ? ' 

' I only want an easy mind, sir ; not crushed by crowded 
obligations. Do you remember what you said of Celine 
Varens ? of the diamonds, the cashmeres you gave her ? I 
will not be your English Celine Varens. I shall continue to 
act as Adele's governess ; by that I shall earn my board and 
lodging, and thirty pounds a year besides. I'll furnish my 
own wardrobe out of that money, and you shall give me 
nothing but ' 

' Well, but what ?' /! 

1 Your regard : and if I give you mine in return, that debt 
will be quit.' 

' Well, for cool native impudence, and pure innate piide, 
you haven't your equal/ said he. We were now approaching 



328 JANE EYRE 

Thornfield. ' Will it please you to dine with me to-day ? ' 
he asked, as we re-entered the gates. 

' No, thank you, sir.' 

1 And what for, " no, thank you," if one may inquire ? ' 

' I never have dined with you, sir : and I see no reason 
why I should now : till ' 

' Till what ? You delight in half -phrases.' 

1 Till I can't help it.' 

' Do you suppose I eat like an ogre, or a ghoul, that you 
dread being the companion of my repast ? ' 

' I have formed no supposition on the subject, sir ; but I 
want to go on as usual for another month.' 

1 You will give up your governessing slavery at once.' 

' Indeed ! begging your pardon, sir, I shall not. I shall 
just go on with it as usual. I shall keep out of your way 
all day, as I have been accustomed to do : you may send for 
me in the evening, when you feel disposed to see me, and I'll 
come then ; but at no other time.' 

' I want a smoke, Jane, or a pinch of snuff, to comfort 
me under all this, " pour me donner une contenance," as Adele 
would say ; and unfortunately I have neither my cigar-case, 
nor my snuff-box. But listen whisper it is your time 
now, little tyrant, but it will be mine presently : and when 
once I have fairly seized you, to have and to hold, I'll just 
figuratively speaking attach you to a chain like this ' 
(touching his watch-guard). 'Yes, bonny wee thing, I'll 
wear you in my bosom, lest my jewel I should tyne.' 

He said this as he helped me to alight from the carriage ; 
and while he afterwards lifted out Adele, I entered the 
house, and made good my retreat upstairs. 

He duly summoned me to his presence in the evening. 
I had prepared an occupation for him ; for I was determined 
not to spend the whole time in a Ute-d-t&te conversation. I 
remembered his fine voice ; I knew he liked to sing good 
singers generally do. I was no vocalist myself, and, in his 
fastidious judgment, no musician either ; but I delighted in 
listening when the performance was good. No sooner had 



JANE EYKE 329 

twilight, that hour of romance, began to lower her blue and 
starry banner over the lattice, than I rose, opened the piano, 
and entreated him, for the love of heaven, to give me a song. 
He said I was a capricious witch, and that he would rather 
sing another time ; but I averred that no time was like the 
present. 

' Did I like his voice ? ' he asked. 

'Very much.' I was not fond of pampering that sus- 
ceptible vanity of his; but for once, and from motives of 
expediency, I would e'en soothe and stimulate it. 

' Then, Jane, you must play the accompaniment.' 

' Very well, sir ; I will try.' 

I did try, but was presently swept off the stool and de- 
nominated ' a little bungler.' Being pushed unceremoniously 
to one side which was precisely what I wished he usurped 
my place, and proceeded to accompany himself : for he 
could play as well as sing. I hied me to the window-recess ; 
and while I sat there and looked out on the still trees and 
dim lawn, to a sweet air was sung in mellow tones the 
following strain : 

The truest love that ever heart 

Felt at its kindled core 
Did through each vein, in quickened start, 

The tide of being pour. 

Her coming was my hope each day, 

Her parting was my pain ; 
The chance that did her steps delay 

Was ice in every vein. 

I dreamed it would be nameless bliss, 

As I loved, loved to be ; 
And to this object did I press 

As blind as eagerly. 

But wide as pathless was the space 

That lay, our lives, between, 
And dangerous as the foamy race 

Of ocean-surges green. 



330 JANE EYRE 

And haunted as a robber-path 

Through wilderness or wood ; 
For Might and Bight, and Woe and Wrath, 

Between our spirits stood. 

I dangers dared ; I hind'rance scorned ; 

I omens did defy : 
Whatever menaced, harassed, warned, 

I passed impetuous by. 

On sped my rainbow, fast as light ; 

I flew as in a dream ; 
For glorious rose upon my sight 

That child of Shower and Gleam. 

Still bright on clouds of suffering dim 

Shines that soft, solemn joy ; 
Nor care I now, how dense and grim 

Disasters gather nigh. 

I care not in this moment sweet, 

Though all I have rushed o'er 
Should come on pinion, strong and fleet, 

Proclaiming vengeance sore : 

Though haughty Hate should strike me down, 

Bight, bar approach to me, 
And grinding Might, with furious frown, 

Swear endless enmity. 

My love has placed her little hand 

With noble faith in mine, 
And vowed that wedlock's sacred band 

Our nature shall entwine. 

My love has sworn, with sealing kiss, 

With me to live to die ; 
I have at last my nameless bliss : 

As I love loved am 1 1 

He rose and came towards me, and I saw his face all 
kindled, and his full falcon-eye flashing, and tenderness and 
passion in every lineament. I quailed momentarily then I 
rallied. Soft scene, daring demonstration, I would not 



JANE EYRE 331 

have ; and I stood in peril of both : a weapon cf defence 
must be prepared I whetted my tongue : as he reached 
me, I asked with asperity, ' whom he was going to marry 
now?' 

1 That was a strange question to be put by .his darling 
Jane.' 

1 Indeed ! I considered it a very natural and necessary 
one: he had talked of his future wife dying with him. 
What did he mean by such a pagan idea ? /had no inten- 
tion of dying with him he might depend on that.' 

' Oh, all he longed, all he prayed for, was that I might 
live with him ! Death was not for such as I.' 

' Indeed it was : I had as good a right to die when my 
time came as he had: but I should bide that time, and not 
be hurried away in a suttee.' 

' Would I forgive him for the selfish idea, and prove my 
pardon by a reconciling kiss ? ' 

' No : I would rather be excused.' 

Here I heard myself apostrophised as a 'hard little 
thing ; ' and it was added, ' any other woman would have 
been melted to marrow at hearing such stanzas crooned in 
her praise.' 

I assured him I was naturally hard very flinty, and 
that he would often find me so ; and that, moreover, I was 
determined to show him divers rugged points in my character 
before the ensuing four weeks elapsed : he should know fully 
what sort of a bargain he had made, while there was yet 
time to rescind it. 

I Would I be quiet, and talk rationally ? ' 

I 1 would be quiet if he liked ; and as to talking rationally, 
I flattered myself I was doing that now.' 

He fretted, pished and pshawed. ' Very good,' I thought ; 
' you may fume and fidget as you please : but this is the best 
plan to pursue with you, I am certain. I like you more than 
I can say ; but I'll not sink into a bathos of sentiment : and 
with this needle of repartee I'll keep you from the edge of 
the gulph too ; and, moreover, maintain by its pungent aid 



332 JANE EYRE 

that distance between you and myself most conducive to 
our real mutual advantage.' 

From less to more, I worked him up to considerable irri- 
tation ; then, after he had retired, in dudgeon, quite to the 
other end of the room, I got up, and saying, ' I wish you 
good-night, sir,' in my natural and wonted respectful 
manner, I slipped out by the side-door and got away. 

The system thus entered on I pursued during the whole 
season of probation ; and with the best success. He was 
kept, to be sure, rather cross and crusty : but on the whole I 
could see he was excellently entertained ; and that a lamb- 
like submission and turtle-dove sensibility, while fostering 
his despotism more, would have pleased his judgment, 
satisfied his common-sense, and even suited his taste, 
less. 

In other people's presence I was, as formerly, deferential 
and quiet ; any other line of conduct being uncalled for : it 
was only in the evening conferences I thus thwarted and 
afflicted him. He continued to send for me punctually the 
moment the clock struck seven; though when I appeared 
before him now, he had no such honeyed terms as ' love ' and 
' darling ' on his lips : the best words at my service were 
1 provoking puppet,' ' malicious elf,' ' sprite,' ' changeling,' &c. 
For caresses, too, I now got grimaces ; for a pressure of the 
hand, a pinch on the arm ; for a kiss on the cheek, a severe 
tweak of the ear. It was all right : at present I decidedly 
preferred these fierce favours to anything more tender. Mrs. 
Fairfax, I saw, approved me : her anxiety on my account 
vanished; therefore I was certain I did well. Meantime, 
Mr. Rochester affirmed I was wearing him to skin and bone, 
and threatened awful vengeance for my present conduct at 
some period fast coming. I laughed in my sleeve at his 
menaces : ' I can keep you in reasonable check now,' I 
reflected ; ' and I don't doubt to be able to do it hereafter : 
if one expedient loses its virtue, another must be devised.' 

Yet after all my task was not an easy one ; often I would 
rather have pleased than teased him. My future husband 



JANE EYBE 333 

was becoming to me my whole world ; and more than the 
world : almost my hope of heaven. He stood between me 
and every thought of religion, as an eclipse intervenes 
between man and the broad sun. I could not, in those 
days, see God for his creature : of whom I had made an 
idol. 



CHAPTER XXV 

THE month of courtship had wasted : its very last hours 
were being numbered. There was no putting off the day 
that advanced the bridal day ; and all preparations for its 
arrival were complete. J, at least, had nothing more to do : 
there were my trunks, packed, locked, corded, ranged in a 
row along the wall of my little chamber : to-morrow, at this 
time, they would be far on their road to London : and so 
should I (D.V.), or rather, not I, but one Jane Rochester, a 
person whom as yet I knew not. The cards of address alone 
remained to nail on : they lay, four little squares, on the 
drawer. Mr. Rochester had himself written the direction, 

' Mrs. Rochester, Hotel, London,' on each : I could 

not persuade myself to affix them, or to have them affixed. 
Mrs. Rochester ! She did not exist : she would not be born 
till to-morrow, some time after eight o'clock A.M. ; and I 
would wait to be assured she had come into the world alive 
before I assigned to her all that property. It was enough 
that in yonder closet, opposite my dressing-table, garments 
said to be hers had already displaced my black stuff Lowood 
frock and straw bonnet : for not to me appertained that suit 
of wedding raiment, the pearl-coloured robe, the vapoury 
veil, pendent from the usurped portmanteau. I shut the 
closet, to conceal the strange, wraith-like apparel it con- 
tained ; which, at this evening hour nine o'clock gave 
out certainly a most ghostly shimmer through the shadow 
of my apartment. ' I will leave you by yourself, white 
dream,' I said. ' I am feverish : I hear the wind blowing : 
I will go out of doors and feel it.' 

It was not only the hurry of preparation that made me 



JANE EYRE 335 

feverish ; not only the anticipation of the great change the 
new life which was to commence to-morrow: both these 
circumstances had their share, doubtless, in producing that 
restless, excited mood which hurried me forth at this late 
hour into the darkening grounds ; but a third cause in- 
fluenced my mind more than they. 

I had at heart a strange and anxious thought. Some- 
thing had happened which I could not comprehend ; no one 
knew of or had seen the event but myself : it had taken 
place the preceding night. Mr. Eochester that night was 
absent from home ; nor was he yet returned : business had 
called him to a small estate of two or three farms he pos- 
sessed thirty miles off business it was requisite he should 
settle in person, previously to his meditated departure from 
England. I waited now his return ; eager to disburthen 
my mind, and to seek of him the solution of the enigma that 
perplexed me. Stay till he comes, reader ; and, when I 
disclose my secret to him, you shall share the confidence. 

I sought the orchard : driven to its shelter by the wind, 
which all day had blown strong and full from the south ; with- 
out, however, bringing a speck of rain. Instead of subsiding 
as night drew on, it seemed to augment its rush and deepen 
its roar : the trees blew steadfastly one way, never writhing 
round, and scarcely tossing back their boughs once in an 
hour ; so continuous was the strain bending their branchy 
heads northward the clouds drifted from pole to pole, fast 
following, mass on mass : no glimpse of blue sky had been 
visible that July day. 

It was not without a certain wild pleasure I ran before 
the wind delivering my trouble of mind to the measureless 
air-torrent thundering through space. Descending the 
laurel-walk, I faced the wreck of the chestnut-tree ; it stood 
up, black and riven : the trunk, split down the centre, 
gasped ghastly. The cloven halves were not broken from 
each other, for the firm base and strong roots kept them 
unsundered below ; though community of vitality was des- 
troyed -the sap could flow no more : their great boughs on 



336 JANE EYBE 

each side were dead, and next winter's tempests would be 
sure to fell one or both to earth : as yet, however, they 
might be said to form one tree a ruin, but an entire ruin. 

' You did right to hold fast to each other,' I said : as if 
the monster splinters were living things, and could hear me. 
' I think, scathed as you look, and charred and scorched, 
there must be a little sense of life in you yet ; rising out of 
that adhesion at the faithful, honest roots : you will never 
have green leaves more never more see birds making nests 
and singing idyls in your boughs ; the time of pleasure and 
love is over with you ; but you are not desolate : each of 
you has a comrade to sympathise with him in his decay.' 
As I looked up at them, the moon appeared momentarily in 
that part of the sky which filled their fissure ; her disk was 
blood-red and hah* overcast ; she seemed to throw on me one 
bewildered, dreary glance, and buried herself again instantly 
in the deep drift of cloud. The wind fell, for a second, 
round Thornfield ; but far away over wood and water, poured 
a wild, melancholy wail : it was sad to listen to, and I ran 
off again. 

Here and there I strayed through the orchard, gathered 
up the apples with which the grass round the tree roots was 
thickly strewn : then I employed myself in dividing the ripe 
from the unripe ; I carried them into the house and put 
them away in the store-room. Then I repaired to the 
library to ascertain whether the fire was lit ; for, though 
summer, I knew on such a gloomy evening Mr. Kochester 
would like to see a cheerful hearth when he came in : yes, 
the fire had been kindled some time, and burnt well. I 
placed his arm-chair by the chimney-corner : I wheeled 
the table near it : I let down the curtain, and had the candles 
brought in ready for lighting. More restless than ever, 
when I had completed these arrangements I could not sit 
still, nor even remain in the house : a little timepiece in the 
room and the old clock in the hall simultaneously struck 
ten. 

' How late it grows ! ' I said : ' I wiU run down to the 



JANE EYEE 337 

gates : it is moonlight at intervals ; I can see a good way on 
the road. He may be coming now, and to meet him will 
save some minutes of suspense. 

The wind roared high in the great trees which embowered 
the gates ; but the road as far as I could see, to the right 
hand and the left, was all still and solitary : save for the 
shadows of clouds crossing it at intervals, as the moon 
looked out, it was but a long pale line, unvaried by one 
moving speck. 

A puerile tear dimmed my eye while I looked a tear 
of disappointment and impatience : ashamed of it, I wiped 
it away. I lingered ; the moon shut herself wholly within 
her chamber, and drew close her curtain of dense cloud ; 
the night grew dark; rain came driving fast on the 
gale. 

' I wish he would come ! I wish he would come ! ' I 
exclaimed, seized with hypochondriac foreboding. I had 
expected his arrival before tea ; now it was dark : what 
could keep him ? Had an accident happened ? The event 
of last night again recurred to me. I interpreted it as a 
warning of disaster. I feared my hopes were too bright to 
be realised ; and I had enjoyed so much bliss lately that I 
imagined my fortune had passed its meridian, and must now 
decline. 

' Well, I cannot return to the house,' I thought ; ' I can- 
not sit by the fireside while he is abroad in inclement 
weather : better tire my limbs than strain my heart ; I will 
go forward and meet him.' 

I set out ; I walked fast, but not far : ere I had measured 
a quarter of a mile I heard the tramp of hoofs ; a horseman 
came on, full gallop ; a dog ran by his side. Away with 
evil presentiment ! It was he : here he was, mounted on 
Mesrour, followed by Pilot. He saw me ; for the moon had 
opened a blue field in the sky, and rode in it watery bright : 
he took his hat off, and waved it round his head. I now 
ran to meet him. 

' There ! ' he exclaimed, as he stretched out his hand and 



338 JANE EYEE 

bent from the saddle : ' You can't do without me, that is 
evident. Step on my boot-toe ; give me both hands : 
mount ! ' 

I obeyed ; joy made me agile : I sprang up before him. 
A hearty kissing I got for a welcome ; and some boastful 
triumph ; which I swallowed as well as I could. He checked 
himself in his exultation to demand, ' But is there anything 
the matter, Janet, that you come to meet me at such an 
hour ? Is there anything wrong ? ' 

' No ; but I thought you would never come. I could 
not bear to wait in the house for you, especially with this 
rain and wind.' 

' Rain and wind, indeed ! Yes, you are dripping like a 
mermaid ; pull my cloak round you : but I think you are 
feverish, Jane : both your cheek and hand are burning hot. 
I ask again, is there anything the matter? ' 

1 Nothing, now : I am neither afraid nor unhappy.' 

' Then you have been both ? ' 

1 Bather : but I'll tell you all about it by-and-by, sir ; 
and I daresay you will only laugh at me for my pains.' 

1 I'll laugh at you heartily when to-morrow is past ; till 
then I dare not : my prize is not certain. This is you ; who 
have been as slippery as an eel this last month, and as 
thorny as a briar-rose. I could not lay a finger anywhere 
but I was pricked ; and now I seem to have gathered up a 
stray lamb in my arms : you wandered out of the fold to 
seek your shepherd, did you, Jane ? ' 

' I wanted you : but don't boast. Here we are at Thorn- 
field : now let me get down.' 

He landed me on the pavement. As John took his 
horse, and he followed me into the hall, he told me to make 
haste and put something dry on, and then return to him in 
the library ; and he stopped me, as I made for the staircase, 
to extort a promise that I would not be long : nor was I 
long: in five minutes I rejoined him. I found him at 
supper. 

" Take a seat and bear me company, Jane : please God, 



JANE EYRE 339 

it is the last meal but one you will eat at Thornfield Hall 
for a long time. r 

I sat down near him ; but told him I could not eat. 

' Is it because you have the prospect of a journey before 
you, Jane ? Is it the thoughts of going to London that takes 
away your appetite ? ' 

I 1 cannot see my prospects clearly to-night, sir ; and I 
hardly know what thoughts I have in my head. Everything 
in life seems unreal." 

' Except me : I am substantial enough : touch me.' 

1 You, sir, are the most phantom-like of all : you are a 
mere dream.' 

He held out his hand, laughing : ' Is that a dream ? ' said 
he, placing it close to my eyes. He had a rounded, mus- 
cular, and vigorous hand, as well as a long, strong arm. 

' Yes ; though I touch it, it is a dream,' said I, as I put 
it down from before my face. ' Sir, have you finished 
supper ? ' 

1 Yes, Jane.' 

I rang the bell, and ordered away the tray. When we 
were again alone, I stirred the fire, and then took a low seat 
at my master's knee. 

' It is near midnight,' I said. 

1 Yes : but remember, Jane, you promised to wake with 
me the night before my wedding.'. 

' I did ; and I will keep my promise, for an hour or two 
at least : I have no wish to go to bed.' 

' Are all your arrangements complete ? ' 

'All, sir. 1 

' And on my part, likewise,' he returned, ' I have settled 
everything ; and we shall leave Thornfield to-morrow, within 
half an hour after our return from church.' 

' Very well, sir.' 

' With what an extraordinary smile you uttered that word 
" very well," Jane ! What a bright spot 6f colour you 
have on each cheek ! and how strangely your eyes glitter ! 
Are you well ? ' so"/" 

I 



340 JANE EYEE 

' I believe I am.' 

' Believe ! What is the matter ? Tell me what you 
feel.' 

' I could not, sir : no words could tell you what I feel- 
I wish this present hour would never end : who knows with 
what fate the next may come charged ? ' 

' This is hypochondria, Jane. You have been over- 
excited, or over-fatigued.' 

' Do you, sir, feel calm and happy ? ' 

' Calm ? no : but happy to the heart's core.' 

I looked up at him to read the signs of bliss in his face : 
it was ardent and flushed. 

1 Give me your confidence, Jane,' he said : ' relieve your 
mind of any weight that oppresses it by imparting it to me. 
What do you fear ? that I shall not prove a good husband ? ' 

1 It is the idea farthest from my thoughts.' 

1 Are you apprehensive of the new sphere you are about 
to enter ? of the new life into which you are passing ? ' 

'No.' 

I You puzzle me, Jane : your look and tone of sorrowful 
audacity perplex and pain me. I want an explanation.' 

' Then, sir listen. You were from home last night ? ' 

I 1 was : I know that ; and you hinted a while ago at 
something which had happened in my absence : nothing, 
probably, of consequence ; but, in short, it has disturbed 
you. Let me hear it. Mrs. Fairfax has said something, 
perhaps? or you have overheard the servants talk? your 
sensitive self-respect has been wounded ? ' 

1 No, sir.' It struck twelve I waited till the timepiece 
had concluded its silver chime, and the clock its hoarse, 
vibrating stroke, and then I proceeded. 

' All day yesterday I was very busy, and very happy in 
my ceaseless bustle ; for I am not, as you seem to think, 
troubled by any haunting fears about the new sphere, et 
cetera : I think it a glorious thing to have the hope of living 
with you, because I love you. No, sir, don't caress me now 
let me talk undisturbed. Yesterday I trusted well in 



JANE EYRE 341 

Providence, and believed that events were working together 
for your good and mine : it was a fine day, if you recollect 
the calmness of the air and sky forbade apprehensions 
respecting your safety or comfort on your journey. I walked 
a little while on the pavement after tea, thinking of you; 
and I beheld you in imagination so near me I scarcely 
missed your actual presence. I thought of the life that lay 
before me your life, sir, an existence more expansive and 
stirring than my own : as much more so as the depths of 
the sea to which the brook runs are than the shallows of 
its own strait channel. I wondered why moralists call this 
world a dreary wilderness : for me it blossomed like a rose. 
Just at sunset the air turned cold and the sky cloudy : I 
went in. Sophie called me upstairs to look at my wedding- 
dress, which they had just brought ; and under it in the box 
I found your present the veil which, in your princely 
extravagance, you sent for from London : resolved, I suppose, 
since I would not have jewels, to cheat me into accepting 
something as costly. I smiled as I unfolded it, and devised 
how I would tease you about your aristocratic tastes, and 
your efforts to masque your plebeian bride in the attributes 
of a peeress. I thought how I would carry down to you the 
square of unembroidered blond I had myself prepared as a 
covering for my low-born head, and ask if that was not good 
enough for a woman who could bring her husband neither 
fortune, beauty, nor connections. I saw plainly how you 
would look ; and heard your impetuous republican answers, 
and your haughty disavowal of any necessity on your part 
to augment your wealth, or elevate your standing, by 
marrying either a purse or a coronet.' 

' How well you read me, you witch ! ' interposed Mr. 
Eochester ; ' but what did you find in the veil besides its 
embroidery? Did you find poison, or a dagger, that you 
look so mournful now ? ' 

' No, no, sir ; besides the delicacy and richness of the 
fabric, I found nothing save Fairfax Eochester's pride ; and 
that did not scare me, because I am used to the sight of the 



3i2 JANE EYRE 

demon. But, sir, as it grew dark the wind rose : it blew 
yesterday evening, not as it blows now wild and high 
but "with a sullen, moaning sound" far more eerie. I 
wished you were at home. I came into this room, and the 
sight of the empty chair and fireless hearth chilled me. For 
some time after I went to bed I could not sleep a sense of 
anxious excitement distressed me. The gale still rising 
seemed to my ear to muffle a mournful under-sound ; 
whether in the house or abroad I could not at first tell, but 
it recurred, doubtful yet doleful at every lull : at last I made 
out it must be some dog howling at a distance. I was glad 
when it ceased. On sleeping, I continued in dreams the 
idea of a dark and gusty night. I continued also the wish 
to be with you, and experienced a strange, regretful con- 
sciousness of some barrier dividing us. During all my first 
sleep I was following the windings of an unknown road ; 
total obscurity environed me ; rain pelted me ; I was burdened 
with the charge of a little child : a very small creature, 
too young and feeble to walk, and which shivered in my 
cold arms and wailed piteously in my ear. I thought, sir, 
that you were on the road a long way before me; and I 
strained every nerve to overtake you, and made effort on 
effort to utter your name and entreat you to stop but my 
movements were fettered ; and my voice still died away 
inarticulate ; while you, I felt, withdrew farther and farther 
every moment.' 

I And these dream a weigh on your spirits now, Jane, when 
I am close to you? Little nervous subject ! Forget vision- 
ary woe, and think only of real happiness ! You say } ou 
love me, Janet : yes I will not forget that ; and you cannot 
deny it. Those words did not die inarticulate on your lips. 
I heard them clear and soft : a thought too solemn perhaps, 
but sweet as music" I think it is a glorious thing to have the 
hope of living with you, Edward, because I love you." DQ 
you love me, Jane ? Eepeat it.' 

I 1 do, sir. I do with my whole heart.' 

' Well,' he said, after some minutes' silence, ' it is strange ; 



JANE EYKE 343 

but that sentence has penetrated my breast painfully. Why ? 
I think because you said it with such an earnest, religious 
energy : and because your upward gaze at me now is the 
very sublime of faith, truth, and devotion : it is too much as 
if some spirit were near me. Look wicked, Jane ; as you 
know well how to look ; coin one of your wild, shy, provoking 
smiles ; tell me you hate me tease me, vex me ; do anything 
but move me : I would rather be incensed than saddened.' 

' I will tease you and vex you to your heart's content 
when I have finished my tale : but hear me to the end.' 

' I thought, Jane, you had told me all. I thought I had 
found the source of your melancholy in a dream ! ' 

I shook my head. ' What ! is there more ? But I will 
not believe it to be anything important. I warn you of 
incredulity beforehand. Go on.' 

. The disquietude of his air, the somewhat apprehensive 
impatience of his manner, surprised me : but I proceeded. 

' I dreamt another dream, sir : that Thornfield Hall was a 
dreary ruin, the retreat of bats and owls. I thought that of all 
the stately front nothing remained but a shell-like wall, very 
high, and very fragile-looking. I wandered, on a moonlight 
night, through the grass-grown enclosure within : here I 
stumbled over a marble hearth, and there over a fallen 
fragment of cornice. Wrapped up in a shawl, I still carried 
the unknown little child : I might not lay it down anywhere, 
however tired were my arms however much its weight 
impeded my progress, I must retain it. I heard the gallop 
of a horse at a distance on the road : I was sure it was you ; 
and you were departing for many years, and for a distant 
country. I climbed the thin wall with frantic, perilous haste, 
eager to catch one glimpse of you from the top : the stones 
rolled from under my feet, the ivy branches I grasped gave 
way, the child clung round my neck in terror, and almost 
strangled me : at last I gained the summit. I saw you like 
a speck on a white track, lessening every moment. The blast 
blew so strong I could not stand. I sat down on the narrow 
ledge ; I hushed the scared infant in my lap : you turned an 



344 JANE EYRE 

angle of the road ; I bent forward to take a last look ; the 
wall crumbled ; I was shaken ; the child rolled from my 
knee, I lost my balance, fell, and woke.' 

' Now, Jane, that is all.' 

' All the preface, sir ; the tale is yet to come. On waking, 
a gleam dazzled my eyes : I thought oh, it is daylight ! 
But I was mistaken : it was only candlelight. Sophie, I 
supposed, had come in. There was a light on the dressing- 
table, and the door of the closet, where, before going to bed, 
I had hung my wedding-dress and veil, stood open : I heard 
a rustling there. I asked, " Sophie, what are you doing ? " 
No one answered ; but a form emerged from the closet : it 
took the light, held it aloft, and surveyed the garments 
pendent from the portmanteau. " Sophie ! Sophie ! " I 
again cried : and still it was silent. I had risen up in bed ; 
I bent forward : first, surprise, then bewilderment, came 
over me ; and then my blood crept cold through my veins. 
Mr. Eochester, this was not Sophie, it was not Leah, it was 
not Mrs. Fairfax : it was not no, I was sure of it, and am 
still it was not even that strange woman, Grace Poole.' 

1 It must have been one of them,' interrupted my master. 

' No, sir, I solemnly assure you to the contrary. The 
shape standing before me had never crossed my eyes within 
the precincts of Thornfield Hall before ; the height, the con- 
tour, were new to me.' 

' Describe it, Jane.' 

' It seemed, sir, a woman, tall and large, with thick and 
dark hair hanging long down her back. I know not what 
dress she had on : it was white and straight ; but whether 
gown, sheet, or shroud, I cannot tell.' 

' Did you see her face ? ' 

' Not at first. But presently she took my veil from its 
place ; she held it up, gazed at it long, and then she threw it 
over her own head, and turned to the mirror. At that moment 
I saw the reflection of the visage and features quite dis- 
tinctly in the dark oblong glass.' 

' And how were they ? ' 



JANE EYEE 345 

' Fearful and ghastly to me oh, sir, I never saw a face 
like it ! It was a discoloured face it was a savage face. 
I wish I could forget the roll of the red eyes and the fearful 
blackened inflation of the lineaments.' 

' Ghosts are usually pale, Jane.' 

1 This, sir, was purple : the lips were swelled and dark ; 
the brow furrowed ; the black eyebrows widely raised over 
the bloodshot eyes. Shall I tell you of what it reminded me ? ' 

' You may.' 

' Of the foul German spectre the Vampyre.' 

'Ah? What did it do?' 

' Sir, it removed my veil from its gaunt head, rent it in 
two parts, and flinging both on the floor, trampled on them.' 

' Afterwards ? ' 

' It drew aside the window-curtain and looked out : 
perhaps it saw dawn approaching, for, taking the candle, it 
retreated to the door. Just at my bedside the figure 
stopped : the fiery eye glared upon me she thrust up her 
candle close to my face, and extinguished it under my eyes. 
I was aware her lurid visage flamed over mine, and I lost 
consciousness : for the second time in my life only the 
second time I became insensible from terror.' 

' Who was with you when you revived ? ' 

' No one, sir ; but the broad day. I rose, bathed my head 
and face in water, drank a long draught ; felt that though 
enfeebled I was not ill, and determined that to none but you 
would I impart this vision. Now, sir, tell me who and 
what that woman was ? ' 

'The creature of an over-stimulated brain; that is 
certain. I must be careful of you, my treasure : nerves 
like yours were not made for rough handling.' 

' Sir, depend on it, my nerves were not in fault ; the 
thing was real : the transaction actually took place.' 

1 And your previous dreams : were they real too ? Is 
Thornfield Hall a ruin ? Am I severed from you by insuper- 
able obstacles ? Am I leaving you without a tear without 
a kiss without a word ? ' 



346 JANE EYRE 

' Not yet.' 

' Am I about to do it? Why, the day is already com- 
menced which is to bind us indissolubly ; and when we are 
once united, there shall be no recurrence of these mental 
terrors : I guarantee that.' 

' Mental terrors, sir ! I wish I could believe them to be 
only such : I wish it more now than ever ; since even you 
cannot explain to me the mystery of that awful visitant.' 

' And since I cannot do it, Jane, it must have been 
unreal.' 

' But, sir, when I said so to myself on rising this 
morning, and when I looked round the room to gather 
courage and comfort from the cheerful aspect of each 
familiar object in full daylight, there on the carpet I saw 
what gave the distinct lie to my hypothesis, the veil, torn 
from top to bottom, in two halves ! ' 

I felt Mr. Rochester start and shudder ; he hastily flung 
his arms round me. 

1 Thank God ! ' he exclaimed, ' that if anything malignant 
did come near you last night, it was only the veil that was 
harmed. Oh, to think what might have happened ! ' 

He drew his breath short, and strained me so close to 
him I could scarcely pant. After some minutes' silence, he 
continued, cheerily : 'Now, Janet, I'll explain to you all 
about it. It was half dream, half reality : a woman did, I 
doubt not, enter your room : and that woman was must have 
been Grace Poole. You call her a strange being yourself : 
from all you know you have reason so to call her what 
did she do to me ? what to Mason ? In a state between 
sleeping and waking you noticed her entrance and her 
actions ; but feverish, almost delirious as you were, you 
ascribed to her a goblin appearance different from her own : 
the long dishevelled hair, the swelled black face, the ex- 
aggerated stature, were figments of imagination ; results of 
nightmare : the spiteful tearing of the veil was real : and it 
is like her. I see you would ask why I keep such a woman 
in my house : when we have been married a year and a day, 



JANE EYEE 347 

I will tell you ; but not now. Are you satisfied, Jane? Do 
you accept my solution of the mystery ? ' 

I reflected, and in truth it appeared to me the only possible 
one : satisfied I was not, but to please him I endeavoured to 
appear so relieved, I certainly did feel ; so I answered him 
with a contented smile. And now, as it was long past one, 
I prepared to leave him. 

' Does not Sophie sleep with Adele in the nursery ? ' he 
asked, as I lit my candle. 

'Yes, sir.' 

' And there is room enough in Adele's little bed for you. 
You must share it with her to-night, Jane : it is no wonder 
that the incident you have related should make you nervous, 
and I would rather you did not sleep alone : promise me to 
go to the nursery.' 

' I shall be very glad to do so, sir.' 

'And fasten the door securely on the inside. Wake 
Sophie when you go upstairs, under pretence of requesting 
her to rouse you in good time to-morrow ; for you must be 
dressed and have finished breakfast before eight. And now, 
no more sombre thoughts : chase dull care away, Janet. 
Don't you hear to what soft whispers the wind has fallen ? 
and there is no more beating of rain against the window- 
panes : look here ' (he lifted up the curtain) ' it is a lovely 
night ! ' 

It was. Half heaven was pure and stainless: the 
clouds, now trooping before the wind, which had shifted to 
the west, were filing off eastward in long, silvered columns. 
The moon shone peacefully. 

' Well,' said Mr. Kochester, gazing inquiringly into my 
eyes, ' how is my Janet now ? ' 

' The night is serene, sir ; and so am I.' 

'And you will not dream of separation and sorrow to- 
night ; but of happy love and blissful union.' 

This prediction was but half fulfilled : I did not indeed 
dream of sorrow, but as little did I dream of joy ; for I 
never slept at all. With little Adele in my arms, I watched 



348 JANE EYEE 

the slumber of childhood so tranquil, so passionless, so 
innocent and waited for the coming day : all my life was 
awake and astir in my frame ; and as soon as the sun rose 
I rose too. I remember Adele clung to me as I left her ; I 
remember I kissed her as I loosened her little hands from my 
neck ; and I cried over her with strange emotion, and quitted 
her because I feared my sobs would break her still sound 
repose. She seemed the emblem of my past life ; and he, I 
was now to array myself to meet, the dread, bu* adored, type 
of my unknown future day. 



CHAPTEE XXVI 

SOPHIE came at seven to dress me; she was very long 
indeed in accomplishing her task so long that Mr. 
Eochester, grown, I suppose, impatient of my delay, sent 
up to ask why I did not come. She was just fastening my 
veil (the plain square of blond after all) to my hair with a 
brooch ; I hurried from under her hands as soon as I could. 

' Stop ! ' she cried in French. ' Look at yourself in the 
mirror : you have not taken one peep.' 

So I turned at the door : I saw a robed and veiled figure, 
so unlike my usual self that it seemed almost the image of a 
stranger. ' Jane ! ' called a voice, and I hastened down. I 
was received at the foot of the stairs by Mr. Eochester. 

' Lingerer,' he said, ' my brain is on fire with impatience ; 
and you tarry so long ! ' 

He took me into the dining-room, surveyed me keenly 
all over, pronounced me ' fair as a lily, and not only the 
pride of his life, but the desire of his eyes,' and then, telling 
me he would give me but ten minutes to eat some breakfast, 
he rang the bell. One of his lately hired servants, a foot- 
man, answered it. 

' Is John getting the carriage ready ? ' 

1 Yes, sir.' 

1 Is the luggage brought down ? ' 

1 They are bringing it down, sir.' 

' Go you to the church : see if Mr. Wood (the clergyman) 
and the clerk are there : return and tell me.' 

The church, as the reader knows, was but just beyond 
the gates ; the footman soon returned. 

1 Mr. Wood is in the vestry, sir, putting on his surplice.' 



350 JANE EYRE 

' And the carriage ? ' 

1 The horses are harnessing.' 

1 We shall not want it to go to church ; but it must be 
ready the moment we return, all the boxes and luggage 
arranged and strapped on, and the coachman in his seat.' 

' Yes, sir.' 

' Jane, are you ready ? ' 

I rose. There were no groomsmen, no bridesmaids, no 
relatives to wait for or marshal : none but Mr. Rochester 
and I. Mrs. Fairfax stood in the hall as we passed. I 
would fain have spoken to her, but my hand was held by a 
grasp of iron : I was hurried along by a stride I could hardly 
follow ; and to look at Mr. Rochester's face was to feel that 
not a second of delay would be tolerated for any purpose. 
I wonder what other bridegroom ever looked as he did so 
bent up to a purpose, so grimly resolute : or who, under 
such steadfast brows, ever revealed such flaming and flash- 
ing eyes. 

I know not whether the day was fair or foul ; in descend- 
ing the drive, I gazed neither on sky nor earth ; my heart 
was with my eyes; and both seemed migrated into Mr. 
Rochester's frame. I wanted to see the invisible thing on 
which, as we went along, he appeared to fasten a glance 
fierce and fell. I wanted to feel the thoughts whose force 
he seemed breasting and resisting. 

At the churchyard wicket he stopped: he discovered I 
was quite out of breath. 

1 Am I cruel in my love ? ' he said. ' Delay an instant : 
lean on me, Jane.' 

And now I can recall the picture of the grey old house of 
God rising calm before me, of a rook wheeling round the 
steeple, of a ruddy morning sky beyond. I remember 
something, too, of the green grave-mounds ; and I have not 
forgotten, either, two figures of strangers, straying amongst 
the low hillocks, and reading the mementoes graven on the 
few mossy head-stones. I noticed them, because, as they 
saw us, they passed round to the back of the church ; and I 



JANE EYEE 351 

doubted not they were going to enter by the side-aisle 
door, and witness the ceremony. By Mr. Eochester they 
were not observed ; he was earnestly looking at my face, 
from which the blood had, I daresay, momentarily fled : for I 
felt my forehead dewy, and my cheeks and lips cold. When 
I rallied, which I soon did, he walked gently with me up the 
path to the porch. 

We entered the quiet and humble temple ; the priest 
waited in his white surplice at the lowly altar, the clerk 
beside him. All was still : two shadows only moved in a 
remote corner. My conjecture had been correct : the 
strangers had slipped in before us, and they now stood by 
the vault of the Eochesters, their backs towards us, viewing 
through the rails the old time-stained marble tomb, where a 
kneeling angel guarded the remains of Darner de Eochester, 
slain at Marston Moor in the time of the civil wars ; and of 
Elizabeth, his wife. 

Our place was taken at the communion rails. Hearing 
a cautious step behind me, I glanced over my shoulder : one 
of the strangers a gentleman, evidently was advancing 
up the chancel. The service began. The explanation of 
the intent of matrimony was gone through ; and then the 
clergyman came a step further forward, and, bending slightly 
towards Mr. Eochester, went on. 

' I require and charge you both (as ye will answer at the 
dreadful day of judgment, when the secrets of all hearts 
shall be disclosed), that if either of you know any impedi- 
ment why ye may not lawfully be joined together in 
matrimony, ye do now confess it ; for be ye well assured that 
so many as are coupled together otherwise than God's word 
doth allow, are not joined together by God, neither is their 
matrimony lawful.' 

He paused, as the custom is. When is the pause after 
that sentence ever broken by reply ? Not, perhaps, once in 
a hundred years. And the clergyman, who had not lifted 
his eyes from his book, and had held his breath but for a 
moment, was proceeding: his hand was already stretched 



352 JANE EYEE 

towards Mr. Eochcster, as his lips unclosed to ask, ' Wilt 
thou have this woman for thy wedded wife ? ' when a dis- 
tinct and near voice said : ' The marriage cannot go on : I 
declare the existence of an impediment.' 

The clergyman looked up at the speaker, and stood mute ; 
the clerk did the same ; Mr. Rochester moved slightly, as if 
an earthquake had rolled under his feet : taking a firmer 
footing, and not turning his head or eyes, he said, ' Proceed.' 

Profound silence fell when he had uttered that word, 
with deep but low intonation. Presently Mr. Wood said : 
' I cannot proceed without some investigation into what has 
been asserted, and evidence of its truth or falsehood.' 

' The ceremony is quite broken off,' subjoined the voice 
behind us. ' I am in a condition to prove my allegation : 
an insuperable impediment to this marriage exists.' 

Mr. Eochester heard, but heeded not : he stood stubborn 
and rigid : making no movement, but to possess himself of 
my hand. What a hot and strong grasp he had ! and how 
like quarried marble was his pale, firm, massive front at this 
moment ! How his eye shone, still, watchful, and yet wild 
beneath ! 

Mr. Wood seemed at a loss. ' What is the nature of the 
impediment ? ' he asked. ' Perhaps it may be got over 
explained away ? ' 

' Hardly,' was the answer : ' I have called it insuperable, 
and I speak advisedly.' 

The speaker came forwards, and leaned on the rails. 
He continued, uttering each word distinctly, calmly, steadily, 
but not loudly. 

'It simply consists in the existence of a previous 
marriage. Mr. Eochester has a wife now living.' 

My nerves vibrated to those low-spoken words as they 
had never vibrated to thunder my blood felt their subtle 
violence as it had never felt frost or fire : but I was collected, 
and in no danger of swooning. I looked at Mr. Eochester : 
I made him look at me. His whole face was colourless 
rook : his eye was both spark and flint. He disavowed 



JANE EYEE 353 

nothing : he seemed as if he would defy all things. With- 
out speaking, without smiling, without seeming to recog- 
nise in me a human being, he only twined my waist with 
his arm, and riveted me to his side. 

' Who are you ? ' he asked of the intruder. 

' My name is Briggs a solicitor of Street, London.' 

' And you would thrust on me a wife ? ' 

' I would remind you of your lady's existence, sir ; 
which the law recognises, if you do not.' 

' Favour me with an account of her with her name, 
her parentage, her place of abode.' 

' Certainly.' Mr. Briggs calmly took a paper from his 
pocket, and read out in a sort of official, nasal voice : 

I " I affirm and can prove that on the 20th of October, 

A.D. (a date of fifteen years back), Edward Fairfax 

Rochester, of Thornfield Hall, in the county of , and of 

Ferndean Manor, in shire, England, was married to my 

sister, Bertha Antoinetta Mason, daughter of Jonas Mason, 

merchant, and of Antoinetta his wife, a Creole at 

church, Spanish Town, Jamaica. The record of the 
marriage will be found in the register of that church a 
copy of it is now in my possession. Signed, Richard 
Mason." ' 

' That if a genuine document may prove I have been 
married, but it does not prove that the woman mentioned 
therein as my wife is still living.' 

' She was living three months ago,' returned the lawyer. 

' How do you know ? ' 

I 1 have a witness to the fact, whose testimony even 
you, sir, will scarcely controvert.' 

' Produce him or go to hell.' 

1 1 will produce him first he is on the spot : Mr. Mason, 
have the goodness to step forward.' 

Mr. Rochester, on hearing the name, set his teeth ; he 
experienced, too, a sort of strong convulsive quiver ; near to 
him as I was, I felt the spasmodic movement of fury or 
despair run through his frame. The second stranger, who 

A A 



354 JANE EYRE 

had hitherto lingered in the background, now drew near ; a 
pale face looked over the solicitor's shoulder yes, it was 
Mason himself. Mr. Rochester turned and glared at him. 
His eye, as I have often said, was a black eye : it had now 
a tawny, nay a bloody light in its gloom ; and his face 
flushed olive cheek and hueless forehead received a glow, 
as from spreading, ascending heart-fire : and he stirred, lifted 
his strong arm he could have struck Mason dashed him 
on the church-floor shocked by ruthless blow the breath 
from his body but Mason shrank away, and cried faintly, 
' Good God ! ' Contempt fell cool on Mr. Rochester his 
passion died as if a blight had shrivelled it up : he only 
asked, ' What have you to say ? ' 

An inaudible reply escaped Mason's white lips. 

' The devil is in it if you cannot answer distinctly. I 
again demand, what have you to say ? ' 

' Sir sir ' interrupted the clergyman, ' do not forget 
you are in a sacred place.' Then, addressing Mason, he 
inquired gently, ' Are you aware, sir, whether or not this 
gentleman's wife is still living ? ' 

' Courage,' urged the lawyer, ' speak out.' 

' She is now living at Thornfield Hall,' said Mason, in 
more articulate tones : ' I saw her there last April. I am 
her brother.' 

' At Thornfield Hall ! ' ejaculated the clergyman. ' Im- 
possible ! I am an old resident in this neighbourhood, sir, 
and I never heard of a Mrs. Rochester at Thornfield Hall.' 

I saw a grim smile contort Mr. Rochester's lip, and he 
muttered : ' No by God ! I took care that none should 
hear of it or of her under that name.' He mused for ten 
minutes he held counsel with himself : he formed his 
resolve, and announced it : ' Enough all shall bolt out at 
once, like a bullet from the barrel. Wood, close your book, 
and take off your surplice ; John Green (to the clerk) leave 
the church : there will be no wedding to-day : ' the man 
obeyed. 

Mr. Rochester continued, hardily and recklessly : 



JANE EYKE 355 

1 Bigamy is an ugly word ! I meant, however, to be a 
bigamist ; but fate has outmanoeuvred me ; or Providence 
has checked me, perhaps the last. I am little better than 
a devil at this moment ; and, as my pastor there would tell 
me, deserve no doubt the sternest judgments of God, even 
to the quenchless fire and deathless worm. Gentlemen, my 
plan is broken up ! what this lawyer and his client say is 
true: I have been married; and the woman to whom I 
was married lives ! You say you never heard of a Mrs. 
Kochester at the house up yonder, Wood : but I dare say 
you have many a time inclined your ear to gossip about the 
mysterious lunatic kept there under watch and ward. Some 
have whispered to you that she is my bastard half-sister : 
some, my cast-off mistress ; I now inform you that she is 
my wife, whom I married fifteen years ago, Bertha Mason 
by name ; sister of this resolute personage, who is now, with 
his quivering limbs and white cheeks, showing you what a 
stout heart men may bear. Cheer up, Dick ! never fear 
me ! I'd almost as soon strike a woman as you. Bertha 
Mason is mad ; and she came of a mad family ; idiots and 
maniacs through three generations 1 Her mother, the 
Creole, was both a mad woman and a drunkard ! as I found 
out after I had wed the daughter : for they were silent on 
family secrets before. Bertha, like a dutiful child, copied 
her parent in both points. I had a charming partner pure, 
wise, modest : you can fancy I was a happy man. I went 
through rich scenes ! Oh ! my experience has been heavenly, 
if you only knew it ! But I owe you no further explanation. 
Briggs, Wood, Mason, I invite you all to come up to the 
house and visit Mrs. Poole's patient, and my wife I You 
shall see what sort of a being I was cheated into espousing, 
and judge whether or not I had a right to break the compact, 
and seek sympathy with something at least human. This 
girl,' he continued, looking at me, ' knew no more than you, 
Wood, of the disgusting secret : she thought all was fair and 
legal ; and never dreamt she was going to be entrapped into 
a feigned union with a defrauded wretch, already bound to 



356 JANE EYKE 

a bad, mad, and embruted partner ! Come, all of you, 
follow.' 

Still holding me fast, he left the church : the three 
gentlemen came after. At the front door of the hall we 
found the carriage. 

'Take it back to the coach-house, John/ said Mr. 
Rochester, coolly ; ' it will not be wanted to-day.' 

At our entrance Mrs. Fairfax, Adele, Sophie, Leah, 
advanced to meet and greet us. 

' To the right about every soul ! ' cried the master : 
' away with your congratulations ! Who wants them ? Not 
I ! they are fifteen years too late ! ' 

He passed on and ascended the stairs, still holding my 
hand, and still beckoning the gentlemen to follow him ; 
which they did. We mounted the first staircase, passed up 
the gallery, proceeded to the third storey : the low, black 
door, opened by Mr. Rochester's master key, admitted us to 
the tapestried room, with its great bed and its pictorial 
cabinet. 

4 You know this place, Mason,' said our guide ; ' she bit 
and stabbed you here.' 

He lifted the hangings from the wall, uncovering the 
second door: this, too, he opened. In a room without a 
window there burnt a fire, guarded by a high and strong 
fender, and a lamp suspended from the ceiling by a chain. 
Grace Poole bent over the fire, apparently cooking something 
in a saucepan. In the deep shade, at the further end of the 
room, a figure ran backwards and forwards. What it was, 
whether beast or human being, one could not, at first sight, 
tell : it grovelled, seemingly, on all fours ; it snatched and 
growled like some strange wild animal : but it was covered 
with clothing ; and a quantity of dark, grizzled hair, wild as 
a mane, hid its head and face. 

' Good-morrow, Mrs. Poole ! ' said Mr. Rochester. ' How 
are you ? and how is your charge to-day ? ' 

' We're tolerable, sir, I thank you,' replied Grace, lifting 



JANE EYEE 357 



the boiling mess carefully on to the hob : ' rather snappish, 
but not 'rageous.' 

A fierce cry seemed to give the lie to her favourable 
report : the clothed hyena rose up, and stood tall on its 
hind feet. 

' Ah, sir, she sees you ! ' exclaimed Grace : ' you'd better 
not stay.' 

' Only a few moments, Grace : you must allow me a few 
moments.' 

' Take care then, sir ! for God's sake, take care ! ' 

The maniac bellowed : she parted her shaggy locks 
from her visage, and gazed wildly at her visitors. I recog- 
nised well that purple face those bloated features. Mrs. 
Poole advanced. 

1 Keep out of the way,' said Mr. Kochester, thrusting her 
aside : ' she has no knife now, I suppose ? and I'm on my 
guard.' 

' One never knows what she has, sir : she is so cunning : 
it is not in mortal discretion to fathom her craft.' 

1 We had better leave her/ whispered Mason. 

' Go to the devil ! ' was his brother-in-law's recommenda- 
tion. 

' Ware ! ' cried Grace. The three gentlemen retreated 
simultaneously. Mr. Kochester flung me behind him : the 
lunatic sprang and grappled his throat viciously, and laid 
her teeth to his cheek : they struggled. She was a big 
woman, in stature almost equalling her husband, and corpu- 
lent besides : she showed virile force in the contest more 
than once she almost throttled him, athletic as he was. He 
could have settled her with a well-planted blow; but he 
would not strike : he would only wrestle. At last he mas- 
tered her arms ; Grace Poole gave him a cord, and he 
pinioned them behind her : with more rope, which was at 
hand, he bound her to a chair. The operation was per- 
formed amidst the fiercest yells and the most convulsive 
plunges. Mr. Eochester then turned to the spectators : he 
looked at them with a smile both acrid and desolate. 



358 JANE EYRE 

' That is my wife, said he. ' Such is the sole conjugal 
embrace I am ever to know such are the endearments 
which are to solace my leisure hours ! And this is what I 
wished to have ' (laying his hand on my shoulder) : ' this 
young girl, who stands so grave and quiet at the mouth of 
hell, looking collectedly at the gambols of a demon. I 
wanted her just as a change after that fierce ragout. Wood 
and Briggs, look at the difference ! Compare these clear eyes 
with the red balls yonder this face with that mask this 
form with that bulk ; then judge me, priest of the gospel and 
man of the law, and remember, with what judgment ye 
judge ye shall be judged ! Off with you now. I must shut 
up my prize.' 

We all withdrew. Mr. Rochester stayed a moment 
behind us to give some further order to Grace Poole. The 
solicitor addressed me as he descended the stair. 

' You, madam,' said he, ' are cleared from all blame : 
your uncle will be glad to hear it if, indeed, he should be 
still living when Mr. Mason returns to Madeira.' 

' My uncle ! What of him ? Do you know him ? ' 

' Mr. Mason does : Mr. Eyre has been the Funchal corre- 
spondent of his house for some years. When your uncle 
received your letter intimating the contemplated union 
between yourself and Mr. Rochester, Mr. Mason, who was 
staying at Madeira to recruit his health, on his way back to 
Jamaica, happened to be with him. Mr. Eyre mentioned 
the intelligence ; for he knew that my client here was 
acquainted with a gentleman of the name of Rochester. 
Mr. Mason, astonished and distressed as you may suppose, 
revealed the real state of matters. Your uncle, I am sorry 
to say, is now on a sick bed ; from which, considering the 
nature of his disease decline and the stage it has reached, 
it is unlikely he will ever rise. He could not then 
hasten to England himself, to extricate you from the snare 
into which you had fallen, but he implored Mr. Mason to 
lose no time in taking steps to prevent the false marriage. 
He referred him to me for assistance. I used all despatch, 



JANE EYEE 359 

and am thankful I was not too late : as you, doubtless, must 
be also. Were I not morally certain that your uncle will 
be dead ere you reach Madeira, I would advise you to 
accompany Mr. Mason back : but as it is, I think you had 
better remain in England till you can hear further, either from 
or of Mr. Eyre. Have we anything else to stay for ? ' he 
inquired of Mr. Mason. 

' No, no let us be gone,' was the anxious reply ; and 
without waiting to take leave of Mr, Kochester, they made 
their exit at the hall door. The clergyman stayed to ex- 
change a few sentences, either of admonition or reproof, 
with his haughty parishioner : this duty done, he too 
departed. 

I heard him go as I stood at the half-open door of my 
own room, to which I had now withdrawn. The house 
cleared, I shut myself in, fastened the bolt that none might 
intrude, and proceeded not to weep, not to mourn, I was 
yet too calm for that, but mechanically to take off the 
wedding-dress, and replace it by the stuff gown I had worn 
yesterday, as I thought, for the last time. I then sat down : 
I felt weak and tired. I leaned my arms on a table, and 
my head dropped on them. And now I thought : till now 
I had only heard, seen, moved followed up and down 
where I was led or dragged watched event rush on event, 
disclosure open beyond disclosure : but now, J thought. 

The morning had been a quiet morning enough all 
except the brief scene with the lunatic : the transaction in 
the church had not been noisy ; there was no -explosion of 
passion, no loud altercation, no dispute, no defiance or 
challenge, no tears, no sobs : a few words had been spoken, 
a calmly pronounced objection to the marriage made ; some 
stern, short questions put by Mr. Kochester ; answers, explana- 
tions given, evidence adduced ; an open admission of the 
truth had been uttered by my master ; then the living proof 
had been seen : the intruders were gone, and all was over. 

I was in my own room as usual just myself, without 
obvious change : nothing had smitten me, or scathed me, or 



360 JANE EYKE 

maimed me. And yet, where was the Jane Eyre of yester- 
day ? where was her life ? where were her prospects ? 

Jane Eyre, who had been an ardent, expectant woman 
almost a bride was a cold, solitary girl again : her life was 
pale ; her prospects were desolate. A Christmas frost had 
come at midsummer ; a white December storm had whirled 
over June ; ice glazed the ripe apples, drifts crushed the 
blowing roses ; on hay-field and corn-field lay a frozen 
shroud : lanes which last night blushed full of flowers, to- 
day were pathless with untrodden snow ; and the woods, 
which twelve hours since waved leafy and fragrant as 
groves between the tropics, now spread, waste, wild, and 
white as pine-forests in wintry Norway. My hopes were all 
dead struck with a subtle doom, such as, in one night, fell 
on all the first-born in the land of Egypt. I looked on my 
cherished wishes, yesterday so blooming and glowing : they 
lay stark, chill, livid corpses that could never revive. I 
looked at my love : that feeling which was my master's 
which he had created ; it shivered in my heart, like a suffer- 
ing child in a cold cradle ; sickness and anguish had seized 
it ; it could not seek Mr. Eochester's arms it could not 
derive warmth from his breast. Oh, never more could it 
turn to him ; for faith was blighted confidence destroyed ! 
Mr. Eochester was not to me what he had been ; for he was 
not what I had thought him. I would not ascribe vice to 
him ; I would not say he had betrayed me : but the attribute 
of stainless truth was gone from his idea ; and from his 
presence I must go ; that I perceived well. When how 
whither, I could not yet discern ; but he himself, I doubted 
not, would hurry me from Thornfield. Real affection, it 
seemed, he could not have for me ; it had been only fitful 
passion : that was balked ; he would want me no more. I 
should fear even to cross his path now : my view must be 
hateful to him. Oh, how blind had been my eyes ! How 
weak my conduct ! 

My eyes were covered and closed : eddying darkness 
seemed to swim round me, and reflection came in as black 



JANE EYEE 361 

and confused a flow. Self -abandoned, relaxed, and effortless, 
I seemed to have laid me down in the dried-up bed of a 
great river ; I heard a flood loosened in remote mountains, 
and felt the torrent come : to rise I had no will, to flee I 
had no strength. I lay faint ; longing to be dead. One 
idea only still throbbed life-like within me a remembrance 
of God : it begot an unuttered prayer : these words went 
wandering up and down in my rayless mind, as something 
that should be whispered; but no energy was found to 
express them : ' Be not far from me, for trouble is near : 
there is none to help.' 

It was near : and as I had lifted no petition to Heaven 
to avert it as I had neither joined my hands, nor bent my 
knees, nor moved my lips it came : in full, heavy swing 
the torrent poured over me. The whole consciousness of 
my life lorn, my love lost, my hope quenched, my faith 
death-struck, swayed full and mighty above me in one 
sullen mass. That bitter hour cannot be described : in 
truth, ' the waters came into my soul ; I sank in deep mire : 
1 felt no standing; I came into deep waters; the floods 
overflowed me.' 



CHAPTER XXVII 

SOME time in the afternoon I raised my head, and looking 
round and seeing the western sun gilding the sign of its 
decline on the wall, I asked, ' What am I to do ? ' 

But the answer my mind gave ' Leave Thornfield at 
once ' was so prompt, so dread, that I stopped my ears : I 
said, I could not bear such words now. ' That I am not 
Edward Rochester's bride is the least part of my woe/ I 
alleged : ' that I have wakened out of most glorious dreams, 
and found them all void and vain, is a horror I could bear 
and master ; but that I must leave him decidedly, instantly, 
entirely, is intolerable. I cannot do it.' 

But, then, a voice within me averred that I could do it ; 
and foretold that I should do it. I wrestled with my own 
resolution : I wanted to be weak that I might avoid the 
awful passage of further suffering I saw laid out for me ; and 
conscience, turned tyrant, held passion by the throat, told 
her tauntingly she had yet but dipped her dainty foot in the 
slough, and swore that with that arm of iron he would thrust 
her down to unsounded depths of agony. 

' Let me be torn away, then ! ' I cried ' Let another help 
me!' 

' No ; you shall tear yourself away, none shall help you : 
you shall, yourself, pluck out your right eye : yourself cut 
off your right hand : your heart shall be the victim ; and 
you, the priest, to transfix it.' 

I rose up suddenly, terror-struck at the solitude which so 
ruthless a judge haunted, at the silence which so awful a 
voice filled. My head swam as I stood erect : I perceived 
that I was sickening from excitement and inanition ; neither 



JANE EYEE 363 

meat nor drink had passed my lips that day, for I had taken 
no breakfast. And, with a strange pang, I now reflected that, 
long as I had been shut up here, no message had been sent 
to ask how I was, or to invite me to come down : not even 
little Adele had tapped at the door ; not even Mrs. Fairfax 
had sought me. ' Friends always forget those whom fortune 
forsakes,' I murmured, as I undrew the bolt and passed out. 
I stumbled over an obstacle : my head was still dizzy, my 
sight was dim, and my limbs were feeble. I could not soon 
recover myself. I fell, but not on to the ground ; an out- 
stretched arm caught me ; I looked up I was supported 
by Mr. Eochester, who sat in a chair across my chamber 
threshold. 

' You come out at last,' he said. ' Well, I have been 
waiting for you long, and listening : yet not one movement 
have I heard, nor one sob : five minutes more of that death- 
like hush, and I should have forced the lock like a burglar. 
So, you shun me ? you shut yourself up and grieve alone ! 
I would rather you had come and upbraided me with 
vehemence. You are passionate : I expected a scene of some 
kind. I was prepared for the hot rain of tears; only I 
wanted them to be shed on my breast : now a senseless floor 
has received them, or your drenched handkerchief. But I 
err : you have not wept at all ! I see a white cheek and a 
faded eye, but no trace of tears. I suppose, then, your heart 
has been weeping blood ? 

' Well, Jane ; not a word of reproach ? Nothing bitter 
nothing poignant? Nothing to cut a feeling or sting a 
passion? You sit quietly where I have placed you, and 
regard me with a weary, passive look. 

' Jane, I never meant to wound you thus. If the man 
who had but one little ewe lamb that was dear to him as a 
daughter, that ate of his bread and drank of his cup, and lay 
in his bosom, had by some mistake slaughtered it at the 
shambles, he would not have rued his bloody blunder more 
than I now rue mine. Will you ever forgive me ? ' 

Eeader ! I forgave him at the moment, and on the spot, 



364 JANE EYKE 

There was such deep remorse in his eye, such true pity in 
his tone, such manly energy in his manner ; and, besides, 
there was such unchanged love in his whole look and mien 
I forgave him all : yet not in words, not outwardly ; only 
at my heart's core. 

1 You know I am a scoundrel, Jane ? ' ere long he inquired 
wistfully wondering, I suppose, at my continued silence 
and tameness : the result rather of weakness than of will. 

' Yes, sir.' 

' Then tell me so roundly and sharply don't spare me.' 

' I cannot : I am tired and sick. I want some water.' 
He heaved a sort of shuddering sigh, and taking me in his 
arms, carried me downstairs. At first I did not know to 
what room he had borne me ; all was cloudy to my glazed 
sight : presently I felt the reviving warmth of a fire ; for, 
summer as it was, I had become icy cold in my chamber. 
He put wine to my lips ; I tasted it and revived ; then I ate 
something he offered me, and was soon myself. I was in 
the library sitting in his chair he was quite near. ' If I 
could go out of life now, without too sharp a pang, it would 
be well for me,' I thought ; ' then I should not have to make 
the effort of cracking my heart-strings in rending them from 
among Mr. Rochester's. I must leave him, it appears. I 
do not want to leave him I cannot leave him.' 

' How are you now, Jane ? ' 

' Much better, sir : I shall be well soon.' 

1 Taste the wine again, Jane.' 

I obeyed him ; then he put the glass on the table, stood 
before me, and looked at me attentively. Suddenly he 
turned away, with an inarticulate exclamation, full of pas- 
sionate emotion of some kind ; he walked fast through the 
room and came back : he stooped towards me as if to kiss 
me; but I remembered caresses were now forbidden. I 
turned my face away, and put his aside. 

' What ! How is this ? ' he exclaimed hastily. ' Oh, I 
know ! you won't kiss the husband of Bertha Mason ? You 
consider my arms filled and my embraces appropriated ? ' 



JANE EYKE 365 

' At any rate, there is neither room nor claim for me, sir.' 

: Why, Jane? I will spare you the trouble of much 
talking: I will answer for you because I have a wife 
already, you would reply. I guess rightly ? ' 

1 Yes.' 

' If you think so, you must have a strange opinion of me : 
you must regard me as a plotting profligate a base and low 
rake who has been simulating disinterested love in order to 
draw you into a snare deliberately laid, and strip you of 
honour, and rob you of self-respect. What do you say to 
that ? I see you can say nothing : in the first place, you are 
faint still, and have enough to do to draw your breath ; in 
the second place, you cannot yet accustom yourself to accuse 
and revile me; and, besides, the flood-gates of tears are 
opened, and they would rush out if you spoke much ; and 
you have no desire to expostulate, to upbraid, to make a 
scene: you are thinking how to act, talking, you con- 
sider, is of no use. I know you I am on my guard.' 

' Sir, I do not wish to act against you,' I said ; and my 
unsteady voice warned me to curtail my sentence. 

'Not in your sense of the word, but in mine, you are 
scheming to destroy me. You have as good as said that I 
am a married man as a married man you will shun me, 
keep out of my way : just now you have refused to kiss me. 
You intend to make yourself a complete stranger to me ; to 
live under this roof only as Adele's governess : if ever I say 
a friendly word to you, if ever a friendly feeling inclines you 
again to me, you will say, " That man had nearly made me 
his mistress : I must be ice and rock to him ; " and ice and 
rock you will accordingly become.' 

I cleared and steadied my voice to reply : ' All is changed 
about me, sir ; I must change too there is no doubt of that ; 
and to avoid fluctuations of feeling, and continual combats 
with recollections and associations, there is only one way 
Adele must have a new governess, sir.' 

' Oh, Adele will go to school I have settled that already ; 
nor do I mean to torment you with the hideous associations 



366 JANE EYBE 

and recollections of Thornfield Hall this accursed place 
this tent of Achan this insolent vault, offering the ghastli- 
ness of living death to the light of the open sky this narrow 
stone hell, with its one real fiend, worse than a legion of 
such as we imagine. Jane, you shall not stay here, nor will 
I. I was wrong ever to bring you to Thornfield Hall, know- 
ing as I did how it was haunted. I charged them to conceal 
from you, before I ever saw you, all knowledge of the curse 
of the place ; merely because I feared Adele never would 
have a governess to stay if she knew with what inmate she 
was housed, and my plans would not permit me to remove the 
maniac elsewhere though I possess an old house, Ferndean 
Manor, even more retired and hidden than this, where I 
could have lodged her safely enough, had not a scruple 
about the unhealthiness of the situation, in the heart of a 
wood, made my conscience recoil from the arrangement. 
Probably those damp walls would soon have eased me of 
her charge : but to each villain his own vice ; and mine is 
not a tendency to indirect assassination, even of what I 
most hate. 

' Concealing the mad-woman's neighbourhood from you, 
however, was something like covering a child with a cloak, 
and laying it down near a upas-tree : that demon's vicinage 
is poisoned, and always was. But I'll shut up Thornfield 
Hall: I'll nail up the front door, and board the lower 
windows ; I'll give Mrs. Poole two hundred a year to live 
here with my wife, as you term that fearful hag : Grace will 
do much for money, and she shall have her son, the keeper 
at Grimsby Betreat, to bear her company and be at hand to 
give her aid in the paroxysms when my wife is prompted 
by her familiar to burn people in their beds at night, to stab 
them, to bite their flesh from their bones, and so on ' 

1 Sir,' I interrupted him, ' you are inexorable for that 
unfortunate lady: you speak of her with hate with 
vindictive antipathy. It is cruel she cannot help being 
mad.' 

' Jane, my little darling (so I will call you, for so you 



JANE EYEE 367 

are), you don't know what you are talking about; you 
misjudge me again : it is not because she is mad I hate her. 
If you were mad, do you think I should hate you ? ' 

' I do indeed, sir.' 

4 Then you are mistaken, and you know nothing about 
me, and nothing about the sort of love of which I am 
capable. Every atom of your flesh is as dear to me as my 
own : in pain and sickness it would still be dear. Your 
mind is my treasure, and if it were broken, it would be my 
treasure still : if you raved, my arms should confine you, 
and not a strait waistcoat your grasp, even in fury, 
would have a charm for me : if you flew at me as wildly as that 
woman did this morning, I should receive you in an embrace 
at least as fond as it would be restrictive. I should not 
shrink from you with disgust as I did from her : in your 
quiet moments you should have no watcher and no nurse 
but me ; and I could hang over you with untiring tender- 
ness, though you gave me no smile in return ; and never 
weary of gazing into your eyes, though they had no longer 
a ray of recognition for me. But why do I follow that train 
of ideas ? I was talking of removing you from Thornfield. 
All, you know, is prepared for prompt departure : to-morrow 
you shall go. I only ask you to endure one more night 
under this roof, Jane : and then, farewell to its miseries and 
terrors for ever ! I have a place to repair to which will be 
a secure sanctuary from hateful reminiscences, from unwel- 
come intrusion even from falsehood and slander.' 

' And take Adele with you, sir,' I interrupted ; ' she will 
be a companion for you.' 

' What do you mean, Jane ? I told you I would send 
Adele to school : and what do I want with a child for a 
companion? and not my own child, a French dancer's 
bastard. Why do you importune me about her ? I say, 
why do you assign Adele to me for a companion ? ' 

' You spoke of a retirement, sir ; and retirement and 
solitude are dull : too dull for you.' 

Solitude ! solitude ! ' he reiterated, with irritation. ' I 



368 JANE EYEE 

see I must come to an explanation. I don't know what 
sphinx-like expression is forming in your countenance. You 
are to share my solitude. Do you understand ? ' 

I shook my head : it required a degree of courage, 
excited as he was becoming, even to risk that mute sign of 
dissent. He had been walking fast about the room, and he 
stopped, as if suddenly rooted to one spot. He looked at 
me long and hard : I turned my eyes from him, fixed them 
on the fire, and tried to assume and maintain a quiet, col- 
lected aspect. 

' Now for the hitch in Jane's character,' he said at last, 
speaking more calmly than from his look I had expected 
him to speak. ' The reel of silk has run smoothly enough 
so far ; but I always knew there would come a knot and a 
puzzle : here it is. Now for vexation, and exasperation, 
and endless trouble ! By God ! I long to exert a fraction of 
Samson's strength, and break the entanglement like tow 1 ' 

He recommenced his walk : but soon again stopped, and 
this time just before me. 

1 Jane ! will you hear reason ? ' (he stooped and ap- 
proached his lips to my ear) ' because, if you won't, I'll try 
violence.' His voice was hoarse ; his look that of a man 
who is just about to burst an insufferable bond and plunge 
headlong into wild license. I saw that in another moment, 
and with one impetus of frenzy more, I should be able to do 
nothing with him. The present the passing second of 
time was all I had in which to control and restrain him : 
a movement of repulsion, flight, fear, would have sealed my 
doom, and his. But I was not afraid : not in the least. I 
felt an inward power; a sense of influence, which sup- 
ported me. The crisis was perilous ; but not without its 
charm : such as the Indian, perhaps, feels when he slips 
over the rapid in his canoe. I took hold of his clenched 
hand ; loosened the contorted fingers, and said to him, 
soothingly, ' Sit down ; I'll talk to you as long as you like, 
and hear all you have to say, whether reasonable or 
unreasonable,' 



JANE EYEE 369 

He sat down : but he did not get leave to speak 
directly. I had been struggling with tears for some time ; I 
had taken great pains to repress them, because I knew he 
would not like to see me weep. Now, however, I considered 
it well to let them flow as freely and as long as they liked. 
If the flood annoyed him, so much the better. So I gave 
way and cried heartily. 

Soon I heard him earnestly entreating me to be com- 
posed. I said I could not while he was in such a passion. 

1 But I am not angry, Jane : I only love you too well ; 
and you had steeled your little pale face with such a 
resolute, frozen look, I could not endure it. Hush, now, 
and wipe your eyes.' 

His softened voice announced that he was subdued ; so I, 
in my turn, became calm. Now he made an effort to rest 
his head on my shoulder ; but I would not permit it. Then 
he would draw me to him : no. 

' Jane ! Jane ! ' he said, in such an accent of bitter sad- 
ness it thrilled along every nerve I had, ' you don't love me, 
then ? It was only my station, and the rank of my wife, 
that you valued ? Now that you think me disqualified to 
become your husband you recoil from my touch as if I were 
some toad or ape.' 

These words cut me : yet what could I do or say ? I 
ought probably to have done or said nothing : but I was so 
tortured by a sense of remorse at thus hurting his feelings I 
could not control the wish to drop balm where I had 
wounded. 

' I do love you,' I said, ' more than ever : but I must not 
show or indulge the feeling : and this is the last time I must 
express it.' 

' The last time, Jane ! What ! do you think you can 
live with me, and see me daily, and yet, if you still love me, 
be always cold and distant ? ' 

' No, sir ; that I am certain I could not ; and therefore I 
see there is but one way : but you will be furious if I men' 
tion it,' 



370 JANE EYRE 

' Oh, mention it ! If I storm, you have the art of weeping.' 

' Mr. Rochester, I must leave you.' 

' For how long, Jane ? For a few minutes, while you 
smooth your hair which is somewhat dishevelled ; and 
bathe your face which looks feverish ? ' 

' I must leave Adele and Thornfield. I must part with 
you for my whole life : I must begin a new existence 
amongst strange faces and strange scenes.' 

' Of course : I told you you should. I pass over the 
madness about parting from me. You mean you must 
become a part of me. As to the new existence, it is all 
right : you shall yet be my wife ' I am not married. You 
shall be Mrs. Rochester both virtually and nominally. I 
shall keep only to you so long as you and I live. You shall 
go to a place I have in the south of France : a white-washed 
villa on the shores of the Mediterranean. There you shall 
live a happy, and guarded, and most innocent life. Never 
fear that I wish to lure you into error to make you my 
mistress. Why do you shake your head ? Jane, you must 
be reasonable ; or in truth I shall again become frantic.' 

His voice and hand quivered ; his large nostrils dilated ; 
his eye blazed ; still I dared to speak : ' Sir, your wife is 
living : that is a fact acknowledged this morning by your- 
self. If I lived with you as you desire, I should then be 
your mistress : to say otherwise is sophistical is false.' 

' Jane, I am not a gentle-tempered man you forget that : 
I am not long-enduring ; I am not cool and dispassionate. 
Out of pity to me and yourself, put your finger on my pulse, 
feel how it throbs, and beware ! ' 

He bared his wrist and offered it to me : the blood was 
forsaking his cheek and lips ; they were growing livid ; I 
was distressed on all hands. To agitate him thus deeply, by 
a resistance he so abhorred, was cruel : to yield was out of 
the question. I did what human beings do instinctively 
when they are driven to utter extremity looked for aid to 
one higher than man : the words ' God help me ! ' burst 
involuntarily from my lips. 



JANE EYRE 371 

1 1 am a fool ! ' cried Mr. Rochester suddenly. ' I keep 
telling her I am not married, and do not explain to her why. 
1 forget she knows nothing of the character of that woman, 
or of the circumstances attending my infernal union with her. 
Oh, I am certain Jane will agree with me in opinion when 
she knows all that I know ! Just put your hand in mine, 
Janet, that I may have the evidence of touch as well as 
sight to prove you are near me and I will in a few words 
show you the real state of the case. Can you listen to me ? ' 

' Yes, sir ; for hours if you will.' 

' I ask only minutes. Jane, did you ever hear or know 
that I was not the eldest son of my house ; that I had once 
a brother older than I ? ' 

' I remember Mrs. Fairfax told me so once.' 

I And did you ever hear that my father was an avaricious 
grasping man ? ' 

I 1 have understood something to that effect.' 

' Well, Jane, being so, it was his resolution to keep the 
property together ; he could not bear the idea of dividing 
his estate and leaving me a fair portion : all, he resolved, 
should go to my brother Eowland. Yet as little could he 
endure that a son of his should be a poor man. I must be 
provided for by a wealthy marriage. He sought me a part- 
ner betimes. Mr. Mason, a West India planter and merchant, 
was his old acquaintance. He was certain his possessions 
were real and vast: he made inquiries. Mr. Mason, he 
found, had a son and daughter ; and he learned from him 
that he could and would give the latter a fortune of thirty 
thousand pounds : that sufficed. When I left college I was 
sent out to Jamaica, to espouse a bride already courted for 
me. My father said nothing about her money } but he told 
me Miss Mason was the boast of Spanish Town for her 
beauty : and this was no lie. I found her a fine woman, in 
the style of Blanche Ingram ; tall, dark, and majestic. Her 
family wished to secure me, because I was of a good race ; 
and so did she. They showed her to me in parties, splendidly 
dressed. I seldom saw her alone, and had very little private 



372 JAKE EYRE 

conversation with her. She flattered me, and lavishly dis- 
played for my pleasure her charms and accomplishments. 
All the men in her circle seemed to admire her and envy me. 
I was dazzled, stimulated : my senses were excited ; and 
being ignorant, raw, and inexperienced, I thought I loved 
her. There is no folly so besotted that the idiotic rivalries 
of society, the prurience, the rashness, the blindness of youth, 
will not hurry a man to its commission. Her relatives 
encouraged me ; competitors piqued me ; she allured me : a 
marriage was achieved almost before I knew where I was. 
Oh, I have no respect for myself when I think of that act ! 
an agony of inward contempt masters me. I never loved, 
I never esteemed, I did not even know her. I was not sure 
of the existence of one virtue in her nature : I had marked 
neither modesty, nor benevolence, nor candour, nor refine- 
ment in her mind or manners and, I married her : gross, 
grovelling, mole-eyed blockhead that I was ! With less sin 
I might have but let me remember to whom I am 
speaking. 

' My bride's mother I had never seen : I understood she 
was dead. The honeymoon over, I learned my mistake; 
she was only mad, and shut up in a lunatic asylum. There 
was a younger brother, too, a complete dumb idiot. The 
elder one, whom you have seen (and whom I cannot hate, 
whilst I abhor all his kindred, because he has some grains of 
affection in his feeble mind ; shown in the continued interest 
he takes in his wretched sister, and also in a dog-like attach- 
ment he once bore me), will probably be in the same state 
one day. My father, and my brother Rowland, knew all 
this ; but they thought only of the thirty thousand pounds, 
and joined in the plot against me. 

' These were vile discoveries ; but, except for the treachery 
of concealment, I should have made them no subject of 
reproach to my wife : even when I found her nature wholly 
alien to mine ; her tastes obnoxious to me ; her cast of mind 
common, low, narrow, and singularly incapable of being led 
to anything higher, expanded to anything larger when I 



JANE EYEE 373 

found that I could not pass a single evening, nor even a 
single hour of the day, with her in comfort : that kindly con- 
versation could not be sustained between us, because what- 
ever topic I started immediately received from her a turn 
at once coarse and trite, perverse and imbecile when I per- 
ceived that I should never have a quiet or settled household, 
because no servant would bear the continued outbreaks of 
her violent and unreasonable temper, or the vexations of her 
absurd, contradictory, exacting orders even then I re- 
strained myself : I eschewed upbraiding, I curtailed remon- 
strance ; I tried to devour my repentance and disgust in secret ; 
I repressed the deep antipathy I felt. 

1 Jane, I will not trouble you with abominable details : 
some strong words shall express what I have to say. I lived 
with that woman upstairs four years, and before that time 
she had tried me indeed : her character ripened and developed 
with frightful rapidity ; her vices sprang up fast and rank : 
they were so strong, only cruelty could check them ; and I 
would not use cruelty. What a pigmy intellect she had 
and what giant propensities ! How fearful were the curses 
those propensities entailed on me ! Bertha Mason, the 
true daughter of an infamous mother, dragged me through 
all the hideous and degrading agonies which must attend a 
man bound to a wife at once intemperate and unchaste. 

' My brother in the interval was dead ; and at the end of 
the four years my father died too. I was rich enough now 
yet poor to hideous indigence : a nature the most gross, 
impure, depraved, I ever saw, was associated with mine, and 
called by the law and by society a part of me. And I could 
not rid myself of it by any legal proceedings : for the doctors 
now discovered that my wife was mad her excesses had pre- 
maturely developed the germs of insanity : Jane, you don't 
like my narrative ; you look almost sick shall I defer the 
rest to another day ? ' 

' No, sir, finish it now : I pity you I do earnestly pity 
you.' 

' Pity, Jane, from some people is a noxious and insulting 



374 JANE EYEE 

sort of tribute, which one is justified in hurling back in the 
teeth of those who offer it ; but that is the sort of pity native 
to callous, selfish hearts : it is a hybrid, egotistical pain at 
hearing of woes, crossed with ignorant contempt for those 
who have endured them. But that is not your pity, Jane : 
it is not the feeling of which your whole face is full at this 
moment with which your eyes are now almost overflowing 
with which your heart is heaving with which your hand 
is trembling in mine. Your pity, my darling, is the suffering 
mother of love : its anguish is the very natal pang of the 
divine passion. I accept it, Jane ; let the daughter have free 
advent my arms wait to receive her.' 

1 Now, sir, proceed : what did you do when you found 
she was mad ? ' 

' Jane I approached the verge of despair : a remnant of 
self-respect was all that intervened between me and the gulf. 
In the eyes of the world I was doubtless covered with grimy 
dishonour : but I resolved to be clean in my own sight and 
to the last I repudiated the contamination of her crimes, and 
wrenched myself from connection with her mental defects. 
Still, society associated my name and person with hers ! I 
yet saw her and heard her daily : something of her breath 
(faugh !) mixed with the air I breathed ; and, besides, I 
remembered I had once been her husband that recollection 
was then, and is now, inexpressibly odious to me : moreover, 
I knew that while she lived I could never be the husband of 
another and better wife ; and though five years my senior 
(her family and her father had lied to me even in the par- 
ticular of her age), she was likely to live as long as I, being 
as robust in frame as she was infirm in mind. Thus, at the 
age of twenty-six, I was hopeless. 

' One night I had been awakened by her yells (since the 
medical men had pronounced her mad she had of course 
been shut up) it was a fiery West Indian night ; one of the 
description that frequently precede the hurricanes of those 
climates ; being unable to sleep in bed, I got up and opened 
the window, The air was like sulphur-steams. I could find 



JANE EYRE 375 

fio refreshment anywhere. Mosquitoes came buzzing in and 
hummed sullenly round the room ; the sea, which I could 
hear from thence, rumbled dull like an earthquake black 
clouds were casting up over it ; the moon was setting in the 
waves, broad and red, like a hot cannon-ball she threw her 
last bloody glance over a world quivering with the ferment 
of tempest. I was physically influenced by the atmosphere 
and scene, and my ears were filled with the curses the maniac 
still shrieked out ; wherein she momentarily mingled my 
name with such a tone of demon-hate, with such language ! 
no professed harlot ever had a fouler vocabulary than she : 
though two rooms off, I heard every word the thin parti- 
tions of the West India house opposing but slight obstruction 
to her wolfish cries. 

' " This life," said I at last, " is hell ! this is the air 
those are the sounds of the bottomless pit ! I have a right 
to deliver myself from it if I can. The sufferings of this 
mortal state will leave me with the heavy flesh that now 
cumbers my soul. Of the fanatic's burning eternity I have 
no fear ; there is not a future state worse than this present 
one let me break away, and go home to God ! " 

' I said this whilst I knelt down at and unlocked a trunk 
which contained a brace of loaded pistols : I meant to shoot 
myself. I only entertained the intention for a moment; 
for not being insane, the crisis of exquisite and unalloyed 
despair which had originated the wish and design of 
self-destruction was past in a second. 

' A wind fresh from Europe blew over the ocean and 
rushed through the open casement : the storm broke, streamed, 
thundered, blazed, and the air grew pure. I then framed 
and fixed a resolution. While I walked under the dripping 
orange-trees of my wet garden, and amongst its drenched 
pomegranates and pine-apples, and while the refulgent dawn 
of the tropics kindled round me I reasoned thus, Jane : 
and now listen ; for it was true Wisdom that consoled me 
in that hour, and showed me the right path to follow. 

1 The sweet wind from Europe was still whispering in the 



376 JANE EYRE 

refreshed leaves, and the Atlantic was thundering in glorious 
liberty ; my heart, dried up and scorched for a long time, 
swelled to the tone, and filled with living blood my being 
longed for renewal my soul thirsted for a pure draught. I 
saw Hope revive and felt Regeneration possible. From a 
flowery arch at the bottom of my garden I gazed over the sea 
bluer than the sky : the old world was beyond ; clear 
prospects opened thus : 

' " Go," said Hope, " and live again in Europe : there it 
is not known what a sullied name you bear, nor what a filthy 
burden is bound to you. You may take the maniac with 
you to England ; confine her with due attendance and pre- 
cautions at Thornfield : then travel yourself to what clime 
you will, and form what new tie you like. That woman, who 
has so abused your long-suffering so sullied your name ; 
so outraged your honour ; so blighted your youth is not your 
wife ; nor are you her husband. See that she is cared for as 
her condition demands, and you have done all that God and 
Humanity require of you. Let her identity, her connection 
with yourself, be buried in oblivion : you are bound to im- 
part them to no living being. Place her in safety and com- 
fort : shelter her degradation with secrecy, and leave her." 

' I acted precisely on this suggestion. My father and 
brother had not made my marriage known to their acquain- 
tance ; because, in the very first letter I wrote to apprise 
them of the union having already begun to experience 
extreme disgust of its consequences ; and from the family 
character and constitution seeing a hideous future opening 
to me I added an urgent charge to keep it secret; and 
very soon the infamous conduct of the wife my father had 
selected for me was such as to make him blush to own 
her as his daughter-in-law. Far from desiring to publish 
the connection, he became as anxious to conceal it as 
myself. 

' To England, then, I conveyed her ; a fearful voyage I 
had with such a monster in the vessel. Glad was I when I at 
last got her to Thornfield, and saw her safely lodged in that 



JANE EYRE 377 

third-storey room, of whose secret inner cabinet she has now 
for ten years made a wild beast's den a goblin's cell. I 
had some trouble in finding an attendant for her : as it was 
necessary to select one on whose fidelity dependence 
could be placed ; for her ravings would inevitably betray my 
secret : besides, she had lucid intervals of days sometimes 
weeks which she filled up with abuse of me. At last I 
hired Grace Poole, from the Grimsby Retreat. She and the 
surgeon, Carter (who dressed Mason's wounds that night he 
was stabbed and worried), are the only two I have ever ad- 
mitted to my confidence. Mrs. Fairfax may indeed have 
suspected something ; but she could have gained no precise 
knowledge as to facts. Grace has, on the whole, proved a 
good keeper ; though, owing partly to a fault of her own, of 
which it appears nothing can cure her, and which is incident 
to her harassing profession, her vigilance has been more 
than once lulled and baffled. The lunatic is both cunning 
and malignant ; she has never failed to take advantage of 
her guardian's temporary lapses ; once to secrete the knife 
with which she stabbed her brother, and twice to possess 
herself of the key of her cell, and issue therefrom in the night- 
time. On the first of these occasions she perpetrated the 
attempt to burn me in my bed ; on the second she paid that 
ghastly visit to you. I thank Providence, who watched over 
you, that she then spent her fury on your wedding apparel ; 
which perhaps brought back vague reminiscences of her own 
bridal days : but on what might have happened I cannot 
endure to reflect. When I think of the thing which flew at 
my throat this morning hanging its black and scarlet visage 
over the nest of my dove my blood curdles ' 

' And what, sir,' I asked, while he paused, ' did you do 
when you had settled her here ? Where did you go ? ' 

' What did I do, Jane ? I transformed myself into a 
Will-o'-the-wisp. Where did I go ? I pursued wanderings 
as wild as those of the March-spirit. I sought the Continent, 
and went devious through all its lands. My fixed desire was 



378 JANE EYRE 

to seek and find a good and intelligent woman whom I 
could love : a contrast to the fury I left at Thornfield ' 

' But you could not marry, sir.' 

' I had determined, and was convinced that I could and 
ought. It was not my original intention to deceive, as I 
have deceived you. I meant to tell my tale plainly, 
and make my proposals openly : and it appeared to me so 
absolutely rational that I should be considered free to love 
and be loved, I never doubted some woman might be found 
willing and able to understand my case and accept me, in 
spite of the curse with which I was burdened.' 

1 Well, sir ? ' 

' When you are inquisitive, Jane, you always make me 
smile. You open your eyes like an eager bird, and make 
every now and then a restless movement ; as if answers in 
speech did not flow fast enough for you, and you wanted to 
read the tablet of one's heart. But before I go on tell me 
what you mean by your " Well, sir ? " It is a small phrase 
very frequent with you ; and which many a time has drawn 
me on and on through interminable talk : I don't very well 
know why.' 

'I mean What next? How did you proceed? What 
came of such an event ? ' 

' Precisely : and what do you wish to know now ? ' 

' Whether you found any one you liked : whether you 
asked her to marry you ; and what she said.' 

' I can tell you whether I found any one I liked, and 
whether I asked her to marry me : but what she said is yet 
to be recorded in the book of Fate. For ten long years I 
roved about, living first in one capital, then another : some- 
times in St. Petersburg ; oftener in Paris ; occasionally in 
Borne, Naples, and Florence. Provided with plenty of money 
and the passport of an old name, I could choose my own 
society : no circles were closed against me. I sought my 
ideal of a woman amongst English ladies, French countesses, 
Italian signoras, and German grafinnen. I could not find 
her. Sometimes, for a fleeting moment, I thought I caught 



JANE EYKE 379 

a glance, heard a tone, beheld a form, which announced the 
realisation of my dream : but I was presently undeceived. 
You are not to suppose that I desired perfection, either of 
mind or person. I longed only for what suited me for the 
antipodes of the Creole : and I longed vainly. Amongst 
them all I found not one whom, had I been ever so free, I 
warned as I was of the risks, the horrors, the loathings of 
incongruous unions would have asked to marry me. Dis- 
appointment made me reckless. I tried dissipation never 
debauchery : that I hated, and hate. That was my Indian 
Messalina's attribute : rooted disgust at it and her res. trained 
me much, even in pleasure. Any enjoyment that bordered 
on riot seemed to approach me to her and her vices, and I 
eschewed it. 

' Yet I could not live alone ; so I tried the companionship 
of mistresses. The first I chose was Celine Varens another 
of those steps which make a man spurn himself when he re- 
calls them. You already know what she was, and how my 
liaison with her terminated. She had two successors : an 
Italian, Giacinta, and a German, Clara ; both considered 
singularly handsome. What was their beauty to me in a few 
weeks ? Giacinta was unprincipled and violent : I tired of her 
in three months. Clara was honest and quiet ; but heavy, 
mindless, unimpressible : not one whit to my taste. I was 
glad to give her a sufficient sum to set her up in a good line 
of business, and so get decently rid of her. But, Jane, I see 
by your face you are not forming a very favourable opinion 
of me just now. You think me an unfeeling, loose-principled 
rake : don't you ? ' 

' I don't like you so well as I have done sometimes, in- 
deed, sir. Did it no - seem to you in the least wrong to live 
in that way : first with one mistress and then another ? You 
talk of it as a mere matter of course.' 

' It was with me : and I did not like it. It was a 
grovelling fashion of existence : I should never like to return 
to it. Hiring a mistress is the next worst thing to buying a 
slave : both are often by nature, and always by position, 



380 JANE EYRE 

inferior : and to live familiarly with inferiors is degrading. I 
now hate the recollection of the time I passed with Celine, 
Giacinta, and Clara.' 

I felt the truth of these words ; and I drew from them the 
certain inference, that if I were so far to forget myself and 
all the teaching that had ever been instilled into me as 
under any pretext with any justification through any 
temptation to become the successor of these poor girls, he 
would one day regard me with the same feeling which now 
in his mind desecrated their memory. I did not give utter- 
ance k this conviction : it was enough to feel it. I impressed 
it on my heart, that it might remain there to serve me as aid 
in the time of trial. 

' Now, Jane, why don't you say " Well, sir ? " I have not 
done. You are looking grave. You disapprove of me still, I 
see. But let me come to the point. Last January, rid of all 
mistresses in a harsh, bitter frame of mind, the result of a 
useless, roving, lonely life corroded with disappointment, 
sourly disposed against all men, and especially against all 
womankind (for I began to regard the notion of an intellec- 
tual, faithful, loving woman as a mere dream), recalled by 
business, I came back to England. 

' On a frosty winter afternoon I rode in sight of Thorn - 
field Hall. Abhorred spot ! I expected no peace no 
pleasure there. On a stile in Hay Lane I saw a quiet little 
figure sitting by itself. I passed it as negligently as I did 
the pollard willow opposite to it ; I had no presentiment of 
what it would be to me ; no inward warning that the 
arbitress of my life my genius for good or evil waited 
there in humble guise. I did not know it even when, on 
the occasion of Mesrour's accident, it time up and gravely 
offered me help. Childish and slender creature ! It seemed 
as if a linnet had hopped on my foot and proposed to bear 
me on its tiny wing. I was surly; but the thing would 
not go : it stood by me with strange perseverance, and looked 
and spoke with a sort of authority. I must be aided, and by 
that hand : and aided I was. 



JANE EYRE 381 

' When once I had pressed the frail shoulder, something 
new a fresh sap and sense stole into my frame. It was 
well I had learnt that this elf must return to me that it 
belonged to my house down below or I could not have felt 
it pass away from under my hand, and seen it vanish behind 
the dim hedge, without singular regret. I heard you come 
home that night, Jane : though probably you were not aware 
that I thought of you, or watched for you. The next day I 
observed you myself unseen for half an hour, while you 
played with Adele in the gallery. It was a snowy day, I 
recollect, and you could not go out of doors. I was in my 
room ; the door was ajar : I could both listen and watch. 
Adele claimed your outward attention for a while; yet I 
fancied your thoughts were elsewhere : but you were very 
patient with her, my little Jane; you talked to her and 
amused her a long time. When at last she left you, you 
lapsed at once into deep reverie : you betook yourself slowly 
to pace the gallery. Now and then, in passing a casement 
you glanced out at the thick-falling snow ; you listened to 
the sobbing wind, and again you paced gently on and 
dreamed. I think those day visions were not dark ; there was 
a pleasurable illumination in your eye occasionally, a soft 
excitement in your aspect, which told of no bitter, bilious, 
hypochondriac brooding: your look revealed rather the 
sweet musings of youth, when its spirit follows on willing 
wings the flight of Hope, up and on to an ideal heaven. 
The voice of Mrs. Fairfax, speaking to a servant in the hall, 
wakened you : and how curiously you smiled to and at 
yourself, Janet ! There w r as much sense in your smile : it 
was very shrewd, and seemed to make light of your own 
abstraction. It seemed to say " My fine visions are all 
very well, but I must not forget they are absolutely unreal. 
I have a rosy sky, and a green flowery Eden in my brain ; 
but without, I am perfectly aware, lies at my feet a rough 
tract to travel, and around me gather black tempests to 
encounter." You ran downstairs and demanded of Mrs. 
Fairfax some occupation : the weekly house accounts to 



382 JANE EYRE 

make up, or something of that sort, I think it was. I was 
vexed with you for getting out of my sight. 

' Impatiently I waited for evening, when I might summon 
you to my presence. An unusual to me a perfectly new 
character I suspected was yours : I desired to search it 
deeper, and know it better. You entered the room with a 
look and air at once shy and independent : you were 
quaintly dressed much as you are now. I made you talk 
ere long I found you full of strange contrasts. Your garb 
and manner were restricted by rule ; your air was often 
diffident, and altogether that of one refined by nature, but 
absolutely unused to society, and a good deal afraid of 
making herself disadvantageously conspicuous by some 
solecism or blunder ; yet when addressed you lifted a keen, 
a daring, and a glowing eye to your interlocutor's face : 
there was penetration and power in each glance you gave ; 
when plied by close questions, you found ready and round 
answers. Very soon you seemed to get used to me ; I 
believe you felt the existence of sympathy between you and 
your grim and cross master, Jane ; for it was astonishing to 
see how quickly a certain pleasant ease tranquillised your 
manner : snarl as I would, you showed no surprise, fear, 
annoyance, or displeasure at my moroseness ; you watched 
me, and now and then smiled at me with a simple yet 
sagacious grace I cannot describe. I was at once content 
and stimulated with what I saw : I liked what I had seen, 
and wished to see more. Yet, for a long time, I treated you 
distantly, and sought your company rarely. I was an intel- 
lectual epicure, and wished to prolong the gratification of 
making this novel and piquant acquaintance : besides, I was 
for a while troubled with a haunting fear that if I handled 
the flower freely its bloom would fade the sweet charm of 
freshness would leave it. I did not then know that it was 
no transitory blossom ; but rather the radiant resemblance 
of one, cut in an indestructible gem. Moreover, I wished to 
see whether you would seek me if I shunned you but you 
did not : you kept in the school-room as still as your own 



JANE EYRE 383 

desk and easel ; if by chance I met you, you passed me as 
soon, and with as little token of recognition, as was con- 
sistent with respect. Your habitual expression in those 
days, Jane, was a thoughtful look not despondent, for you 
were not sickly ; but not buoyant, for you had little hope, 
and no actual pleasure. I wondered what you thought of 
me or if you ever thought of me ; to find this out I re- 
sumed my notice of you. There was something glad in 
your glance and genial in your manner when you con- 
versed : I saw you had a social heart ; it was the silent 
school-room it was the tedium of your life that made you 
mournful. I permitted myself the delight of being kind to 
you ; kindness stirred emotion soon : your face became soft 
in expression, your tones gentle; I liked my name pro- 
nounced by your lips in a grateful, happy accent. I used to 
enjoy a chance meeting with you, Jane, at this time : there 
was a curious hesitation in your manner : you glanced at me 
with a slight trouble a hovering doubt : you did not know 
what my caprice might be whether I was going to play the 
master and be stern, or the friend and be benignant. I was 
now too fond of you often to stimulate the first whim ; and, 
when I stretched my hand out cordially, such bloom and light 
and bliss rose to your young, wistful features, I had much 
ado often to avoid straining you then and there to my heart.' 

' Don't talk any more of those days, sir,' I interrupted, 
furtively dashing away some tears from my eyes ; his 
language was torture to me ; for I knew what I must do 
and do soon and all these reminiscences and these revela- 
tions of his feelings only made my work more difficult. 

' No, Jane,' he returned : ' what necessity is there to 
dwell on the Past, when the Present is so much surer the 
Future so much brighter ? ' 

I shuddered to hear the infatuated assertion. 

1 You see now how the case stands do you not ? ' he 
continued. 'After a youth and manhood passed half in 
unutterable misery and half in dreary solitude, I have for 
the first time found what I can truly love I have found 



384 JANE EYRE 

you. You are my sympathy my better self my good angel 
I am bound to you with a strong attachment. I think 
you good, gifted, lovely: a fervent, a solemn passion is 
conceived in my heart ; it leans to you, draws you to my 
centre and spring of life, wraps my existence about you and, 
kindling in pure, powerful flame, fuses you and me in one. 

' It was because I felt and knew this that I resolved to 
marry you. To tell me that I had already a wife is empty 
mockery : you know now that I had but a hideous demon. 
I was wrong to attempt to deceive you ; but I feared a 
stubbornness that exists in your character. I feared early 
instilled prejudice : I wanted to have you safe before hazard- 
ing confidences. This was cowardly : I should have appealed 
to your nobleness and magnanimity at first, as I do now 
opened to you plainly my life of agony described to you 
my hunger and thirst after a higher and worthier existence 
shown to you, not my resolution (that word is weak), but 
my resistless bent to love faithfully and well where I am 
faithfully and well loved in return. Then I should have asked 
you to accept my pledge of fidelity, and to give me yours : 
Jane give it me now.' 

A pause. 

' Why are you silent, Jane ? ' 

I was experiencing an ordeal: a hand of fiery iron 
grasped my vitals. Terrible moment : full of struggle, 
blackness, burning! Not a human being that ever lived 
could wish to be loved better than I was loved ; and him 
who thus loved me I absolutely worshipped : and I must 
renounce love and idol. One drear word comprised my 
intolerable duty ' Depart ! ' 

' Jane, you understand what I want of you ? Just this 
promise " I will be yours, Mr. Rochester." ' 

' Mr. Rochester, I will not be yours.' 

Another long silence. 

' Jane ! ' recommenced he, with a gentleness that broke 
me down with grief, and turned me stone-cold with ominous 
terror for this still voice was the pant of a lion rising 



JANE EYBE 385 

' Jane, do you mean to go one way in the world, and to let 
me go another ? ' 

'I do.' 

' Jane ' (bending towards and embracing me), ' do you 
mean it now ? ' 

' I do.' 

' And now ? ' softly kissing my forehead and cheek. 

' I do ' extricating myself from restraint rapidly and 
completely. 

' Oh, Jane, this is bitter ! This this is wicked. It would 
not be wicked to love me.' 

1 It would to obey you.' 

A wild look raised his brows crossed his features : he 
rose ; but he forbore yet. I laid my hand on the back of a 
chair for support : I shook, I feared but I resolved. 

1 One instant, Jane. Give one glance to my horrible life 
when you are gone. All happiness will be torn away with 
you. What then is left ? For a wife I have but the maniac 
upstairs : as well might you refer me to some corpse in 
yonder churchyard. What shall I do, Jane ? Where turn 
for a companion, and for some hope ? ' 

1 Do as I do : trust in God and yourself. Believe in 
heaven. Hope to meet again there.' 

1 Then you will not yield ? ' 

'No.' 

'Then you condemn me to live wretched, and to die 
accursed ? ' His voice rose. 

' I advise you to live sinless ; and I wish you to die 
tranquil.' 

1 Then you snatch love and innocence from me ? You 
fling me back on lust for a passion vice for an occupa- 
tion ? ' 

' Mr. Eochester, I no more assign this fate to you than I 
grasp at it for myself. We were born to strive and endure 
you as well as I : do so. You will forget me before I forget 
you.' 

' You make me a liar by such language : you sully my 

00 



386 JANE EYEE 

honour. I declared I could not change : you tell me to my 
face I shall change soon. And what a distortion in your 
judgment, what a perversity in your ideas, is proved by your 
conduct ! Is it better to drive a fellow-creature to despair 
than to transgress a mere human law no man being injured 
by the breach ? for you have neither relatives nor acquain- 
tances whom you need fear to offend by living with me.' 

This was true : and while he spoke my very conscience 
and reason turned traitors against me, and charged me with 
crime in resisting him. They spoke almost as loud as 
Feeling : and that clamoured wildly. ' Oh, comply ! ' it said. 
1 Think of his misery ; think of his danger look at his state 
when left alone ; remember his headlong nature ; consider the 
recklessness following on despair soothe him; save him; 
love him ; tell him you love him and will be his. Who in the 
world cares for you ? or who will be injured by what you do ? ' 

Still indomitable was the reply ' I care for myself. The 
more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained I 
am, the more I will respect myself. I will keep the law 
given by God ; sanctioned by man. I will hold to the prin- 
ciples received by me when I was sane, and not mad as I am 
now. Laws and principles are not for the times when there 
is no temptation : they are for such moments as this, when 
body and soul rise in mutiny against their rigour ; stringent 
are they; inviolate they shall be. If at my individual 
convenience I might break them, what would be their worth ? 
They have a worth so I have always believed ; and if I 
cannot believe it now, it is because I am insane quite 
insane : with my veins running fire, and my heart beating 
faster than I can count its throbs. Preconceived opinions, 
foregone determinations, are all I have at this hour to stand 
by : there I plant my foot.' 

I did. Mr. Rochester, reading my countenance, saw I 
had done so. His fury was wrought to the highest : he 
must yield to it for a moment, whatever followed ; he crossed 
the floor and seized my arm, and grasped my waist. He 
seemed to devour me with his flaming glance : physically, I 



JANE EYEE 387 

felt, at the moment, powerless as stubble exposed to the 
draught and glow of a furnace mentally, I still possessed 
my soul, and with it the certainty of ultimate safety. The 
soul, fortunately, has an interpreter often an unconscious, 
but still a truthful interpreter in the eye. My eye rose to 
his ; and while I looked in his fierce face, I gave an involun- 
tary sigh : his grip was painful, and my overtasked strength 
almost exhausted. 

' Never,' said he, as he ground his teeth, ' never was 
anything at once so frail and so indomitable. A mere reed 
she feels in my hand ! ' (And he shook me with the force 
of his hold.) ' I could bend her with my finger and thumb : 
and what good would it do if I bent, if I uptore, if I crushed 
her ? Consider that eye : consider the resolute, wild, free 
thing looking out of it, defying me, with more than courage 
with a stern triumph. Whatever I do with its cage, I 
cannot get at it the savage, beautiful creature ! If I tear, 
if I rend the slight prison, my outrage will only let the 
captive loose. Conqueror I might be of the house ; but the 
inmate would escape to heaven before I could call myself 
possessor of its clay dwelling-place. And it is you, spirit : 
with will and energy, and virtue and purity that I want : 
not alone your brittle frame. Of yourself, you could come 
with soft flight and nestle against my heart, if you would : 
seized against your will you will elude the grasp like an 
essence you will vanish ere I inhale your fragrance. Oh 1 
come, Jane, come ! ' 

As he said this he released me from his clutch, and only 
looked at me. The look was far worse to resist than the 
frantic strain : only an idiot, however, would have suc- 
cumbed now. I had dared and baffled his fury; I must 
elude his sorrow : I retired to the door. 

1 You are going, Jane ? ' 

' I am going, sir.' 

1 You are leaving me ? ' 

1 Yes.' 

1 You will not come ? You will not be my comforter, my 



388 JANE EYEE 

rescuer ? My deep love, my wild woe, my frantic prayer, 
are all nothing to you ? ' 

What unutterable pathos was in his voice ! How hard 
it was to reiterate firmly, ' I am going.' 

' Jane ! ' 

' Mr. Eochester ! ' 

' Withdraw, then, I consent but remember, you leave 
me here in anguish. Go up to your own room ; think over 
all I have said, and, Jane, cast a glance on my sufferings 
think of me.' 

He turned away ; he threw himself on his face on the 
sofa. ' Oh, Jane ! my hope my love my life ! ' broke in 
anguish from his lips. Then came a deep, strong sob. 

I had already gained the door: but, reader, I walked 
back walked back as determinedly as I had retreated. I 
knelt down by him ; I turned his face from the cushion to 
me ; I kissed his cheek ; I smoothed his hair with my hand. 

' God bless you, my dear master ! ' I said. ' God keep 
you from harm and wrong direct you, solace you reward 
you well for your past kindness to me.' 

' Little Jane's love would have been my best reward/ he 
answered: 'without it, my heart is broken. But Jane will 
give me her love : yes nobly, generously.' 

Up the blood rushed to his face ; forth flashed the fire 
from his eyes ; erect he sprang ; he held his arms out ; but 
I evaded the embrace, and at once quitted the room. 

' Farewell ! ' was the cry of my heart as I left him. 
Despair added, ' Farewell, for ever ! ' 

That night I never thought to sleep ; but a slumber fell 
on me as soon as I lay down in bed. I was transported in 
thought to the scenes of childhood ; I dreamt I lay in the 
red-room at Gateshead ; that the night was dark, and my 
mind impressed with strange fears. The light that long ago 
had struck me into syncope, recalled in this vision, seemed 
glidingly to mount the wall, and tremblingly to pause in the 
centre of the obscured ceiling. I lifted up my head to look : 



JANE MK 389 

the roof resolved to clouds, high and dim ; the gleam was 
such as the moon imparts to vapours she is about to sever. 
I watched her come watched with the strangest anticipa- 
tion ; as though some word of doom were to be written on 
her disk. She broke forth as never moon yet burst from 
cloud : a hand first penetrated the sable folds and waved 
them away; then, not a moon, but a white human form 
shone in the azure, inclining a glorious brow earthward. It 
gazed and gazed on me. It spoke to my spirit : immeasurably 
distant was the tone, yet so near, it whispered in my heart 
' My daughter, flee temptation ! ' 
' Mother, I will.' 

So I answered after I had waked from the trance-like 
dream. It was yet night, but July nights are short : soon 
after midnight dawn comes. ' It cannot be too early to 
commence the task I have to fulfil,' thought I. I rose : I 
was dressed ; for I had taken off nothing but my shoes. I 
knew where to find in my drawers some linen, a locket, a 
ring. In seeking these articles I encountered the beads of a 
pearl necklace Mr. Rochester had forced me to accept a few 
days ago. I left that ; it was not mine : it was the visionary 
bride's, who had melted in air. The other articles I made 
up in a parcel ; my purse, containing twenty shillings (it was 
all I had), I put in my pocket : I tied on my straw bonnet, 
pinned my shawl, took the parcel and my slippers, which I 
would not put on yet, and stole from my room. 

1 Farewell, kind Mrs. Fairfax ! ' I whispered, as I glided 
past her door. ' Farewell, my darling Adele ! ' I said, as I 
glanced towards the nursery. No thought could be admitted 
of entering to embrace her. I had to deceive a fine ear : for 
aught I knew, it might now be listening. 

I would have got past Mr. Rochester's chamber without 
a pause ; but my heart momentarily stopping its beat at that 
threshold, my foot was forced to stop also. No sleep was 
there : the inmate was walking restlessly from wall to wall ; 
and again and again he sighed while I listened. There was 
a heaven a temporary heaven in this room for me, if I 



390 JANE EYRE 

chose : I had but to go in and to say ' Mr. Rochester, I will 
love you and live with you through life till death,' and a 
fount of rapture would spring to my lips. I thought of 
this. 

That kind master, who could not sleep now, was waiting 
with impatience for day. He would send for me in the 
morning ; I should be gone. He would have me sought for : 
vainly. He would feel himself forsaken ; his love rejected : 
he would suffer ; perhaps grow desperate. I thought of this 
too. My hand moved towards the lock ; I caught it back, 
and glided on. 

Drearily I wound my way downstairs : I knew what I 
had to do, and I did it mechanically. I sought the key of 
the side-door in the kitchen ; I sought, too, a phial of oil and 
a feather ; I oiled the key and the lock. I got some water, 
I got some bread : for perhaps I should have to walk far ; 
and my strength, sorely shaken of late, must not break down. 
All this I did without one sound. I opened the door, passed 
out, shut it softly. Dim dawn glimmered in the yard. The 
great gates were closed and locked ; but a wicket in one of 
them was only latched. Through that I departed : it, too, I 
shut ; and now I was out of Thornfield. 

A mile off, beyond the fields, lay a road which stretched 
in the contrary direction to Millcote ; a road I had never 
travelled, but often noticed, and wondered where it led : 
thither I bent my steps. No reflection was to be allowed 
now : not one glance was to be cast back ; not even one 
forward. Not one thought was to be given either to the past 
or the future. The first was a page so heavenly sweet so 
deadly sad that to read one line of it would dissolve my 
courage and break down my energy. The last was an awful 
blank : something like the world when the deluge was gone 
by. 

I skirted fields, and hedges, and lanes, till after sunrise. I 
believe it was a lovely summer morning : I know my shoes, 
which I had put on when I left the house, were soon wet 
with dew. But I looked neither to rising sun, nor smiling 



JANE EYEE 391 

sky, nor wakening nature. He who i-s taken out to pass 
through a fair scene to the scaffold thinks not of the flowers 
that smile on his road, but of the block and axe-edge ; of the 
disseverment of bone and vein ; of the grave gaping at the 
end : and I thought of drear flight and homeless wandering 
and, oh ! with agony I thought of what I left. I could 
not help it. I thought of him now in his room watching 
the sunrise; hoping I should soon come to say I would 
stay with him, and be his. I longed to be his ; I panted to 
return : it was not too late ; I could yet spare him the bitter 
pang of bereavement. As yet my flight, I was sure, was undis- 
covered. I could go back and be his comforter his pride ; 
his redeemer from misery ; perhaps from ruin. Oh, that 
fear of his self-abandonment far worse than my abandon- 
ment how it goaded me ! It was a barbed arrow- 
head in my breast ; it tore me when I tried to extract it ; it 
sickened me when remembrance thrust it further in. Birds 
began singing in brake and copse : birds were faithful to 
their mates ; birds were emblems of love. What was I ? 
In the midst of my pain of heart, and frantic effort of 
principle, I abhorred myself. I had no solace from self 
approbation : none even from self-respect. I had injured 
wounded- left my master. I was hateful in my own eyes. 
Still I could not turn, nor retrace one step. God must have 
led me on. As to my own will or conscience, impassioned 
grief had trampled one and stifled the other. I was weeping 
wildly as I walked along my solitary way : fast, fast I went, 
like one delirious. A weakness, beginning inwardly, extend- 
ing to the limbs, seized me, and I fell : I lay on the ground 
some minutes, pressing my face to the wet turf. I had some 
fear or hope that here I should die : but I was soon up ; 
crawling forwards on my hands and knees, and then again 
raised to my feet as eager and as determined as ever to 
reach the road. 

When I got there I was forced to sit to rest me under 
the hedge ; and while I sat, I heard wheels, and saw a coach 
come on. I stood up and lifted my hand; it stopped. I 



392 JANE EYRE 

asked where it was going : the driver named a place a long 
way off, and where I was sure Mr. Rochester had no con- 
nections. I asked for what sum he would take me there ; 
he said thirty shillings ; I answered I had but twenty ; well, 
he would try to make it do. He further gave me leave to 
get into the inside, as the vehicle was empty : I entered, was 
shut in, and it rolled on its way. 

Gentle reader, may you never feel what I then felt ! 
May your eyes never shed such stormy, scalding, heart-wrung 
tears as poured from mine. May you never appeal to 
Heaven in prayers so hopeless and so agonised as in that 
hour left my lips : for never may you, like me, dread to be 
the instrument of evil to what you wholly love. 



CHAPTER XXVIII 

Two days are passed. It is a summer evening ; the coach- 
mafi has set me down at a place called Whitcross ; he could 
take me no farther for the sum I had given, and I was not 
possessed of another shilling in the world. The coach is a 
mile off by this time ; I am alone. At this moment I dis- 
cover that I forgot to take my parcel out of the pocket of the 
coach, where I had placed it for safety ; there it remains, 
there it must remain ; and now, I am absolutely destitute. 

Whitcross is no town, nor even a hamlet ; it is but a stone 
pillar set up where four roads meet : white-washed, I suppose, 
to be more obvious at a distance and in darkness. Four 
arms spring from its summit : the nearest town to which 
these point is, according to the inscription, distant ten miles ; 
the farthest, above twenty. From the well-known names of 
these towns I learn in what county I have lighted ; a north- 
midland shire, dusk with moorland, ridged with mountain : 
this I see. There are great moors behind and on each hand 
of me ; there are waves of mountains far beyond that deep 
valley at my feet. The population here must be thin, and I 
see no passengers on these roads : they stretch out east, west, 
north, and south white, broad, lonely ; they are all cut in 
the moor, and the heather grows deep and wild to their very 
verge. Yet a chance traveller might pass by ; and I wish 
no eye to see me now : strangers would wonder what I am 
doing, lingering here at the sign-post, evidently objectless 
and lost. I might be questioned : I could give no answer 
but what would sound incredible and excite suspicion. Not 
a tie holds me to human society at this moment not a 
charm or hope calls me where my fellow-creatures are none 



394 JANE EYBE 

that saw me would have a kind thought or a good wish for 
me. I have no relative but the universal mother, Nature : I 
will seek her breast and ask repose. 

I struck straight into the heath ; I held on to a hollow 
I saw deeply furrowing the brown moorside ; I waded knee- 
deep in its dark growth ; I turned with its turnings, and 
finding a moss-blackened granite crag in a hidden angle, I 
sat down under it. High banks of moor were about me ; the 
crag protected my head : the sky was over that. 

Some time passed before I felt tranquil even hero : I had 
a vague dread that wild cattle might be near, or that some 
sportsman or poacher might discover me. If a gust of wind 
swept the waste, I looked up, fearing it was the rush of a bull ; 
if a plover whistled, I imagined it a man. Finding my 
apprehensions unfounded, however, and calmed by the deep 
silence that reigned as evening declined at nightfall, I took 
confidence. As yet I had not thought ; I had only listened, 
watched, dreaded ; now I regained the faculty of reflection. 

What was I to do? Where to go? Oh, intolerable 
questions, when I could do nothing and go nowhere ! when 
a long way must yet be measured by my weary, trembling 
limbs, before I could reach human habitation when cold 
charity must be entreated before I could get a lodging : 
reluctant sympathy importuned : almost certain repulse 
incurred : before my tale could be listened to, or one of my 
wants relieved ! 

I touched the heath : it was dry, and yet warm with the 
heat of the summer-day. I looked at the sky ; it was pure : 
a kindly star twinkled just above the chasm ridge. The dew 
fell, but with propitious softness ; no breeze whispered. 
Nature seemed to me benign and good ; I thought she loved 
me, outcast as I was ; and I, who from man could anticipate 
only mistrust, rejection, insult, clung to her with filial 
fondness. To-night, at least, I would be her guest as I 
was her child : my mother would lodge me without money 
and without price. I had one morsel of bread yet: the 
remnant of a roll I had bought in a town we passed through 



JANE EYRE 395 

at noon with a stray penny my last coin. I saw ripe bil- 
berries gleaming here and there, like jet beads in the heath : 
I gathered a handful and ate them with the bread. My 
hunger, sharp before, was, if not satisfied, appeased by this 
hermit's meal. I said my evening prayers at its conclusion, 
and then chose my couch. 

Beside the crag the heath was very deep : when I lay 
down my feet were buried in it ; rising high on each side, it 
left only a narrow space for the night-air to invade. I folded 
my shawl double, and spread it over me for a coverlet ; a 
low, mossy swell was my pillow. Thus lodged, I was not, 
at least at the commencement of the night, cold. 

My rest might have been blissful enough, only a sad heart 
broke it. It plained of its gaping wounds, its inward bleed- 
ing, its riven chords. It trembled for Mr. Rochester and his 
doom : it bemoaned him with bitter pity ; it demanded him 
with ceaseless longing : and, impotent as a bird with both 
wings broken, it still quivered its shattered pinions in vain 
attempts to seek him. 

Worn out with this torture of thought, I rose to my 
knees. Night was come, and her planets were risen : a safe, 
still night ; too serene for the companionship of fear. We 
know that God is everywhere ; but certainly we feel His 
presence most when His works are on the grandest scale 
spread before us : and it is in the unclouded night-sky, where 
His worlds wheel their silent course, that we read clearest 
His infinitude, His omnipotence, His omnipresence. I had 
risen to my knees to pray for Mr. Rochester. Looking up, 
I, with tear-dimmed eyes, saw the mighty Milky Way. Re- 
membering what it was what countless systems there swept 
space like a soft trace of light I felt the might and strength 
of God. Sure was I of His efficiency to save what He had 
made : convinced I grew that neither earth should perish 
nor one of the souls it treasured. I turned my prayer to 
thanksgiving : the Source of Life was also the Saviour of 
spirits, Mr, Rochester was safe : he was God's, and by God 



896 JANE EYBE 

would he be guarded. I again nestled to the breast of the 
hill ; and ere long, in sleep, forgot sorrow. 

But next day Want came to me, pale and bare. Long 
after the little birds had left their nests ; long after bees 
had come in the sweet prime of day to gather the heath 
honey before the dew was dried when the long morning 
shadows were curtailed, and the sun filled earth and sky I 
got up, and I looked round me. 

What a still, hot, perfect day ! What a golden desert 
this spreading moor ! Everywhere sunshine. I wished I 
could live in it and on it. I saw a lizard run over the crag ; 
I saw a bee busy among the sweet bilberries. I would fain 
at the moment have become bee or lizard, that I might have 
found fitting nutriment, permanent shelter here. But I was 
a human being, and had a human being's wants : I must not 
linger where there was nothing to supply them. I rose ; I 
looked back at the bed I had left. Hopeless of the future, I 
wished but this that my Maker had that night thought 
good to require my soul of me while I slept ; and that this 
weary frame, absolved by death from further conflict with 
fate, had now but to decay quietly, and mingle in peace with 
the soil of this wilderness. Life, however, was yet in my 
possession; with all its requirements, and pains, and re- 
sponsibilities. The burden must be carried ; the want pro- 
vided for ; the suffering endured ; the responsibili ty fulfilled. 
I set out. 

Whitcross regained, I followed a road which led from the 
sun, now fervent and high. By no other circumstance had 
I will to decide my choice. I walked a long time, and when 
I thought I had nearly done enough, and might conscientiously 
yield to the fatigue that almost overpowered me might relax 
this forced action, and, sitting down on a stone I saw near, 
submit resistlessly to the apathy that clogged heart and limb 
I heard a bell chime a church bell. 

I turned in the direction of the sound, and there, amongst 
the romantic hills, whose changes and aspect I had ceased to 
note an hour ago, I saw a hamlet and a spire. All the 



JANE UY&E 397 



valley at my right hand was full of pasture -fields, and corn- 
fields, and wood ; and a glittering stream ran zig-zag 
through the varied shades of green, the mellowing grain, the 
sombre wood-land, the clear and sunny lea. Eecalled by the 
rumbling of wheels to the road before me, I saw a heavily- 
laden waggon labouring up the hill ; and not far beyond were 
two cows and their drover. Human life and human labour 
were near. I must struggle on : strive to live and bend to toil 
like the rest. 

About two o'clock P.M. I entered the village. At the 
bottom of its one street there was a little shop with some 
cakes of bread in the window. I coveted a cake of bread. 
With that refreshment I could perhaps regain a degree of 
energy; without it, it would be difficult to proceed. The 
wish to have some strength and some vigour returned to me 
as soon as I was amongst my fellow-beings. I felt it would 
be degrading to faint with hunger on the causeway of a 
hamlet. Had I nothing about me I could offer in exchange 
for one of these rolls? I considered. I had a small silk 
handkerchief tied round my throat; I had my gloves. I 
could hardly tell how men and women in extremities of 
destitution proceeded. I did not know whether either of 
these articles would be accepted : probably they would not ; 
but I must try. 

I entered the shop : a woman was there. Seeing a re- 
spectably-dressed person, a lady as she supposed, she came 
forward with civility. How could she serve me? I was 
seized with shame : my tongue would not utter the request 
I had prepared. I dared not offer her the half-worn gloves, 
the creased handkerchief : besides, I felt it would be absurd. 
I only begged permission to sit down a moment, as I was 
tired. Disappointed in the expectation of a customer, she 
coolly acceded to my request. She pointed to a seat ; I sank 
into it. I felt sorely urged to weep ; but conscious how un- 
seasonable such a manifestation would be, I restrained it. 
Soon I asked her, ' if there were any dressmaker or plain- 
work-woman in the village ? ' 



398 JANE EYRE 

' Yes ; two or three. Quite as many as there was em- 
ployment for.' 

I reflected. I was driven to the point now. I was 
brought face to face with Necessity. I stood in the position 
of one without a resource : without a friend ; without a coin. 
I must do something. What ? I must apply somewhere 
Where? 

1 Did she know of any place in the neighbourhood where 
a servant was wanted ? ' 

' Nay ; she couldn't say.' 

' What was the chief trade in this place ? What did most 
of the people do ? ' 

' Some were farm labourers ; a good deal worked at Mr. 
Oliver's needle-factory, and at the foundry.' 

1 Did Mr. Oliver employ women ? ' 

' Nay ; it was men's work.' 

' And what do the women do ? ' 

' I knawn't,' was the answer. ' Some does one thing, 
and some another. Poor folk mun get on as they can.' 

She seemed to be tired of my questions : and, indeed, 
what claim had I to importune her ? A neighbour or two 
came in ; my chair was evidently wanted. I took leave. 

I passed up the street, looking as I went at all the houses 
to the right hand and to the left : but I could discover no 
pretext, nor see an inducement, to enter any. I rambled 
round the hamlet, going sometimes to a little distance and 
returning again, for an hour or more. Much exhausted, and 
suffering greatly now for want of food, I turned aside into a 
lane and sat down under the hedge. Ere many minutes had 
elapsed I was again on my feet, however, and again search- 
ing' for something a resource, or at least an informant. A 
pretty little house stood at the top of the lane, with a garden 
before it; exquisitely neat, and brilliantly blooming. I 
stopped at it. What business had I to approach the white 
door or touch the glittering knocker ? In what way could it 
possibly be the interest of the inhabitants of that dwelling to 
serve me ? Yet I drew near and knocked. A mild-looking, 



JANE EYEE 399 

cleanly-attired young woman opened the door. In such a 
voice as might be expected from a hopeless heart and fainting 
frame a voice wretchedly low and faltering I asked if a 
servant was wanted here ? 

1 No,' said she ; ' we do not keep a servant.' 

' Can you tell me where I could get employment of any 
kind?' I continued. 'I am a stranger, without acquaint- 
ance, in this place. I want some work : no matter what.' 

But it was not her business to think for me, or to seek a 
place for me : besides, in her eyes, how doubtful must have 
appeared my character, position, tale. She shook her head ; 
she ' was sorry she could give me no information,' and the 
white door closed, quite gently and civilly : but it shut me 
out. If she had held it open a little longer, I believe I 
should have begged a piece of bread ; for I was now brought 
low. 

I could not bear to return to the sordid village ; where, 
besides, no prospect of aid was visible. I should have longed 
rather to deviate to a wood I saw not far off, which appeared 
in its thick shade to offer inviting shelter ; but I was so sick, 
so weak, so gnawed with nature's cravings, instinct kept me 
roaming round abodes where there was a chance of food. 
Solitude would be no solitude rest no rest while the 
vulture, hunger, thus sank beak and talons in my side. 

I drew near houses ; I left them, and came back again, 
and again I wandered away : always repelled by the con- 
sciousness of having no claim to ask no right to expect 
interest in my isolated lot. Meantime the afternoon 
advanced, while I thus wandered about like a lost and 
starving dog. In crossing a field I saw the church spire 
before me : I hastened towards it. Near the churchyard, 
and in the middle of a garden, stood a well-built though 
small house, which I had no doubt was the parsonage. I 
remembered that strangers who arrive at a place where they 
have no friends, and who want employment, sometimes 
apply to the clergyman for introduction and aid. It is the 
clergyman's function to help at least with advice those 



400 JANE EYRE 

who wished to help themselves. I seemed to have some- 
thing like a right to seek counsel here. Renewing, then, my 
courage, and gathering my feeble remains of strength, I 
pushed on. I reached the house, and knocked at the 
kitchen-door. An old woman opened : I asked was this the 
parsonage ? 

' Yes.' 

' Was the clergyman in ? ' 

'No.' 

' Would he be in soon ? ' 

' No, he was gone from home.' 

' To a distance ? ' 

'Not so far happen three mile. He had been called 
away by the sudden death of his father : he was at Marsh 
End now, and would very likely stay there a fortnight 
longer.' 

' Was there any lady of the house ? ' 

' Nay, there was naught but her, and she was house- 
keeper ; ' and of her, reader, I could not bear to ask the 
relief for want of which I was sinking ; I could not yet beg ; 
and again I crawled away. 

Once more I took off my handkerchief once more I 
thought of the cakes of bread in the little shop. Oh, for 
but a crust ! for but one mouthful to allay the pang of 
famine ! Instinctively I turned my face again to the village ; 
I found the shop again, and I went in ; and though others 
were there besides the woman, I ventured the request : 
' Would she give me a roll for this handkerchief ? ' 

She looked at me with evident suspicion : ' Nay, she 
never sold stuff i' that way.' 

Almost desperate, I asked for half a cake ; she again 
refused. ' How could she tell where I had got the hand- 
kerchief ? ' she said. 

' Would she take my gloves ? ' 

' No ! what could she do with them ? ' 

Reader, it is not pleasant to dwell on these details. Some 
say there is enjoyment in looking back to painful experience 




HATHERSAGE CHURCH (.MORTON) 



JANE EYEE 401 

past ; but at this day I can scarcely bear to review the times 
to which I allude : the moral degradation, blent with the 
physical suffering, form too distressing a recollection ever to 
be willingly dwelt on. I blamed none of those who repulsed 
me. I felt it was what was to be expected, and what could 
not be helped : an ordinary beggar is frequently an object of 
suspicion ; a well-dressed beggar inevitably so. To be sure 
what I begged was employment : but whose business was it 
to provide me with employment? Not, certainly, that of 
persons who saw me then for the first time, and who knew 
nothing about my character. And as to the woman who 
would not take my handkerchief in exchange for her bread, 
why, she was right ; if the offer appeared to her sinister, or 
the exchange unprofitable. Let me condense now. I am 
sick of the subject. 

A little before dark I passed a farm-house, at the open 
door of which the farmer was sitting, eating his supper of 
bread and cheese ; I stopped, and said : ' Will you give me 
a piece of bread ? for I am very hungry.' He cast on me a 
glance of surprise ; but without answering he cut a thick slice 
from his loaf, and gave it to me. I imagine he did not think 
I was a beggar, but only an eccentric sort of lady, who had 
taken a fancy to his brown loaf. As soon as I was out of 
sight of his house, I sat down and ate it. 

I could not hope to get a lodging under a roof, and 
sought it in the wood I have before alluded to. But my 
night was wretched, my rest broken : the ground was damp, 
the air cold : besides intruders passed near me more than 
once, and I had again and again to change my quarters : no 
sense of safety or tranquillity befriended me. Towards 
morning it rained ; the whole of the following day was wet. 
Do not ask me, reader, to give a minute account of that day ; 
as before, I sought work; as before, I was repulsed; as 
before, I starved ; but once did food pass my lips. At the 
door of a cottage I saw a little girl about to throw a mess of 
cold porridge into a pig trough. ' Will you give me that ? ' 
I asked, 



402 JANE EYRE 

She stared at me. ' Mother ! ' she exclaimed ; ' there is 
a woman wants me to give her these porridge.' 

' Well, lass,' replied a voice within, ' give it her if she's a 
beggar. T' pig doesn't want it.' 

The girl emptied the stiffened mould into my hand, and I 
devoured it ravenously. 

As the wet 'twilight deepened, I stopped in a solitary 
bridle-path, which I had been pursuing an hour or more. 

' My strength is quite failing me,' I said, in soliloquy. 
1 1 feel I cannot go much further. Shall I be an outcast 
again this night ? While the rain descends so, must I lay 
my head on the cold, drenched ground ? I fear I cannot do 
otherwise : for who will receive me ? But it will be very 
dreadful : with this feeling of hunger, faintness, chill, and 
this sense of desolation this total prostration of hope. In 
all likelihood, though, I should die before morning. And 
why cannot I reconcile myself to the prospect of death? 
Why do I struggle to retain a valueless life ? Because I 
know, or believe, Mr. Eochester is still living : and then, to 
die of want and cold, is .a fate to which nature cannot 
submit passively. Oh, Providence ! sustain me a little 
longer ! Aid direct me ! ' 

My glazed eye wandered over the dim and misty land- 
scape. I saw I had strayed far from the village : it was 
quite out of sight. The very cultivation surrounding it had 
disappeared. I had; by cross-ways and by-paths, once more 
drawn near the tract of moorland ; and now, only a few 
fields, almost as wild and unproductive as the heath from 
which they were scarcely reclaimed, lay between me and the 
dusky hilL 

' Well, I would rather die yonder than in a street, or on 
a frequented road,' I reflected. ' And far better that crows 
and ravens if any ravens there be in these regions should 
pick my flesh from my bones, than that they should be prisoned 
in a workhouse coffin and moulder in a pauper's grave.' 

To the hill, then, I turned. I reached it. It remained 
now only to find a hollow where I could lie down, and feel 



JANE EYRE 403 

at least hidden, if not secure : but all the surface of the 
waste looked level. It showed no variation but of tint ; 
green, where rush and moss overgrew the marshes ; black, 
where the dry soil bore only heath. Dark as it was getting, 
I could still see these changes ; though but as mere alterna- 
tions of light and shade : for colour had faded with the day- 
light. 

My eye still roved over the sullen swell, and along the 
moor-edge, vanishing amidst the wildest scenery ; when at 
one dim point, far in among the marshes and the ridges, a 
light sprang up. 'That is an ignis fatuus,' was my first 
thought ; and I expected it would soon vanish. It burnt on, 
however, quite steadily ; neither receding nor advancing. 
1 Is it, then, a bonfire just kindled ? ' I questioned. I 
watched to see whether it would spread : but no ; as it did 
not diminish, so it did not enlarge. ' It may be a candle in 
a house,' I then conjectured : ' but if so, I can never reach 
it. It is much too far away : and were it within a yard of 
me, what would it avail ? I should but knock at the door 
to have it shut in my face.' 

And I sank down where I stood, and hid my face against 
the ground. I lay still a while : the night- wind swept over 
the hill and over me, and died moaning in the distance ; the 
rain fell fast, wetting me afresh to the skin. Could I but 
have stiffened to the still frost the friendly numbness of 
death it might have pelted on : I should not have felt it ; 
but my yet living flesh shuddered to its chilling influence. 
I rose ere long. 

The light was yet there : shining dim, but constant, 
through the rain. I tried to walk again : I dragged my 
exhausted limbs slowly towards it. It led me aslant over 
the hill, through a wide bog; which would have been 
impassable in winter, and was splashy and shaking even 
now, in the height of summer. Here I fell twice ; but as 
often I rose and rallied my faculties. This light was my 
forlorn hope : I must gain it. 

Having crossed the marsh, I saw a trace of white over 



404 JANE EYKE 

the moor. I approached it ; it was a road or a track : it led 
straight up to the light, which now beamed from a sort of 
knoll, amidst a clump of trees firs, apparently, from what 
I could distinguish of the character of their forms and foliage 
through the gloom. My star vanished as I drew near : 
some obstacle had intervened between me and it. I put out 
my hand to feel the dark mass before me ; I discriminated 
the rough stones of a low wall above it, something like 
palisades, and within, a high and prickly hedge. I groped on. 
Again a whitish object gleamed before me : it was a gate a 
wicket ; it moved on its hinges as I touched it. On each 
side stood a sable bush holly or yew. 

Entering the gate and passing the shrubs, the silhouette 
of a house rose to view ; black, low, and rather long ; but 
the guiding light shone nowhere. All was obscurity. Were 
the inmates retired to rest? I feared it must be so. In 
seeking the door, I turned an angle : there shot out the 
friendly gleam again, from the lozenged panes of a very 
small latticed window, within a foot of the ground ; made 
still smaller by the growth of ivy or some other creeping 
plant, whose leaves clustered thick over the portion of the 
house wall in which it was set. The aperture was so 
screened and narrow that curtain or shutter had been 
deemed unnecessary ; and when I stooped down and put 
aside the spray of foliage shooting over it, I could see all 
within. I could see clearly a room with a sanded floor, 
clean scoured; a dresser of walnut, with pewter plates 
ranged in rows, reflecting the redness and radiance of a 
glowing peat-fire. I could see a clock, a white deal table, 
some chairs. The candle, whose ray had been my beacon, 
burnt on the table; and by its light an elderly woman, 
somewhat rough-looking, but scrupulously clean, like all 
about her, was knitting a stocking. 

I noticed these objects cursorily only in them there was 
nothing extraordinary. A group of more interest appeared 
near the hearth, sitting still amidst the rosy peace and 
warmth suffusing it. Two young, graceful women ladies 



JANE EYBE 405 

in every point sat, one in a low rocking-chair, the other on 
a lower stool; both wore deep mourning of crape and 
bombazeen, which sombre garb singularly set off very fair 
necks and faces : a large old pointer dog rested its massive 
head on the knee of one girl in the lap of the other was 
cushioned a black cat. 

A strange place was this humble kitchen for such 
occupants! Who were they? They could not be the 
daughters of the elderly person at the table ; for she looked 
like a rustic, and they were all delicacy and cultivation. I 
had nowhere seen such faces as theirs : and yet, as I gazed on 
them, I seemed intimate with every lineament. I cannot 
call them handsome they were too pale and grave for the 
word : as they each bent over a book, they looked thoughtful 
almost to severity. A stand between them supported a second 
candle and two great volumes, to which they frequently 
referred ; comparing them seemingly with the smaller books 
they held in their hands, like people consulting a dictionary 
to aid them in the task of translation. This scene was as 
silent as if all the figures had been shadows, and the fire-lit 
apartment a picture : so hushed was it, I could hear the 
cinders fall from the grate, the clock tick in its obscure 
corner ; and I even fancied I could distinguish the click-click 
of the woman's knitting-needles. When, therefore, a voice 
broke the strange stillness at last, it was audible enough to 
me. 

' Listen, Diana,' said one of the absorbed students ; 
1 Franz and old Daniel are together in the night-time, and 
Franz is telling a dream from which he has awakened in 
terror listen ! ' And in a low voice she read something, of 
which not one word was intelligible to me ; for it was in an 
unknown tongue neither French nor Latin. Whether it 
were Greek or German I could not tell. 

' That is strong,' she said, when she had finished : ' I 
relish it.' The other girl, who had lifted her head to listen 
to her sister, repeated, while she gazed at the fire, a line of 
what had been read. At a later day, I knew the language 



406 JANE EYEE 

and the book ; therefore I will here quote the line : though 
when I first heard it it was only like a stroke on sounding 
brass to me conveying no meaning : ' " Da trat hervor 
Einer, anzusehen wie die Sternen Nacht." Good ! good ! ' 
she exclaimed, while her dark and deep eye sparkled. 
' There you have a dim and mighty archangel fitly set before 
you ! The line is worth a hundred pages of fustian. " Ich 
wage die Gedanken in der Schale meines Zornes und die 
Werke mit dem Gewichte meines Grimms." I like it 1 ' 

Both were again silent. 

' Is there ony country where they talk i' that way ? ' 
asked the old woman, looking up from her knitting. 

' Yes, Hannah a far larger country than England ; 
where they talk in no other way.' 

' Well, for sure case, I knawn't how they can understand 
t' one t' other : and if either o' ye went there, ye could tell 
what they said, I guess ? ' 

' We could probably tell something of what they said, 
but not all for we are not as clever as you think us, 
Hannah. We don't speak German, nd we cannot read it 
without a dictionary to help us.' 

1 And what good does it do you ? ' 

' We mean to teach it some time or at least the elements, 
as they say ; and then we shall get more money than we do 
now.' 

1 Varry like : but give ower studying : ye've done enough 
for to-night.' 

' I think we have : at least I'm tired. Mary, are you ? ' 

1 Mortally : after all, it's tough work fagging away at a 
language with no master but a lexicon.' 

'It is : especially such a language as this crabbed but 
glorious Deutsch. I wonder when St. John will come 
home.' 

' Surely he will not be long now : it is just ten ' (looking 
at a little gold watch she drew from her girdle). ' It rains 
fast. Hannah, will you have the goodness to look at the 
fire in the parlour ? ' 



JANE EYKE 407 

The woman rose : she opened a door, through which I 
dimly saw a passage : soon I heard her stir a fire in an inner 
room ; she presently came back. 

' Ah, childer ! ' said she, ' it fair troubles me to go into 
yond' room now : it looks so lonesome wi' the chair empty 
and set back in a corner.' 

She wiped her eyes with her apron : the two girls, grave 
before, looked sad now. 

'But he is in a better place/ continued Hannah: 'we 
shouldn't wish him here again. And then, nobody need to 
have a quieter death nor he had.' 

' You say he never mentioned us ? ' inquired one of the 
ladies. 

' He hadn't time, bairn : he was gone in a minute was 
your father. He had been a bit ailing like the day before, 
but naught to signify ; and when Mr. St. John asked if he 
would like either o' ye to be sent for, he fair laughed at him. 
He began again with a bit of a heaviness in his head the 
next day that is, a fortnight sin' and he went to sleep and 
niver wakened : he wor' a'most stark when your brother 
went into t" chamber and fand him. Ah, childer ! that's t' 
last o' t' old stock for ye and Mr. St. John is like of a 
different soart to them 'at's gone ; for all your mother wor 
mich i' your way; and a'most as book-learned. She wor 
the pictur' o' ye, Mary : Diana is more like your father.' 

I thought them so similar I could not tell where the old 
servant (for such I now concluded her to be) saw the 
difference. Both were fair complexioned and slenderly 
made ; both possessed faces full of distinction and intelli- 
gence. One, to be sure, had hair a shade darker than the 
other, and there was a difference in their style of wearing it : 
Mary's pale brown locks were parted and braided smooth ; 
Diana's duskier tresses covered her neck with thick curls. 
The clock struck ten. 

1 Ye'll want your supper, I am sure,' observed Hannah ; 
' and so will Mr. St. John when he comes in.' 

And she proceeded to prepare the meal. The ladies rose ; 



408 JANE EYRE 

they seemed about to withdraw to the parlour. Till this 
moment I had been so intent on watching them, their 
appearance and conversation had excited in me so keen an 
interest, I had half -forgotten my own wretched position : 
now it recurred to me. More desolate, more desperate than 
ever, it seemed from contrast. And how impossible did it 
appear to touch the inmates of this house with concern on 
my behalf ; to make them believe in the truth of my wants 
and woes to induce them to vouchsafe a rest for my 
wanderings ! As I groped out the door, and knocked at it 
hesitatingly, I felt that last idea to be a mere chimera. 
Hannah opened. 

' What do you want ? ' she inquired, in a voice of sur- 
prise, as she surveyed me by the light of the candle she held. 

' May I speak to your mistresses ? ' I said. 

' You had better tell me what you have to say to them. 
Where do you come from ? ' 

' I am a stranger.' 

' What is your business here at this hour ? ' 

'I want a night's shelter in an outhouse or anywhere, 
and a morsel of bread to eat.' 

Distrust, the very feeling I dreaded, appeared in Hannah's 
face. ' I'll give you a piece of bread,' she said, after a pause ; 
' but we can't take in a vagrant to lodge. It isn't likely.' 

' Do let me speak to your mistresses.' 

' No ; not I. What can they do for you ? You should 
not be roving about now ; it looks very ill.' 

' But where shall I go if you drive me away ? What shall 
I do?' 

' Oh, I'll warrant you know where to go, and what to 
do. Mind you don't do wrong, that's all. Here is a penny ; 
now go ' 

' A penny cannot feed me, and I have no strength to go 
farther. Don't shut the door : oh, don't, for God's sake ! ' 

' I must ; the rain is driving in '- 



Tell the young ladies. Let me see them '- 



JANE EYEE 409 

' Indeed, I will not. You are not what you ought to be 
or you wouldn't make such a noise. Move off.' 

' But I must die if I am turned away.' 

' Not you. I'm fear'd you have some ill plans agate, that 
bring you about folk's houses at this time o' night. If 
you've any followers housebreakers or such like anywhere 
near, you may tell them we are not by ourselves in the house ; 
we have a gentleman, and dogs, and guns.' Here the honest 
but inflexible servant clapped the door to and bolted it within. 

This was the climax. A pang of exquisite suffering a 
throe of true despair rent and heaved my heart. Worn out, 
indeed, I was ; not another step could I stir. I sank on the 
wet door-step : I groaned I wrung my hands I wept in 
utter anguish. Oh, this spectre of death ! Oh, this last 
hour, approaching in such horror ! Alas, this isolation this 
banishment from my kind ! Not only the anchor of home, 
but the footing of fortitude was gone at least for a moment : 
but the last I soon endeavoured to regain. 

' I can but die,' I said, ' and I believe in God. Let me 
try to wait His will in silence.' 

These words I not only thought, but uttered ; and thrust- 
ing back all my misery into my heart, I made an effort to 
compel it to remain there dumb and still. 

' All men must die,' said a voice quite close at hand ; 
' but all are not condemned to meet a lingering and prema- 
ture doom, such as yours would be if you perished here of 
want.' 

1 Who or what speaks ? ' I asked, terrified at the unex- 
pected sound, and incapable now of deriving from any 
occurrence a hope of aid. A form was near what form the 
pitch-dark night and my enfeebled vision prevented me from 
distinguishing. With a loud long knock the new comer 
appealed to the door. 

1 Is it you, Mr. St. John ? ' cried Hannah. 

1 Yes yes ; open quickly.' 

1 Well, how wet and cold you must be, such a wild night 
as it is ! Come in your sisters are quite uneasy about you. 



410 JANE EYRE 

and I believe there are bad folks about. There has been a 
beggar-woman I declai'e she is not gone yet ! laid down 
there. Get up ! for shame ! Move off, I say ! ' 

' Hush, Hannah ! I have a word to say to the woman. 
You have done your duty in excluding, now let me do mine 
in admitting her. I was near, and listened to both you and 
her. I think this is a peculiar case I must at least examine 
into it. Young woman, rise, and pass before me into the 
house.' 

With difficulty I obeyed him. Presently I stood within 
that clean, bright kitchen on the very hearth trembling, 
sickening ; conscious of an aspect in the last degree ghastly, 
wild, and weather-beaten. The two ladies, their brother, Mr. 
St. John, the old servant, were all gazing at me. 

1 St. John, who is it ? ' I heard one ask. 

' I cannot tell : I found her at the door,' was the reply. 

' She does look white,' said Hannah. 

1 As white as clay or death,' was responded. ' She will 
fall : let her sit.' 

And indeed my head swam : I dropped ; but a chair 
received me. I still possessed my senses ; though just now 
I could not speak. 

' Perhaps a little water would restore her. Hannah, fetch 
some. But she is worn to nothing. How very thin, and 
how very bloodless ! ' 

' A mere spectre ! ' 

1 Is she ill, or only famished ? ' 

' Famished, I think. Hannah, is that milk ? Give it me, 
and a piece of bread.' 

Diana (I knew her by the long curls which I saw drooping 
between me and the fire as she bent over me) broke some 
bread, dipped it in milk, and put it to my lips. Her face was 
near mine : I saw there was pity in it, and I felt sympathy in 
her hurried breathing. In her simple words, too, the same 
balm-like emotion spoke : ' Try to eat.' 

' Yes try,' repeated Mary gently ; and Mary's hand 



JANE EYBE 411 

removed my sodden bonnet and lifted my head. I tasted 
what they offered me : feebly at first, eagerly soon. 

' Not too much at first restrain her,' said the brother ; 
' she has had enough.' And he withdrew the cup of milk 
and the plate of bread. 

' A little more, St. John look at the avidity in her 
eyes.' 

' No more at present, sister. Try if she can speak now 
ask her her name.' 

I felt I could speak, and I answered ' My name is 
Jane Elliott.' Anxious as ever to avoid discovery, I had 
before resolved to assume an alias. 

1 And where do you live ? Where are your friends ? ' 

I was silent. 

' Can we send for any one you know ? ' 

I shook my head. 

' What account can you give of yourself ? ' 

Somehow, now that I had once crossed the threshold 
of this house, and once was brought face to face with its 
owners, I felt no longer outcast, vagrant, and disowned 
by the wide world. I dared to put off the mendicant to 
resume my natural manner and character. I began once 
more to know myself ; and when Mr. St. John demanded an 
account which at present I was far too weak to render I 
said after a brief pause, ' Sir, I can give you no details 
to-night.' 

' But what, then,' said he, ' do you expect me to do for 
you?' 

' Nothing,' I replied. My strength sufficed for but short 
answers. Diana took the word : 

' Do you mean,' she asked, ' that we have now given you 
what aid you require ? and that we may dismiss you to the 
moor and the rainy night ? ' 

I looked at her. She had, I thought, a remarkable 
countenance ; instinct both with power and goodness. I 
took sudden courage. Answering her compassionate gaze 
with a smile, I said : ' I will trust you. If I were a master- 



412 JANE EYKE 

less and stray dog, I know that you would not turn me from 
your hearth to-night : as it is, I really have no fear. Do 
with me and for me as you like ; but excuse me from much 
discourse my breath is short I feel a spasm when I speak.' 
All three surveyed me, and all three were silent. 

1 Hannah,' said Mr. St. John at last, ' let her sit there at 
present, and ask her no questions ; in ten minutes more, 
give her the remainder of that milk and bread. Mary and 
Diana, let us go into the parlour and talk the matter over.' 

They withdrew. Very soon one of the ladies returned 
I could not tell which. A kind of pleasant stupor was steal- 
ing over me as I sat by the genial fire. In an undertone she 
gave some directions to Hannah. Ere long, with the servant's 
aid, I contrived to mount a staircase ; my dripping clothes 
were removed ; soon a warm, dry bed received me. I 
thanked God- experienced amidst unutterable exhaustion a 
glow of grateful joy and slept. 



CHAPTEE XXIX 

THE recollection of about three days and nights succeeding 
this is very dim in my mind. I can recall some sensations 
felt in that interval ; but few thoughts framed, and no 
actions performed. I knew I was in a small room, and in a 
narrow bed. To that bed I seemed to have grown ; I lay on 
it motionless as a stone ; and to have torn me from it would 
have been almost to kill me. I took no note of the lapse of 
time of the change from morning to noon, from noon to 
evening. I observed when any one entered or left the 
apartment ; I could even tell who they were ; I could under- 
stand what was said when the speaker stood near to me ; 
but I could not answer ; to open my lips or move my limbs 
was equally impossible. Hannah, the servant, was my most 
frequent visitor. Her coming disturbed me. I had a feeling 
that she wished me away : that she did not understand me 
or my circumstances : that she was prejudiced against me. 
Diana and Mary appeared in the chamber once or twice a 
day. They would whisper sentences of this sort at my 
bedside : 

1 It is very well we took her in.' 

' Yes ; she would certainly have been found dead at the 
door in the morning, had she been left out all night. I 
wonder what she has gone through ? ' 

1 Strange hardships, I imagine poor, emaciated, pallid 
wanderer 1 ' 

1 She is not an uneducated person, I should think, by her 
manner of speaking ; her accent was quite pure ; and the 
clothes she took off, though splashed and wet, were little 
worn and fine.' 



114 JANE EYRE 

4 She has a peculiar face ; fleshless and haggard as it is, 
I rather like it ; and when in good health and animated, I 
can fancy her physiognomy would be agreeable.' 

Never once in their dialogues did I hear a syllable of 
regret at the hospitality they had extended to me; or of 
suspicion of, or aversion to, myself. I was comforted. 

Mr. St. John came but once : he looked at me, and said 
my state of lethargy was the result of reaction from excessive 
and protracted fatigue. He pronounced it needless to send 
for a doctor : nature, he was sure, would manage best left 
to herself. He said every nerve had been overstrained in 
some way, and the whole system must sleep torpid awhile. 
There was no disease. He imagined my recovery would be 
rapid enough when once commenced. These opinions he 
delivered in a few words, in a quiet, low voice ; and added, 
after a pause, in the tone of a man little accustomed to 
expansive comment, 'rather an unusual physiognomy; 
certainly not indicative of vulgarity or degradation/ 

' Far otherwise,' responded Diana. ' To speak truth, St. 
John, my heart rather warms to the poor little soul. I wish 
we may be able to benefit her permanently.' 

1 That is hardly likely,' was the reply. ' You will find 
she is some young lady who has had a misunderstanding 
with her friends and has probably injudiciously left them. 
We may, perhaps, succeed in restoring her to them, if she is 
not obstinate : but I trace lines of force in her face which 
make me sceptical of her tractability.' He stood considering 
me some minutes ; then added, ' She looks sensible, but not 
at all handsome.' 

1 She is so ill, St. John.' 

1 111 or well, she would always be plain. The grace and 
harmony of beauty are quite wanting in those features.' 

On the third day I was better ; on the fourth, I could 
speak, move, rise in bed, and turn. Hannah had brought 
me some gruel and dry toast, about, as I supposed, the 
dinner hour. I had eaten with relish : the food was good 



JANE EYEE 415 

void of the feverish flavour which had hitherto poisoned 
what I had swallowed. When she left me, I felt compara- 
tively strong and revived ; ere long satiety of repose and 
desire for action stirred me. I wished to rise ; but what 
could I put on ? Only my damp and bemired apparel, in 
which I had slept on the ground and fallen in the marsh. I 
felt ashamed to appear before my benefactors so clad. I 
was spared the humiliation. 

On a chair by the bedside were all my own things, clean 
and dry. My black silk frock hung against the wall. The 
traces of the bog were removed from it ; the creases left by 
the wet smoothed out :. it was quite decent. My very shoes 
and stockings were purified and rendered presentable. There 
were the means of washing in the room, and a comb and brush 
to smooth my hair. After a weary process, and resting every 
five minutes, I succeeded in dressing myself. My clothes hung 
loose on me, for I was much wasted ; but I covered deficien- 
cies with a shawl, and once more, clean and respectable- 
looking no speck of the dirt, no trace of the disorder I so 
hated, and which seemed so to degrade me, left I crept 
down a stone staircase with the aid of the banisters to a 
narrow low passage, and found my way presently to the 
kitchen. 

It was full of the fragrance of new bread and the warmth 
of a generous fire. Hannah was baking. Prejudices, it is 
well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart 
whose soil has never been loosened or fertilised by education : 
they grow there, firm as weeds among stones. Hannah had 
been cold and stiff, indeed, at the first : latterly she had 
begun to relent a little ; and when she saw me come in tidy 
and well-dressed, she even smiled. 

' What, you have got up ? ' she said. ' You are better, 
then. You may sit you down in my chair on the hearth- 
stone, if you will.' 

She pointed to the rocking-chair : I took it. She bustled 
about, examining me every now and then with the corner of 



416 JANE EYRE 

her eye. Turning to me, as she took some loaves from the 
oven, she asked, bluntly ' Did you ever go a-begging afore 
you came here ? ' 

I was indignant for a moment; but remembering that 
anger was out of the question, and that I had indeed appeared 
as a beggar to her, I answered quietly, but still not without 
a certain marked firmness ' You are mistaken in supposing 
me a beggar. I am no beggar : any more than yourself or 
your young ladies.' 

After a pause, she said, ' I dunnut understand that : 
you've like no house, nor no brass, I guess ? ' 

' The want of house or brass (by which I suppose you 
mean money) does not make a beggar in your sense of the 
word.' 

' Are you book-learned ? ' she inquired, presently. 

' Yes, very.' 

' But you've never been to a boarding-school ! ' 

I 1 was at a boarding-school eight years.' 
She opened her eyes wide. 

' Whatever cannot ye keep yourself for, then ? ' 

' I have kept myself ; and, I trust, shall keep myself 
again. What are you going to do with these gooseberries ? ' 
I inquired, as she brought out a basket of the fruit. 

1 Mak'em into pies.' 

1 Give them to me and I'll pick them.' 

1 Nay ; I dunnut want ye to do nought.' 

' But I must do something. Let me have them.' 

She consented ; and she even brought me a clean towel 
to spread over my dress, ' lest,' as she said, ' I should mucky 
it.' 

1 Ye've not been used to sarvant's wark, I see by your 
hands,' she remarked. ' Happen ye've been a dressmaker.' 

' No, you are wrong. And, now, never mind what I have 
been : don't trouble your head further about me ; but tell 
me the name of the house where we are.' 

' Some calls it Marsh End, and some calls it Moor 
House.' 



JANE EYEE 417 

'And the gentleman who lives here is called Mr. St. 
John ? ' 

' Nay ; he doesn't live here : he is only staying a while. 
When he is at home, he is in his own parish at Morton.' 

' That village a few miles off ? ' 

' Aye.' 

' And what is he ? ' 

' He is a parson.' 

I remembered the answer of the old housekeeper at the 
parsonage, when I had asked to see the clergyman. ' This, 
then, was his father's residence ? ' 

1 Aye ; old Mr. Eivers lived here, and his father, and 
grandfather, and gurt (great) grandfather afore him.' 

'The name, then, of that gentleman is Mr. St. John 
Kivers ? ' 

' Aye ; St. John is like his kirstened name.' 

' And his sisters are called Diana and Mary Eivers ? ' 

'Yes.' 

' Their father is dead ? ' 

' Dead three weeks sin' of a stroke.' 

1 They have no mother ? ' 

1 The mistress has been dead this mony a year.' 

' Have you lived with the family long ? ' 

1 I've lived here thirty year. I nursed them all three.' 

' That proves you must have been an honest and faithful 
servant. I will say so much for you, though you have had the 
incivility to call me a beggar.' 

She again regarded me with a surprised stare. ' I believe,' 
she said, ' I was quite mista'en in my thoughts of you : but 
there is so mony cheats goes about, you mun forgie me.' 

' And though,' I continued, rather severely, ' you wished 
to turn me from the door, on a night when you should not 
have shut out a dog.' 

' Well, it was hard : but what can a body do ? I thought 
more o' th' childer nor of mysel' : poor things ! They've 
like nobody to tak' care on 'em but me. I'm like to look 
sharpish.' 

E E 



418 JANE EYBE 

I maintained a grave silence for some minutes. 

' You munnut think too hardly of me,' she again remarked. 

' But I do think hardly of you,' I said ; ' and I'll tell you 
why not so much because you refused to give me shelter, 
or regarded me as an impostor, as because you just now 
made it a species of reproach that I had no " brass," and no 
house. Some of the best people that ever lived have been as 
destitute as I am ; and if you are a Christian, you ought not 
to consider poverty a crime.' 

' No more I ought,' said she : ' Mr. St. John tells me so 
too ; and I see I wor wrang but I've clear a different notion 
on you now to what I had. You look a raight down dacent 
little crater.' 

' That will do I forgive you now. Shake hands.' 

She put her floury and horny hand into mine ; another 
and heartier smile illumined her rough face : and from that 
moment we were friends. 

Hannah was evidently fond of talking. While I picked 
the fruit and she made the paste for the pies, she proceeded 
to give me sundry details about her deceased master and 
mistress, and ' the childer,' as she called the young people. 

Old Mr. Eivers, she said, was a plain man enough ; but 
a gentleman, and of as ancient a family as could be found. 
Marsh End had belonged to the Elvers' ever since it was a 
house : and it was, she affirmed, ' aboon two hundred year 
old for all it looked but a small, humble place, naught to 
compare wi' Mr. Oliver's grand hall down i' Morton Vale. 
But she could remember Bill Oliver's father a journeyman 
needle-maker ; and th' Eivers' wor gentry i* thi' owd days 
o* th' Henrys, as onybody might see by looking in'o th' 
registers i' Morton Church vestry.' Still, she allowed, ' the 
owd maister was like other folk naught mich out o' t' common 
way : stark mad o' shooting, and farming, and sich like.' 
The mistress was different. She was a great reader, and 
studied a deal ; and the ' bairns ' had taken after her. There 
was nothing like them in these parts, nor ever had been ; 
they had liked learning, all three, almost from the time they 



JANE EYBE 419 

could speak ; and they had always been ' of a mak' of their 
own.' Mr. St. John, when he grew up, would go to college 
and be a parson ; and the girls, as soon as they left school, 
would seek places as governesses : for they had told her their 
father had some years ago lost a great deal of money by a man 
he had trusted turning bankrupt ; and as he was now not rich 
enough to give them fortunes, they must provide for them- 
selves. They had lived very little at home for a long while, 
and were only come now to stay a few weeks on account of 
their father's death : but they did so like Marsh End and 
Morton, and all these moors and hills about. They had 
been in London, and many other grand towns ; but they 
always said there was no place like home ; and then they 
were so agreeable with each other never fell out nor 
' threaped.' She did not know where there was such a 
family for being united. 

Having finished my task of gooseberry picking, I asked 
where the two ladies and their brother were now. 

' Gone over to Morton for a walk ; but they would be 
back in half an hour to tea.' 

They returned within the time Hannah had allotted them : 
they entered by the kitchen door. Mr. St. John, when he 
saw me, merely bowed and passed through ; the two ladies 
stopped : Mary, in a few words, kindly and calmly expressed 
the pleasure she felt in seeing me well enough to be able to 
come down ; Diana took my hand : she shook her head at me. 

' You should have waited for my leave to descend,' she 
said. ' You still look very pale and so thin 1 Poor child 1 
poor girl 1 ' 

Diana had a voice toned, to my ear, like the cooing of a 
dove. She possessed eyes whose gaze I delighted to 
encounter. Her whole face seemed to me full of charm. 
Mary's countenance was equally intelligent her features 
equally pretty : but her expression was more reserved ; and 
her manners, though gentle, more distant. Diana looked 
and spoke with a certain authority : she had a will, evidently. 
It was my nature to feel pleasure in yielding to an authority 



420 JANE EYRE 

supported like hers : and to bend, where my conscience and 
self-respect permitted, to an active will. 

' And what business have you here ? ' she continued. ' It 
is not your place. Mary and I sit in the kitchen sometimes, 
because at home we like to be free, even to licence but you 
are a visitor, and must go into the parlour.' 

1 1 am very well here.' 

' Not at all with Hannah bustling about and covering 
you with flour.' 

' Besides, the fire is too hot for you/ interposed Mary. 

' To be sure,' added her sister. ' Come, you must be 
obedient.' And still holding my hand, she made me rise, and 
led me into the inner room. 

' Sit there,' she said, placing me on the sofa, ' while we 
take our things off and get the tea ready ; it is another privi- 
lege we exercise in our little moorland home to prepare our 
own meals when we are so inclined ; or when Hannah is 
baking, brewing, washing, or ironing.' 

She closed the door, leaving me solus with Mr. St. John, 
who sat opposite, a book or newspaper in his hand. I 
examined, first, the parlour, and then its occupant. 

The parlour was rather a small room, very plainly fur- 
nished ; yet comfortable, because clean and neat. The old- 
fashioned chairs were very bright, and the walnut- wood table 
was like a looking-glass. A few strange antique portraits of 
the men and women of other days decorated the stained walls ; 
a cupboard with glass doors contained some books and an 
ancient set of china. There was no superfluous ornament 
in the room not one modern piece of furniture, save a brace 
of work-boxes and a lady's desk in rosewood, which stood on 
a side-table : everything including the carpet and curtains 
looked at once well worn and well saved. 

Mr. St. John sitting as still as one of the dusky pictures 
on the walls, keeping his eyes fixed on the page he perused 
and his lips mutely sealed, was easy enough to examine. 
Had he been a statue instead of a man, he could not have 
been easier. He was young perhaps from twenty-eight to 



JANE EYBE 421 

thirty tall, slender ; his face riveted the eye ; it was like a 
Greek face, very pure in outline : quite a straight, classic 
nose ; quite an Athenian mouth and chin. It is seldom, 
indeed, an English face comes so near the antique models as 
did his. He might well be a little shocked at the irregularity 
of my lineaments, his own being so harmonious. His eyes 
were large and blue, with brown lashes ; his high forehead, 
colourless as ivory, was partially streaked over by careless 
locks of fair hair. 

This is a gentle delineation, is it not, reader ? Yet he 
whom it describes scarcely impressed one with the idea of a 
gentle, a yielding, an impressible, or even of a placid nature. 
Quiescent as he now sat, there was somthing about his 
nostril, his mouth, his brow, which, to my perceptions, 
indicated elements within either restless, or hard, or eager. 
He did not speak to me one word, nor even direct to me one 
glance, till his sisters returned. Diana, as she passed in and 
out in the course of preparing tea, brought me a little cake, 
baked on the top of the oven. 

' Eat that now,' she said : ' you must be hungry. Hannah 
says you have had nothing but some gruel since break- 
fast.' 

I did not refuse it, for my appetite was awakened and 
keen. Mr. Kivers now closed his book, approached the table, 
and, as he took a seat, fixed his blue pictorial-looking eyes 
full on me. There was an unceremonious directness, a 
searching, decided steadfastness in his gaze now, which told 
that intention, and not diffidence, had hitherto kept it averted 
from the stranger. 

' You are very hungry,' he said. 

4 1 am, sir.' It is my way it always was my way, by 
instinct ever to meet the brief with brevity, the direct with 
plainness. 

' It is well for you that a low fever has forced you to 
abstain for the last three days : there would have been 
danger in yielding to the cravings of your appetite at first. 
Now you may eat; though still not immoderately.' 



422 JANE EYRE 

1 1 trust I shall not eat long at your expense, sir,' was my 
very clumsily-contrived, unpolished answer. 

' No,' he said, coolly : ' when you have indicated to us the 
residence of your friends, we can write to them, and you may 
be restored to home.' 

' That, I must plainly tell you, is out of my power to do ; 
being absolutely without home and friends.' 

The three looked at me, but not distrustfully ; I felt there 
was no suspicion in their glances : there was more of curiosity. 
I speak particularly of the young ladies. St. John's eyes, 
though clear enough in a literal sense, in a figurative one were 
difficult to fathom. He seemed to use them rather as instru- 
ments to search other people's thoughts, than as agents to 
reveal his own : the which combination of keenness and 
reserve was considerably more calculated to embarrass than 
to encourage. 

' Do you mean to say,' he asked, ' that you are completely 
isolated from every connection ? ' 

' I do. Not a tie links me to any living thing : not a claim 
do I possess to admittance under any roof in England.' 

' A most singular position at your age ! ' 

Here I saw his glance directed to my hands, which were 
folded on the table before me. I wondered what he sought 
there : his words soon explained the quest. 

' You have never been married ? You are a spinster ? ' 

Diana laughed. 

' Why, she can't be above seventeen or eighteen years 
old, St. John,' said she. 

' I am near nineteen : but I am not married. No.' 

I felt a burning glow mount to my face ; for bitter and 
agitating recollections were awakened by the allusion to 
marriage. They all saw the embarrassment and the emo- 
tion. Diana and Mary relieved me by turning their eyes 
elsewhere than to my crimsoned visage ; but the colder and 
sterner brother continued to gaze, till the trouble he had 
excited forced out tears as well as colour. 

' Where did you last reside ? ' he now asked. 



JANE EYRE 423 

' You are too inquisitive, St. John,' murmured Mary, in 
a low voice ; but he leaned over the table and required an 
answer by a second firm and piercing look. 

' The name of the place where, and of the person with 
whom I lived, is my secret,' I replied, concisely. 

I Which, if you like, you have, in my opinion, a right to 
keep both from St. John and every other questioner,' remarked 
Diana. 

' Yet if I know nothing about you or your history, I can- 
not help you,' he said. ' And you need help : do you not ? ' 

'I need it, and I seek it; so far, sir, that some true 
philanthropist will put me in the way of getting work which 
I can do, and the remuneration for which wjll keep me : if 
but in the barest necessaries of life.' 

I 1 know not whether I am a true philanthropist ; yet I 
am willing to aid you to the utmost of my power, in a pur- 
pose so honest. First, then, tell me what you have been 
accustomed to do, and what you can do.' 

I had now swallowed my tea. I was mightily refreshed 
by the beverage ; as much so as a giant with wine : it gave 
new tone to my unstrung nerves, and enabled me to address 
this penetrating young judge steadily. 

' Mr. Rivers,' I said, turning to him, and looking at him, 
as he looked at me, openly and without diffidence, ' you and 
your sisters have done me a great service the greatest man 
can do his fellow-being ; you have rescued me, by your noble 
hospitality, from death. This benefit conferred gives you an 
unlimited claim on my gratitude ; and a claim, to a certain 
extent, on my confidence. I will tell you as much of the 
history of the wanderer you have harboured as I can tell 
without compromising my own peace of mind my own 
security, moral and physical, and that of others. 

' I am an orphan ; the daughter of a clergyman. My 
parents died before I could know them. I was brought up 
a dependent ; educated in a charitable institution. I will 
even tell you the name of the establishment where I passed 
six years as a pupil and two as a teacher Lowood Orphan 



424 JANE EYRE 

Asylum, shire : you will have heard of it, Mr. Rivers ? 

the Rev. Robert Brocklehurst is the treasurer.' 

' I have heard of Mr. Brocklehurst, and I have seen the 
school.' 

' I left Lowood nearly a year since to become a private 
governess. I obtained a good situation, and was happy. 
This place I was obliged to leave four days before I came 
here. The reason of my departure I cannot and ought not 
to explain : it would be useless dangerous ; and would sound 
incredible. No blame attached to me ; I am as free from 
culpability as any one of you three. Miserable I am, and must 
be for a time ; for the catastrophe which drove me from a 
house I had found a paradise was of a strange and direful 
nature. I observed but two points in planning my departure 
speed, secrecy : to secure these I had to leave behind me 
everything I possessed except a small parcel ; which, in my 
hurry and trouble of mind, I forgot to take out of the coach 
that brought me to Whitcross. To this neighbourhood, 
then, I came, quite destitute. I slept two nights in the open 
air, and wandered about two days without crossing a 
threshold : but twice in that space of time did I taste food ; 
and it was when brought by hunger, exhaustion and despair 
almost to the last gasp that you, Mr. Rivers, forbade me to 
perish of want at your door, and took me under the shelter 
of your roof. I know all your sisters have done for me since 
for I have not been insensible during my seeming torpor 
and I owe to their spontaneous, genuine, genial compassion, 
as large a debt as to your evangelical charity.' 

' Don't make her talk any more now, St. John,' said 
Diana, as I paused ; ' she is evidently not yet fit for 
excitement. Come to the sofa, and sit down now, Miss 
Elliott.' 

I gave an involuntary half-start at hearing the alias ; I 
had forgotten my new name. Mr. Rivers, whom nothing 
seemed to escape, noticed it at once. 

' You said your name was Jane Elliott ? ' he observed. 

' I did say so ; and it is the name by which I think it 



JANE EYRE 425 

expedient to be called at present : but it is not my real name, 
and when I hear it, it sounds strange to me.' 

' Your real name you will not give ? ' 

' No : I fear discovery above all things ; and whatever 
disclosure would lead to it, I avoid.' 

1 You are quite right, I am sure,' said Diana. ' Now 
do, brother, let her be at peace a while.' 

But when St. John had mused a few moments, he 
recommenced, as imperturbably, and with as much acumen 
as ever. 

1 You would not like to be long dependent on our hospi- 
tality you would wish, I see, to dispense as soon as may be 
with my sisters' compassion ; and, above all, with my 
charity (I am quite sensible of the distinction drawn, nor 
do I resent it it is just) : you desire to be independent 
of us ? ' 

' I do : I have already said so. Show me how to work, 
or how to seek work : that is all I now ask ; then let me go, 
if it be but to the meanest cottage but till then allow me to 
stay here : I dread another essay of the horrors of homeless 
destitution.' 

' Indeed, you shall stay here,' said Diana, putting her 
white hand on my head. 

' You shall,' repeated Mary, in the tone of undemonstrative 
sincerity which seemed natural to her. 

' My sisters, you see, have a pleasure in keeping you,' 
said Mr. St. John, ' as they would have a pleasure in keeping 
and cherishing a half-frozen bird some wintry wind might 
have driven through their casement. J feel more inclination 
to put you in the way of keeping yourself: and shall 
endeavour to do so : but observe, my sphere is narrow. I am 
but the incumbent of a poor country parish : my aid must be 
of the humblest sort. And if you are inclined to despise the 
day of small things, seek some more efficient succour than 
such as I can offer.' 

' She has already said that she is willing to do anything 
honest she can do,' answered Diana for me ; ' and you know, 



426 JANE 

St. John she has no choice of helpers : she is forced to put 
up with such crusty people as you.' 

' I will be a dressmaker : I will be a plain-work-woman ; 
I will be a servant, a nurse-girl, if I can be no better,' I 
answered. 

' Bight,' said Mr. St. John, quite coolly. ' If such is 
your spirit, I promise to aid you ; in my own time and way.' 

He now resumed the book with which he had been 
occupied before tea. I soon withdrew ; for I had talked as 
much, and sat up as long, as my present strength would 
permit. 



CHAPTER XXX 

THE more I knew of the inmates of Moor House, the better 
I liked them. In a few days I had so far recovered my 
health that I could sit up all day, and walk out sometimes. 
I could join with Diana and Mary in all their occupations ; 
converse with them as much as they wished, and aid them 
when and where they would allow me. There was a reviv- 
ing pleasure in this intercourse, of a kind now tasted by me 
for the first time the pleasure arising from perfect conge- 
niality of tastes, sentiments, and principles. 

I liked to read what they liked to read : what they 
enjoyed, delighted me ; what they approved, I reverenced. 
They loved their sequestered home. I, too, in the grey, 
small, antique structure, with its low roof, its latticed case- 
ments, its mouldering walls, its avenue of aged firs all 
grown aslant under the stress of mountain winds ; its 
garden, dark with yew and holly and where no flowers but 
of the hardiest species would bloom found a charm both 
potent and permanent. They clung to the purple moors 
behind and around their dwelling to the hollow vale into 
which the pebbly bridle-path leading from their gate 
descended ; and which wound between fern-banks first, and 
then amongst a few of the wildest little pasture-fields that 
ever bordered a wilderness of heath, or gave sustenance to a 
flock of grey moorland sheep, with their little mossy-faced 
lambs : they clung to this scene, I say, with a perfect 
enthusiasm of attachment. I could comprehend the feeling, 
and share both its strength and truth. I saw the fascination 
of the locality. I felt the consecration of its loneliness : my 
eye feasted on the outline of swell and sweep on the wild 



428 JANE EYRE 

colouring communicated to ridge and dell by moss, by 
heath-bell, by flower-sprinkled turf, by brilliant bracken, and 
mellow granite crag. These details were just to me what 
they were to them so many pure and sweet sources of 
pleasure. The strong blast and the soft breeze ; the rough 
and the halcyon day ; the hours of sunrise and sunset ; the 
moonlight and the clouded night, developed for me, in these 
regions, the same attraction as for them wound round my 
faculties the same spell that entranced theirs. 

Indoors we agreed equally well. They were both more 
accomplished and better read than I was : but with eagerness 
I followed in the path of knowledge they had trodden before 
me. I devoured the books they lent me : then it was full 
satisfaction to discuss with them in the evening what I had 
perused during the day. Thought fitted thought; opinion 
met opinion : we coincided, in short, perfectly. 

If in our trio there was a superior and a leader, it was 
Diana. Physically, she far excelled me : she was handsome ; 
she was vigorous. In her animal spirits there was an 
affluence of life and certainty of flow, such as excited my 
wonder, while it baffled my comprehension. I could talk a 
while when the evening commenced : but the first gush of 
vivacity and fluency gone, I was fain to sit on a stool at 
Diana's feet, to rest my head on her knee, and listen alter- 
nately to her and Mary ; while they sounded thoroughly the 
topic on which I had but touched. Diana offered to teach 
me German. I liked to learn of her : I saw the part of 
instructress pleased and suited her ; that of scholar pleased 
and suited me no less. Our natures dovetailed : mutual 
affection of the strongest kind was the result. They dis- 
covered I could draw : their pencils and colour-boxes were 
immediately at my service. My skill, greater in this one 
point than theirs, surprised and charmed them. Mary would 
sit and watch me by the hour together : then she would take 
lessons ; and a docile, intelligent, assiduous pupil she made. 
Thus occupied, and mutually entertained, days passed like 
hours and weeks like days. 




MOORSEATS, HATHERSAGE (MOORHOUSE, MORTON). 



JANE EYBE 429 

As to Mr. St. John, the intimacy which had arisen so 
naturally and rapidly between me and his sisters did not 
extend to him. One reason of the distance yet observed 
between us was that he was comparatively seldom at home : 
a large proportion of his time appeared devoted to visiting 
the sick and poor among the scattered population of his 
parish. 

No weather seemed to hinder him in these pastoral 
excursions : rain or fair, he would, when his hours of 
morning study were over, take his hat, and, followed by his 
father's old pointer Carlo, go out on his mission of love or 
duty I scarcely know in which light he regarded it. Some- 
times, when the day was very unfavourable, his sisters 
would expostulate. He would then say, with a peculiar 
smile, more solemn than cheerful, 'And if I let a gust of 
wind or a sprinkling of rain turn me aside from these easy 
tasks, what preparation would such sloth be for the future I 
propose to myself ? ' 

Diana and Mary's general answer to this question was a 
sigh, and some minutes of apparently mournful meditation. 

But besides his frequent absences, there was another 
barrier to friendship with him : he seemed of a reserved, 
an abstracted, and even of a brooding nature. Zealous in his 
ministerial labours, blameless in his life and habits, he yet 
did not appear to enjoy that mental serenity, that inward 
content, which should be the reward of every sincere Christian 
and practical philanthropist. Often, of an evening, when he 
sat at the window, his desk and papers before him, he 
would cease reading or writing, rest his chin on his hand, 
and deliver himself up to I 1 know not what course of thought ; 
but that it was perturbed a(pd exciting might be seen in the 
frequent flash and changeful dilation of his eye. 

I think, moreover, that Nature was not -to him that 
treasury of delight it was to his sisters. He expressed once, 
and but once in my hearing, a strong sense of the rugged 
charm of the hills, and an inborn affection for the dark roof 
and hoary walls he called his home ; but there was more of 



430 JANE EYRE 

gloom than pleasure in the tone and words in which the 
sentiment was manifested ; and never did he seem to roam 
the moors for the sake of their soothing silence never seek 
out or dwell upon the thousand peaceful delights they could 
yield. 

Incommunicative as he was, some time elapsed before I 
had an opportunity of gauging his mind. I first got an idea 
of its calibre when I heard him preach in his own church at 
Morton. I wish I could describe that sermon ; but it is past 
my power. I cannot even render faithfully the effect it pro- 
duced on me. 

It began calm and indeed, as far as delivery and pitch 
of voice went, it was calm to the end : an earnestly felt, yet 
strictly restrained zeal breathed soon in the distinct accents, 
and prompted the nervous language. This grew to force 
compressed, condensed, controlled. The heart was thrilled, 
the mind astonished, by the power of the preacher : neither 
was softened. Throughout there was a strange bitterness ; 
an absence of consolatory gentleness ; stern allusions to Cal- 
vinistic doctrines election, predestination, reprobation 
were frequent ; and each reference to these points sounded 
like a sentence pronounced for doom. When he had done, 
instead of feeling better, calmer, more enlightened by his 
discourse, I experienced an inexpressible sadness ; for it 
seemed to me I know not whether equally so to others 
that the eloquence to which I had been listening had sprung 
from a depth where lay turbid dregs of disappointment 
where moved troubling impulses of insatiate yearnings and 
disquieting aspirations. I was sure St. John Rivers pure- 
lived, conscientious, zealous as he was had not yet found 
that peace of God which passeth all understanding ; he had 
no more found it, I thought, than had I ; with my concealed 
and racking regrets for my broken idol and lost elysium 
regrets to which I have latterly avoided referring ; but which 
possessed me and tyrannised over me ruthlessly. 

Meantime a month was gone. Diana and Mary were 
soon to leave Moor House, and return to the far different life 



JANE EYKE 431 

and scene which awaited them, as governesses in a large, 
fashionable, south-of-England city ; where each held a 
situation in families, by whose wealthy and haughty members 
they were regarded only as humble dependents, and who 
neither knew nor sought one of their innate excellences, and 
appreciated only their acquired accomplishments as they 
appreciated the skill of their cook or the taste of their 
waiting-woman. Mr. St. John had said nothing to me yet 
about the employment he had promised to obtain for me ; 
yet it became urgent that I should have a vocation of some 
kind. One morning, being left alone with him a few minutes 
in the parlour, I ventured to approach the window-recess 
which his table, chair, and desk consecrated as a kind of 
study and I was going to speak; though not very well 
knowing in what words to frame my inquiry for it is at all 
times difficult to break the ice of reserve glassing over such 
natures as his when he saved me the trouble by being the 
first to commence a dialogue. 

Looking up as I drew near ' You have a question to ask 
of me ? ' he said. 

' Yes ; I wish to know whether you have heard of any 
service I can offer myself to undertake.' 

' I found or devised something for you three weeks ago ; 
but as you seemed both useful and happy here as my sisters 
had evidently become attached to you, and your society gave 
them unusual pleasure I deemed it inexpedient to break in 
on your mutual comfort till their approaching departure from 
Marsh End should render yours necessary.' 

' And they will go in three days now ? ' I said. 

1 Yes ; and when they go I shall return to the parsonage 
at Morton : Hannah will accompany me ; and this old house 
will be shut up.' 

I waited a few moments, expecting he would go on with 
the subject first broached ; but he seemed to have entered 
another train of reflection ; his look denoted abstraction from 
me and my business. I was obliged to recall him to a theme 
which was of necessity one of close and anxious interest to me. 



432 JANE EYEE 

' What is the employment you had in view, Mr. Rivers ? 
I hope this delay will not have increased the difficulty of 
securing it.' 

' Oh, no ; since it is an employment which depends only 
on me to give, and you to accept.' 

He again paused : there seemed a reluctance to continue. 
I grew impatient : a restless movement or two, and an eager 
and exacting glance fastened on his face, conveyed the 
feeling to him as effectually as words could have done, and 
with less trouble. 

' You need be in no hurry to hear,' he said ; ' let me 
frankly tell you, I have nothing eligible or profitable to 
suggest. Before I explain, recall, if you please, my notice, 
clearly given, that if I helped you, it must be as the blind 
man would help the lame. I am poor ; for I find that, when 
I have paid my father's debts, all the patrimony remaining 
to me will be this crumbling grange, the row of scathed firs 
behind, and the patch of moorish soil, with the yew-trees 
and holly-bushes in front. I am obscure : Rivers is an old 
name ; but of the three sole descendants of the race, two earn 
the dependent's crust among strangers, and the third con- 
siders himself an alien from his native country not only for 
life, but in death. Yes, and deems, and is bound to deem, 
himself honoured by the lot, and aspires but after the day 
when the cross of separation from fleshly ties shall be laid 
on his shoulders, and when the Head of that church-militant, 
of whose humblest members he is one, shall give the word, 
" Rise, follow Me ! " ' 

St. John said these words as he pronounced his sermons, 
with a quiet, deep voice ; with an unflushed cheek, and a 
coruscating radiance of glance. He resumed : ' And since 
I am myself poor and obscure, I can offer you but a service 
of poverty and obscurity. You may even think it degrading 
for I see now your habits have been what the world calls 
refined : your tastes lean to the ideal ; and your society has 
at least been amongst the educated but I consider that no 
service degrades which can better our race, I hold, that 



JANE EYRE 433 

the more arid and unreclaimed the soil where the Christian 
labourer's task of tillage is appointed him the scantier the 
meed his toil brings the higher the honour. His, under 
such circumstances, is the destiny of the pioneer ; and the 
first pioneers of the Gospel were the Apostles their captain 
was Jesus, the Redeemer, Himself.' 

' Well ? ' I said, as he again paused ' proceed.' 

He looked at me before he proceeded : indeed, he seemed 
leisurely to read my face, as if its features and lines were 
characters on a page. The conclusions drawn from this 
scrutiny he partially expressed in his succeeding observa- 
tions. 

' I believe you will accept the post I offer you,' said he ; 
' and hold it for a while : not permanently, though : any 
more than I could permanently keep the narrow and narrow- 
ing the tranquil, hidden office of English country incum- 
bent : for in your nature is an alloy as detrimental to repose 
as that in mine ; though of a different kind.' 

' Do explain,' I urged, when he halted once more. 

1 1 will ; and you shall hear how poor the proposal is, 
how trivial how cramping. I shall not stay long at Morton, 
now that my father is dead, and that I am my own master. 
I shall leave the place probably in the course of a twelve- 
month : but while I do stay I will exert myself to the 
utmost for its improvement. Morton, when I came to it two 
years ago, had no school: the children of the poor were 
excluded from every hope of progress. I established one for 
boys : I mean now to open a second school for girls. I have 
hired a building for the purpose, with a cottage of two rooms 
attached to it for the mistress's house. Her salary will be 
thirty pounds a year ; her house is already furnished, very 
simply, but sufficiently, by the kindness of a lady, Miss 
Oliver ; the only daughter of the sole rich man in my parish 
Mr. Oliver, the proprietor of a needle-factory and iron- 
foundry in the valley. The same lady pays for the education 
and clothing of an orphan from the workhouse ; on condition 
that she shall aM the mistress in such rnenia]. offices connected 



434 JANE EYBE 

with her own house and the school as her occupation of 
teaching will prevent her having time to discharge in person. 
Will you be this mistress ? ' 

He put the question rather hurriedly ; he seemed half to 
expect an indignant, or at least a disdainful, rejection of the 
offer : not knowing all my thoughts and feelings, though 
guessing some, he could not tell in what light the lot would 
appear to me. In truth it was humhle but then it was 
sheltered, and I wanted a safe asylum : it was plodding but 
then, compared with that of a governess in a rich house, it 
was independent ; and the fear of servitude with strangers 
entered my soul like iron : it was not ignoble not unworthy 
not mentally degrading. I made my decision. 

' I thank you for the proposal, Mr. Rivers ; and I accept 
it with all my heart.' 

' But you comprehend me ? ' he said. 'It is a village 
school; your scholars will be only poor girls cottagers' 
children at the best, farmers' daughters. Knitting, sewing, 
reading, writing, cyphering, will be all you will have to 
teach. What will you do with your accomplishments ? 
What with the largest portion of your mind sentiments 
tastes ? ' 

1 Save them till they are wanted. They will keep.' 

' You know what you undertake, then ? ' 

' I do.' 

He now smiled : and not a bitter or a sad smile, bat one 
well pleased and deeply gratified. 

'And when will you commence the exercise of your 
function ? ' 

' I will go to my house to-morrow ; and open the school, 
if you like, next week.' 

' Very well : so be it.' 

He rose and walked through the room. Standing still, 
he again looked at me. He shook his head. 

' What do you disapprove of, Mr. Bivers ? ' I asked. 

' You will not stay at Morton long : no, no ! ' 

' Why ! What is your reason for saying so ? ' 



JANE EYBE 435 

' I read it in your eye ; it is not of that description which 
promises the maintenance of an even tenor in life.' 

' I am not ambitious.' 

He started at the word ' ambitious.' He repeated, ' No. 
What made you think of ambition ? Who is ambitious ? I 
know I am : but how did you find it out ? ' 

' I was speaking of myself.' 

'Well, if you are not ambitious, you are* He 

paused. 

'What?' 

' I was going to say, impassioned : but perhaps you 
would have misunderstood the word, and been displeased. 
I mean, that human affections and sympathies have a most 
powerful hold on you. I am sure you cannot long be 
content to pass your leisure in solitude, and to devote your 
working hours to a monotonous labour wholly void of 
stimulus ; any more than I can be content,' he added, with 
emphasis, ' to live here buried in morass, pent in with 
mountain my nature, that God gave me, contravened ; my 
faculties, heaven-bestowed, paralysed made useless. You 
hear now how I contradict myself. I, who preached 
contentment with a humble lot, and justified the vocation 
even of hewers of wood, and drawers of water, in God's 
service I, His ordained minister, almost rave in my restless- 
ness. Well, propensities and principles must be reconciled 
by some means.' 

He left the room. In this brief hour I had learnt more 
of him than in the whole previous month : yet still he 
puzzled me. 

Diana and Mary Kivers became more sad and silent as 
the day approached for leaving their brother and their home. 
They both tried to appear as usual ; but the sorrow they had to 
struggle against was one that could not be entirely conquered 
or concealed. Diana intimated that this would be a different 
parting from any they had ever yet known. It would 
probably, as far as St. John was concerned, be a parting for 
years : it might be a parting for life. 



436 JANE EYKE 

'He will sacrifice all to his long-framed resolves,' she 
said : ' natural affection and feelings more potent still. 
St. John looks quiet, Jane ; but he hides a fever in his vitals. 
You would think him gentle, yet in some things he is inex- 
orable as death ; and the worst of it is, my conscience will 
hardly permit me to dissuade him from his severe decision : 
certainly, I cannot for a moment blame him for it. It is 
right, noble, Christian : yet it breaks my heart.' And the 
tears gushed to her fine eyes. Mary bent her head low over 
her work. 

' We are now without father : we shall soon be without 
home and brother,' she murmured. 

At that moment a little accident supervened which 
seemed decreed by fate purposely to prove the truth of the 
adage that ' misfortunes never come singly : ' and to add to 
their distresses the vexing one of the slip between the cup and 
the lip. St. John passed the window reading a letter. He 
entered. 

1 Our uncle John is dead,' said he. 

Both the sisters seemed struck : not shocked or appalled ; 
the tidings appeared in their eyes rather momentous than 
afflicting. 

' Dead ? ' repeated Diana. 

Yes.' 

She riveted a searching gaze on her brother's face. ' And 
what then ? ' she demanded, in a low voice. 

' What then, Die ? ' he replied, maintaining a marble 
immobility of feature. ' What then ? Why nothing. 
Bead.' 

He threw the letter into her lap. She glanced over it, and 
handed it to Mary. Mary perused it in silence, and returned 
it to her brother. All three looked at each other, and all 
three smiled a dreary, pensive smile enough. 
. ' Amen 1 We can yet live,' said Diana at last 

' At any rate, it makes us no worse off than we were 
before,' remarked Mary. 

4 Only it forces rather strongly on the mind the picture 



JANE EYKE 437 

of what might have been,' said Mr. Elvers ; ' and contrasts 
it somewhat too vividly with what is.' 

He folded the letter, locked it in his desk, and again went 
out. 

For some minutes no one spoke. Diana then turned to 
me. 

'Jane, you will wonder at us and our mysteries,' she 
said, 'and think us hard-hearted beings not to be more 
moved at the death of so near a relation as an uncle ; but we 
have never seen him or known him. He was my mother's 
brother. My father and he quarrelled long ago. It was by 
his advice that my father risked most of his property in the 
speculation that ruined him. Mutual recrimination passed 
between them : they parted in anger, and were never recon- 
ciled. My uncle engaged afterwards in more prosperous 
undertakings : it appears he realised a fortune of twenty 
thousand pounds. He was never married, and had no near 
kindred but ourselves, and one other person, not more 
closely related than we. My father always cherished the 
idea that he would atone for his error by leaving his 
possessions to us : that letter informs us that he has be- 
queathed every penny to the other relation ; with the 
exception of thirty guineas, to be divided between St. John, 
Diana, and Mary Rivers, for the purchase of three mourning 
rings. He had a right, of course, to do as he pleased : and 
yet a momentary damp is cast on the spirits by the receipt 
of such news. Mary and I would have esteemed ourselves 
rich with a thousand pounds each ; and to St. John such a 
sum would have been valuable, for the good it would have 
enabled him to do.' 

This explanation given, the subject was dropped, and no 
further reference made to it, by either Mr. Rivers or his 
sisters. The next day I left Marsh End for Morton. The 

day after, Diana and Mary quitted it for distant B . 

In a week, Mr. Rivers and Hannah repaired to the parson- 
age : and so the old grange was abandoned. 



CHAPTER XXXI 

MY home, then, when I at last find a home, is a cottage : 
a little room with white-washed walls and a sanded floor ; 
containing four painted chairs and a table, a clock, a cup- 
board, with two or three plates and dishes, and a set of tea- 
things in delf. Above, a chamber of the same dimensions as 
the kitchen, with a deal bedstead, and chest of drawers ; 
small, yet too large to be filled with my scanty wardrobe : 
though the kindness of my gentle and generous friends haa 
increased that by a modest stock of such things as are 
necessary. 

It is evening. I have dismissed, with the fee of an 
orange, the little orphan who serves me as a handmaid. I 
am sitting alone on the hearth. This morning the village 
school opened. I had twenty scholars. But three of the 
number can read : none write or cypher. Several knit, and 
a few sew a little. They speak with the broadest accent of 
the district. At present they and I have a difficulty in 
understanding each other's language. Some of them are 
unmannered, rough, intractable, as well as ignorant ; but 
others are docile, have a wish to learn, and evince a dis- 
position that pleases me. I must not forget that these 
coarsely-clad little peasants are of flesh and blood as good 
as the scions of gentlest genealogy ; and that the germs of 
native excellence, refinement, intelligence, kind feeling, are 
as likely to exist in then* hearts as in those of the best-born. 
My duty will be to develop these germs : surely I shall find 
some happiness in discharging that office. Much enjoyment 
I do not expect in the life opening before me : yet it will, 



JANE EtEE 439 

doubtless, if I regulate my mind, and exert my powers as I 
ought, yield me enough to live on from day to day. 

Was I very gleeful, settled, content, during the hours I 
passed in yonder bare, humble school-room this morning and 
afternoon ? Not to deceive myself, I must reply No : I 
felt desolate to a degree. I felt yes, idiot that I am I felt 
degraded. I doubted I had taken a step which sank instead 
of raising me in the scale of social existence. I was weakly 
dismayed at the ignorance, the poverty, the coarseness of all 
I heard and saw round me. But let me not hate and despise 
myself too much for these feelings : I know them to be wrong 
that is a great step gained ; I shall strive to overcome them. 
To-morrow, I trust, I shall get the better of them partially ; 
and in a few weeks, perhaps, they will be quite subdued. In 
a few months, it is possible, the happiness of seeing progress, 
and a change for the better in my scholars, may substitute 
gratification for disgust. 

Meantime, let me ask myself one question Which is 
better? To have surrendered to temptation listened to 
passion ; made no painful effort no struggle ; but to have 
sunk down in the silken snare ; fallen asleep on the flowers 
covering it ; wakened in a southern clime, amongst the 
luxuries of a pleasure villa : to have been now living in 
France, Mr. Eochester's mistress ; delirious with his love 
half my time for he would oh, yes, he would have loved 
me well for a while. He did love me no one will ever love 
me so again. I shall never more know the sweet homage 
given to beauty, youth, and grace for never to any one else 
shall I seem to possess these charms. He was fond and 
proud of me it is what no man besides will ever be. But 
where am I wandering, and what am I saying ; and, above 
all, feeling ? Whether is it better, I ask, to be a slave in a 
fool's paradise at Marseilles fevered with delusive bliss one 
hour suffocating with the bitterest tears of remorse and 
shame the next or to be a village schoolmistress, free and 
honest, in a breezy mountain nook in the healthy heart of 
England ? 



440 JANE EYEE 

Yes ; I feel now that I was right when I adhered to 
principle and law, and scorned and crushed the insane 
promptings of a frenzied moment. God directed me to a 
correct choice : I thank His providence for the guidance. 

Having brought my eventide musings to this point, I rose, 
went to my door, and looked at the sunset of the harvest-day, 
and at the quiet fields before my cottage ; which, with the 
school, was distant half a mile from the village. The birds 
were singing their last strains 

The air was mild ; the dew was balm. 

While I looked, I thought myself happy, and was surprised 
to find myself ere long weeping and why ? For the doom 
which had reft me from adhesion to my master : for him I 
was no more to see ; for the desperate grief and fatal 
fury consequences of my departure which might now, 
perhaps, be dragging him from the path of right, too far to 
leave hope of ultimate restoration thither. At this thought, 
I turned my face aside from the lovely sky of eve and lonely 
vale of Morton I say lonely, for in that bend of it visible to 
me there was no building apparent save the church and the 
parsonage, half-hid in trees ; and, quite at the extremity, 
the roof of Vale Hall, where the rich Mr. Oliver and his 
daughter lived. I hid my eyes, and leant my head against 
the stone frame of my door; but soon a slight noise near 
the wicket which shut in my tiny garden from the meadow 
beyond it made me look up. A dog old Carlo, Mr. Rivers' 
pointer, as I saw in a moment was pushing the gate with 
his nose, and St. John himself leant upon it with folded arms ; 
his brow knit, his gaze, grave almost to displeasure, fixed on 
me. I asked him to come in 

' No, I cannot stay ; I have only brought you a little 
parcel my sisters left for you. I think it contains a colour- 
box, pencils, and paper.' 

I approached to take it : a welcome gift it was. He 
examined my face, I thought, with austerity, as I came near : 
the traces of tears were doubtless very visible upon it. 



JANE EYKE 441 

' Have you found your first day's work harder than you 
expected ? ' he asked. 

' Oh, no ! On the contrary, I think in time I shall get on 
with my scholars very well.' 

' But perhaps your accommodations your cottage your 
furniture have disappointed your expectations ? They are, 
in truth, scanty enough ; but ' 

I interrupted : ' My cottage is clean and weather-proof ; 
my furniture sufficient and commodious. All I see has made 
me thankful, not despondent. I am not absolutely such a 
fool and sensualist as to regret the absence of a carpet, a 
sofa, and silver plate : besides, five weeks ago I had nothing 
I was an outcast, a beggar, a vagrant ; now I have 
acquaintance, a home, a business. I wonder at the goodness 
of God ; the generosity of my friends ; the bounty of my lot. 
I do not repine.' 

' But you feel solitude an oppression ? The little house 
there behind you is dark and empty.' 

' I have hardly had time yet to enjoy a sense of tran- 
quillity, much less to grow impatient under one of loneli- 
ness.' 

' Very well ; I hope you feel the content you express : at 
any rate, your good sense will tell you that it is too soou yet 
to yield to the vacillating fears of Lot's wife. What you had 
left before I saw you, of course I do not know ; but I counsel 
you to resist, firmly, every temptation which would incline 
you to look back : pursue your present career steadily, for 
some months at least.' 

' It is what I mean to do,' I answered. 

St. John continued : ' It is hard work to control the 
workings of inclination, and turn the bent of nature : but 
that it may be done I know from experience. God has 
given us, in a measure, the power to make our own fate ; 
and when our energies seem to demand a sustenance 
they cannot get when our will strains after a path we may 
not follow we need neither starve from inanition, nor stand 
still in despair : we have but to seek another nourishment for 



442 JANE EYRE 

the mind, as strong as the forbidden fruit it longed to taste 
and perhaps purer ; and to hew out for theadventurous foot 
a road as direct and broad as the one Fortune has blocked up 
against us, if rougher than it. 

' A year ago I was myself intensely miserable, because 
I thought I had made a mistake in entering the ministry : its 
uniform duties wearied me to death. I burnt for the more 
active life of the world for the more exciting toils of a 
literary career for the destiny of an artist, author, orator ; 
anything rather than that of a priest : yes, the heart of a 
politician, of a soldier, of a votary of glory, a lover of renown, 
a luster after power, beat under my curate's surplice. I 
considered ; my life was so wretched, it must be changed, or 
I must die. After a season of darkness and struggling, light 
broke and relief fell : my cramped existence all at once 
spread out to a plain without bounds my powers heard a 
call from heaven to rise, gather their full strength, spread 
then* wings, and mount beyond ken. God had an errand for 
me ; to bear which afar, to deliver it well, skill and strength, 
courage and eloquence, the best qualifications of soldier, 
statesman, and orator, were all needed : for these all centre 
in the good missionary. 

' A missionary I resolved to be. From that moment my 
state of mind changed ; the fetters dissolved and dropped 
from every faculty, leaving nothing of bondage but its galling 
soreness which time only can heal. My father, indeed, 
opposed the determination, but since his death I have not a 
legitimate obstacle to contend with ; some affairs settled, a 
successor for Morton provided, an entanglement or two of 
the feelings broken through or cut asunder a last conflict 
with human weakness, in which I know I shall overcome, 
because I have vowed that I will overcome and I leave 
Europe for the East.' 

He said this in his peculiar, subdued, yet emphatic voice ; 
looking, when he had ceased speaking, not at me, but at the 
setting sun, at which I looked too. Both he and I had our 
backs towards the path leading up the field to the wicket. 



JANE EYEE 443 

We had heard no step on that grass-grown track ; the water 
running in the vale was the one lulling sound of the hour 
and scene ; we might well then start when a gay voice, 
sweet as a silver bell, exclaimed : ' Good evening, Mr. Rivers. 
And good evening, old Carlo. Your dog is quicker to 
recognise his friends than you are, sir ; he pricked his ears 
and wagged his tail when I was at the bottom of the field, 
and you have your back towards me now.' 

It was true. Though Mr. Eivers had started at the first 
of those musical accents, as if a thunderbolt had split a 
cloud over his head, he stood yet, at the close of the sentence, 
in the same attitude in which the speaker had surprised him 
his arm resting on the gate, his face directed towards the 
west. He turned at last, with measured deliberation. A 
vision, as it seemed to me, had risen at his side. There 
appeared, within three feet of him, a form clad in pure 
white a youthful, graceful form : full, yet fine in contour ; 
and when, after bending to caress Carlo, it lifted' up its head, 
and threw back a long veil, there bloomed under his glance a 
face of perfect beauty. Perfect beauty is a strong expression ; 
but I do not retrace or qualify it : as sweet features as ever 
the temperate clime of Albion moulded ; as pure hues of rose 
and lily as ever her humid gales and vapoury skies generated 
and screened justified, in this instance, the term. No charm 
was wanting, no defect was perceptible ; the young girl had 
regular and delicate lineaments ; eyes shaped and coloured 
as we see them in lovely pictures, large, and dark, and full ; 
the long and shadowy eyelash which encircles a fine eye 
with so soft a fascination ; the pencilled brow which gives 
such clearness ; the white, smooth forehead, which adds 
such repose to the livelier beauties of tint and ray ; the cheek, 
oval, fresh, and smooth ; the lips, fresh too, ruddy, healthy, 
sweetly formed ; the even and gleaming teeth without flaw ; 
the small dimpled chin ; the ornament of rich, plenteous 
tresses all advantages, in short, which, combined, realise 
the ideal of beauty were fully hers. I wondered, as I looked 
at this fair creature : I admired her with my whole 



444 JANE EYRE 

heart. Nature had surely formed her in a partial mood ; 
and, forgetting her usual stinted stepmother dole of gifts, 
had endowed this, her darling, with a granddame's bounty. 

What did St. John Rivers think of this earthly angel ? I 
naturally asked myself that question as I saw him turn to 
her and look at her ; and, as naturally, I sought the answer 
to the inquiry in his countenance. He had already with- 
drawn his eye from the Peri, and was looking at a humble 
tuft of daisies which grew by the wicket. 

1 A lovely evening, but late for you to be out alone,' he 
said, as he crushed the snowy heads of the closed flowers 
with his foot. 

' Oh, I only came home from S ' (she mentioned the 

name of a large town some twenty miles distant) 'this 
afternoon. Papa told me you had opened your school, and 
that the new mistress was come ; and so I put on my bonnet 
after tea, and ran up the valley to see her : this is she ? ' 
pointing to me. 

' It is/ said St. John. 

' Do you think you shall like Morton ? ' she asked of me : 
with a direct and naive simplicity of tone and manner, 
pleasing, if child-like. 

' I hope I shall. I have many inducements to do so.' 

' Did you find your scholars as attentive as you expected ? ' 

1 Quite.' 

' Do you like your house ? ' 

' Very much.' 

' Have I furnished it nicely ? ' 

' Very nicely indeed.' 

'And made a good choice of an attendant for you in 
Alice Wood ? ' 

' You have, indeed. She is teachable and handy.' (This, 
then, I thought, is Miss Oliver, the heiress ; favoured, 
it seems, in the gifts of fortune, as well as in those of nature ! 
What happy combination of the planets presided over her 
birth, I wonder ?) 

' I shall come up and help you to teach sometimes,' she 



JANE EYRE 445 

added. 'It will be a change for me to visit you now and 
then ; and I like a change. Mr. Eivers, I have been so gay 
during my stay at S . Last night, or rather this morn- 
ing, I was dancing till two o'clock. The th regiment 

are stationed there since the riots ; and the officers are the 
most agreeable men in the world : they put all our young 
knife-grinders and scissor merchants to shame.' 

It seemed to me that Mr. St. John's under lip protruded, 
and his upper lip curled a moment. His mouth certainly 
looked a good deal compressed, and the lower part of his 
face unusually stern and square, as the laughing girl gave 
him this information. He lifted his gaze, too, from the 
daisies, and turned it on her. An unsmiling, a searching, a 
meaning gaze it was. She answered it with a second laugh, 
and laughter well became her youth, her roses, her dimples, 
her bright eyes. 

As he stood, mute and grave, she again fell to caressing 
Carlo. 

1 Poor Carlo loves me,' said she. ' He is not stern and 
distant to his friends ; and if he could speak, he would not 
be silent.' 

As she patted the dog's head, bending with native grace 
before his young and austere master, I saw a glow rise to 
that master's face. I saw his solemn eye melt with 
sudden fire, and flicker with resistless emotion. Flushed 
and kindled thus, he looked nearly as beautiful for a man 
as she for a woman. His chest heaved once, as if his 
large heart, weary of despotic constriction, had expanded, 
despite the will, and made a vigorous bound for the attain- 
ment of liberty. But he curbed it, I think, as a resolute 
rider would curb a rearing steed. He responded neither 
by word nor movement to the gentle advances made 
him. 

'Papa says you never come to see us now,' continued 
Miss Oliver, looking up. ' You are quite a stranger at Vale 
Hall. He is alone this evening, and not very well : will you 
return with me and visit him ? ' 



446 JANE EYRE 

' It is not a seasonable hour to intrude on Mr. Oliver,' 
answered St. John. 

4 Not a seasonable hour ! But I declare it is. It is just 
the hour when papa most wants company : when the works 
are closed, and he has no business to occupy him. Now, 
Mr. Rivers, do come. Why are you so very shy, and so very 
sombre ? ' 

She filled up the hiatus his silence left by a reply of her 
own. 

' I forgot ! ' she exclaimed, shaking her beautiful curled 
head, as if shocked at herself. ' I am so giddy and thought- 
less ! Do excuse me. It had slipped my memory that you 
have good reasons to be indisposed for joining in my chatter. 
Diana and Mary have left you, and Moor House is shut up, 
and you are so lonely. I am sure I pity you. Do come and 
see papa.' 

' Not to-night, Miss Rosamond, not to-night.' 

Mr. St. John spoke almost like an automaton : himself 
only knew the effort it cost him thus to refuse. 

' Well, if you are so obstinate, I will leave you ; for I dare 
not stay any longer : the dew begins to fall. Good-evening 1 ' 

She held out her hand. He just touched it. 'Good- 
evening ! ' he repeated, in a voice low and hollow as an echo. 
She turned ; but in a moment returned. 

'Are you well?' she asked. Well might she put the 
question : his face was blanched as her gown. 

' Quite well,' he enunciated ; and, with a bow, he left the 
gate. She went one way ; he another. She turned twice to 
gaze after him, as she tripped fairy-like down the field ; he, 
as he strode firmly across, never turned at all. 

This spectacle of another's suffering and sacrifice rapt 
my thoughts from exclusive meditation on my own. Diana 
Rivers had designated her brother ' inexorable as death.' She 
had not exaggerated. 



CHAPTEK XXXII 

I CONTINUED the labours of the village- school as actively 
and faithfully as I could. It was truly hard work at first. 
Some time elapsed before, with all my efforts, I could 
comprehend my scholars and their nature. Wholly untaught, 
with faculties quite torpid, they seemed to me hopelessly 
dull ; and, at first sight, all dull alike : but I soon found I 
was mistaken. There was a difference amongst them as 
amongst the educated ; and when I got to know them, and 
they me, this difference rapidly developed itself. Their 
amazement at me, my language, my rules, and ways, once 
subsided, I found some of these heavy-looking, gaping rustics 
wake up into sharp-witted girls enough. Many showed 
themselves obliging, and amiable too ; and I discovered 
amongst them not a few examples of natural politeness and 
innate self-respect, as well as of excellent capacity, that won 
both my goodwill and my admiration. These soon took a 
pleasure in doing their work well ; in keeping their persons 
neat; in learning their tasks regularly; in acquiring quiet 
and orderly manners. The rapidity of their progress, in 
some instances, was even surprising; and an honest and 
happy pride I took in it : besides, I began personally to like 
some of the best girls ; and they liked me. I had amongst 
my scholars several farmers' daughters : young women 
grown, almost. These could already read, write, and sew; 
and to them I taught the elements of grammar, geography, 
history, and the finer kinds of needlework. I found estimable 
characters amongst them characters desirous of infor- 
mation, and disposed for improvement with whom I passed 
many a pleasant evening hour in their own homes. Their 



448 JANE EYRE 

parents then (the farmer and his wife) loaded me with 
attentions. There was an enjoyment in accepting their 
simple kindness, and in repaying it by a consideration a 
scrupulous regard to their feelings to which they were not, 
perhaps, at all times accustomed, and which both charmed 
and benefited them ; because, while it elevated them in their 
own eyes, it made them emulous to merit the deferential 
treatment they received. 

I felt I became a favourite in the neighbourhood. When- 
ever I went out, I heard on all sides cordial salutations, and 
was welcomed with friendly smiles. To live amidst general' 
regard, though it be but the regard of working-people, is like 
1 sitting in sunshine, calm and sweet : ' serene inward 
feelings bud and bloom under the ray. At this period of my 
life my heart far oftener swelled with thankfulness than 
sank with dejection : and yet, reader, to tell you all, in the 
midst of this calm, this useful existence after a day passed 
in honourable exertion amongst my scholars, an evening 
spent in drawing or reading contentedly alone I used to 
rush into strange dreams at night : dreams many-coloured, 
agitated, full of the ideal, the stirring, the stormy dreams 
where, amidst unusual scenes, charged with adventure, with 
agitating risk and romantic chance, I still again and again 
met Mr. Eochester, always at some exciting crisis ; and then 
the sense of being in his arms, hearing his voice, meeting his 
eye, touching his hand and cheek, loving him, being loved by 
him the hope of passing a lifetime at his side, would be 
renewed, with all its first force and fire. Then I awoke. 
Then I recalled where I was, and how situated. Then I 
rose up on my curtainless bed, trembling and quivering; 
and then the still, dark night witnessed the convulsion of 
despair and heard the burst of passion. By nine o'clock the 
next morning I was punctually opening the school ; tranquil, 
settled, prepared for the steady duties of the day. 

Eosamond Oliver kept her word in coming to visit me. 
Her call at the school was generally made in the course of 
her morning ride. She would canter up to the door on her 



JANE EYRE 449 

pony, followed by a mounted livery servant. Anything more 
exquisite than her appearance, in her purple habit, with her 
Amazon's cap of black velvet placed gracefully above the 
long curls that kissed her cheek and floated to her shoulders, 
can scarcely be imagined : and it was thus she would enter 
the rustic building, and glide through the dazzled ranks of 
the village children. She generally came at the hour when 
Mr. Eivers was engaged in giving his daily catechising 
lesson. Keenly, I fear, did the eye of the visitress pierce the 
young pastor's heart. A sort of instinct seemed to warn him 
of her entrance, even when he did not see it ; and when he 
was looking quite away from the door, if she appeared at it his 
cheek would glow and his marble-seeming features, though 
they refused to relax, changed indescribably : and in their very 
quiescence became expressive of a repressed fervour, stronger 
than working muscle or darting glance could indicate. 

Of course she knew her power: indeed, he did not, 
because he could not, conceal it from her. In spite of his 
Christian stoicism, when she went up and addressed him, and 
smiled gaily, encouragingly, even fondly in his face, his hand 
would tremble and his eye burn. He seemed to say, with 
his sad and resolute look, if he did not say it with his lips, 
1 1 love you, and I know you prefer me. It is not despair of 
success that keeps me dumb. If I offered my heart, I believe 
you would accept it. But that heart is already laid on a 
sacred altar : the fire is arranged round it. It will soon be 
no more than a sacrifice consumed.' 

And then she would pout like a disappointed child ; a 
pensive cloud would soften her radiant vivacity ; she would 
withdraw her hand hastily from his, and turn in transient 
petulance from his aspect, at once so heroic and so martyr- 
like. St. John, no doubt, would have given the world to follow, 
recall, retain her, when she thus left him : but he would not 
give one chance of Heaven ; nor relinquish, for the elysium 
of her love, one hope of the true, eternal Paradise. Besides, 
he could not bound all that he had in his nature the rover, 
the aspirant, the poet, the priest in the limits of a single 

G a 



450 JANE EYKE 

passion. He could not he would not renounce his wild 
field of mission warfare for the parlours and the peace of 
Vale Hall. I learnt so much from himself, in an inroad I 
once, despite his reserve, had the daring to make on his 
confidence. 

Miss Oliver already honoured me with frequent visits to 
my cottage. I had learnt her whole character ; which was 
without mystery or disguise : she was coquettish, but not 
heartless ; exacting, but not worthlessly selfish. She had 
been indulged from her birth, but was not absolutely spoilt. 
She was hasty, but good-humoured ; vain (she could not 
help it, when every glance in the glass showed her such a 
flush of loveliness), but not affected ; liberal-handed ; innocent 
of the pride of wealth; ingenuous; sufficiently intelligent; 
gay, lively, and unthinking: she was very charming, in 
short, even to a cool observer of her own sex like me ; but 
she was not profoundly interesting or thoroughly impressive. 
A very different sort of mind was hers from that, for instance, 
of the sisters of St. John. Still, I liked her almost as I liked 
my pupil Adele : except that for a child whom we have 
watched over and taught a closer affection is engendered 
than we can give an equally attractive adult acquaintance. 

She had taken an amiable caprice to me. She said I 
was like Mr. Kivers (only, certainly, she allowed, ' not one- 
tenth so handsome : though I was a nice neat little soul 
enough, but he was an angel '). I was, however, good, clever, 
composed, and firm, like him. I was a lusus naturae, she 
affirmed, as a village schoolmistress : she was sure my 
previous history, if known, would make a delightful 
romance. 

One evening, while, with her usual childlike activity, 
and thoughtless yet not offensive inquisitiveness, she was 
rummaging the cupboard and the table-drawer of my little 
kitchen, she discovered first two French books, a volume of 
Schiller, a German grammar and dictionary ; and then my 
drawing-materials and some sketches, including a pencil- 
head of a pretty little cherub-like girl, one of my scholars, 



JANE EYEE 451 

and sundry views from nature, taken in the Vale of Morton 
and on the surrounding moors. She was first transfixed 
with surprise, and then electrified with delight. 

c Had I done these pictures ? Did I know French and 
German? What a love what a miracle I was! I drew 

better than her master in the first school in S . Would 

I sketch a portrait of her, to show to papa ? ' 

' With pleasure,' I replied ; and I felt a thrill of artist- 
delight at the idea of copying from so perfect and radiant a 
model. She had then on a dark-blue silk dress ; her arms 
and her neck were bare ; her only ornament was her chesnut 
tresses, which waved over her shoulders with all the wild 
grace of natural curls. I took a sheet of fine cardboard, and 
drew a careful outline. I promised myself the pleasure of 
colouring it ; and, as it was getting late then, I told her she 
must come and sit another day. 

She made such a report of me to her father that Mr. 
Oliver himself accompanied her next evening a tall, 
massive-featured, middle-aged, and grey-headed man, at 
whose side his lovely daughter looked like a bright flower 
near a hoary turret. He appeared a taciturn, and perhaps a 
proud personage ; but he was very kind to me. The sketch 
of Rosamond's portrait pleased him highly : he said I must 
make a finished picture of it. He insisted, too, on my 
coming the next day to spend the evening at Vale Hall. 

I went. I found it a large, handsome residence, showing 
abundant evidences of wealth in the proprietor, Rosamond 
was full of glee and pleasure all the time I stayed. Her 
father was affable ; and when he entered into conversation 
with me after tea, he expressed in strong terms his approba- 
tion of what I had done in Morton school ; and said he only 
feared, from what he saw and heard, I was too good for the 
place, and would soon quit it for one more suitable. 

' Indeed ! ' cried Rosamond, ' she is clever enough to be a 
governess in a high family, papa.' 

I thought I would far rather be where I am than in any 
high family in the land. Mr. Oliver spoke of Mr. Rivers 



452 JANE EYRE 

of the Rivers family with great respect. He said it was a 
very old name in that neighborhood; that the ancestors of 
the house were wealthy; that all Morton had once belonged 
to them, that even now he considered the representative of 
that house might, if he liked, make an alliance with the best. 
He accounted it a pity that so fine and talented a young man 
should have formed the design of going out as a missionary ; 
it was quite throwing a valuable life away. It appeared, then, 
that her father \\oul 11 throw no obstacle in the way of Rosa- 
mond's union with St. John. Mr. Oliver evidently regarded 
the young clergyman's good birth, old name, and sacred 
profession as sufficient compensation for the want of fortune. 

It was the 5th of November, and a holiday. My little 
servant, after helping me to clean my house, was gone, well 
satisfied with the fee of a penny for her aid. All about rne 
was spotless and bright scoured floor, polished grate, and 
well-rubbed chairs. I had also made myself neat, and had 
now the afternoon before me to spend as I would. 

The translation of a few pages of German occupied an 
hour; then I got my palette and pencils, and fell to the more 
soothing, because easier, occupation of completing Rosa- 
mond Oliver's miniature. The head was finished already: 
there was but the background to tint and the drapery to 
shade off ; a touch of carmine, too, to add to the ripe lips 
a soft curl here and there to the tresses a deeper tinge to 
the shadow of the lash under the azured eyelid. I was ab- 
sorbed in the execution of these nice details when, after one 
rapid tap, my door unclosed, admitting St. John Rivers. 

'I am come to see how you are spending your holiday/ 
he said. 'Not, I hope, in thought? No, that is well: while 
you draw you will not feel lonely. You see, I mistrust you 
still: though you have borne up wonderfully so far. I have 
brought you a book for evening solace,' and he laid on the 
table a new publication a poem: one of those genuine 
productions so often vouchsafed to the fortunate public of 
those days the golden age of modern literature. Alas! the 



JANfi YEE 453 

readers of our era are less favoured. But, courage ! I will 
not pause either to accuse or repine. I know poetry is not 
dead, nor genius lost ; nor has Mammon gained power over 
either, to bind or slay : they will both assert their existence, 
their presence, their liberty and strength again one day. 
Powerful angels, safe in heaven ! they smile when sordid souls 
triumph, and feeble ones weep over their destruction. Poetry 
destroyed ? Genius banished ? No ! Mediocrity, no : do 
not let envy prompt you to the thought. No ; they not only 
live, but reign, and redeem : and without their divine 
influence spread everywhere you would be in hell the hell 
of your own meanness. 

While I was eagerly glancing at the bright pages of 
Marmion (for Marmion it was) St. John stooped to examine 
my drawing. His tall figure sprang erect again with a start ; 
he said nothing. I looked up at him : he shunned my eye. 
I knew his thoughts well, and could read his heart plainly ; 
at the moment I felt calmer and cooler than he : I had then 
temporarily the advantage of him ; and I conceived an 
inclination to do him some good, if I could. 

'With all his firmness and self -control,' thought I, 'he 
tasks himself too far : locks every feeling and pang within 
expresses, confesses, imparts nothing. I am sure it would 
benefit him to talk a little about this sweet Eosamond, whom 
he thinks he ought not to many : I will make him talk.' 

I said first : ' Take a chair, Mr. Eivers.' But he answered, 
as he always did, that he could not stay. ' Very well,' I 
responded, mentally, ' stand if you like ; but you shall not 
go just yet, I am determined : solitude is at least as bad 
for you as it is for me. I'll try if I cannot discover the 
secret spring of your confidence, and find an aperture in that 
marble breast through which I can shed one drop of the balm 
of sympathy.' 

' Is this portrait like ? ' I asked bluntly. 

' Like ! Like whom ? I did not observe it closely.' 

' You did, Mr. Eivers.' 

He almost started at my sudden and strange abruptness : 



454 JANE EYEE 

he looked at me astonished. 'Oh, that is nothing yet,' I 
muttered within. 'I don't mean to be baffled by a little 
stiffness on your part ; I'm prepared to go to considerable 
lengths.' I continued, ' You observed it closely and dis- 
tinctly : but I have no objection to your looking at it again,' 
and I rose and placed it in his hand. 

' A well-executed picture,' he said ; ' very soft, clear colour- 
ing ; very graceful and correct drawing.' 

' Yes, yes ; I know all that. But what of the resemblance ? 
Who is it like?' 

Mastering some hesitation, he answered, ' Miss Oliver, I 
presume.' 

' Of course. And now, sir, to reward you for the accurate 
guess I will promise to paint you a careful and faithful 
duplicate of this very picture, provide'd you admit that the 
gift would be acceptable to you. I don't wish to throw away 
my time and trouble on an offering you would deem worth- 
less.' 

He continued to gaze at the picture : the longer he looked, 
the firmer he held it, the more he seemed to covet it. ' It is 
like ! ' he murmured ; ' the eye is well managed : the colour, 
light, expression, are perfect. It smiles ! ' 

' Would it comfort or would it wound you to have a 
similar painting ? Tell me that. When you are at Mada- 
gascar, or at the Cape, or in India, would it be a consolation 
to have that memento in your possession ? or would the sight 
of it bring recollections calculated to enervate and dis- 
tress ? ' 

He now furtively raised his eyes : he glanced at me, 
irresolute, disturbed ; he again surveyed the picture. 

1 That I should like to have it is certain : whether it 
would be judicious or wise is another question.' 

Since I had ascertained that Eosamond really preferred 
him, and that her father was not likely to oppose the match, 
I less exalted in my views than St. John had been strongly 
disposed in my own heart to advocate their union. It seemed 
to me that, should he become the possessor of Mr. Oliver's 



JANE EYRE 455 

large fortune, he might do as much good with it as if he 
went and laid his genius out to wither and his strength to 
waste under a tropical sun. With this persuasion I now 
answered : ' As far as I can see, it would be wiser and more 
judicious if you were to take to yourself the original at 
once.' 

By this time he had sat down : he had laid the picture on 
the table before him, and with his brow supported on both 
'hands hung fondly over it. I discerned he was now neither 
angry nor shocked at my audacity. I saw even that to be thus 
frankly addressed on a subject he had deemed unapproach- 
able to hear it thus freely handled was beginning to be 
felt by him as a new pleasure an unhoped-for relief. 
Eeserved people often really need the frank discussion of 
their sentiments and griefs more than the expansive. The 
sternest- seeming stoic is human after all ; and to ' burst ' 
with boldness and goodwill into 'the silent sea' of their 
souls is often to confer on them the first of obligations. 

' She likes you, I am sure,' said I, as I stood behind his 
chair, ' and her father respects you. Moreover, she is a sweet 
girl rather thoughtless ; but you would have sufficient 
thought for both yourself and her. You ought to marry 
her.' 

' Does she like me ? ' he asked. 

' Certainly ; better than she likes any one else. She 
talks of you continually : there is no subject she enjoys so 
much or touches upon so often.' 

' It is very pleasant to hear this,' he said c very : go on 
for another quarter of an hour.' And he actually took out 
his watch and laid it upon the table to measure the time. 

' But where is the use of going on,' I asked, ' when you 
are probably preparing some iron blow of contradiction, or 
forging a fresh chain to fetter your heart ? ' 

' Don't imagine such hard things. Fancy me yielding 
and melting, as I am doing : human love rising like a freshly 
opened fountain in ray mind and overflowing with sweet 
inundation all the field I have so carefully, and with such 



456 JANE EYRE 

labour prepared so assiduously sown with the seeds of good 
intentions, of self-denying plans. And now it is deluged 
with a nectarous flood the young germs swamped delicious 
poison cankering them : now I see myself stretched on an 
ottoman in the drawing-room at Vale Hall, at my bride 
Rosamond Oliver's feet : she is talking to me with her sweet 
voice gazing down on me with those eyes your skilful hand 
has copied so well smiling at me with these coral lips. She 
is mine I am hers this present life and passing world 
suffice to me. Hush ! say nothing my heart is full of delight 
my senses ark entranced let the time I marked pass in 
peace.' 

I humoured him : the watch ticked on : he breathed fast 
and low : I stood silent. Amidst this hush the quarter 
sped ; he replaced the watch, laid the picture down, rose, 
and stood on the hearth. 

' Now,' said he, ' that little space was given to delirium 
and delusion. I rested my temples on the breast of tempta- 
tion, and put my neck voluntarily under her yoke of flowers ; 
I tasted her cup. The pillow was burning ; there is an asp 
in the garland ; the wine has a bitter taste ; her promises 
are hollow her offers false ; I see and know all this.' 

I gazed at him in wonder. 

1 It is strange,' pursued he, ' that while I love Rosamond 
Oliver so wildly with all the intensity, indeed, of a first 
passion, the object of which is exquisitely beautiful, grace- 
ful, and fascinating I experience at the same time a calm, 
unwarped consciousness that she would not make me a 
good wife ; that she is not the partner suited to me ; that I 
should discover this within a year after marriage ; and that 
to twelve months' rapture would succeed a lifetime of regret. 
This I know.' 

' Strange, indeed ! ' I could not help ejaculating. 

' While something in me,' he went on, ' is acutely sensible 
to her charms, something else is as deeply impressed with 
her defects ; they are such that she could sympathise in 
nothing I aspired to co-operate in nothing I undertook. 



JANE EYRE 457 

Rosamond a sufferer, a labourer, a female apostle ? Rosa- 
mond a missionary's wife ? No ! ' 

' But you need not be a missionary. You might 
relinquish that scheme.' 

' Relinquish ! What ! my vocation ? My great work ? 
My foundation laid on earth for a mansion in heaven ? My 
hopes of being numbered in the band who have merged all 
ambitions in the glorious one of bettering their race of 
carrying knowledge into the realms of ignorance of substi- 
tuting peace for war freedom for bondage religion for 
superstition the hope of heaven for the fear of hell ? Must 
I relinquish that ? It is dearer than the blood in my veins. 
It is what I have to look forward to and to live for.' 

After a considerable pause, I said, ' And Miss Oliver ? 
Are her disappointment and sorrow of no interest to you ? ' 

' Miss Oliver is ever surrounded by suitors and flatterers ; 
in less than a month my image will be effaced from her 
heart. She will forget me ; and will marry, probably, some 
one who will make her far happier than I should do.' 

' You speak coolly enough ; but you suffer in the conflict. 
You are wasting away.' 

' No. If I get a little thin, it is with anxiety about my 
prospects, yet unsettled my departure, continually pro- 
crastinated. Only this morning I received intelligence that 
the successor, whose arrival I have been so long expecting, 
cannot be ready to replace me for three months to come yet ; 
and perhaps the three months may extend to six.' 

' You tremble and become flushed whenever Miss Oliver 
enters the school-room.' 

Again the surprised expression crossed his face. He had 
not imagined that a woman would dare to speak so to a 
man. For me, I felt at home in this sort of discourse. I 
could never rest in communication with strong, discreet, and 
refined minds, whether male or female, till I had passed the 
outworks of conventional reserve, and crossed the threshold 
of confidence, and won a place by their heart's very hearth- 
stone. 

' You are original,' said he, ' and not timid. There is 



468 JANE EYRE" 

something brave in your spirit, as well as penetrating in 
your eye ; but allow me to assure you that you partially 
misinterpret my emotions. You think them more profound 
and potent than they are. You give me a larger allowance 
of sympathy than I have a just claim to. When I colour, 
and when I shake before Miss Oliver, I do not pity myself. 
I scorn the weakness. I know it is ignoble ; a mere fever 
of the flesh : not, I declare, a convulsion of the soul. That 
is just as fixed as a rock firm set in the depths of a restless 
sea. Know me to be what I am a cold, hard man.' 

I smiled incredulously. 

1 You have taken my confidence by storm,' he continued : 
' and now it is much at your service. I am simply, in my 
original state -stripped of that blood- bleached robe with 
which Christianity covers human deformity a cold, hard, 
ambitious man. Natural affection only, of all the sentiments, 
has permanent power over me. Reason, and not Feeling, is 
my guide : my ambition is unlimited ; my desire to rise 
higher, to do more than others, insatiable. I honour endur- 
ance, perseverance, industry, talent ; because these are the 
means by which men achieve great ends and mount to lofty 
eminence. I watch your career with interest, because I 
consider you a specimen of a diligent, orderly, energetic 
woman ; not because I deeply compassionate what you have 
gone through, or what you still suffer.' 

'You would describe yourself as a mere pagan philo- 
sopher,' I said. 

' No. There is this difference between me and deistic 
philosophers : I believe ; and I believe the Gospel. You 
missed your epithet. I am not a pagan, but a Christian 
philosopher a follower of the sect of Jesus. As His disciple 
I adopt His pure, His merciful, His benignant doctrines. I 
advocate them : I am sworn to spread them. Won in youth 
to religion, she has cultivated my original qualities thus : 
From the minute germ, natural affection, she has developed 
the overshadowing tree, philanthropy. From the wild, 
stringy root of human uprightness, she has reared a due sense 



JANE EYRE 459 

of the Divine justice. Of the ambition to win power and 
renown for my wretched self, she has formed the ambition 
to spread my Master's kingdom ; to achieve victories for the 
standard of the cross. So much has religion done for me ; 
turning the original materials to the best account ; pruning 
and training nature. But she could not eradicate nature : 
nor will it be eradicated " till this mortal shall put on 
immortality." ' 

Having said this, he took his hat, which lay on the table 
beside my palette. Once more he looked at the portrait. 

' She is lovely,' he murmured. ' She is well named the 
Eose of the World, indeed ! ' 

' And may I not paint one like it for you ? ' 

1 Cui bono? No.' 

He drew over the picture the sheet of thin paper on 
which I was accustomed to rest my hand in painting to 
prevent the cardboard from being sullied. What he 
euddenly saw on this blank paper it was impossible for me 
to tell ; but something had caught his eye. He took it up 
with a snatch ; he looked at the edge ; then shot a glance at 
me, inexpressibly peculiar and quite incomprehensible : a 
glance that seemed to take and make note of every point in 
my shape, face, and dress ; for it traversed all, quick, keen as 
lightning. His lips parted, as if to speak: but he checked 
the coming sentence, whatever it was. 

1 What is the matter ? ' I asked. 

1 Nothing in the world,' was the reply ; and, replacing 
the paper, I saw him dexterously tear a narrow slip from the 
margin. It disappeared in his glove ; and, with one hasty 
nod and ' good- afternoon,' he vanished. 

' Well ! ' I exclaimed, using an expression of the district, 
' that caps the globe, however ! ' 

I, in my turn, scrutinised the paper, but saw nothing on 
it save a few dingy stains of paint where I had tried the tint 
in my pencil. I pondered the mystery a minute or two ; 
but finding it insolvable, and being certain it could not be of 
much moment, I dismissed and soon forgot it, 



CHAPTEE XXXIII 

WHEN Mr. St. John went it was beginning to snow ; the 
whirling storm continued all night. The next day a keen 
wind brought fresh and blinding falls; by twilight the 
valley was drifted up and almost impassable. I had closed 
my shutter, laid a mat to the door to prevent the snow 
from blowing in under it, trimmed my fire, and after sitting 
nearly an hour on the hearth listening to the muffled 
fury of the tempest, I lit a candle, took down Marmion, and 

beginning 

Day set on Norham's castled steep, 
And Tweed's fair river broad and deep, 

And Cheviot's mountains lone ; 
The massive towers, the donjon keep, 
The flanking walls that round them sweep, 

In yellow lustre shone, 

I soon forgot storm in music. 

I heard a noise : the wind, I thought, shook the door. 
No ; it was St. John Rivers, who, lifting the latch, came 
in out of the frozen hurricane the howling darkness 
and stood before me : the cloak that covered his tall figure 
all white as a glacier. I was almost in consternation ; so 
little had I expected any guest from the blocked-up vale 
that night. 

' Any ill news ? ' I demanded. ' Has anything 
happened ? ' 

' No. How very easily alarmed you are ! ' he answered, 
removing his cloak and hanging it up against the door, 
towards which he again coolly pushed the mat which his 
entrance had deranged. He stamped the snow from his 
boots. 



JANE EYRE 461 

' I shall sully the purity of your floor,' said he, ' but 
you must excuse me for once.' Then he approached the 
fire : ' I have had hard work to get here, I assure you,' 
he observed, as he warmed his hands over the flame. ' One 
drift took me up to the waist ; happily the snow is quite 
soft yet.' 

' But why are you come ? ' I could not forbear saying. 

' Bather an inhospitable question to put to a visitor ; but 
since you ask it, I answer simply to have a little talk with 
you ; I got tired of my mute books and empty rooms. 
Besides, since yesterday I have experienced the excitement 
of a person to whom a tale has been half-told, and who is 
impatient to hear the sequel.' 

He sat down. I recalled his singular conduct of yester- 
day, and really I began to fear his wits were touched. If 
he were insane, however, his was a very cool and collected 
insanity : I had never seen that handsome-featured face of 
his look more like chiselled marble than it did just now, as 
he put aside his snow-wet hair from his forehead and let 
the firelight shine free on his pale brow and cheek as pale, 
where it grieved me to discover the hollow trace of care or 
sorrow now so plainly graved. I waited, expecting he 
would say something I could at least comprehend ; but his 
hand was now at his chin, his finger on his lip : he was 
thinking. It struck me that his hand looked wasted like his 
face. A perhaps uncalled-for gush of pity came over my 
heart : I was moved to say : ' I wish Diana or Mary would 
come and live with you : it is too bad that you should be 
quite alone ; and you are recklessly rash about your own 
health.' 

' Not at all,' said he : ' I care for myself when necessary ; 
I am well now. What do you see amiss in me ? ' 

This was said with a careless, abstracted indifference, 
which showed that my solicitude was, at least in his opinion, 
wholly superfluous. I was silenced. 

He still slowly moved his finger over his upper lip, 
and still his eye dwelt dreamily on the glowing grate. 



462 JANE EYRE 

Thinking it urgent to say something, I asked him presently 
if he felt any cold draught from the door, which was behind 
him. 

1 No, no,' he responded, shortly and somewhat testily. 

4 Well,' I reflected, ' if you won't talk, you may be still ; 
I'll let you alone now, and return to my book.' 

So I snuffed the candle, and resumed the perusal of 
Marmion. He soon stirred ; my eye was instantly drawn to 
his movements ; he only took out a morocco pocket-book, 
thence produced a letter, which he read in silence, folded it, 
put it back, relapsed into meditation. It was vain to try to 
read with such an inscrutable fixture before me ; nor could 
I, in my impatience, consent to be dumb ; he might rebuff 
me if he liked, but talk I would. 

' Have you heard from Diana and Mary lately ? ' 

' Not since the letter I showed you a week ago.' 

' There has not been any change made about your own 
arrangements ? You will not be summoned to leave England 
sooner than you expected ? ' 

' I fear not, indeed : such chance is too good to befall me.' 
Baffled so far I changed my ground I bethought myself to 
talk about the school and my scholars. 

' Mary Garrett's mother is better, and Mary came back to 
the school this morning, and I shall have four new girls 
next week from the Foundry Close they would have come 
to-day but for the snow.' 

' Indeed ! ' 

' Mr. Oliver pays for two.' 

' Does he ? ' 

1 He means to give the whole school a treat at Christmas.' 

' I know.' 

' Was it your suggestion ? ' 

'No.' 

1 Whose, then ? ' 

1 His daughter's, I think.' 

1 It is like her : she is so good-natured.' 

1 Yes.' 



JANE EYEE 463 

Again came the blank of a pause : the clock struck eight 
strokes. It aroused him ; he uncrossed his legs, sat erect, 
turned to me. 

' Leave your book a moment, and come a little nearer the 
fire,' he said. 

Wondering, and of my wonder finding no end, I complied. 

1 Half an hour ago,' he pursued, ' I spoke of my impatience 
to hear the sequel of a tale : on reflection, I find the matter 
will be better managed by my assuming the narrator's part, 
and converting you into a listener. Before commencing it 
is but fair to warn you that the story will sound somewhat 
hackneyed in your ears : but stale details often regain a 
degree of freshness when they pass through new lips. For 
the rest, whether trite or novel, it is short. 

' Twenty years ago a poor curate never mind his name 
at this moment fell in love with a rich man's daughter ; she 
fell in love with him, and married him, against the advice of 
all her friends ; who consequently disowned her immediately 
after the wedding. Before two years passed the rash pair 
were both dead, and laid quietly side by side under one slab. 
(I have seen their grave ; it formed part of the pavement of 
a huge churchyard surrounding the grim, soot-black old 

cathedral of an overgrown manufacturing town in shire. 

They left a daughter, which, at its very birth, Charity received 
in her lap cold as that of the snow-drift I almost stuck 
fast in to-night. Charity carried the friendless thing to the 
house of its rich maternal relations ; it was reared by an 
aunt-in-law called (I come to names now) Mrs. Eeed, of 
Gateshead you start did you hear a noise ? I daresay it 
is only a rat scrambling along the rafters of the adjoining 
schoolroom : it was a barn before I had it repaired and 
altered, and barns are generally haunted by rats. To proceed. 
Mrs. Eeed kept the orphan ten years : whether it was happy 
or not with her I cannot say, never having been told ; but at 
the end of that time she transferred it to a place you know 
being no other than Lowood School, where you so long 
resided yourself. It seems her career there was very honour- 



164 JANE EYRE 

able : from a pupil she became a teacher, like yourself 
really it strikes me there are parallel points in her history 
and yours she left it to be a governess : there, again, your 
fates were analogous ; she undertook the education of the 
ward of a certain Mr. Rochester.' 

1 Mr. Rivers ! ' I interrupted. 

' I can guess your feelings,' he said, ' but restrain them 
for a while : I have nearly finished ; hear me to the end. Of 
Mr. Rochester's character I know nothing, but the one fact 
that he professed to offer honourable marriage to this young 
girl, and that at the very altar she discovered he had a wife 
yet alive, though a lunatic. What his subsequent conduct 
and proposals were is a matter of pure conjecture ; but when 
an event transpired which rendered inquiry after th) 
governess necessary, it was discovered she was gone no one 
could tell when, where, or how. She had left Thornfield 
Hall in the night ; every research after her course had been 
vain : the country had been scoured far and wide ; no vestige 
of information could be gathered respecting her. Yet that 
she should be found is become a matter of serious urgency : 
advertisements have been put in all the papers ; I myself 
have received a letter from one Mr. Briggs, a solicitor, com- 
municating the details I have just imparted. Is it not an 
odd tale ? ' 

' Just tell me this,' said I, ' and since you know so much 
you surely can tell it me what of Mr. Rochester ? How 
and where is he ? What is he doing ? Is he well ? ' 

' I am ignorant of all concerning Mr. Rochester : the 
letter never mentions him but to narrate the fraudulent and 
illegal attempt I have adverted to. You should rather ask 
the name of the governess the nature of the event which 
requires her appearance.' 

' Did no one go to Thornfield Hall then? Did no one 
see Mr. Rochester ? ' 

' I suppose not.' 

1 But they wrote to him ? ' 

' Of course.' 



JANE EYRE 65 

1 And what did he say ? Who has his letters ? ' 

' Mr. Briggs intimates that the answer to his application 
was not from Mr. Rochester, but from a lady : it is signed 
" Alice Fairfax." ' 

I felt cold and dismayed : my worst fears then were 
probably true : he had in all probability left England, and 
rushed in reckless desperation to some former haunt on the 
Continent. And what opiate for his severe sufferings what 
object for his strong passions had he sought there ? I 
dared not answer the question. Oh, my poor master 
once almost my husband whom I had often called 'my 
dear Edward ! ' 

' He must have been a bad man/ observed Mr. Rivers. 

' You don't know him don't pronounce an opinion upon 
him,' I said, with warmth. 

' Very well,' he answered, quietly : ' and indeed my head 
is otherwise occupied than with him : I have my tale to 
finish. Since you won't ask the governess's name, I must 
tell it of my own accord stay I have it here it is always 
more satisfactory to see important points written down, 
fairly committed to black and white.' 

And the pocket-book was again deliberately produced, 
opened, sought through ; from one of its compartments was 
extracted a shabby slip of paper, hastily torn off : I recognised 
in its texture and its stains of ultramarine and lake and 
vermilion the ravished margin of the portrait-cover. He 
got up, held it close to my eyes : and I read, traced in Indian 
ink, in my own handwriting, the words ' Jane Eyre ' the 
work doubtless of some moment of abstraction. 

' Briggs wrote to me of a Jane Eyre,' he said ; ' the 
advertisements demanded a Jane Eyre : I knew a Jane 
Elliott. I confess I had my suspicions, but it was only 
yesterday afternoon they were at once resolved into certainty. 
You own the name and renounce the alias ? ' 

1 Yes yes but where is Mr. Briggs ? He perhaps knows 
more of Mr. Rochester than you do.' 

1 Briggs is in London ; I shoul^ doubt hjs knowing any- 



466 JANE EYEE 

thing at all about Mr. Eochester ; it is not in Mr. Eochester 
he is interested. Meantime you forget essential points in 
pursuing trifles : you do not inquire why Mr. Briggs sought 
after you what he wanted with you.' 

' Well, what did he want ? ' 

' Merely to tell you that your uncle, Mr. Eyre of Madeira, 
is dead ; that he has left you all his property, and that you 
are now rich merely that nothing more.' 

' I ! rich ? ' 

' Yes, you, rich quite an heiress.' 

Silence succeeded. 

1 You must prove your identity, of course,' resumed St. 
John, presently : ' a step which will offer no difficulties : you 
can then enter on immediate possession. Your fortune is 
vested in the English funds ; Briggs has the will and the 
necessary documents.' 

Here was a new card turned up ! It is a fine thing, 
reader, to be lifted in a moment from indigence to wealth 
a very fine thing : but not a matter one can comprehend, or 
consequently enjoy, all at once. And then there are other 
chances in life far more thrilling and rapture- giving ; this is 
solid, an affair of the actual world, nothing ideal about it : 
all its associations are solid and sober, and its manifestations 
are the same. One does not jump, and spring, and shout 
hurrah ! at hearing one has got a fortune ; one begins to 
consider responsibilities and to ponder business ; on a base 
of steady satisfaction rise certain grave cares and we con- 
tain ourselves, and brood over our bliss with a solemn brow. 

Besides, the words Legacy, Bequest, go side by side with 
the words Death, Funeral. My uncle I had heard was dead 
my only relative ; ever since being made aware of his exist- 
ence I had cherished the hope of one day seeing him : now, 
I never should. And then this money came only to me : not 
to me and a rejoicing family, but to my isolated self. It 
was a grand boon doubtless ; and independence would be 
glorious yes, I felt that that thought swelled my heart. 

' You unbend your forehead at last,' said Mr. Bivers : ' I 



JANE EYKE 467 

thought Medusa had looked at you, and that you were turning 
to stone perhaps now you will ask how much you are 
worth ? ' 

' How much am I worth ? ' 

' Oh, a trifle ! Nothing of course to speak of twenty 
thousand pounds, I think they say but what is that ? ' 

' Twenty thousand pounds ? ' 

Here was a new stunner I had been calculating on four 
or five thousand. This news actually took my breath for a 
moment: Mr. St. John, whom I had never heard laugh 
before, laughed now. 

' Well,' said he, ' if you had committed a murder, and I 
had told you your crime was discovered, you could scarcely 
look more aghast.' 

1 It is a large sum don't you think there is a mistake ? ' 

1 No mistake at all.' 

'Perhaps you have read the figures wrong it may be 
2,000!' 

' It is written in letters, not figures, twenty thousand.' 

I again felt rather like an individual of but average 
gastronomical powers sitting down to feast alone at a table 
spread with provisions for a hundred. Mr. Eivers rose now 
and put his cloak on. 

1 If it were not such a very wild night," he said, ' I would 
send Hannah down to keep you company : you look too 
desperately miserable to be left alone. But Hannah, poor 
woman ! could not stride the drifts so well as I : her legs are 
not quite so long : so I must e'en leave you to your sorrows. 
Good-night.' 

He was lifting the latch : a sudden thought occurred to 

me. 

1 Stop one minute ! ' I cried. 

Well?' 

' It puzzles me to know why Mr. Briggs wrote to you 
about me ; or how he knew you, or could fancy that you, 
living in such an out-of-the-way place, had the power to aid 
in my discovery.' 



468 JANE EYRE 

' Oh ! I am a clergyman,' he said ; ' and the clergy are 
often appealed to about odd matters.' 

Again the latch rattled. 

1 No : that does not satisfy me ! ' I exclaimed : and, 
indeed, there was something in the hasty and unexplanatory 
reply which, instead of allaying, piqued my curiosity more 
than ever. 

' It is a very strange piece of business,' I added. ' I must 
know more about it.' 

' Another time." 

' No : to-night ! to-night ! ' and as he turned from the 
door I placed myself between it and him. He looked rather 
embarrassed. 

' You certainly shall not go till you have told me all ! ' I 
said. 

' I would rather not, just now.' 

' You shall ! you must I ' 

' I would rather Diana or Mary informed you.' 

Of course these objections wrought my eagerness to a 
climax : gratified it must be, and that without delay ; and I 
told him so. 

1 But I apprised you that I was a hard man,' said he ; 
' difficult to persuade.' 

1 And I am a hard woman, impossible to put off.' 

' And then,' he pursued, ' I am cold : no fervour infects 
me.' 

1 Whereas I am hot, and fire dissolves ice. The blaze 
there has thawed all the snow from your cloak ; by the same 
token it has streamed on to my floor, and made it like a 
trampled street. As you hope ever to be forgiven, Mr. 
Rivers, the high crime and misdemeanour of spoiling a sanded 
kitchen, tell me what I wish to know.' 

' Well, then,' he said, ' I yield ; if not to your earnestness, 
to your perseverance : as stone is worn by continual dropping. 
Besides, you must know some day, as well now as later. 
Your name is Jane Eyre ? ' 

' Of course : that was all settled before.' 



JANE EYRE 469 

1 You are not, perhaps, aware that I am your namesake ? 
that I was christened St. John Eyre Elvers ? ' 

' No, indeed ! I remember now seeing the letter E 
comprised in your initials written in books you have at 
different times lent me ; but I never asked for what name it 

stood. But what then? Surely' 

I stopped : I could not trust myself to entertain, much 
less to express, the thought that rushed upon me that 
embodied itself, that, in a second, stood out a strong, solid 
probability. Circumstances knit themselves, fitted them- 
selves, shot into order : the chain that had been lying 
hitherto a formless lump of links was drawn out straight, 
every ring was perfect, the connection complete. I knew, 
by instinct, how the matter stood before St. John had said 
another word : but I cannot expect the reader to have the 
same intuitive perception, so I must repeat his explanation. 

1 My mother's name was Eyre ; she had two brothers ; 
one a clergyman, who married Miss Jane Eeed, of Gates- 
head ; the other, John Eyre, Esq., merchant, late of 
Funchal, Madeira. Mr. Briggs, being Mr. Eyre's solicitor, 
wrote to us last August to inform us of our uncle's death ; 
and to say that he had left his property to his brother the 
clergyman's orphan daughter ; overlooking us, in conse- 
quence of a quarrel, never forgiven, between him and my 
father. He wrote again a few weeks since, to intimate that 
the heiress was lost ; and asking if we knew anything of her. 
A name casually written on a slip of paper has enabled me 
to find her out. You know the rest." Again he was going, 
but I set my back against the door. 

4 Do let me speak,' I said ; ' let me have one moment to 
draw breath and reflect.' I paused he stood before me, hat 
in hand, looking composed enough. I resumed : ' Your 
mother was my father's sister ? ' 

' Yes.' 

' My aunt, consequently ? ' 

He bowed. 

'My uncle John was your uncle John? You, Diana 



470 JANE EYRE 

and Mary, are his sister's children; as I am his brother's 
child?' 

' Undeniably.' 

' You three, then, are my cousins ; half our blood on each 
side flows from the same source ? ' 

' We are cousins ; yes.' 

I surveyed him. It seemed I had found a brother : one 
I could be proud of, one I could love ; and two sisters 
whose qualities were such that, when I knew them but as 
mere strangers, they had inspired me with genuine affection 
and admiration. The two girls on whom, kneeling down 
on the wet ground, and looking through the low, latticed 
window of Moor House kitchen, I had gazed with so 
bitter a mixture of interest and despair were my near kins- 
women ; and the young and stately gentleman who had 
found me almost dying at his threshold was my blood 
relation. Glorious discovery to a lonely wretch ! This was 
wealth indeed ! wealth to the heart ! a mine of pure, 
genial affections. This was a blessing, bright, vivid, and 
exhilarating ; not like the ponderous gift of gold : rich and 
welcome enough in its way, but sobering from its weight, I 
now clapped my hands in sudden joy my pulse bounded, 
my veins thrilled. 

' Oh, I am glad ! I am glad ! ' I exclaimed. 

St. John smiled. ' Did I not say you neglected essential 
points to pursue trifles ? ' he asked. ' You were serious 
when I told you you had got a fortune ; and now, for a 
matter of no moment, you are excited.' 

' What can you mean ? It may be of no moment to you ; 
you have sisters, and don't care for a cousin ; but I had 
nobody; and now three relations, or two, if you don't 
choose to be counted, are born into my world full grown. 
I say again, I am glad ! ' 

I walked fast through the room : I stopped, half suffo- 
cated with the thoughts that rose faster than I could receive, 
comprehend, settle them : thoughts of what might, could, 
would, and should be, and that ere long. I looked at the 



JANE EYRE 471 

blank wall : it seemed a sky, thick with ascending stars, 
every one lit me to a purpose or delight. Those who had 
saved my life, whom till this hour I had loved barrenly, I 
could now benefit. They were under a yoke : I could free 
them : they were scattered, I could reunite them the 
independence, the affluence which was mine might be theirs 
too. Were we not four ? Twenty thousand pounds shared 
equally would be five thousand each, enough and to spare : 
justice would be done, mutual happiness secured. Now 
the wealth did not weigh on me : now it was not a mere 
bequest of coin, it was a legacy of life, hope, enjoyment. 

How I looked while these ideas were taking my spirit by 
storm I cannot tell ; but I perceived soon that Mr. Rivers 
had placed a chair behind me, and was gently attempting to 
make me sit down on it. He also advised me to be com- 
posed : I scorned the insinuation of helplessness and 
distraction, shook off his hand, and began to walk about 
again. 

' Write to Diana and Mary to-morrow,' I said, ' and tell 
them to come home directly; Diana said they would both 
consider themselves rich with a thousand pounds, so with 
five thousand they will do very well.' 

' Tell me where I can get you a glass of water,' said 
St. John ; ' you must really make an effort to tranquillise 
your feelings.' 

' Nonsense ! and what sort of an effect will the bequest 
have on you ? Will it keep you in England, induce you to 
marry Miss Oliver, and settle down like an ordinary 
mortal ? ' 

'You wander: your head becomes confused. I have 
been too abrupt in communicating the news ; it has excited 
you beyond your strength." 

' Mr. Rivers ! you quite put me out of patience ; I am 
rational enough ; it is you who misunderstand ; or rather who 
affect to misunderstand.' 

' Perhaps if you explained yourself a little more fully I 
should comprehend better.' 



472 JANE EYKE 

1 Explain ! What is there to explain ? You cannot fail 
to see that twenty thousand pounds, the sum in question, 
divided equally between the nephew and three nieces of our 
uncle will give five thousand to each ? What I want is, 
that you should write to your sisters and tell them of the 
fortune that has accrued to them.' 

1 To you, you mean.' 

' I have intimated my view of the case : I am incapable 
of taking any other. I am not brutally selfish, blindly 
unjust, or fiendishly ungrateful. Besides, I am resolved I 
will have a home and connections. I like Moor House, and 
I will live at Moor House ; I like Diana and Mary, and I 
will attach myself for life to Diana and Mary. It would 
please and benefit me to have five thousand pounds; it 
would torment and oppress me to have twenty thousand ; 
which, moreover, could never be mine in justice, though it 
might in law. I abandon to you, then, what is absolutely 
superfluous to me. Let there be no opposition, and no 
discussion about it ; let us agree amongst each other, and 
decide the point at once.' 

1 This is acting on first impulses ; you must take days to 
consider such a matter, ere your word can be regarded as 
valid.' 

' Oh ! if all you doubt is my sincerity, I am easy : you see 
the justice of the case ? ' 

' I do see a certain justice ; but it is contrary to all 
custom. Besides, the entire fortune is your right : my uncle 
gained it by his own efforts ; he was free to leave it to whom 
he would : he left it to you. After all, justice permits you 
to keep it : you may, with a clear conscience, consider it 
absolutely your own.' 

' With me,' said I, ' it is fully as much a matter of feeling 
as of conscience : I must indulge my feelings ; I so seldom 
have had an opportunity of doing so. Were you to argue, 
object, and annoy me for a year, I could not forego the 
delicious pleasure of which I have caught a glimpse that of 
repaying, in part, a mighty obligation, and winning to myself 
life-long friends.' 



JANE EYEE 473 

' You think so now,' rejoined Si John ; ' because you do 
not know what it is to possess, nor consequently to enjoy 
wealth : you cannot form a notion of the importance twenty 
thousand pounds would give you ; of the place it would 
enable you to take in society ; of the prospects it would open 
to you : you cannot ' 

' And you,' I interrupted, ' cannot at all imagine the 
craving I have for fraternal and sisterly love. I never had a 
home, I never had brothers or Bisters ; I must and will 
have them now : you are not reluctant to admit me and own 
me, are you ? ' 

' Jane : I will be your brother my sisters will be your 
sisters without stipulating for this sacrifice of your just 
rights.' 

1 Brother ? Yes ; at the distance of a thousand leagues ! 
Sisters ? Yes ; slaving amongst strangers ! I, wealthy 
gorged with gold I never earned and do not merit ! You, 
penniless ! Famous equality and fraternisation ! Close 
union ! Intimate attachment ! ' 

1 But, Jane, your aspirations after family ties and 
domestic happiness may be realised otherwise than by the 
means you contemplate : you may marry.' 

' Nonsense again ! Marry ! I don't want to marry, and 
never shall marry.' 

1 That is saying too much : such hazardous affirmations 
are a proof of the excitement under which you labour.' 

1 It is not saying too much : I know what I feel, and how 
averse are my inclinations to the bare thought of marriage. 
No one would take me for love ; and I will not be regarded 
in the light of a mere money-speculation. And I do not 
want a stranger unsympathising alien, different from me ; 
I want my kindred : those with whom I have full fellow- 
feeling. Say again you will be my brother : when you 
uttered the words I was satisfied, happy ; repeat them, if 
you can repeat them sincerely.' 

' I think I can. I know I have always loved my own 
sisters ; and I know on what my affection for them is 



474 JANE EYRE 

grounded, respect for their worth and admiration of their 
talents. You too have principle and mind : your tastes and 
habits resemble Diana's and Mary's ; your presence is 
always agreeable to me ; in your conversation I have 
already for some time found a salutary solace. I feel I can 
easily and naturally make room in my heart for you, as my 
third and youngest sister.' 

1 Thank you : that contents me for to-night. Now you 
had better go ; for if you stay longer you will perhaps 
irritate me afresh by some mistrustful scruple.' 

' And the school, Miss Eyre ? It must now be shut up, 
I suppose ? ' 

'No. I will retain my post of mistress till you get a 
substitute.' 

He smiled approbation: we shook hands, and he took 
leave. 

I need not narrate in detail the further struggles I 
had and arguments I used to get matters regarding the 
legacy settled as I wished. My task was a very hard one : 
but, as I was absolutely resolved as my cousins saw at 
length that my mind was really and immutably fixed on 
making a just division of the property as they must in 
their own hearts have felt the equity of the intention ; and 
must, besides, have been innately conscious that in my place 
they would have done precisely what I wished to do they 
yielded at length so far as to consent to put the affair to 
arbitration. The judges chosen were Mr. Oliver and an able 
lawyer : both coincided in my opinion : I carried my point. 
The instruments of transfer were drawn out : St. John, 
Diana, Mary, and I, each became possessed of a competency. 



CHAPTER XXXIV 

IT was near Christmas by the time all was settled : the 
season of general holiday approached. I now closed Morton 
school, taking care that the parting should not be ban-en 
on my side. Good fortune opens the hand as well as the 
heart wonderfully; and to give somewhat when we have 
largely received, is but to afford a vent to the unusual 
ebullition of the sensations. I had long felt with pleasure 
that many of my rustic scholars liked me, and when we 
parted that consciousness was confirmed: they manifested 
their affection plainly and strongly. Deep was my gratifica- 
tion to find I had really a place in their unsophisticated 
hearts : I promised them that never a week should pass in 
future that I did not visit them, and give them an hour's 
teaching in their school. 

Mr. Eivers came up, as having seen the classes, now 
numbering sixty girls, file out before me, and locked the door 
I stood with 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 ranks of the British 
peasantry. And that is saying a great deal; for after all 
the British peasantry are the best taught, best mannered, 
most self-respecting of any in Europe : since those days I 
have seen paysannes and Bauerinnen : and the best of them 
seemed to me ignorant, coarse, and besotted, compared with 
my Morton girls. 

' Do you consider you have got your reward for a season 
of exertion ? ' asked Mr. Eivers when they were gone. 



JANE EYBJI 

' Does not the consciousness of having done some real good 
in your day and generation give pleasure ? ' 

Doubtless.' 

1 And you have only toiled a few months ! Would not a 
life devoted to the task of regenerating your race be well 
spent?' 

' Yes,' I said ; ' but I could not go on for ever so : I want 
to enjoy my own faculties as well as to cultivate those of 
other people. I must enjoy them now ; don't recall either 
my mind or body to the school : I arn out of it, and disposed 
for full holiday.' 

He looked grave. 'What now? What sudden eager- 
ness is this you evince ? What are you going to do ? ' 

' To be active : as active as I can. And first I must beg 
you to set Hannah at liberty, and get somebody else to wait 
on you.' 

' Do you want her ? ' 

1 Yes, to go with me to Moor House : Diana and Mary 
will be at home in a week, and I want to have everything in 
order against their arrival.' 

' I understand : I thought you were for flying off on 
some excursion. It is better so : Hannah shall go with you.' 

' Tell her to be ready by to-morrow then ; and here is 
the schoolroom key : I will give you the key of my cottage 
in the morning.' 

He took it. ' You give it up very gleefully,' said he : ' I 
don't quite understand your light-heartedness ; because I 
cannot tell what employment you propose to yourself as a 
substitute for the one you are relinquishing. What aim, 
what purpose, what ambition in life have you now ? ' 

' My first aim will be to clean down (do you comprehend 
the full force of the expression ?) to clean down Moor House 
from chamber to cellar ; my next to rub it up with beeswax, 
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 ; 



JANE EYRE 477 

and lastly, the two days preceding that on which your 
sisters are expected will be devoted by Hannah and me to 
such a beating of eggs, sorting of currants, grating of spices, 
compounding of Christmas cakes, chopping up of materials 
for mince-pies, and solemnising of other culinary rites, as 
words can convey but an inadequate notion of to the 
uninitiated like you. My purpose, in short, is to have all 
things in an absolutely perfect state of readiness for Diana 
and Mary before next Thursday ; and my ambition is to 
give them a beau-ideal of a welcome when they come.' 
St. John smiled slightly : still he was dissatisfied. 
1 It is all very well for the present,' said he : ' but 
seriously, I trust that when the first flush of vivacity is 
over you will look a little higher than domestic endear- 
ments and households joys.' 

' The best things the world has ! ' I interrupted. 
' No, Jane, no : this world is not the scene of fruition ; 
do not attempt to make it so : nor of rest ; do not turn slothful.' 
' I mean, on the contrary, to be busy.' 
1 Jane, I excuse you for the present : two months' grace 
I allow you for the full enjoyment of your new position, and 
for pleasing yourself with this late-found charm of relation- 
ship ; but then I hope you will begin to look beyond Moor 
House and Morton, and sisterly society, and the selfish calm 
and sensual comfort of civilised affluence I hope your 
energies will then once more trouble you with their strength.' 
I looked at him with surprise. 

' St. John,' I said, ' I think you are almost wicked to talk 
so. I am disposed to be as content as a queen, and you try 
to stir me up to restlessness ! To what end ? ' 

' To the end of turning to profit the talents which God 
has committed to your keeping ; and of which He will surely 
one day demand a strict account. Jane, I shall watch you 
closely and anxiously I warn you of that. And try to 
restrain the disproportionate fervour with which you throw 
yourself into common-place home pleasures. Don't cling so 
tenaciously to ties of the flesh ; save your constancy and 



478 JANE EYRE 

ardour for an adequate cause ; forbear to waste them on 
trite transient objects. Do you hear, Jane ? ' 

' Yes ; just as if you were speaking Greek. I feel I have 
adequate cause to be happy, and I will be happy. Good- 
bye ! ' 

Happy at Moor House I was, and hard I worked ; and 
BO did Hannah : she was charmed to see how jovial I could 
be amidst the bustle of a house turned topsy-turvy how I 
could brush, and dust, and clean, and cook. And really 
after a day or two of confusion worse confounded it was 
delightful, by degrees, to invoke order from the chaos 
ourselves had made. I had previously taken a journey to 

S to purchase some new furniture : my cousins having 

given me carte blanche to effect what alterations I pleased, 
and a sum having been set aside for that purpose. The 
ordinary sitting-room and bedrooms I left much as they 
were : for I knew Diana and Mary would derive more 
pleasure from seeing again the old homely tables and chairs 
and beds than from the spectacle of the smartest innovations. 
Still some novelty was necessary, to give to their return. the 
piquancy with which I wished it to be invested. Dark 
handsome new carpets and curtains, an arrangement 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 being glaring. A spare parlour and bedroom I 
refurnished entirely with old mahogany and crimson 
upholstery : I laid canvas on the passage and carpets on the 
stairs. When all was finished, I thought Moor House as 
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 ; the kitchen 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 



JANE EYKE 479 

clear of the house till everything was arranged : and, indeed, 
the bare idea of the commotion, at once sordid and trivial, 
going on within its walls sufficed to scare him to estrange- 
ment. He found me in the kitchen, watching the progress 
of certain cakes for tea, then baking. Approaching the 
hearth, he asked, ' If I was at last satisfied with housemaid's 
work ? ' I answered by inviting him to accompany me on a 
general inspection of the result of my labours. With some 
difficulty I got him to make the tour of the house. He just 
looked in at the doors I opened ; and when he had wandered 
upstairs and downstairs, he said I must have gone through a 
great deal of fatigue and trouble to have effected such 
considerable changes in so short a time : but not a syllable 
did he utter indicating pleasure in the improved aspect of 
his abode. 

This silence damped me. I thought perhaps the altera- 
tions had disturbed some old associations he valued. I 
inquired whether this was the case : no doubt in a 
somewhat crestfallen tone. 

1 Not at all ; he had, on the contrary, remarked that I had 
scrupulously respected every association : he feared, indeed, 
I must have bestowed more thought on the matter than it 
was worth. How many minutes, for instance, had I 
devoted to studying the arrangement of this very room ? 
By-the-bye, could I tell him where such a book was ? ' 

I showed him the volume on the shelf : he took it down, 
and withdrawing to his accustomed window recess, he 
began to read it. 

Now, I did not like this, reader. St. John was a good 
man ; but I began to feel he had spoken truth of himself 
when he said he was hard and cold. The humanities and 
amenities of life had no attraction for him its peaceful 
enjoyments no charm. Literally, he lived only to aspire 
after what was good and great, certainly ; but still he would 
never rest ; nor approve of others resting round him. As I 
looked at his lofty forehead, still and pale as a white stone 
at his fine lineaments fixed in study I comprehended all 



480 JANE EYRE 

at once that he would hardly make a good husband : that it 
would be a trying thing to be his wife. I understood, as by 
inspiration, the nature of his love for Miss Oliver ; I agreed 
with him that it was but a love of the senses. I compre- 
hended how he should despise himself for the feverish 
influence it exercised over him ; how he should wish to 
stifle and destroy it ; how he should mistrust its ever 
conducing permanently to his happiness, or hers. I saw he 
was of the material from which nature hews her heroes 
Christian and Pagan her lawgivers, her statesmen, her 
conquerors ; 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,' I reflected ; ' the 
Himalayan ridge, or Caffre bush, even the plague-cursed 
Guinea Coast swamp, would suit him better. Well may he 
eschew the calm of domestic life ; it is not his element : 
there his faculties stagnate they cannot develop or appear 
to advantage. It is in scenes of strife and danger where 
courage is proved, and energy exercised, and fortitude 
tasked that he will speak and move, the leader and 
superior. A merry child would have the advantage of him 
on this hearth. He is right to choose a missionary's career 
I see it now.' 

' They are coming ! they are coming ! ' cried Hannah, 
throwing open the parlour door. At the same moment old 
Carlo barked joyfully. Out I ran. It was now dark : but a 
rumbling of wheels was audible. Hannah soon had a 
lantern lit. The vehicle had stopped at the wicket ; the 
driver opened the door: first one well-known form, then 
another, stepped out. In a minute I had my face under 
their bonnets, 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 ; and being assured in the 
affirmative, hastened into the house. 

They were stiff with their long and jolting drive from 



JANE EYKE 481 

Whitcross, and chilled with the frosty night-air ; but their 
pleasant countenances expanded to the cheerful fire-light. 
While the driver and Hannah brought in the boxes, they 
demanded St. John. At this moment he advanced from the 
parlour. They both threw their arms round his neck at 
once. He gave each one quiet kiss, said in a low tone a few 
words of welcome, stood a while to be talked to, and then, 
intimating that he supposed they would soon rejoin him in 
the parlour, withdrew there as to a place of refuge. 

I had lit then: candles to go upstairs, but Diana had first 
to give hospitable orders respecting the driver; this done, 
both followed me. They were delighted with the renovation 
and decoration of their rooms ; with the new drapery, and 
fresh carpets, and rich tinted china vases : they expressed 
their gratification ungrudgingly. I had the pleasure of feel- 
ing that my arrangements met their wishes exactly ; and 
that what I had done added a vivid charm to their joyous 
return home. 

Sweet was that evening. My cousins, full of exhilaration, 
were so eloquent in narrative and comment, that their fluency 
covered St. John's taciturnity : he was sincerely glad to see 
his sisters ; but in their glow of fervour and flow of joy 
he could not sympathise. The event of the day that 
is, the return of Diana and Mary pleased him ; but 
the accompaniments of that event, the glad tumult, the 
garrulous glee of reception, irked him : I saw he wished the 
calmer morrow was come. In the very meridian of the 
night's enjoyment, about an hour after tea, a rap was heard 
at the door. Hannah entered with the intimation that ' a 
poor lad was come, at that unlikely time, to fetch Mr. Kivers 
to see his mother, who was drawing away.' 

' Where does she live, Hannah ? ' 

1 Clear up at Whitcross Brow, almost four miles off; 
and moor and moss all the way.' 

1 Tell him I will go.' 

' I'm sure, sir, you had better not. It's the worst road 
to travel after dark that can be : there's no track at all over 

1 1 



482 JANE EYRE 

the bog. And then it is such. a bitter night the keenest 
wind you ever felt. You had better send word, sir, that you 
will be there in the morning.' 

But he was already in the passage, putting on his cloak ; 
and without one objection, one murmur, he departed. It 
was then nine o'clock : he did not return till midnight- 
Starved and tired enough he was : but he looked happier 
than when he sot out. He had performed an act of duty ; 
made an exertion; 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 no settled 
employment, but spent it in a sort of merry domestic dissi- 
pation. The air of the moors, the freedom of home, the 
dawn of prosperity, acted on Diana and Mary's spirits like 
some life-giving elixir: they were gay from morning till 
noon, and from noon till night. They could always talk; 
end their discourse, witty, pithy, original, had such charms 
for me, that I preferred listening to, and sharing in it, to 
doing anything else. St. John did not rebuke our vivacity ; 
but he escaped from it : he was seldom in the house ; his 
parish was large, the population scattered, and he found 
daily business in visiting the sick and poor ia its different 
districts. 

One morning, at breakfast, Diana, after looking a little 
pensive for some minutes, asked him, ' If his plans were yet 
unchanged ? ' 

' Unchanged and unchangeable,' was the reply. And he 
proceeded to inform us that his departure from England was 
now definitively fixed for the ensuing year. 

1 And Rosamond Oliver ? ' suggested Mary : the words 
seeming to escape her lips involuntarily : for no sooner had 
she uttered them, than she made a gesture as if wishing to 
recall them. St. John had a book in his hand it was his 
unsocial custom to read at meals he closed it, and looked 
up. 

' Rosamond Oliver,' said he, ' is about to be married to 



JANE EYEE 483 

Mr. Granby ; one of the best connected and most estimable 

residents in S , grandson and heir to Sir Frederic 

Granby: I had the intelligence from her father yester- 
day.' 

His sisters looked at each other, and at me ; we all three 
looked at him : he was serene as glass. 

' The match must have been got up hastily,' said Diana : 
' they cannot have known each other long.' 

' But two months : they met in October at the county 

ball at S . But where there are no obstacles to a union, 

as in the present case, where the connection is in every 
point desirable, delays are unnecessary : they will be married 

as soon as S Place, which Sir Frederic gives up to 

them, can be refitted for their reception.' 

The first time I found St. John alone after this com- 
munication, I felt tempted to inquire if the event distressed 
him : but he seemed so little to need sympathy, that, so far 
from venturing to offer him more, I experienced some shame 
at the recollection of what I had already hazarded. Besides, 
I was out of practice in talking to him ; his reserve was again 
frozen over, and my frankness was congealed beneath it. 
He had not kept his promise of treating me like his sisters ; 
he continually made little chilling differences between us, 
which did not at all tend to the development of cordiality : 
in short, now that I was acknowledged his kinswoman, and 
lived under the same roof with him, I felt the distance 
between us to be far greater than when he had known me 
only as the village schoolmistress. When I remembered 
how far I had once been admitted to his confidence, I could 
hardly comprehend his present frigidity. 

Such being the case, I felt not a little surprised when he 
raised his head suddenly from the desk over which he was 
stooping, and said : ' You see, Jane, the battle is fought 
and the victory won.' 

Startled at being thus addressed, I did not immediately 
reply : after a moment's hesitation I answered : ' But are 
you sure you are not in the position Qf those conquerors. 



484 JANE EYRE 

whose triumphs have cost them too dear ? Would not such 
another ruin you ? ' 

' I think not ; and if I were, it does not much signify ; 
I shall never be called upon to contend for such another. 
The event of the conflict is decisive : my way is now clear ; 
I thank God for it ! ' So saying, he returned to his papers 
and his silence. 

As our mutual happiness (i.e. Diana's, Mary's, and mine) 
settled into a quieter character, and we resumed our usual 
habits and 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 of 
encyclopaedic reading she had (to my awe and amazement) 
undertaken, and I fagged away at German, he pondered 
a mystic lore of his own : that of some Eastern tongue, 
the acquisition of which he thought necessary to his 
plans. 

Thus engaged, he appeared, sitting in his own recess, 
quiet and absorbed enough ; but that blue eye of his had 
a habit of leaving the outlandish-looking grammar, and 
wandering over, and sometimes fixing upon us, his fellow 
students, with a curious intensity of observation : if caught, 
it would be instantly withdrawn ; yet ever and anon it re- 
turned searchingly to our table. I wondered what it meant : 
I wondered, too, at the punctual satisfaction he never failed 
to exhibit on an occasion that seemed to me of small 
moment, namely, my weekly visit to Morton school ; and 
still more was I puzzled when, if the day was unfavourable, 
if there was snow, or rain, or high wind, and his sisters 
urged me not to go, he would invariably make light of their 
solicitude, and encourage me to accomplish the task without 
regard to the elements. 

'Jane is not such a weakling as you would make her,' 
he would say : ' she can bear a mountain blast, or a shower, 
or a few flakes of snow, as well as any of us. Her con- 
stitution is both sound and elastic ; better calculated to 
endure variations of climate than many more robust.' 



JANE mm 485 

And when I returned, sometimes a good deal tired and 
not a little weather-beaten, I never dared complain, because 
I saw that to murmur would be to vex him : on all occasions 
fortitude pleased him; the reverse was a special annoy- 
ance. 

One afternoon, however, I got leave to stay at home> 
because I really had a cold. His sisters were gone to 
Morton in my stead : I sat reading Schiller ; he, deciphering 
his crabbed Oriental scrolls. As I exchanged a translation 
for an exercise, I happened to look his way : there I found 
myself under the influence of the ever- watchful blue eye. 
How long it had been searching me through and through, 
and over and over, I cannot tell : so keen was it, and yet so 
cold, I felt for the moment superstitious as if I were sitting 
in the room with something uncanny. 

' Jane, what are you doing ? ' 

' Learning German.' 

' I want you to give up German, and learn Hindostanee.' 

1 You are not in earnest ? ' 

' In such earnest that I must have it so : and I will tell 
you why.' 

He then went on to explain that Hindostanee was the 
language he was himself at present studying : that, as he 
advanced, he was apt to forget the commencement ; that it 
would assist him greatly to have a pupil with whom he 
might again and again go over the elements, and so fix 
them thoroughly in his mind ; that his choice had hovered 
for some time between me and his sisters ; but that he had 
fixed on me, because he saw I could sit at a task the longest 
of the three. Would I do him this favour ? I should not, 
perhaps, have to make the sacrifice long ; as it wanted now 
barely three months to his departure. 

St. John was not a man to be lightly refused : you felt 
that every impression made on him, either for pain or 
pleasure, was deep-graved and permanent. I consented. 
When Diana and Mary returned, the former found her 
scholar transferred from her to her brother : she laughed ; 



486 JANE EYRE 

and both she and Mary agreed that St. John should never 
have persuaded them to such a step. He answered, quietly : 
' I know it.' 

I found him a very patient, very forbearing, and yet an 
exacting master : he expected me to do a great deal ; and 
when I fulfilled his expectations, he, in his own way, fully 
testified his approbation. By degrees, he acquired a certain 
influence over me that took away my liberty of mind : his 
praise and notice were more restraining than his indifference. 
I could no longer talk or laugh freely when he was by, 
because a tiresomely importunate instinct reminded me that 
vivacity (at least in me) was distasteful to him. I was so 
fully aware that only serious moods and occupations were 
acceptable, that in his presence every effort to sustain or 
follow any other became vain : I fell under a freezing spell. 
When he said ' go,' I went ; ' come,' I came ; ' do this,' I 
did it. But I did not love my servitude : I wished, many a 
time, he had continued to neglect me. 

One evening when, at bedtime, his sisters and I stood 
round him, bidding him good-night, he kissed each of them, as 
was his custom ; and, as was equally his custom, he gave 
me his hand. Diana, who chanced to be in a frolicsome 
humour (she was not painfully controlled by his will ; for 
hers, in another way, was as strong), exclaimed : ' St. 
John ! you used to call Jane your third sister, but you don't 
treat her as such : you should kiss her too." 

She pushed me towards him. I thought Diana very 
provoking, and felt uncomfortably confused ; and while I 
was thus thinking and feeling, St. John bent his head ; his 
Greek face was brought to a level with mine, his eyes 
questioned my eyes piercingly he kissed mo. There are 
no such things as marble kisses, or ice kisses, or I should 
say my ecclesiastical cousin's salute belonged to one of 
these classes ; but there may be experiment kisses, and his 
was an experiment kiss. When given, he viewed me to 
learn the result ; it was not striking : I am sure I did not 
blush ; perhaps I might have turned a little pale, for I felt 



JANE EYRE 487 

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 him with a certain charm. 

As for me, I daily wished more to please him : 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 no natural vocation. He wanted to train me to 
an elevation I could never reach ; it racked me hourly to aspire 
to the standard he uplifted. The thing was as impossible 
as to mould my irregular features to his correct and classic 
pattern, to give to my changeable green eyes the sea-blue 
tint and solemn lustre of his own. 

Not his ascendancy alone, however, held me in thrall at 
present. Of late it had been easy enough for me to look 
sad : a cankering evil sat at my heart and drained my hap- 
piness at its source the evil 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 was not 
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 him followed me everywhere ; 
when I was at Morton, I re-entered my cottage every even- 
ing to think of that : and now at Moor House, I sought my 
bedroom each night to brood over it. 

In the course of my necessary correspondence with Mr. 
Briggs about the will, I had inquired if he knew anything of 
Mr. Rochester's present residence and state of health ; but, 
as St. John had conjectured, he was quite ignorant of all 
concerning him. I then wrote to Mrs. Fairfax, entreating 
information on the subject. I had calculated with certainty 
on this step answering my end : I felt sure it would elicit an 
early answer. I was astonished when a fortnight passed 
without reply ; but when two months wore away, and day 



488 JANE EYRE 

after day the post arrived and brought nothing for me, I fell 
a prey to the keenest anxiety. 

I wrote again : there was a chance of my first letter 
having missed. Renewed hope followed renewed effort : it 
shone like the former for some 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 not want dissipation, I wanted 
employment ; my present life was too purposeless, I required 
an aim ; and, I suppose, by way of supplying deficiencies, he 
prolonged still further my lessons in Hindostanee, and grew 
more urgent in requiring their accomplishment : and I, like 
a fool, never thought of resisting him I could not resist 
him. 

One day I had come to my studies in lower spirits than 
usual ; the ebb was occasioned by a poignantly felt dis- 
appointment : Hannah had told me in the morning there 
was a 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 from Mr. Briggs 
on business. The bitter check had wrung from me some 
tears ; and now as I sat poring over the crabbed characters 
and flourishing tropes of an Indian scribe, my eyes filled 
again. 

St. John called me to his side to read ; in attempting to 
do this my voice failed me : words were lost in sobs. He 
and I were the only occupants of the parlour : Diana was 
practising her music in the drawing-room, Mary was garden- 
ing it was a very fine May-day, clear, sunny, and breezy. 
My companion expressed no surprise at this emotion, 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 all haste, he sat calm 



JANE EYEB 489 

and patient, leaning on his desk and looking like a physician 
watching with the eye of science an expected and fully- 
understood crisis in a patient's malady. Having stifled my 
sobs, wiped my eyes, and muttered something about not 
being very well that morning, I resumed my task, and 
succeeded in completing it. St. John put away my books 
and his, locked his desk, and said : ' Now, Jane, you shall 
take a walk ; and with me.' 
' I will call Diana and Mary.' 

' No. I want only one companion this morning, and 
that must be you: put on your things; go out by the 
kitchen door; take the road towards the head of Marsh 
Glen : I will join you in a moment.' 

I know no medium : I never in my life have known any 
medium in my dealings with positive, hard characters, 
antagonistic to my 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 the other ; and as neither present 
circumstances warranted, nor my present mood inclined me 
to mutiny, I observed careful obedience to St. John's direc- 
tions ; 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 over the hill, 
sweet with scents of heath and rush ; the sky was of stain- 
less blue ; the stream descending the ravine, swelled with 
past spring rains, poured along plentiful and clear, catching 
golden gleams from the sun, and sapphire tints from the 
firmament. As we advanced and left the track, we trod a 
soft turf, mossy fine and emerald green, minutely enamelled 
with a tiny white flower and spangled with a star-like 
yellow blossom : the hills, meantime, shut us quite in ; for 
the glen, towards its head, wound to their very core. 

' Let us rest here," said St. John, as we reached the first 
stragglers of a battalion of rocks, guarding a sort of pass, 
beyond which the beck rushed down a waterfall ; and 
where, still a little further, the mountain shook off turf and 



490 JANE EY&E 

flower, had only heath for raiment, and crag for gem 
where it exaggerated the wild to the savage, and exchanged 
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 unclouded heaven 
which coloured it : he removed his hat, let the breeze stir 
his hair and kiss his brow. He seemed in communion with 
the genius of the haunt : with his eye he bade farewell to 
something. 

1 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 another slumber overcomes me on the shore 
of a darker stream.' 

Strange words of a strange love ! An austere patriot's 
passion for his fatherland ! He sat down ; for half an hour 
we never spoke ; neither he to me nor I to him : that in- 
terval past, he recommenced : ' Jane, I go in six weeks ; I 
have taken my berth in an East Indiaman which sails on 
the twentieth 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 do not burn to enlist under the same banner, 
to join in the same enterprise.' 

' All have not your powers : and it would be folly for the 
feeble to wish to march with the strong.' 

' I do not speak to the feeble, or think of them : I address 
only such as are worthy of the work, and competent to 
accomplish it.' 

' Those are few in number, and difficult to discover.' 

1 You say truly : but when found, it is right to stir them 



JANE EYRE 491 

up to urge and exhort them to the effort to show them 
what their gifts are, and why they were given to speak 
Heaven's message in their ear, to offer them, direct from 
God, a place in the ranks of His chosen.' 

' If they are really qualified for the task, will not their 
own hearts be the first to inform them of it ? ' 

I felt as if an awful charm was framing round and 
gathering over me: I trembled to hear some fatal word 
spoken which would at once declare and rivet the spell. 

1 And what does your heart say ? ' demanded St. John. 

' My heart is mute, my heart is mute,' I answered, 
struck and thrilled. 

' Then I must speak for it,' continued the deep, relentless 
voice. ' Jane, come with me to India : come as my help- 
meet and fellow-labourer.' 

The glen and sky spun round : the hills heaved ! It was 
as if I had heard a summons from Heaven as if a visionary 
messenger, like him of Macedonia, had enounced, ' Come over 
and help us ! ' But I was no apostle, I could not behold 
the herald, I could not receive his call. 

' Oh, St. John ! ' I cried, ' have some mercy ! ' 

I appealed to one who, in the discharge of what he 
believed his duty, knew neither mercy nor remorse. He 
continued : ' God and nature intended you for a missionary's 
wife. It is not personal, but mental endowments they 
have given you : you are formed for labour, not for love. A 
missionary's wife you must shall be. You shall be mine : 
I claim you not for my pleasure, but for my Sovereign's 
service.' 

I 1 am not fit for it : I have no vocation," I said. 

He had calculated on these first objections : he was not 
irritated by them. Indeed, as he leaned back against the 
crag behind him, folded his arms on his chest, and fixed his 
countenance, I saw he was prepared 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. 



492 JANE EYEE 

' Humility, Jane,' said he, ' is the groundwork of Christian 
virtues : you say right that you are not fit for the work. 
Who is fit for it? Or who, that ever was truly called, 
believed himself worthy of the summons ? I, for instance, 
am but dust and ashes. With St. Paul, I acknowledge 
myself the chiefest of sinners : but I do not suffer this sense 
of my personal vileness to daunt me. I know my Leader : 
that He is just as well as mighty ; and while He has chosen 
a feeble instrument to perform a great task, He will, from 
the boundless stores of His providence, supply the inadequacy 
of the means to the end. Think like me, Jane trust like me. 
It is the Bock of Ages I ask you to lean on : do not doubt 
but it will bear the weight of your human weakness.' 

' I do not understand a missionary life : I have never 
studied missionary labours.' 

'There, I, humble as I am, can give you the aid you 
want : I can set you your task from hour to hour ; stand by 
you always ; help you from moment to moment. This I 
could do in the beginning : soon (for I know your powers) you 
would be as strong and apt as myself, and would not require 
my help.' 

' But my powers where are they for this undertaking ? 
I do not feel them. Nothing speaks or stirs in me while 
you talk. I am sensible of no light kindling no life 
quickening no voice counselling or cheering. Oh, I wish I 
could make you see how much my mind is at this moment 
like a rayless dungeon, with one shrinking fear fettered in 
its depths the fear of being persuaded by you to attempt 
what I cannot accomplish ! ' 

' I have an answer for you hear it. I have watched 
you ever since we first met : I have made you my study for 
ten months. I have proved you in that time by sundry 
tests : and what have I seen and elicited ? In the village 
school I found you could perform well, punctually, uprightly, 
labour uncongenial to your habits and inclinations ; I saw 
you could perform it with capacity and tact : you could win 
while you controlled. In the calm with which you learnt 



JANE EYBE 493 

you had become suddenly rich, I read a mind clear of the 
vice of Dem as : lucre had no undue power over you. In 
the resolute readiness with which you cut your wealth into 
four shares, keeping but one to yourself, and relinquishing 
the three others to the claim of abstract justice, I recognised 
a soul that revelled in the flame and excitement of sacrifice. 
In the tractability with which, at my wish, you forsook a 
study in which you were interested, and adopted another 
because it interested me ; in the untiring assiduity with 
which you have since persevered in it in the unflagging 
energy and unshaken temper with which you have met its 
difficulties I acknowledge the complement of the qualities 
I seek. Jane, you are docile, diligent, disinterested, faithful, 
constant, and courageous ; very gentle, and very heroic : 
cease to mistrust yourself I can trust you unreservedly. 
As a conductress of Indian schools, and a helper amongst 
Indian women, your assistance will be to me invaluable.' 

My iron shroud contracted round me ; persuasion ad- 
vanced with slow sure step. Shut my eyes as I would, 
these last words of his succeeded in making the way, which 
had seemed blocked up, comparatively clear. My work, 
which had appeared so vague, so hopelessly diffuse, con- 
densed itself as he proceeded, and assumed a definite form 
under 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, 
and there lay still. 

' I can do what he wants me to do : I am forced to see 
and acknowledge that,' I meditated 'That is, if life be 
spared me. But I feel mine is not the existence to be Ions 
protracted under an Indian sun. What then? He does 
not care for that : when my time came to die he would resign 
me, in all serenity and sanctity, to the God who gave me. 
The case is very plain before me. In leaving England, I 
should leave a loved but empty land Mr. Rochester is not 



494 JAKE EYliE 

there : and if he were, what is, what can that ever be 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 
some impossible change in circumstances, which might re- 
unite me to him. Of course (as St. John once said) I must 
seek another interest in life to replace the one lost : is not 
the occupation he now offers me truly the most glorious 
man can adopt or God assign ? Is it not, by its noble carts 
and sublime results, the one best calculated to fill the void 
left by uptorn affections and demolished hopes ? I believe 
I must say, Yes and yet I shudder. Alas ! If I join SL 
John, I abandon half myself : if I go to India, I go to pre- 
mature death. And how will the interval between leaving 
England 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 my sinews ache, I shall 
satisfy him to the finest central point and farthest outward 
circle of his expectations. If I do go with him if I do make 
the sacrifice he 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 approve me ; 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. 

1 Consent, then, to his demand is possible : but for one 
item one dreadful item. It is that he asks me to be his 
wife, and has no more of a husband's heart for me than that 
frowning giant of a rock, down which the stream is foaming 
in yonder gorge. He prizes me as a soldier would a good 
weapon ; and that is all. Unmarried to him, this would 
never grieve me ; but can I let him complete his calculations 
coolly put into practice his plans go through the wedding 
ceremony ? Can I receive from him the bridal ring, endure 
all the forms of love (which I doubt not he would scrupu- 
lously observe) and know that the spirit was quite absent ? 
Can I bear the consciousness that every endearment he 
bestows is a sacrifice made on principle ? No : such a 



JANE EYEE 495 

martyrdom would be monstrous. I will never undergo it. 
As his sister, I might accompany him not as his wife : I 
will tell him so." 

I looked towards the knoll : there he lay, still as a 
prostrate column ; his face turned to me : his eye beaming 
watchful, and keen. He started to his feet, and approached 
me. 

' I am ready to go to India, if I may go free.' 

' Your answer requires a commentary/ he said ; ' it is 
not clear.' 

' You have hitherto been my adopted brother : I, your 
adopted sister ; let us continue as such : you and I had 
better not marry.' 

He shook his head. ' Adopted fraternity will not do in 
this case. If you were my real sister it would be different : 
I should take you and seek no wife. But as it is, either our 
union must be consecrated and sealed by marriage, or it 
cannot exist : practical obstacles oppose themselves to any 
other plan. Do you not see it, Jane ? Consider a moment 
your strong sense will guide you.' 

I did consider : and still my . sense, such as it was, 
directed me only to the fact that .we did not love each other 
as man and wife should ; and therefore it inferred we ought 
not to marry. I said so. ' St. John,' I returned, ' I regard 
you as a brother you, me as a sister : so let us continue.' 

' We cannot we cannot,' he answered, with short, 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 
me from England, the co-operation with me in my future 
labours you do not object. You have already as good as 
put your hand to the plough : you are too consistent to 
withdraw it. You have but one end to keep in view how 
the work you have undertaken can best be done. Simplify 
your complicated interests, feelings, thoughts, wishes, aims ; 
merge all considerations in one purpose : that of fulfilling 



496 JANE EYEE 

with effect with power the mission of your great Master. 
To do so, you must have a coadjutor not a brother ; that is 
a loose tie : but a husband. I, too, do not want a sister ; a 
sister might any day be taken from me. I want a wife : the 
sole helpmeet I can influence efficiently in life and retain 
absolutely till death.' 

I shuddered as he spoke : I felt his influence in my 
marrow his hold on my limbs. 

' Seek one elsewhere than in me, St. John : seek one 
fitted to you.' 

' One fitted to my purpose, you mean fitted to my 
vocation. Again I tell you it is not the insignificant private 
individual the mere man, with the man's selfish senses I 
wish to mate : it is the missionary.' 

' And I will give the missionary my energies it is all he 
wants but not myself : that would be only adding the husk 
and shell to the kernel. For them he has no use : I retain 
them.' 

' You cannot you ought not. Do you think God will be 
satisfied with half an oblation ? Will He accept a mutilated 
sacrifice ? It is the cause of God I advocate : it is under 
His standard I enlist you. I cannot accept on His behalf a 
divided allegiance : it must be entire.' 

' Oh ! I will give my heart to God,' I said. ' You do not 
want it.' 

I will not swear, reader, that there was not something of 
repressed sarcasm both in the 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 under- 
stood him. He had held me in awe, because he had held 
me in doubt. How much of him was saint, how much 
mortal, I could not heretofore tell : but revelations were 
being made in this conference : the analysis of his nature 
was pi'oceeding before my eyes. I saw his fallibilities : I 
comprehended them. I understood that, sitting there where 
I did, on the bank of heath, and with that handsome form 
before me, I sat at the feet of a man, erring as I. The veil 



JANE EYEE 497 

fell from his hardness and despotism. Having felt in him 
the presence of these qualities, I felt his imperfection, and 
took courage. I was with an equal one with whom I might 
argue one whom, if I saw good, I might resist. 

He was silent after I had uttered the last sentence, 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 t ' it 
seemed to say. ' What does this signify ? ' 

' Do not let us forget that this is a solemn matter,' he 
said ere long : ' one of which we may neither think nor talk 
lightly without sin. I trust, Jane, you are in earnest when 
you say you will give your heart to God : it is all I want. 
Once wrench your heart from man, and fix it on your Maker, 
the advancement of that Maker's spiritual kingdom on earth 
will be your chief delight and endeavour ; you will be ready 
to do at once whatever furthers that end. You will see what 
impetus would be given to your efforts and mine by our 
physical and mental union in marriage : the only union that 
gives a character of permanent conformity to the destinies 
and designs of human beings : and, passing over all minor 
caprices all trivial difficulties and delicacies of feeling all 
scruple about the degree, kind, strength or tenderness of 
mere personal inclination you will hasten to enter into 
that union at once.' 

' Shall I ? ' I said briefly ; and I looked at his features, 
beautiful in their harmony, but strangely formidable in their 
still severity ; at his brow, commanding but not open ; at his 
eyes, bright and deep, and searching, but never soft ; at his 
tall, imposing figure ; and fancied myself in idea his wife. 
Oh ! it would never do ! As his curate, his comrade, all 
would be right : I would cross oceans with him in that 
capacity ; toil under eastern suns, in Asian deserts with him 
in that office ; admire and emulate his courage and devotion, 
and vigour ; accommodate quietly to his masterhood ; smile 
undisturbed at his ineradicable ambition ; discriminate the 
Christian from the man : profoundly esteem the one, and 



498 JANE EYKE 

freely forgive the other. I should suffer often, no doubt, 
attached to him only in this capacity : my body would be 
under rather a stringent yoke, but my heart and mind would 
be free. I should still have my unblighted self to turn to : 
my natural unenslaved feelings with which to communicate 
in moments of loneliness. There would be recesses in my 
mind which would be only mine, to which he never came ; 
and sentiments growing there fresh and sheltered, which his 
austerity could never blight, nor his measured warrior-march 
trample down : but as his wife at his side always, and 
always restrained, and always checked forced to keep the 
fire of my nature continually low, to compel it to burn 
inwardly and never utter a cry, though the imprisoned flame 
consumed vital after vital this would be unendurable. 

' St. John ! I exclaimed, when I had got so far in my 
meditation. 

4 Well ? ' he answered icily. 

' I repeat : I freely consent to go with you as your fellow- 
missionary ; but not as your wife ; I cannot marry you and 
become part of you.' 

' A part of me you must become,' he answered steadily ; 
' otherwise the whole bargain is void. How can I, a man 
not yet thirty, take out with me to India a girl of nineteen, 
unless she be married to me ? How can we be for ever 
together sometimes in solitudes, sometimes amidst savage 
tribes and unwed ? ' 

' Very well,' I said shortly ; ' under the circumstances, 
quite as well as if I were either your real sister, or a man 
and a clergyman like yourself.' 

' It is known that you are not my sister ; I cannot intro- 
duce you as such : to attempt it would be to fasten injurious 
suspicions on us both. And for the rest, though you have a 
man's vigorous brain, you have a woman's heart, and it 
would not do.' 

' It would do,' I affirmed with some disdain, ' perfectly 
well. I have a woman's heart ; but not where you are con- 
cerned ; for you I have only a comrade's constancy ; a 



JANE EYBE 499 

fellow-soldier's frankness, fidelity, fraternity, if you like ; 
a neophyte's respect and submission to his hierophant : 
nothing more don't fear.' 

'It is what I want,' he said, speaking to himself ; 'it is 
just what I want. And there are obstacles in the way : they 
must be hewn down. Jane, you would not repent marrying 
me ; be certain of that ; we must be married. I repeat it : 
there is no other way ; and undoubtedly enough of love 
would follow upon marriage to render the union right even 
in your eyes.' 

' I scorn your idea of love,' I could not help saying, as I 
rose up and stood before him, leaning my back against the 
rock. ' I scorn the counterfeit sentiment you offer : 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, or 
what, it was not easy to tell : he could command his 
countenance thoroughly. 

' I scarcely expected to hear that expression from you,' 
he said: 'I think I have done and uttered nothing to 
deserve scorn.' 

I was touched by his gentle tone, and overawed by his 
high, calm mien. 

' Forgive me the words, St. John : but it is your own 
fault that I have been roused to speak so unguardedly. 
You have introduced a topic on which our natures are at 
variance a topic we should never discuss : the very name 
of love is an apple of discord between us if the reality 
were required what should we do ? How should we feel ? 
My dear cousin, abandon your scheme of marriage 
forget it.' 

' No,' said he ;' it is a long-cherished scheme, and the 
only one which can secure my great end : but I shall urge 
you no further at present. To-morrow I leave home for 
Cambridge : I have many friends there to whom I should 
wish to say farewell. I shall be absent a fortnight take 
that space of time to consider my offer : and do not forget 



500 JANE EYEE 

that if you reject it, it is not me you deny, but God. 
Through my means, He opens to you a noble career ; as 
my wife only can you enter upon it. Refuse to be my wife, 
and you limit yourself for ever to a track of selfish ease and 
barren obscurity. Tremble lest in that case you should be 
numbered with those who have denied the 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 them uttered. As I walked by his side 
homeward, I read well in his iron silence all he felt towards 
me : the disappointment of an austere and despotic nature, 
which has met resistance where it expected submission 
the disapprobation of a cool, inflexible judgment, which has 
detected in another feelings and views in which it has no 
power to sympathise : in short, as a man, he would have 
wished to coerce me into obedience : it was only as a sincere 
Christian he bore so patiently with my perversity, and 
allowed so long a space for reflection and repentance. 

That night, after he had kissed his sisters, he thought 
proper to forget even to shake hands with me ; but left the 
room in silence. I who, though I had no love, had much 
friendship for him was hurt by the marked omission : so 
much hurt that tears started to my eyes. 

' I see you and St. John have been quarrelling, Jane,' 
said Diana, ' during your walk on the moor. But go after 
him ; he is now lingering in the passage, expecting you 
he will make it up.' 

I have not much pride under such circumstances : I 
would always rather be happy than dignified ; and I ran 
after him he stood at the foot of the stairs. 

1 Good-night, St. John,' said I. 

' Good-night, Jane,' he replied calmly. 

1 Then shake hands,' I added. 

What a cold, loose touch he impressed on my fingers ! 



JANE EYEE 501 

He was deeply displeased by what had occurred that 
day : cordiality would not warm, nor tears move him. No 
happy reconciliation was to be had with him no cheer- 
ing smile or generous word : but still the Christian was 
patient and placid; and when I asked him if he forgave 
me, he answered that he was not in the habit of cherish- 
ing the remembrance of vexation ; 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. 



CHAPTEB XXXV 

HE did not leave for Cambridge the next day, as he had 
said he would. He deferred his departure a whole week ; 
and during that time he made me feel what severe punish- 
ment a good yet stern, a conscientious yet implacable man 
can inflict on one who has offended him. Without one overt 
act of hostility, one upbraiding word, he contrived to impress 
me momently with the conviction that I was put beyond 
the pale of his favour. 

Not that St. John harboured a spirit of unchristian 
vindictiveness not that he would have injured a hair of my 
head, if it had been fully in his power to do so. Both by 
nature and principle he was superior to the mean gratifica- 
tion of vengeance : he had forgiven me for saying I scorned, 
him and his love, but he had not forgotten the words ; and aa 
long as he and I 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, 
they sounded 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 the corrupt man within him had a pleasure 
unimparted to, and unshared by, the pure Christian, in 
evincing with what skill he could, while acting and speaking 
apparently just as usual, extract from every deed and every 
phrase the spirit of interest and approval which had for- 
merly communicated a certain austere charm to his language 
and manner, To me, he was in reality become no longer 



JANE EYBE 503 

flesh, but marble ; his eye was 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 fire of indignation, and a trembling trouble 
of grief, which harassed and crushed me altogether. I felt 
how, if I were his wife, this good man, pure as the deep 
sunless source, could soon kill me : without drawing from 
my veins a single drop of blood, or receiving on his own 
crystal conscience the faintest stain of crime. Especially I 
felt this when I made any attempt to propitiate him. No 
ruth met my ruth. He experienced no suffering from 
estrangement no yearning after reconciliation ; and 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 had been really a matter of stone or metal. 
To his sisters, meantime, he was somewhat kinder than 
usual : as if afraid that mere coldness would not sufficiently 
convince me how completely I was banished and banned, 
he added the force of contrast : and this I am sure he did, 
not by malice, but on principle. 

The night before he left home, happening to see him 
walking in the garden about sunset, and remembering, as I 
looked at him, that this man, alienated as he now was, had 
once saved my life, and that we were near relations, I was 
moved to make a last attempt to regain his friendship. I 
went out and approached him, as he stood leaning over the 
little gate : I spoke to the point at once. 

' St. John, I am unhappy, because you are still angry 
with me. Let us be friends.' 

' I hope we are friends,' was the unmoved reply ; while 
he still watched the rising of the 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 



604 JANE EYEE 

of wishing any one ill : but, as I am your kinswoman, I 
should desire somewhat more of affection than that sort of 
general philanthropy you extend to mere strangers.' 

' Of course,' he said. ' Your wish is reasonable ; and I 
am far from regarding you 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 have left him : but 
something worked within me more strongly than those 
feelings could. I deeply venerated my cousin's talent and 
principle. His friendship was of value to me : to lose it 
tried me severely. I would not so soon relinquish the 
attempt to reconquer it. 

' Must we part in this way, St. John ? And when you 
go to India, will you leave me so, without a kinder 'word 
than you have yet spoken ? ' 

He now turned quite from the moon, and faced me. 

' When I go to India, Jane, will I leave you ? What ! 
do you not go to India ? ' 

1 You said I could not, unless I married you.' 

'And you will not marry me? You adhere to that 
resolution ? ' 

Eeader, do you know, as I do, what terror those cold 
people can put into the ice of their questions ? How much 
of the fall of the avalanche is hi their anger ? of the breaking 
up of the frozen sea in then: 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 crash down. 

' Once more, why this refusal ? ' he asked. 

' Formerly,' I answered, ' because you did not love me ; 
now, I reply, because you almost hate me. If I were to 
marry you, you would kill me. You are killing me now.' 

His lips and cheeks turned white quite white. 

' J should kill you 7 am kitting you ? Your words are 
such as ought not to be used : violent, unfeminine, and 



JANE EYEE 505 

untrue. They betray an unfortunate state of mind : they 
merit severe reproof : they would seem inexcusable ; but 
that it is the duty of man to forgive his fellow, even until 
seventy-and-seven times.' 

I had finished the business now. While earnestly 
wishing to erase from his mind the trace of my former 
offence, I had stamped on that tenacious surface another 
and 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 of you.' 

A fresh wrong did these words inflict : the worse because 
they touched on the truth. That bloodless lip quivered to 
a temporary spasm. I knew the steely ire I had whetted. 
I was heart-wrung. 

' You utterly misinterpret my words,' I said, at once 
seizing his hand : ' I have no intention to grieve or pain 
you indeed, I have not.' 

Most bitterly he smiled most decidedly he withdrew 
his hand from mine. ' And now you recall your promise, 
and will not go to India at all, I presume ? ' said he, after a 
considerable pause. 

' Yes I will, as your assistant,' I answered. 

A very long silence succeeded. What struggle there was 
in him between Nature and Grace in this interval I can- 
not tell ; only singular gleams scintillated in his eyes, and 
strange shadows passed over his face. He spoke at last. 

1 1 before proved to you the absurdity of a single woman 
of your age proposing to accompany abroad a single man of 
mine. I proved it to you in such terms as, I should have 
thought, would have prevented your ever again alluding to 
the plan. That you have done so, I regret for your sake.' 

I interrupted him. Anything like a tangible reproach 
gave me courage at once. ' Keep to common sense, St. John : 
you are verging on nonsense. You pretend to be shocked 
by what I have said. You are not really shocked ; for, with 
your superior mind, you cannot be either so dull or so 



506 JANE EYRE 

conceited as to misunderstand my meaning. I say agaiu, 
I will be your curate, if you like, but never your wife.' 

Again he turned lividly pale ; but, as before, controlled 
his passion perfectly. He answered emphatically, but 
calmly : ' A female curate, who is not my wife, would never 
suit me. With me, then, it seems, you cannot go : but if 
you are sincere in your offer, I will, while in town, speak to 
a married missionary, whose wife needs a coadjutor. Your 
own fortune will make you independent of the Society's 
aid; and thus you may still be spared the dishonour of 
breaking your promise, and deserting the band you engaged 
to join.' 

Now I never had, as the reader knows, either given any 
formal promise, or entered into any engagement ; and this 
language was all much too hard, and much too despotic for 
the occasion. I replied : ' There is no dishonour ; no breach 
of promise ; no desertion in the case. I am not under the 
slightest obligation to go to India : especially with strangers. 
With you I would have ventured much ; because I admire, 
confide in, and, as a sister, I love you : but I am convinced 
that, go when and with whom I would, I should not live 
long in that climate.' 

' Ah ! you are afraid of yourself,' he said, curling his lip. 

1 1 am. God did not give me my life to throw away ; 
and to do as you wish me would, I begin to think, be almost 
equivalent to committing suicide. Moreover, before I 
definitively resolve on quitting England, I will know for 
certain whether I cannot be of greater use by remaining in 
it than by leaving it.' 

' What do you mean ? ' 

' It would be fruitless to attempt to explain : but there is 
a point on which I have long endured painful doubt ; and I 
can go nowhere till by some means that doubt is removed.' 

' I know where your heart turns, and to what it clings. 
The interest you cherish is lawless and unconsecrated. 
Long since you ought to have crushed it : now you should 
blush to allude to it. You think of Mr. Rochester ? ' 



JANE EYRE 507 

It was true. I confessed it by silence. 

1 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 to entreat God for you, in all earnestness, 
that you may not indeed become a castaway. I had thought 
I recognised in you one of the chosen. But God sees not 
as man sees : His will be done.' 

He opened the gate, passed through it, and strayed away 
down the glen. He was soon out of sight. 

On re-entering the parlour, I found Diana standing at 
the window, looking very thoughtful. Diana was a great 
deal taller than I : she put 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 we what 
business St. John and you have on hand. I have watched 
you this half -hour from the window : you must forgive my 
being such a spy, but for a long time I have fancied I hardly 
know what. St. John is a strange being ' 

She paused I did not speak : soon she resumed : ' That 
brother of mine cherishes peculiar views of some sort 
respecting you, I am sure : he has long distinguished you 
by a notice and interest he never showed to any one else 
to what end ? I wish he loved you does he, Jane ? ' 

I put her cool hand to my hot forehead : ' No, Die, not 
one whit.' 

1 Then why does he follow you so with his eyes and get 
you so frequently alone with him, and keep you so continu- 
ally at his side ? Mary and I had both concluded he wished 
you to marry him.' 

1 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.' 

1 Far from that, Diana ; his sole idea in proposing to me 
is to procure a fitting fellow-labourer in his Indian toils.' 



506 JANE EYRE 

' What ! He wishes you to go to India ? ' 

' Yes.' 

1 Madness ! ' she exclaimed. ' You would not live three 
months there, I am certain. You never shall go : you have 
not consented have you, Jane ? ' 

' I have refused to marry him ' 

' And have consequently displeased him ? ' she suggested. 

1 Deeply : he will never forgive me, I fear : yet I offered 
to accompany him as his sister.' 

' It was frantic folly to do so, Jane. Think of the task 
you undertook one of incessant fatigue : where fatigue kills 
even the strong ; and you are weak. St. John you know 
him would urge you to impossibilities : with him there 
would be no permission to rest during the hot hours ; and 
unfortunately, I have noticed, whatever he exacts, you force 
yourself to perform. I am astonished you found courage to 
refuse his hand. You do not love him then, Jane ? ' 

' Not as a husband.' 

' Yet he is a handsome fellow.' 

'And I am so plain you see, Die. We should never 
suit.' 

' Plain ! You ? Not at all. You are much too pretty, 
as well as too good, to be grilled alive in Calcutta.' And 
again she earnestly conjured me to give up all thoughts of 
going out with her brother. 

' I must, indeed,' I said ; ' for when just now I repeated 
the offer of serving him for a deacon, he expressed himself 
shocked at my want of decency. He seemed to think I had 
committed an impropriety in proposing to accompany him 
unmarried : as if I had not from the first hoped to find in 
him a 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 is not himself, but his office he 
wishes to mate. He has told me I am formed for labour 
not for love : which is true, no doubt. But, in my opinion, 
if I am not formed for love, it follows that I am not formed 



JANE EYEE 509 

for marriage. Would it not be strange, Die, to be chained 
for life to a man who regarded one but as a useful tool ? ' 

' Insupportable unnatural out of the question ! 

'And then,' I continued, 'though I have only sisterly 
affection for him now, yet, if forced to be his wife, I can 
imagine the possibility of conceiving an inevitable, strange, 
torturing kind of love for him : because he is so talented ; 
and there is often a certain heroic grandeur in his look, 
manner, and conversation. In that case, my lot would 
become unspeakably wretched. He would not want me to 
love him ; and if I showed the feeling, he would make me 
sensible that it was a superfluity, unrequired by him, 
unbecoming in me. I know he would.' 

' And yet St. John is a good man,' said Diana. 

' He is a good and a great man : but he forgets, pitilessly, 
the feelings and claims of little people, in pursuing his own 
large views. It is better, therefore, for the insignificant to 
keep out of his way ; lest, in his progress, he should trample 
them down. Here he comes ! I will leave you, Diana.' 
And I hastened upstairs, as I saw him entering the garden. 

But I was forced to meet him again at supper. During 
that meal he appeared just as composed as usual. I had 
thought he would hardly speak to me, and I was certain he 
had given up the pursuit of his matrimonial scheme : the 
sequel showed I was mistaken on both points. He addressed 
me precisely in his ordinary manner; or what had, of late, 
been his ordinary manner ; one scrupulously polite. No 
doubt he had invoked the help of the Holy Spirit to subdue 
the anger I had roused in him, and now believed he had 
forgiven me once more. 

For the evening reading before prayers, he selected the 
twenty-first chapter of Eevelation. It was at all times 
pleasant to listen while from his lips fell the words of the 
Bible : never did his fine voice sound at once so sweet and 
full never did his manner become so impressive in its noble 
simplicity, as when he delivered the oracles of God : and 
to-night that voice took a more solemn tone that manner a 



510 JANE EYEE 

more thrilling 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 sat there, bending 
over the great old Bible, and described from its page the 
vision of the new heaven and the new earth told how God 
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 were passed away. 

The succeeding words thrilled me strangely as he spoke 
them : especially as I felt, by the slight, indescribable altera- 
tion 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 he shall be my son. But,' was slowly, 
distinctly read, ' the fearful, the unbelieving, &c. shall have 
their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, 
which is the second death.' 

Henceforward I knew what fate St. John feared for 
me. 

A calm, subdued triumph, blent with a longing earnest- 
ness, marked his enunciation of the last glorious verses of 
that chapter. The reader believed his name was already 
written in the Lamb's book of life, and he yearned after the 
hour which should admit him to the city to which the kings 
of the earth bring their glory and honour ; which has no 
need of sun or moon to shine in 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 stern zeal woke : he was in deep earnest, 
wrestling with God, and resolved on a conquest. He sup- 
plicated strength for the weak-hearted ; guidance for wan- 
derers 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 narrow path. He asked, he urged, he 
claimed the boon of a brand snatched from the burning. 



JANE EYRE 511 

Earnestness is ever deeply solemn : first, as I listened to 
that prayer, I wondered at his ; then, when it continued and 
rose, I was touched by it, and at last 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 in the morning. Diana and Mary having 
kissed him, left the room in compliance, I think, with a 
whispered hint from him : I tendered my hand, and wished 
him a pleasant journey. 

'Thank you, Jane. As I said, I shall return from 
Cambridge in a fortnight : that space, then, is yet left you for 
reflection, If I listened to human pride, I should say no 
more to you of marriage with me ; but I listen to my duty, 
and keep steadily in view my first aim to do all things to 
the glory of God. My Master was long-suffering : so will I 
be. I cannot give you up to perdition as a vessel of wrath : 
repent resolve ; while there is yet time. Remember, we 
are bid to work while it is day warned that " the night 
cometh when no man shall work." Remember the fate of 
Dives, who had his good things in this life. God give you 
strength to choose that better part which shall not be taken 
from you ! ' 

He laid his hand on my head as he uttered the last 
words. He had spoken earnestly, mildly : his look was not, 
indeed, that of a lover beholding his mistress ; but it was 
that of a pastor recalling his wandering sheep or better, of 
a guardian angel watching the soul for which he is respon- 
sible. All men of talent, whether they be men of feeling 
or not ; whether they be zealots, or aspirants, or despots 
provided only they be sincere have their sublime moments : 
when they subdue and rule. I felt veneration for St. John 
veneration so strong that its impetus thrust me at once to 
the point I had so long shunned. I was tempted to cease 
struggling with him to rush down the torrent of his will 
into the gulf of his existence, and there lose my own. I 
was almost as hard beset by him now as I had been once 



512 JANE EYRE 

before, in a different way, by another. I was a fool both 
times. To have yielded then would have been an error of 
principle ; to have yielded now would have been an error ot 
judgment. So I think at this hour, when I look back to 
the crisis through the quiet medium of time : I was un- 
conscious of folly at the instant. 

I stood motionless under my hierophant's touch. My 
refusals were forgotten my fears overcome my wrestlings 
paralysed. The impossible i.e. my marriage with St. John 
was fast becoming the Possible. All was changing utterly, 
with a sudden sweep. Religion called Angels beckoned 
God commanded life rolled together like a scroll death's 
gates opening, showed eternity beyond : it seemed, that for 
safety and bliss there, all here might be sacrificed in a 
second. The dim room was full of visions. 

1 Could you decide now ? ' asked the missionary. The 
inquiry was put in gentle tones : he drew me to him as 
gently. Oh, that gentleness ! how far more potent is it than 
force ! I could resist St. John's wrath : I grew pliant as a 
reed under his kindness. Yet I knew all the 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 of solemn prayer : it was only elevated. 

' I coul