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本周熱門小說

Jane Eyre(簡·愛)

TXT 全文
Jane Eyre 
Charlotte Bront. 
ELECBOOK CLASSICS 

ELECBOOK CLASSICS


ebc0018. Charlotte Bront.: Jane Eyre


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. The Electric Book Co 1998 

The Electric Book Company Ltd 

20 Cambridge Drive, London SE12 8AJ, UK 
+44 (0)181 488 3872 www.elecbook.com 


Jane Eyre


Charlotte Bront.



Jane Eyre 

Contents 

Click on number to go to Chapter 

PREFACE ................................................................................................6
Chapter I ................................................................................................10
Chapter II...............................................................................................17
Chapter III .............................................................................................26
Chapter IV..............................................................................................38
Chapter V...............................................................................................58
Chapter VI..............................................................................................75
Chapter VII............................................................................................85
Chapter VIII...........................................................................................97
Chapter IX...........................................................................................108
Chapter X.............................................................................................119
Chapter XI ...........................................................................................134
Chapter XII..........................................................................................155
Chapter XIII ........................................................................................169
Chapter XIV.........................................................................................184
Chapter XV..........................................................................................201
Chapter XVI.........................................................................................218
Chapter XVII.......................................................................................231
Chapter XVIII......................................................................................258
Chapter XIX........................................................................................278


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Jane Eyre 

Chapter XX..........................................................................................292
Chapter XXI........................................................................................312
Chapter XXII.......................................................................................341
Chapter XXIII.....................................................................................351
Chapter XXIV .....................................................................................365
Chapter XXV.......................................................................................390
Chapter XXVI .....................................................................................407
Chapter XXVII....................................................................................422
Chapter XXVIII ..................................................................................457
Chapter XXIX.....................................................................................480
Chapter XXX.......................................................................................496
Chapter XXXI.....................................................................................509
Chapter XXXII....................................................................................520
Chapter XXXIII..................................................................................536
Chapter XXXIV ..................................................................................553
Chapter XXXV....................................................................................583
Chapter XXXVI ..................................................................................598
Chapter XXXVII.................................................................................611
Chapter XXXVIII—CONCLUSION................................................638


Charlotte Bront. ElecBook Classics 


Jane Eyre 

PREFACE


Apreface to the first edition of Jane Eyre being 

unnecessary, I gave none: this second edition demands a 

few words both of acknowledgment and miscellaneous 

remark. 

My thanks are due in three quarters. 

To the 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.e., to my Publishers 
and the select Reviewers, I say cordially, 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 certain obvious distinctions; I would remind them of 
certain simple truths. 

Charlotte Bront. ElecBook Classics 


Jane Eyre 

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 confound 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 metal 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 sycophant son of 
Chenaannah 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 

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Jane Eyre 

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

Why have I alluded to this man? I have alluded to him, Reader, 
because I think I see in him an intellect profounder and more 
unique than his contemporaries have yet recognised; because I 
regard him as the first social regenerator of the day—as the very 
master of that working corps who would restore to rectitude the 
warped system of things; because I think no commentator on his 
writings has yet found the comparison that suits 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 21st, 1847. 

NOTE TO THE THIRD EDITION 

I avail myself of the opportunity which a third edition of Jane 
Eyre affords me, of again addressing a word to the Public, to 

Charlotte Bront. ElecBook Classics 


Jane Eyre 

explain that my claim to the title of novelist rests on this one work 
alone. If, therefore, the authorship of other works of fiction has 
been attributed to me, an honour is awarded where it is not 
merited; and consequently, denied where it is justly due. 

This explanation will serve to rectify mistakes which may 
already have been made, and to prevent future errors. 
CURRER BELL. 
April 13th, 1848. 

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Jane Eyre 10 

Chapter 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. Reed, when there 
was no company, dined early) the cold winter wind had brought 
with it clouds so sombre, and a rain so penetrating, that further 
out-door 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 Reed. 

The said Eliza, John, and Georgiana were now clustered round 
their mama in the drawing-room: she lay reclined on a 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 endeavouring in good earnest to acquire a more 
sociable and childlike disposition, a more attractive and sprightly 
manner—something lighter, franker, more natural, as it were—she 
really must exclude me from privileges intended only for 
contented, happy, little children.」 

「What does Bessie say I have done?」 I asked. 

「Jane, I don』t like cavillers or questioners; besides, there is 
something truly forbidding in a child taking up her elders in that 

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Jane Eyre 11 

manner. Be seated somewhere; and until you can speak 
pleasantly, remain silent.」 

A 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.」


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Jane Eyre 12 

Nor could I pass unnoticed the suggestion of the bleak shores of 
Lapland, Siberia, Spitzbergen, 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 rigours 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 
connected 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 eventide. 

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 

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Jane Eyre 13 

when, having brought her ironing-table to the nursery hearth, she 
allowed us to sit about it, and while she got up Mrs. Reed』s lace 
frills, and crimped her nightcap borders, fed our eager attention 
with passages of love and adventure taken from old fairy tales and 
other ballads; or (as at a later period I discovered) from the pages 
of 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. 

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

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

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

「Say, 『What do you want, Master Reed?』」 was the answer. 「I 
want you to come here;」 and seating 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 

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Jane Eyre 14 

dingy and unwholesome skin; thick lineaments in a spacious 
visage, heavy limbs and large extremities. 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 mama 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 in 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. Reed 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 

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Jane Eyre 15 

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 mama 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 Reed』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, 
mama says; you have no money; your father left you none; you 
ought to beg, and not to live here with gentlemen』s children like 
us, and eat the same meals we do, and wear clothes at our mama』s 
expense. Now, I』ll teach you to rummage my bookshelves: for they 
are mine; all the house belongs to me, or will do in a few years. Go 
and stand by the door, out of the way of the mirror and the 
windows.」 

I did 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 Roman emperors!」 

I had read Goldsmith』s History of Rome, and had formed my 

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Jane Eyre 16 

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 mama? but first—」 

He ran headlong at me: I felt him grasp my hair and my 
shoulder: he had closed with a desperate thing. I really saw in him 
a tyrant, a murderer. I felt a drop or two of blood from my head 
trickle down my 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 「Rat! 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!」 

「Did ever anybody see such a picture of passion!」 

Then Mrs. Reed subjoined— 

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

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Jane Eyre 17 

Chapter II 

Iresisted all the way: a new thing for me, and a circumstance 
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 desperation, to go all lengths. 

「Hold her arms, Miss Abbot: she』s like a mad cat.」 

「For shame! for shame!」 cried the lady』s-maid. 「What shocking 
conduct, Miss Eyre, to strike a young gentleman, your 
benefactress』s son! Your young master.」 

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

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

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

「If you don』t sit still, you must be tied down,」 said Bessie. 「Miss 
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. 

「Mind you don』t,」 said Bessie; and when she had ascertained 

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Jane Eyre 18 

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 obligations to 
Mrs. Reed: she keeps you: if she were to turn you off, you would 
have to go to the poorhouse.」 

I had nothing to say to these words: they were not new to me: 
my very first recollections of existence included hints of the same 
kind. This reproach of my dependence had become a vague singsong 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 Reed and Master Reed, because Missis kindly allows you to 
be brought up with them. They will have a great deal of money, 
and you will have none: it is your place to be humble, and to try to 
make yourself agreeable to them.」 

「What we tell you is for your good,」 added 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 

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Jane Eyre 19 

would she go? Come, Bessie, we will leave her: I wouldn』t have her 
heart for anything. Say your prayers, Miss Eyre, when you are by 
yourself; for if you don』t repent, something bad might be 
permitted to come down the chimney and fetch you away.」 

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

The red-room was a square 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 kitchen; solemn, because it 
was known to be so seldom entered. The house-maid alone came 
here on Saturdays, to wipe from the mirrors and the furniture a 
week』s quiet dust: and Mrs. Reed 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 

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Jane Eyre 20 

miniature of her deceased husband; and in those last words lies 
the secret of the red-room—the spell which kept it so lonely in 
spite of its grandeur. 

Mr. Reed had been dead nine years: it was in this chamber he 
breathed his last; here he lay in state; hence his coffin was borne 
by the undertaker』s men; and, since 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. Returning, 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 retrospective thought before I quailed to 

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Jane Eyre 21 

the dismal present. 

All John Reed』s violent tyrannies, all his sisters』 proud 
indifference, all his mother』s aversion, all the servants』 partiality, 
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 could 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, 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 

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Jane Eyre 22 

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! 
How all my brain was in tumult, and all my heart in insurrection! 
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 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 
indignation 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. Reed would have endured my presence more 
complacently; her children would have entertained for me more of 
the cordiality of fellow-feeling; the servants would have been less 
prone to make me the scapegoat of the nursery. 

Daylight began to forsake the red-room; it was past four o』clock, 
and the beclouded afternoon was tending to drear twilight. I heard 
the rain still beating continuously on the staircase 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 

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Jane Eyre 23 

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. Reed lie 
buried; and led by this thought to recall his idea, I dwelt on it with 
gathering dread. I could not remember him; but I knew that he 
was my own uncle—my mother』s brother—that he had taken me 
when a parentless infant to his house; and that in his last moments 
he had required a promise of Mrs. Reed that she would rear and 
maintain me as one of her own children. Mrs. Reed probably 
considered she had kept this promise; and so she 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 unconnected 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 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. Reed 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 gleaning mirror—I began to recall what I had 
heard of dead men, troubled in their graves by the violation of 
their last wishes, revisiting the earth to punish the perjured and 
avenge the oppressed; and I thought Mr. Reed』s 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 

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Jane Eyre 24 

rise before me in this chamber. I wiped my tears and hushed my 
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 myself, 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, 
suffocated: 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. 

「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. 

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Jane Eyre 25 

「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.」 

「What is all this?」 demanded another voice peremptorily; and 
Mrs. Reed 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 children; it is my duty to show you 
that tricks will not answer: you will now stay here an hour longer, 
and it is only on condition of perfect submission and stillness that I 
shall liberate you then.」 

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

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

Bessie and Abbot having retreated, Mrs. Reed, 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. 

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Jane Eyre 26 

Chapter 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, and 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 dissolved: 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 Gateshead., and not related to Mrs. 
Reed. 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. Reed when 
the servants 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: 

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Jane Eyre 27 

he took it, smiling and saying, 「We shall do very well by-and-by.」 
Then he laid me down, and addressing Bessie, charged her to be 
very careful that I was not disturbed during the night. Having 
given some further directions, and intimates 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.」 

「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 

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Jane Eyre 28 

distinctly to infer the main subject discussed. 

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

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

No severe or prolonged bodily illness followed this incident of 
the red-room; it only gave my nerves a shock of which I feel the 
reverberation to this day. Yes, Mrs. Reed, to you I owe some 
fearful pangs of mental suffering, but I ought to forgive you, for 
you knew not what you did: while rending my heart-strings, you 
thought you were only uprooting my bad propensities. Next day, 
by noon, I was up and dressed, and sat wrapped in a shawl by the 
nursery hearth. I felt physically weak and broken down: but my 
worse ailment was an unutterable wretchedness of mind: a 
wretchedness which kept drawing from me silent tears; no sooner 
had I wiped one salt drop from my cheek than another followed. 
Yet, I thought, I ought to have been happy, for none of the Reeds 
were there, they were all gone out in the carriage with their mama. 
Abbot, too, was sewing in another room, and Bessie, as she moved 
hither and thither, putting away toys and arranging drawers, 
addressed to me every now and then a word of unwonted 
kindness. This state of things should have been to me a paradise of 
peace, accustomed as I was to a life of ceaseless reprimand and 
thankless fagging; but, in fact, my racked nerves were now in such 
a state that no calm could soothe, and no pleasure excite them 
agreeably. 

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Jane Eyre 29 

Bessie had been down into the kitchen, and she brought up 
with her a tart on a certain brightly painted china plate, whose 
bird of paradise, nestling in a wreath of convolvuli and rosebuds, 
had been wont to stir in me a most enthusiastic sense of 
admiration; and which plate I had often petitioned to be allowed to 
take in my hand in order to examine it more closely, but had 
always hitherto been deemed unworthy of such a privilege. This 
precious vessel was now placed on my knee, and I was cordially 
invited to eat the circlet of delicate pastry upon it. Vain favour! 
coming, like most other favours long deferred and often wished 
for, too late! I could not eat the tart; and the plumage of the bird, 
the tints of the flowers, seemed strangely faded: I put both plate 
and tart away. Bessie asked if I would have a book: the word book 
acted as a transient stimulus, and I begged her to fetch Gulliver』s 
Travels from the library. This book I had again and again perused 
with delight. I considered it a narrative of facts, and discovered in 
it a vein of interest deeper than what I found in fairy tales: for as to 
the elves, having sought them in vain among foxglove leaves and 
bells, under mushrooms and beneath the ground-ivy mantling old 
wall-nooks, I had at length made up my mind to the sad truth, that 
they were all gone out of England to some savage country where 
the woods were wilder and thicker, and the population more 
scant; whereas, Lilliput and Brobdignag being, in my creed, solid 
parts of the earth』s surface, I doubted not that I might one day, by 
taking a long voyage, see with my own eyes the little fields, houses, 
and trees, the diminutive people, the tiny cows, sheep, and birds of 
the one realm; and the corn-fields forest-high, the mighty mastiffs, 
the monster cats, the tower-like men and women, of the other. Yet, 
when this cherished volume was now placed in my hand—when I 

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Jane Eyre 30 

turned over its leaves, and sought in its marvellous pictures the 
charm I had, till now, never failed to find—all was eerie and 
dreary; the giants were gaunt goblins, the pigmies malevolent and 
fearful imps, Gulliver a most desolate wanderer in most dread and 
dangerous regions. I closed the book, which I dared no longer 
peruse, and put it on the table, beside the untasted tart. 

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

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

I had often heard the song 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 lingeringly; 「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? 

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Jane Eyre 31 

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


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

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

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

「Come, Miss Jane, don』t cry,」 said Bessie as she finished. She 
might as well have said to the 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. 

「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?」 

「Yes, sir, Jane Eyre.」 

「Well, you have been crying, Miss Jane Eyre; can you tell me 

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Jane Eyre 32 

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 dare say 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. 

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Jane Eyre 33 

Lloyd when Bessie was gone. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How much I wished to reply fully to this question! How difficult 
it was to frame any answer! Children can 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, 
contrived to frame a meagre, though, as far as it went, true 
response. 

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

「You have a kind aunt and cousins.」 

Again I paused; then bunglingly enounced— 

「But John Reed knocked me down, and my aunt shut me up in 
the red-room.」 

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

「Don』t you think Gateshead Hall a very beautiful house?」 asked 

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Jane Eyre 34 

he. 「Are you not very thankful to have such a fine place to live at?」 

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

「Pooh! you can』t be silly enough to wish to leave such a 
splendid place?」 

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

「Perhaps you may—who knows? Have you any relations 
besides Mrs. Reed?」 

「I think not, sir.」 

「None belonging to your father?」 

「I don』t know. I asked Aunt Reed once, and she said possibly I 
might have some poor, low relations called Eyre, but she knew 
nothing about them.」 

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

I reflected. Poverty looks grim to grown people; still more so to 
children: they have not much idea of 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. 

「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 purchase liberty at the price of caste. 

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

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Jane Eyre 35 

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.」 

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Jane Eyre 36 

Bessie invited him to walk into the breakfast-room, and led the 
way out. In the interview which followed between him and Mrs. 
Reed, 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 watching 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 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 

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Jane Eyre 37 

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. 

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Jane Eyre 38 

Chapter 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. Reed 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 chastisement; 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 tittering 
execrations, and vowing I had burst his nose. I had indeed levelled 
at that prominent feature as hard a blow as my knuckles could 
inflict; and when I saw that either that or my look daunted him, I 
had the greatest inclination to follow up my advantage to purpose; 

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Jane Eyre 39 

but he was already with his mama. I heard him in a blubbering 
tone commence the tale of how 「that nasty Jane Eyre」 had flown 
at him like a mad cat: he was stopped rather harshly— 

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

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

「What?」 said Mrs. Reed under her breath: her usually cold 
composed grey eye became troubled with a look like fear; she took 
her hand from my 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 mama: they know how you shut me up all day 
long, and how you wish me dead.」 

Mrs. Reed soon rallied her spirits: she shook me most soundly, 
she boxed both my ears, and then left me without a word. Bessie 

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Jane Eyre 40 

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 surging in my breast. 

November, December, and half of January passed away. 
Christmas and the New Year had been celebrated at Gateshead 
with the usual festive cheer; presents had been interchanged, 
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 ringleted; 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 door 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. Reed, 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 

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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 fancying it alive and capable of sensation. I could not sleep 
unless it was folded in my night-gown; and when it lay there safe 
and 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-cake—then 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 

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Jane Eyre 42 

hasty temper, and indifferent ideas of principle or justice: still, 
such as she was, I preferred her to any one else at Gateshead 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 mama; 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. Reed to buy of his young lady all the products of her parterre 
she wished to sell: and Eliza would have sold the hair off her head 
if she could have made a handsome profit thereby. As to her 
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 

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Jane Eyre 43 

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 occupation, 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 attention soon found livelier attraction in the spectacle 
of a little hungry robin, which came and chirruped on the twigs of 
the leafless cherry-tree nailed against the wall near the casement. 
The remains of my breakfast of bread and milk stood on the 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 morning?」 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 the cherry-tree bough, then, closing the 

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window, I replied— 

「No, Bessie; I have only just finished dusting.」 

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

I was spared the trouble of 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. Reed 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 breakfast-
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 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 Reed in the 

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Jane Eyre 45 

apartment?—a man or a woman?」 The handle turned, the door 
unclosed, and passing through and curtseying 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. Reed occupied her usual seat by the fireside; she made a 
signal to me to approach; I did so, and she introduced 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. Reed answered for me 
by an expressive shake of the head, adding soon, 「Perhaps the less 
said on that subject the better, Mr. Brocklehurst.」 

「Sorry indeed to hear it! she and I must have some talk;」 and 
bending from the perpendicular, he installed his person in the 

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Jane Eyre 46 

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. 

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Jane Eyre 47 

Reed my benefactress; if so, a benefactress is a disagreeable 
thing.」 

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

「Yes, sir.」 

「Do you read your Bible?」 

「Sometimes.」 

「With pleasure? Are you fond of it?」 

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

「And the Psalms? I hope you like them?」 

「No, sir.」 

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

「Psalms are not interesting,」 I remarked. 

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

I was about to propound a question, touching the manner in 
which that operation of changing my heart was to be performed, 
when Mrs. Reed 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 

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Jane Eyre 48 

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

Well might I dread, well might I dislike Mrs. Reed; for it was 
her nature to wound me cruelly; never was I happy in her 
presence; however carefully I obeyed, however 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. 
Brocklehurst』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 brimstone; she shall, however, be 
watched, Mrs. Reed. I will speak to Miss Temple and the 
teachers.」 

「I should wish her to be brought up in a manner suiting her 
prospects,」 continued my benefactress; 「to be made useful, to be 
kept humble: as for the vacations, she will, with your permission, 

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Jane Eyre 49 

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 mama 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 
mama』s, as if they had never seen a silk gown before.』」 

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

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

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

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

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Jane Eyre 50 

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

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

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

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

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

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 robust 
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 constitution was 
sound as a bell—illness never came near her; she was an exact, 

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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. 

「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 my 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 Reed; and this book about the liar, you may 
give to your girl, Georgiana, for it is she who tells lies, and not I.」 

Mrs. Reed』s hands still lay on her work inactive: her eye of ice 

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Jane Eyre 52 

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

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Jane Eyre 53 

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?」 

「No, Mrs. Reed.」 

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

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

「Jane, you don』t understand these things: children must be 
corrected for their faults.」 

「Deceit is not my fault!」 I cried out in a 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 voce; 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 

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Jane Eyre 54 

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: the same ridge, 
black and blasted after the flames are dead, would have 
represented as meetly my subsequent condition, when half-anhour』s silence and reflection had shown me the madness of my 
conduct, and the dreariness of my hated 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 sensation 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 
sequestrated; 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 

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Jane Eyre 55 

day; a most opaque sky, 「onding on snaw,」 canopied all; thence 
flakes felt it 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!」 

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?」 

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Jane Eyre 56 

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

「I don』t think you have, Bessie.」 

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

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

「Well, I will; but mind you are a very good girl, and don』t be 
afraid of me. Don』t start when I chance to speak rather sharply; it』s 
so provoking.」 

「I don』t think I shall ever be afraid of you again, Bessie, 
because I have got used to you, and I shall soon have another set 
of people to dread.」 

「If you dread them they』ll dislike you.」 

「As you do, Bessie?」 

「I don』t dislike you, Miss; I believe I am fonder of you than of all 
the others.」 

「You don』t show it.」 

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

「Why, I shall soon be away from you, and besides」—I was going 
to say something about what had passed between me and Mrs. 
Reed, but on second thoughts I considered it better to remain 

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Jane Eyre 57 

silent on that head. 

「And so you』re glad to leave me?」 

「Not at all, Bessie; indeed, just now I』m rather sorry.」 

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

「I』ll kiss you and welcome: bend your head down.」 Bessie 
stooped; we mutually 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 enchaining 
stories, and sang me some of her sweetest songs. Even for me life 
had its gleams of sunshine. 

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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 proceeded 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. Reed』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 bedclothes, and turned 

from her to the wall.」 
「That was wrong, Miss Jane.」 
「It was quite right, Bessie. Your Missis has not been my friend: 

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she has been my foe.」 

「O 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. Raw and chill was the winter morning: my teeth 
chattered as I hastened down the drive. There was a light in the 
porter』s lodge: when we reached 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.」 

「And how far is it?」 

「Fifty miles.」 

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

The coach drew up; there it was at the gates with its four horses 
and its top laden with passengers: the guard and coachman loudly 
urged haste; my trunk was hoisted up; I was taken from Bessie』s 
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!」 was the answer: the door was slapped to, a voice 
exclaimed 「All right,」 and on we drove. Thus was I severed from 
Bessie and Gateshead; thus whirled away to unknown, and, as I 

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then deemed, remote and mysterious regions. 

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

The afternoon came on wet and somewhat misty: as it waned 
into 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 

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Jane Eyre 61 

answered 「Yes,」 and was then lifted out; my trunk was handed 
down, and the coach instantly drove away. 

I was stiff with long sitting, and bewildered with the noise and 
motion of the coach: Gathering my faculties, I looked about me. 
Rain, wind, and darkness filled the air; nevertheless, I dimly 
discerned a wall before me and a door open in it; through this door 
I passed with my new guide: she shut and locked it behind her. 
There was now visible a house or houses—for the building spread 
far—with many windows, and lights burning in some; we went up 
a broad pebbly path, splashing wet, and were admitted at a door; 
then the servant led me through a passage into a room with a fire, 
where she left me alone. I stood and warmed my numbed fingers 
over the blaze, then I looked round; there was no candle, but the 
uncertain light from the hearth showed, by intervals, papered 
walls, carpet, curtains, shining mahogany furniture: it was a 
parlour, not so spacious or splendid as the drawing-room at 
Gateshead, but comfortable enough. I was puzzling to make out 
the subject of a picture on the wall, when the door opened, and an 
individual carrying a light entered; another followed close behind. 

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

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

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

「A little, ma』am.」 

「And hungry too, no doubt: let her have some supper before 

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Jane Eyre 62 

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, what I afterwards found she really 
was, an under-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— 

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Jane Eyre 63 

「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, however, 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 bed-fellow; 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, and 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 unclosed my eyes, a loud bell was 
ringing; the girls were up and dressing; day had not yet begun to 
dawn, and a rushlight or two burned in the room. I too rose 
reluctantly; it was bitter cold, and I dressed as well as I could for 

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Jane Eyre 64 

shivering, 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; afterwards 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 semicircles, 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 indefinite sound. 

A distant bell tinkled: immediately three ladies entered the 
room, each walked to a table and took her seat. Miss Miller 
assumed the fourth vacant 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 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. 

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The refectory was a great, low-ceiled, gloomy room; on two long 
tables smoked basins of something hot, which, however, 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 installed 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 
afterwards 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. 

Ravenous, 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 relinquished. 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 
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; 

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Jane Eyre 66 

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 was 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. I heard the name of Mr. 
Brocklehurst pronounced by some lips; at which Miss Miller shook 
her head disapprovingly; but she made no great effort to cheek the 
general wrath; doubtless she shared in it. 

A clock in the schoolroom struck nine; Miss Miller left her 
circle, and standing in the middle of the room, cried— 

「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. Ranged 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 surrounded 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 

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Jane Eyre 67 

this costume were full-grown girls, or rather young women; it 
suited them ill, and gave an air of oddity even to the prettiest. 

I was still looking at them, and also at intervals 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, 
weather-beaten, and over-worked—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 consulted 
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 

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Jane Eyre 68 

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 intrusted to me 
to carry to church. 

The superintendent of Lowood (for such was this lady) having 
taken her seat before a pair of globes placed on one of the tables, 
summoned the first class round her, and commenced giving a 
lesson on 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 superintendent rose— 

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

The tumult of cessation from lessons was already breaking 
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 distributed, 
to the high delight and refreshment of the whole school. The order 
was now given 「To the garden!」 Each put on a coarse straw 

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Jane Eyre 69 

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 under foot was still soaking wet with 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 feeling 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 fragmentary to merit record: I hardly yet knew 
where I was; Gateshead and my past life seemed floated away to 
an immeasurable distance; the present was vague and strange, 
and of the future I could form no conjecture. I looked round the 

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Jane Eyre 70 

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 Brocklehurst, of Brocklehurst Hall, in this county.」 「Let 
your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, 
and glorify your Father which is in heaven.」—St. Matt. v. 16. 

I read these words over and over again: I felt that an 
explanation belonged to them, and was unable fully to penetrate 
their import. I was still pondering the signification of 「Institution,」 
and endeavouring to make out a connection between the first 
words and the verse of Scripture, when the sound of a cough close 
behind me made me turn my head. I saw a girl sitting on a stone 
bench near; she was bent over a book, on the perusal of which she 
seemed intent: from where I stood I could see the title—it was 
「Rasselas;」 a name that struck me as strange, and consequently 
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 

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Jane Eyre 71 

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: 「Rasselas」 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 Institution?」 

「This house where you are come to live.」 

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

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

「Both died before I can remember.」 

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

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

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

「Then why do they call us charity-children?」 

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

「Who subscribes?」 

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

「Who was Naomi Brocklehurst?」 

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Jane Eyre 72 

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

「Why?」 

「Because he is treasurer and manager of the establishment.」 

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

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

「Does he live here?」 

「No—two miles off, at a large hall.」 

「Is he a good man?」 

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

「Did you say that tall lady was called Miss Temple?」 

「Yes.」 

「And what are the other teachers called?」 

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

「Do you like the teachers?」 

「Well enough.」 

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

「Miss Scatcherd is hasty—you must take care not to offend her; 

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Jane Eyre 73 

Madame Pierrot is not a bad sort of person.」 

「But Miss Temple is the best—isn』t she?」 

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

「Have you been long here?」 

「Two years.」 

「Are you an orphan?」 

「My mother is dead.」 

「Are you happy here?」 

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

But at that moment the summons sounded for dinner; all reentered 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 schoolroom: 
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 dismissed 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, especially for so great a girl—she 
looked thirteen or upwards. I expected she would show signs of 

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Jane Eyre 74 

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 daydreams—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. 

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Chapter VI 

The next day commenced as before, getting up and dressing 
by rushlight; but this morning we were obliged to dispense 
with the ceremony of washing; the water in the pitchers 
was frozen. A change had taken place in the weather the 
preceding 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. Breakfast-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 appeared 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 herself, and the 

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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 pronunciation, 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 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 comprised 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 Burns: 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 Scatcherd 
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 

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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, &c.; till she dismissed 
me, I could not pursue my observations 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 courtesy; 
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 handkerchief 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 

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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 companion, yet not feeling 
lonely: when I passed the windows, I now and then lifted a blind, 
and looked out; it snowed fast, 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 outside. 

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 『Rasselas』?」 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. 

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「What is your name besides Burns?」 

「Helen.」 

「Do you come a long way from here?」 

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

「Will you ever go back?」 

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

「You must wish to leave Lowood?」 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I heard her with wonder: I could not comprehend this doctrine 

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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 particular.」 

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

「Is Miss Temple as severe to you as Miss Scatcherd?」 

At the utterance of Miss Temple』s 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 anything worthy of praise, she gives me 
my meed liberally. One strong proof of my wretchedly defective 
nature is, that even her expostulations, so mild, so rational, have 
not influence to cure me of my faults; and even her praise, though 
I value it most highly, cannot stimulate me to continued care and 
foresight.」 

「That is curious,」 said I, 「it is so easy to be careful.」 

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

「Yet how well you replied this afternoon.」 

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

Helen was talking to herself now: she had forgotten I could not 
very well understand her—that I was 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?」 

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

「Well, then, with Miss Temple you are good?」 

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

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

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

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

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

「How? I don』t understand.」 

「It is not violence that best overcomes hate—nor vengeance 
that most certainly heals injury.」 

「What then?」 

「Read the New Testament, and observe what Christ says, and 

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Jane Eyre 83 

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 cumbrous frame of 
flesh, and only the spark of the spirit will remain,—the impalpable 
principle of light and thought, pure as when it left the Creator to 

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inspire the creature: whence it came it will return; perhaps again 
to be communicated to some being higher than man—perhaps to 
pass through gradations of glory, from the pale human soul to 
brighten to the seraph! Surely it will never, on the contrary, be 
suffered to degenerate from man to fiend? No; I cannot believe 
that: I hold another creed: which no one ever taught me, and 
which I seldom mention; but in which I delight, and to which I 
cling: for it extends hope to all: it makes Eternity a rest—a mighty 
home, not a terror and an abyss. Besides, with this creed, I can so 
clearly distinguish between the criminal and his crime; I can so 
sincerely forgive the first while I abhor the last: with this creed 
revenge never worries my heart, degradation never too deeply 
disgusts me, injustice never crushes me too low: I live in calm, 
looking to the end.」 

Helen』s 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. 

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Chapter VII 

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

During 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 

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tears, forced from me by the exigency of hunger. 

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 paralysed. 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 their 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 hebdomadal treat to 
which we all looked forward from Sabbath to Sabbath. I generally 

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contrived to reserve a moiety of this bounteous repast for myself; 
but the remainder I was invariably obliged to part with. 

The Sunday evening was spent in 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 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 

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which had frowned on me so ominously from the hearthrug of 
Gateshead. I now glanced sideways at this piece of architecture. 
Yes, I was right: it was Mr. Brocklehurst, buttoned up in a surtout, 
and looking longer, narrower, and more rigid than ever. 

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

He stood at Miss Temple』s side; he was speaking low in her ear: 
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 memorandum 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, O 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 

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

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

「Madam, allow me an instant. You are aware that my plan in 
bringing up these girls is, not to accustom them to habits of luxury 
and indulgence, but to render them hardy, patient, self-denying. 
Should any little accidental disappointment of the appetite occur, 
such as the spoiling of a meal, the under or the over dressing of a 

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dish, the incident ought not to be neutralised by replacing with 
something more delicate the comfort lost, thus pampering the 
body and obviating the aim of this institution; it ought to be 
improved to the spiritual edification of the pupils, by encouraging 
them to evince fortitude under temporary privation. A brief 
address on those occasions would not be mistimed, wherein a 
judicious instructor would take the opportunity of referring to the 
sufferings of the primitive Christians; to the torments of martyrs; 
to the exhortations of our blessed Lord Himself, calling upon His 
disciples to take up their cross and follow Him; to His warnings 
that man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that 
proceedeth out of the mouth of God; to His divine consolations, 「If 
ye suffer hunger or thirst for My 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; 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 

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hair? Red 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. 

「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 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 

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minutes, then pronounced sentence. These words fell like the 

knell of doom— 

「All those top-knots must be cut off.」 

Miss Temple seemed to remonstrate. 

「Madam,」 he 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 
shame-facedness and sobriety, not with braided hair and costly 
apparel; and each of the young persons before us has a string of 
hair twisted in plaits which vanity itself might have woven; these, I 
repeat, must be cut off; think of the time wasted, of—」 

Mr. Brocklehurst was here interrupted: three other visitors, 
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 room 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 

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Jane Eyre 93 

had no time to listen to what they said; other matters called off and 
enchanted my attention. 

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 observation. 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 obtrusive 
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 immediately 
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 sit 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. 

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Jane Eyre 94 

「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 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 be 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 

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Jane Eyre 95 

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 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 half-an-hour longer on that stool, and let no one 

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Jane Eyre 96 

speak to her during the remainder 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! 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 
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. 

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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 approbation; 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 

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could not now abate my agitation, though I 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.」 

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

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

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

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

「Well, Helen?」 said 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.」 

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Jane Eyre 99 

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

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

I was silent; Helen had calmed me; but in the tranquillity she 
imparted there was an alloy of inexpressible sadness. I felt the 
impression of woe as she 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 

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Jane Eyre 100 

to yield to a vague concern for her. 

Resting 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, streaming in through a window near, shone full both on 
us and on the approaching figure, which we at once recognised as 
Miss Temple. 

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

We went; following the superintendent』s guidance, we had to 
thread some intricate passages, and mount a staircase before we 
reached her apartment; it contained a good fire, and looked 
cheerful. Miss Temple told Helen Burns to be seated in a low armchair 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. 「Have you 
cried your grief away?」 

「I am afraid I never shall do that.」 

「Why?」 

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

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

「Shall I, Miss Temple?」 

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

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Jane Eyre 101 

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

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

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

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

I resolved, in the depth of my heart, that I would be most 
moderate—most correct; and, having reflected a few 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. Reed 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 

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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 today?」 

「Not quite so much, I think, ma』am.」 

「And the pain in your chest?」 

「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 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. 

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「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, 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 

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Jane Eyre 104 

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 

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Jane Eyre 105 

construe a page of Virgil; and Helen obeyed, my organ of 
veneration expanding at every sounding line. She had scarcely 
finished ere the bell announced bedtime! no delay could be 
admitted; Miss Temple embraced us 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-adozen 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, intelligent, 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 
resignation gave me an intolerable pain at the heart. 

About a week subsequently to the incidents above narrated, 

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Jane Eyre 106 

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

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

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Jane Eyre 107 

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. 

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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 temperature froze the very blood in our 
veins; we could now endure the play-hour passed in the garden: 
sometimes on a sunny day it began even to be pleasant and 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; snow-drops, crocuses, purple auriculas, 
and golden-eyed pansies. On Thursday afternoons (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 

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Jane Eyre 109 

a torrent, turbid and curbless: it tore asunder the wood, and sent a 
raving sound through the air, often thickened 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 unwonted 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 an hospital. 

Semi-starvation and neglected colds had predisposed most of 
the pupils to receive infection: forty-five out of the eighty girls lay 
ill at one time. Classes were broken up, rules relaxed. The few who 
continued well were allowed almost unlimited license; because the 

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Jane Eyre 110 

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 sweetbriars 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 
handful 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 gipsies, 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 

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scrutinised into; the cross housekeeper was gone, driven away by 
the fear of infection; her successor, who had been matron at the 
Lowton Dispensary, 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. 

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 accomplished 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 gratification: 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 question; 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 pare society? Surely the 
Mary Arm Wilson I have mentioned was inferior to my first 

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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 Burns; 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 never troubled? But Helen was ill at present: for some 
weeks she had been removed from my sight to I knew not what 
room upstairs. She was not, I was told, in the hospital portion of 
the house with the fever patients; for her complaint 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 distance 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 

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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 
moonrise: 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 glowing west promised so 
fairly another fine day on the morrow; the moon rose with such 
majesty in the grave east. I was noting these things and enjoying 
them as a child might, when it entered my mind as it had never 
done before:— 

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

And then my mind made its first earnest effort to comprehend 
what had been infused into it concerning heaven and hell; and for 
the first time it recoiled, baffled; and for the first time glancing 
behind, on each side, and before it, it saw all round an unfathomed 
gulf: it felt the one point where it stood—the present; all the rest 
was formless cloud and vacant depth; and it shuddered at the 
thought of tottering, 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. 

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「How is Helen Burns?」 

「Very poorly,」 was the answer. 

「Is it her Mr. Bates has been to see?」 

「Yes.」 

「And what does he say about her?」 

「He says she』ll not be here long.」 

This 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 the perfect 
silence of the dormitory, that my companions were all wrapt in 
profound repose—rose softly, put on my frock over my nightdress, 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 

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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 must see Helen,—I 
must embrace her before she died,—I must give her one last kiss, 
exchange with her one last word. 

Having descended a 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 keyhole 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 hangings: the nurse I had 
spoken to in the garden sat in an easy-chair asleep; an unsnuffed 
candle burnt dimly on the table. Miss Temple was not to be seen: I 
knew afterwards that she had been called to a delirious patient in 
the fever-room. I advanced; then paused by the crib side: my hand 
was on the curtain, but I preferred speaking before I withdrew it. I 
still recoiled at the dread of seeing a corpse. 

「Helen!」 I whispered softly, 「are you awake?」 

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

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

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

「Are you going somewhere, Helen? Are you going home?」 

「Yes; to my long home—my last home.」 

「No, no, Helen!」 I 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 

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sufferings. I had not qualities or talents to make my way very well 
in the world: I should have been continually at fault.」 

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

「I believe; I have faith: I am going to God.」 

「Where is God? What is God?」 

「My Maker and yours, who will never destroy what He created. 
I rely implicitly on His power, and confide wholly in His goodness: 
I count the hours till that eventful one arrives which shall restore 
me to Him, reveal Him to me.」 

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

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

「And shall I see you again, Helen, when I die?」 

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

Again I 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 way.」 

「Are you warm, darling?」 

「Yes.」 

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「Good-night, Jane.」 

「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 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 the 
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.」 

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Chapter X 

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

When the typhus fever had fulfilled its mission of devastation at 
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 accommodations—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 convenient building 
in a better situation; new regulations were made; improvements in 
diet and clothing introduced; the funds of the school were 
intrusted to the management of a committee. Mr. 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 

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and sympathising minds: his office of inspector, too, was shared by 
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 advantages offered me. In time I rose to 
be the first girl of the first class; then I was invested with the office 
of teacher; which I discharged with zeal for two years: but at the 
end of that time I altered. 

Miss 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 

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

I walked about the chamber most of the time. I imagined myself 
only to be regretting my 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 evening 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 atmosphere 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 

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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 farther! I recalled the time 
when I had travelled that very road in a coach; I remembered 
descending that hill at twilight; an age seemed to have elapsed 
since the day which brought me first to Lowood, and I had never 
quitted it since. My vacations had all been spent at school: Mrs. 
Reed had never sent for me to Gateshead; neither she nor any of 
her family had ever been to visit me. I had had no communication 
by letter or message with the outer world: school-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 afternoon. I 
desired liberty; for liberty I gasped; for liberty I uttered a prayer; it 
seemed scattered on the wind then faintly blowing. I abandoned it 
and framed a humbler supplication; for 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 downstairs. 

I was not free to resume the interrupted chain of my reflections 
till bedtime: even then a teacher who occupied the same room 
with me kept me from the subject to which I longed to 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 

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

I sat up in bed by way of arousing this said brain: it was a chilly 
night; I covered my shoulders with a 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 

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Jane Eyre 124 

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

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

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Drawing, and Music」 (in those days, reader, this now narrow 
catalogue of accomplishments, 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 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 

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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 particulars 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 in elderly lady. 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 

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getting into some scrape; and, above all things, I wished the result 
of my endeavours to be respectable, proper, en regle. I now felt 
that an elderly lady was no bad ingredient in the business I had on 
hand. Mrs. Fairfax! I saw her in a black gown and widow』s cap; 
frigid, 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 noontide 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 £15 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 

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day she laid the affair before Mr. Brocklehurst, who said that Mrs. 
Reed must be written to, as she was my 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 
period for my assuming the post of governess in her house. 

I now busied myself in preparations: the fortnight passed 
rapidly. I had not a very large 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, whether I myself was 
to repair at an early hour the next morning to meet the coach. I 
had brushed my black stuff travelling-dress, 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 

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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』 sitting-room, 
the door of which was half open, to go to the kitchen, when some 
one ran out— 

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

I looked: I saw a woman attired like a well-dressed servant, 
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 Robert Leaven, the coachman; 
and I』ve a little girl besides Bobby there, that I』ve christened 
Jane.」 

「And you don』t live at Gateshead?」 

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

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

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

「Georgiana is handsome, I suppose, Bessie?」 

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

「Well, and what of John Reed?」 

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

「What does he look like?」 

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

「And Mrs. Reed?」 

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

「Did she send you here, Bessie?」 

「No, indeed: but I have long wanted to see you, and when I 
heard that there had been a letter from you, and that you were 
going to another part of the country, I thought I』d just set of, and 

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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?」 

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

「That is one of my paintings over the chimney-piece.」 It was a 
landscape in water 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. 

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

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French?」 

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

「And you can work on muslin and canvas?」 

「I can.」 

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

「Never in my life.」 

「Well, you know Missis always said they were poor and quite 
despicable: and they may be poor; but I believe they are as much 
gentry as the Reeds are; for one day, nearly seven years ago, a Mr. 
Eyre came to Gateshead and wanted to see you; Missis said you 
were 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—」 

「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 

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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 her separate way; she set off for the brow of 
Lowood Fell to meet the conveyance 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. 

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Chapter XI 

Anew 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 ornaments 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 
the table, and I am warming away the numbness and chill 
contracted by sixteen hours』 exposure to the rawness of an 
October day: I left Lowton at four o』clock a.m., and the Millcote 
town clock is now just striking eight. 

Reader, though I look comfortably accommodated, I am not 
very tranquil in my mind. I thought when the coach stopped here 
there would be some one to meet me; I looked anxiously round as I 
descended the wooden steps the 「boots」 placed for my 
convenience, expecting to hear my name pronounced, 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 

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itself quite alone in the world, cut adrift from every 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 Thornfield?」 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. 

「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.」 

「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 outside, 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 comfortable though not elegant 

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

I let down the window and looked out; Millcote was behind us; 
judging by the number of its 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 extended, I verify 
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 hillside, marking a village 
or hamlet. About ten minutes after, the driver got down and 

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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: candlelight gleamed from one curtained 
bow-window; all the rest were dark. The car stopped at the front 
door; it was opened by a maid-servant; I alighted and went in. 

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

A snug small room; a round table 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 
introduction for a new governess could scarcely be conceived; 
there was no grandeur to overwhelm, no stateliness to 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.」 

「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. 

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Jane Eyre 138 

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

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

「Now, then, draw nearer to the fire,」 she continued. 「You』ve 
brought your luggage with you, haven』t you, my dear?」 

「Yes, ma』am.」 

「I』ll see it carried into your room,」 she said, and bustled out. 

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

She returned; with her own hands cleared her knitting 
apparatus and a book or two from the 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. 

「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?」 

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Jane Eyre 139 

「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 
creature but the butcher and postman came to the house, from 
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 

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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 furniture, 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 vault-like 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 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 

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forgetting, ere I rose, to implore aid on my further path, and the 
power of meriting the kindness which seemed so frankly offered 
me before it was earned. My couch had no thorns in it that night; 
my solitary room no fears. At once weary and 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 difficult to say: I could not then distinctly say it to myself; 
yet I had a reason, and a logical, natural reason too. However, 

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when I had brushed my hair very smooth, and put on my black 
frock—which, Quakerlike as it was, at least had the merit of fitting 
to a nicety—and adjusted my clean white tucker, 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 storeys high, of 
proportions not vast, though considerable: a gentleman』s manor-
house, not a nobleman』s seat: battlements 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 

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Lowood, nor so craggy, nor so like barriers of separation from the 
living world; but yet quiet and lonely hills enough, and seeming to 
embrace Thornfield with a seclusion I had not expected 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. Rochester should take it into his head to 
come and reside here permanently; or, at least, visit it rather 
oftener: great houses and fine grounds require the presence of the 
proprietor.」 

「Mr. Rochester!」 I exclaimed. 「Who is he?」 

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

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

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「I 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 Rochesters by the mother』s side, or at least my husband was; 
he was a clergyman, incumbent of Hay—that little village yonder 
on the hill—and that church near the gates was his. The present 
Mr. Rochester』s mother was a Fairfax, and second cousin to my 
husband: but I never presume on the connection—in fact, it is 
nothing to me; I consider myself quite in the light of an ordinary 
housekeeper: my employer is always civil, and I expect nothing 
more.」 

「And the little girl—my pupil!」 

「She is Mr. Rochester』s ward; he commissioned me to find a 
governess for her. He intended to have her brought up in —shire, I 
believe. Here she comes, with her 『bonne,』 as she calls her nurse.」 
The enigma then was explained: this affable and kind little widow 
was no great dame; but a dependant like myself. I did not like her 
the worse for that; on the 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 redundancy of hair falling in curls to her 
waist. 

「Good morning, Miss Adela,」 said Mrs. Fairfax. 「Come and 
speak to the lady who is to teach you, and to make you a clever 

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woman some day.」 She approached. 

「C』est la ma gouverante!」 said she, pointing to me, and 
addressing her nurse; who answered— 

「Mais oui, certainement.」 

「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 understand her, she mixes it so 
with French; but you will make out her meaning very well, I dare 
say.」 

Fortunately I had had the advantage of being taught French by 
a French lady; and as I had always made a point of conversing 
with Madame Pierrot as often as I 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 hand with me when she heard that I was her 
governess; and as I led her in to 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 

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Fairfax is all English. Sophie is my nurse; she came with me over 
the sea in a great ship with a chimney that smoked—how it did 
smoke!—and I was sick, and so was Sophie, and so was Mr. 
Rochester. Mr. Rochester lay down on a sofa in a pretty room 
called the salon, and Sophie and I had little beds in another place. 
I nearly fell out of mine; it was like a shelf. And Mademoiselle— 
what is your name?」 

「Eyre—Jane Eyre.」 

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

「Can you understand her when she runs on so fast?」 asked 
Mrs. Fairfax. I understood her very 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 mama; but she is gone to the Holy Virgin. 
Mama used to teach me to dance and sing, and to say verses. A 
great many gentlemen and ladies came to see mama, and I used to 

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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 I 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 childhood; and in very bad 
taste that point was: at least I thought so. 

Adele sang the canzonette tunefully enough, and with the 
naivete 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 Rats: 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 indeed at her age, and 
which proved she had been carefully trained. 

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

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

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

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

After breakfast, Adele and I withdrew to the library, which 
room, it appears, Mr. Rochester had directed should be used as 
the schoolroom. Most of the books were locked up behind glass 
doors; but there was one bookcase left open containing everything 
that could be needed in the way of elementary 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 
pickings 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 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 

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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 slanted 
glass, and a lofty ceiling, nobly moulded. Mrs. Fairfax was dusting 
some vases of fine purple spar, which stood on a sideboard. 

「What a beautiful room!」 I 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 
ornaments 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. 

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「In what order you keep these rooms, Mrs. Fairfax!」 said I. 「No 
dust, no canvas coverings: except that the air feels chilly, one 
would think they were inhabited daily.」 

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

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

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

「Do you like him? Is he generally liked?」 

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

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

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

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

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

「In what way is he peculiar?」 

「I don』t know—it is not easy to describe—nothing striking, but 
you feel it when he speaks to you; you cannot be always sure 
whether he is in jest or earnest, whether he is pleased or the 

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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 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 especially grand: and some of the 
third-storey 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 
casement 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 
storey 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 

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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. 

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

「So I think: you have no ghost, then?」 

「None that I ever heard of,」 returned Mrs. Fairfax, smiling. 

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

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

「Yes—『after life』s fitful fever they sleep well,』」 I muttered. 
「Where are you going now, Mrs. Fairfax?」 for she was moving 
away. 

「On to the leads; will you come and see the view from thence?」 
I followed 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 battlements 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 

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propitious sky, azure, marbled with pearly white. No feature in the 
scene was extraordinary, 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. Fairfax stayed behind a moment to fasten the trap-door; I, 
by drift 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 storey: narrow, low, and dim, with only one little window 
at the far end, and 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 

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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 circumstance 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. 「Remember 
directions!」 Grace curtseyed silently and went in. 

「She is a person we have to sew and assist Leah in her 
housemaid』s work,」 continued the widow; 「not altogether 
unobjectionable in some points, but she does well enough. By-thebye, 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. 

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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 acquaintance 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 childhood; 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 parenthese, 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 for her little self: just as I 

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cherished towards Mrs. Fairfax a thankfulness for her kindness, 
and a 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 storeroom, 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 storey, 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 imagination created, and 

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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 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 stagnation, 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 

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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. 

October, November, December passed away. One afternoon 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 had 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 「Revenez bient.t, 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 

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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 blackberries 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 up-hill all the way to Hay; having 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 causeway, 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 hill-top above me sat the rising moon; pale yet as a 
cloud, but brightening momentarily, 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 

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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 whisperings, 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 appear through the dusk, I remembered certain of Bessie』s 
tales, wherein figured a North-of-England spirit called a 
「Gytrash,」 which, in the form of horse, mule, or large dog, 
haunted solitary ways, and sometimes came upon belated 
travellers, as this horse was now coming upon me. 

It was very near, but not yet in sight; when, in addition to the 
tramp, tramp, I heard a rush under the hedge, and close down by 
the hazel stems glided a great dog, whose black and white colour 
made him a distinct object against the trees. It was exactly one 

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form of Bessie』s Gytrash—a lion-like creature with long hair and a 
huge head: it passed me, however, quietly enough; not staying to 
look up, with strange pretercanine eyes, in my face, as I half 
expected it would. The horse followed,—a tall steed, and on its 
back a rider. The man, the human being, broke the spell at once. 
Nothing ever rode the Gytrash: it was always alone; and goblins, to 
my notions, though they might tenant the dumb carcasses of 
beasts, could scarce covet shelter in the commonplace human 
form. No Gytrash was this,—only a traveller taking the short cut to 
Millcote. He passed, and I went on; a few steps, and I turned: a 
sliding sound and an exclamation of 「What the deuce is to do 
now?」 and a clattering tumble, arrested my attention. Man and 
horse were down; they had slipped on the sheet of ice which 
glazed the causeway. 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. 

「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 

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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.」 

「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 

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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 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?」 

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

「You live just below—do you mean at that house with the 
battlements?」 pointing to Thornfield 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?」 

「Mr. Rochester』s.」 

「Do you know Mr. Rochester?」 

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「No, I have never seen him.」 

「He is not resident, then?」 

「No.」 

「Can you tell me where he is?」 

「I cannot.」 

「You are not a servant at the hall, of course. You are—」 He 
stopped, ran his eye over my dress, which, as usual, was quite 
simple: a black merino cloak, a black beaver bonnet; neither of 
them half fine enough for a lady』s-maid. He seemed puzzled to 
decide what I was; I helped him. 

「I am the governess.」 

「Ah, the governess!」 he repeated; 「deuce take 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 endeavoured 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. 

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「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, and return 
as fast as you can.」 

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 

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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 hoofs 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 threshold 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 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 

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backwards and forwards on the pavement; the shutters of the 
glass door were closed; I could not see into the interior; and both 
my eyes and spirit seemed drawn from the gloomy house—from 
the grey-hollow filled with rayless 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 hill-tops, 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 fire-irons, 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. 

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 

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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.」 

「With whom?」 

「With master—Mr. Rochester—he is just arrived.」 

「Indeed! and is Mrs. Fairfax with him?」 

「Yes, and Miss Adele; they are in the dining-room, and John is 
gone for a surgeon; for master has had an accident; his horse fell 
and his ankle is sprained.」 

「Did the horse fall in Hay Lane?」 

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

「Ah! Bring me a candle, will you, Leah?」 

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

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Chapter XIII 

Mr. 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 Millcote, there 
would be found amongst it a little box in whose contents she had 

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an interest. 

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

I and my pupil dined as usual in Mrs. Fairfax』s parlour; the 
afternoon was wild and 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 Heidelberg, on the 
Rhine, when Mrs. Fairfax came in, breaking up by her entrance 
the fiery mosaic I had been piercing 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: 「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. 

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Here is a candle.」 

「Is it necessary to change my frock?」 

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

This additional ceremony seemed somewhat stately; however, I 
repaired to my room, and, with Mrs. Fairfax』s aid, 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 parting 
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. Rochester』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. Rochester, 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 

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in squareness with his physiognomy: I suppose it was a good 
figure in the athletic sense of the term—broad chested and thin 
flanked, though neither tall nor graceful. 

Mr. Rochester must have been aware of the entrance of Mrs. 
Fairfax and myself; but it appeared he was not in the mood to 
notice 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 something in 
the forced stiff bow, in the impatient yet formal tone, 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 the 
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. 

「Madam, I should like some tea,」 was the sole rejoinder she got. 

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Jane Eyre 173 

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. Rochester』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?」 

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

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

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

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acknowledgment.」 

「Oh, don』t fall back on over-modesty! I have examined Adele, 
and find you have taken great pains with her: she is not bright, she 
has no talents; yet in a short time she has made much 
improvement.」 

「Sir, you have now given me my 『cadeau;』 I am obliged to you: it 
is the meed teachers most covet—praise of their pupils』 progress.」 

「Humph!」 said Mr. 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.」 

「And you came from—?」 

「From Lowood school, in —shire.」 

「Ah! a charitable concern. How long were you there?」 

「Eight years.」 

「Eight years! you must be tenacious of life. I thought half the 
time in such a place would have done up any constitution! No 
wonder you have rather the look of another world. I marvelled 
where you had got that sort of face. When you came on me in Hay 
Lane last night, I thought unaccountably of fairy tales, and had 
half a mind to demand whether you had bewitched my horse: I am 
not sure yet. Who are your parents?」 

「I have none.」 

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「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. Rochester, 「if you disown parents, you 
must have some sort of kinsfolk: uncles and aunts?」 

「No; none that I ever saw.」 

「And your home?」 

「I have none.」 

「Where do your brothers and sisters live?」 

「I have no brothers or sisters.」 

「Who recommended you to come here?」 

「I advertised, and Mrs. Fairfax answered my advertisement.」 

「Yes,」 said the good 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 invaluable companion to me, and a 
kind and careful teacher to Adele.」 

「Don』t trouble yourself to give her a character,」 returned Mr. 

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Jane Eyre 176 

Rochester: 「eulogiums will not bias me; I shall judge for myself. 

She began by felling my horse.」 

「Sir?」 said Mrs. Fairfax. 

「I have to thank her for this sprain.」 

The widow looked bewildered. 

「Miss Eyre, have you ever lived in a town?」 

「No, sir.」 

「Have you seen much society?」 

「None but the pupils and teachers of Lowood, and now the 
inmates of Thornfield.」 

「Have you read much?」 

「Only such books as came in my way; and they have not been 
numerous or very learned.」 

「You have lived the life of a nun: no doubt you are well drilled 
in religious forms;—Brocklehurst, who I understand directs 
Lowood, is a parson, is he not?」 

「Yes, sir.」 

「And you girls probably worshipped him, as a convent full of 
religieuses would worship their director.」 

「Oh, no.」 

「You are very cool! No! What! a novice not worship her priest! 
That sounds blasphemous.」 

「I disliked Mr. Brocklehurst; and I was not alone in the feeling. 
He is a harsh man; at once pompous and meddling; he cut off our 
hair; and for economy』s sake bought us bad needles and thread, 
with which we could hardly sew.」 

「That was very false economy,」 remarked Mrs. Fairfax, who 
now again caught the drift of the dialogue. 

「And was that the head and front of his offending?」 demanded 

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Jane Eyre 177 

Mr. Rochester. 

「He starved us when he had the sole superintendence of the 
provision department, before the committee was appointed; and 
he bored us with long lectures once a week, and with evening 
readings from books of his own inditing, about sudden deaths and 
judgments, which made us afraid to go to bed.」 

「What age were you when you went to Lowood?」 

「About ten.」 

「And you stayed there eight years: you are now, then, 
eighteen?」 

I assented. 

「Arithmetic, you see, is useful; without its aid, I should hardly 
have been able to guess your age. It is a point difficult to fix where 
the features and countenance are so much at variance as in your 
case. And now what did you learn at Lowood? Can you play?」 

「A little.」 

「Of course: that is the established answer. Go into the library— 
I mean, if you please.—(Excuse my tone of command; I am used to 
say, 『Do this,』 and it is done: I cannot alter my customary habits for 
one new inmate.)—Go, then, into the library; take a candle with 
you; leave the door open; sit down to the piano, and play a tune.」 

I departed, obeying his directions. 

「Enough!」 he called out in a few minutes. 「You play a little, I 
see; like any other English school-girl; perhaps rather better than 
some, but not well.」 

I closed the piano and returned. Mr. Rochester continued— 
「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?」 

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「No, indeed!」 I interjected. 

「Ah! that pricks pride. Well, fetch me your portfolio, if you can 
vouch for its contents being original; but don』t pass your word 
unless you are certain: I can recognise patchwork.」 

「Then I will say nothing, and you shall judge for yourself, sir.」 

I brought the portfolio from the library. 

「Approach the table,」 said he; and I wheeled it to his couch. 
Adele and Mrs. Fairfax drew near to see the pictures. 

「No crowding,」 said Mr. Rochester: 「take the drawings from 
my hand as I finish with them; but don』t push your faces up to 
mine.」 

He deliberately scrutinised each sketch and painting. Three he 
laid aside; the others, when he had examined them, he swept from 
him. 

「Take them off to the other table, Mrs. Fairfax,」 said he, and 
look at them with Adele;—you」 (glancing at me) 「resume your 
seat, and answer my questions. I perceive those pictures were 
done by one hand: was that hand yours?」 

「Yes.」 

「And when did you find time to do them? They have taken 
much time, and some thought.」 

「I did them in the last two vacations I spent at Lowood, when I 
had no other occupation.」 

「Where did you get your copies?」 

「Out of my head.」 

「That head I see now on your shoulders?」 

「Yes, sir.」 

「Has it other furniture of the same kind within?」 

「I should think it may have: I should hope—better.」 

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Jane Eyre 179 

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 wonderful. 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 represented 
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 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 impart. 
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; 

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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.」 

「Were you happy when you painted these pictures?」 asked Mr. 
Rochester presently. 

「I was absorbed, sir: yes, and I was happy. To paint them, in 
short, was to enjoy one of the keenest pleasures I have ever 
known.」 

「That is not saying much. Your pleasures, by your own account, 
have been few; but I daresay you did exist in a kind of artist』s 
dreamland while you blent and arranged these strange tints. Did 
you sit at them long each day?」 

「I had nothing else to do, because it was the vacation, and I sat 
at them from morning till noon, and from noon till night: the 
length of the midsummer days favoured my inclination to apply.」 

「And you felt self-satisfied with the result of your ardent 

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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 school-girl, 
peculiar. As to the thoughts, they are elfish. These eyes in the 
Evening Star you must have seen in a dream. How could you 
make them look so clear, and yet not at all brilliant? for the planet 
above quells their rays. And what meaning is that in their solemn 
depth? And who taught you to paint wind. There is a high gale in 
that sky, and on this hill-top. Where did you see Latmos? For that 
is Latmos. There! put the drawings away!」 

I had scarce tied the strings of the 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. 

「I 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. Fairfax folded up her 
knitting: I took my portfolio: we curtseyed to him, received a frigid 
bow in return, and so withdrew. 

「You said Mr. Rochester was not strikingly peculiar, Mrs. 
Fairfax,」 I observed, when I rejoined her in her room, after 
putting Adele to bed. 

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「Well, is he?」 

「I think so: he is very changeful and abrupt.」 

「True: no doubt he may appear so to a stranger, but I am so 
accustomed to his manner, I never think of it; and then, if he has 
peculiarities of temper, allowance should be made.」 

「Why?」 

「Partly because it is his nature—and we can none of us help our 
nature; and partly because he has painful thoughts, no doubt, to 
harass him, and make his spirits unequal.」 

「What about?」 

「Family troubles, for one thing.」 

「But he has no family.」 

「Not now, but he has had—or, at least, relatives. He lost his 
elder brother a few years since.」 

「His elder brother?」 

「Yes. The present Mr. Rochester has not been very long in 
possession of the property; only about nine years.」 

「Nine years is a tolerable time. Was he so very fond of his 
brother as to be still inconsolable for his loss?」 

「Why, no—perhaps not. I believe there were some 
misunderstandings between them. Mr. Rowland Rochester was 
not quite just to Mr. Edward; and perhaps he prejudiced his father 
against him. The old gentleman was fond of money, and anxious to 
keep the family estate together. He did not like to diminish the 
property by division, and yet he was anxious that Mr. Edward 
should have wealth, too, to keep up the consequence of the name; 
and, soon after he was of age, some steps were taken that were not 
quite fair, and made a great deal of mischief. Old Mr. Rochester 
and Mr. Rowland combined to bring Mr. Edward into what he 

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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. 

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Chapter XIV 

For 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 
neighbourhood 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 gentlemanlike 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. 
Rochester did not accompany them. Soon after they were gone he 
rang the bell: a message came that I and Adele were to go 
downstairs. I brushed Adele』s hair and made her neat, and having 
ascertained 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 

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Jane Eyre 185 

descended, Adele wondering whether the petit coffre was at 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 bo.te! ma bo.te!」 exclaimed she, running towards it. 

「Yes, there is your 『bo.te』 at last: take it into a corner, you 
genuine daughter of Paris, and amuse yourself with 
disembowelling it,」 said the deep and rather sarcastic voice of Mr. 
Rochester, proceeding from the depths of an immense easy-chair 
at the fireside. 「And mind,」 he continued, 「don』t bother me with 
any details of the anatomical process, or any notice of the 
condition of the entrails: let your operation be conducted in 
silence: tiens-toi tranquille, enfant; comprends-tu?」 

Adele seemed scarcely to need the warning—she had already 
retired to a sofa with her 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. 

「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 tete-a-tete with a brat. Don』t draw that chair farther 
off, Miss Eyre; sit down exactly where I placed it—if you please, 
that is. Confound these civilities! I continually forget them. Nor do 

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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. 

「Good evening, madam; I sent to you for a charitable purpose. I 
have forbidden Adele to talk to me about her presents, and she is 
bursting with repletion: have the goodness to serve her as 
auditress and interlocutrice; it will be one of the most benevolent 
acts you ever performed.」 

Adele, indeed, no sooner saw Mrs. Fairfax, than she summoned 
her to her sofa, and there quickly filled her lap with the porcelain, 
the ivory, the waxen contents of her 「bo.te;」 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. 
Rochester, 「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 farther forward: you are yet too far 
back; I cannot see you without disturbing my position in this 
comfortable chair, which I have no mind to do.」 

I did as I was bid, though I would much rather have remained 
somewhat in the shade; but Mr. Rochester 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; 

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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. Rochester, 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 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 softness, 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 
handsome?」 

I should, if I had deliberated, 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.」 

「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 

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one asks you a question, or makes a remark to which you are 
obliged to reply, you rap out a round rejoinder, which, if not blunt, 
is at least brusque. What do you mean by it?」 

「Sir, I was too plain; I beg your pardon. I ought to have replied 
that it was not easy to give an impromptu answer to a question 
about appearances; that tastes mostly differ; and that beauty is of 
little consequence, or something of that sort.」 

「You ought to have replied no such thing. Beauty of little 
consequence, indeed! And so, under pretence of softening the 
previous outrage, of stroking and soothing me into placidity, you 
stick a sly penknife under my ear! Go on: what fault do you find 
with me, pray? I suppose I have all my limbs and all my features 
like any other man?」 

「Mr. Rochester, allow me to disown my first answer: I intended 
no pointed repartee: it was only a blunder.」 

「Just so: I think so: and you shall be answerable for it. Criticise 
me: does my forehead not please you?」 

He lifted up the sable waves of hair which lay horizontally over 
his 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 philanthropist; but I bear a 
conscience;」 and he pointed to the prominences which are said to 

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Jane Eyre 189 

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

With this announcement he rose from his 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 

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external appearance; so haughty a reliance on the power of other 
qualities, intrinsic or adventitious, to atone for the lack of mere 
personal attractiveness, 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. 

「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. 

「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 

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Jane Eyre 191 

my request in an absurd, almost insolent form. Miss Eyre, I beg 
your pardon. The fact is, once for all, I don』t wish to treat you like 
an inferior: that is」 (correcting himself), 「I claim only such 
superiority as must result from twenty years』 difference in age and 
a century』s advance in experience. This is legitimate, et j』y tiens, as 
Adele would say; and it is by virtue of this superiority, and this 
alone, that I desire you to have the goodness to talk to me a little 
now, and divert my thoughts, which are galled with dwelling on 
one point—cankering as a rusty nail.」 He had deigned an 
explanation, almost an apology, and 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 exacting, sometimes, 
on the grounds I stated, namely, that I am old enough to be your 
father, and that I have battled through a varied experience with 
many men of many nations, and roamed over half the globe, while 
you have lived quietly with one set of people in one house?」 

「Do as you please, sir.」 

「That is no answer; or rather it is a very irritating, because a 
very evasive one. Reply clearly.」 

「I don』t think, sir, you have a right to command me, merely 
because you are older than I, or because you have seen more of 
the world than I have; your claim to superiority depends on the 
use you have made of your time and experience.」 

「Humph! Promptly spoken. But I won』t allow that, seeing that 
it would never suit my case, as I have made an indifferent, not to 

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say a bad, use of both advantages. Leaving superiority out of the 
question, then, you must still agree to receive my orders now and 
then, without being piqued or hurt by the tone of command. Will 
you?」 

I smiled: I thought to myself Mr. Rochester is peculiar—he 
seems to forget that he pays me 30 pounds per annum for 
receiving his orders. 

「The smile is very well,」 said 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 dependent is 
comfortable in his dependency, I agree heartily.」 

「And will you consent to dispense with a great many 
conventional forms and phrases, without thinking that the 
omission arises from insolence?」 

「I am sure, sir, I should never mistake informality for insolence: 
one I rather like, the other nothing free-born would submit to, 
even for a salary.」 

「Humbug! Most things free-born will submit to anything for a 
salary; therefore, keep to yourself, and don』t venture on 
generalities of which you are intensely ignorant. However, I 
mentally shake hands with you for your answer, despite its 
inaccuracy; and as much for the manner in which it was said, as 

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Jane Eyre 193 

for the substance of the speech; the manner was frank and 
sincere; one does not often see such a manner: no, on the contrary, 
affectation, or coldness, or stupid, coarse-minded 
misapprehension of one』s meaning are the usual rewards of 
candour. Not three in three thousand raw school-girl governesses 
would have answered me as you have just done. But I don』t mean 
to flatter you: if you are cast in a different mould to the majority, it 
is no merit of yours: Nature did it. And then, after all, I go too fast 
in my conclusions: for what I yet know, you may be no better than 
the rest; you may have intolerable defects to counterbalance your 
few good points.」 

「And so may you,」 I thought. My eye met his as the idea 
crossed my mind: he seemed to read the glance, answering 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?」 

「How was your memory when you were eighteen, sir?」 

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「All right then; limpid, salubrious: no gush of bilge water had 
turned it to fetid puddle. I was your equal at eighteen—quite your 
equal. Nature meant me to be, on the whole, a good man, Miss 
Eyre; one of the better kind, and you see I am not so. You would 
say you don』t see it; at least I flatter myself I read as much in your 
eye (beware, by-the-bye, what you express with that organ; I am 
quick at interpreting its language). Then take my word for it,—I 
am not a villain: you are not to suppose that—not to attribute to 
me any such bad eminence; but, owing, I verily believe, rather to 
circumstances than to my natural bent, I am a trite commonplace 
sinner, hackneyed in all the poor petty dissipations with which the 
rich and worthless try to put on life. Do you wonder that I avow 
this to you? Know, that in the course of your future life you will 
often find yourself elected the involuntary confidant of your 
acquaintances』 secrets: people will instinctively find out, as I have 
done, that it is not your forte to tell of yourself, but to listen while 
others talk of themselves; they will feel, too, that you listen with no 
malevolent scorn of their indiscretion, but with a kind of innate 
sympathy; not the less comforting and encouraging because it is 
very unobtrusive in its manifestations.」 

「How do you know?—how can you guess all this, sir?」 

「I know it well; therefore I proceed almost as freely as if I were 
writing my thoughts in a diary. You would say, I should have been 
superior to circumstances; so I should—so I should; but you see I 
was not. When fate wronged me, I had not the wisdom to remain 
cool: I turned desperate; then I degenerated. Now, when any 
vicious simpleton excites my disgust by his paltry ribaldry, I 
cannot flatter myself that I am better than he: I am forced to 
confess that he and I are on a level. I wish I had stood firm—God 

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knows I do! Dread remorse when you are tempted to err, Miss 

Eyre; remorse is the poison of life.」 

「Repentance is said to be its cure, sir.」 

「It is not its cure. Reformation may be its cure; and I could 
reform—I have strength yet for that—if—but where is the use of 
thinking of it, hampered, burdened, cursed as I am? Besides, since 
happiness is irrevocably denied me, I have a right to get pleasure 
out of life: and I will get it, cost what it may.」 

「Then you will degenerate still more, sir.」 

「Possibly: yet why should I, if I can get sweet, fresh pleasure? 
And I may get it as sweet and fresh as the wild honey the bee 
gathers on the moor.」 

「It will sting—it will taste bitter, sir.」 

「How do you know?—you never tried it. How very serious— 
how very solemn you look: and you are as ignorant of the matter 
as this cameo head」 (taking one from the mantelpiece). 「You have 
no right to preach to 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 
flittered across my brain was an error. I believe it was an 
inspiration rather than a temptation: it was very genial, very 
soothing—I know that. Here it comes again! It is no devil, I assure 
you; or if it be, it has put on the robes of an angel of light. I think I 
must admit so fair a guest when it asks entrance to my heart.」 

「Distrust it, sir; it is not a true angel.」 

「Once more, how do you know? By what instinct do you 

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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. 

「Now,」 he continued, again addressing me, 「I have received the 
pilgrim—a disguised deity, as I verify believe. Already it has done 
me good: my heart was a sort of charnel; it will now be a shrine.」 

「To speak truth, sir, I don』t understand you at all: I cannot keep 
up the conversation, because it has got out of my depth. Only one 
thing, I know: you said you were not as good as you should like to 
be, and that you regretted your own imperfection;—one thing I 
can comprehend: you intimated that to have a sullied memory was 
a perpetual bane. It seems to me, that if you tried hard, you would 
in time find it possible to become what you yourself would 
approve; and that if from this day you began with resolution to 
correct your thoughts and actions, you would in a few years have 
laid up a new and stainless store of recollections, to which you 
might revert with pleasure.」 

「Justly thought; rightly said, Miss Eyre; and, at this moment, I 
am paving hell with energy.」 

「Sir?」 

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「I am laying down good intentions, which I believe durable as 
flint. Certainly, my associates and pursuits shall be other than they 
have been.」 

「And better?」 

「And better—so much better as pure ore is than foul dross. You 
seem to doubt me; I don』t doubt myself: I know what my aim is, 
what my motives are; and at this moment I pass a law, unalterable 
as that of the Medes and Persians, that both are right.」 

「They cannot be, sir, if they require a new statute to legalise 
them.」 

「They are, Miss Eyre, though they absolutely require a new 
statute: unheard-of combinations of circumstances demand 
unheard-of rules.」 

「That sounds a dangerous maxim, sir; because one can see at 
once that it is liable to abuse.」 

「Sententious sage! so it is: but I swear by my household gods 
not to abuse it.」 

「You are human and fallible.」 

「I am: so are you—what then?」 

「The human and fallible should not arrogate a power with 
which the divine and perfect alone can be safely intrusted.」 

「What power?」 

「That of saying of any strange, unsanctioned line of action,— 
『Let it be right.』」 

「『Let it be right』—the very words: you have pronounced them.」 

「May it be right then,」 I 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 

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uncertainty, the vague sense of insecurity, which accompanies a 

conviction of ignorance. 

「Where are you going?」 

「To put Adele to bed: it is past her bedtime.」 

「You are afraid of me, because I talk like a Sphynx.」 

「Your language is enigmatical, sir: but though I am bewildered, 
I am certainly not afraid.」 

「You are afraid—your self-love dreads a blunder.」 

「In that sense I do feel apprehensive—I have no wish to talk 
nonsense.」 

「If you did, it would be in such a grave, quiet manner, I should 
mistake it for sense. Do you never laugh, Miss Eyre? Don』t trouble 
yourself to answer—I see you laugh rarely; but you can laugh very 
merrily: believe me, you are not naturally austere, any more than I 
am naturally vicious. The Lowood constraint still clings to you 
somewhat; controlling your features, muffling your voice, and 
restricting your limbs; and you fear in the presence of a man and a 
brother—or father, or master, or what you will—to smile too gaily, 
speak too freely, or move too quickly: but, in time, I think you will 
learn to be natural with me, as I find it impossible to be 
conventional with you; and then your looks and movements will 
have more vivacity and variety than they dare offer now. I see at 
intervals the glance of a curious sort of bird through the close-set 
bars of a cage: a vivid, restless, resolute captive is there; were it 
but free, it would soar cloud-high. You are still bent on going?」 

「It has struck nine, sir.」 

「Never mind,—wait a minute: Adele is not ready to go to bed 
yet. My position, Miss Eyre, with my back to the fire, and my face 
to the room, favours observation. While talking to you, I have also 

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occasionally watched Adele (I have my own reasons for thinking 
her a curious study,—reasons that I may, nay, that I shall, impart 
to you some day). She pulled out of her box, about ten minutes 
ago, a little pink silk frock; rapture lit her face as she unfolded it; 
coquetry runs in her blood, blends with her brains, and seasons 
the marrow of her bones. 『Il faut que je l』essaie!』 cried she, 『et a 
l』instant meme!』 and she rushed out of the room. She is now with 
Sophie, undergoing a robing process: in a few minutes she will reenter; and I know what I shall see,—a miniature of Celine Varens, 
as she used to appear on the boards at the rising of—: But never 
mind that. However, my tenderest feelings are about to receive a 
shock: such is my presentiment; stay now, to see whether it will be 
realised.」 

Ere long, Adele』s little foot was heard tripping across the hall. 
She entered, transformed as her guardian had predicted. 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 forwards; 
「et mes souliers? et mes bas? Tenez, je crois que je vais danser!」 

And spreading out her dress, she chasseed across the room till, 
having reached Mr. Rochester, she wheeled lightly round before 
him on tip-toe, then dropped on one knee at his feet, exclaiming— 

「Monsieur, je vous remercie mille fois de votre bonte;」 then 
rising, she added, 「C』est comme cela que maman faisait, n』est-ce 
pas, monsieur?」 

「Pre-cise-ly!」 was the answer; 「and, 『comme cela,』 she charmed 
my English gold out of my British breeches』 pocket. I have been 

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green, too, Miss Eyre,—ay, grass green: not a more vernal tint 
freshens you now than once freshened me. 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.」 

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Chapter XV 

Mr. Rochester 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, Celine 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 Belvedere. 

「And, Miss Eyre, so much was I flattered by this preference of 
the Gallic sylph for her British gnome, that I installed her in an 
hotel; gave her a complete establishment of servants, a carriage, 
cashmeres, diamonds, dentelles, &c. In short, I began the process 
of ruining myself in the received style, like any other spoony. I had 
not, it seems, the originality to chalk out a new road to shame and 
destruction, but trode the old track with stupid exactness not to 
deviate an inch from the beaten centre. I had—as I deserved to 
have—the fate of all other spoonies. Happening to call one evening 
when Celine did not expect me, I found her out; but it was a warm 
night, and I was tired with strolling through Paris, so I sat down in 
her boudoir; happy to breathe the air consecrated so lately by her 
presence. No,—I exaggerate; I never thought there was any 
consecrating virtue about her: it was rather a sort of pastille 
perfume she had left; a scent of musk and amber, than an odour of 

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sanctity. I was just beginning to stifle with the fumes of 
conservatory flowers and sprinkled essences, when I bethought 
myself to open the window and step out on to the balcony. It was 
moonlight and gaslight besides, and very still and serene. The 
balcony was furnished with a chair or two; I sat down, and took 
out a cigar,—I will take one now, if you will excuse me.」 

Here ensued a 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)—croquant chocolate comfits, 
and smoking alternately, watching meantime the equipages that 
rolled along the fashionable streets towards the neighbouring 
opera-house, when in an elegant close carriage drawn by a 
beautiful pair of English horses, and distinctly seen in the brilliant 
city-night, I recognised the 『voiture』 I had given Celine. She was 
returning: of course my heart thumped with impatience against 
the iron rails I leant upon. The carriage stopped, as I had 
expected, at the hotel door; my flame (that is the very word for an 
opera inamorata) alighted: though muffed in a cloak—an 
unnecessary encumbrance, by-the-bye, on so warm a June 
evening—I knew her instantly by her little foot, seen peeping from 
the skirt of her dress, as she skipped from the carriage-step. 
Bending over the balcony, I was about to murmur 『Mon ange』—in 
a tone, of course, which should be audible to the ear of love 
alone—when a figure jumped from the carriage after her; cloaked 
also; but that was a spurred heel which had rung on the pavement, 
and that was a hatted head which now passed under the arched 
porte cochere of the hotel. 

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「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 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 in 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 sternness and 
stillness of the world under this frost. I like Thornfield, its 
antiquity, its retirement, its old crow-trees and thorn-trees, its 
grey facade, and lines of dark windows reflecting that metal 
welkin: and yet how long have I abhorred the very thought of it, 
shunned it like a great plague-house? How I do still abhor—」 

He ground his teeth and was silent: he arrested his step and 
struck his boot against the hard ground. Some hated thought 
seemed to have him in its grip, and to hold him so tightly that he 
could not advance. 

We were ascending the avenue when he thus paused; the hall 
was before us. Lifting his eye to its 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 

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Jane Eyre 204 

another feeling rose and triumphed: something hard and cynical: 
self-willed and resolute: it settled his passion and petrified his 
countenance: he went on— 

「During the moment I was silent, Miss Eyre, I was arranging a 
point with my destiny. She stood there, by that beech-trunk—a 
hag like one of those who appeared to Macbeth on the heath of 
Forres. 『You like Thornfield?』 she said, lifting her finger; and then 
she wrote in the air a memento, which ran in lurid hieroglyphics 
all along the house-front, between the upper and lower row of 
windows, 『Like it if you can! Like it if you dare!』 

「『I will like it,』 said I; 『I dare like it;』 and」 (he subjoined moodily) 
「I will keep my word; I will break obstacles to happiness, to 
goodness—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! 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 

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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, inexperienced 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 a 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 remained in the balcony. 『They will come to her boudoir, no 
doubt,』 thought I: 『let me prepare an ambush.』 So putting my hand 
in through the open window, I drew the curtain over it, leaving 
only an opening through which I could take observations; then I 
closed the casement, all but a chink just wide enough to furnish an 
outlet to lovers』 whispered vows: then I stole back to my chair; and 
as I resumed it the pair came in. My eye was quickly at the 
aperture. Celine』s chamber-maid entered, lit a lamp, left it on the 
table, and withdrew. The couple were thus revealed to me clearly: 
both removed their cloaks, and there was 『the Varens,』 shining in 
satin and jewels,—my gifts of course,—and there was her 
companion in an officer』s uniform; and I knew him for a young 
roue of a vicomte—a brainless and vicious youth whom I had 
sometimes met in society, and had never thought of hating 

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because I despised him so absolutely. On recognising him, the 
fang of the snake Jealousy was instantly broken; because at the 
same moment my love for Celine sank under an extinguisher. A 
woman who could betray me for such a rival was not worth 
contending for; she deserved only scorn; less, however, than I, 
who had been her dupe. 

「They began to talk; their conversation eased me completely: 
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 『beaute 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. 

「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, 

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Jane Eyre 207 

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?」 

「Oh, that is the light in which you view it! Well, I must go in 
now; and you too: it darkens.」 

But I stayed out a few minutes longer with Adele and Pilot— 
ran a race with her, and played a game of battledore and 
shuttlecock. When we went in, and I had removed her bonnet and 

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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. Rochester, 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. Rochester 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 
every-day matters enough, no doubt, in society; but there was 
something decidedly strange in the paroxysm of emotion which 
had suddenly seized him when he was in the act of expressing the 
present contentment of his 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 had always a word and sometimes 

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Jane Eyre 209 

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. Rochester 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 

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Jane Eyre 210 

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 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. 「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. 

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Jane Eyre 211 

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, struck 
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. 

All at once I remembered that it might be Pilot, who, when the 
kitchen-door chanced to be left open, not unfrequently found his 
way up to the threshold of Mr. Rochester』s chamber: I had seen 
him lying there myself in the mornings. The idea calmed me 
somewhat: I lay down. Silence composes the nerves; and as an 
unbroken hush now reigned again through the whole 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 keyhole 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-storey staircase: a door had lately 

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Jane Eyre 212 

been made to shut in that staircase; I heard it open and close, and 
all was still. 

「Was that Grace Poole? and is she possessed with a devil?」 
thought I. Impossible now to remain longer by myself: I must go to 
Mrs. Fairfax. I hurried on my frock and a shawl; I withdrew the 
bolt and opened the door with a trembling hand. There was a 
candle burning just outside, and 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 
looking 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 more of Grace 
Poole, or the laugh: in an instant, I was 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, 

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Jane Eyre 213 

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. 

「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 besides you? Have you plotted to 
drown me?」 

「I will fetch you a candle, sir; and, in Heaven』s name, get up. 
Somebody has plotted something: you cannot too soon find out 
who and what it is.」 

「There! I am up now; but at your peril you fetch a candle yet: 
wait two minutes till I get into some dry garments, if any dry there 
be—yes, here is my dressing-gown. Now run!」 

I did run; I brought the candle which still remained in the 
gallery. He took it from my hand, held it up, and 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 storey; the smoke,—the smell of 
fire which had conducted 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, expressed more 
concern than astonishment; he did not immediately speak when I 

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had concluded. 

「Shall I call Mrs. Fairfax?」 I asked. 

「Mrs. Fairfax? No; what the deuce would you call her for? What 
can she do? Let her sleep unmolested.」 

「Then I will fetch Leah, and wake John and his wife.」 

「Not at all: just be still. You have a shawl on. If you are not 
warm enough, you may take my cloak yonder; wrap it about you, 
and sit down in the arm-chair: there,—I will put it on. Now place 
your feet on the stool, to keep them out of the wet. I am going to 
leave you a few minutes. I shall take the candle. Remain where 
you are till I return; be as still as a mouse. I must pay a visit to the 
second storey. Don』t move, remember, or call any one.」 

He went: I watched the light withdraw. He passed up the 
gallery very 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. Rochester』s 
displeasure 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 all out,」 
said he, setting his candle down on the washstand; 「it is as I 
thought.」 

「How, sir?」 

He made no reply, but stood with his arms folded, looking on 
the ground. At the end of a few minutes he inquired in rather a 

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peculiar tone— 

「I forget whether you said you saw anything when you opened 
your chamber door.」 

「No, sir, only the candlestick on the ground.」 

「But you heard an odd laugh? You have heard that laugh 
before, I should think, or something like it?」 

「Yes, sir: there is a woman who sews here, called Grace 
Poole,—she laughs in that way. She is a singular person.」 

「Just so. Grace Poole—you have guessed it. She is, as you say, 
singular—very. Well, I shall reflect on the subject. Meantime, I am 
glad that you are the only person, besides myself, acquainted with 
the precise details of to-night』s incident. You are no talking fool: 
say nothing about it. I will account for this state of affairs」 
(pointing to the bed): 「and now return to your own room. I shall 
do very well on the sofa in the library for the rest of the night. It is 
near four:—in two hours the servants will be up.」 

「Good-night, then, sir,」 said 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?」 

「You said I might go, sir.」 

「But not without taking leave; not without a word or two of 
acknowledgment and good-will: not, in short, in that brief, dry 
fashion. Why, you have saved my life!—snatched me from a 
horrible and excruciating death! and you walk past me as if we 
were mutual strangers! At least shake hands.」 

He held out his hand; I gave him mine: he took it first in one, 
them in both his own. 

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「You have saved my life: I have a pleasure in owing you so 
immense a debt. I cannot say more. Nothing else that has being 
would have been tolerable to me in the character of creditor for 
such an obligation: but you: it is different;—I feel your benefits no 
burden, Jane.」 

He paused; gazed at me: words almost visible trembled on his 
lips,—but his voice was checked. 

「Good-night again, sir. There is no debt, benefit, burden, 
obligation, in the case.」 

「I knew,」 he 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, goodnight!」 

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. 

「What! you will go?」 

「I am cold, sir.」 

「Cold? Yes,—and standing in a pool! Go, then, Jane; go!」 But 
he still retained my hand, and I could not free it. I bethought 
myself of an expedient. 

「I think I hear Mrs. Fairfax move, sir,」 said I. 

「Well, leave me:」 he relaxed his 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 

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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. 

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Chapter XVI 

Iboth 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 schoolroom, 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 

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other than Grace Poole. 

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, went on with her sewing. 

「I will put her to some test,」 thought I: 「such absolute 
impenetrability is past comprehension.」 

「Good morning, Grace,」 I said. 「Has anything happened here? 
I thought I heard the servants all talking together a while ago.」 

「Only master had been reading in his bed last night; he fell 
asleep with his candle lit, and the curtains got on fire; but, 
fortunately, he awoke before the bed-clothes or the wood-work 
caught, and contrived to quench the flames with the water in the 
ewer. 

「A strange affair!」 I said, in a low voice: then, looking at her 
fixedly—「Did Mr. Rochester 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 

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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; 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 of 
some of her malignant pranks on me; I thought it advisable to be 

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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 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 

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will soon be ready: will you come down?」 

「No; just put my pint of porter and bit of pudding on a tray, and 
I』ll carry it upstairs.」 

「You』ll have some meat?」 

「Just a morsel, and a taste of cheese, that』s all.」 

「And the sago?」 

「Never mind it at present: I shall be coming down before 
teatime: I』ll make it myself.」 

The cook here turned to 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 and 
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 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. Rochester 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 

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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. Rochester is an amateur of the decided and 
eccentric: Grace is eccentric at least. What if a former caprice (a 
freak very possible to a nature so sudden and headstrong as his) 
has delivered him into her 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! 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. 
Rochester approves you: at any rate, you have often felt as if he 
did; and last night—remember his words; remember his look; 
remember his voice!」 

I well remembered all; 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 tremblent 
comme la feuille, et vos joues sont rouges: mais, rouges comme des 
cerises!」 

「I am hot, Adele, with stooping!」 She went on sketching; I went 
on thinking. 

I hastened to drive from my mind the hateful notion I had been 
conceiving respecting Grace Poole; it disgusted me. I compared 

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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. Rochester』s voice or step in the house today; 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 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 

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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 continued, 「you are 
not well to-day: you look flushed and feverish.」 

「Oh, quite well! I never felt better.」 

「Then you must prove it by evincing a good appetite; will you 
fill the teapot while I knit off this needle?」 Having completed her 
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 of the moment he had breakfasted! He is gone to the 
Leas, Mr. Eshton』s place, ten miles on the other side Millcote. I 
believe there is quite a party assembled there; Lord Ingram, Sir 
George Lynn, Colonel Dent, and others.」 

「Do you expect him back to-night?」 

「No—nor to-morrow either; I should think he is very likely to 
stay a week or more: when these fine, fashionable people get 
together, they are so surrounded by elegance and gaiety, so well 
provided with all that can please and entertain, they are in no 

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hurry to separate. Gentlemen especially are often in request on 
such occasions; and Mr. Rochester is so talented and so lively in 
society, that I believe he is a general favourite: the ladies are very 
fond of him; though you would not think his appearance 
calculated to recommend him particularly in their eyes: but I 
suppose his acquirements and abilities, perhaps his wealth and 
good blood, make amends for any little fault of look.」 

「Are there ladies at the Leas?」 

「There are Mrs. Eshton and her three daughters—very elegant 
young ladies indeed; and there are the Honourable Blanche and 
Mary Ingram, most beautiful women, I suppose: indeed I have 
seen Blanche, six or seven years since, when she was a girl of 
eighteen. She came here to a Christmas ball and party Mr. 
Rochester gave. You should have seen the dining-room that day— 
how richly it was decorated, how brilliantly lit up! I should think 
there were fifty ladies and gentlemen present—all of the first 
county families; and Miss Ingram was considered the belle of the 
evening.」 

「You saw her, you say, Mrs. Fairfax: what was she like?」 

「Yes, I saw her. The dining-room doors were thrown open; and, 
as it was Christmas-time, the servants were allowed to assemble in 
the hall, to hear some of the ladies sing and play. Mr. Rochester 
would have me to come in, and I sat down in a quiet corner and 
watched them. I never saw a more splendid scene: the ladies were 
magnificently dressed; most of them—at least most of the younger 
ones—looked handsome; but Miss Ingram was certainly the 
queen.」 

「And what was she like?」 

「Tall, fine bust, sloping shoulders; long, graceful neck: olive 

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complexion, dark and clear; noble features; eyes rather like Mr. 
Rochester』s: large and black, and as brilliant as her jewels. And 
then she had such a fine head of hair; raven-black and so 
becomingly arranged: a crown of thick plaits behind, and in front 
the longest, the glossiest curls I ever saw. She was dressed in pure 
white; an amber-coloured scarf was passed over her shoulder and 
across her breast, tied at the side, and descending in long, fringed 
ends below her knee. She wore an amber-coloured flower, too, in 
her hair: it contrasted well with the jetty mass of her curls.」 

「She was greatly admired, of course?」 

「Yes, indeed: and not only for her beauty, but for her 
accomplishments. She was one of the ladies who sang: a 
gentleman accompanied her on the piano. She and Mr. Rochester 
sang a duet.」 

「Mr. Rochester? I was not aware he could sing.」 

「Oh! he has a fine bass voice, and an excellent taste for music.」 

「And Miss Ingram: what sort of a voice had she?」 

「A very rich and powerful one: she sang delightfully; it was a 
treat to listen to her;—and she played afterwards. I am no judge of 
music, but Mr. Rochester is; and I heard him say her execution 
was remarkably good.」 

「And this beautiful and accomplished lady, she is not yet 
married?」 

「It appears not: I fancy neither she nor her sister have very 
large fortunes. Old Lord Ingram』s estates were chiefly entailed, 
and the eldest son came in for everything almost.」 

「But I wonder no wealthy nobleman or gentleman has taken a 
fancy to her: Mr. Rochester, for instance. He is rich, is he not?」 

「Oh! yes. But you see there is a considerable difference in age: 

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Mr. Rochester is nearly forty; she is but twenty-five.」 

「What of that? More unequal matches are made every day.」 

「True: yet I should scarcely fancy Mr. Rochester would 
entertain an idea of the sort. But you eat nothing: you have 
scarcely tasted since you began tea.」 

「No: I am too thirsty to eat. Will you let me have another cup?」 

I was about again to revert to the probability of a union 
between Mr. Rochester and the beautiful Blanche; but Adele came 
in, and the conversation was turned into another channel. 

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 cherishing since last 
night—of the general state of mind in which I had indulged for 
nearly a fortnight past; Reason having come forward and 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. Rochester? You gifted with 
the power of pleasing him? You of importance to him in any way? 
Go! your folly sickens me. And you have derived pleasure from 
occasional tokens of preference—equivocal tokens shown by a 
gentleman of family and a man of the world to a dependent and a 

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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-fatuuslike, into miry wilds whence there is no extrication. 

「Listen, then, Jane Eyre, to your sentence: tomorrow, place the 
glass before you, and draw in chalk your own 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 camelhair pencils; delineate carefully the loveliest face you can imagine; 
paint it in your softest shades and sweetest lines, according to the 
description given by Mrs. Fairfax of Blanche Ingram; remember 
the raven ringlets, the oriental eye;—What! you revert to Mr. 
Rochester as a model! Order! No snivel!—no sentiment!—no 
regret! I will endure only sense and resolution. Recall the august 
yet harmonious lineaments, the Grecian neck and bust; let the 
round and dazzling arm be visible, and the delicate hand; omit 
neither diamond ring nor gold bracelet; portray faithfully the 
attire, aerial lace and glistening satin, graceful scarf and golden 

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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?』」 

「I』ll do it,」 I resolved: and having framed this determination, 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-control 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. 

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. 

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Chapter XVII 

Aweek passed, and no 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 permitting myself to 
experience a sickening sense of disappointment; 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 

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vague suggestions kept wandering across my brain of reasons why 

 should quit Thornfield; and I kept involuntarily framing 
advertisements and pondering conjectures about new situations: 
these thoughts I did not think check; they might germinate and 
bear fruit if they could. 

Mr. Rochester had been absent upwards of a fortnight, when 
the post brought Mrs. Fairfax a letter. 

「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. Rochester is not likely to return soon, I suppose?」 

「Indeed he is—in three days, he says: that will be next 
Thursday; and not alone either. I don』t know how many of the fine 
people at the Leas are coming with him: he sends directions for all 
the best bedrooms to be prepared; and the library and drawing-
rooms are to be cleaned out; I am to get more kitchen hands from 

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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 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 ecstasies. She 
would have Sophie to look over all her 「toilettes,」 as she called 
frocks; to furbish up any that were 「passees,」 and to air and 
arrange the new. For herself, she did nothing but caper about in 
the front chambers, jump on and off the bedsteads, and lie on the 
mattresses and piled-up bolsters and pillows before the enormous 
fires roaring in the chimneys. From school duties she was 
exonerated: Mrs. Fairfax had pressed me into her service, and I 
was all day in the storeroom, helping (or hindering) her and the 
cook; learning to make custards and cheese-cakes and French 
pastry, to truss game and garnish desert-dishes. 

The party were expected to arrive on Thursday afternoon, in 
time for dinner at six. During the intervening period I had no time 
to nurse chimeras; and I believe I was as active and gay as 
anybody—Adele excepted. Still, now and then, I received a 
damping check to my cheerfulness; and was, in spite of myself, 

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thrown back on the region of doubts and portents, and dark 
conjectures. This was when I chanced to see the third-storey 
staircase door (which of late had always been kept locked) open 
slowly, and give passage to the form of Grace Poole, in prim cap, 
white apron, and handkerchief; when I watched her glide along 
the gallery, her quiet tread muffled in a list slipper; when I saw her 
look into the bustling, topsy-turvy bedrooms,—just say a word, 
perhaps, to the charwoman about the proper way to polish a grate, 
or clean a marble mantelpiece, or take stains from papered walls, 
and then pass on. She would thus descend to the kitchen once a 
day, eat her dinner, smoke a moderate pipe on the hearth, and go 
back, carrying her pot of porter with her, for her private solace, in 
her own gloomy, upper haunt. Only one hour in the twenty-four 
did she pass with her fellow-servants below; all the rest of her time 
was spent in some low-ceiled, oaken chamber of the second storey: 
there she sat and sewed—and probably laughed drearily to 
herself,—as companionless as a prisoner in his dungeon. 

The strangest thing of all was, that not a soul in the house, 
except me, noticed her habits, or seemed to marvel at them: no 
one discussed her position or employment; no one pitied her 
solitude or isolation. I once, indeed, overheard part of a dialogue 
between Leah and one of the charwomen, of which Grace formed 
the subject. Leah had been saying something I had not caught, 
and the charwoman remarked— 

「She gets good 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 

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Jane Eyre 235 

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. 

「Ah!—she understands what she has to do,—nobody better,」 
rejoined Leah significantly; 「and it is not every one could fill her 
shoes—not for all the money she gets.」 

「That it is not!」 was the reply. 「I wonder whether the master— 
」 
The charwoman was going on; but here Leah turned and 

perceived me, and she instantly gave her companion a nudge. 

「Doesn』t she know?」 I heard the woman whisper. 

Leah shook her head, and the conversation was of course 
dropped. All I had gathered from it amounted to this,—that there 
was a mystery at Thornfield; and that from participation in that 
mystery I was purposely excluded. 

Thursday came: all work had been completed the previous 
evening; carpets were laid 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 

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Jane Eyre 236 

the company,—to conduct the ladies to their rooms, &c. Adele, too, 
would be dressed: though I thought 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. Rochester 
mentioned; for it is past six now. I have sent John down to the 
gates to see if there is anything on the road: one can see a long 
way from thence in the direction of Millcote.」 She went to the 
window. 「Here he is!」 said she. 「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 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, 

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Jane Eyre 237 

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. Rochester 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, welcoming 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, listening 
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 a leurs chambres; souvent je regardais 
les femmes de chambre coiffer et habiller les dames, et c』etait si 
amusant: comme cela on apprend.」 

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「Don』t you feel hungry, Adele?」 

「Mais oui, mademoiselle: voila cinq ou six heures que nous 
n』avons pas mange.」 

「Well now, while the ladies are in their rooms, I will venture 
down and get you something to eat.」 

And issuing from my asylum with 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 spontaneous 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 

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Jane Eyre 239 

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. 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-bye, 
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 conveyed 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 

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Jane Eyre 240 

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, it found a further task in framing 
the tones, rendered by distance inarticulate, into words. 

The clock struck eleven. I looked 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 site 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. Rochester 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.」 

「And she him,」 I added; 「look how she leans her head towards 
him as if she were conversing confidentially; I wish I could see her 
face; I have never had a glimpse of it yet.」 

「You will see her this evening,」 answered Mrs. Fairfax. 「I 
happened to remark to Mr. Rochester how much Adele wished to 

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Jane Eyre 241 

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.』」 

「I 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. Rochester see you are there and then slip 
away—nobody will notice you.」 

「Will these people remain long, do you think?」 

「Perhaps two or three weeks, certainly not more. After the 
Easter recess, Sir George Lynn, who was lately elected member 
for Millcote, will have to go up to town and take his seat; I daresay 
Mr. Rochester will accompany him: it surprises me that he has 
already made so protracted a stay at Thornfield.」 

It was with some trepidation that I perceived the hour approach 
when I was to repair with my charge to the drawing-room. Adele 
had been in a state of ecstasy all day, after hearing she was to be 

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Jane Eyre 242 

presented to the ladies in the evening; and it was not till Sophie 
commenced the operation of dressing her that she sobered down. 
Then the importance of the process quickly steadied 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. No 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. 

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 distinguished 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. 

「What is it, Adele?」 

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Jane Eyre 243 

「Est-ce que je ne puis pas prendrie une seule de ces fleurs 
magnifiques, mademoiselle? Seulement pour completer ma 
toilette.」 

「You think too much of your 『toilette,』 Adele: but you may have 
a flower.」 And I took a rose from a vase and fastened it in her sash. 
She sighed a sigh of ineffable 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 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. 

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Jane Eyre 244 

First, there was Mrs. Eshton and two of her daughters. She had 
evidently been a handsome woman, and was well preserved still. 
Of her daughters, the eldest, Amy, was rather little: naive, and 
child-like 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 chiffone』: 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 women. The Dowager might be between forty 
and fifty: her shape was still fine; her hair (by candle-light at least) 
still black; her teeth, too, were still apparently perfect. Most people 
would have termed her a splendid woman of her age: 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 Roman 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; 

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Jane Eyre 245 

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. Reed』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. Rochester』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 continually; 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 discourse on botany with the 
gentle Mrs. Dent. It seemed Mrs. Dent had not studied that 
science: though, as she said, she liked flowers, 「especially wild 
ones;」 Miss Ingram had, and she ran over its vocabulary with an 

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Jane Eyre 246 

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. 
Rochester 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. 

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Jane Eyre 247 

Amy and Louisa Eshton had cried out simultaneously—「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 and 
broken English; absorbing 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 appearance 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 
gentleman-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. Rochester? 

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, 

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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 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 steely 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 arrived, green and 
strong! He made me love him without looking at me. 

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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 in their 
appearance, their expression: yet I could imagine that most 
observers would call them attractive, handsome, imposing; while 
they would pronounce Mr. Rochester 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. Rochester 
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, 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 assimilates 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 

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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-bye, 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 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. Rochester, having quitted the Eshtons, stands on the 
hearth as solitary as she stands by the table: she confronts him, 
taking her station on the opposite side of the mantelpiece. 

「Mr. Rochester, I thought you were not fond of children?」 

「Nor am I.」 

「Then, what induced you to take charge of such a little doll as 
that?」 (pointing to Adele). 「Where did you pick her up?」 

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「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. Rochester glance my way; and I involuntarily shrank 
farther into the shade: but he never turned his eyes. 

「I have not considered the subject,」 said he indifferently, 
looking straight before him. 

「No, you men never do consider economy and common sense. 
You should hear mama on the chapter of governesses: Mary and I 
have had, I should think, a dozen at least in our day; half of them 
detestable and the rest ridiculous, and all incubi—were they not, 
mama?」 

「Did you speak, my own?」 

The young lady thus claimed as the dowager』s special property, 
reiterated her question with an explanation. 

「My dearest, don』t mention governesses; the word makes me 
nervous. I have suffered a martyrdom from their incompetency 
and caprice. I thank Heaven I have now done with them!」 

Mrs. Dent here bent over to the pious lady and whispered 
something in her ear; I 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 

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noticed her; I am a judge of physiognomy, and in hers I see all the 

faults of her class.」 

「What are they, madam?」 inquired Mr. Rochester aloud. 

「I will tell you in your private ear,」 replied 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, mama! I have just one word to say 
of the whole tribe; they are a nuisance. Not that I ever suffered 
much from them; I took care to turn the tables. What tricks 
Theodore and I used to play on our Miss Wilsons, and Mrs. Greys, 
and Madame Jouberts! Mary was always too sleepy to join in a plot 
with spirit. The best fun was with Madame Joubert: Miss Wilson 
was a poor sickly thing, lachrymose and low-spirited, not worth 
the trouble of vanquishing, in short; and Mrs. Grey was coarse and 
insensible; no blow took effect on her. But poor Madame Joubert! 
I see her yet in her raging passions, when we had driven her to 
extremities—spilt our tea, crumbled our bread and butter, tossed 
our books up to the ceiling, and played a charivari with the ruler 
and desk, the fender and fire-irons. Theodore, do you remember 
those merry days?」 

「Yaas, to be sure I do,」 drawled Lord Ingram; 「and the poor old 
stick used to cry out 『Oh you villains childs!』—and then we 
sermonised her on the presumption of attempting to teach such 
clever blades as we were, when she was herself so ignorant.」 

「We did; and, Tedo, you know, I helped you in prosecuting (or 
persecuting) your tutor, whey-faced Mr. Vining—the parson in the 
pip, as we used to call him. He and Miss Wilson took the liberty of 
falling in love with each other—at least Tedo and I thought so; we 

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surprised sundry tender glances and sighs which we interpreted 
as tokens of 『la belle passion,』 and I promise you the public soon 
had the benefit of our discovery; we employed it as a sort of lever 
to hoist our dead-weights from the house. Dear mama, there, as 
soon as she got an inkling of the business, found out that it was of 
an immoral tendency. Did you not, my lady-mother?」 

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

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

「My lily-flower, you are right now, as always.」 

「Then no more need be said: change the subject.」 

Amy 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 as anything we asked for.」 

「I suppose, now,」 said Miss Ingram, curling her lip 
sarcastically, 「we shall have an abstract of the memoirs of all the 
governesses extant: in order to avert such a visitation, I again 

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move the introduction of a new topic. Mr. Rochester, do you 

second my motion?」 

「Madam, I support you on this point, as on every other.」 

「Then on me be the onus of bringing it forward. Signior 
Eduardo, are you in voice to-night?」 

「Donna Bianca, if you command it, I will be.」 

「Then, signior, I lay on you my sovereign behest to furbish up 
your lungs and other vocal organs, as they will be wanted on my 
royal service.」 

「Who would not be the Rizzio of so divine a Mary?」 

「A fig for Rizzio!」 cried 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 Bothwell better: to 
my mind a man is nothing without a spice of the devil in him; and 
history may say what it will of James 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.」 

「Gentlemen, you hear! Now which of you most resembles 
Bothwell?」 cried Mr. Rochester. 

「I should say the preference lies with you,」 responded Colonel 
Dent. 

「On my honour, I am much obliged to you,」 was the reply. 

Miss Ingram, who had now seated herself with proud grace at 
the piano, spreading out her snowy robes in queenly amplitude, 
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. 

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「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 mama』s permission and 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. Rochester, now sing, 
and I will play for you.」 

「I am all obedience,」 was the response. 

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

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

「Take care, then: if you don』t please me, I will shame you by 
showing how such things should be done.」 

「That is offering a premium on incapacity: I shall now 
endeavour to fail.」 

「Gardez-vous en bien! If you err wilfully, I shall devise a 
proportionate punishment.」 

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「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, 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. Rochester. 

「How do you do?」 he asked. 

「I am very well, sir.」 

「Why did you not come and speak to me in the room?」 

I thought I might have retorted the question on him who put it: 
but I would not take that freedom. I answered— 

「I did not wish to disturb you, as you seemed engaged, sir.」 

「What have you been doing during my absence?」 

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「Nothing particular; teaching Adele as usual.」 

「And getting a good deal paler than you were—as I saw at first 
sight. What is the matter?」 

「Nothing at all, sir.」 

「Did you take any cold that night you half drowned me?」 

「Not she least.」 

「Return to the drawing-room: you are deserting too early.」 

「I am tired, sir.」 

He looked at me for a minute. 

「And a little depressed,」 he said. 「What about? Tell me.」 

「Nothing—nothing, sir. I am not depressed.」 

「But I affirm that you are: so much depressed that a few more 
words would bring tears to your eyes—indeed, they are there now, 
shining and swimming; and a bead has slipped from the lash and 
fallen on to the flag. If I had time, and was not in mortal dread of 
some prating prig of a servant passing, I would know what all this 
means. Well, to-night I excuse you; but understand that so long as 
my visitors stay, I expect you to appear in the drawing-room every 
evening; it is my wish; don』t neglect it. Now go, and send Sophie 
for Adele. Good-night, my—」 He stopped, bit his lip, and abruptly 
left me. 

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Chapter 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 continuous 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. Rochester and the other gentlemen 
directed these alterations, the ladies were running up and down 
stairs ringing for their maids. Mrs. Fairfax was summoned to give 
information respecting the resources of the house in shawls, 
dresses, draperies of any kind; and certain wardrobes of the third 

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storey were ransacked, and their contents, in the shape of 
brocaded and hooped petticoats, satin sacques, black modes, lace 
lappets, &c., were brought down in armfuls by the Abigails; then a 
selection was made, and such things as were chosen were carried 
to the boudoir within the drawing-room. 

Meantime, Mr. Rochester had again summoned the ladies 
round him, and was selecting certain of their number to be of his 
party. 「Miss Ingram is mine, of course,」 said he: afterwards he 
named the two Misses Eshton, and Mrs. Dent. He looked at me: I 
happened to be near him, as I had been fastening the clasp of Mrs. 
Dent』s bracelet, which had got loose. 

「Will you play?」 he asked. I shook my head. He did not insist, 
which I rather feared he would have done; he allowed me to 
return quietly to my usual seat. 

He and his aids now withdrew behind the curtain: the other 
party, which was headed by Colonel 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. 

「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. Rochester 
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. Rochester』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 

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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. Rochester, and 
together they drew near the table. They knelt; while Mrs. Dent 
and Louisa Eshton, dressed also in white, took up 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. Rochester 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. 
Rochester, costumed in shawls, with a turban on his head. His 
dark eyes and swarthy skin and Paynim features suited the 
costume exactly: he looked the very model of an Eastern 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 upraised in the act of supporting a pitcher, poised 
gracefully on her head. Both her cast of form and feature, her 

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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 admiration; 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 the 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 

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countenance, the rough, bristling hair might well have disguised 
him. As he moved, a chain clanked; to his wrists were attached 
fetters. 

「Bridewell!」 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 complimenting 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!」 

「Is all the soot washed from my face?」 he asked, turning it 
towards her. 

「Alas! yes: the more』s the pity! Nothing could be more 
becoming to your complexion than that ruffian』s rouge.」 

「You would like a hero of the road then?」 

「An English hero of the road would be the next best thing to an 
Italian bandit; and that could only be surpassed by a Levantine 
pirate.」 

「Well, whatever I am, remember you are my wife; we were 
married an hour since, in the presence of all these witnesses.」 She 
giggled, and her colour rose. 

「Now, Dent,」 continued Mr. 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, 

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Jane Eyre 263 

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 intentions 
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 
circumstances, 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 

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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 conceived against little Adele: pushing her away 
with some contumelious epithet if she happened to approach her; 
sometimes ordering her from the room, and always treating her 
with coldness and acrimony. Other eyes besides mine watched 
these manifestations of character—watched them closely, keenly, 
shrewdly. Yes; the future bridegroom, Mr. Rochester himself, 
exercised over his intended a ceaseless surveillance; and it was 
from this sagacity—this guardedness 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 connections suited him; I felt he 
had not given her his love, and that her qualifications were ill 
adapted to win from him that treasure. This was the point—this 
was where the nerve was touched and teased—this was where the 
fever was sustained and fed: she could not charm him. 

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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. Rochester, to witness their repeated failure—herself 
unconscious that they did fail; vainly fancying that each shaft 
launched hit the mark, and infatuatedly pluming herself 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 ruthless restraint. 

Because, when she failed, I saw how she might have succeeded. 
Arrows that continually glanced off from Mr. Rochester』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 

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and looking 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 connections. It surprised me 
when I first discovered that such was his intention: I had thought 
him a man unlikely to be influenced by motives so commonplace 
in his choice of a wife; but the longer I considered the position, 
education, &c., of the 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 

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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 
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, where 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, 

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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 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 

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warning of the hour to dress for dinner, when little Adele, who 
knelt by me in the drawing-room window-seat, suddenly 
exclaimed— 

「Voila, Monsieur Rochester, qui revient!」 

I turned, and Miss Ingram darted forwards from her sofa: the 
others, too, looked up from their several occupations; for at the 
same time a crunching of wheels and a splashing tramp of horse-
hoofs became audible on the wet gravel. A post-chaise was 
approaching. 

「What can possess him to come home in that style?」 said Miss 
Ingram. 「He rode Mesrour (the black horse), did he not, when he 
went out? and Pilot was with him:—what has he done with the 
animals?」 

As she said 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 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. 

「How provoking!」 exclaimed Miss Ingram: 「you tiresome 
monkey!」 (apostrophising Adele), 「who perched you up in the 
window to give false intelligence?」 and she cast on me an angry 
glance, as if I were in fault. 

Some parleying was audible in the hall, and soon the newcomer entered. He bowed to Lady Ingram, as deeming her the 
eldest lady present. 

「It appears I come at an inopportune time, madam,」 said he, 

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「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 forehead; 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 compared him with Mr. Rochester. 
I think (with deference be it spoken) the contrast could not be 
much greater between a sleek gander and a fierce falcon: between 

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a meek sheep and the rough-coated keen-eyed dog, its guardian. 

He had spoken of Mr. Rochester as an old friend. A curious 
friendship theirs must have been: a pointed illustration, 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!」 

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 learned 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, 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, 

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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 something 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—「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?」 

「Surely, colonel,」 cried Lady Ingram, 「you would not 
encourage such a low impostor? Dismiss her, by all means, at 
once!」 

「But I cannot persuade her to go away, my lady,」 said the 
footman; 「nor can any of the servants: Mrs. Fairfax is with her just 
now, entreating her to be gone; but she has taken a chair in the 
chimney-comer, and says nothing shall stir her from it till she gets 
leave to come in here.」 

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「What does she want?」 asked Mrs. Eshton. 

「『To tell the gentry their fortunes,』 she says, ma』am; and she 
swears she must and will do it.」 

「What is she like?」 inquired the Misses 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, mama, 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 forward.」 

「My darling Blanche! recollect—」 

「I do—I recollect all you can suggest; and I must have my will— 
quick, Sam!」 

「Yes—yes—yes!」 cried all the 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 returned. 

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「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.」 

「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, expectation rose 
to full flow once more. 

「She』s ready now,」 said the footman, as he reappeared. 「She 
wishes to know who will be her first visitor.」 

「I think I had better just look in upon her before any of the 
ladies go,」 said Colonel Dent. 

「Tell her, Sam, a gentleman is coming.」 

Sam went and returned. 

「She says, sir, that she』ll have no gentlemen; they need not 
trouble themselves to come near her; nor,」 he 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 mama』s 
cry; but she swept past her in stately silence, passed through the 

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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 eyes met her 
with a glance of eager 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 of you all—my good mama 
included—ascribe to this matter, absolutely to believe we have a 
genuine witch in the house, who is in close alliance with the old 
gentleman. I have seen a gipsy vagabond; she has practised in 
hackneyed fashion the science of palmistry and told me what such 
people usually tell. My whim is gratified; and now I think Mr. 
Eshton will do well to put the hag in the stocks to-morrow 
morning, as he threatened.」 

Miss Ingram took a book, leant back in her chair, and so 

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declined further conversation. I watched her for nearly half-anhour: 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: 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. 

「I am 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 

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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 reiterated 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 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. 

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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. 

「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.」 

「It』s like your impudence to say so: I expected it of you; I heard 
it in your step as you crossed the threshold.」 

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「Did you? You』ve a quick ear.」 

「I have; and a quick eye and a quick brain.」 

「You need them all in your trade.」 

「I do; especially when I』ve customers like you to deal with. Why 
don』t you tremble?」 

「I』m not cold.」 

「Why don』t you turn pale?」 

「I am not sick.」 

「Why don』t you consult my art?」 

「I』m not silly.」 

The old crone 「nichered」 a laugh under her bonnet and 
bandage; she then drew out a short black pipe, and lighting it 
began to smoke. Having indulged a while in this sedative, 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 renewed her 
smoking with vigour. 

「You might say all that to almost any one who you knew lived 
as a solitary dependent in a great house.」 

「I might say it to almost any one: but would it be true of almost 
any one?」 

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「In my circumstances.」 

「Yes; just so, in your circumstances: but find me another 
precisely placed as you are.」 

「It would be easy to find you thousands.」 

「You could scarcely find me one. If you knew it, you are 
peculiarly situated: very near happiness; yes, within reach of it. 
The materials are all prepared; there only wants a movement to 
combine them. Chance laid them somewhat apart; let them be 
once approached and bliss results.」 

「I don』t understand enigmas. I never could guess a riddle in my 
life.」 

「If you wish me to speak more plainly, show me your palm.」 

「And I must cross it with silver, I suppose?」 

「To be sure.」 

I gave her a shilling: she put it into an old stocking-foot which 
she took out of her pocket, and having tied it round and returned 
it, she told me to hold out my hand. I did. She ached her face to 
the palm, and pored over it without touching it. 

「It is too fine,」 said she. 「I can make nothing of such a hand as 
that; almost without lines: 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 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 

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Jane Eyre 281 

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?」 

「Not I. The utmost I hope is, to save money enough out of my 
earnings to set up a school some day in a little house rented by 
myself.」 

「A mean nutriment for the spirit to exist on: and sitting in that 
window-seat (you see I know your habits )—」 

「You have learned them from the servants.」 

「Ah! you think yourself sharp. Well, perhaps I have: to speak 
truth, I have an acquaintance with one of them, Mrs. Poole—」 

I started to my feet when I heard the name. 

「You have—have you?」 thought I; 「there is diablerie in the 
business after 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 company who occupy the sofas and 
chairs before you? Is there not one face you study? one figure 
whose movements you follow with at least curiosity?」 

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「I like to observe all the faces and all the figures.」 

「But do you never single one from the rest—or it may be, two?」 

「I do frequently; when the gestures or looks of a pair seem 
telling a tale: it amuses me to watch them.」 

「What tale do you like best to hear?」 

「Oh, I have not much choice! They generally run on the same 
theme—courtship; and promise to end in the same catastrophe— 
marriage.」 

「And do you like that monotonous theme?」 

「Positively, I don』t care about it: it is nothing to me.」 

「Nothing to you? When a lady, young and full of life and health, 
charming with beauty and endowed with the gifts of rank and 
fortune, sits and smiles in the eyes of a gentleman you—」 

「I what?」 

「You know—and perhaps think well of.」 

「I don』t know the gentlemen here. I have scarcely interchanged 
a syllable with one of them; and as to thinking well of them, I 
consider some respectable, and stately, and middle-aged, and 
others young, dashing, handsome, and lively: but certainly they 
are all at liberty to be the recipients of whose smiles they please, 
without my feeling disposed to consider the transaction of any 
moment to me.」 

「You don』t know the gentlemen here? You have not exchanged 
a syllable with one of them? Will you say that of the master of the 
house!」 

「He is not at home.」 

「A profound remark! A most ingenious quibble! He went to 
Millcote this morning, and will be back here to-night or tomorrow: does that circumstance exclude him from the list of your 

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acquaintance—blot him, as it were, out of existence?」 

「No; but I can scarcely see what Mr. Rochester has to do with 
the theme you had introduced.」 

「I was talking of ladies smiling in the eyes of gentlemen; and of 
late so many smiles have been shed into Mr. Rochester』s eyes that 
they overflow like two cups filled above the brim: have you never 
remarked that?」 

「Mr. Rochester has a right to enjoy the society of his guests.」 

「No question about his right: but have you never observed that, 
of all the tales told here about matrimony, Mr. Rochester has been 
favoured with the most lively and the most continuous?」 

「The eagerness of a listener quickens the tongue of a narrator.」 
I said this rather to myself than to the 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 mystification; and wondered what unseen 
spirit had been sitting for weeks by my heart watching its 
workings and taking record of every pulse. 

「Eagerness of a listener!」 repeated she: 「yes; Mr. Rochester has 
sat by the hour, his ear inclined to the fascinating lips that took 
such delight in their task of communicating; and Mr. Rochester 
was so willing to receive and looked so grateful for the pastime 
given him; you have noticed this?」 

「Grateful! I cannot remember detecting gratitude in his face.」 

「Detecting! You have analysed, then. And what did you detect, 
if not gratitude?」 

I said nothing. 

「You have seen love: have you not?—and, looking forward, you 
have seen him married, and beheld his bride happy?」 

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「Humph! Not exactly. Your witch』s skill is rather at fault 
sometimes.」 

「What the devil have you seen, then?」 

「Never mind: I came here to inquire, not to confess. Is it known 
that Mr. Rochester is to be married?」 

「Yes; and to the beautiful Miss Ingram.」 

「Shortly?」 

「Appearances would warrant that conclusion: and, no doubt 
(though, with an audacity that wants chastising out of you, you 
seem to question it), they will be a superlatively happy pair. He 
must love such a handsome, noble, witty, accomplished lady; and 
probably she loves him, or, if not his person, at least his purse. I 
know she considers the Rochester estate eligible to the last degree; 
though (God pardon me!) I told her something on that point about 
an hour ago which made her look wondrous grave: the corners of 
her mouth fell half an inch. I would advise her 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 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 

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back in her chair. She began muttering,— 

「The flame flickers in the eye; the eye shines like dew; it looks 
soft and full of feeling; it smiles at my jargon: it is susceptible; 
impression follows impression through its clear sphere; where it 
ceases to smile, it is sad; an unconscious lassitude weighs on the 
lid: that signifies melancholy resulting from loneliness. It turns 
from me; it will not suffer further scrutiny; it seems to deny, by a 
mocking glance, the truth of the discoveries I have already 
made,—to disown the charge both of sensibility and chagrin: its 
pride and reserve only confirm me in my opinion. The eye is 
favourable. 

「As to the mouth, it delights at times in laughter; it is disposed 
to impart all that the brain conceives; though I daresay it would be 
silent on much the heart experiences. Mobile and 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, 『Reason 
sits firm and holds the reins, and she will not let the feelings burst 
away and hurry her to wild chasms. The passions may rage 
furiously, like true heathens, as they are; and the desires may 
imagine all sorts of vain things: but judgment shall still have the 
last word in every argument, and the casting vote in every 
decision. Strong wind, earthquake-shock, and fire may pass by: 

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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 further might try me beyond my strength. Rise, 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— 

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on the contrary, the bonnet was doffed, the bandage displaced, the 

head advanced. 

「Well, Jane, do you know me?」 asked the familiar voice. 

「Only take off the red cloak, sir, and then—」 

「But the string is in a knot—help me.」 

「Break it, sir.」 

「There, then—『Off, ye lendings!』」 And Mr. Rochester stepped 
out of his disguise. 

「Now, sir, what a strange idea!」 

「But well carried out, eh? Don』t you think so?」 

「With the ladies you must have managed well.」 

「But not with you?」 

「You did not act the character of a gipsy with me.」 

「What character did I act? My own?」 

「No; some unaccountable one. In short, I believe you have been 
trying to draw me out—or in; you have been talking nonsense to 
make me talk nonsense. It is scarcely fair, sir.」 

「Do you forgive me, Jane?」 

「I cannot tell till I have thought it all over. If, on reflection, I 
find I have fallen into no great absurdity, I shall try to forgive you; 
but it was not right.」 

「Oh, you have been very correct—very careful, very sensible.」 

I 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 herself; 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 

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mystery of mysteries, as I considered her. I had never thought of 
Mr. Rochester. 

「Well,」 said he, 「what are you musing about? What does that 
grave smile signify?」 

「Wonder and self-congratulation, sir. I have your permission to 
retire now, I suppose?」 

「No; stay a moment; and tell me what the people in the 
drawing-room yonder are doing.」 

「Discussing the gipsy, I daresay.」 

「Sit down!—Let me hear what they said about me.」 

「I had better not stay long, sir; it must be near eleven o』clock. 
Oh, are you aware, Mr. Rochester, that a stranger has arrived here 
since you left this morning?」 

「A stranger!—no; who can it be? I expected no one; is he 
gone?」 

「No; he said he had known you long, and that he could take the 
liberty of installing himself here till you returned.」 

「The devil he did! Did he give his name?」 

「His name is Mason, sir; and he comes from the West Indies; 
from Spanish Town, in Jamaica, I think.」 

Mr. Rochester was standing near me; he had taken my 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: apparently 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. 

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「Do you feel ill, sir?」 I inquired. 

「Jane, I』ve got a blow; I』ve got a blow, Jane!」 He staggered. 

「Oh, lean on me, sir.」 

「Jane, you offered me your shoulder once before; let me have it 
now.」 

「Yes, sir, yes; and my arm.」 

He sat 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. 

「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.」 

「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 sideboard; 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. 

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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.」 

「And Mason?」 

「He was laughing too.」 

「If all these people came in a body and spat at me, what would 
you do, Jane?」 

「Turn them out of the room, sir, if I could.」 

He half smiled. 「But if I were to go to them, and they only 
looked at me coldly, and whispered sneeringly amongst each 
other, and then dropped off and left me one by one, what then? 
Would you go with them?」 

「I rather think not, sir: I should have more pleasure in staying 
with you.」 

「To comfort me?」 

「Yes, sir, to comfort you, as well as I could.」 

「And if they laid you under a ban for adhering to me?」 

「I, probably, should know nothing about their ban; and if I did, 
I should care nothing about it.」 

「Then, you could dare censure for my sake?」 

「I could dare it for the sake of any friend who deserved my 
adherence; as you, I am sure, do.」 

「Go back now into the room; step quietly up to Mason, and 

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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. Rochester』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. 

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Chapter XX 

Ihad 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 utterance must rest ere it could repeat the effort. 

It came out of the third storey; 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 staggering and 
stamping went on wildly, I distinguished through plank and 
plaster:— 

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「Rochester! Rochester! for God』s sake, come!」 

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?」—「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 confusion was inextricable. 

「Where the devil is Rochester?」 cried Colonel Dent. 「I cannot 
find him in his bed.」 

「Here! here!」 was shouted in return. 「Be 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 storey. One of the ladies ran to him directly; she seized his 
arm: it was Miss Ingram. 

「What awful event has taken place?」 said she. 「Speak! let us 
know the worst at once!」 

「But don』t pull me down or strangle me,」 he replied: for the 
Misses Eshton were clinging about him now; and the two 
dowagers, in vast white wrappers, were bearing down on him like 
ships in full sail. 

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「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 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 

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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. 

「Am I wanted?」 I asked. 

「Are you up?」 asked the voice I expected to hear, viz., my 
master』s. 

「Yes, sir.」 

「And dressed?」 「Yes.」 

「Come out, then, quietly.」 

I obeyed. Mr. Rochester stood in the gallery holding a light. 

「I want you,」 he said: 「come this way: take your 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 storey: I had followed 
and stood at his side. 

「Have you a sponge in your room?」 he asked in a whisper. 

「Yes, sir.」 

「Have you any salts—volatile salts? Yes.」 

「Go back and fetch both.」 

I returned, sought the sponge on the washstand, the salts in my 
drawer, and once more retraced my steps. He still waited; he held 

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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, almost like a dog quarrelling. Mr. Rochester, 
putting down his candle, said to me, 「Wait a minute,」 and he went 
forward to the inner apartment. A shout of laughter greeted his 
entrance; noisy at first, and terminating in Grace Poole』s own 
goblin ha! ha! She then was there. He made some sort of 
arrangement without speaking, though I heard a low voice address 
him: he came out and closed the door behind him. 

「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, 

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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 washstand: 「Hold that,」 said he. I 
obeyed. He took the sponge, dipped it in, and moistened the 
corpse-like face; he asked for my smelling-bottle, and applied it to 
the nostrils. Mr. Mason shortly unclosed his eyes; he groaned. Mr. 
Rochester opened the shirt of the wounded man, whose arm and 
shoulder were bandaged: he sponged away blood, trickling fast 
down. 

「Is there immediate danger?」 murmured Mr. Mason. 

「Pooh! No—a mere scratch. Don』t be so overcome, man: bear 
up! I』ll fetch a surgeon for you now, myself: you』ll be able to be 
removed by morning, I hope. Jane,」 he continued. 

「Sir?」 

「I shall have to leave you in this room with this gentleman, for 
an hour, or perhaps two hours: you will sponge the blood as I do 
when it returns: if he feels faint, you will put the glass of water on 
that stand to his lips, and your salts to his nose. You will not speak 
to him on any pretext—and—Richard, it will be at the peril of your 
life if you speak to her: open your lips—agitate yourself—and I』ll 
not answer for the consequences.」 

Again the poor man groaned; he looked as if he dared not move; 
fear, either of death or of something else, appeared almost to 
paralyse him. Mr. Rochester 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, 「Remember!—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 storey, fastened into one of its 

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mystic cells; night around me; a pale and bloody spectacle under 
my eyes and hands; a murderess hardly separated from me by a 
single door: yes—that was appalling—the rest I could bear; but I 
shuddered at the thought of Grace Poole bursting out upon me. 

I must keep to my 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 
enclosed in its separate panel as in a frame; while above them at 
the top rose an ebon crucifix and a dying Christ. 

According as the shifting obscurity and flickering gleam 
hovered here or glanced 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 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 spellbound: 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. 

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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. Rochester 
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 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 

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whispered: 「Jane, I have got a blow—I have got a blow, Jane.」 I 
could not forget how the arm had trembled which he rested on my 
shoulder: and it was no light matter which could thus bow the 
resolute spirit and thrill the vigorous frame of Fairfax Rochester. 

「When will he come? When will he come?」 I cried 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; ant 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 

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blind, let in all the daylight he could; and I was surprised and 
cheered to see how far dawn was advanced: what rosy streaks 
were beginning to brighten the east. Then he approached 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 Rochester got the knife from her.」 

「You should not have yielded: you should have grappled with 
her at once,」 said Mr. Rochester. 

「But under such circumstances, what could one do?」 returned 
Mason. 「Oh, it was frightful!」 he added, shuddering. 「And I did 
not expect it: she looked so quiet at first.」 

「I warned you,」 was his friend』s answer; 「I said—be on your 
guard when you go near her. 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— 

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hurry!—hurry! The sun will soon rise, and I must have him off.」 

「Directly, sir; the shoulder is just bandaged. I must look to this 
other wound in the arm: she has had her teeth here too, I think.」 

「She sucked the blood: she said she』d drain my heart,」 said 
Mason. 

I saw Mr. Rochester shudder: a singularly marked expression of 
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?」 

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inquired Mr. Rochester presently. 

「No, sir; all was very still.」 

「We shall get you off cannily, Dick: and it will be better, both for 
your sake, and for that of the poor creature in yonder. I have 
striven long to avoid exposure, and I should not like it to come at 
last. Here, Carter, help him on with his waist-coat. Where did you 
leave your furred cloak? You can』t travel a mile without that, I 
know, in this damned cold climate. In your room?—Jane, run 
down to Mr. Mason』s room,—the one next mine,—and fetch a 
cloak you will see there.」 

Again I 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 washstand. 

「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. 

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「Drink, Richard: it will give you the heart you lack, for an hour 
or so.」 

「But will it hurt me?—is it inflammatory?」 

「Drink! drink! drink!」 

Mr. Mason 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 am sure you do. Now, Jane, trip on before us away to the 
backstairs; unbolt the side-passage door, and tell the driver of the 
post-chaise you will see in the yard—or just outside, for I told him 
not to drive his rattling wheels over the pavement—to be ready; 
we are coming: and, Jane, if any one is about, come to the foot of 
the stairs and hem.」 

It was by this time half-past 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 
everywhere; the curtains were yet drawn over the servants』 
chamber windows; little birds were just twittering in the blossom-

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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. 
Rochester and the surgeon, seemed to walk with tolerable ease: 
they assisted him into the chaise; Carter followed. 

「Take care of him,」 said Mr. Rochester 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. Richard, how is it with you?」 

「The fresh air revives me, Fairfax.」 

「Leave the window open on his side, Carter; 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 an end of all this!」 added 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, supposing he had done 
with me, prepared to return to the house; again, however, I heard 
him call 「Jane!」 He had opened feel portal and stood at it, waiting 
for me. 

「Come where there is some freshness, for a few moments,」 he 
said; 「that house is a mere dungeon: don』t you feel it so?」 

「It seems to me a splendid mansion, sir.」 

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「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 balmly atmosphere?」 

「I do, very much.」 

「You have passed a strange night, Jane.」 

「Yes, sir.」 

「And it has made you look pale—were you afraid when I left 
you alone with Mason?」 

「I was afraid of some one coming out of the inner room.」 

「But I had fastened the door—I had the key in my pocket: I 

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should have been a careless shepherd if I had left a lamb—my pet 

lamb—so near a wolf』s den, unguarded: you were safe.」 

「Will Grace Poole live here still, sir?」 

「Oh yes! don』t trouble your head about her—put the thing out 
of your thoughts.」 

「Yet it seems to me your life is hardly secure while she stays.」 
「Never fear—I will take care of myself.」 

「Is the danger you apprehended last night gone by now, sir?」 

「I cannot vouch for that till Mason is out of England: nor even 
then. To live, for me, Jane, is to stand on a crater-crust which may 
crack and spue fire any day.」 

「But Mr. Mason seems a man easily led. Your influence, sir, is 
evidently potent with him: he will never set you at defiance or 
wilfully injure you.」 

「Oh, no! Mason will not defy me; nor, knowing it, will he hurt 
me—but, unintentionally, he might in a moment, by one careless 
word, deprive me, if not of life, yet for ever of happiness.」 

「Tell him to be cautious, sir: let him know what you fear, and 
show him how to avert the danger.」 

He laughed 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, Richard;』 for it is imperative that I should keep him 
ignorant that harm to me is possible. Now you look puzzled; and I 
will puzzle you further. You are my little friend, are you not?」 

「I like to serve you, sir, and to obey you in all that is right.」 

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「Precisely: I see you do. I see genuine contentment in your gait 
and mien, your eye and face, when you are helping me and 
pleasing me—working for me, and with me, in, as you 
characteristically say, 『all that is right:』 for if I bid you do what you 
thought wrong, there would be no light-footed running, no neat-
handed alacrity, no lively glance and animated complexion. My 
friend would then turn to me, quiet and pale, and would say, 『No, 
sir; that is impossible: I cannot do it, because it is wrong;』 and 
would become immutable as a fixed star. Well, you too have power 
over me, and may injure me: yet I dare not show you where I am 
vulnerable, lest, faithful and friendly as you are, you should 
transfix me at once.」 

「If you have no more to fear from Mr. Mason than you have 
from me, sir, you are very safe.」 

「God grant it may be so! Here, Jane, is an arbour; sit down.」 

The arbour was an arch in the 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 Thornfield, and the 
early bees do their first spell of work—I』ll put a case to you, which 
you must endeavour to suppose your own: but first, look at me, 
and tell me you are at ease, and not fearing that I err in detaining 
you, or that you err in staying.」 

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「No, sir; I am content.」 

「Well then, Jane, call to aid your fancy:—suppose you were no 
longer a girl well reared and disciplined, but a wild boy indulged 
from childhood upwards; imagine yourself in a remote foreign 
land; conceive that you there commit a capital error, no matter of 
what nature or from what motives, but one whose consequences 
must follow you through life and taint all your existence. Mind, I 
don』t say a crime; I am not speaking of shedding of blood or any 
other guilty act, which might make the perpetrator amenable to 
the law: my word is error. The results of what you have done 
become in time to you utterly insupportable; you take measures to 
obtain relief: unusual measures, but neither unlawful nor 
culpable. Still you are miserable; for hope has quitted you on the 
very confines of life: your sun at noon darkens in an eclipse, which 
you feel will not leave it till the time of setting. Bitter and base 
associations have become the sole food of your memory: you 
wander here and there, seeking rest in exile: happiness in 
pleasure—I mean in heartless, sensual pleasure—such as dulls 
intellect and blights feeling. Heart-weary and soul-withered, you 
come home after years of voluntary banishment: you make a new 
acquaintance—how or where no matter: you find in this stranger 
much of the good and bright qualities which you have sought for 
twenty years, and never before encountered; and they are all 
fresh, healthy, without soil and without taint. Such society revives, 
regenerates: you feel better days come back—higher wishes, purer 
feelings; you desire to recommence your life, and to spend what 
remains to you of days in a way more worthy of an immortal being. 
To attain this end, are you justified in overleaping an obstacle of 
custom—a mere conventional impediment which neither your 

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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. 

Again Mr. Rochester propounded his query: 

「Is the wandering and sinful, but now rest-seeking and 
repentant, man justified in daring the world』s opinion, in order to 
attach to him for ever this gentle, gracious, genial stranger, 
thereby securing his own peace of mind and regeneration of life?」 

「Sir,」 I 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 worldly, 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 

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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 at the door of 
the mysterious chamber. Jane, when will you watch with me 
again?」 

「Whenever I can be useful, sir.」 

「For instance, the night before I am married! I am sure I shall 
not be able to sleep. Will you promise to sit up with me to bear me 
company? To you I can talk of my lovely one: for now you have 
seen her and know her.」 

「Yes, sir.」 

「She』s a rare one, is she not, Jane?」 

「Yes, sir.」 

「A strapper—a real strapper, Jane: big, brown, and buxom; 
with hair just such as the ladies of Carthage must have had. Bless 
me! there』s Dent and Lynn in the stables! Go in by the shrubbery, 
through that wicket.」 

As I went one way, he went another, and I heard him in the 
yard, saying cheerfully— 

「Mason got the start of you all this morning; he was gone before 
sunrise: I rose at four to see him off.」 

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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 

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the moment I entered the land of slumber. 

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. 
Reed when you were at Gateshead, eight or nine years since, and I 
live there still.」 

「Oh, Robert! how do you do? I remember you very well: you 
used to give me a ride sometimes on Miss Georgiana』s bay pony. 
And how is Bessie? You are married to Bessie?」 

「Yes, Miss: my wife is very hearty, thank you; she brought me 
another little one about two months since—we have three now— 
and both mother and child are thriving.」 

「And are the family well at the house, Robert?」 

「I am sorry I can』t give you better news of them, Miss: they are 
very badly at present—in great trouble.」 

「I hope no one is dead,」 I 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.」 

「Mr. John?」 

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「Yes.」 

「And how does his mother bear it?」 

「Why, you see, Miss Eyre, it is not a common mishap: his life 
has been very wild: these last three years he gave himself up to 
strange ways, and his death was shocking.」 

「I heard from Bessie he was not doing well.」 

「Doing well! He could not do worse: he ruined his health and 
his estate amongst the worst men and the worst women. He got 
into debt and into jail: his mother helped him out twice, but as 
soon as he was free he returned to his old companions and habits. 
His head was not strong: the knaves he lived amongst fooled him 
beyond anything I ever heard. He came down to Gateshead about 
three weeks ago and wanted missis to give up all to him. Missis 
refused: her means have long been much reduced by his 
extravagance; so he went back again, and the next news was that 
he was dead. How he died, God knows!—they say he killed 
himself.」 

I was silent: the things were frightful. Robert Leaven 
resumed— 

「Missis had been out of health herself for some time: she had 
got very stout, but was not strong with it; and the loss of money 
and fear of poverty were quite breaking her down. The 
information about Mr. John』s death and the manner of it came too 
suddenly: it brought on a stroke. She was three days without 
speaking; but last Tuesday she seemed rather better: she 
appeared as if she wanted to say something, and kept making 
signs to my wife and mumbling. It was only yesterday morning, 
however, that Bessie understood she was pronouncing your name; 
and at last she made out the words, 『Bring Jane—fetch Jane Eyre: 

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I want to speak to her.』 Bessie is not sure whether she is in her 
right mind, or means anything by the words; but she told Miss 
Reed and Miss Georgiana, and advised them to send for you. The 
young ladies put it off at first; but their mother grew so restless, 
and said, 『Jane, Jane,』 so many times, that at last they consented. I 
left Gateshead yesterday: and if you can get ready, Miss, I should 
like to take you back with me early 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 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. Rochester, 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. Rochester,」 she made a movement as if tempted to 
order me away. I remember her appearance at the moment—it 

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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. Rochester; 
and Mr. Rochester turned to see who the 「person」 was. He made a 
curious grimace—one of his strange and equivocal 
demonstrations—threw down his cue and followed me from the 
room. 

「Well, Jane?」 he 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.」 

「What to do?—where to go?」 

「To see a sick lady who has sent for me.」 

「What sick lady?—where does she live?」 

「At Gateshead; in —shire.」 

「-shire? That is a hundred miles off! Who may she be that sends 
for people to see her that distance?」 

「Her name is Reed, sir—Mrs. Reed.」 

「Reed of Gateshead? There was a Reed of Gateshead, a 
magistrate.」 

「It is his widow, sir.」 

「And what have you to do with her? How do you know her?」 

「Mr. Reed was my uncle—my mother』s brother.」 

「The deuce he was! You never told me that before: you always 
said you had no relations.」 

「None that would own me, sir. Mr. Reed is dead, and his wife 
cast me off.」 

「Why?」 

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「Because I was poor, and burdensome, and she disliked me.」 

「But Reed left children?—you must have cousins? Sir George 
Lynn was talking of a Reed of Gateshead yesterday, who, he said, 
was one of the veriest rascals on town; and Ingram was 
mentioning a Georgiana Reed of the same place, who was much 
admired for her beauty a season or two ago in London.」 

「John Reed is dead, too, sir: he ruined himself and half-ruined 
his family, and is supposed to have committed suicide. The news 
so shocked his mother that it brought on an apoplectic attack.」 

「And what good can you do her? Nonsense, Jane! I would 
never think of running a hundred miles to see an old lady who 
will, perhaps, be dead before you reach her: besides, you say she 
cast you off.」 

「Yes, sir, but that is long ago; and when her circumstances 
were very different: I could not be easy to neglect her wishes 
now.」 

「How long will you stay?」 

「As short a time as possible, sir.」 

「Promise me only to stay a week—」 

「I had better not pass my word: I might be obliged to break it.」 

「At all events you will come back: you will not be induced 
under any pretext to take up a permanent residence with her?」 

「Oh, no! I shall certainly return if all be well.」 

「And who goes with you? You don』t travel a hundred miles 
alone.」 

「No, sir, she has sent her coachman.」 

「A person to be trusted?」 

「Yes, sir, he has lived ten years in the family.」 

Mr. Rochester meditated. 「When do you wish to go?」 

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「Early to-morrow morning, sir.」 

「Well, you must have some money; you can』t travel without 
money, and I daresay you have not much: I have given you no 
salary yet. How much have you in the world, Jane?」 he 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 amused him. Soon he produced his 
pocket-book: 「Here,」 said he, offering me a note; it was fifty 
pounds, and he owed me but fifteen. I told him I had no change. 

「I don』t want change; you know that. Take your wages.」 

I declined accepting more than was my due. He scowled at first; 
then, as if recollecting something, he said— 

「Right, right! Better not give you all now: you would, perhaps, 
stay away three months if you had fifty pounds. There are ten; is it 
not plenty?」 

「Yes, sir, but now you owe me five.」 

「Come back for it, then; I am your banker for forty pounds.」 

「Mr. Rochester, I may as well mention another matter of 
business to you while I have the opportunity.」 

「Matter of business? I am curious to hear it.」 

「You have as good as informed me, sir, that you are going 
shortly to be married?」 

「Yes; what then?」 

「In that case, sir, Adele ought to go to school: I am sure you will 
perceive the necessity of it.」 

「To get her out of my bride』s way, who might otherwise walk 
over her rather too emphatically? There』s sense in the suggestion; 
not a doubt of it. Adele, as you say, must go to school; and you, of 

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course, must march straight to—the devil?」 

「I hope not, sir; but I must seek another situation somewhere.」 

「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!」 

「Sir?」 

「Promise me one thing.」 

「I』ll promise you anything, sir, that I think I am likely to 
perform.」 

「Not to advertise: and to trust this quest of a situation to me. I』ll 
find you one in time.」 

「I shall be glad so to do, sir, if you, in your turn, will promise 
that I and Adele shall be both safe out of the house before your 

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bride enters it.」 

「Very well! very well! I』ll pledge my word on it. You go tomorrow, then?」 

「Yes, sir; early.」 

「Shall you come down to the drawing-room after dinner?」 

「No, sir, I must prepare for the journey.」 

「Then you and I must bid good-bye for a little while?」 

「I suppose so, sir.」 

「And how do people perform that ceremony of parting, Jane? 
Teach me; I』m not quite up to it.」 

「They say, Farewell, or any other form they prefer.」 

「Then say it.」 

「Farewell, Mr. Rochester, for the present.」 

「What must I say?」 

「The same, if you like, sir.」 

「Farewell, Miss Eyre, for the present; is that all?」 

「Yes?」 

「It seems stingy, to my notions, and dry, and unfriendly. I 
should like something else: a little addition to the rite. If one shook 
hands, for instance; but no—that would not content me either. So 
you』ll do no more than say Farewell, Jane?」 

「It is enough, sir: as much good-will may be conveyed in one 
hearty word as in many.」 

「Very likely; but it is blank and cool—『Farewell.』」 

「How long is he going to stand with his back against that 
door?」 I asked myself; 「I want to commence my packing.」 The 
dinner-bell 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. 

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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 Robert and his 
sister played quietly in a corner. 

「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 

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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, 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 

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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 bookcases, 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 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 waxwork, 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. 

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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 
commonplaces about my journey, the weather, and so on, uttered 
in rather a drawling tone: and accompanied by sundry side-
glances that measured me from head to foot—now traversing the 
folds of my drab merino 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 
rudeness in word or deed. 

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 

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excited than any it was in their power to inflict or bestow—that 
their airs gave me no concern either for good or bad. 

「How is Mrs. Reed?」 I asked soon, looking calmly at Georgiana, 
who thought fit to bridle at the direct address, as if it were an 
unexpected liberty. 

「Mrs. Reed? Ah! mama, you mean; she is extremely poorly: I 
doubt if you can see her to-night.」 

「If,」 said 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 today, I should, a year ago, have resolved 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 housekeeper; 
asked her to show me a room, told her I should probably be a 
visitor here for a week or two, had my trunk conveyed to my 

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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 armchair, and the footstool, 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. Reed』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. 

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「Is this Jane Eyre?」 she said. 

「Yes, Aunt Reed. How are you, dear aunt?」 

I had once vowed that I would never call her aunt again: I 
thought it no sin to forget and break that vow now. My fingers had 
fastened on her hand which lay outside the sheet: had she pressed 
mine 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. Reed 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 determination 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 

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Jane Eyre 328 

had taken place in her once vigorous frame. Turning restlessly, 
she drew the bedclothes 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 am Jane Eyre.」 

「I have had more trouble with that child than any one would 
believe. Such a burden to be left on my hands—and so much 
annoyance as she caused me, daily and hourly, with her 
incomprehensible disposition, and her sudden starts of temper, 
and her continual, unnatural watchings of one』s movements! I 
declare she talked to me once like something mad, or like a fiend— 
no child ever spoke or looked as she did; I was glad to get her 
away from the house. What did they do with her at Lowood? The 
fever broke out there, and many of the pupils died. She, however, 
did not die: but I said she did—I wish she had died!」 

「A strange wish, Mrs. Reed; why do you hate her so?」 

「I had a dislike to her mother always; for she was my husband』s 
only sister, and a great favourite with him: he opposed the family』s 
disowning her when she made her low marriage; and when news 
came of her death, he wept like a simpleton. He would send for the 
baby; though I entreated him rather to put it out to nurse and pay 
for its maintenance. I hated it the first time I set my eyes on it—a 
sickly, whining, pining thing! It would wail in its cradle all night 
long—not screaming heartily like any other child, but whimpering 
and moaning. Reed pitied it; and he used to nurse it and notice it 
as if it had been his own: more, indeed, than he ever noticed his 
own at that age. He would try to make my children friendly to the 
little beggar: the darlings could not bear it, and he was angry with 

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them when they showed their dislike. In his last illness, he had it 
brought continually to his bedside; and but an hour before he 
died, he bound me by vow to keep the creature. I would as soon 
have been charged with a pauper brat out of a workhouse: but he 
was weak, naturally weak. John does not at all resemble his father, 
and I am glad of it: John is like me and like my brothers—he is 
quite a Gibson. Oh, I wish he would cease tormenting me with 
letters for money! I have no more money to give him: we are 
getting poor. I must send away half the servants and shut up part 
of the house; or let it off. I can never submit to do that—yet how 
are we to get on? Two-thirds of my income goes in paying the 
interest of mortgages. John gambles dreadfully, and always 
loses—poor boy! He is beset by sharpers: John is sunk and 
degraded—his look is frightful—I feel ashamed for him when I see 
him.」 

She was getting much excited. 「I think I had better leave her 
now,」 said I to Bessie, who stood on the other side of the bed. 

「Perhaps you had, Miss: but she often talks in this way towards 
night—in the morning she is calmer.」 

I rose. 「Stop!」 exclaimed Mrs. Reed, 「there is another thing I 
wished to say. He threatens me—he continually threatens me with 
his own death, or mine: and I dream sometimes that I see him laid 
out with a great wound in his throat, or with a swollen and 
blackened face. I am come to a strange pass: I have heavy troubles. 
What is to be done? How is the money to be had?」 

Bessie now endeavoured to persuade her to take a sedative 
draught: she succeeded with difficulty. Soon after, Mrs. Reed grew 
more composed, and sank into a dozing state. I then left her. 

More than ten days elapsed before I had again any conversation 

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with her. She continued either delirious or lethargic; and the 
doctor forbade everything 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 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 

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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 
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 confidential conversation: she 
had favoured me with a description of the brilliant winter she had 
spent in London two seasons ago—of the admiration she had there 
excited—the attention she had received; and I even got hints of the 
titled conquest she had made. In the course of the afternoon and 
evening these hints were enlarged on: various soft conversations 
were reported, and sentimental scenes represented; and, in short, 

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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 
dissipations 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 alarm 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 
herself in the kitchen-garden; and one to the regulation of her 
accounts. She seemed to want no company; no conversation. I 
believe she was happy in her way: this routine sufficed for her; 
and nothing annoyed her so much as the occurrence of any 
incident which forced her to vary its clockwork regularity. 

She told me one evening, when more disposed to be 

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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 unfolded 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 right to 
be born, for you make no use of life. Instead of living for, in, and 

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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 any one else, happen what may. 
Neglect it—go on as heretofore, craving, whining, and idling—and 
suffer the results of your idiocy, however bad and insuperable they 
may be. I tell you this plainly; and listen: for though I shall no 
more repeat what I am now about to say, I shall steadily act on it. 
After my mother』s death, I wash my hands of you: from the day 
her 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 

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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.」 

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 I know your spiteful 
hatred towards me: I have had a specimen of it before in the trick 
you played me about Lord Edwin Vere: you could not bear me to 
be raised above 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, impassable, 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 judgment untempered 
by feeling is too bitter and husky a morsel for human deglutition. 

It was a wet and windy afternoon: Georgiana had fallen asleep 
on the sofa over the perusal of a novel; Eliza was gone to attend a 
saint』s-day service at the new church—for in matters of religion 
she was a rigid formalist: no weather ever prevented the punctual 
discharge of what she considered her devotional duties; fair or 
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, 

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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, 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 longing to be restored to her divine 
Father』s bosom—when a feeble voice murmured from the couch 
behind: 「Who is that?」 

I knew Mrs. Reed had not spoken for days: was she reviving? I 
went up to her. 

「It is I, Aunt Reed.」 

「Who—I?」 was her answer. 「Who are you?」 looking at me with 
surprise and a sort of 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 

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the Gibsons; and yet I know you—that face, and the eyes and 
forehead, are quiet 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 I was the person she supposed and desired 
me to be: and seeing that I was understood, and that her senses 
were quite collected, I explained how Bessie had sent her husband 
to fetch me from Thornfield. 

「I am very ill, I know,」 she said ere long. 「I was trying to turn 
myself a few minutes 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 sensation—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.」 

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I obeyed her directions. 「Read the letter,」 she said. 

It was short, and thus conceived:— 

「Madam, 

「Will you have the goodness to send me the address of my 
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., 

「John Eyre, Madeira.」 

It was dated three years back. 

「Why did I never hear of this?」 I asked. 

「Because I disliked you too fixedly and thoroughly ever to lend 
a hand in lifting you to prosperity. I could not forget your conduct 
to me, Jane—the fury with which you once turned on me; the tone 
in which you declared you abhorred me the worst of anybody in 
the world; the unchildlike look and voice with which you affirmed 
that the very thought of me made you sick, and asserted that I had 
treated you with miserable cruelty. I could not forget my own 
sensations when you thus started up and poured out the venom of 
your mind: I felt fear as if an animal that I had struck or pushed 
had looked up at me with human eyes and cursed me in a man』s 
voice.—Bring me some water! Oh, make haste!」 

「Dear Mrs. Reed,」 said 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; 

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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 forgiveness」 

「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 treatment, and in the 
tenth break out all fire and violence, I can never comprehend.」 

「My disposition is not so bad as you think: I am passionate, but 
not vindictive. Many a time, as a little child, I should have been 
glad to love you if you would have let me; and I long earnestly to 
be reconciled to you now: kiss me, aunt.」 

I approached my cheek to her lips: she would not touch it. She 
said I oppressed her by leaning over the 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. 

「Love me, then, or hate me, as you will,」 I said at last, 「you 

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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: living, 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 Reed』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 fearfulness of death 
in such a form. 

Eliza surveyed her parent calmly. After a silence of some 
minutes she observed— 

「With her constitution she should have lived to a good old age: 
her life was shortened by trouble.」 And then a spasm constricted 
her mouth for an instant: as it passed away she turned and left the 
room, and so did I. Neither of us had dropt a tear. 

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Chapter XXII 

Mr. Rochester had given me but one week』s leave of 
absence: yet a month elapsed before I quitted 
Gateshead. I wished to leave immediately after the 
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 qailings 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 

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bolted within, filling trunks, emptying drawers, burning papers, 
and holding no communication with any one. 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 an one as you 
and with Georgiana: you perform your own part in life and burden 
no one. To-morrow,」 she continued, 「I set out for the Continent. I 
shall take up my abode in a religious house near Lisle—a nunnery 
you would call it; there I shall be quiet and unmolested. I shall 
devote myself for a time to the examination of the Roman Catholic 
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.」 

「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 

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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 experienced 
the sensation. I had known what it was to come 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 plenteous meal and a good fire, and to be 
unable to get either. Neither of these returnings was 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; 

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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 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. 

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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. Rochester, 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 from him for ever!」 And then I strangled a new-born 
agony—a deformed thing which I could not persuade myself to 
own and rear—and ran on. 

They are making hay, too, in Thornfield meadows: or rather, 
the labourers are just quitting their work, and returning 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. Rochester 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 unstrung: for a 
moment I am beyond my own mastery. What does it mean? I did 
not think I should tremble in this way when I saw him, or lose my 
voice or the power of motion in his presence. I will go back as soon 

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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. 

「Hello!」 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 make shift yet to behave with decent composure. 

「And this is Jane Eyre? Are you coming from Millcote, and on 
foot? Yes—just one of your tricks: not to send for a carriage, and 
come clattering over street and road like a common mortal, but to 
steal into the vicinage of your home along with twilight, just as if 
you were a dream or a shade. What the deuce have you done with 
yourself this last month?」 

「I have been with my aunt, sir, who is dead.」 

「A true Janian reply! Good angels be my guard! She comes 
from the other world—from the abode of people who are dead; 
and tells me so when she meets me alone here in the gloaming! If I 
dared, I』d touch you, to see if you are substance or shadow, you 
elf!—but I』d as soon offer to take hold of a blue ignis fatuus light in 
a marsh. Truant! truant!」 he 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 

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there was ever in Mr. Rochester (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.」 

「And did she inform you what I went to do?」 

「Oh, yes, sir! Everybody knew your errand.」 

「You must see the carriage, Jane, and tell me if you don』t think 
it will suit Mrs. Rochester exactly; and whether she won』t look like 
Queen Boadicea, leaning back against those purple cushions. I 
wish, Jane, I were a trifle better adapted to match with her 
externally. Tell me now, fairy as you are—can』t you give me a 
charm, or a philter, or something of that sort, to make me a 
handsome man?」 

「It would be past the power of magic, sir;」 and, in thought, I 
added, 「A loving eye is all the charm needed: to such you are 
handsome enough; or rather your sternness has a power beyond 
beauty.」 

Mr. Rochester had sometimes read my unspoken thoughts with 
an acumen to me incomprehensible: in the present instance he 
took no notice of my abrupt vocal response; but he smiled at me 
with a certain smile he had of his own, and which he used but on 
rare occasions. He seemed to think it too good for common 

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purposes: it was the real sunshine of feeling—he shed it over me 
now. 

「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. Rochester, for your great kindness. I am 
strangely glad to get back again to you: and wherever you are is 
my home—my only home.」 

I walked on so fast that even he could hardly have overtaken 
me had he tried. Little Adele was half wild with delight when she 
saw me. Mrs. Fairfax received me with her usual plain 
friendliness. Leah 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 cars against the voice that kept warning 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. Rochester entered, 
unannounced, and looking at us, seemed to take pleasure in the 

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spectacle of a group so amicable—when he said he supposed the 
old lady was all right now that she had got her adopted daughter 
back again, and added that he saw Adele was 「prete 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 protection, 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 horseman 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 

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had I loved him so well. 

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Chapter XXIII 

Asplendid 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 or fine deep blue, and its own 
modest gem, a casino and solitary star: soon it would boast the 
moon; but she was yet beneath the horizon. 

I walked a while on the pavement; but a subtle, well-known 
scent—that of a cigar—stole from some window; I saw the library 
casement open a handbreadth; I knew I might be watched thence; 

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so I went apart into the orchard. No nook in the grounds more 
sheltered and more Eden-like; it was full of trees, it bloomed with 
flowers: a very high wall shut it out from the court, on one side; on 
the other, a beech avenue screened it from the lawn. At the bottom 
was a sunk fence; its sole separation from lonely fields: a winding 
walk, bordered with laurels and terminating in a giant 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 threading the flower and fruit parterres at 
the upper part of the enclosure, enticed there by the light the now 
rising moon cast on this more open quarter, my step is stayed— 
not by sound, not by sight, but once more by a warning fragrance. 

Sweet-briar and southern-wood, 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 

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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 trode on an edging of turf that the crackle of the pebbly gravel 
might not betray me: he was standing among the beds at a yard or 
two distant from where I had to pass; the moth apparently 
engaged him. 「I shall get by very well,」 I meditated. As I crossed 
his shadow, thrown long over the garden by the moon, not yet 
risen high, he said quietly, without turning— 

「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. 

「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. Rochester 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 sometimes 
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 

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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.」 

「You must have become in some degree attached to the 
house,—you, who have an eye for natural beauties, and a good 
deal of the organ of Adhesiveness?」 

「I am attached to it, indeed.」 

「And though I don』t comprehend how it is, I perceive you have 
acquired a degree of regard for that foolish little child Adele, too; 
and even for simple dame Fairfax?」 

「Yes, sir; in different ways, I have an affection for both.」 

「And would be sorry to part with them?」 

「Yes.」 

「Pity!」 he 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 Thornfield?」 

「I believe you must, Jane. I am sorry, Janet, but I believe 
indeed you must.」 

This was a blow: but I did not let it prostrate me. 

「Well, sir, I shall be ready when the order to march comes.」 

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Jane Eyre 355 

「It is come now—I must give it to-night.」 

「Then you are going to be married, sir?」 

「Ex-act-ly—pre-cise-ly: with your usual acuteness, you have hit 
the nail straight on the head.」 

「Soon, sir?」 

「Very soon, my—that is, Miss Eyre: and you』ll remember, Jane, 
the first time I, or Rumour, plainly intimated to you that it was my 
intention to put my old bachelor』s neck into the sacred noose, to 
enter into the holy estate of matrimony—to take Miss Ingram to 
my bosom, in short (she』s an extensive armful: but that』s not to the 
point—one can』t have too much of such a very excellent thing as 
my beautiful Blanche): well, as I was saying—listen to me, Jane! 
You』re not turning your head to look after more moths, are you? 
That was only a lady-clock, child, 『flying away home.』 I wish to 
remind you that it was you who first said to me, with that 
discretion I respect in you—with that foresight, prudence, and 
humility which befit your responsible and dependent position— 
that in case I married Miss Ingram, both you and little Adele had 
better trot forthwith. I pass over the sort of slur conveyed in this 
suggestion on the character of my beloved; indeed, when you are 
far away, Janet, I』ll try to forget it: I shall notice only its wisdom; 
which is such that I have made it my law of action. Adele must go 
to school; and you, Miss Eyre, must get a new situation.」 

「Yes, sir, I will advertise immediately: and meantime, 
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. 

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Jane Eyre 356 

Rochester; 「and in the interim, I shall myself look out for 

employment and an asylum for you.」 

「Thank you, sir; I am sorry to give—」 

「Oh, no need to apologise! I consider that when a dependent 
does her duty as well as you have done yours, she has a sort of 
claim upon her employer for any little assistance he can 
conveniently render her; indeed I have already, through my future 
mother-in-law, heard of a place that I think will suit: it is to 
undertake the education of the five daughters of Mrs. Dionysius 
O』Gall of Bitternutt Lodge, Connaught, Ireland. You』ll like Ireland, 
I think: they』re such warm-hearted people there, they say.」 

「It is a long way off, sir.」 

「No matter—a girl of your sense will not object to the voyage or 
the distance.」 

「Not the voyage, but the distance: and then the sea is a 
barrier—」 

「From what, Jane?」 

「From England and from Thornfield: and—」 

「Well?」 

「From you, sir.」 

I said this almost involuntarily, and, with as little sanction of 
free will, my tears gushed out. I did not cry so as to be heard, 
however; I avoided sobbing. The thought of Mrs. O』Gall and 
Bitternutt Lodge struck cold to my heart; and colder the thought 
of all the brine and 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. 

「It is a long way,」 I again said. 

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Jane Eyre 357 

「It is, to be sure; and when you get to Bitternutt Lodge, 
Connaught, Ireland, I shall never see you again, Jane: that』s 
morally certain. I never go over to Ireland, not having myself 
much of a fancy for the country. We have been good friends, Jane; 
have we not?」 

「Yes, sir.」 

「And when friends are on the eve of separation, they like to 
spend the little time that remains to them close to each other. 
Come! we』ll talk over the voyage and the parting quietly half-anhour or so, while the stars enter into their shining life up in 
heaven yonder: here is the chestnut tree: here is the bench at its 
old roots. Come, we will sit there in peace to-night, though we 
should never more be destined to sit there together.」 He seated 
me and himself. 

「It is a long way to Ireland, Janet, and I am sorry to send my 
little friend on such weary travels: but if I can』t do better, how is it 
to be helped? Are you anything akin to me, do you think, Jane?」 

I could risk no sort of answer by this time: my heart was still. 

「Because,」 he 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.」 

「That I never should, sir: you know—」 Impossible to proceed. 

「Jane, do you hear that nightingale singing in the wood? 

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Listen!」 

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. 

「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.」 

「In what shape?」 

「In the shape of Miss Ingram; a noble and beautiful woman,— 
your bride.」 

「My bride! What bride? I have no bride!」 

「But you will have.」 

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「Yes;—I will!—I will!」 He set his teeth. 

「Then I must go:—you have said it yourself.」 

「No: you must stay! I swear it—and the oath shall be kept.」 

「I tell you I must go!」 I 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! 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. Rochester—「so,」 he added, 
enclosing me in his arms. Gathering me to his breast, pressing his 
lips on my lips: 「so, Jane!」 

「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.」 

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「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.」 

「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. Rochester sat quiet, looking at me gently and seriously. Some 
time passed before he spoke; he at last said— 

「Come to my side, Jane, and let us explain and understand one 
another.」 

「I will never again come to your side: I am torn away now, and 
cannot return.」 

「But, Jane, I summon you as my wife: it is you only I intend to 
marry.」 

I was silent: I thought he mocked me. 

「Come, Jane—come hither.」 

「Your bride stands between us.」 

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Jane Eyre 361 

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?」 

「Not a whit.」 

「Am I a liar in your eyes?」 he asked passionately. 「Little 
sceptic, you shall be convinced. What love have I for Miss Ingram? 
None: and that you know. What love has she for me? None: as I 
have taken pains to prove: I caused a rumour to reach her that my 
fortune was not a third of what was 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: 「me who have 
not a friend in the world but you—if you are my friend: not a 
shilling but what you have given me?」 

「You, Jane, I must have you for my own—entirely my own. Will 
you be mine? Say yes, quickly.」 

「Mr. Rochester, let me look at your face: turn to the moonlight.」 

「Why?」 

「Because I want to read your countenance—turn!」 

「There! you will find it scarcely more legible than a crumpled, 

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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.」 

「Are you in earnest? Do you truly love me? Do you sincerely 
wish me to be your wife?」 

「I do; and if an oath is necessary to satisfy you, I swear it.」 

「Then, sir, I will marry you.」 

「Edward—my little wife!」 

「Dear Edward!」 

「Come to me—come to me entirely now,」 said he; and 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, 

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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.」 

「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 loosened hair, when Mrs. Fairfax 
emerged from her room. I did not observe her at first, nor did Mr. 
Rochester. The lamp was lit. The clock was on the stroke of 
twelve. 

「Hasten to take off your wet things,」 said he; 「and before you 
go, good-night—good-night, my darling!」 

He kissed me repeatedly. When I looked up, on leaving his 

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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 she should even temporarily misconstrue what she had 
seen. But joy soon effaced every other feeling; and loud as the 
wind blew, near and deep as the thunder crashed, fierce and 
frequent as the lightning gleamed, cataract-like as the rain fell 
during a storm of two hours』 duration, I experienced no fear and 
little awe. Mr. Rochester came thrice to my door in the course of it, 
to ask if I was safe and tranquil: and that was comfort, that was 
strength for anything. 

Before I left my bed in the morning, little Adele came running 
in to tell me that the great horse-chestnut at the bottom of the 
orchard had been struck by lightning in the night, and half of it 
split away. 

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Jane Eyre 365 

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 

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Jane Eyre 366 

to breakfast?」 During the meal she was quiet and cool: but I could 
not undeceive her then. I must wait for my master to give 
explanations; and so must she. I ate what I could, and then I 
hastened upstairs. I met Adele leaving the schoolroom. 

「Where are you going? It is time for lessons.」 

「Mr. Rochester has sent me away to the nursery.」 

「Where is he?」 

「In there,」 pointing to the apartment she had left; and I went 
in, and there he stood. 

「Come and bid me good-morning,」 said he. I gladly advanced; 
and it was not merely a cold word 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. 

「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—something 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.」 

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Jane Eyre 367 

「Yes, Mrs. Rochester,」 said he; 「young Mrs. Rochester—Fairfax 
Rochester』s girl-bride.」 

「It can never be, sir; it does not sound likely. Human beings 
never enjoy complete happiness in this world. I was not born for a 
different destiny to the rest of my species: to imagine such a lot 
befalling me is a fairy tale—a day-dream.」 

「Which I can and will realise. I shall begin to-day. This morning 
I wrote to my banker in London to send me certain jewels he has 
in his keeping,—heirlooms for the ladies of Thornfield. In a day or 
two I hope to pour them into your lap: for every privilege, every 
attention shall be yours that I would accord a peer』s daughter, if 
about to marry her.」 

「Oh, sir!—never rain jewels! I don』t like to hear them spoken of. 
Jewels for Jane Eyre sounds unnatural and strange: I would 
rather not have them.」 

「I will myself put the diamond chain round your neck, and the 
circlet on your forehead,—which it will become: for nature, at 
least, has stamped her patent of nobility on this brow, Jane; and I 
will clasp the bracelets on these fine wrists, and load these fairylike fingers with rings.」 

「No, no, sir! think of other subjects, and speak of other things, 
and in another strain. Don』t address me as if I were a beauty; I am 
your plain, Quakerish governess.」 

「You are a beauty in my eyes, and a beauty just after the desire 
of my heart,—delicate and aerial.」 

「Puny and insignificant, you mean. You are dreaming, sir,—or 
you are sneering. For God』s sake don』t be ironical!」 

「I will make the world acknowledge you a beauty, too,」 he went 
on, while I really became uneasy at the strain he had adopted, 

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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.」 

「And then you won』t know me, sir; and I shall not be your Jane 
Eyre any longer, but an ape in a harlequin』s jacket—a jay in 
borrowed plumes. I would as soon see you, Mr. Rochester, tricked 
out in stage-trappings, as myself clad in a court-lady』s robe; and I 
don』t call you handsome, sir, though I love you most dearly: far too 
dearly to flatter you. Don』t flatter me.」 

He pursued his 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, Rome, and Naples: at Florence, 
Venice, and Vienna: all the ground I have wandered over shall be 
re-trodden by you: wherever I stamped my hoof, your sylph』s foot 
shall step also. Ten years since, I flew through Europe half mad; 
with disgust, hate, and rage as my companions: now I shall revisit 
it healed and cleansed, with a very angel as my comforter.」 

I laughed at him as he said this. 「I am not an angel,」 I asserted; 
「and I will not be one till I die: I will be myself. Mr. Rochester, you 

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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 you again, 
and yet again: and I will make you confess I do not only like, but 
love you—with truth, fervour, constancy.」 

「Yet are you not capricious, sir?」 

「To women who please me only by their faces, I am the very 
devil when I find out they have neither souls nor hearts—when 
they open to me a perspective of flatness, triviality, and perhaps 
imbecility, coarseness, and ill-temper: but to the clear eye and 
eloquent tongue, to the soul made of fire, and the character that 
bends but does not break—at once supple and stable, tractable 
and consistent—I am ever tender and true.」 

「Had you ever experience of such a character, sir? Did you ever 
love such an one?」 

「I love it now.」 

「But before me: if I, indeed, in any respect come up to your 
difficult standard?」 

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Jane Eyre 370 

「I never met your likeness. Jane, you please me, and you 
master me—you seem to submit, and I like the sense of pliancy 
you impart; and while I am twining the soft, silken skein round my 
finger, it sends a thrill up my arm to my heart. I am influenced— 
conquered; and the influence is sweeter than I can express; and 
the conquest I undergo has a witchery beyond any triumph I can 
win. Why do you smile, Jane? What does that inexplicable, that 
uncanny turn of countenance mean?」 

「I was thinking, sir (you will excuse the idea; it was 
involuntary), I was thinking of Hercules and Samson with their 
charmers—」 

「You were, you little elfish—」 

「Hush, sir! You don』t talk very wisely just now; any more than 
those gentlemen acted very wisely. However, had they been 
married, they would no doubt by their severity as husbands have 
made up for their softness as suitors; and so will you, I fear. I 
wonder how you will answer me a year hence, should I ask a 
favour it does not suit your convenience or pleasure to grant.」 

「Ask me something now, Jane,—the least thing: I desire to be 
entreated—」 

「Indeed I will, sir; I have my petition all ready.」 

「Speak! But if you look up and smile with that countenance, I 
shall swear concession before I know to what, and that will make a 
fool of me.」 

「Not at all, sir; I ask only this: don』t send for the jewels, and 
don』t crown me with roses: you might as well put a border of gold 
lace round that plain pocket handkerchief you have there.」 

「I might as well 『gild refined gold.』 I know it: you request is 
granted then—for the time. I will remand the order I despatched 

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to my banker. But you have not yet asked for anything; you have 
prayed a gift to be withdrawn: try again.」 

「Well then, sir, have the goodness to gratify my curiosity, which 
is much piqued on one point.」 

He looked disturbed. 「What? what?」 he said hastily. 「Curiosity 
is a dangerous petition: it is well I have not taken a vow to accord 
every request—」 

「But there can be no danger in complying with this, sir.」 

「Utter it, Jane: but I wish that instead of a mere inquiry into, 
perhaps, a secret, it was a wish for half my estate.」 

「Now, King Ahasuerus! What do I want with half your estate? 
Do you think I am a Jew-usurer, seeking good investment in land? 
I would much rather have all your confidence. You will not 
exclude me from your confidence if you admit me to your heart?」 

「You are welcome to all my confidence that is worth having, 
Jane; but for God』s sake, don』t desire a useless burden! Don』t long 
for poison—don』t turn out a downright Eve on my hands!」 

「Why not, sir? You have just been telling me how much you 
liked to be conquered, and how pleasant over-persuasion is to you. 
Don』t you think I had better take advantage of the confession, and 
begin and coax and entreat—even cry and be sulky if necessary— 
for the sake of a mere essay of my power?」 

「I dare you to any such experiment. Encroach, presume, and 
the game is up.」 

「Is it, sir? You soon give in. How stern you look now! Your 
eyebrows have become as thick as my finger, and your forehead 
resembles what, in some very astonishing poetry, I once saw 
styled, 『a blue-piled thunderloft.』 That will be your married look, 
sir, I suppose?」 

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「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-bye, 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 

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will not suffer from your dishonest coquetry? Won』t she feel 
forsaken and deserted?」 

「Impossible!—when I told you how she, on the contrary, 
deserted me: the idea of my insolvency cooled, or rather 
extinguished, her flame in a moment.」 

「You have a curious, designing mind, Mr. Rochester. I am 
afraid your principles on some points are eccentric.」 

「My principles were never trained, Jane: they may have grown 
a little awry for want of attention.」 

「Once again, seriously; may I enjoy the great good that has 
been vouchsafed to me, without fearing that any one else is 
suffering the bitter pain I myself felt a while ago?」 

「That you may, my good little girl: there is not another being in 
the world has the same pure love for me as yourself—for I lay that 
pleasant unction to my soul, Jane, a belief in your affection.」 

I turned my lips to the hand that lay on my shoulder. I loved 
him very much—more than I could trust myself to say—more than 
words had power to express. 

「Ask something more,」 he said presently; 「it is my delight to be 
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?」 

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Jane Eyre 374 

「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 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.」 

「He has said the same thing to me,」 I replied. 

「He has! Do you believe him? Have you accepted him?」 

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Jane Eyre 375 

「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 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. Rochester 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. 
Rochester should have a sincere affection for me?」 

「No: you are very well; and much improved of late; and Mr. 
Rochester, I daresay, is fond of you. I have always noticed that you 

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Jane Eyre 376 

were a sort of pet of his. There are times when, for your sake, I 
have been a little uneasy at his marked preference, and have 
wished to put you on your guard: but I did not like to suggest even 
the possibility of wrong. I knew such an idea would shock, perhaps 
offend you; and you were so discreet, and so thoroughly modest 
and sensible, I hoped you might be trusted to protect yourself. 
Last night I cannot tell you what I suffered when I sought all over 
the house, and could find you nowhere, nor the master either; and 
then, at twelve o』clock, saw you come in with him.」 

「Well, never mind that now,」 I interrupted impatiently; 「it is 
enough that all was right.」 

「I hope all will be right in the end,」 she said: 「but believe me, 
you cannot be too careful. Try and keep Mr. Rochester at a 
distance: distrust yourself as well as him. Gentlemen in his station 
are not accustomed to marry their governesses.」 

I was growing truly irritated: happily, Adele ran in. 

「Let me go,—let me go to Millcote too!」 she cried. 「Mr. 
Rochester won』t: though there is so much room in the new 
carriage. Beg him to let me go mademoiselle.」 

「That I will, Adele;」 and I hastened away with her, glad to quit 
my gloomy monitress. The carriage was ready: they were bringing 
it round to the front, and my master was the pavement, Pilot 
following him backwards and forwards. 

「Adele may accompany us, may she not, sir?」 

「I told her no. I』ll have no brats!—I』ll have only you.」 

「Do let her go, Mr. Rochester, if you please: it would be better.」 

「Not it: she will be a restraint.」 

He was quite peremptory, both in look and voice. The chill of 
Mrs. Fairfax』s warnings, and the damp of her doubts were upon 

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Jane Eyre 377 

me: something of unsubstantiality and uncertainty had beset my 
hopes. I half lost the sense of power over him. I was about 
mechanically to obey him, without 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 lightning!」 
cried he to Adele. 

She obeyed him with what speed she might. 

「After all, a single morning』s interruption will not matter 
much,」 said he, 「when I mean shortly to claim you—your 
thoughts, conversation, and company—for life.」 

Adele, when lifted in, commenced kissing me, by way of 
expressing her gratitude for my intercession: she was instantly 
stowed away into a corner on the other side of him. She then 
peeped round to where I sat; so stern a neighbour was too 
restrictive to 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 lapdog. 「I』ll send her to 
school yet,」 he said, but now he was smiling. 

Adele heard him, and asked if she was to go to school 「sans 
mademoiselle?」 

「Yes,」 he 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 

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Jane Eyre 378 

mademoiselle shall live with me there, and only me.」 

「She will have nothing to eat: you will starve her,」 observed 
Adele. 

「I shall gather manna for her morning and night: the plains and 
hillsides in the moon are bleached with manna, Adele.」 

「She will want to warm herself: what will she do for a fire?」 

「Fire rises out of the lunar mountains: when she is cold, I』ll 
carry her up to a peak, and lay her down on the edge of a crater.」 

「Oh, qu』 elle y sera mal—peu comfortable! And her clothes, 
they will wear out: how can she get new ones?」 

Mr. Rochester professed to be puzzled. 「Hem!」 said he. 「What 
would you do, Adele? Cudgel your brains for an expedient. How 
would a white or a pink cloud answer 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.」 

「But you can』t get her there; there is no road to the moon: it is 
all air; and neither you nor she can fly.」 

「Adele, look at that field.」 We were now outside Thornfield 
gates, and bowling lightly along the smooth road to Millcote, 
where the dust was well laid by the thunderstorm, 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 

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Jane Eyre 379 

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 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 mysteriously. 
Whereupon I told her not to mind his badinage; and she, on her 
part, evinced a fund of genuine French scepticism: denominating 
Mr. Rochester 「un vrai menteur,」 and assuring him that she made 

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Jane Eyre 380 

no account whatever of his 「Contes de fee,」 and that 「du reste, il 
n』y avait pas de fees, et quand meme 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 somewhat harassing one to 
me. Mr. Rochester obliged me to go to a certain silk warehouse: 
there I was ordered to choose half-a-dozen dresses. I hated the 
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 jewellers shop: the more he bought me, the more my cheek 
burned with a sense of annoyance and degradation. As we reentered 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. 
Rochester, or sitting like a second Danae with the golden shower 

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Jane Eyre 381 

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. Rochester 
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 without delay, and lay out in 
extensive slave-purchases some of that spare cash you seem at a 
loss to spend satisfactorily here.」 

「And what will you do, Janet, while I am bargaining for so 
many tons of flesh and such an assortment of black eyes?」 

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Jane Eyre 382 

「I』ll be preparing myself to go out as a missionary to preach 
liberty to them that are enslaved—your harem inmates amongst 
the rest. I』ll get admitted there, and I』ll stir up mutiny; and you, 
three-tailed bashaw as you are, sir, shall in a trice find yourself 
fettered amongst our hands: nor will I, for one, consent to cut your 
bonds till you have signed a charter, the most liberal that despot 
ever yet conferred.」 

「I would consent to be at your mercy, Jane.」 

「I would have no mercy, Mr. Rochester, if you supplicated for it 
with an eye like that. While you looked so, I should be certain that 
whatever charter you might grant under coercion, your first act, 
when released, would be to violate its conditions.」 

「Why, Jane, what would you have? I fear you will compel me to 
go through a private marriage ceremony, besides that performed 
at the altar. You will stipulate, I see, for peculiar terms—what will 
they be?」 

「I only want an easy mind, sir; not crushed by crowded 
obligations. Do you remember what you said of Celine Varens?— 
of the diamonds, the cashmeres you gave her? I will not be your 
English Celine Varens. I shall continue to act as Adele』s governess; 
by that I shall earn my board and lodging, and thirty pounds a 
year besides. I』ll furnish my own wardrobe out of that money, and 
you shall give me nothing but—」 

「Well, but what?」 

「Your regard; and if I give you mine in return, that debt will be 
quit.」 

「Well, for cool native impudence and pure innate pride, you 
haven』t your equal,」 said he. We were now approaching 
Thornfield. 「Will it please you to dine with me to-day?」 he asked, 

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Jane Eyre 383 

as we re-entered the gates. 

「No, thank you, sir.」 

「And what for, 『no, thank you?』 if one may inquire.」 

「I never have dined with you, sir: and I see no reason why I 
should now: till—」 

「Till what? You delight in half-phrases.」 

「Till I can』t help it.」 

「Do you suppose I eat like an ogre or a ghoul, that you dread 
being the companion of my repast?」 

「I have formed no supposition on the subject, sir; but I want to 
go on as usual for another month.」 

「You will give up your governessing slavery at once.」 

「Indeed, begging your pardon, sir, I shall not. I shall just go on 
with it as usual. I shall keep out of your way all day, as I have been 
accustomed to do: you may send for me in the evening, when you 
feel disposed to see me, and I』ll come then; but at no other time.」 

「I want a smoke, Jane, or a pinch of snuff, to comfort me under 
all this, 『pour me donner une contenance,』 as Adele would say; and 
unfortunately I have neither my cigar-case, nor my snuff-box. But 
listen—whisper. It is your time now, little tyrant, but it will be 
mine presently; and when once I have fairly seized you, to have 
and to hold, I』ll just—figuratively speaking—attach you to a chain 
like this」 (touching his watch-guard). 「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 

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the whole time in a tete-a-tete 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 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 susceptible 
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 denominated 
「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.


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Her coming was my hope each day,
Her parting was my pain;
The chance that did her steps delay


Was ice in every vein. 

I dreamed it would be nameless bliss, 
As I loved, loved to be; 
And to this object did I press 
As blind as eagerly. 

But wide as pathless was the space 
That lay our lives between, 
And dangerous as the foamy race 
Of ocean-surges green. 

And haunted as a robber-path 
Through wilderness or wood; 
For Might and Right, and Woe and Wrath, 
Between our spirits stood. 

I dangers dared; I 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. 

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Still bright on clouds of suffering dim
Shines that soft, solemn joy;
Nor care I now, how dense and grim
Disasters gather nigh.


I care not in this moment sweet, 

Though all I have rushed o』er
Should come on pinion, strong and fleet,
Proclaiming vengeance sore:


Though haughty Hate should strike me down,
Right, bar approach to me,
And grinding Might, with furious frown,
Swear endless enmity.


My love has placed her little hand
With noble faith in mine,
And vowed that wedlock』s sacred band
Our nature shall entwine.


My love has sworn, with sealing kiss,
With me to live—to die;
I have at last my nameless bliss.
As I love—loved am I!」


He rose and came towards 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, 

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daring demonstration, I would not have; and I stood in peril of 
both: a weapon of defence must be prepared—I whetted my 
tongue: as he reached me, I asked with asperity, 「whom he was 
going to marry now?」 

「That was a strange question to be put by his darling Jane.」 

「Indeed! I considered it a very natural and necessary one: he 
had talked of his future wife dying with him. What did he mean by 
such a pagan idea? I had no intention of dying with him—he might 
depend on that.」 

「Oh, all he longed, all he prayed for, was that I might live with 
him! Death was not for such as I.」 

「Indeed it was: I had as good a right to die when my time came 
as he had: but I should bide that time, and not be hurried away in 
a suttee.」 

「Would I forgive him for the selfish idea, and prove my pardon 
by a reconciling kiss?」 

「No: I would rather be excused.」 Here I heard myself 
apostrophised as a 「hard little thing;」 and it was 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. 

「Would I be quiet and talk rationally?」 

「I would be quiet if he liked, and as to talking rationally, I 
flattered myself I was doing that now.」 

He fretted, pished, and pshawed. 「Very good,」 I thought; 「you 

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Jane Eyre 388 

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 gulf too; and, moreover, 
maintain by its pungent aid that distance between you and myself 
most conducive to our real mutual advantage.」 

From less to more, I worked him up to considerable irritation; 
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 「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. 

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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 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. 

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Chapter XXV 

The month of courtship had wasted: its very last hours were 
being numbered. There was no putting off the day that 
advanced—the bridal day; and all preparations for its 
arrival were complete. I, at 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, in 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 contained; 
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 feverish; 

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Jane Eyre 391 

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 influenced my mind more than they. 

I had at heart a strange and anxious thought. Something had 
happened which I could not comprehend; no one knew of or had 
seen the event but myself: it had taken place the preceding night. 
Mr. Rochester that night was absent from home; nor was he yet 
returned: business had called him to a small estate of two or three 
farms he possessed thirty miles off—business it was requisite he 
should settle in person, previous 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, without, 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, 

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Jane Eyre 392 

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 
destroyed—the sap could flow no more: their great boughs on 
each side were dead, and next winter』s tempests would be sure to 
fell one or both to earth: as 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 half 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. Rochester would like to see a cheerful hearth when he came 

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Jane Eyre 393 

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 time-piece in the room and the old clock in the hall 
simultaneously struck ten. 

「How late it grows!」 I said. 「I will run down to the gates: it is 
moonlight at intervals; I can see a good way on the road. He may 
be coming 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. 

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「Well, I cannot return to the house,」 I thought; 「I cannot 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 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? 「Nothing now; I am neither afraid nor 
unhappy.」 

「Then you have been both?」 

「Rather: but I』ll tell you all about it by-and-bye, sir; and I 
daresay you will only laugh at me for my pains.」 

「I』ll laugh at you heartily when to-morrow is past; till then I 

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Jane Eyre 395 

dare not: my prize is not certain. This is you, who have been as 
slippery as an eel this last month, and as thorny as a briar-rose? I 
could not lay a finger anywhere but I was pricked; and now I seem 
to have gathered up a stray lamb in my arms. You wandered out of 
the fold to seek your shepherd, did you, Jane?」 

「I wanted you: but don』t boast. Here we are at Thornfield: now 
let me get down.」 

He landed me on the pavement. As John took his 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, it is the 
last meal but one you will eat at Thornfield Hall for a long time.」 

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 cannot see my prospects clearly to-night, sir; and I hardly 
know what thoughts I have in my head. Everything in life seems 
unreal.」 

「Except me: I am substantial enough—touch me.」 

「You, sir, are the most phantom-like of all: you are a mere 
dream.」 

He held out his hand, laughing. 「Is that a dream?」 said he, 
placing it close to my eyes. He had a rounded, muscular, 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?」 

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「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. 

「Yes: but remember, Jane, you promised to wake with me the 
night before my wedding.」 

「I did; and I will keep my promise, for an hour or two at least: I 
have no wish to go to bed.」 

「Are all your arrangements complete?」 

「All, sir.」 

「And on my part likewise,」 he 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 of colour you have on each 
cheek! and how strangely your eyes glitter! Are you well?」 

「I believe I am.」 

「Believe! What is the matter? Tell me what you feel.」 

「I could not, sir: no words could tell you what I feel. I wish this 
present hour would never end: who knows with what fate the next 
may come charged?」 

「This is hypochondria, Jane. You have been over-excited, or 
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. 

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「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?」 

「It is the idea farthest from my thoughts.」 

「Are you apprehensive of the new sphere you are about to 
enter?—of the new life into which you are passing?」 

「No.」 

「You puzzle me, Jane: your look and tone of sorrowful audacity 
perplex and pain me. I want an explanation.」 

「Then, sir, listen. You were from home last night?」 

「I was: I know that; and you hinted a while ago at something 
which had happened in my absence:—nothing, probably, of 
consequence; but, in short, it has disturbed you. Let me hear it. 
Mrs. Fairfax has said something, perhaps? or you have overheard 
the servants talk?—your sensitive self-respect has been 
wounded?」 

「No, sir.」 It struck twelve—I waited till the time-piece had 
concluded its silver 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 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; 

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and I beheld you in imagination so near me, I scarcely missed your 
actual presence. I thought of the life that lay before me—your life, 
sir—an existence more expansive and stirring than my own: as 
much more so as the depths of the sea to which the brook runs are 
than the shallows of its own strait channel. I wondered why 
moralists call this world a dreary wilderness: for me it blossomed 
like a rose. Just at sunset, the air turned cold and the sky cloudy: I 
went in, Sophie called me upstairs to look at my wedding-dress, 
which they had just brought; and under it in the box I found your 
present—the veil which, in your princely extravagance, you sent 
for from London: resolved, I suppose, since I would not have 
jewels, to cheat me into accepting something as costly. I smiled as 
I unfolded it, and devised how I would tease you about your 
aristocratic tastes, and your efforts to masque your plebeian bride 
in the attributes of a peeress. I though how I would carry down to 
you the square of unembroidered blond I had myself prepared as a 
covering for my low-born head, and ask if that was not good 
enough for a woman who could bring her husband neither 
fortune, beauty, nor connections. I saw plainly how you would 
look; and heard your impetuous republican answers, and your 
haughty disavowal of any necessity on your part to augment your 
wealth, or elevate your standing, by marrying either a purse or a 
coronet.」 

「How well you read me, you witch!」 interposed Mr. Rochester: 
「but what did you find in the veil besides its embroidery? Did you 
find 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 Rochester』s pride; and that did not 
scare me, because I am used to the sight of the demon. But, sir, as 

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it grew dark, the wind rose: it blew yesterday evening, not as it 
blows now—wild and high—but 『with a sullen, moaning sound』 far 
more eerie. I wished you were at home. I came into this room, and 
the sight of the empty chair and fireless hearth chilled me. For 
some time after I went to bed, I could not sleep—a sense of 
anxious excitement distressed me. The gale still rising, seemed to 
my ear to muffle a mournful under-sound; whether in the house or 
abroad I could not at first tell, but it recurred, doubtful yet doleful 
at every lull; at last I made out it must be some dog howling at a 
distance. I was glad when it ceased. On sleeping, I continued in 
dreams the idea of a dark and gusty night. I continued also the 
wish to be with you, and experienced a strange, regretful 
consciousness of some barrier dividing us. During all my first 
sleep, I was following the windings of an unknown road; total 
obscurity environed me; rain pelted me; I was burdened with the 
charge of a little child: a very small creature, too young and feeble 
to walk, and which shivered in my cold arms, and wailed piteously 
in my ear. I thought, sir, that you were on the road a long way 
before me; and I strained every nerve to overtake you, and made 
effort on effort to utter your name and entreat you to stop—but my 
movements were fettered, and my voice still died away 
inarticulate; while you, I felt, withdrew farther and farther every 
moment.」 

「And these dreams weigh on your spirits now, Jane, when I am 
close to you? Little nervous subject! Forget visionary woe, and 
think only of real happiness! You say you love me, Janet: yes—I 
will not forget that; and you cannot deny it. Those words did not 
die inarticulate on your lips. I heard them clear and soft: a thought 
too solemn perhaps, but sweet as music—『I think it is a glorious 

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thing to have the hope of living with you, Edward, because I love 

you.』 Do you love me, Jane?—repeat it.」 

「I do, sir—I do, with my whole heart.」 

「Well,」 he said, after some minutes』 silence, 「it is strange; but 
that sentence has penetrated by breast painfully. Why? I think 
because you said it with such an earnest, religious energy, and 
because your upward gaze at me now is the very sublime of faith, 
truth, and devotion: it is too much as if some spirit were near me. 
Look wicked, Jane: as you know well how to look: coin one of your 
wild, shy, provoking smiles; tell me you hate me—tease me, vex 
me; do anything but move me: I would rather be incensed than 
saddened.」 

「I will tease you and vex you to your heart』s content, when I 
have finished my tale: but hear me to the end.」 

「I thought, Jane, you had told me all. I thought I had found the 
source of your melancholy in a dream.」 

I shook my head. 「What! is there more? But I will not believe it 
to be anything important. I warn you of incredulity beforehand. 
Go on.」 

The disquietude of his 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 

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weight impeded my progress, I must retain it. I heard the gallop of 
a horse at a distance on the road; I was sure it was you; and you 
were departing for many years and for a distant country. I climbed 
the thin wall with frantic perilous haste, eager to catch one 
glimpse of you from the top: the stones rolled from under my feet, 
the ivy branches I grasped gave way, the child clung round my 
neck in terror, and almost strangled me; at last I gained the 
summit. I saw you like a speck on a white track, lessening every 
moment. The blast blew so strong I could not stand. I sat down on 
the narrow ledge; I hushed the scared infant in my lap: you turned 
an angle of the road: I bent forward to take a last look; the wall 
crumbled; I was shaken; the child rolled from my knee, I lost my 
balance, fell, and woke.」 

「Now, Jane, that is all.」 

「All the preface, sir; the tale is yet to come. On waking, a gleam 
dazzled my eyes; I thought—Oh, it is daylight! But I was mistaken; 
it was only candlelight. Sophie, I supposed, had come in. There 
was a light in the dressing-table, and the door of the closet, where, 
before going to bed, I had hung my wedding-dress and veil, stood 
open; I heard a rustling there. I asked, 『Sophie, what are you 
doing?』 No one answered; but a form emerged from the closet; it 
took the light, held it aloft, and surveyed the garments pendent 
from the portmanteau. 『Sophie! Sophie!』 I again cried: and still it 
was silent. I had risen up in bed, I bent forward: first surprise, 
then bewilderment, came over me; and then my blood crept cold 
through my veins. Mr. Rochester, this was not Sophie, it was not 
Leah, it was not Mrs. Fairfax: it was not—no, I was sure of it, and 
am still—it was not even that strange woman, Grace Poole.」 

「It must have been one of them,」 interrupted my master. 

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「No, sir, I solemnly assure you to the contrary. The shape 
standing before me had never crossed my eyes within the 
precincts of Thornfield Hall before; the height, the contour were 
new to me.」 

「Describe it, Jane.」 

「It seemed, sir, a woman, tall and large, with thick and dark 
hair hanging long down her back. I know not what dress she had 
on: it was white and straight; but whether gown, sheet, or shroud, 
I cannot tell.」 

「Did you see her face?」 

「Not at first. But presently she took my veil from its place; she 
held it up, gazed at it long, and then she threw it over her own 
head, and turned to the mirror. At that moment I saw the 
reflection of the visage and features quite distinctly in the dark 
oblong glass.」 

「And how were they?」 

「Fearful and ghastly to me—oh, sir, I never saw a face like it! It 
was a discoloured face—it was a savage face. I wish I could forget 
the roll of the red eyes and the fearful blackened inflation of the 
lineaments!」 

「Ghosts are usually pale, Jane.」 

「This, sir, was purple: the lips were swelled and dark; the brow 
furrowed: the black eyebrows widely raised over the bloodshot 
eyes. Shall I tell you of what it reminded me?」 

「You may.」 

「Of the foul German spectre—the Vampyre.」 

「Ah!—what did it do?」 

「Sir, it removed my veil from its gaunt head, rent it in two 
parts, and flinging both on the floor, trampled on them.」 

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「Afterwards?」 

「It drew aside the window-curtain and looked out; perhaps it 
saw dawn approaching, for, taking the candle, it retreated to the 
door. Just at my bedside, the figure stopped: the fiery eyes glared 
upon me—she thrust up her candle close to my face, and 
extinguished it under my eyes. I was aware her lurid visage flamed 
over mine, and I lost consciousness: for the second time in my 
life—only the second time—I became insensible from terror.」 

「Who was with you when you revived?」 

「No one, sir, but the broad day. I rose, bathed my head and face 
in water, drank a long draught; felt that though enfeebled I was 
not ill, and determined that to none but you would I impart this 
vision. Now, sir, tell me who and what that woman was?」 

「The creature of an over-stimulated brain; that is certain. I 
must be careful of you, my treasure: nerves like yours were not 
made for rough handling.」 

「Sir, depend on it, my nerves were not in fault; the thing was 
real: the transaction actually took place.」 

「And your previous dreams, were they real too? Is Thornfield 
Hall a ruin? Am I severed from you by insuperable obstacles? Am 
I leaving you without a tear—without a kiss—without a word?」 

「Not yet.」 

「Am I about to do it? Why, the day is already commenced 
which is to bind us indissolubly; and when we are once united, 
there shall be no recurrence of these mental terrors: I guarantee 
that.」 

「Mental terrors, sir! I wish I could believe them to be only such: 
I wish it more now than ever; since even you cannot explain to me 
the mystery of that awful visitant.」 

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「And since I cannot do it, Jane, it must have been unreal.」 

「But, sir, when I said so to myself on rising this morning, and 
when I looked round the room to gather courage and comfort from 
the cheerful aspect of each familiar object in full daylight, there— 
on the carpet—I saw what gave the distinct lie to my hypothesis,— 
the veil, torn from top to bottom in two halves!」 

I felt Mr. Rochester start and shudder; he hastily flung his arms 
round me. 「Thank God!」 he 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 exaggerated stature, 
were figments of imagination; results of nightmare: the spiteful 
tearing of the veil was real: and it is like her. I see you would ask 
why I keep such a woman in my house: when we have been 
married a year and a day, I will tell you; but not now. Are you 
satisfied, Jane? Do you accept my solution of the mystery?」 

I 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— 

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Jane Eyre 405 

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. Rochester, 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 

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Jane Eyre 406 

little Adele in my arms, I watched 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, but adored, type of my unknown future 
day. 

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Chapter XXVI 

S ophie came at seven to dress me: she was very long indeed 
in accomplishing her task; so long that Mr. Rochester, 
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. Rochester. 

「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 footman, answered it. 

「Is John getting the carriage ready?」 

「Yes, sir.」 

「Is the luggage brought down?」 

「They are bringing it down, sir.」 

「Go you to the church: see if Mr. Wood (the clergyman) and the 
clerk are there: return and tell me.」 

The church, as the reader knows, was but just beyond the gates; 

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Jane Eyre 408 

the footman soon returned. 

「Mr. Wood is in the vestry, sir, putting on his surplice.」 

「And the carriage?」 

「The horses are harnessing.」 

「We shall not want it to go to church; but it must be ready the 
moment we return: all the boxes and luggage arranged and 
strapped on, and the coachman in his seat.」 

「Yes, sir.」 

「Jane, are you ready?」 

I rose. There were no 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 flashing eyes. 

I know not whether the day was fair or foul; in descending 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. 「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 

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Jane Eyre 409 

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 doubted not they were going to enter by the side-
aisle door and witness the ceremony. By Mr. Rochester they were 
not observed; he was earnestly looking at my face from which the 
blood 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 Rochesters, their backs towards us, 
viewing through the rails the old time-stained marble tomb, where 
a kneeling angel guarded the remains of Damer de Rochester, 
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. Rochester, 
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 

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Jane Eyre 410 

disclosed), that if either of you know any impediment why ye may 
not lawfully be joined together in matrimony, ye do now confess it; 
for be ye well assured that so many as are coupled together 
otherwise than God』s Word doth allow, are not joined together by 
God, neither is their matrimony lawful.」 

He 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 towards Mr. Rochester, as his lips 
unclosed to ask, 「Wilt thou have this woman for thy wedded 
wife?」—when a distinct and near voice said— 

「The marriage cannot go on: I declare the existence of an 
impediment.」 

The clergyman looked up at the speaker and stood mute; the 
clerk did the same; Mr. Rochester moved 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. Rochester 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 

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Jane Eyre 411 

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 forward 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. 
Rochester has a wife now living.」 

My nerves vibrated to those low-spoken words as they had 
never vibrated to thunder—my blood felt their subtle violence as it 
had never felt frost or fire; but I was collected, and in no danger of 
swooning. I looked at Mr. Rochester: I made him look at me. His 
whole face was colourless rock: his eye was both spark and flint. 
He disavowed nothing: he seemed as if he would defy all things. 
Without speaking, without smiling, without seeming to recognise 
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:— 

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Jane Eyre 412 

「『I affirm and can prove that on the 20th of October A.D.—, (a 
date of fifteen years back), Edward Fairfax Rochester, of 
Thornfield Hall, in the county of —, and of Ferndean Manor, in — 
shire, England, was married to my sister, Bertha Antoinetta 
Mason, daughter of Jonas Mason, merchant, and of Antoinetta his 
wife, a Creole, at —church, Spanish Town, Jamaica. The record of 
the marriage will be found in the register of that church—a copy of 
it is now in my possession. Signed, Richard Mason.』」 

「That—if a genuine document—may prove I have been 
married, but it does not prove that the woman mentioned therein 
as my wife is still living.」 

「She was living three months ago,」 returned the lawyer. 

「How do you know?」 

「I have a witness to the fact, whose testimony even you, sir, will 
scarcely controvert.」 

「Produce him—or go to hell.」 

「I will produce him first—he is on the spot. Mr. Mason, have the 
goodness to step forward.」 

Mr. 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 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 

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Jane Eyre 413 

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. 「Impossible! 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 lips, 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 the bullet from the 
barrel. Wood, close your book and take off your surplice; John 
Green (to the clerk), leave the church: there will be no wedding today.」 The man obeyed. 

Mr. Rochester continued, hardily and recklessly: 「Bigamy is an 
ugly word!—I meant, however, to be a bigamist; but fate has out-
manoeuvred me, or Providence has checked me,—perhaps the 

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Jane Eyre 414 

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. 
Rochester at the house up yonder, Wood; but I daresay you have 
many a time inclined your ear to gossip about the mysterious 
lunatic kept there under watch and ward. Some have whispered to 
you that she is my bastard half-sister: 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? Her mother, the Creole, was both a madwoman 
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! 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 

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Jane Eyre 415 

and legal and never dreamt she was going to be entrapped into a 
feigned union with a defrauded wretch, already bound to 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. 

「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 farther 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 

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Jane Eyre 416 

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 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 recognised well that 
purple face,—those bloated features. Mrs. Poole advanced. 

「Keep out of the way,」 said Mr. Rochester, 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.」 

「We had better leave her,」 whispered Mason. 

「Go to the devil!」 was his brother-in-law』s recommendation. 

「』Ware!」 cried Grace. The three gentlemen retreated 
simultaneously. Mr. Rochester flung me behind him: the lunatic 
sprang and grappled his throat viciously, and laid her teeth to his 
cheek: they struggled. She was a big woman, in stature almost 
equalling her husband, and corpulent besides: she showed virile 
force in the contest—more than once she almost throttled him, 

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Jane Eyre 417 

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 
mastered 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 performed amidst the fiercest 
yells and the most convulsive plunges. Mr. Rochester then turned 
to the spectators: he looked at them with a smile both acrid and 
desolate. 

「That is my wife,」 said he. 「Such is the sole conjugal embrace I 
am ever to know—such are the endearments which are to solace 
my leisure hours! And this is what I wished to have」 (laying his 
hand on my shoulder): 「this young 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 
correspondent of his house for some years. When your uncle 
received your letter intimating the contemplated union between 

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Jane Eyre 418 

yourself and Mr. Rochester, Mr. Mason, who was staying at 
Madeira to recruit his health, on his way back to Jamaica, 
happened to be with him. Mr. Eyre mentioned the intelligence; for 
he knew that my client here was acquainted with a gentleman of 
the name of Rochester. Mr. Mason, astonished and distressed as 
you may suppose, revealed the real state of matters. Your uncle, I 
am sorry to say, is now on a sick bed; from which, considering the 
nature of his disease—decline—and the stage it has reached, it is 
unlikely he will ever rise. He could not then hasten to England 
himself, to extricate you from the snare into which you had fallen, 
but he implored Mr. Mason to lose no time in taking steps to 
prevent the false marriage. He referred him to me for assistance. I 
used all despatch, and am thankful I was not too late: as you, 
doubtless, must be also. Were I not morally certain that your uncle 
will be dead ere you reach Madeira, I would advise you to 
accompany Mr. Mason back; but as it is, I think you had better 
remain in England till you can hear further, either from or of Mr. 
Eyre. Have we anything else to stay for?」 he inquired of Mr. 
Mason. 

「No, no—let us be gone,」 was the anxious reply; and without 
waiting to take leave of Mr. Rochester, they made their exit at the 
hall door. The clergyman stayed to exchange 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 

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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, I 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. Rochester; 
answers, explanations 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 maimed me. 
And yet where was the Jane Eyre of yesterday?—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 
hayfield and cornfield 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 flagrant 
as groves between the tropics, now spread, waste, wild, and white 

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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 
suffering child in a cold cradle; sickness and anguish had seized it; 
it could not seek Mr. Rochester』s arms—it could not derive 
warmth from his breast. Oh, never more could it turn to him; for 
faith was blighted—confidence destroyed! Mr. Rochester was not 
to me what he had been; for he was not what I had thought him. I 
would not ascribe vice to him; I would not say he had betrayed me; 
but the attribute of stainless truth was gone from his 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 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 

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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: I felt no standing; I came into deep waters; the floods 
overflowed me.」 

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Chapter XXVII 

S ome 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 meat nor drink 
had passed my lips that day, for I had taken no breakfast. And, 

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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 outstretched 
arm caught me. I looked up—I was supported by Mr. Rochester, 
who sat in a chair across my chamber threshold. 

「You come out at last,」 he said. 「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 

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rued his bloody blunder more than I now rue mine. Will you ever 
forgive me?」 

Reader, I forgave him at the moment and on the spot. 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. 

「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.」 

「Taste the wine again, Jane.」 

I obeyed him; then he put the glass on the table, stood before 

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me, and looked at me attentively. Suddenly he turned away, with 
an inarticulate exclamation, full of passionate emotion of some 
kind; he walked fast through the room and came back; he stooped 
towards me as if to kiss me; but I remembered caresses were now 
forbidden. 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?」 

「At any rate, there is neither room nor claim for me, sir.」 

「Why, Jane? I will spare you the trouble of much talking; I will 
answer for you—Because I have a wife already, you would reply.— 
I guess rightly?」 

「Yes.」 

「If you think so, you must have a strange opinion of me; you 
must regard me as a plotting profligate—a base and low rake who 
has been simulating disinterested love in order to draw you into a 
snare deliberately laid, and strip you of honour and rob you of 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 consider is of no use. I know 
you—I am on my guard.」 

「Sir, I do not wish to act against you,」 I said; and my unsteady 
voice warned me to curtail my sentence. 

「Not in your sense of the word, but in mine you are scheming to 
destroy me. You have as good as said that I am a married man—as 

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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 and 
recollections of Thornfield Hall—this accursed place—this tent of 
Achan—this insolent vault, offering the ghastliness of living death 
to the light of the open sky—this narrow stone hell, with its one 
real fiend, worse than a legion of such as we imagine. Jane, you 
shall not stay here, nor will I. I was wrong ever to bring you to 
Thornfield Hall, knowing as I did how it was haunted. I charged 
them to conceal from you, before I ever saw you, all knowledge of 
the curse of the place; merely because I feared Adele never would 
have a governess to stay if she knew with what inmate she was 
housed, and my plans would not permit me to remove the maniac 
elsewhere—though I possess an old house, Ferndean Manor, even 
more retired and hidden than this, where I could have lodged her 
safely enough, had not a scruple about the unhealthiness of the 
situation, in the heart of a wood, made my conscience recoil from 
the arrangement. Probably those damp walls would soon have 

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Jane Eyre 427 

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 Retreat, 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—」 

「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 are), you 
don』t know what you are talking about; you misjudge me again: it 
is not because she is mad I hate her. If you were mad, do you think 
I should hate you?」 

「I do indeed, sir.」 

「Then you are mistaken, and you know nothing about me, and 
nothing about the sort of love of which I am capable. Every atom 
of your flesh is as dear to me as my own: in pain and sickness it 
would still be dear. Your mind is my treasure, and if it were 
broken, it would be my treasure still: if you raved, my arms should 
confine you, and not a strait waistcoat—your grasp, even in fury, 
would have a charm for me: if you flew at me as wildly as that 

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woman did this morning, I should receive you in an embrace, at 
least as fond as it would be restrictive. I should not shrink from 
you with disgust as I did from her: in your quiet moments you 
should have no watcher and no nurse but me; and I could hang 
over you with untiring tenderness, though you gave me no smile in 
return; and never weary of gazing into your eyes, though they had 
no longer a ray of recognition for me.—But why do I follow that 
train of ideas? I was talking of removing you from Thornfield. All, 
you know, is prepared for prompt departure: to-morrow you shall 
go. I only ask you to endure one more night under this roof, Jane; 
and then, farewell to its miseries and terrors for ever! I have a 
place to repair to, which will be a secure sanctuary from hateful 
reminiscences, from unwelcome intrusion—even from falsehood 
and slander.」 

「And take Adele with you, sir,」 I interrupted; 「she will be a 
companion for you.」 

「What do you mean, Jane? I told you I would send Adele to 
school; and what do I want with a child for a companion, and not 
my own child,—a French dancer』s bastard? Why do you 
importune me about her! I say, why do you assign Adele to me for 
a companion?」 

「You spoke of a retirement, sir; and retirement and solitude are 
dull: too dull for you.」 

「Solitude! solitude!」 he reiterated with irritation. 「I see I must 
come to an explanation. I don』t know what sphynx-like expression 
is forming in your countenance. You are to share my solitude. Do 
you understand?」 

I shook my head: it required a degree of courage, excited as he 
was becoming, even to risk that mute sign of dissent. He had been 

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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, collected 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!」 

He recommenced his walk, but soon again stopped, and this 
time just before me. 

「Jane! will you hear reason?」 (he stooped and approached 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 supported 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.」 

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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 composed. I 
said I could not while he was in such a passion. 

「But I am not angry, Jane: I only love you too well; and you had 
steeled your little pale face with such a resolute, frozen look, I 
could not endure it. Hush, now, and wipe your eyes.」 

His softened voice announced that he was subdued; so 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 sadness 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 I say? I ought 
probably to have done or said nothing; but I was so tortured by a 
sense of remorse at thus hurting his 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?」 

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「No, sir; that I am certain I could not; and therefore I see there 
is but one way: but you will be furious if I mention it.」 

「Oh, mention it! If I storm, you have the art of weeping.」 

「Mr. Rochester, I must leave you.」 

「For how long, Jane? For a few minutes, while you smooth your 
hair—which is somewhat dishevelled; and bathe your face—which 
looks feverish?」 

「I must leave Adele and Thornfield. I must part with you for my 
whole life: I must begin a new existence among strange faces and 
strange scenes.」 

「Of course: I told you you should. I pass over the madness 
about parting from me. You mean you must become a part of me. 
As to the new existence, it is all right: you shall yet be my wife: I 
am not married. You shall be Mrs. Rochester—both virtually and 
nominally. I shall keep only to you so long as you and I live. You 
shall go to a place I have in the south of France: a whitewashed 
villa on the shores of the Mediterranean. There you shall live a 
happy, and guarded, and most innocent life. Never fear that I wish 
to lure you into error—to make you my mistress. Why did you 
shake your head? Jane, you must be reasonable, or in truth I shall 
again become frantic.」 

His voice and hand quivered: his large nostrils dilated; his eye 
blazed: still I dared to speak. 

「Sir, your wife is living: that is a fact acknowledged this 
morning by yourself. If I lived with you as you desire, I should 
then be your mistress: to say otherwise is sophistical—is false.」 

「Jane, I am not a gentle-tempered man—you forget that: I am 
not long-enduring; I am not cool and dispassionate. Out of pity to 
me and yourself, put your finger on my pulse, feel how it throbs, 

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Jane Eyre 432 

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. 

「I am a fool!」 cried Mr. Rochester suddenly. 「I keep telling her 
I am not married, and do not explain to her why. I 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 at I was 
not the eldest son of my house: that I had once a brother older 
than I?」 

「I remember Mrs. Fairfax told me so once.」 

「And did you ever hear that my father was an avaricious, 
grasping man?」 

「I have understood something to that effect.」 

「Well, Jane, being so, it was his resolution to keep the property 
together; he could not bear the idea of dividing his estate and 
leaving me a fair portion: all, he resolved, should go to my brother, 
Rowland. Yet as little could he endure that a son of his should be a 

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poor man. I must be provided for by a wealthy marriage. He 
sought me a partner betimes. Mr. Mason, a West India planter and 
merchant, was his old acquaintance. He was certain his 
possessions were real and vast: he made inquiries. Mr. Mason, he 
found, had a son and daughter; and he learned from him that he 
could and would give the latter a fortune of thirty thousand 
pounds: that sufficed. When I left college, I was sent out to 
Jamaica, to espouse a bride already courted for me. My father said 
nothing about her money; but he told me Miss Mason was the 
boast of Spanish Town for her beauty: and this was no lie. I found 
her a fine woman, in the style of Blanche Ingram: tall, dark, and 
majestic. Her family wished to secure me because I was of a good 
race; and so did she. They showed her to me in parties, splendidly 
dressed. I seldom saw her alone, and had very little private 
conversation with her. She flattered me, and lavishly displayed for 
my pleasure her charms and accomplishments. All the men in her 
circle seemed to admire her and envy me. I was dazzled, 
stimulated: my senses were excited; and being ignorant, raw, and 
inexperienced, I thought I loved her. There is no folly so besotted 
that the idiotic rivalries of society, the prurience, the rashness, the 
blindness of youth, will not hurry a man to its commission. Her 
relatives encouraged me; competitors piqued me; she allured me: 
a marriage was achieved almost before I knew where I was. Oh, I 
have no respect for myself when I think of that act!—an agony of 
inward contempt masters me. I never loved, I never esteemed, I 
did not even know her. I was not sure of the existence of one 
virtue in her nature: I had marked neither modesty, nor 
benevolence, nor candour, nor refinement in her mind or 
manners—and, I married her:—gross, grovelling, mole-eyed 

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blockhead that I was! With less sin I might have—But let me 
remember to whom I am speaking.」 

「My bride』s mother I had never seen: I understood she was 
dead. The honeymoon over, I learned my mistake; she was only 
mad, and shut up in a lunatic asylum. There was a younger 
brother, too—a complete dumb idiot. The elder one, whom you 
have seen (and whom I cannot hate, whilst I abhor all his kindred, 
because he has some grains of affection in his feeble mind, shown 
in the continued interest he takes in his wretched sister, and also 
in a dog-like attachment he once bore me), will probably be in the 
same state one day. My father and my brother Rowland knew all 
this; but they thought only of the thirty thousand pounds, and 
joined in the plot against me.」 

「These were vile discoveries; but except for the treachery of 
concealment, I should have made them no subject of reproach to 
my wife, even when I found her nature wholly alien to mine, her 
tastes obnoxious to me, her cast of mind common, low, narrow, 
and singularly incapable of being led to anything higher, 
expanded to anything larger—when I found that I could not pass a 
single evening, nor even a single hour of the day with her in 
comfort; that kindly conversation could not be sustained between 
us, because whatever topic I started, immediately received from 
her a turn at once coarse and trite, perverse and imbecile—when I 
perceived that I should never have a quiet or settled household, 
because no servant would bear the continued outbreaks of her 
violent and unreasonable temper, or the vexations of her absurd, 
contradictory, exacting orders—even then I restrained myself: I 
eschewed upbraiding, I curtailed remonstrance; I tried to devour 
my repentance and disgust in secret; I repressed the deep 

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antipathy I felt. 

「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 prematurely developed the germs of 
insanity. Jane, you don』t like my narrative; you look almost sick— 
shall I defer the rest to another day?」 

「No, sir, finish it now; I pity you—I do earnestly pity you.」 

「Pity, Jane, from some people is a noxious and insulting sort of 
tribute, which one is justified in hurling back in the teeth of those 
who offer it; but that is the sort of pity native to callous, selfish 
hearts; it is a hybrid, egotistical pain at hearing of woes, crossed 
with ignorant contempt for those who have endured them. But 
that is not your pity, Jane; it is not the feeling of which your whole 
face is full at this moment—with which your eyes are now almost 

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overflowing—with which your heart is heaving—with which your 
hand is trembling in mine. Your pity, my darling, is the suffering 
mother of love: its anguish is the very natal pang of the divine 
passion. I accept it, Jane; let the daughter have free advent—my 
arms wait to receive her.」 

「Now, sir, proceed; what did you do when you found she was 
mad?」 

「Jane, I approached the verge of despair; a remnant of self-
respect was all that intervened between me and the gulf. In the 
eyes of the world, I was doubtless covered with grimy dishonour; 
but I resolved to be clean in my own sight—and to the last I 
repudiated the contamination of her crimes, and wrenched myself 
from connection with her mental defects. Still, society associated 
my name and person with hers; I yet saw her and heard her daily: 
something of her breath (faugh!) mixed with the air I breathed; 
and besides, I remembered I had once been her husband—that 
recollection was then, and is now, inexpressibly odious to me; 
moreover, I knew that while she lived I could never be the 
husband of another and better wife; and, though five years my 
senior (her family and her father had lied to me even in the 
particular of her age), she was likely to live as long as I, being as 
robust in frame as she was infirm in mind. Thus, at the age of 
twenty-six, I was hopeless. 

「One night I had been awakened by her yells—(since the 
medical men had pronounced her 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 no refreshment anywhere. 

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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 partitions of the West India 
house opposing but slight obstruction to her wolfish cries. 

「『This life,』 said I at last, 『is hell: this is the air—those are the 
sounds of the bottomless pit! I have a right to deliver myself from 
it if I can. The sufferings of this mortal state will leave me with the 
heavy flesh that now cumbers my soul. Of the fanatic』s burning 
eternity I have no fear: there is not a future state worse than this 
present one—let me break away, and go home to God!』 

「I said this whilst I knelt down at, and unlocked a trunk which 
contained a brace of loaded pistols: I mean 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 pineapples, and while the refulgent dawn of the tropics kindled round 

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me—I reasoned thus, Jane—and now listen; for it was true 
Wisdom that consoled me in that hour, and showed me the right 
path to follow. 

「The sweet wind from Europe was still whispering in the 
refreshed 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 precautions at Thornfield: 
then travel yourself to what clime you will, and form what new tie 
you like. That woman, who has so abused your long-suffering, so 
sullied your name, so outraged your honour, so blighted your 
youth, is not your wife, nor are you her husband. See that she is 
cared for as her condition demands, and you have done all that 
God and humanity require of you. Let her identity, her connection 
with yourself, be buried in oblivion: you are bound to impart them 
to no living being. Place her in safety and comfort: shelter her 
degradation with secrecy, and leave her.』 

「I acted precisely on this suggestion. My father and brother had 
not made my marriage known to their acquaintance; 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 

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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 third-storey room, of 
whose secret inner cabinet she has now for ten years made a wild 
beast』s den—a goblin』s cell. I had some trouble in finding an 
attendant for her, as it was necessary to select one on whose 
fidelity dependence could be placed; for her ravings would 
inevitably betray my secret: besides, she had lucid intervals of 
days—sometimes weeks—which she filled up with abuse of me. At 
last I hired Grace Poole from the Grimbsy Retreat. She and the 
surgeon, Carter (who dressed Mason』s wounds that night he was 
stabbed and worried), are the only two I have ever admitted to my 
confidence. Mrs. Fairfax may indeed have suspected something, 
but she could have gained no precise knowledge as to facts. Grace 
has, on the whole, proved a good keeper; though, owing partly to a 
fault of her own, of which it appears nothing can cure her, and 
which is incident to her harassing profession, her vigilance has 
been more than once lulled and baffled. The lunatic is both 
cunning and malignant; she has never failed to take advantage of 
her guardian』s temporary lapses; once to secrete the knife with 
which she stabbed her brother, and twice to possess herself of the 
key of her cell, and issue therefrom in the night-time. On the first 
of these occasions, she perpetrated the attempt to burn me in my 
bed; on the second, she paid that ghastly visit to you. I thank 

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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』-thewisp. 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 to seek and find a good and 
intelligent woman, whom I could love: a contrast to the fury I left 
at Thornfield—」 

「But you could not marry, sir.」 

「I had determined and was convinced that I could and ought. It 
was not my original intention to deceive, as I have deceived you. I 
meant to tell my tale plainly, and make my proposals openly: and 
it appeared to me so absolutely rational that I should be 
considered free to love and be loved, I never doubted some woman 
might be found willing and able to understand my case and accept 
me, in spite of the curse with which I was burdened.」 

「Well, sir?」 

「When you are inquisitive, Jane, you always make me smile. 
You open your eyes like an eager bird, and make every now and 
then a restless movement, as if answers in speech did not flow fast 
enough for you, and you wanted to read the tablet of one』s heart. 
But before I go on, tell me what you mean by your 『Well, sir?』 It is 
a small phrase very frequent with you; and which many a time has 

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drawn me on and on through interminable talk: I don』t very well 
know why.」 

「I mean,—What next? How did you proceed? What came of 
such an event?」 

「Precisely! and what do you wish to know now?」 

「Whether you found any one you liked: whether you asked her 
to marry you; and what she said.」 

「I can tell you whether I found any one I liked, and whether I 
asked her to marry me: but what she said is yet to be recorded in 
the book of Fate. For ten long years I roved about, living first in 
one capital, then another: sometimes in St. Petersburg; oftener in 
Paris; occasionally in Rome, Naples, and Florence. Provided with 
plenty of money and the passport of an old name, I could choose 
my own society: no circles were closed against me. I sought my 
ideal of a woman amongst English ladies, French countesses, 
Italian signoras, and German Gr.finnen. I could not find her. 
Sometimes, for a fleeting moment, I thought I caught a glance, 
heard a tone, beheld a form, which announced the realisation of 
my dream: but I was presently undeserved. You are not to suppose 
that I desired perfection, either of mind or person. I longed only 
for what suited me—for the antipodes of the Creole: and I longed 
vainly. Amongst them all I found not one whom, had I been ever 
so free, I—warned as I was of the risks, the horrors, the loathings 
of incongruous unions—would have asked to marry me. 
Disappointment made me reckless. I tried dissipation—never 
debauchery: that I hated, and hate. That was my Indian 
Messalina』s attribute: rooted disgust at it and her restrained me 
much, even in pleasure. Any enjoyment that bordered on riot 
seemed to approach me to her and her vices, and I eschewed it. 

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「Yet I could not live alone; so I tried the companionship of 
mistresses. The first I chose was Celine Varens—another of those 
steps which make a man spurn himself when he recalls them. You 
already know what she 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, and unimpressible: not one whit to my taste. I 
was glad to give her a sufficient sum to set her up in a good line of 
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, indeed, sir. 
Did it not seem to you in the least wrong to live in that way, first 
with one mistress and then another? You talk of it as a mere 
matter of course.」 

「It was with me; and I did not like it. It was a grovelling fashion 
of existence: I should never like to return to it. Hiring a mistress is 
the next worse thing to buying a slave: both are often by nature, 
and always by position, inferior: and to live familiarly with 
inferiors is degrading. I now hate the recollection of the time I 
passed with Celine, Giacinta, and Clara.」 

I felt the truth of these words; and I drew from them the certain 
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 

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did not give utterance to 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 intellectual, 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 Thornfield Hall. 
Abhorred spot! I expected no peace—no pleasure there. On a stile 
in Hay Lane I saw a quiet little figure sitting by itself. I passed it as 
negligently as I did the pollard willow opposite to it: I had no 
presentiment of what it would be to me; no inward warning that 
the arbitress of my life—my genius for good or evil—waited there 
in humble guise. I did not know it, even when, on the occasion of 
Mesrour』s accident, it came up and gravely offered me help. 
Childish and slender creature! It seemed as if a linnet had hopped 
to my foot and proposed to bear me on its tiny wing. I was surly; 
but the thing would not go: it stood by me with strange 
perseverance, and looked and spoke with a sort of authority. I 
must be aided, and by that hand: and aided I was. 

「When once I had pressed the frail shoulder, something new—a 
fresh sap and sense—stole into my frame. It was well I had learnt 
that this elf must return to me—that it belonged to my house down 
below—or I could not have felt it pass away from under my hand, 
and seen it vanish behind the dim hedge, without singular regret. I 

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heard you come home that night, Jane, though probably you were 
not aware that I thought of you or watched for you. The next day I 
observed you—myself unseen—for half-an-hour, while you played 
with Adele in the gallery. It was a snowy day, I recollect, and you 
could not go out of doors. I was in my room; the door was ajar: I 
could both listen and watch. Adele claimed your outward attention 
for a while; yet I fancied your thoughts were elsewhere: but you 
were very patient with her, my little Jane; you talked to her and 
amused her a long time. When at last she left you, you lapsed at 
once into deep reverie: you betook yourself slowly to pace the 
gallery. Now and then, in passing a casement, you glanced out at 
the thick-falling snow; you listened to the sobbing wind, and again 
you paced gently on and dreamed. I think those day visions were 
not dark: there was a pleasurable illumination in your eye 
occasionally, a soft excitement in your aspect, which told of no 
bitter, bilious, hypochondriac brooding: your look revealed rather 
the sweet musings of youth when its spirit follows on willing wings 
the flight of Hope up and on to an ideal heaven. The voice of Mrs. 
Fairfax, speaking to a servant in the hall, wakened you: and how 
curiously you smiled to and at yourself, Janet! There was much 
sense in your smile: it was very shrewd, and seemed to make light 
of your own abstraction. It seemed to say—『My fine visions are all 
very well, but I must not forget they are absolutely unreal. I have a 
rosy sky and a green flowery Eden in my brain; but without, I am 
perfectly aware, lies at my feet a rough tract to travel, and around 
me gather black tempests to encounter.』 You ran downstairs and 
demanded of Mrs. Fairfax some occupation: the weekly house 
accounts to make up, or something of that sort, I think it was. I 
was vexed with you for getting out of my sight. 

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「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 intellectual 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 

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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 
schoolroom as still as your own desk and easel; if by chance I met 
you, you passed me as soon, and with as little token of recognition, 
as was consistent 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, and resolved to find this out. 

「I resumed my notice of you. There was something glad in your 
glance, and genial in your manner, when you conversed: I saw you 
had a social heart; it was the silent schoolroom—it was the tedium 
of your life—that made you mournful. I permitted myself the 
delight of being kind to you; kindness stirred emotion soon: your 
face became soft in expression, your tones gentle; I liked my name 
pronounced by your lips in a grateful happy accent. I used to enjoy 
a chance meeting with you, Jane, at this time: there was a curious 
hesitation in your manner: you glanced at me with a slight 
trouble—a hovering doubt: you did not know what my caprice 
might be—whether I was going to play the master and be stern, or 
the friend and be benignant. I was now too fond of you often to 
simulate the first whim; and, when I stretched my hand out 
cordially, such bloom and light and bliss rose to your young, 
wistful features, I had much ado often to avoid straining you then 
and there to my heart.」 

「Don』t talk any more of those days, sir,」 I 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 revelations of his feelings only made my 

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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. 

「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 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 hazarding confidences. This was cowardly: I should 
have appealed to your nobleness and magnanimity at first, as I do 
now—opened to you plainly my life of agony—described to you my 
hunger and thirst after a higher and worthier existence—shown to 
you, not my resolution (that word is weak), but my resistless bent to 
love faithfully and well, where I am faithfully and well loved in 
return. Then I should have asked you to accept my pledge of 
fidelity and to give me yours. Jane—give it me now.」 

A pause. 

「Why are you silent, Jane?」 

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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, 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.」 

「It would to obey you.」 

A wild look raised his brows—crossed his features: he rose; but 
he forebore yet. I laid my hand on the back of a chair for support: I 
shook, I feared—but I resolved. 

「One instant, Jane. Give one glance to my horrible life when 
you are gone. All happiness will be torn away with you. What then 
is left? For a wife I have but the maniac upstairs: as well might you 

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refer me to some corpse in yonder churchyard. What shall I do, 
Jane? Where turn for a companion and for some hope?」 

「Do as I do: trust in God and yourself. Believe in heaven. Hope 
to meet again there.」 

「Then you will not yield?」 

「No.」 

「Then you condemn me to live wretched and to die accursed?」 
His voice rose. 

「I advise you to live sinless, and I wish you to die tranquil.」 

「Then you snatch love and innocence from me? You fling me 
back on lust for a passion—vice for an occupation?」 

「Mr. Rochester, I no more assign this fate to you than I grasp at 
it for myself. We were born to strive and endure—you as well as I: 
do so. You will forget me before I forget you.」 

「You make me a liar by such language: you sully my honour. I 
declared I could not change: you tell me to my face I shall change 
soon. And what a distortion in your judgment, what a perversity in 
your ideas, is proved by your conduct! Is it better to drive a fellow-
creature to despair than to transgress a mere human law, no man 
being injured by the breach? for you have neither relatives nor 
acquaintances whom you need fear to offend by living with me?」 

This was true: and while he spoke my very conscience and 
reason turned traitors against me, and charged me with crime in 
resisting him. They spoke almost as loud as Feeling: and that 
clamoured wildly. 「Oh, comply!」 it said. 「Think of his misery; 
think of his danger—look at his state when left alone; remember 
his headlong nature; consider the recklessness following on 
despair—soothe him; save him; love him; tell him you love him 
and will be his. Who in the world cares for you? or who will be 

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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 principles 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 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 involuntary sigh; his 
gripe was painful, and my over-taxed 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 

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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! 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 succumbed now. I had dared and 
baffled his fury; I must elude his sorrow: I retired to the door. 

「You are going, Jane?」 

「I am going, sir.」 

「You are leaving me?」 

「Yes.」 

「You will not come? You will not be my comforter, my rescuer? 
My deep love, my wild woe, my frantic prayer, are all nothing to 
you?」 

What unutterable pathos was in his voice! How hard it was to 
reiterate firmly, 「I am going.」 

「Jane!」 

「Mr. Rochester!」 

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「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 

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to look: 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 anticipation; as 
though some word of doom were to be written on her disk. She 
broke forth as never moon yet burst from cloud: a hand first 
penetrated the sable folds and waved them away; 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. 

「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 

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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 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 

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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 sky, nor wakening nature. He 
who is taken out to pass through a fair scene to the scaffold, thinks 
not of the flowers that smile on his 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 undiscovered. 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 abandonment—how 
it goaded me! It was a barbed arrow-head in my breast; it tore me 
when I tried to extract it; it sickened me when remembrance 
thrust it farther in. Birds began singing in brake and copse: birds 
were faithful to their mates; birds were emblems of love. What was 
I? In the midst of my pain of heart and frantic effort of principle, I 
abhorred myself. I had no solace from self-approbation: none even 

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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, extending 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 asked where it was going: the 
driver named a place a long way off, and where I was sure Mr. 
Rochester had no connections. I asked for what sum he would take 
me there; he said thirty shillings; I answered I had but twenty; 
well, he would try to make it do. He further gave me leave to get 
into the 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. 

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Chapter XXVIII 

Two days are passed. It is a summer evening; the coachman 
has set me down at a place called Whitcross; he could take 
me no farther for the sum I had 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 discover 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: whitewashed, 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— 

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Jane Eyre 458 

not a charm or hope calls me where my fellow-creatures are— 
none that saw me would have a kind thought or a good wish for 
me. I have no relative but the universal 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 here: 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 beat 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 

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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 at 
noon with a stray penny—my last coin. I saw ripe bilberries 
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 bleeding, 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-

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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. Remembering what 
it was—what countless systems there swept space like a soft trace 
of light—I felt the might and strength of God. Sure was I of His 
efficiency to save what He had made: convinced I grew that 
neither earth should 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 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. 

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Life, however, was yet in my possession, with all its requirements, 
and pains, and responsibilities. The burden must be carried; the 
want provided for; the suffering endured; the responsibility 
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 restlessly 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 valley at my right 
hand was full of pasture-fields, and cornfields, and wood; and a 
glittering stream ran zig-zag through the varied shades of green, 
the mellowing grain, the sombre woodland, the clear and sunny 
lea. Recalled 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 

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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 respectably-
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 
unseasonable such a manifestation would be, I restrained it. Soon 
I asked her 「if there were any dressmaker or plain-workwoman in 
the village?」 

「Yes; two or three. Quite as many as there was employment 
for.」 

I reflected. I was driven to the point now. I was brought face to 
face with Necessity. I stood in the position of one without a 
resource, without a friend, without a coin. I must do something. 
What? I must apply somewhere. Where? 

「Did she know of any place in the neighbourhood where a 
servant was wanted?」 

「Nay; she couldn』t say.」 

「What was the chief trade in this place? What did most of the 
people do?」 

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「Some were farm labourers; a good deal worked at Mr. Oliver』s 
needle-factory, and at the foundry.」 

「Did Mr. Oliver employ women?」 

「Nay; it was men』s work.」 

「And what do the women do?」 

「I knawn』t,」 was the answer. 「Some does one 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 
searching 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, 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? 

「No,」 said she; 「we do not keep a servant.」 

「Can you tell me where I could get employment of any kind?」 I 

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continued. 「I am a stranger, without acquaintance 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 consciousness of having 
no claim to ask—no right to expect interest in my isolated lot. 
Meantime, the afternoon advanced, while I thus wandered about 
like a lost and starving dog. In crossing a field, I saw the church 
spire before me: I hastened towards it. Near the churchyard, and 
in the middle of a garden, stood a well-built though small house, 
which I had no doubt was the parsonage. I remembered that 
strangers who arrive at a place where they have no friends, and 
who want employment, sometimes apply to the clergyman for 
introduction and aid. It is the clergyman』s function to help—at 
least with advice—those who wished to help themselves. I seemed 

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to have something like a right to seek counsel here. Renewing 
then my courage, and gathering my feeble remains of strength, I 
pushed on. I reached the house, and knocked at the kitchen-door. 
An old woman opened: I asked was this the parsonage? 

「Yes.」 

「Was the clergyman in?」 

「No.」 

「Would he be in soon?」 

「No, he was gone from home.」 

「To a distance?」 

「Not so far—happen three mile. He had been called away by 
the sudden death of his father: he was at Marsh End now, and 
would very likely stay there a fortnight longer.」 

「Was there any lady of the house?」 

「Nay, there was naught but her, and she was housekeeper;」 
and of 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 handkerchief?」 she said. 

「Would she take my gloves?」 

「No! what could she do with them?」 

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Jane Eyre 466 

Reader, it is not pleasant to dwell on these details. Some say 
there is enjoyment in looking back to painful experience past; but 
at this day I can scarcely bear to review the times to which I 
allude: the moral 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 

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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. 

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 a soliloquy. 「I feel I 
cannot go much farther. 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. Rochester is 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 landscape. 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-

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Jane Eyre 468 

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 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 
alternations of light and shade; for colour had faded with the 
daylight. 

My eye still roved over the sullen swell and along the moor-
edge, vanishing amidst the wildest 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. 「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 

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Jane Eyre 469 

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 at 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 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 

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Jane Eyre 470 

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 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 

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Jane Eyre 471 

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 firelit 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; 「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 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 w.ge 

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Jane Eyre 472 

die Gedanken in der Schale meines Zornes und die Werke mit 

dem Gewichte meines Grimms.』 I like it!」 

Both were again silent. 

「Is there ony country where they talk i』 that way?」 asked the 
old 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, and we cannot read it without a dictionary to help 
us.」 

「And what good does it do you?」 

「We mean to teach it some time—or at least the elements, as 
they say; and then we shall get more money than we do now.」 

「Varry like: but give ower studying; ye』ve done enough for tonight.」 

「I think we have: at least I』m tired. Mary, are you?」 

「Mortally: after all, it』s tough work fagging away at a language 
with no master but a lexicon.」 

「It is, especially such a language as this crabbed but glorious 
Deutsch. I wonder when St. John will come home.」 

「Surely he will not be long now: it is just ten (looking at a little 
gold watch she drew from her girdle). It rains fast, Hannah: will 
you have the goodness to look at the fire in the parlour?」 

The woman rose: she opened a door, through which I dimly saw 
a passage: soon I heard her stir a fire in an inner room; she 

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Jane Eyre 473 

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 
different soart to them 』at』s gone; for all your mother wor mich i』 
your way, and a』most as book-learned. She wor the pictur』 o』 ye, 
Mary: Diana is more like your father.」 

I thought them so similar I could not tell where the old servant 
(for such I now concluded her to be) saw the difference. Both were 
fair complexioned and slenderly made; both possessed faces full of 
distinction and intelligence. 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. 

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Jane Eyre 474 

「Ye』ll want your supper, I am sure,」 observed Hannah; 「and so 
will Mr. St. John when he comes in.」 

And she proceeded to prepare the meal. The ladies rose; they 
seemed about to withdraw to the parlour. Till this 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 surprise, 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 out-house 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.」 

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Jane Eyre 475 

「But where shall I go if you drive me away? What shall I do?」 

「Oh, I』ll warrant you know where to go and what to do. Mind 
you don』t do wrong, that』s all. Here is a penny; now go—」 

「A penny cannot feed me, and I have no strength to go farther. 
Don』t shut the door:—oh, don』t, for God』s sake!」 

「I must; the rain is driving in—」 

「Tell the young ladies. Let me see them—」 

「Indeed, I will not. You are not what you ought to be, or you 
wouldn』t make such a noise. Move off.」 

「But I must die if I am turned away.」 

「Not you. I』m fear』d you have some ill plans agate, that bring 
you about folk』s houses at this time o』 night. If you』ve any 
followers—housebreakers or such like—anywhere near, you may 
tell them we are not by ourselves in the house; we have a 
gentleman, and dogs, and guns.」 Here the honest but inflexible 
servant clapped the door to and bolted it within. 

This was the climax. A pang of exquisite suffering—a throe of 
true despair—rent and heaved my heart. Worn out, indeed, I was; 
not another step could I stir. I sank on the wet doorstep: 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 hope, 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 thrusting back 
all my misery into my heart, I made an effort to compel it to 
remain there—dumb and still. 

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Jane Eyre 476 

「All men must die,」 said a voice quite close at hand; 「but all are 
not condemned to meet a lingering and premature doom, such as 
yours would be if you perished here of want.」 

「Who or what speaks?」 I asked, terrified at the unexpected 
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. 

「Is it you, Mr. St. John?」 cried Hannah. 

「Yes—yes; open quickly.」 

「Well, how wet and cold you must be, such a wild night as it is! 
Come in—your sisters are quite uneasy about you, and I believe 
there are bad folks about. There has been a beggar-woman—I 
declare she is not gone yet!—laid down there. Get up! for shame! 
Move off, I say!」 

「Hush, Hannah! I have a word to say to the woman. You have 
done your duty in excluding, now let me do mine in admitting her. 
I was near, and listened to both you and her. I think this is a 
peculiar case—I must at least examine into it. Young woman, rise, 
and pass before me into the house.」 

With difficulty I obeyed him. Presently I stood within that clean, 
bright kitchen—on the very hearth—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. 

「St. John, who is it?」 I heard one ask. 

「I cannot tell: I found her at the door,」 was the reply. 

「She does look white,」 said Hannah. 

「As white as clay or death,」 was responded. 「She will fall: let 

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Jane Eyre 477 

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!」 

「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 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. 

「And where do you live? Where are your friends?」 

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Jane Eyre 478 

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 gate with a smile, I said—「I will 
trust you. If I were a masterless 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. 

「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 

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Jane Eyre 479 

into the parlour and talk the matter over.」 

They withdrew. Very soon one of the ladies returned—I could 
not tell which. A kind of pleasant stupor was stealing over me as I 
sat by the genial fire. In an undertone she gave some directions to 
Hannah. Ere 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. 

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Jane Eyre 480

 Chapter XXIX 

The recollection of about three days and nights succeeding 
this is very dim in my mind. I can recall some sensations 
felt in that interval; but few thoughts 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 understand what was said when the speaker stood near to 
me; but I could not answer; to open my lips or move my limbs was 
equally impossible. 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— 

「It is very well we took her in.」 

「Yes; she would certainly have been found dead at the door in 
the morning had she been left out all night. I wonder what she has 
gone through?」 

「Strange hardships, I imagine—poor, emaciated, pallid 
wanderer?」 

「She is not an uneducated person, I should think, by her 
manner of speaking; her accent was quite pure; and the clothes 
she took off, though splashed and wet, were little worn and fine.」 

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Jane Eyre 481 

「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 a while. 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.」 

「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.」 

「She is so ill, St. John.」 

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Jane Eyre 482 

「Ill or well, she would always be plain. The grace and harmony 
of beauty are quite wanting in those features.」 

On the third day I was better; on the 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—void of the feverish flavour which 
had hitherto poisoned what I had swallowed. When she left me, I 
felt comparatively strong and revived: ere long satiety of repose 
and desire for action stirred me. I wished to rise; but what could I 
put on? Only my damp and bemired apparel; in which I had slept 
on the ground and fallen in the marsh. I felt ashamed to appear 
before my benefactors so clad. I was spared the humiliation. 

On a chair by the bedside were all my own 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 deficiencies 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 

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Jane Eyre 483 

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 hearthstone, 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 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 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. 

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Jane Eyre 484 

「Mak』em into pies.」 

「Give them to me and I』ll pick them.」 

「Nay; I dunnut want ye to do nought.」 

「But I must do something. Let me have them.」 

She consented; and she even brought me a clean towel to 
spread over my dress, 「lest,」 as she said, 「I should mucky it.」 

「Ye』ve not been used to sarvant』s wark, I see by your hands,」 
she remarked. 「Happen ye』ve been a dressmaker?」 

「No, you are wrong. And now, never mind what I have been: 
don』t trouble your head further about me; but tell me the name of 
the house where we are.」 

「Some calls it Marsh End, and some calls it Moor House.」 

「And the gentleman who lives here is called Mr. St. John?」 

「Nay; he doesn』t live here: he is only staying a while. When he 
is at home, he is in his own parish at Morton.」 

「That village a few miles off? 

「Aye.」 

「And what is he?」 

「He is a parson.」 

I remembered the answer of the old housekeeper at the 
parsonage, when I had asked to see the clergyman. 「This, then, 
was his father』s residence?」 

「Aye; old Mr. Rivers lived here, and his father, and grandfather, 
and gurt (great) grandfather afore him.」 

「The name, then, of that gentleman, is Mr. St. John Rivers?」 

「Aye; St. John is like his kirstened name.」 

「And his sisters are called Diana and Mary Rivers?」 

「Yes.」 

「Their father is dead?」 

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「Dead three weeks sin』 of a stroke.」 

「They have no mother?」 

「The mistress has been dead this mony a year.」 

「Have you lived with the family long?」 

「I』ve lived here thirty year. I nursed them all three.」 

「That proves you must have been an honest and faithful 
servant. I will say so much for you, though you have had the 
incivility to call me a beggar.」 

She again regarded me with a surprised stare. 「I believe,」 she 
said, 「I was quite mista』en in my thoughts of you: but there is so 
mony cheats goes 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.」 

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.」 

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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. Rivers, she said, was a plain man enough, but a 
gentleman, and of as ancient a family as could be found. Marsh 
End had belonged to the Rivers ever since it was a house: and it 
was, she affirmed, 「aboon two hundred year old—for all it looked 
but a 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 needlemaker; and th』 Rivers wor 
gentry i』 th』 owd days o』 th』 Henrys, as onybody might see by 
looking into 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 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 themselves. 
They had lived very little at home for a long while, and were only 

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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! Poor child!—poor girl!」 

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 fill 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 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 

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Jane Eyre 488 

your place. Mary and I sit in the kitchen sometimes, because at 
home we like to be free, even to license—but you are a visitor, and 
must go into the parlour.」 

「I am very well here.」 

「Not at all, with Hannah bustling about and covering you with 
flour.」 

「Besides, the fire is too hot for you,」 interposed Mary. 

「To be sure,」 added her sister. 「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 privilege we exercise 
in our little moorland home—to prepare our own meals when we 
are so inclined, or when Hannah is baking, brewing, washing, or 
ironing.」 

She closed the 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 furnished, 
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 workboxes 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 dusty pictures on the 

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Jane Eyre 489 

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 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 something 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 breakfast.」 

I did not refuse it, for my appetite was awakened and keen. Mr. 
Rivers 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. 

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「I 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.」 

「I 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 instruments 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. 

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Jane Eyre 491 

「You have never been married? You are a spinster?」 

Diana laughed. 「Why, she can』t he 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 emotion. 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. 

「You are too inquisitive, St. John,」 murmured Mary in a low 
voice; but he leaned over the table and required an answer by a 
second firm and piercing look. 

「The name of the place where, and of the person with whom I 
lived, is my secret,」 I replied concisely. 

「Which, if you like, you have, in my opinion, a right to keep, 
both from St. John and every other questioner,」 remarked Diana. 

「Yet if I know nothing about you or your history, I cannot help 
you,」 he said. 「And you need 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 will keep me, if but in the barest 
necessaries of life.」 

「I know not whether I am a true philanthropist; yet I am willing 
to aid you to the utmost of my power in a purpose so honest. First, 
then, tell me what you have been accustomed to do, and what you 
can do.」 

I had now swallowed my tea. I was mightily refreshed by the 

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Jane Eyre 492 

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 dependant; 
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 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 

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Jane Eyre 493 

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 expedient to 
be called at present, but it is not my real name, and when I hear it, 
it sounds strange to me.」 

「Your real name you will not give?」 

「No: I fear discovery above all things; and whatever disclosure 
would lead to it, I avoid.」 

「You are quite right, I am sure,」 said Diana. 「Now 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. 

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Jane Eyre 494 

「You would not like to be long dependent on our hospitality— 
you would wish, I see, to dispense as soon as may be with my 
sisters』 compassion, and, above all, with my charity (I am quite 
sensible of the distinction drawn, nor do I resent it—it is just): you 
desire to be independent of us?」 

「I do: I have already said so. Show me how to work, or how to 
seek work: that is all I now ask; then let me go, if it be but to the 
meanest cottage; but till then, allow me to stay here: I dread 
another essay of the horrors of homeless destitution.」 

「Indeed you shall stay here,」 said 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. I 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, 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-workwoman; I will be a 
servant, a nurse-girl, if I can be no better,」 I answered. 

「Right,」 said Mr. St. John, quite coolly. 「If such is your spirit, I 
promise to aid you, in my own time and way.」 

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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. 

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Jane Eyre 496 

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 reviving pleasure in this intercourse, 
of a kind now tasted by me for the first time-the pleasure arising 
from perfect congeniality 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 casements, 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 colouring 

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Jane Eyre 497 

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 alternately 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 discovered I could draw: 
their pencils and colour-boxes were immediately at my service. My 

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Jane Eyre 498 

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. 

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. Sometimes, 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 bet he reward 
of every sincere Christian and practical philanthropist. Often, of 

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Jane Eyre 499 

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 know not what course of thought; but 
that it was perturbed and exciting might be seen in the frequent 
flash and changeful dilation of his eye. 

I 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 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 produced 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 were softened. 
Throughout there was a strange bitterness; an absence of 
consolatory gentleness; stern allusions to Calvinistic doctrines— 
election, predestination, reprobation—were frequent; and each 
reference to these points sounded like a sentence pronounced for 

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Jane Eyre 500 

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 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 
dependants, and who neither knew nor sought out 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 

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Jane Eyre 501 

natures as his—when he saved me the trouble by being the first to 
commence a dialogue. 

Looking up as I drew near—「You have a question to ask of 
me?」 he said. 

「Yes; I wish to know whether you have heard of any service I 
can offer myself to undertake?」 

「I found or devised something for you three weeks ago; but as 
you seemed both useful and happy here—as my sisters had 
evidently become attached to you, and your society gave them 
unusual pleasure—I deemed it inexpedient to break in on your 
mutual comfort till their approaching departure from Marsh End 
should render yours necessary.」 

「And they will go in three days now?」 I said. 

「Yes; and when they go, I shall return to the parsonage at 
Morton: Hannah will accompany me; and this old house will be 
shut up.」 

I waited a few 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. 

「What is the employment you had in view, Mr. Rivers? I hope 
this delay will not have increased the difficulty of securing it.」 

「Oh, no; since it is in employment which depends only on me to 
give, and you to accept.」 

He again paused: there seemed a reluctance to continue. I grew 
impatient: a restless movement or 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. 

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Jane Eyre 502 

「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 
dependant』s crust among strangers, and the third considers 
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 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 

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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 observations. 

「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 narrowing—the tranquil, 
hidden office of English country incumbent; for in your nature is 
an alloy as detrimental to repose as that in mine, though of a 
different kind.」 

「Do explain,」 I urged, when he halted once more. 

「I will; and you shall hear how poor the proposal is,—how 
trivial—how cramping. I shall not stay long at Morton, now that 
my father is dead, and that I am my own master. I shall leave the 
place probably in the course of a twelve-month; but while I do 
stay, I will exert myself to the utmost for its improvement. Morton, 
when I came to it two years ago, had no school: the children of the 
poor were excluded from every hope of progress. I established one 
for boys: I mean now to open a second school for girls. I have hired 
a building for the purpose, with a cottage of two rooms attached to 
it for the mistress』s house. Her salary will be thirty pounds a year: 
her house is already furnished, very simply, but sufficiently, by the 
kindness of a lady, Miss Oliver; the only daughter of the sole rich 
man in my parish—Mr. Oliver, the proprietor of a 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 aid the mistress in such menial offices 

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connected with her own house and the school as her occupation of 
teaching will prevent her having time to discharge in person. Will 
you be this mistress?」 

He put the question rather hurriedly; he seemed half to expect 
an 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 humble—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, ciphering, 
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?」 

「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, but 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.」 

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「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. Rivers?」 I asked. 

「You will not stay at Morton long: no, no!」 

「Why? What is your reason for saying so?」 

「I read it in your eye; it is not of that description which 
promises the maintenance of an even tenor in life.」 

「I am not ambitious.」 

He started at the word 「ambitious.」 He 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 
mountains—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 restlessness. Well, propensities and principles 
must be reconciled by some means.」 

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He left the room. In this brief hour I had learnt more of him 
than in the whole previous month: yet still he puzzled me. 

Diana and Mary Rivers became more sad and silent as the day 
approached for leaving their brother and their home. They both 
tried to appear as usual; bat the sorrow they had to struggle 
against was one that could not be entirely conquered or concealed. 
Diana intimated that this would be a different parting from any 
they had ever yet known. It would probably, as far as St. John was 
concerned, be a parting for years: it might be a parting for life. 

「He will sacrifice all to his long-framed resolves,」 she said: 
「natural affection and feelings more potent still. St. John looks 
quiet, Jane; but he hides a fever in his vitals. You would think him 
gentle, yet in some things he is inexorable as death; and the worst 
of it is, my conscience will hardly permit me to dissuade him from 
his severe decision: certainly, I cannot for a moment blame him for 
it. It is right, noble, Christian: yet it breaks my heart!」 And the 
tears gushed to her fine eyes. Mary bent her head low over her 
work. 

「We are now without father: we shall soon be without home and 
brother,」 she murmured, 

At that moment a little accident 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. 

「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. 

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Jane Eyre 507 

「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. Read.」 

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! We can yet live,」 said Diana at last. 

「At any rate, it makes us no worse off than we were before,」 
remarked Mary. 

「Only it forces rather strongly on the mind the picture of what 
might have been,」 said Mr. Rivers, 「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 reconciled. My uncle engaged afterwards in more 
prosperous undertakings: it appears he realised a fortune of 
twenty thousand pounds. He was never married, and had no near 
kindred but ourselves and one other person, not more closely 
related than we. My father always cherished the idea that he 

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would atone for his error by leaving his possessions to us; that 
letter informs us that he has bequeathed every penny to the other 
relation, with the exception of thirty guineas, to be divided 
between St. John, Diana, and Mary Rivers, for the purchase of 
three mourning rings. He had a right, of course, to do as he 
pleased: and yet a momentary damp is cast on the spirits by the 
receipt of such news. Mary and I would have esteemed ourselves 
rich with a thousand pounds each; and to St. John such a sum 
would have been valuable, for the good it would have enabled him 
to do.」 

This explanation 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 parsonage: and so the old grange was abandoned. 

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Chapter XXXI 

My home, then,—when I at last find a home,—is a cottage; 
a little room with whitewashed walls and a sanded floor, 
containing four painted chairs and a table, a clock, a 
cupboard, 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 has 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 cipher. 
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 disposition that 
pleases me. I must not forget that these coarsely-clad little 
peasants are of flesh and blood as good as the scions of gentlest 
genealogy; and that the germs of native excellence, refinement, 
intelligence, kind feeling, are as likely to exist in their hearts as in 
those of the best-born. My duty will be to develop these germs: 
surely I shall find some happiness in discharging that office. Much 
enjoyment I do not expect in the life opening before me: yet it will, 
doubtless, if I regulate my mind, and exert my powers as I ought, 

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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 schoolroom 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. Rochester』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 

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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? 

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 

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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. 

「Have you found your first day』s work harder than you 
expected?」 he asked. 

「Oh, no! On the contrary, I think in time I shall get on with my 
scholars very well.」 

「But perhaps your accommodations—your cottage—your 
furniture—have disappointed your expectations? They are, in 
truth, scanty enough; but—」 I interrupted— 

「My cottage is clean and weather-proof; my furniture sufficient 
and commodious. All I see has made me thankful, not despondent. 
I am not absolutely such a fool and sensualist as to regret the 
absence of a carpet, a sofa, and silver plate; besides, five weeks ago 
I had nothing—I was an outcast, a beggar, a vagrant; now I have 
acquaintance, a home, a business. I wonder at the goodness of 
God; the generosity of my friends; the bounty of my lot. I do not 
repine.」 

「But you feel solitude an oppression? The little house there 
behind you is dark and empty.」 

「I have hardly had time yet to enjoy a sense of tranquillity, 
much less to grow impatient under one of loneliness.」 

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Jane Eyre 513 

「Very well; I hope you feel the content you express: at any rate, 
your good sense will tell you that it is too soon yet to yield to the 
vacillating fears of Lot』s wife. What you had left before I saw you, 
of course I do not know; but I counsel you to resist firmly every 
temptation which would incline you to look back: pursue your 
present career steadily, for some months at least.」 

「It is what I mean to do,」 I answered. St. John continued— 

「It is hard work to control the workings of inclination and turn 
the bent of nature; but that it may be done, I know from 
experience. God has given us, in a measure, the power to make 
our own fate; and when our energies seem to demand a 
sustenance they cannot get—when our will strains after a path we 
may not follow—we need neither starve from inanition, nor stand 
still in despair: we have but to seek another nourishment for the 
mind, as strong as the forbidden food it longed to taste—and 
perhaps purer; and to hew out for the adventurous foot a road as 
direct and broad as the one Fortune has blocked up against us, if 
rougher than it. 

「A year ago I was myself intensely 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, 

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gather their full strength, spread their 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, imposed the determination, 
but since his death, I have not a legitimate obstacle to contend 
with; some affairs settled, a successor for Morton provided, an 
entanglement or two of the feelings broken through or cut 
asunder—a last conflict with human weakness, in which I know I 
shall overcome, because I have vowed that I will overcome—and I 
leave Europe for the East.」 

He said 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. 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. Rivers 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 

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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 heart. Nature had surely formed her in a partial mood; and, 
forgetting her usual stinted step-mother dole of gifts, had endowed 
this, her darling, with a grand-dame』s bounty. 

What did St. John Rivers think of this earthly angel? I naturally 
asked myself that question as I saw him turn to her and look at 
her; and, as naturally, I sought the answer to the inquiry in his 

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countenance. He had already withdrawn his eye from the Peri, 
and was looking at a humble tuft of daisies which grew by the 
wicket. 

「A lovely evening, but late for you to be out alone,」 he 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 childlike. 

「I hope I shall. I have many inducements to do so.」 

「Did you find your scholars as attentive as you expected?」 

「Quite.」 

「Do you like your house?」 

「Very much.」 

「Have I furnished it nicely?」 

「Very nicely, indeed.」 

「And made a good choice of an attendant for you in Alice 
Wood?」 

「You have indeed. She is teachable and handy.」 (This 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 added. 
「It will be a change for me to visit you now and then; and I like a 

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change. Mr. Rivers, I have been so gay during my stay at S—. Last 
night, or rather this morning, 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. 
「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 attainment 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 

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visit him?」 

「It is not a seasonable hour to intrude on Mr. Oliver,」 answered 
St. John. 

「Not a seasonable hour! But I declare it is. It is just the hour 
when papa most wants company: when the works are closed and 
he has no business to occupy him. Now, Mr. Rivers, do come. Why 
are you so very shy, and so very sombre?」 She filled up the hiatus 
his silence left by a reply of her own. 

「I forgot!」 she exclaimed, shaking her beautiful curled head, as 
if shocked at herself. 「I am so giddy and thoughtless! Do excuse 
me. It had slipped my memory that you have good reasons to be 
indisposed for joining in my chatter. Diana and Mary have left 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!」 

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 

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Jane Eyre 519 

thoughts from exclusive meditation on my own. Diana Rivers had 
designated her brother 「inexorable as death.」 She had not 
exaggerated. 

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Chapter XXXII 

Icontinued 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 information and disposed for 
improvement—with whom I passed many a pleasant evening hour 

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in their own homes. Their 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. Whenever 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 「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 manycoloured, 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. Rochester, 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 

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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. 

Rosamond Oliver kept her word in coming to visit me. Her call 
at the school was generally made in the course of her morning 
ride. She would canter up to the door on her 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. Rivers 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, 「I 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 

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Jane Eyre 523 

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 bind all that he had in his 
nature—the rover, the aspirant, the poet, the priest—in the limits 
of a single passion. He could not—he would not—renounce his 
wild field of mission warfare for the parlours and the peace of Vale 
Hall. I learnt so much from himself in an inroad I 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 

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Jane Eyre 524 

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. 
Rivers, 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 child-like 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, 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. 

「Had I done these pictures? Did I know French and German? 
What a love—what a miracle I was! I drew better than her master 
in the first school in S—. Would I sketch a portrait of her, to show 
to papa?」 

「With pleasure,」 I replied; and I felt a thrill of artist—delight at 
the idea of copying from so perfect and radiant a model. She had 
then on a dark-blue silk dress; her arms and her neck were bare; 
her only ornament was her chestnut tresses, which waved over 
her shoulders with all the wild grace of natural curls. I took a sheet 
of fine card-board, and drew a careful outline. I promised myself 
the pleasure of colouring it; and, as it was getting late then, I told 

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Jane Eyre 525 

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 approbation 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—of the Rivers 
family—with great respect. He said it was a very old name in that 
neighbourhood; that the ancestors of the house were wealthy; that 
all Morton had once belonged to them; that even now he 
considered the representative of that house 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 would throw no obstacle in the way 

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Jane Eyre 526 

of Rosamond』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 me 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 Rosamond Oliver』s 
miniature. The head was finished already: there was but the 
background to tint and the drapery to shade off; a touch of 
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 absorbed 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 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 

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Jane Eyre 527 

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 Rosamond, whom he thinks he ought not to 
marry: I will make him talk.」 

I said first, 「Take a chair, Mr. Rivers.」 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.」 

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Jane Eyre 528 

「You did, Mr. Rivers.」 

He almost started at my sudden and strange abruptness: 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 distinctly; but I have no objection to your 
looking at it again,」 and I rose and placed it in his hand. 

「A well-executed picture,」 he said; 「very soft, clear colouring; 
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, provided you admit that the gift would be acceptable 
to you. I don』t wish to throw away my time and trouble on an 
offering you would deem worthless.」 

He continued to gaze at the picture: the longer he 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 Madagascar, or at the 
Cape, or in India, would it be a consolation to have that memento 
in your possession? or would the sight of it bring recollections 
calculated to enervate and distress?」 

He now furtively raised his eyes: he glanced at me, irresolute, 
disturbed: he again surveyed the picture. 

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Jane Eyre 529 

「That I should like to have it is certain: whether it would be 
judicious or wise is another question.」 

Since I had ascertained that Rosamond really preferred 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 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 unapproachable—to hear it 
thus freely handled—was beginning to be felt by him as a new 
pleasure—an unhoped-for relief. Reserved people often really 
need the frank discussion of their sentiments and griefs more than 
the expansive. The sternest-seeming stoic is human after all; and 
to 「burst」 with boldness and good-will into 「the silent sea」 of their 
souls is often to confer on them the first of obligations. 

「She likes you, I am sure,」 said 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 

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Jane Eyre 530 

continually: there is no subject she enjoys so much or touches 
upon so often.」 

「It is very pleasant to hear this,」 he said—「very: go on for 
another quarter of an hour.」 And he actually took out his watch 
and laid it upon the table to measure the time. 

「But where is the use of going on,」 I 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 my mind and overflowing with sweet inundation all the 
field I have so carefully and with such labour prepared—so 
assiduously sown with the seeds of good intentions, of self-denying 
plans. And now it is deluged with a nectarous flood—the young 
germs swamped—delicious poison cankering them: now I see 
myself stretched on an ottoman in the drawing-room at Vale Hall 
at my bride Rosamond Oliver』s feet: she is talking to me with her 
sweet voice—gazing down on me with those eyes your skilful hand 
has copied so well—smiling at me with these coral lips. She is 
mine—I am hers—this present life and passing world suffice to 
me. Hush! say nothing—my heart is full of delight—my senses are 
entranced—let the time I marked pass in peace.」 

I humoured him: the watch ticked on: he breathed fast and low: 
I stood silent. Amidst this hush the quartet sped; he replaced the 
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 temptation, and put 
my neck voluntarily under her yoke of flowers. I tasted her cup. 
The pillow was burning: there is an asp in the garland: the wine 

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Jane Eyre 531 

has a bitter taste: her promises are hollow—her offers false: I see 

and know all this.」 

I gazed at him in wonder. 

「It is strange,」 pursued 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, graceful, fascinating—I 
experience at the same time a calm, unwarped consciousness that 
she would not make me a good wife; that she is not the partner 
suited to me; that I should discover this within a year after 
marriage; and that to twelve months』 rapture would succeed a 
lifetime of regret. This I know.」 

「Strange indeed!」 I could not help ejaculating. 

「While something in me,」 he went 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. Rosamond a 
sufferer, a labourer, a female apostle? Rosamond a missionary』s 
wife? No!」 

「But you need not be a missionary. You might relinquish that 
scheme.」 

「Relinquish! What! my vocation? My great work? My 
foundation laid on earth for a mansion in heaven? My hopes of 
being numbered in the band who have merged all ambitions in the 
glorious one of bettering their race—of carrying knowledge into 
the realms of ignorance—of substituting peace for war—freedom 
for bondage—religion for superstition—the hope of heaven for the 
fear of hell? Must I relinquish that? It is dearer than the blood in 
my veins. It is what I have to look forward to, and to live for.」 

After a considerable pause, I said—「And Miss Oliver? Are her 

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Jane Eyre 532 

disappointment and sorrow of no interest to you?」 

「Miss Oliver is ever surrounded by suitors and flatterers: in less 
than a month, my image will be effaced from her heart. She will 
forget me; and will marry, probably, some one who will make her 
far happier than I should do.」 

「You speak coolly enough; but you suffer in the conflict. You 
are wasting away.」 

「No. If I get a little thin, it is with anxiety about my prospects, 
yet unsettled—my departure, continually procrastinated. Only this 
morning, I received intelligence that the successor, whose arrival I 
have been so long expecting, cannot be ready to replace me for 
three months to come yet; and perhaps the three months may 
extend to six.」 

「You tremble and become flushed whenever Miss Oliver enters 
the schoolroom.」 

Again the surprised expression crossed his face. He had not 
imagined that a woman would dare to speak so to a man. For 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 hearthstone. 

「You are original,」 said he, 「and not timid. There is something 
brave in your spirit, as well as penetrating in your eye; but allow 
me to assure you that you partially misinterpret my emotions. You 
think them more profound and potent than they are. You give me 
a larger allowance of sympathy than I have a just claim to. When I 
colour, and when I shade before Miss Oliver, I do not pity myself. I 
scorn the weakness. I know it is ignoble: a mere fever of the flesh: 

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Jane Eyre 533 

not, I declare, the convulsion of the soul. That is just as fixed as a 
rock, firm set in the depths of a restless sea. Know me to be what I 
am—a cold hard man.」 

I smiled incredulously. 

「You have taken my confidence by storm,」 he 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 endurance, perseverance, industry, talent; 
because these are the means by which men achieve great ends and 
mount to lofty eminence. I watch your career with interest, 
because I consider you a specimen of a diligent, orderly, energetic 
woman: not because I deeply compassionate what you have gone 
through, or what you still suffer.」 

「You would describe yourself as a mere pagan philosopher,」 I 
said. 

「No. There is this difference between me and deistic 
philosophers: I believe; and I believe the Gospel. You missed your 
epithet. I am not a pagan, but a Christian philosopher—a follower 
of the sect of Jesus. As His disciple I adopt His pure, His merciful, 
His benignant doctrines. I advocate them: I am sworn to spread 
them. Won in youth to religion, she has cultivated my original 
qualities thus:— rom the minute germ, natural affection, she has 
developed the overshadowing tree, philanthropy. From the wild 
stringy root of human uprightness, she has reared a due sense of 
the Divine justice. Of the ambition to win power and renown for 

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Jane Eyre 534 

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 Rose of 
the World, indeed!」 

「And may I not paint one like it for you?」 

「Cui Bono? No.」 

He drew over the picture the sheet of thin paper on which I was 
accustomed to rest my hand in painting, to prevent the cardboard 
from being sullied. What he suddenly 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. 

「What is the matter?」 I asked. 

「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 「goodafternoon,」 he vanished. 

「Well!」 I exclaimed, using an expression of the district, 「that 
caps the globe, however!」 

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Jane Eyre 535 

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. 

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Jane Eyre 536 

Chapter 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 

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Jane Eyre 537 

again coolly pushed the mat which his entrance had deranged. He 
stamped the snow from his boots. 

「I shall sully the purity of your floor,」 said 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. 

「Rather an inhospitable question to put to a visitor; but since 
you ask it, I answer simply to have a little talk with you; I got tired 
of my mute books and empty rooms. Besides, since yesterday I 
have experienced the excitement of a person to whom a tale has 
been half-told, and who is impatient to hear the sequel.」 

He sat down. I recalled his singular conduct of yesterday, 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 

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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; thinking it urgent to say 
something, I asked him presently if he felt any cold draught from 
the door, which was behind him. 

「No, no!」 he responded shortly and somewhat testily. 

「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 impatience, consent to be dumb; 
he might rebuff me if my 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 

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snow.」 

「Indeed!」 

「Mr. Oliver pays for two.」 

「Does he?」 

「He means to give the whole school a treat at Christmas.」 

「I know.」 

「Was it your suggestion?」 

「No.」 

「Whose, then?」 

「His daughter』s, I think.」 

「It is like her: she is so good-natured.」 

「Yes.」 

Again came the blank of a pause: the clock struck eight strokes. 
It aroused him; he uncrossed his 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. 

「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. 

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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-inlaw, called (I come to names now) Mrs. Reed of Gateshead. You 
start—did you hear a noise? I daresay it is only a rat scrambling 
along the rafters of the adjoining schoolroom: it was a barn before 
I had it repaired and altered, and barns are generally haunted by 
rats.—To proceed. Mrs. Reed 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 honourable: 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.」 

「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 

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rendered inquiry after the governess necessary, it was discovered 
she was gone—no one could tell when, where, or how. She had left 
Thornfield Hall in the night; every research after her course had 
been vain: the country had been scoured far and wide; no vestige 
of information could be gathered respecting her. Yet that she 
should be found is become a matter of serious urgency: 
advertisements have been put in all the papers; I myself have 
received a letter from one Mr. Briggs, a solicitor, communicating 
the details I have just imparted. Is it not an odd tale?」 

「Just tell me this,」 said 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.」 

「But they wrote to him?」 

「Of course.」 

「And what did he say? Who has his letters?」 

「Mr. Briggs intimates that the answer to his application was not 
from Mr. Rochester, but from a lady: it is signed 『Alice Fairfax.』」 

I felt cold and dismayed: my worst fears then were probably 
true: he had in all probability left England and rushed in reckless 
desperation to some former haunt on the Continent. And what 
opiate for his severe sufferings—what object for his strong 

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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 ultra-marine, and lake, and vermillion, 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?」 

「Yes—yes; but where is Mr. Briggs? He perhaps knows more of 
Mr. Rochester than you do.」 

「Briggs is in London. I should doubt his knowing anything at 
all about Mr. Rochester; it is not in Mr. Rochester he is interested. 

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Jane Eyre 543 

Meantime, you forget essential points in pursuing trifles: you do 
not inquire why Mr. Briggs sought after you—what he wanted 
with you.」 

「Well, what did he want?」 

「Merely to tell you that your uncle, Mr. Eyre of Madeira, is 
dead; that he has left you all his property, and that you are now 
rich—merely that—nothing more.」 

「I!—rich?」 

「Yes, you, rich—quite an heiress.」 

Silence succeeded. 

「You must prove your identity of course,」 resumed St. John 
presently: 「a step which will offer no difficulties; you can then 
enter on immediate possession. Your fortune is vested in the 
English funds; Briggs has the will and the necessary documents.」 

Here was a new card turned up! It is a fine 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 contain 
ourselves, and blood 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 existence, I had 
cherished the hope of one day seeing him: now, I never should. 

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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. Rivers. 「I 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.」 

「It is a large sum—don』t you think there is a mistake?」 

「No mistake at all.」 

「Perhaps you have read the figures wrong—it may be 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. Rivers rose now and put his 
cloak on. 

「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 

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Jane Eyre 545 

must e』en leave you to your sorrows. Good-night.」 

He was lifting the latch: a sudden thought occurred to me. 
「Stop one minute!」 I cried. 

「Well?」 

「It puzzles me to know why Mr. Briggs wrote to you about me; 
or how he knew you, or could fancy that you, living in such an out-
of-the-way place, had the power to aid in my discovery.」 

「Oh! I am a clergyman,」 he said; 「and the clergy are often 
appealed to about odd matters.」 Again the latch rattled. 

「No; that does not satisfy me!」 I exclaimed: and indeed there 
was something in the hasty and unexplanatory reply 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 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. 

「But I apprised you that I was a hard man,」 said he, 「difficult to 
persuade.」 

「And I am a hard woman,—impossible to put off.」 

「And then,」 he pursued, 「I am cold: no fervour infects me.」 

「Whereas I am hot, and fire dissolves ice. The blaze there has 
thawed all the snow from your cloak; by the same token, it has 

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Jane Eyre 546 

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.」 

「You are not, perhaps, aware that I am your namesake?—that I 
was christened St. John Eyre Rivers?」 

「No, indeed! I remember now seeing the letter E. comprised in 
your initials written in books you have at different times lent me; 
but I never asked for what name it stood. But what then? Surely— 
」 

I stopped: I could not trust myself to 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 themselves, 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. 

「My mother』s name was Eyre; she had two brothers; one a 
clergyman, who married Miss Jane Reed, of Gateshead; the other, 
John Eyre, Esq., merchant, late of Funchal, Madeira. Mr. Briggs, 
being Mr. Eyre』s solicitor, wrote to us last August to inform us of 

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Jane Eyre 547 

our uncle』s death, and to say that he had left his property to his 
brother the clergyman』s orphan daughter, overlooking us, in 
consequence of a quarrel, never forgiven, between him and my 
father. He wrote again a few weeks since, to intimate that the 
heiress was lost, and asking if we knew anything of her. A name 
casually written on a slip of paper has enabled me to find her out. 
You know the rest.」 Again he was going, but I set my back against 
the door. 

「Do let me speak,」 I said; 「let me have one moment to draw 
breath and reflect.」 I paused—he stood before 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, 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 
kinswomen; and the young and stately gentleman who had found 

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Jane Eyre 548 

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 suffocated 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 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 

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Jane Eyre 549 

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 composed; 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.」 

「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.」 

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Jane Eyre 550 

「To you, you mean.」 

「I have intimated my view of the case: I am incapable of taking 
any other. I am not brutally selfish, blindly unjust, or fiendishly 
ungrateful. Besides, I am resolved I will have a home and 
connections. I like Moor House, and I will live at Moor House; I 
like Diana and Mary, and I will attach myself for life to Diana and 
Mary. It would please and benefit me to have five thousand 
pounds; it would torment and oppress me to have twenty 
thousand; which, moreover, could never be mine in justice, though 
it might in law. I abandon to you, then, what is absolutely 
superfluous to me. Let there be no opposition, and no discussion 
about it; let us agree amongst each other, and decide the point at 
once.」 

「This is acting on first impulses; you must take days to consider 
such a matter, ere your word can be regarded as valid.」 

「Oh! if all you doubt is my sincerity, I am easy: you see the 
justice of the case?」 

「I do see a certain justice; but it is contrary to all custom. 
Besides, the entire fortune is your right: my uncle gained it by his 
own efforts; he was free to leave it to whom he would: he left it to 
you. After all, justice permits you to keep it: you may, with a clear 
conscience, consider it absolutely your own.」 

「With me,」 said 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 lifelong friends.」 

「You think so now,」 rejoined St. John, 「because you do not 

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Jane Eyre 551 

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 sisters; I must and will have them now: you are 
not reluctant to admit me and own me, are you?」 

「Jane, I will be your brother—my sisters will be your sisters— 
without stipulating for this sacrifice of your just rights.」 

「Brother? Yes; at the distance of a thousand leagues! Sisters? 
Yes; slaving amongst strangers! I, wealthy—gorged with gold I 
never earned and do not merit! You, penniless! Famous equality 
and fraternisation! Close union! Intimate attachment!」 

「But, Jane, your aspirations after family ties and domestic 
happiness may be realised otherwise than by the means you 
contemplate: you may marry.」 

「Nonsense, again! Marry! I don』t want to marry, and never shall 
marry.」 

「That is saying too much: such hazardous affirmations are a 
proof of the excitement under which you labour.」 

「It is not saying too much: I know what I feel, and how averse 
are my inclinations to the bare thought of marriage. No one would 
take me for love; and I will not be regarded in the light of a mere 
money-speculation. And I do not want a stranger— 
unsympathising, alien, different from me; I want my kindred: 
those with whom I have full fellow-feeling. Say again you will be 
my brother: when you uttered the words I was satisfied, happy; 
repeat them, if you can, repeat them sincerely.」 

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Jane Eyre 552 

「I think I can. I know I have always loved my own sisters; and I 
know on what my affection for them is grounded,—respect for 
their worth and admiration of their talents. You too have principle 
and mind: your tastes and habits resemble Diana』s and Mary』s; 
your presence is always agreeable to me; in your conversation I 
have already for some time found a salutary solace. I feel I can 
easily and naturally make room in my heart for you, as my third 
and youngest sister.」 

「Thank you: that contents me for to-night. Now you had better 
go; for if you stay longer, you will perhaps irritate me afresh by 
some mistrustful scruple.」 

「And the school, Miss Eyre? It must now be shut up, I 
suppose?」 

「No. I will retain my post of mistress till you get a substitute.」 

He smiled approbation: we shook 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. 

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Jane Eyre 553 

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 barren 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 gratification to find I 
had really a place in their unsophisticated hearts: I promised them 
that never a week should pass in future that I did not visit them, 
and give them an hour』s teaching in their school. 

Mr. Rivers came up 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 B.uerinnen; 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. Rivers, when they were gone. 「Does not the 
consciousness of having done some real good in your day and 
generation give pleasure?」 

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Jane Eyre 554 

「Doubtless.」 

「And you have only toiled a few months! Would not a life 
devoted to the task of regenerating your race be well spent?」 

「Yes,」 I said; 「but I could not go on for ever so: I want to enjoy 
my own faculties as well as to cultivate those of other people. I 
must enjoy them now; don』t recall either my mind or body to the 
school; I am out of it and disposed for full holiday.」 

He looked grave. 「What now? What sudden eagerness is this 
you evince? What are you going to do?」 

「To be active: as active as I can. And first I must beg you to set 
Hannah at liberty, and get somebody else to wait on you.」 

「Do you want her?」 

「Yes, to go with me to Moor House. Diana and Mary will be at 
home in a week, and I want to have everything in order against 
their arrival.」 

「I understand. I thought you were for flying off on some 
excursion. It is better so: Hannah shall go with you.」 

「Tell her to be ready by to-morrow then; and here is the 
schoolroom key: I will give you the key of my cottage in the 
morning.」 

He took it. 「You give it up very gleefully,」 said he; 「I don』t quite 
understand your light-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 bees-wax, oil, and an 
indefinite number of cloths, till it glitters again; my third, to 

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Jane Eyre 555 

arrange every chair, table, bed, carpet, with mathematical 
precision; afterwards I shall go near to ruin you in coals and peat 
to keep up good fires in every room; and lastly, the two days 
preceding that on which your sisters are expected will be devoted 
by Hannah and me to such a beating of eggs, sorting of currants, 
grating of spices, compounding of Christmas cakes, chopping up of 
materials for mince-pies, and solemnising of other culinary rites, 
as words can convey but an inadequate notion of to the uninitiated 
like you. My purpose, in short, is to have all things in an absolutely 
perfect state of readiness for Diana and Mary before next 
Thursday; and my ambition is to give them a beau-ideal of a 
welcome when they come.」 

St. John smiled slightly: still he was dissatisfied. 

「It is all very well for the present,」 said he; 「but seriously, I 
trust that when the first flush of vivacity is over, you will look a 
little higher than domestic endearments and household joys.」 

「The best things the world has!」 I interrupted. 

「No, Jane, no: this world is not the scene of fruition; do not 
attempt to make it so: nor of rest; do not turn slothful.」 

「I mean, on the contrary, to be busy.」 

「Jane, I excuse you for the present: two months』 grace I allow 
you for the full enjoyment of your new position, and for pleasing 
yourself with this late-found charm of relationship; but then, I 
hope you will begin to look beyond Moor House and Morton, and 
sisterly society, and the selfish calm and sensual comfort of 
civilised affluence. I hope your energies will then once more 
trouble you with their strength.」 

I looked at him with surprise. 「St. John,」 I said, 「I think you are 
almost wicked to talk so. I am disposed to be as content as a 

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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 
commonplace home pleasures. Don』t cling so tenaciously to ties of 
the flesh; save your constancy and ardour for an adequate cause; 
forbear to waste them on trite transient objects. Do you hear, 
Jane?」 

「Yes; just as if you were speaking Greek. I feel I have adequate 
cause to be happy, and I will be happy. Goodbye!」 

Happy at Moor House I was, and hard I worked; and so did 
Hannah: she was charmed to see how jovial I could be amidst the 
bustle of a house turned topsy-turvy—how I could 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 

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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 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 estrangement. 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 alterations had 
disturbed some old associations he valued. I inquired whether this 
was the case: no doubt in a somewhat crest-fallen tone. 

「Not at all; he had, on the contrary, remarked that I had 

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Jane Eyre 558 

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 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 comprehended how he should despise 
himself for the feverish influence it exercised over him; how he 
should wish to stifle and destroy it; how he should mistrust its ever 
conducting permanently to his happiness or hers. I saw he was of 
the material from which nature hews her heroes—Christian and 
Pagan—her 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 

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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 Whitcross, 
and chilled with the frosty night air; but their pleasant 
countenances expanded to the cheerful firelight. While the driver 
and Hannah brought in the 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 their 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 decorations of 
their rooms; with the new drapery, and fresh carpets, and rich 

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Jane Eyre 560 

tinted china vases: they expressed their gratification 
ungrudgingly. I had the pleasure of feeling 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. Rivers to see his mother, who was 
drawing away.」 

「Where does she live, Hannah?」 

「Clear up at Whitcross Brow, almost four miles off, and moor 
and moss all the way.」 

「Tell him I will go.」 

「I』m sure, sir, you had better not. It』s the worst road to travel 
after dark that can be: there』s no track at all over the bog. And 
then it is such a bitter night—the keenest wind you ever felt. You 
had better send word, sir, that you will be there in the morning.」 

But he was already in the 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 set out. He had 
performed an act of duty; made an exertion; felt his own strength 

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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 dissipation. 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; and 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 in 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. 

「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 Mr. 
Granby, one of the best connected and most estimable residents in 
S—, grandson and heir to Sir Frederic Granby: I had the 
intelligence from her father yesterday.」 

His sisters looked at each other and at me; we all three looked 
at him: he was serene as glass. 

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Jane Eyre 562 

「The match must have been got up hastily,」 said Diana: 「they 
cannot have known each other long.」 

「But two months: they met in October at the county ball at S—. 
But where there are no obstacles to a union, as in the present case, 
where the connection is in every point desirable, delays are 
unnecessary: they will be married as soon as S— Place, which Sir 
Frederic gives up to them, can he refitted for their reception.」 

The first time I found St. John alone after this communication, 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 of those 

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Jane Eyre 563 

conquerors whose triumphs have cost them too dear? Would not 
such another ruin you?」 

「I think not; and if I were, it does not much signify; I shall never 
be called upon to contend for such another. The event of the 
conflict is decisive: my way is now clear; I thank God for it!」 So 
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 returned searchingly to our table. 
I wondered what it meant: I wondered, too, at the punctual 
satisfaction he never failed to exhibit on an occasion 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. 

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Jane Eyre 564 

「Jane is not such a weakling as you would make her,」 he would 
say: 「she can bear a mountain blast, or a shower, or a few flakes of 
snow, as well as any of us. Her constitution is both sound and 
elastic;—better calculated to endure variations of climate than 
many more robust.」 

And when I 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 annoyance. 

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.」 

「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 

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Jane Eyre 565 

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, 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. 

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Jane Eyre 566 

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 me. 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 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 

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Jane Eyre 567 

sat at my heart and drained my happiness 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 evening 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 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 

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Jane Eyre 568 

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 disappointment. 
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 gardening—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 
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 

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Jane Eyre 569 

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 
directions; and in ten minutes I was treading the wild track of the 
glen, side by side with him. 

The breeze was from the west: it came over the hills, sweet with 
scents of heath and rush; the sky was of stainless 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 
farther, the mountain shook off turf and flower, had only heath for 
raiment and crag for gem—where it exaggerated the wild to the 

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Jane Eyre 570 

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. 

「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 interval past, he 
recommenced— 

「Jane, I go in six weeks; I have taken my berth in an East 
Indiaman which sails on the 20th of June.」 

「God will protect you; for you have undertaken His work,」 I 
answered. 

「Yes,」 said 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 

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Jane Eyre 571 

such as are worthy of the work, and competent to accomplish it.」 

「Those are few in number, and difficult to discover.」 

「You say truly; but when found, it is right to stir them up—to 
urge and exhort them to the effort—to show them what their gifts 
are, and why they were given—to speak Heaven』s message in their 
ear,—to offer them, direct from God, a place in the ranks of His 
chosen.」 

「If they are really qualified for the task, will not their own 
hearts be the first to inform them of it?」 

I felt as if an awful charm was framing round and gathering 
over me: I trembled to hear some fatal word spoken which would 
at once declare and rivet the spell. 

「And what does your heart say?」 demanded St. John. 

「My heart is mute,—my heart is mute,」 I 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— 

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shall be. You shall be mine: I claim you—not for my pleasure, but 

for my Sovereign』s service.」 

「I am not fit for it: I have no vocation,」 I said. 

He had calculated on these first objections: he was not irritated 
by them. 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. 

「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 
Rock of Ages I ask you to lean on: do not doubt but it will bear the 
weight of your human weakness.」 

「I do not understand a missionary life: I have never studied 
missionary labours.」 

「There I, humble as I am, can give you the aid you want: I can 
set you your task from hour to hour; stand by you always; help you 
from moment to moment. This I could do in the beginning: soon 
(for I know your powers) you would be as strong and apt as myself, 
and would not require my help.」 

「But my powers—where are they for this undertaking? I do not 

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feel them. Nothing speaks or stirs in me while you talk. I am 
sensible of no light kindling—no life quickening—no voice 
counselling or cheering. Oh, I wish I could make you see how 
much my mind is at this moment like a rayless dungeon, with one 
shrinking fear fettered in its depths—the fear of being persuaded 
by you to attempt what I cannot accomplish!」 

「I have an answer for you—hear it. I have watched you ever 
since we first met: I have made you my study for ten months. I 
have proved you in that time by sundry tests: and what have I seen 
and elicited? In the village school I found you could perform well, 
punctually, uprightly, labour uncongenial to your habits and 
inclinations; I saw you could perform it with capacity and tact: you 
could win while you controlled. In the calm with which you learnt 
you had become suddenly rich, I read a mind clear of the vice of 
Demas:—lucre had no undue power over you. In the resolute 
readiness with which you cut your wealth into four shares, 
keeping but one to yourself, and relinquishing the three others to 
the claim of abstract justice, I recognised a soul that revelled in the 
flame and excitement of sacrifice. In the tractability with which, at 
my wish, you forsook a study in which you were interested, and 
adopted another because it interested me; in the untiring assiduity 
with which you have since persevered in it—in the unflagging 
energy and unshaken temper with which you have met its 
difficulties—I acknowledge the complement of the qualities I seek. 
Jane, you are docile, diligent, disinterested, faithful, constant, and 
courageous; very gentle, and very heroic: cease to mistrust 
yourself—I can trust you unreservedly. As a conductress of Indian 
schools, and a helper amongst Indian women, your assistance will 
be to me invaluable.」 

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My iron shroud contracted round me; persuasion advanced 
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, condensed 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 long 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 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 reunite me to him. Of 
course (as St. John once said) I must seek another interest in life 
to replace the one lost: is not the occupation he now offers me 
truly the most glorious man can adopt or God assign? Is it not, by 
its noble cares 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 St. John, I 
abandon half myself: if I go to India, I go to premature death. And 

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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. 

「Consent, then, to his demand is possible: but for one item— 
one dreadful item. It is—that he asks me to be his wife, and has no 
more of a husband』s heart for me than that frowning giant of a 
rock, down which the stream is foaming in yonder gorge. He 
prizes me as a soldier would a good weapon; and that is all. 
Unmarried to him, this would never grieve me; but can I let him 
complete his calculations—coolly put into practice his plans—go 
through the wedding ceremony? Can I receive from him the bridal 
ring, endure all the forms of love (which I doubt not he would 
scrupulously observe) and know that the spirit was quite absent? 
Can I bear the consciousness that every endearment he bestows is 
a sacrifice made on principle? No: such a martyrdom would be 
monstrous. I will never undergo it. As his sister, I might 
accompany him—not as his wife: I will tell him so.」 

I looked towards the knoll: there he 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.」 

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「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 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.」 

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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 understood 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 proceeding 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, caring as I. The veil fell from his hardness 
and despotism. Having felt in him the presence of these qualities, I 

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Jane Eyre 578 

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!」 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 serve 
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 

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Jane Eyre 579 

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 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. 

「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 

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Jane Eyre 580 

like yourself.」 

「It is known that you are not my sister; I cannot introduce you 
as such: to attempt it would be to fasten injurious suspicions on us 
both. And for the rest, though you have a man』s vigorous brain, 
you have a woman』s heart and—it would not do.」 

「It would do,」 I affirmed with some disdain, 「perfectly well. I 
have a woman』s heart, but not where you are concerned; for you I 
have only a comrade』s constancy; a fellow-soldier』s frankness, 
fidelity, fraternity, if you like; a neophyte』s respect and submission 
to his hierophant: nothing more—don』t fear.」 

「It is what I want,」 he 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 

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Jane Eyre 581 

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 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, 

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Jane Eyre 582 

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. 

「Good-night, St. John,」 said I. 

「Good-night, Jane,」 he replied calmly. 

「Then shake hands,」 I added. 

What a cold, loose touch, he impressed on my fingers! He was 
deeply displeased by what had occurred that day; cordiality would 
not warm, nor tears move him. No happy reconciliation was to be 
had with him—no cheering smile or generous word: but still the 
Christian was patient and placid; and when I asked him if he 
forgave me, he answered that he was not in the habit of cherishing 
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. 

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Jane Eyre 583 

Chapter 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 
punishment 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 gratification of vengeance: 
he had forgiven me for saying I scorned him and his love, but he 
had not forgotten the words; and as 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 formerly communicated a certain austere 
charm to his language and manner. To me, he was in reality 

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Jane Eyre 584 

become no longer 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 force, 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. 

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Jane Eyre 585 

「No, St. John, we are not friends as we were. You know that.」 

「Are we not? That is wrong. For my part, I wish you no ill and 
all good.」 

「I believe you, St. John; for I am sure you are incapable of 
wishing any one ill; but, as I am your kinswoman, I should desire 
somewhat more of affection than that sort of general philanthropy 
you extend to mere strangers.」 

「Of course,」 he said. 「Your wish is 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?」 

「You said I could not unless I married you.」 

「And you will not marry me! You adhere to that resolution?」 

Reader, do you know, as I do, what terror those cold people can 
put into the ice of their questions? How much of the fall of the 
avalanche is in their anger? of the breaking up of the frozen sea in 
their displeasure? 

「No. St. John, I will not marry you. I adhere to my resolution.」 

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Jane Eyre 586 

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. 

「I should kill you—I am killing you? Your words are such as 
ought not to be used: violent, unfeminine, and untrue. They betray 
an unfortunate state of mind: they merit severe reproof: they 
would seem inexcusable, but that it is the duty of man to forgive 
his fellow even until seventy-and-seven times.」 

I had finished the business now. While earnestly wishing to 
erase from his mind the trace of my former 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 

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Jane Eyre 587 

between Nature and Grace in this interval, I cannot tell: only 
singular gleams scintillated in his eyes, and strange shadows 
passed over his face. He spoke at last. 

「I before proved to you the absurdity of a single woman of your 
age 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 conceited as to misunderstand my 
meaning. I say again, I will be your curate, if you like, but never 
your wife.」 

Again he turned lividly pale; but, as before, controlled his 
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 

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Jane Eyre 588 

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. 

「I am. God did not give me my life to throw away; and to do as 
you wish me would, I begin to think, be almost equivalent to 
committing suicide. Moreover, before I definitively resolve on 
quitting England, I will know for certain whether I cannot be of 
greater use by remaining in it than by leaving it.」 

「What do you mean?」 

「It would be fruitless to attempt to explain; but there is a point 
on which I have long endured painful doubt, and I can go nowhere 
till by some means that doubt is removed.」 

「I know where your heart turns and to what it clings. The 
interest you cherish is lawless and unconsecrated. Long since you 
ought to have crushed it: now you should blush to allude to it. You 
think of Mr. Rochester?」 

It was true. I confessed it by silence. 

「Are you going to seek Mr. Rochester?」 

「I must find out what is become of him.」 

「It remains for me, then,」 he 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. 

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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 me what business St. John 
and you have on hands. I have watched you this half hour from the 
window; you must forgive my being such a spy, but for a long time 
I have fancied I hardly know what. St. John is a strange being—」 

She paused—I did not speak: soon she resumed— 

「That brother of mine cherishes peculiar views of some sort 
respecting you, I am sure: he has long distinguished you by a 
notice and interest he never showed to any one else—to what end? 
I wish he loved you—does he, Jane?」 

I put her cool hand to my hot forehead; 「No, Die, not one whit.」 

「Then why does he follow you so with his eyes, and get you so 
frequently alone with him, and keep you so continually at his side? 
Mary and I had both concluded he wished you to marry him.」 

「He does—he has asked me to be his wife.」 

Diana clapped her hands. 「That is just what we hoped and 
thought! And you will marry him, Jane, won』t you? And then he 
will stay in England.」 

「Far from that, Diana; his sole idea in proposing to me is to 
procure a fitting fellow-labourer in his Indian toils.」 

「What! He wishes you to go to India?」 

「Yes.」 

「Madness!」 she exclaimed. 「You would not live three months 
there, I am certain. You never shall go: you have not consented, 
have you, Jane?」 

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「I have refused to marry him—」 

「And have consequently displeased him?」 she suggested. 

「Deeply: he will never forgive me, I fear: yet I offered to 
accompany him as his sister.」 

「It was frantic folly to do so, Jane. Think of the task you 
undertook—one of incessant fatigue, where fatigue kills even the 
strong, and you are weak. St. John—you know him—would urge 
you to impossibilities: with him there would be no permission to 
rest during the hot hours; and unfortunately, I have noticed, 
whatever he exacts, you force yourself to perform. I am astonished 
you found courage to refuse his hand. You do not love him then, 
Jane?」 

「Not as a husband.」 

「Yet he is a handsome fellow.」 

「And I am so plain, you see, Die. We should never suit.」 

「Plain! You? Not at all. You are much too pretty, as well as too 
good, to be grilled alive in Calcutta.」 And again she earnestly 
conjured me to give up all thoughts of going out with her brother. 

「I must indeed,」 I said; 「for when just now I repeated the offer 
of serving him for a 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 

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follows that I am not formed for marriage. Would it not be strange, 
Die, to be chained for life to a man who regarded one but as a 
useful tool?」 

「Insupportable—unnatural—out of the question!」 

「And then,」 I 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. 

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For the evening reading before prayers, he selected the twenty-
first chapter of Revelation. It was at all times pleasant to listen 
while from his lips fell the words of the Bible: never did his fine 
voice sound at once so sweet and full—never did his manner 
become so impressive in its noble simplicity, as when he delivered 
the oracles of God: and to-night that voice took a more solemn 
tone—that manner a more thrilling meaning—as he sat in the 
midst of his household circle (the May moon shining in through 
the uncurtained 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 alteration in sound, 
that in uttering them, his eye had turned on me. 

「He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his 
God, and 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 earnestness, 
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 

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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 supplicated strength for the weak-
hearted; guidance for wanderers from the fold: a return, even at 
the eleventh hour, for those whom the temptations of the world 
and the flesh were luring from the narrow path. He asked, he 
urged, he claimed the boon of a brand snatched from the burning. 
Earnestness is ever deeply solemn: first, as I listened to that 
prayer, 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 

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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 responsible. 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 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 
of judgment. So I think at this hour, when I look back to the crisis 
through the quiet medium of time: I was unconscious of folly at 
the instant. 

I stood motionless under my hierophant』s touch. My refusals 
were forgotten—my fears overcome—my wrestlings paralysed. 
The Impossible—i.e., my marriage with St. John—was fast 
becoming the Possible. All was changing utterly with a sudden 
sweep. Religion called—Angels beckoned—God commanded—life 
rolled together like a scroll—death』s gates 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. 

「Could you decide now?」 asked the missionary. The inquiry 
was put in gentle tones: he drew me to him as gently. Oh, that 

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Jane Eyre 595 

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 could decide if I were but certain,」 I answered: 「were I but 
convinced that it is God』s will I should marry you, I could vow to 
marry you here and now—come afterwards what would!」 

「My prayers are heard!」 ejaculated St. John. He pressed his 
hand firmer on my head, as if he claimed me: he surrounded me 
with his arm, almost as if he loved me (I say almost—I knew the 
difference—for I had felt what it was to be loved; but, like him, I 
had now put love out of the question, and thought only of duty). I 
contended with my inward dimness of vision, before which clouds 
yet rolled. I sincerely, deeply, fervently longed to do what was 
right; and only that. 「Show me, show me the path!」 I entreated of 
Heaven. I was excited more than I had ever been; and whether 
what followed was the effect of excitement the reader shall judge. 

All the house was still; for I believe all, except St. John and 
myself, were now retired to rest. The one candle was dying out: 
the room was full of moonlight. My heart beat fast and thick: I 
heard its throb. Suddenly it stood still to an inexpressible feeling 
that thrilled it through, and passed at once to my head and 
extremities. The feeling was not like an electric shock, but it was 
quite as sharp, as strange, as startling: it acted on my senses as if 
their utmost activity hitherto had been but torpor, from which 
they were now summoned and forced to wake. They rose 
expectant: eye and ear waited while the flesh quivered on my 
bones. 

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「What have you heard? What do you see?」 asked St. John. I 
saw nothing, but I heard a voice somewhere cry— 

「Jane! Jane! Jane!」—nothing more. 

「O God! what is it?」 I gasped. 

I might have said, 「Where is it?」 for it did not seem in the 
room—nor in the house—nor in the garden; it did not come out of 
the air—nor from under the earth—nor from overhead. I had 
heard it—where, or whence, for ever impossible to know! And it 
was the voice of a human being—a known, loved, well-
remembered voice—that of Edward Fairfax Rochester; and it 
spoke in pain and woe, wildly, eerily, urgently. 

「I am coming!」 I cried. 「Wait for me! Oh, I will come!」 I flew to 
the door and looked into the passage: it was dark. I ran out into 
the garden: it was void. 

「Where are you?」 I exclaimed. 

The hills beyond Marsh Glen sent the answer faintly back— 
「Where are you?」 I listened. The wind sighed low in the firs: all 
was moorland loneliness and midnight hush. 

「Down superstition!」 I commented, as that spectre rose up 
black by the black yew at the gate. 「This is not thy deception, nor 
thy witchcraft: it is the work of nature. She was roused, and did— 
no miracle—but her best.」 

I broke from St. John, who had followed, and would have 
detained me. It was my time to assume ascendency. My powers 
were in play and in force. I told him to forbear question or remark; 
I desired him to leave me: I must and would be alone. He obeyed 
at once. Where there is energy to command well enough, 
obedience never fails. I mounted to my chamber; locked myself in; 
fell on my knees; and prayed in my way—a different way to St. 

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John』s, but effective in its own fashion. I seemed to penetrate very 
near a Mighty Spirit; and my soul rushed out in gratitude at His 
feet. I rose from the thanksgiving—took a resolve—and lay down, 
unscared, enlightened—eager but for the daylight. 

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Chapter XXXVI 

The daylight came. I rose at dawn. I busied myself for an 
hour or two with arranging my things in my chamber, 
drawers, and wardrobe, in the order wherein I should 
wish to leave them during a brief absence. Meantime, I heard St. 
John quit his room. He stopped at my door: I feared he would 
knock—no, but a slip of paper was passed under the door. I took it 
up. It bore these words— 

「You left me too suddenly last night. Had you stayed but a little 
longer, you would have laid your hand on the Christian』s cross and 
the angel』s crown. I shall expect your clear decision when I return 
this day fortnight. Meantime, watch and pray that you enter not 
into temptation: the spirit, I trust, is willing, but the flesh, I see, is 
weak. I shall pray for you hourly.—Yours, St. John.」 

「My spirit,」 I answered mentally, 「is willing to do what is right; 
and my flesh, I hope, is strong enough to accomplish the will of 
Heaven, when once that will is distinctly known to me. At any rate, 
it shall be strong enough to search—inquire—to grope an outlet 
from this cloud of doubt, and find the open day of certainty.」 

It was the first of June; yet the morning was overcast and chilly: 
rain beat fast on my casement. I heard the front-door open, and St. 
John pass out. Looking through the window, I saw him traverse 
the garden. He took the way over the misty moors in the direction 
of Whitcross—there he would meet the coach. 

「In a few more hours I shall succeed you in that track, cousin,」 
thought I: 「I too have a coach to meet at Whitcross. I too have 
some to see and ask after in England, before I depart for ever.」 

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It wanted yet two hours of breakfast-time. I filled the interval in 
walking softly about my room, and pondering the visitation which 
had given my plans their present bent. I recalled that inward 
sensation I had experienced: for I could recall it, with all its 
unspeakable strangeness. I recalled the voice I had heard; again I 
questioned whence it came, as vainly as before: it seemed in me— 
not in the external world. I asked was it a mere nervous 
impression—a delusion? I could not conceive or believe: it was 
more like an inspiration. The wondrous shock of feeling had come 
like the earthquake which shook the foundations of Paul and 
Silas』s prison; it had opened the doors of the soul』s cell and loosed 
its bands—it had wakened it out of its sleep, whence it sprang 
trembling, listening, aghast; then vibrated thrice a cry on my 
startled ear, and in my quaking heart and through my spirit, 
which neither feared nor shook, but exulted as if in joy over the 
success of one effort it had been privileged to make, independent 
of the cumbrous body. 

「Ere many days,」 I said, as I terminated my musings, 「I will 
know something of him whose voice seemed last night to summon 
me. Letters have proved of no avail—personal inquiry shall 
replace them.」 

At breakfast I announced to Diana and Mary that I was going a 
journey, and should be absent at least four days. 

「Alone, Jane?」 they asked. 

「Yes; it was to see or hear news of a friend about whom I had 
for some time been uneasy.」 

They might have said, as I have no doubt they thought, that 
they had believed me to be without any friends save them: for, 
indeed, I had often said so; but, with their true natural delicacy, 

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they abstained from comment, except that Diana asked me if I was 
sure I was well enough to travel. I looked very pale, she observed. I 
replied, that nothing ailed me save anxiety of mind, which I hoped 
soon to alleviate. 

It was easy to make my further arrangements; for I was 
troubled with no inquiries—no surmises. Having once explained 
to them that I could not now be explicit about my plans, they 
kindly and wisely acquiesced in the silence with which I pursued 
them, according to me the privilege of free action I should under 
similar circumstances have accorded them. 

I left Moor House at three o』clock p.m., and soon after four I 
stood at the foot of the sign-post of Whitcross, waiting the arrival 
of the coach which was to take me to distant Thornfield. Amidst 
the silence of those solitary roads and desert hills, I heard it 
approach from a great distance. It was the same vehicle whence, a 
year ago, I had alighted one summer evening on this very spot— 
how desolate, and hopeless, and objectless! It stopped as I 
beckoned. I entered—not now obliged to part with my whole 
fortune as the price of its accommodation. Once more on the road 
to Thornfield, I felt like the messenger-pigeon flying home. 

It was a journey of six-and-thirty hours. I had set out from 
Whitcross on a Tuesday afternoon, and early on the succeeding 
Thursday morning the coach stopped to water the horses at a 
wayside inn, situated in the midst of scenery whose green hedges 
and large fields and low pastoral hills (how mild of feature and 
verdant of hue compared with the stern North-Midland moors of 
Morton!) met my eye like the lineaments of a once familiar face. 
Yes, I knew the character of this landscape: I was sure we were 
near my bourne. 

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「How far is Thornfield Hall from here?」 I asked of the ostler. 

「Just two miles, ma』am, across the fields.」 

「My journey is closed,」 I thought to myself. I got out of the 
coach, gave a box I had into the ostler』s charge, to be kept till I 
called for it; paid my fare; satisfied the coachman, and was going: 
the brightening day gleamed on the sign of the inn, and I read in 
gilt letters, 「The Rochester Arms.」 My heart leapt up: I was 
already on my master』s very lands. It fell again: the thought struck 
it:— 

「Your master himself may be beyond the British Channel, for 
aught you know: and then, if he is at Thornfield Hall, towards 
which you hasten, who besides him is there? His lunatic wife: and 
you have nothing to do with him: you dare not speak to him or 
seek his presence. You have lost your labour—you had better go 
no farther,」 urged the monitor. 「Ask information of the people at 
the inn; they can give you all you seek: they can solve your doubts 
at once. Go up to that man, and inquire if Mr. Rochester be at 
home.」 

The suggestion was sensible, and yet I could not force myself to 
act on it. I so dreaded a reply that would crush me with despair. 
To prolong doubt was to prolong hope. I might yet once more see 
the Hall under the ray of her star. There was the stile before me— 
the very fields through which I had hurried, blind, deaf, distracted 
with a revengeful fury tracking and scourging me, on the morning 
I fled from Thornfield: ere I well knew what course I had resolved 
to take, I was in the midst of them. How fast I walked! How I ran 
sometimes! How I looked forward to catch the first view of the 
well-known woods! With what feelings I welcomed single trees I 
knew, and familiar glimpses of meadow and hill between them! 

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At last the woods rose; the rookery clustered dark; a loud 
cawing broke the morning stillness. Strange delight inspired me: 
on I hastened. Another field crossed—a lane threaded—and there 
were the courtyard walls—the back offices: the house itself, the 
rookery still hid. 「My first view of it shall be in front,」 I 
determined, 「where its bold battlements will strike the eye nobly 
at once, and where I can single out my master』s very window: 
perhaps he will be standing at it—he rises early: perhaps he is now 
walking in the orchard, or on the pavement in front. Could I but 
see him!—but a moment! Surely, in that case, I should not be so 
mad as to run to him? I cannot tell—I am not certain. And if I 
did—what then? God bless him! What then? Who would be hurt 
by my once more tasting the life his glance can give me? I rave: 
perhaps at this moment he is watching the sun rise over the 
Pyrenees, or on the tideless sea of the south.」 

I had coasted along the lower wall of the orchard—turned its 
angle: there was a gate just there, opening into the meadow, 
between two stone pillars crowned by stone balls. From behind 
one pillar I could peep round quietly at the full front of the 
mansion. I advanced my head with precaution, desirous to 
ascertain if any bedroom window-blinds were yet drawn up: 
battlements, windows, long front—all from this sheltered station 
were at my command. 

The crows sailing overhead perhaps watched me while I took 
this survey. I wonder what they thought. They must have 
considered I was very careful and timid at first, and that gradually 
I grew very bold and reckless. A peep, and then a long stare; and 
then a departure from my niche and a straying out into the 
meadow; and a sudden stop full in front of the great mansion, and 

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a protracted, hardy gaze towards it. 「What affectation of diffidence 
was this at first?」 they might have demanded; 「what stupid 
regardlessness now?」 

Hear an illustration, reader. 

A lover finds his mistress asleep on a mossy bank; he wishes to 
catch a glimpse of her fair face without waking her. He steals softly 
over the grass, careful to make no sound; he pauses—fancying she 
has stirred: he withdraws: not for worlds would he be seen. All is 
still: he again advances: he bends above her; a light veil rests on 
her features: he lifts it, bends lower; now his eyes anticipate the 
vision of beauty—warm, and blooming, and lovely, in rest. How 
hurried was their first glance! But how they fix! How he starts! 
How he suddenly and vehemently clasps in both arms the form he 
dared not, a moment since, touch with his finger! How he calls 
aloud a name, and drops his burden, and gazes on it wildly! He 
thus grasps and cries, and gazes, because he no longer fears to 
waken by any sound he can utter—by any movement he can make. 
He thought his love slept sweetly: he finds she is stone dead. 

I looked with timorous joy towards a stately house: I saw a 
blackened ruin. 

No need to cower behind a gate-post, indeed!—to peep up at 
chamber lattices, fearing life was astir behind them! No need to 
listen for doors opening—to fancy steps on the pavement or the 
gravel-walk! The lawn, the grounds were trodden and waste: the 
portal yawned void. The front was, as I had once seen it in a 
dream, but a well-like wall, very high and very fragile-looking, 
perforated with paneless windows: no roof, no battlements, no 
chimneys—all had crashed in. 

And there was the silence of death about it: the solitude of a 

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lonesome wild. No wonder that letters addressed to people here 
had never received an answer: as well despatch epistles to a vault 
in a church aisle. The grim blackness of the stones told by what 
fate the Hall had fallen—by conflagration: but how kindled? What 
story belonged to this disaster? What loss, besides mortar and 
marble and wood-work had followed upon it? Had life been 
wrecked as well as property? If so, whose? Dreadful question: 
there was no one here to answer it—not even dumb sign, mute 
token. 

In wandering round the shattered walls and through the 
devastated interior, I gathered evidence that the calamity was not 
of late occurrence. Winter snows, I thought, had drifted through 
that void arch, winter rains beaten in at those hollow casements; 
for, amidst the drenched piles of rubbish, spring had cherished 
vegetation: grass and weed grew here and there between the 
stones and fallen rafters. And oh! where meantime was the 
hapless owner of this wreck? In what land? Under what auspices? 
My eye involuntarily wandered to the grey church tower near the 
gates, and I asked, 「Is he with Damer de Rochester, sharing the 
shelter of his narrow marble house?」 

Some answer must be had to these questions. I could find it 
nowhere but at the inn, and thither, ere long, I returned. The host 
himself brought my breakfast into the parlour. I requested him to 
shut the door and sit down: I had some questions to ask him. But 
when he complied, I scarcely knew how to begin; such horror had 
I of the possible answers. And yet the spectacle of desolation I had 
just left prepared me in a measure for a tale of misery. The host 
was a respectable-looking, middle-aged man. 

「You know Thornfield Hall, of course?」 I managed to say at 

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last. 

「Yes, ma』am; I lived there once.」 

「Did you?」 Not in my time, I thought: you are a stranger to me. 

「I was the late Mr. Rochester』s butler,」 he added. 

The late! I seem to have received, with full force, the blow I had 
been trying to evade. 

「The late!」 gasped. 「Is he dead?」 

「I mean the present gentleman, Mr. Edward』s father,」 he 
explained. I breathed again: my blood resumed its flow. Fully 
assured by these words that Mr. Edward—my Mr. Rochester (God 
bless him, wherever he was!)—was at least alive: was, in short, 
「the present gentleman.」 Gladdening words! It seemed I could 
hear all that was to come—whatever the disclosures might be— 
with comparative tranquillity. Since he was not in the grave, I 
could bear, I thought, to learn that he was at the Antipodes. 

「Is Mr. Rochester living at Thornfield Hall now?」 I asked, 
knowing, of course, what the answer would be, but yet desirous of 
deferring the direct question as to where he really was. 

「No, ma』am—oh, no! No one is living there. I suppose you are a 
stranger in these parts, or you would have heard what happened 
last autumn,—Thornfield Hall is quite a ruin: it was burnt down 
just about harvest-time. A dreadful calamity! such an immense 
quantity of valuable property destroyed: hardly any of the 
furniture could be saved. The fire broke out at dead of night, and 
before the engines arrived from Millcote, the building was one 
mass of flame. It was a terrible spectacle: I witnessed it myself.」 

「At dead of night!」 I muttered. Yes, that was ever the hour of 
fatality at Thornfield. 「Was it known how it originated?」 I 
demanded. 

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「They guessed, ma』am: they guessed. Indeed, I should say it 
was ascertained beyond a doubt. You are not perhaps aware,」 he 
continued, edging his chair a little nearer the table, and speaking 
low, 「that there was a lady—a—a lunatic, kept in the house?」 

「I have heard something of it.」 

「She was kept in very close confinement, ma』am: people even 
for some years was not absolutely certain of her existence. No one 
saw her: they only knew by rumour that such a person was at the 
Hall; and who or what she was it was difficult to conjecture. They 
said Mr. Edward had brought her from abroad, and some believed 
she had been his mistress. But a queer thing happened a year 
since—a very queer thing.」 

I feared now to hear my own story. I endeavoured to recall him 
to the main fact. 

「And this lady?」 

「This lady, ma』am,」 he answered, 「turned out to be Mr. 
Rochester』s wife! The discovery was brought about in the 
strangest way. There was a young lady, a governess at the Hall, 
that Mr. Rochester fell in—」 

「But the fire,」 I suggested. 

「I』m coming to that, ma』am—that Mr. Edward fell in love with. 
The servants say they never saw anybody so much in love as he 
was: he was after her continually. They used to watch him— 
servants will, you know, ma』am—and he set store on her past 
everything: for all, nobody but him thought her so very handsome. 
She was a little small thing, they say, almost like a child. I never 
saw her myself; but I』ve heard Leah, the house-maid, tell of her. 
Leah liked her well enough. Mr. Rochester was about forty, and 
this governess not twenty; and you see, when gentlemen of his age 

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Jane Eyre 607 

fall in love with girls, they are often like as if they were bewitched. 
Well, he would marry her.」 

「You shall tell me this part of the story another time,」 I said; 
「but now I have a particular reason for wishing to hear all about 
the fire. Was it suspected that this lunatic, Mrs. Rochester, had any 
hand in it?」 

「You』ve hit it, ma』am: it』s quite certain that it was her, and 
nobody but her, that set it going. She had a woman to take care of 
her called Mrs. Poole—an able woman in her line, and very 
trustworthy, but for one fault—a fault common to a deal of them 
nurses and matrons—she kept a private bottle of gin by her, and 
now and then took a drop over-much. It is excusable, for she had a 
hard life of it: but still it was dangerous; for when Mrs. Poole was 
fast asleep after the gin and water, the mad lady, who was as 
cunning as a witch,