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Lavish Home 7-Piece Embroidered Comforter Set

chapter xxv the month of courtship had wasted: its verylast hours were being numbered. there was no putting off the day thatadvanced–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 ofmy 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 nailon: they lay, four little squares, in the drawer. mr. rochester had himself written thedirection, "mrs. rochester, — hotel, london," on each: i could not persuademyself to affix them, or to have them affixed. mrs. rochester! she did not exist: she would not be borntill to-morrow, some time after eight o’clock a.m.; and i would wait to beassured 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 blackstuff lowood frock and straw bonnet: for not to me appertained that suit of wedding raiment; the pearl-coloured robe, thevapoury 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 outcertainly a most ghostly shimmer through the shadow of my apartment. "i will leave you by yourself, whitedream," i said.

"i am feverish: i hear the wind blowing: iwill go out of doors and feel it." it was not only the hurry of preparationthat made me feverish; not only the anticipation of the great change–the newlife 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 athird cause influenced my mind more than they. i had at heart a strange and anxiousthought. something had happened which i could notcomprehend; no one knew of or had seen the

event but myself: it had taken place thepreceding night. mr. rochester that night was absent fromhome; nor was he yet returned: business had called him to a small estate of two orthree farms he possessed thirty miles off– business it was requisite he should settle in person, previous to his meditateddeparture from england. i waited now his return; eager todisburthen my mind, and to seek of him the solution of the enigma that perplexed me. stay till he comes, reader; and, when idisclose my secret to him, you shall share the confidence.

i sought the orchard, driven to its shelterby 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, itseemed 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 theirbranchy heads northward–the clouds drifted from pole to pole, fast following, mass onmass: no glimpse of blue sky had been visible that july day. it was not without a certain wild pleasurei ran before the wind, delivering my

trouble of mind to the measureless air-torrent thundering through space. descending the laurel walk, i faced thewreck of the chestnut-tree; it stood up black and riven: the trunk, split down thecentre, gasped ghastly. the cloven halves were not broken from eachother, for the firm base and strong roots kept them unsundered below; thoughcommunity of vitality was destroyed–the sap could flow no more: their great boughs on each side were dead, and next winter’stempests would be sure to fell one or both to earth: as yet, however, they might besaid 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 charredand scorched, there must be a little sense of life in you yet, rising out of thatadhesion at the faithful, honest roots: you will never have green leaves more–never more see birds making nests and singingidyls in your boughs; the time of pleasure and love is over with you: but you are notdesolate: each of you has a comrade to sympathise with him in his decay." as i looked up at them, the moon appearedmomentarily 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 deepdrift of cloud. the wind fell, for a second, roundthornfield; but far away over wood and water, poured a wild, melancholy wail: itwas sad to listen to, and i ran off again. here and there i strayed through theorchard, gathered up the apples with which the grass round the tree roots was thicklystrewn; then i employed myself in dividing the ripe from the unripe; i carried them into the house and put them away in thestore-room.

then i repaired to the library to ascertainwhether 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 in: yes, the fire hadbeen 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 candlesbrought in ready for lighting. more restless than ever, when i hadcompleted these arrangements i could not sit still, nor even remain in the house: alittle time-piece in the room and the old clock in the hall simultaneously struckten. "how late it grows!"i said.

"i will run down to the gates: it ismoonlight 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 treeswhich embowered the gates; but the road as far as i could see, to the right hand andthe left, was all still and solitary: save for the shadows of clouds crossing it at intervals as the moon looked out, it wasbut a long pale line, unvaried by one moving speck. a puerile tear dimmed my eye while ilooked–a tear of disappointment and

impatience; ashamed of it, i wiped it away. i lingered; the moon shut herself whollywithin her chamber, and drew close her curtain of dense cloud: the night grewdark; 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 berealised; and i had enjoyed so much bliss lately that i imagined my fortune hadpassed its meridian, and must now decline. "well, i cannot return to the house," ithought; "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: erei 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 bluefield in the sky, and rode in it watery bright: he took his hat off, and waved itround his head. i now ran to meet him. "there!" he exclaimed, as he stretched outhis 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 upbefore him. a hearty kissing i got for a welcome, andsome boastful triumph, which i swallowed as well as i could.

he checked himself in his exultation todemand, "but is there anything the matter, janet, that you come to meet me at such anhour? 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; pullmy cloak round you: but i think you are feverish, jane: both your cheek and handare burning hot. i ask again, is there anything the matter?" "nothing now; i am neither afraid norunhappy."

"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-morrowis past; till then i dare not: my prize is not certain. this is you, who have been as slippery asan eel this last month, and as thorny as a briar-rose? i could not lay a finger anywhere but i waspricked; 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 meinto the hall, he told me to make haste and put something dry on, and then return tohim 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 longtime." i sat down near him, but told him i couldnot eat. "is it because you have the prospect of ajourney before you, jane? is it the thoughts of going to london thattakes 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?" "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 mymaster’s knee. "it is near midnight," i said.

"yes: but remember, jane, you promised towake with me the night before my wedding." "i did; and i will keep my promise, for anhour 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, "ihave settled everything; and we shall leave thornfield to-morrow, within half-an-hourafter our return from church." "very well, sir." "with what an extraordinary smile youuttered that word–‘very well,’ jane! what a bright spot of colour you have oneach 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 youwhat 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’score." i looked up at him to read the signs ofbliss in his face: it was ardent and flushed. "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 intowhich you are passing?" "no."

"you puzzle me, jane: your look and tone ofsorrowful 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 whileago at something which had happened in my absence:–nothing, probably, ofconsequence; 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, andthe clock its hoarse, vibrating stroke, and then i proceeded. "all day yesterday i was very busy, andvery happy in my ceaseless bustle; for i am not, as you seem to think, troubled by anyhaunting fears about the new sphere, et cetera: i think it a glorious thing to have the hope of living with you, because i loveyou. no, sir, don’t caress me now–let me talkundisturbed. yesterday i trusted well in providence, andbelieved 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 respectingyour safety or comfort on your journey. i walked a little while on the pavementafter tea, thinking of you; and i beheld you in imagination so near me, i scarcelymissed 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 muchmore so as the depths of the sea to which the brook runs are than the shallows of itsown strait channel. i wondered why moralists call this world adreary wilderness: for me it blossomed like a rose.

just at sunset, the air turned cold and thesky cloudy: i went in, sophie called me upstairs to look at my wedding-dress, whichthey had just brought; and under it in the box i found your present–the veil which, in your princely extravagance, you sent forfrom london: resolved, i suppose, since i would not have jewels, to cheat me intoaccepting something as costly. i smiled as i unfolded it, and devised howi would tease you about your aristocratic tastes, and your efforts to masque yourplebeian bride in the attributes of a peeress. i thought how i would carry down to you thesquare of unembroidered blond i had myself

prepared as a covering for my low-bornhead, and ask if that was not good enough for a woman who could bring her husbandneither fortune, beauty, nor connections. i saw plainly how you would look; and heardyour impetuous republican answers, and your haughty disavowal of any necessity on yourpart to augment your wealth, or elevate your standing, by marrying either a purseor 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 youlook so mournful now?" "no, no, sir; besides the delicacy andrichness of the fabric, i found nothing

save fairfax rochester’s pride; and thatdid not scare me, because i am used to the sight of the demon. but, sir, as it grew dark, the wind rose:it blew yesterday evening, not as it blows now–wild and high–but ‘with a sullen,moaning sound’ far more eerie. i wished you were at home. i came into this room, and the sight of theempty chair and fireless hearth chilled me. for some time after i went to bed, i couldnot sleep–a sense of anxious excitement distressed me. the gale still rising, seemed to my ear tomuffle a mournful under-sound; whether in

the house or abroad i could not at firsttell, but it recurred, doubtful yet doleful at every lull; at last i made out it mustbe 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 followingthe windings of an unknown road; total obscurity environed me; rain pelted me; iwas burdened with the charge of a little child: a very small creature, too young and

feeble to walk, and which shivered in mycold arms, and wailed piteously in my ear. i thought, sir, that you were on the road along way before me; and i strained every nerve to overtake you, and made effort oneffort 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 onyour lips. i heard them clear and soft: a thought toosolemn perhaps, but sweet as music–‘i think it is a glorious thing to have thehope 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 my breast painfully. why? i think because you said it with suchan earnest, religious energy, and because

your upward gaze at me now is the verysublime of faith, truth, and devotion: it is too much as if some spirit were near me. look wicked, jane: as you know well how tolook: coin one of your wild, shy, provoking smiles; tell me you hate me–tease me, vexme; do anything but move me: i would rather be incensed than saddened." "i will tease you and vex you to yourheart’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 yourmelancholy in a dream." i shook my head."what! is there more?

but i will not believe it to be anythingimportant. i warn you of incredulity beforehand.go on." the disquietude of his air, the somewhatapprehensive impatience of his manner, surprised me: but i proceeded. "i dreamt another dream, sir: thatthornfield hall was a dreary ruin, the retreat of bats and owls. i thought that of all the stately frontnothing remained but a shell-like wall, very high and very fragile-looking. i wandered, on a moonlight night, throughthe grass- grown enclosure within: here i

stumbled over a marble hearth, and thereover a fallen fragment of cornice. wrapped up in a shawl, i still carried theunknown little child: i might not lay it down anywhere, however tired were my arms–however much its weight impeded my progress, i must retain it. i heard the gallop of a horse at a distanceon the road; i was sure it was you; and you were departing for many years and for adistant country. i climbed the thin wall with franticperilous haste, eager to catch one glimpse of you from the top: the stones rolled fromunder my feet, the ivy branches i grasped gave way, the child clung round my neck in

terror, and almost strangled me; at last igained 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 hushedthe scared infant in my lap: you turned an angle of the road: i bent forward to take alast look; the wall crumbled; i was shaken; the child rolled from my knee, i lost mybalance, 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; ithought–oh, it is daylight!

but i was mistaken; it was onlycandlelight. 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-dressand 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 italoft, 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 coldthrough my veins. mr. rochester, this was not sophie, it wasnot leah, it was not mrs. fairfax: it was not–no, i was sure of it, and am still–itwas not even that strange woman, grace poole." "it must have been one of them,"interrupted my master. "no, sir, i solemnly assure you to thecontrary. the shape standing before me had nevercrossed my eyes within the precincts of

thornfield hall before; the height, thecontour 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 waswhite 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 itsplace; 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 thevisage and features quite distinctly in the dark oblong glass.""and how were they?" "fearful and ghastly to me–oh, sir, inever saw a face like it! it was a discoloured face–it was a savageface. i wish i could forget the roll of the redeyes and the fearful blackened inflation of the lineaments!""ghosts are usually pale, jane." "this, sir, was purple: the lips wereswelled and dark; the brow furrowed: the black eyebrows widely raised over thebloodshot 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 gaunthead, rent it in two parts, and flinging both on the floor, trampled on them." {it removed my veil from its gaunt head,rent it in two parts, and flinging both on the floor, trampled on them: p272.jpg}"afterwards?" "it drew aside the window-curtain andlooked out; perhaps it saw dawn approaching, for, taking the candle, itretreated to the door. just at my bedside, the figure stopped: thefiery eyes glared upon me–she thrust up

her candle close to my face, andextinguished it under my eyes. i was aware her lurid visage flamed overmine, and i lost consciousness: for the second time in my life–only the secondtime–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 determinedthat to none but you would i impart this vision. now, sir, tell me who and what that womanwas?"

"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 infault; 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 isto bind us indissolubly; and when we are once united, there shall be no recurrenceof these mental terrors: i guarantee that." "mental terrors, sir! i wish i could believe them to be onlysuch: i wish it more now than ever; since even you cannot explain to me the mysteryof that awful visitant." "and since i cannot do it, jane, it musthave been unreal." "but, sir, when i said so to myself onrising this morning, and when i looked round the room to gather courage andcomfort from the cheerful aspect of each

familiar object in full daylight, there–on the carpet–i saw what gave the distinctlie 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 ifanything malignant did come near you last night, it was only the veil that washarmed. oh, to think what might have happened!" he drew his breath short, and strained meso close to him, i could scarcely pant. after some minutes’ silence, he continued,cheerily–

"now, janet, i’ll explain to you all aboutit. 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: fromall 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, younoticed her entrance and her actions; but feverish, almost delirious as you were, youascribed 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: thespiteful tearing of the veil was real: and it is like her. i see you would ask why i keep such a womanin my house: when we have been married a year and a day, i will tell you; but notnow. are you satisfied, jane? do you accept my solution of the mystery?" i reflected, and in truth it appeared to methe only possible one: satisfied i was not, but to please him i endeavoured to appearso–relieved, i certainly did feel; so i

answered him with a contented smile. and now, as it was long past one, iprepared to leave him. "does not sophie sleep with adele in thenursery?" he asked, as i lit my candle. "yes, sir." "and there is room enough in adele’s littlebed 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 iwould 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, underpretence of requesting her to rouse you in good time to- morrow; for you must bedressed and have finished breakfast before eight. and now, no more sombre thoughts: chasedull care away, janet. don’t you hear to what soft whispers thewind 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, whichhad 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 janetnow?" "the night is serene, sir; and so am i." "and you will not dream of separation andsorrow to-night; but of happy love and blissful union." this prediction was but half fulfilled: idid not indeed dream of sorrow, but as little did i dream of joy; for i neverslept at all.

with little adele in my arms, i watched theslumber of childhood–so tranquil, so passionless, so innocent–and waited forthe coming day: all my life was awake and astir in my frame: and as soon as the sunrose 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 overher with strange emotion, and quitted her because i feared my sobs would break herstill sound repose. she seemed the emblem of my past life; andhere i was now to array myself to meet, the dread, but adored, type of my unknownfuture day. >

chapter xxvi sophie came at seven to dress me: she wasvery long indeed in accomplishing her task; so long that mr. rochester, grown, isuppose, impatient of my delay, sent up to ask why i did not come. she was just fastening my veil (the plainsquare of blond after all) to my hair with a brooch; i hurried from under her hands assoon as i could. "stop!" she cried in french. "look at yourself in the mirror: you havenot taken one peep." so i turned at the door: i saw a robed andveiled figure, so unlike my usual self that

it seemed almost the image of a stranger. "jane!" called a voice, and i hasteneddown. i was received at the foot of the stairs bymr. rochester. "lingerer!" he said, "my brain is on firewith impatience, and you tarry so long!" he took me into the dining-room, surveyedme 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 minutesto eat some breakfast, he rang the bell. one of his lately hired servants, afootman, 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 (theclergyman) and the clerk are there: return and tell me." the church, as the reader knows, was butjust beyond the gates; 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; butit must be ready the moment we return: all

the boxes and luggage arranged and strappedon, and the coachman in his seat." "jane, are you ready?"i rose. there were no groomsmen, no bridesmaids, norelatives to wait for or marshal: none but mr. rochester and i. mrs. fairfax stood in the hall as wepassed. i would fain have spoken to her, but myhand was held by a grasp of iron: i was hurried along by a stride i could hardlyfollow; and to look at mr. rochester’s face was to feel that not a second of delaywould be tolerated for any purpose. i wonder what other bridegroom ever lookedas he did–so bent up to a purpose, so

grimly resolute: or who, under suchsteadfast brows, ever revealed such flaming and flashing eyes. i know not whether the day was fair orfoul; in descending the drive, i gazed neither on sky nor earth: my heart was withmy eyes; and both seemed migrated into mr. rochester’s frame. i wanted to see the invisible thing onwhich, 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: hediscovered 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 thegrey old house of god rising calm before me, of a rook wheeling round the steeple,of a ruddy morning sky beyond. i remember something, too, of the greengrave-mounds; and i have not forgotten, either, two figures of strangers strayingamongst 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 goingto enter by the side-aisle door and witness the ceremony.

by mr. rochester they were not observed; hewas 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 walkedgently with me up the path to the porch. we entered the quiet and humble temple; thepriest waited in his white surplice at the lowly altar, the clerk beside him. all was still: two shadows only moved in aremote corner. my conjecture had been correct: thestrangers had slipped in before us, and they now stood by the vault of therochesters, their backs towards us, viewing

through the rails the old time-stained marble tomb, where a kneeling angel guardedthe 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, iglanced over my shoulder: one of the strangers–a gentleman, evidently–wasadvancing up the chancel. the service began. the explanation of the intent of matrimonywas gone through; and then the clergyman came a step further forward, and, bendingslightly towards mr. rochester, went on.

"i require and charge you both (as ye willanswer at the dreadful day of judgment, when the secrets of all hearts shall bedisclosed), that if either of you know any impediment why ye may not lawfully be joined together in matrimony, ye do nowconfess it; for be ye well assured that so many as are coupled together otherwise thangod’s word doth allow, are not joined together by god, neither is their matrimonylawful." 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 hiseyes from his book, and had held his breath but for a moment, was proceeding: his handwas already stretched towards mr. rochester, as his lips unclosed to ask, "wilt thou have this woman for thy weddedwife?"–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 andstood mute; the clerk did the same; mr. rochester moved slightly, as if anearthquake had rolled under his feet: taking a firmer footing, and not turninghis head or eyes, he said, "proceed."

profound silence fell when he had utteredthat word, with deep but low intonation. presently mr. wood said– "i cannot proceed without someinvestigation 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 myallegation: an insuperable impediment to this marriage exists." mr. rochester heard, but heeded not: hestood stubborn and rigid, making no movement but to possess himself of my hand.

what a hot and strong grasp he had! and howlike quarried marble was his pale, firm, massive front at this moment!how his eye shone, still watchful, and yet wild beneath! mr. wood seemed at a loss."what is the nature of the impediment?" he asked."perhaps it may be got over–explained away?" "hardly," was the answer."i have called it insuperable, and i speak advisedly."the speaker came forward and leaned on the rails.

he continued, uttering each worddistinctly, 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-spokenwords as they had never vibrated to thunder–my blood felt their subtleviolence as it had never felt frost or fire; but i was collected, and in no dangerof swooning. i looked at mr. rochester: i made him lookat me. his whole face was colourless rock: his eyewas both spark and flint.

he disavowed nothing: he seemed as if hewould defy all things. without speaking, without smiling, withoutseeming to recognise in me a human being, he only twined my waist with his arm andriveted 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’sexistence, sir, which the law recognises, if you do not.""favour me with an account of her–with her name, her parentage, her place of abode."

"certainly."mr. briggs calmly took a paper from his pocket, and read out in a sort of official,nasal voice:– "’i affirm and can prove that on the 20thof october a.d.— (a date of fifteen years back), edward fairfax rochester, ofthornfield hall, in the county of —, and of ferndean manor, in —shire, england, was married to my sister, bertha antoinettamason, 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 inthe register of that church–a copy of it is now in my possession.signed, richard mason.’"

"that–if a genuine document–may prove ihave been married, but it does not prove that the woman mentioned therein as my wifeis still living." "she was living three months ago," returnedthe lawyer. "how do you know?" "i have a witness to the fact, whosetestimony even you, sir, will scarcely controvert.""produce him–or go to hell." "i will produce him first–he is on thespot. mr. mason, have the goodness to stepforward." mr. rochester, on hearing the name, set histeeth; he experienced, too, a sort of

strong convulsive quiver; near to him as iwas, i felt the spasmodic movement of fury or despair run through his frame. the second stranger, who had hithertolingered in the background, now drew near; a pale face looked over the solicitor’sshoulder–yes, it was mason himself. mr. rochester turned and glared at him. his eye, as i have often said, was a blackeye: 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 strongarm–he could have struck mason, dashed him

on the church-floor, shocked by ruthlessblow the breath from his body–but mason shrank away, and cried faintly, "good god!" contempt fell cool on mr. rochester–hispassion died as if a blight had shrivelled it up: he only asked–"what have you tosay?" an inaudible reply escaped mason’s whitelips. "the devil is in it if you cannot answerdistinctly. i again demand, what have you to say?" "sir–sir," interrupted the clergyman, "donot 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: "isaw her there last april. i am her brother." "at thornfield hall!" ejaculated theclergyman. "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 shouldhear of it–or of her under that name." he mused–for ten minutes he held counselwith himself: he formed his resolve, and announced it– "enough! all shall bolt out at once, likethe bullet from the barrel. wood, close your book and take off yoursurplice; john green (to the clerk), leave the church: there will be no wedding to-day." the man obeyed. mr. rochester continued, hardily andrecklessly: "bigamy is an ugly word!–i meant, however, to be a bigamist; but fatehas out-manoeuvred me, or providence has

checked me,–perhaps the last. i am little better than a devil at thismoment; and, as my pastor there would tell me, deserve no doubt the sternest judgmentsof god, even to the quenchless fire and deathless worm. gentlemen, my plan is broken up:–what thislawyer and his client say is true: i have been married, and the woman to whom i wasmarried lives! you say you never heard of a mrs. rochesterat the house up yonder, wood; but i daresay you have many a time inclined your ear togossip about the mysterious lunatic kept there under watch and ward.

some have whispered to you that she is mybastard half-sister: some, my cast-off mistress. i now inform you that she is my wife, whomi 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 stoutheart men may bear. cheer up, dick!–never fear me!–i’d almostas soon strike a woman as you. bertha mason is mad; and she came of a madfamily; idiots and maniacs through three generations! her mother, the creole, was both a madwomanand a drunkard!–as i found out after i had

wed the daughter: for they were silent onfamily secrets before. bertha, like a dutiful child, copied herparent 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 youonly knew it! but i owe you no further explanation. briggs, wood, mason, i invite you all tocome up to the house and visit mrs. poole’s patient, and my wife! you shall see what sort of a being i wascheated 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 fairand 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 thecarriage.

"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, stillholding my hand, and still beckoning the gentlemen to follow him, which they did. we mounted the first staircase, passed upthe 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 itspictorial cabinet. "you know this place, mason," said ourguide; "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 afire guarded by a high and strong fender, and a lamp suspended from the ceiling by achain. grace poole bent over the fire, apparentlycooking something in a saucepan. in the deep shade, at the farther end ofthe 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; itsnatched and growled like some strange wild animal: but it was covered with clothing, and a quantity of dark, grizzled hair, wildas 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 herfavourable 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 allowme a few moments." "take care then, sir!–for god’s sake, takecare!" the maniac bellowed: she parted her shaggylocks 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 isso 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’srecommendation. "’ware!" cried grace.the three gentlemen retreated simultaneously. mr. rochester flung me behind him: thelunatic sprang and grappled his throat viciously, and laid her teeth to his cheek:they struggled. she was a big woman, in stature almostequalling her husband, and corpulent

besides: she showed virile force in thecontest–more than once she almost throttled him, athletic as he was. he could have settled her with a well-planted blow; but he would not strike: he would only wrestle. at last he mastered her arms; grace poolegave him a cord, and he pinioned them behind her: with more rope, which was athand, he bound her to a chair. the operation was performed amidst thefiercest yells and the most convulsive plunges. mr. rochester then turned to thespectators: he looked at them with a smile

both acrid and desolate."that is my wife," said he. "such is the sole conjugal embrace i amever 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 quietat the mouth of hell, looking collectedly at the gambols of a demon, i wanted herjust as a change after that fierce ragout. wood and briggs, look at the difference! compare these clear eyes with the red ballsyonder–this face with that mask–this form with that bulk; then judge me, priest ofthe gospel and man of the law, and remember

with what judgment ye judge ye shall bejudged! off with you now.i must shut up my prize." we all withdrew. mr. rochester stayed a moment behind us, togive some further order to grace poole. the solicitor addressed me as he descendedthe stair. "you, madam," said he, "are cleared fromall 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 letterintimating the contemplated union between yourself and mr. rochester, mr. mason, whowas staying at madeira to recruit his health, on his way back to jamaica,happened to be with him. mr. eyre mentioned the intelligence; for heknew that my client here was acquainted with a gentleman of the name of rochester. mr. mason, astonished and distressed as youmay suppose, revealed the real state of matters.

your uncle, i am sorry to say, is now on asick bed; from which, considering the nature of his disease–decline–and thestage it has reached, it is unlikely he will ever rise. he could not then hasten to englandhimself, to extricate you from the snare into which you had fallen, but he imploredmr. 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 bealso. were i not morally certain that your unclewill be dead ere you reach madeira, i would

advise you to accompany mr. mason back; butas it is, i think you had better remain in england till you can hear further, eitherfrom or of mr. eyre. have we anything else to stay for?" heinquired of mr. mason. "no, no–let us be gone," was the anxiousreply; and without waiting to take leave of mr. rochester, they made their exit at thehall door. the clergyman stayed to exchange a fewsentences, either of admonition or reproof, with his haughty parishioner; this dutydone, he too departed. i heard him go as i stood at the half-opendoor 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, iwas yet too calm for that, but– mechanically to take off the wedding dress, and replace it by the stuff gown i had wornyesterday, 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 onlyheard, seen, moved–followed up and down where i was led or dragged–watched eventrush on event, disclosure open beyond disclosure: but now, i thought.

the morning had been a quiet morningenough–all except the brief scene with the lunatic: the transaction in the church hadnot been noisy; there was no explosion of passion, no loud altercation, no dispute, no defiance or challenge, no tears, nosobs: 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 thetruth had been uttered by my master; then the living proof had been seen; theintruders 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 ofyesterday?–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 waspale; her prospects were desolate. a christmas frost had come at midsummer; awhite december storm had whirled over june; ice glazed the ripe apples, drifts crushedthe blowing roses; on hayfield and cornfield lay a frozen shroud: lanes which last night blushed full of flowers, to-daywere pathless with untrodden snow; and the

woods, which twelve hours since waved leafyand flagrant as groves between the tropics, now spread, waste, wild, and white as pine-forests in wintry norway. my hopes were all dead–struck with asubtle doom, such as, in one night, fell on all the first-born in the land of egypt. i looked on my cherished wishes, yesterdayso blooming and glowing; they lay stark, chill, livid corpses that could neverrevive. i looked at my love: that feeling which wasmy master’s–which he had created; it shivered in my heart, like a sufferingchild in a cold cradle; sickness and anguish had seized it; it could not seek

mr. rochester’s arms–it could not derivewarmth from his breast. oh, never more could it turn to him; forfaith was blighted–confidence destroyed! mr. rochester was not to me what he hadbeen; for he was not what i had thought him. i would not ascribe vice to him; i wouldnot say he had betrayed me; but the attribute of stainless truth was gone fromhis idea, and from his presence i must go: that i perceived well. when–how–whither, i could not yetdiscern; but he himself, i doubted not, would hurry me from thornfield.

real affection, it seemed, he could nothave for me; it had been only fitful passion: that was balked; he would want meno 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: eddyingdarkness seemed to swim round me, and reflection came in as black and confused aflow. self-abandoned, relaxed, and effortless, iseemed to have laid me down in the dried-up bed of a great river; i heard a floodloosened in remote mountains, and felt the torrent come: to rise i had no will, toflee i had no strength.

i lay faint, longing to be dead. one idea only still throbbed life-likewithin me–a remembrance of god: it begot an unuttered prayer: these words wentwandering up and down in my rayless mind, as something that should be whispered, butno 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 nopetition 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, mylove lost, my hope quenched, my faith

death-struck, swayed full and mighty aboveme in one sullen mass. that bitter hour cannot be described: intruth, "the waters came into my soul; i sank in deep mire: i felt no standing; icame into deep waters; the floods overflowed me." chapter xxvii some time in the afternoon i raised myhead, and looking round and seeing the western sun gilding the sign of its declineon the wall, i asked, "what am i to do?" but the answer my mind gave–"leavethornfield 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 isthe 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 icould do it and foretold that i should do it. i wrestled with my own resolution: i wantedto be weak that i might avoid the awful passage of further suffering i saw laid outfor me; and conscience, turned tyrant, held

passion by the throat, told her tauntingly, she had yet but dipped her dainty foot inthe slough, and swore that with that arm of iron he would thrust her down to unsoundeddepths of agony. "let me be torn away," then i cried. "let another help me!" "no; you shall tear yourself away, noneshall help you: you shall yourself pluck out your right eye; yourself cut off yourright hand: your heart shall be the victim, and you the priest to transfix it." i rose up suddenly, terror-struck at thesolitude which so ruthless a judge

haunted,–at the silence which so awful avoice filled. my head swam as i stood erect. i perceived that i was sickening fromexcitement and inanition; neither meat nor drink had passed my lips that day, for ihad taken no breakfast. and, with a strange pang, i now reflectedthat, long as i had been shut up here, no message had been sent to ask how i was, orto 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 fortuneforsakes," i murmured, as i undrew the bolt and passed out.

i stumbled over an obstacle: my head wasstill dizzy, my sight was dim, and my limbs were feeble.i could not soon recover myself. i fell, but not on to the ground: anoutstretched 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 ofthat death-like hush, and i should have forced the lock like a burglar.

so you shun me?–you shut yourself up andgrieve alone! i would rather you had come and upbraidedme 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 apassion? 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 lambthat was dear to him as a daughter, that ate of his bread and drank of his cup, andlay in his bosom, had by some mistake slaughtered it at the shambles, he would not have rued his bloody blunder more thani 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, therewas such unchanged love in his whole look and mien–i forgave him all: yet not in words, not outwardly; only at my heart’score. "you know i am a scoundrel, jane?" ere longhe inquired wistfully–wondering, i suppose, at my continued silence andtameness, 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, andtaking me in his arms, carried me downstairs. at first i did not know to what room he hadborne me; all was cloudy to my glazed sight: presently i felt the reviving warmthof a fire; for, summer as it was, i had become icy cold in my chamber. he put wine to my lips; i tasted it andrevived; 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 toosharp a pang, it would be well for me," i thought; "then i should not have to makethe 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 me, and looked at meattentively.

suddenly he turned away, with aninarticulate exclamation, full of passionate emotion of some kind; he walkedfast through the room and came back; he stooped towards me as if to kiss me; but iremembered 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 ofbertha mason? you consider my arms filled and my embracesappropriated?" "at any rate, there is neither room norclaim for me, sir." "why, jane? i will spare you the trouble of muchtalking; i will answer for you–because i

have a wife already, you would reply.–iguess rightly?" "yes." "if you think so, you must have a strangeopinion of me; you must regard me as a plotting profligate–a base and low rakewho has been simulating disinterested love in order to draw you into a snare deliberately laid, and strip you of honourand rob you of self-respect. what do you say to that? i see you can say nothing in the firstplace, you are faint still, and have enough to do to draw your breath; in the secondplace, you cannot yet accustom yourself to

accuse and revile me, and besides, the flood-gates of tears are opened, and theywould 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 tocurtail my sentence. "not in your sense of the word, but in mineyou are scheming to destroy me. you have as good as said that i am amarried man–as a married man you will shun me, keep out of my way: just now you haverefused to kiss me.

you intend to make yourself a completestranger to me: to live under this roof only as adele’s governess; if ever i say afriendly word to you, if ever a friendly feeling inclines you again to me, you will say,–‘that man had nearly made me hismistress: i must be ice and rock to him;’ and ice and rock you will accordinglybecome." i cleared and steadied my voice to reply:"all is changed about me, sir; i must change too–there is no doubt of that; andto avoid fluctuations of feeling, and continual combats with recollections and associations, there is only one way–adelemust have a new governess, sir."

"oh, adele will go to school–i havesettled that already; nor do i mean to torment you with the hideous associationsand recollections of thornfield hall–this accursed place–this tent of achan–this insolent vault, offering the ghastliness ofliving death to the light of the open sky– this narrow stone hell, with its one realfiend, 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, beforei ever saw you, all knowledge of the curse

of the place; merely because i feared adelenever would have a governess to stay if she knew with what inmate she was housed, and my plans would not permit me to remove themaniac elsewhere–though i possess an old house, ferndean manor, even more retiredand 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 haveeased me of her charge: but to each villain his own vice; and mine is not a tendency toindirect assassination, even of what i most

hate. "concealing the mad-woman’s neighbourhoodfrom you, however, was something like covering a child with a cloak and laying itdown near a upas-tree: that demon’s vicinage is poisoned, and always was. but i’ll shut up thornfield hall: i’ll nailup the front door and board the lower windows: i’ll give mrs. poole two hundred ayear to live here with my wife, as you term that fearful hag: grace will do much for money, and she shall have her son, thekeeper at grimsby retreat, to bear her company and be at hand to give her aid inthe paroxysms, when my wife is prompted

by her familiar to burn people in their beds at night, to stab them, to bite theirflesh from their bones, and so on–" "sir," i interrupted him, "you areinexorable for that unfortunate lady: you speak of her with hate–with vindictiveantipathy. it is cruel–she cannot help being mad." "jane, my little darling (so i will callyou, for so you are), you don’t know what you are talking about; you misjudge meagain: it is not because she is mad i hate her. if you were mad, do you think i should hateyou?"

"i do indeed, sir." "then you are mistaken, and you knownothing about me, and nothing about the sort of love of which i am capable. every atom of your flesh is as dear to meas my own: in pain and sickness it would still be dear. your mind is my treasure, and if it werebroken, it would be my treasure still: if you raved, my arms should confine you, andnot a strait waistcoat–your grasp, even in fury, would have a charm for me: if you flew at me as wildly as that woman did thismorning, i should receive you in an

embrace, at least as fond as it would berestrictive. i should not shrink from you with disgustas i did from her: in your quiet moments you should have no watcher and no nurse butme; and i could hang over you with untiring tenderness, though you gave me no smile in return; and never weary of gazing into youreyes, though they had no longer a ray of recognition for me.–but why do i followthat train of ideas? i was talking of removing you fromthornfield. all, you know, is prepared for promptdeparture: to-morrow you shall go. i only ask you to endure one more nightunder this roof, jane; and then, farewell

to its miseries and terrors for ever! i have a place to repair to, which will bea secure sanctuary from hateful reminiscences, from unwelcome intrusion–even from falsehood and slander." "and take adele with you, sir," iinterrupted; "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 frenchdancer’s bastard? why do you importune me about her! i say, why do you assign adele to me for acompanion?"

"you spoke of a retirement, sir; andretirement and solitude are dull: too dull for you." "solitude! solitude!" he reiterated withirritation. "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 ofcourage, excited as he was becoming, even to risk that mute sign of dissent. he had been walking fast about the room,and he stopped, as if suddenly rooted to

one spot. he looked at me long and hard: i turned myeyes 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," hesaid at last, speaking more calmly than from his look i had expected him to speak. "the reel of silk has run smoothly enoughso far; but i always knew there would come a knot and a puzzle: here it is. now for vexation, and exasperation, andendless trouble! by god! i long to exert a fraction of samson’s strength, and breakthe entanglement like tow!"

he recommenced his walk, but soon againstopped, and this time just before me. "jane! will you hear reason?" (he stooped and approached his lips to myear); "because, if you won’t, i’ll try violence." his voice was hoarse; his look that of aman who is just about to burst an insufferable bond and plunge headlong intowild license. i saw that in another moment, and with oneimpetus 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 withoutits charm: such as the indian, perhaps, feels when he slips over the rapid in hiscanoe. i took hold of his clenched hand, loosenedthe contorted fingers, and said to him, soothingly– "sit down; i’ll talk to you as long as youlike, and hear all you have to say, whether

reasonable or unreasonable."he sat down: but he did not get leave to speak directly. i had been struggling with tears for sometime: i had taken great pains to repress them, because i knew he would not like tosee me weep. now, however, i considered it well to letthem 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 youtoo well; and you had steeled your little pale face with such a resolute, frozenlook, i could not endure it. hush, now, and wipe your eyes." his softened voice announced that he wassubdued; so i, in my turn, became calm. now he made an effort to rest his head onmy 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 ihad; "you don’t love me, then?

it was only my station, and the rank of mywife, that you valued? now that you think me disqualified tobecome your husband, you recoil from my touch as if i were some toad or ape." these words cut me: yet what could i do ori say? i ought probably to have done or saidnothing; but i was so tortured by a sense of remorse at thus hurting his feelings, icould 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 expressit."

"the last time, jane! what! do you think you can live with me,and see me daily, and yet, if you still love me, be always cold and distant?" "no, sir; that i am certain i could not;and therefore i see there is but one way: but you will be furious if i 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 yourhair–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 strangefaces and strange scenes." "of course: i told you you should. i pass over the madness about parting fromme. 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 virtuallyand nominally. i shall keep only to you so long as you andi live. you shall go to a place i have in the southof 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 intoerror–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 largenostrils 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 shouldthen be your mistress: to say otherwise is

sophistical–is false." "jane, i am not a gentle-tempered man–youforget that: i am not long- enduring; i am not cool and dispassionate. out of pity to me and yourself, put yourfinger on my pulse, feel how it throbs, and–beware!" he bared his wrist, and offered it to me:the blood was forsaking his cheek and lips, they were growing livid; i was distressedon all hands. to agitate him thus deeply, by a resistancehe so abhorred, was cruel: to yield was out of the question.

i did what human beings do instinctivelywhen they are driven to utter extremity– looked for aid to one higher than man: thewords "god help me!" burst involuntarily from my lips. "i am a fool!" cried mr. rochestersuddenly. "i keep telling her i am not married, anddo not explain to her why. i forget she knows nothing of the characterof 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 imay have the evidence of touch as well as

sight, to prove you are near me–and i willin a few words show you the real state of the case. can you listen to me?""yes, sir; for hours if you will." "i ask only minutes. jane, did you ever hear or know that i wasnot 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 wasan avaricious, grasping man?" "i have understood something to thateffect." "well, jane, being so, it was hisresolution to keep the property together;

he could not bear the idea of dividing hisestate and leaving me a fair portion: all, he resolved, should go to my brother,rowland. yet as little could he endure that a son ofhis should be a poor man. i must be provided for by a wealthymarriage. he sought me a partner betimes.mr. mason, a west india planter and merchant, was his old acquaintance. he was certain his possessions were realand vast: he made inquiries. mr. mason, he found, had a son anddaughter; and he learned from him that he could and would give the latter a fortuneof thirty thousand pounds: that sufficed.

when i left college, i was sent out tojamaica, to espouse a bride already courted for me. my father said nothing about her money; buthe told me miss mason was the boast of spanish town for her beauty: and this wasno lie. i found her a fine woman, in the style ofblanche ingram: tall, dark, and majestic. her family wished to secure me because iwas 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 littleprivate conversation with her. she flattered me, and lavishly displayedfor 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 wereexcited; and being ignorant, raw, and inexperienced, i thought i loved her. there is no folly so besotted that theidiotic rivalries of society, the prurience, the rashness, the blindness ofyouth, will not hurry a man to its commission. her relatives encouraged me; competitorspiqued me; she allured me: a marriage was achieved almost before i knew where i was.

oh, i have no respect for myself when ithink 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 onevirtue in her nature: i had marked neither modesty, nor benevolence, nor candour, norrefinement in her mind or manners–and, i married her:–gross, grovelling, mole-eyedblockhead that i was! with less sin i might have–but let meremember to whom i am speaking." "my bride’s mother i had never seen: iunderstood 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–acomplete dumb idiot. the elder one, whom you have seen (and whomi cannot hate, whilst i abhor all his kindred, because he has some grains ofaffection in his feeble mind, shown in the continued interest he takes in his wretched sister, and also in a dog-like attachmenthe once bore me), will probably be in the same state one day. my father and my brother rowland knew allthis; but they thought only of the thirty thousand pounds, and joined in the plotagainst me."

"these were vile discoveries; but exceptfor the treachery of concealment, i should have made them no subject of reproach to mywife, even when i found her nature wholly alien to mine, her tastes obnoxious to me, her cast of mind common, low, narrow, andsingularly incapable of being led to anything higher, expanded to anythinglarger–when i found that i could not pass a single evening, nor even a single hour of the day with her in comfort; that kindlyconversation 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 shouldnever have a quiet or settled household, because no servant would bear the continuedoutbreaks of her violent and unreasonable temper, or the vexations of her absurd, contradictory, exacting orders–even then irestrained myself: i eschewed upbraiding, i curtailed remonstrance; i tried to devourmy repentance and disgust in secret; i repressed the deep antipathy i felt. "jane, i will not trouble you withabominable details: some strong words shall express what i have to say. i lived with that woman upstairs fouryears, and before that time she had tried

me indeed: her character ripened anddeveloped with frightful rapidity; her vices sprang up fast and rank: they were so strong, only cruelty could check them, andi would not use cruelty. what a pigmy intellect she had, and whatgiant propensities! how fearful were the curses thosepropensities entailed on me! bertha mason, the true daughter of aninfamous mother, dragged me through all the hideous and degrading agonies which mustattend a man bound to a wife at once intemperate and unchaste. "my brother in the interval was dead, andat the end of the four years my father died

too. i was rich enough now–yet poor to hideousindigence: a nature the most gross, impure, depraved i ever saw, was associated withmine, and called by the law and by society a part of me. and i could not rid myself of it by anylegal proceedings: for the doctors now discovered that my wife was mad–herexcesses had prematurely developed the germs of insanity. jane, you don’t like my narrative; you lookalmost 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 noxiousand insulting sort of tribute, which one is justified in hurling back in the teeth ofthose who offer it; but that is the sort of pity native to callous, selfish hearts; it is a hybrid, egotistical pain at hearing ofwoes, crossed with ignorant contempt for those who have endured them. but that is not your pity, jane; it is notthe feeling of which your whole face is full at this moment–with which your eyesare now almost overflowing–with which your heart is heaving–with which your hand istrembling in mine.

your pity, my darling, is the sufferingmother of love: its anguish is the very natal pang of the divine passion. i accept it, jane; let the daughter havefree advent–my arms wait to receive her." "now, sir, proceed; what did you do whenyou found she was mad?" "jane, i approached the verge of despair; aremnant of self-respect was all that intervened between me and the gulf. in the eyes of the world, i was doubtlesscovered with grimy dishonour; but i resolved to be clean in my own sight–andto the last i repudiated the contamination of her crimes, and wrenched myself fromconnection with her mental defects.

still, society associated my name andperson 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 bethe husband of another and better wife; and, though five years my senior (her family and her father had lied to me evenin the particular of her age), she was likely to live as long as i, being asrobust in frame as she was infirm in mind. thus, at the age of twenty-six, i washopeless.

"one night i had been awakened by heryells–(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 thoseclimates. being unable to sleep in bed, i got up andopened the window. the air was like sulphur-steams–i couldfind no refreshment anywhere. mosquitoes came buzzing in and hummedsullenly round the room; the sea, which i could hear from thence, rumbled dull likean earthquake–black clouds were casting up over it; the moon was setting in the waves,

broad and red, like a hot cannon-ball–shethrew her last bloody glance over a world quivering with the ferment of tempest. i was physically influenced by theatmosphere and scene, and my ears were filled with the curses the maniac stillshrieked out; wherein she momentarily mingled my name with such a tone of demon- hate, with such language!–no professedharlot ever had a fouler vocabulary than she: though two rooms off, i heard everyword–the thin partitions of the west india house opposing but slight obstruction toher 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 ifi can. the sufferings of this mortal state willleave me with the heavy flesh that now cumbers my soul. of the fanatic’s burning eternity i have nofear: 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, andunlocked a trunk which contained a brace of loaded pistols: i mean to shoot myself. i only entertained the intention for amoment; for, not being insane, the crisis

of exquisite and unalloyed despair, whichhad originated the wish and design of self- destruction, was past in a second. "a wind fresh from europe blew over theocean and rushed through the open casement: the storm broke, streamed, thundered,blazed, and the air grew pure. i then framed and fixed a resolution. while i walked under the dripping orange-trees of my wet garden, and amongst its drenched pomegranates and pine-apples, andwhile the refulgent dawn of the tropics kindled round me–i reasoned thus, jane– and now listen; for it was true wisdom thatconsoled me in that hour, and showed me the

right path to follow. "the sweet wind from europe was stillwhispering in the refreshed leaves, and the atlantic was thundering in gloriousliberty; my heart, dried up and scorched for a long time, swelled to the tone, and filled with living blood–my being longedfor renewal–my soul thirsted for a pure draught.i saw hope revive–and felt regeneration possible. from a flowery arch at the bottom of mygarden i gazed over the sea–bluer than the sky: the old world was beyond; clearprospects opened thus:–

"’go,’ said hope, ‘and live again ineurope: there it is not known what a sullied name you bear, nor what a filthyburden is bound to you. you may take the maniac with you toengland; confine her with due attendance and precautions at thornfield: then travelyourself 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 youryouth, is not your wife, nor are you her husband. see that she is cared for as her conditiondemands, and you have done all that god and

humanity require of you. let her identity, her connection withyourself, be buried in oblivion: you are bound to impart them to no living being. place her in safety and comfort: shelterher degradation with secrecy, and leave her.’"i acted precisely on this suggestion. my father and brother had not made mymarriage known to their acquaintance; because, in the very first letter i wroteto apprise them of the union–having already begun to experience extreme disgust of its consequences, and, from the familycharacter and constitution, seeing a

hideous future opening to me–i added anurgent charge to keep it secret: and very soon the infamous conduct of the wife my father had selected for me was such as tomake him blush to own her as his daughter- in-law. far from desiring to publish theconnection, he became as anxious to conceal it as myself. "to england, then, i conveyed her; afearful voyage i had with such a monster in the vessel. glad was i when i at last got her tothornfield, and saw her safely lodged in

that third-storey room, of whose secretinner cabinet she has now for ten years made a wild beast’s den–a goblin’s cell. i had some trouble in finding an attendantfor her, as it was necessary to select one on whose fidelity dependence could beplaced; for her ravings would inevitably betray my secret: besides, she had lucid intervals of days–sometimes weeks–whichshe filled up with abuse of me. at last i hired grace poole from thegrimbsy retreat. she and the surgeon, carter (who dressedmason’s wounds that night he was stabbed and worried), are the only two i have everadmitted to my confidence.

mrs. fairfax may indeed have suspectedsomething, but she could have gained no precise knowledge as to facts. grace has, on the whole, proved a goodkeeper; though, owing partly to a fault of her own, of which it appears nothing cancure her, and which is incident to her harassing profession, her vigilance hasbeen 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 tosecrete the knife with which she stabbed her brother, and twice to possess herself of the key of her cell, and issue therefromin the night-time.

on the first of these occasions, sheperpetrated the attempt to burn me in my bed; on the second, she paid that ghastlyvisit to you. i thank providence, who watched over you,that she then spent her fury on your wedding apparel, which perhaps brought backvague reminiscences of her own bridal days: but on what might have happened, i cannotendure to reflect. when i think of the thing which flew at mythroat this morning, hanging its black and scarlet visage over the nest of my dove, myblood curdles–" "and what, sir," i asked, while he paused,"did you do when you had settled her here? where did you go?""what did i do, jane?

i transformed myself into a will-o’-the-wisp. where did i go?i pursued wanderings as wild as those of the march-spirit. i sought the continent, and went deviousthrough all its lands. my fixed desire was to seek and find a goodand 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 icould and ought. it was not my original intention todeceive, as i have deceived you.

i meant to tell my tale plainly, and makemy proposals openly: and it appeared to me so absolutely rational that i should beconsidered free to love and be loved, i never doubted some woman might be found willing and able to understand my case andaccept me, in spite of the curse with which i was burdened.""well, sir?" "when you are inquisitive, jane, you alwaysmake me smile. you open your eyes like an eager bird, andmake every now and then a restless movement, as if answers in speech did notflow fast enough for you, and you wanted to read the tablet of one’s heart.

but before i go on, tell me what you meanby your ‘well, sir?’ it is a small phrase very frequent withyou; and which many a time has drawn me on and on through interminable talk: i don’tvery well know why." "i mean,–what next? how did you proceed?what came of such an event?" "precisely! and what do you wish to knownow?" "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 iliked, and whether i asked her to marry me:

but what she said is yet to be recorded inthe book of fate. for ten long years i roved about, livingfirst in one capital, then another: sometimes in st. petersburg; oftener inparis; occasionally in rome, naples, and florence. provided with plenty of money and thepassport of an old name, i could choose my own society: no circles were closed againstme. i sought my ideal of a woman amongstenglish ladies, french countesses, italian signoras, and german grafinnen.i could not find her. sometimes, for a fleeting moment, i thoughti caught a glance, heard a tone, beheld a

form, which announced the realisation of mydream: but i was presently undeserved. you are not to suppose that i desiredperfection, either of mind or person. i longed only for what suited me–for theantipodes of the creole: and i longed vainly. amongst them all i found not one whom, hadi been ever so free, i–warned as i was of the risks, the horrors, the loathings ofincongruous 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 seemedto approach me to her and her vices, and i eschewed it."yet i could not live alone; so i tried the companionship of mistresses. the first i chose was celine varens–another of those steps which make a man spurn himself when he 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: itired 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 toset her up in a good line of business, and so get decently rid of her. but, jane, i see by your face you are notforming 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 donesometimes, indeed, sir. did it not seem to you in the least wrongto 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: ishould never like to return to it. hiring a mistress is the next worse thingto 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 ipassed with celine, giacinta, and clara."

i felt the truth of these words; and i drewfrom them the certain inference, that if i were so far to forget myself and all theteaching that had ever been instilled into me, as–under any pretext–with any justification–through any temptation–tobecome the successor of these poor girls, he would one day regard me with the samefeeling which now in his mind desecrated their memory. i did not give utterance to thisconviction: it was enough to feel it. i impressed it on my heart, that it mightremain 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 aharsh, bitter frame of mind, the result of a useless, roving, lonely life–corrodedwith disappointment, sourly disposed against all men, and especially against all womankind (for i began to regard the notionof an intellectual, faithful, loving woman as a mere dream), recalled by business, icame back to england. "on a frosty winter afternoon, i rode insight of thornfield hall.

abhorred spot!i expected no peace–no pleasure there. on a stile in hay lane i saw a quiet littlefigure sitting by itself. i passed it as negligently as i did thepollard willow opposite to it: i had no presentiment of what it would be to me; noinward warning that the arbitress of my life–my genius for good or evil–waitedthere in humble guise. i did not know it, even when, on theoccasion 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 tinywing.

i was surly; but the thing would not go: itstood 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 frailshoulder, something new–a fresh sap and sense–stole into my frame. it was well i had learnt that this elf mustreturn to me–that it belonged to my house down below–or i could not have felt itpass away from under my hand, and seen it vanish behind the dim hedge, withoutsingular regret. i heard you come home that night, jane,though probably you were not aware that i

thought of you or watched for you. the next day i observed you–myself unseen–for half-an- hour, while you played with adele in the gallery.it was a snowy day, i recollect, and you could not go out of doors. i was in my room; the door was ajar: icould both listen and watch. adele claimed your outward attention for awhile; yet i fancied your thoughts were elsewhere: but you were very patient withher, my little jane; you talked to her and amused her a long time. when at last she left you, you lapsed atonce into deep reverie: you betook yourself

slowly to pace the gallery. now and then, in passing a casement, youglanced out at the thick-falling snow; you listened to the sobbing wind, and again youpaced gently on and dreamed. i think those day visions were not dark:there was a pleasurable illumination in your eye occasionally, a soft excitement inyour aspect, which told of no bitter, bilious, hypochondriac brooding: your look revealed rather the sweet musings of youthwhen its spirit follows on willing wings the flight of hope up and on to an idealheaven. the voice of mrs. fairfax, speaking to aservant in the hall, wakened you: and how

curiously you smiled to and at yourself,janet! there was much sense in your smile: it wasvery shrewd, and seemed to make light of your own abstraction. it seemed to say–‘my fine visions are allvery well, but i must not forget they are absolutely unreal. i have a rosy sky and a green flowery edenin my brain; but without, i am perfectly aware, lies at my feet a rough tract totravel, 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 thatsort, i think it was. i was vexed with you for getting out of mysight. "impatiently i waited for evening, when imight summon you to my presence. an unusual–to me–a perfectly newcharacter i suspected was yours: i desired to search it deeper and know it better. you entered the room with a look and air atonce 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 byrule; 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 somesolecism or blunder; yet when addressed, you lifted a keen, a daring, and a glowingeye to your interlocutor’s face: there was penetration and power in each glance you gave; when plied by close questions, youfound ready and round answers. very soon you seemed to get used to me: ibelieve 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 iwould, 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 icannot describe. i was at once content and stimulated withwhat i saw: i liked what i had seen, and wished to see more. yet, for a long time, i treated youdistantly, and sought your company rarely. i was an intellectual epicure, and wishedto prolong the gratification of making this novel and piquant acquaintance: besides, iwas for a while troubled with a haunting fear that if i handled the flower freely

its bloom would fade–the sweet charm offreshness would leave it. i did not then know that it was notransitory blossom, but rather the radiant resemblance of one, cut in anindestructible gem. moreover, i wished to see whether you wouldseek me if i shunned you–but you did not; you kept in the schoolroom as still as yourown desk and easel; if by chance i met you, you passed me as soon, and with as little token of recognition, as was consistentwith respect. your habitual expression in those days,jane, was a thoughtful look; not despondent, for you were not sickly; butnot buoyant, for you had little hope, and

no actual pleasure. i wondered what you thought of me, or ifyou 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; itwas the silent schoolroom–it was the tedium of your life–that made youmournful. i permitted myself the delight of beingkind to you; kindness stirred emotion soon: your face became soft in expression, yourtones 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 atme with a slight trouble–a hovering doubt: you did not know what my caprice might be– whether i was going to play the master andbe stern, or the friend and be benignant. i was now too fond of you often to simulatethe first whim; and, when i stretched my hand out cordially, such bloom and lightand bliss rose to your young, wistful features, i had much ado often to avoidstraining you then and there to my heart." "don’t talk any more of those days, sir," iinterrupted, furtively dashing away some tears from my eyes; his language wastorture to me; for i knew what i must do–

and do soon–and all these reminiscences, and these revelations of his feelings onlymade my work more difficult. "no, jane," he returned: "what necessity isthere to dwell on the past, when the present is so much surer–the future somuch brighter?" i shuddered to hear the infatuatedassertion. "you see now how the case stands–do younot?" he continued. "after a youth and manhood passed half inunutterable misery and half in dreary solitude, i have for the first time foundwhat i can truly love–i have found you. you are my sympathy–my better self–mygood angel.

i am bound to you with a strong attachment. i think you good, gifted, lovely: afervent, a solemn passion is conceived in my heart; it leans to you, draws you to mycentre 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, thati resolved to marry you. to tell me that i had already a wife isempty mockery: you know now that i had but a hideous demon. i was wrong to attempt to deceive you; buti feared a stubbornness that exists in your character.

i feared early instilled prejudice: iwanted to have you safe before hazarding confidences. this was cowardly: i should have appealedto your nobleness and magnanimity at first, as i do now–opened to you plainly my lifeof agony–described to you my hunger and thirst after a higher and worthier existence–shown to you, not myresolution (that word is weak), but my resistless bent to love faithfully andwell, where i am faithfully and well loved in return. then i should have asked you to accept mypledge of fidelity and to give me yours.

jane–give it me now."a pause. "why are you silent, jane?" i was experiencing an ordeal: a hand offiery iron grasped my vitals. terrible moment: full of struggle,blackness, burning! not a human being that ever lived couldwish to be loved better than i was loved; and him who thus loved me i absolutelyworshipped: and i must renounce love and idol. one drear word comprised my intolerableduty–"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 gentlenessthat broke me down with grief, and turned me stone-cold with ominous terror–for thisstill voice was the pant of a lion rising– "jane, do you mean to go one way in theworld, 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 hisfeatures: he rose; but he forebore yet. i laid my hand on the back of a chair forsupport: i shook, i feared–but i resolved. "one instant, jane. give one glance to my horrible life whenyou are gone. all happiness will be torn away with you.what then is left? for a wife i have but the maniac upstairs:as well might you refer me to some corpse

in yonder churchyard.what shall i do, jane? where turn for a companion and for somehope?" "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 andto die accursed?" his voice rose. "i advise you to live sinless, and i wishyou to die tranquil." "then you snatch love and innocence fromme?

you fling me back on lust for a passion–vice for an occupation?" "mr. rochester, i no more assign this fateto you than i grasp at it for myself. we were born to strive and endure–you aswell 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 meto 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 todespair 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 offendby living with me?" this was true: and while he spoke my veryconscience and reason turned traitors against me, and charged me with crime inresisting him. they spoke almost as loud as feeling: andthat 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 therecklessness following on despair–soothe him; save him; love him; tell him you lovehim and will be his.

who in the world cares for you? or whowill be injured by what you do?" still indomitable was the reply–"i carefor myself. the more solitary, the more friendless, themore 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 byme when i was sane, and not mad–as i am now. laws and principles are not for the timeswhen there is no temptation: they are for such moments as this, when body and soulrise in mutiny against their rigour;

stringent are they; inviolate they shallbe. if at my individual convenience i mightbreak them, what would be their worth? they have a worth–so i have alwaysbelieved; 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, foregonedeterminations, are all i have at this hour to stand by: there i plant my foot."i did. mr. rochester, reading my countenance, sawi had done so. his fury was wrought to the highest: hemust yield to it for a moment, whatever

followed; he crossed the floor and seizedmy arm and grasped my waist. he seemed to devour me with his flamingglance: physically, i felt, at the moment, powerless as stubble exposed to the draughtand glow of a furnace: mentally, i still possessed my soul, and with it thecertainty 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 inhis fierce face i gave an involuntary sigh; his gripe was painful, and my over-taxedstrength 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 hishold.) "i could bend her with my finger and thumb:and what good would it do if i bent, if i uptore, if i crushed her? consider that eye: consider the resolute,wild, free thing looking out of it, defying me, with more than courage–with a sterntriumph. whatever i do with its cage, i cannot getat it–the savage, beautiful creature! if i tear, if i rend the slight prison, myoutrage will only let the captive loose. conqueror i might be of the house; but theinmate would escape to heaven before i

could call myself possessor of its claydwelling-place. and it is you, spirit–with will andenergy, and virtue and purity–that i want: not alone your brittle frame. of yourself you could come with soft flightand nestle against my heart, if you would: seized against your will, you will eludethe 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 thefrantic 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 amgoing." "jane!""mr. rochester!"

"withdraw, then,–i consent; but remember,you leave me here in anguish. go up to your own room; think over all ihave said, and, jane, cast a glance on my sufferings–think of me." he turned away; he threw himself on hisface 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 fromthe 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–directyou, solace you–reward you well for your past kindness to me." "little jane’s love would have been my bestreward," 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; forthflashed the fire from his eyes; erect he sprang; he held his arms out; but i evadedthe embrace, and at once quitted the room.

"farewell!" was the cry of my heart as ileft him. despair added, "farewell for ever!"* * * * * that night i never thought to sleep; but aslumber fell on me as soon as i lay down in bed. i was transported in thought to the scenesof 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 intosyncope, recalled in this vision, seemed glidingly to mount the wall, andtremblingly to pause in the centre of the obscured ceiling.

i lifted up my head to look: the roofresolved to clouds, high and dim; the gleam was such as the moon imparts to vapours sheis about to sever. i watched her come–watched with thestrangest anticipation; as though some word of doom were to be written on her disk. she broke forth as never moon yet burstfrom cloud: a hand first penetrated the sable folds and waved them away; then, nota 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 inmy 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 thetask i have to fulfil," thought i. i rose: i was dressed; for i had taken offnothing but my shoes. i knew where to find in my drawers somelinen, a locket, a ring. in seeking these articles, i encounteredthe 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 thevisionary 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 tiedon my straw bonnet, pinned my shawl, took the parcel and my slippers, which i wouldnot 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 listening.

i would have got past mr. rochester’schamber without a pause; but my heart momentarily stopping its beat at thatthreshold, my foot was forced to stop also. no sleep was there: the inmate was walkingrestlessly from wall to wall; and again and again he sighed while i listened. there was a heaven–a temporary heaven–inthis room for me, if i chose: i had but to go in and to say– "mr. rochester, i will love you and livewith 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; ishould be gone. he would have me sought for: vainly. he would feel himself forsaken; his loverejected: he would suffer; perhaps grow desperate.i thought of this too. my hand moved towards the lock: i caught itback, and glided on. drearily i wound my way downstairs: i knewwhat i had to do, and i did it mechanically. i sought the key of the side-door in thekitchen; 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: forperhaps i should have to walk far; and my strength, sorely shaken of late, must notbreak down. all this i did without one sound. i opened the door, passed out, shut itsoftly. 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 roadwhich stretched in the contrary direction to millcote; a road i had never travelled,but often noticed, and wondered where it

led: thither i bent my steps. no reflection was to be allowed now: notone 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–sodeadly sad–that to read one line of it would dissolve my courage and break down myenergy. the last was an awful blank: something likethe world when the deluge was gone by. i skirted fields, and hedges, and lanestill after sunrise. i believe it was a lovely summer morning: iknow 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 fairscene to the scaffold, thinks not of the flowers that smile on his road, but of theblock and axe-edge; of the disseverment of bone and vein; of the grave gaping at the end: and i thought of drear flight andhomeless wandering–and oh! with agony i thought of what i left.i could not help it. i thought of him now–in his room–watchingthe 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: itwas 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–hispride; his redeemer from misery, perhaps from ruin. oh, that fear of his self-abandonment–farworse than my abandonment–how it goaded me! it was a barbed arrow-head in my breast; ittore me when i tried to extract it; it sickened me when remembrance thrust itfarther 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 andfrantic effort of principle, i abhorred myself.i had no solace from self-approbation: none even from self-respect. i had injured–wounded–left my master.i was hateful in my own eyes. still i could not turn, nor retrace onestep. 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 mysolitary way: fast, fast i went like one delirious. a weakness, beginning inwardly, extendingto the limbs, seized me, and i fell: i lay on the ground some minutes, pressing myface to the wet turf. i had some fear–or hope–that here ishould die: but i was soon up; crawling forwards on my hands and knees, and thenagain raised to my feet–as eager and as determined as ever to reach the road. when i got there, i was forced to sit torest 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 drivernamed a place a long way off, and where i was sure mr. rochester had no connections. i asked for what sum he would take methere; he said thirty shillings; i answered i had but twenty; well, he would try tomake it do. he further gave me leave to get into theinside, as the vehicle was empty: i entered, was shut in, and it rolled on itsway. gentle reader, may you never feel what ithen felt! may your eyes never shed such stormy,scalding, heart-wrung tears as poured from

mine. may you never appeal to heaven in prayersso hopeless and so agonised as in that hour left my lips; for never may you, like me,dread to be the instrument of evil to what you wholly love. chapter xxviii two days are passed. it is a summer evening; the coachman hasset me down at a place called whitcross; he could take me no farther for the sum i hadgiven, and i was not possessed of another shilling in the world.

the coach is a mile off by this time; i amalone. at this moment i discover that i forgot totake 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; itis but a stone pillar set up where four roads meet: whitewashed, i suppose, to bemore obvious at a distance and in darkness. four arms spring from its summit: thenearest town to which these point is, according to the inscription, distant tenmiles; the farthest, above twenty. from the well-known names of these towns ilearn 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 eachhand of me; there are waves of mountains far beyond that deep valley at my feet. the population here must be thin, and i seeno 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 wildto their very verge. yet a chance traveller might pass by; and iwish no eye to see me now: strangers would wonder what i am doing, lingering here atthe sign-post, evidently objectless and lost.

i might be questioned: i could give noanswer but what would sound incredible and excite suspicion. not a tie holds me to human society at thismoment–not a charm or hope calls me where my fellow-creatures are–none that saw mewould have a kind thought or a good wish i have no relative but the universalmother, nature: i will seek her breast and ask repose. i struck straight into the heath; i held onto a hollow i saw deeply furrowing the brown moorside; i waded knee-deep in itsdark growth; i turned with its turnings, and finding a moss-blackened granite cragin a hidden angle, i sat down under it.

high banks of moor were about me; the cragprotected my head: the sky was over that. some time passed before i felt tranquileven here: i had a vague dread that wild cattle might be near, or that somesportsman or poacher might discover me. if a gust of wind swept the waste, i lookedup, 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 atnightfall, i took confidence. as yet i had not thought; i had onlylistened, watched, dreaded; now i regained the faculty of reflection.what was i to do?

where to go? oh, intolerable questions, when i could donothing and go nowhere!–when a long way must yet be measured by my weary, tremblinglimbs 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 talecould be listened to, or one of my wants relieved! i touched the heath: it was dry, and yetwarm with the heat of the summer day. i looked at the sky; it was pure: a kindlystar twinkled just above the chasm ridge.

the dew fell, but with propitious softness;no breeze whispered. nature seemed to me benign and good; ithought she loved me, outcast as i was; and i, who from man could anticipate onlymistrust, 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 remnantof a roll i had bought in a town we passed through at noon with a stray penny–my lastcoin. i saw ripe bilberries gleaming here andthere, like jet beads in the heath: i

gathered a handful and ate them with thebread. my hunger, sharp before, was, if notsatisfied, appeased by this hermit’s meal. i said my evening prayers at itsconclusion, and then chose my couch. {i said my evening prayers: p311.jpg} 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 anarrow space for the night-air to invade. i folded my shawl double, and spread itover 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 inwardbleeding, 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 invain attempts to seek him. worn out with this torture of thought, irose 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; butcertainly we feel his presence most when

his works are on the grandest scale spreadbefore us; and it is in the unclouded night-sky, where his worlds wheel their silent course, that we read clearest hisinfinitude, his omnipotence, his omnipresence.i had risen to my knees to pray for mr. rochester. looking up, i, with tear-dimmed eyes, sawthe mighty milky- way. remembering what it was–what countlesssystems there swept space like a soft trace of light–i felt the might and strength ofgod. sure was i of his efficiency to save whathe had made: convinced i grew that neither

earth should perish, nor one of the soulsit treasured. i turned my prayer to thanksgiving: thesource 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 andbare. long after the little birds had left theirnests; long after bees had come in the sweet prime of day to gather the heathhoney before the dew was dried–when the long morning shadows were curtailed, and

the sun filled earth and sky–i got up, andi 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 beeor lizard, that i might have found fitting nutriment, permanent shelter here. but i was a human being, and had a humanbeing’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; andthat this weary frame, absolved by death from further conflict with fate, had now but to decay quietly, and mingle in peacewith the soil of this wilderness. life, however, was yet in my possession,with all its requirements, and pains, and responsibilities. the burden must be carried; the wantprovided for; the suffering endured; the responsibility fulfilled.i set out.

whitcross regained, i followed a road whichled from the sun, now fervent and high. by no other circumstance had i will todecide my choice. i walked a long time, and when i thought ihad nearly done enough, and might conscientiously yield to the fatigue thatalmost overpowered me–might relax this forced action, and, sitting down on a stone i saw near, submit resistlessly to theapathy that clogged heart and limb–i heard a bell chime–a church bell. i turned in the direction of the sound, andthere, amongst the romantic hills, whose changes and aspect i had ceased to note anhour ago, i saw a hamlet and a spire.

all the valley at my right hand was full ofpasture- fields, and cornfields, and wood; and a glittering stream ran zig-zag throughthe varied shades of green, the mellowing grain, the sombre woodland, the clear andsunny lea. recalled by the rumbling of wheels to theroad before me, i saw a heavily-laden waggon labouring up the hill, and not farbeyond were two cows and their drover. human life and human labour were near. i must struggle on: strive to live and bendto toil like the rest. about two o’clock p.m.i entered the village. at the bottom of its one street there was alittle shop with some cakes of bread in the

window.i coveted a cake of bread. with that refreshment i could perhapsregain a degree of energy: without it, it would be difficult to proceed. the wish to have some strength and somevigour returned to me as soon as i was amongst my fellow-beings.i felt it would be degrading to faint with hunger on the causeway of a hamlet. had i nothing about me i could offer inexchange 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 inextremities of destitution proceeded. i did not know whether either of thesearticles 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 withcivility. how could she serve me? i was seized with shame: my tongue wouldnot 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 amoment, as i was tired. disappointed in the expectation of acustomer, she coolly acceded to my request. she pointed to a seat; i sank into it. i felt sorely urged to weep; but conscioushow unseasonable such a manifestation would be, i restrained it. soon i asked her "if there were anydressmaker 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 theneighbourhood where a servant was wanted?" "nay; she couldn’t say.""what was the chief trade in this place? what did most of the people do?" "some were farm labourers; a good dealworked 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 tothe left; but i could discover no pretext, nor see an inducement to enter any.

i rambled round the hamlet, going sometimesto a little distance and returning again, for an hour or more. much exhausted, and suffering greatly nowfor want of food, i turned aside into a lane and sat down under the hedge. ere many minutes had elapsed, i was againon my feet, however, and again searching something–a resource, or at least aninformant. a pretty little house stood at the top ofthe lane, with a garden before it, exquisitely neat and brilliantly blooming.i stopped at it. what business had i to approach the whitedoor or touch the glittering knocker?

in what way could it possibly be theinterest 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 ahopeless heart and fainting frame–a voice wretchedly low and faltering–i asked if aservant was wanted here? "no," said she; "we do not keep a servant." "can you tell me where i could getemployment of any kind?" i 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, inher eyes, how doubtful must have appeared my character, position, tale. she shook her head, she "was sorry shecould give me no information," and the white door closed, quite gently andcivilly: but it shut me out. if she had held it open a little longer, ibelieve i should have begged a piece of bread; for i was now brought low. i could not bear to return to the sordidvillage, where, besides, no prospect of aid

was visible. i should have longed rather to deviate to awood 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 offood. solitude would be no solitude–rest norest–while the vulture, hunger, thus sank beak and talons in my side. i drew near houses; i left them, and cameback again, and again i wandered away: always repelled by the consciousness ofhaving no claim to ask–no right to expect

interest in my isolated lot. meantime, the afternoon advanced, while ithus 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 agarden, stood a well-built though small house, which i had no doubt was theparsonage. i remembered that strangers who arrive at aplace where they have no friends, and who want employment, sometimes apply to theclergyman for introduction and aid. it is the clergyman’s function to help–atleast with advice–those who wished to help

themselves.i seemed to have something like a right to seek counsel here. renewing then my courage, and gathering myfeeble remains of strength, i pushed on. i reached the house, and knocked at thekitchen-door. an old woman opened: i asked was this theparsonage? "yes.""was the clergyman in?" "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 deathof his father: he was at marsh end now, and

would very likely stay there a fortnightlonger." "was there any lady of the house?" "nay, there was naught but her, and she washousekeeper;" and of her, reader, i could not bear to ask the relief for want ofwhich i was sinking; i could not yet beg; and again i crawled away. once more i took off my handkerchief–oncemore 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 thevillage; i found the shop again, and i went

in; and though others were there besidesthe 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 thehandkerchief?" she said. "would she take my gloves?""no! what could she do with them?" reader, it is not pleasant to dwell onthese details. some say there is enjoyment in looking backto painful experience past; but at this day i can scarcely bear to review the times towhich i allude: the moral degradation,

blent with the physical suffering, form too distressing a recollection ever to bewillingly dwelt on. i blamed none of those who repulsed me. i felt it was what was to be expected, andwhat could not be helped: an ordinary beggar is frequently an object ofsuspicion; 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 methen for the first time, and who knew

nothing about my character. and as to the woman who would not take myhandkerchief in exchange for her bread, why, she was right, if the offer appearedto 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 andcheese. i stopped and said– "will you give me a piece of bread? for iam very hungry."

he cast on me a glance of surprise; butwithout 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 aroof, 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 ortranquillity befriended me. towards morning it rained; the whole of thefollowing day was wet. do not ask me, reader, to give a minuteaccount 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 littlegirl about to throw a mess of cold porridge into a pig trough."will you give me that?" i asked. {"will you give me that?"i asked: p316.jpg} she stared at me."mother!" she exclaimed, "there is a woman

wants me to give her these porridge." "well lass," replied a voice within, "giveit 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 ina 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 myhead on the cold, drenched ground?

i fear i cannot do otherwise: for who willreceive me? but it will be very dreadful, with thisfeeling of hunger, faintness, chill, and this sense of desolation–this totalprostration of hope. in all likelihood, though, i should diebefore morning. and why cannot i reconcile myself to theprospect of death? why do i struggle to retain a valuelesslife? because i know, or believe, mr. rochesteris living: and then, to die of want and cold is a fate to which nature cannotsubmit 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 haddisappeared. i had, by cross-ways and by- paths, oncemore drawn near the tract of moorland; and now, only a few fields, almost as wild andunproductive as the heath from which they were scarcely reclaimed, lay between me andthe dusky hill. "well, i would rather die yonder than in astreet or on a frequented road," i reflected.

"and far better that crows and ravens–ifany ravens there be in these regions– should pick my flesh from my bones, thanthat 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 wherei could lie down, and feel at least hidden, if not secure. but all the surface of the waste lookedlevel. 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 seethese changes, though but as mere alternations of light and shade; for colourhad faded with the daylight. my eye still roved over the sullen swelland 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 firstthought; 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 thenconjectured; "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 itshut in my face." and i sank down where i stood, and hid myface against the ground. i lay still a while: the night-wind sweptover 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 stillfrost–the friendly numbness of death–it might have pelted on; i should not havefelt 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 awide bog, which would have been impassable in winter, and was splashy and shaking evennow, in the height of summer. here i fell twice; but as often i rose andrallied my faculties.

this light was my forlorn hope: i must gainit. having crossed the marsh, i saw a trace ofwhite 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 clumpof trees–firs, apparently, from what i could distinguish of the character of theirforms and foliage through the gloom. my star vanished as i drew near: someobstacle had intervened between me and it. i put out my hand to feel the dark massbefore me: i discriminated the rough stones of a low wall–above it, something likepalisades, 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 itshinges as i touched it. on each side stood a sable bush-holly oryew. entering the gate and passing the shrubs,the silhouette of a house rose to view, black, low, and rather long; but theguiding light shone nowhere. all was obscurity. were the inmates retired to rest?i feared it must be so. in seeking the door, i turned an angle:there shot out the friendly gleam again, from the lozenged panes of a very smalllatticed window, within a foot of the

ground, made still smaller by the growth of ivy or some other creeping plant, whoseleaves 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 andput aside the spray of foliage shooting over it, i could see all within. i could see clearly a room with a sandedfloor, 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, butscrupulously clean, like all about her, was knitting a stocking. i noticed these objects cursorily only–inthem there was nothing extraordinary. a group of more interest appeared near thehearth, sitting still amidst the rosy peace and warmth suffusing it. two young, graceful women–ladies in everypoint–sat, one in a low rocking-chair, the other on a lower stool; both wore deepmourning of crape and bombazeen, which

sombre garb singularly set off very fair necks and faces: a large old pointer dogrested its massive head on the knee of one girl–in the lap of the other was cushioneda black cat. a strange place was this humble kitchen forsuch occupants! who were they? they could not be the daughters of theelderly person at the table; for she looked like a rustic, and they were all delicacyand 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 toopale and grave for the word: as they each bent over a book, they looked thoughtfulalmost to severity. a stand between them supported a secondcandle 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 oftranslation. this scene was as silent as if all thefigures had been shadows and the firelit apartment a picture: so hushed was it, icould 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 strangestillness at last, it was audible enough to me. "listen, diana," said one of the absorbedstudents; "franz and old daniel are together in the night-time, and franz istelling a dream from which he has awakened in terror–listen!" and in a low voice she read something, ofwhich not one word was intelligible to me; for it was in an unknown tongue–neitherfrench nor latin. whether it were greek or german i could nottell.

"that is strong," she said, when she hadfinished: "i relish it." the other girl, who had lifted her head tolisten to her sister, repeated, while she gazed at the fire, a line of what had beenread. at a later day, i knew the language and thebook; therefore, i will here quote the line: though, when i first heard it, it wasonly like a stroke on sounding brass to me- -conveying no meaning:– "’da trat hervor einer, anzusehen wie diesternen nacht.’ good! good!" she exclaimed, while her darkand deep eye sparkled. "there you have a dim and mighty archangelfitly set before you!

the line is worth a hundred pages offustian. ‘ich wage die gedanken in der schale meineszornes 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 theycan understand t’ one t’other: and if either o’ ye went there, ye could tell whatthey said, i guess?"

"we could probably tell something of whatthey 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 weshall get more money than we do now." "varry like: but give ower studying; ye’vedone enough for to-night." "i think we have: at least i’m tired.mary, are you?" "mortally: after all, it’s tough workfagging 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 shedrew from her girdle). it rains fast, hannah: will you have thegoodness to look at the fire in the parlour?" the woman rose: she opened a door, throughwhich i dimly saw a passage: soon i heard her stir a fire in an inner room; shepresently came back. "ah, childer!" said she, "it fair troublesme to go into yond’ room now: it looks so lonesome wi’ the chair empty and set backin a corner."

she wiped her eyes with her apron: the twogirls, grave before, looked sad now. "but he is in a better place," continuedhannah: "we shouldn’t wish him here again. and then, nobody need to have a quieterdeath nor he had." "you say he never mentioned us?" inquiredone of the ladies. "he hadn’t time, bairn: he was gone in aminute, was your father. he had been a bit ailing like the daybefore, 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 inhis head the next day–that is, a fortnight sin’–and he went to sleep and niverwakened: he wor a’most stark when your

brother went into t’ chamber and fand him. ah, childer! that’s t’ last o’ t’ oldstock–for ye and mr. st. john is like of different soart to them ‘at’s gone; for allyour mother wor mich i’ your way, and a’most as book-learned. she wor the pictur’ o’ ye, mary: diana ismore like your father." i thought them so similar i could not tellwhere the old servant (for such i now concluded her to be) saw the difference. both were fair complexioned and slenderlymade; both possessed faces full of distinction and intelligence.

one, to be sure, had hair a shade darkerthan the other, and there was a difference in their style of wearing it; mary’s palebrown locks were parted and braided smooth: diana’s duskier tresses covered her neckwith thick curls. the clock struck ten. "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 towithdraw to the parlour. till this moment, i had been so intent onwatching them, their appearance and conversation had excited in me so keen aninterest, i had half-forgotten my own

wretched position: now it recurred to me. more desolate, more desperate than ever, itseemed from contrast. and how impossible did it appear to touchthe inmates of this house with concern on my behalf; to make them believe in thetruth of my wants and woes–to induce them to vouchsafe a rest for my wanderings! as i groped out the door, and knocked at ithesitatingly, i felt that last idea to be a mere chimera.hannah opened. "what do you want?" she inquired, in avoice of surprise, as she surveyed me by the light of the candle she held."may i speak to your mistresses?"

"you had better tell me what you have tosay 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-houseor 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; itlooks very ill." "but where shall i go if you drive me away? what shall i do?""oh, i’ll warrant you know where to go and what to do.mind you don’t do wrong, that’s all. here is a penny; now go–" "a penny cannot feed me, and i have nostrength to go farther. don’t shut the door:–oh, don’t, for god’ssake!" "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 orsuch like–anywhere near, you may tell them we are not by ourselves in the house; wehave a gentleman, and dogs, and guns." here the honest but inflexible servantclapped 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 stepcould i stir. i sank on the wet doorstep: i groaned–iwrung my hands–i wept in utter anguish. oh, this spectre of death! oh, this last hour, approaching in suchhorror! alas, this isolation–this banishment frommy kind! not only the anchor of hope, but thefooting of fortitude was gone–at least for a moment; but the last i soon endeavouredto regain.

"i can but die," i said, "and i believe ingod. let me try to wait his will in silence." these words i not only thought, bututtered; and thrusting back all my misery into my heart, i made an effort to compelit to remain there–dumb and still. "all men must die," said a voice quiteclose 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 anyoccurrence a hope of aid.

a form was near–what form, the pitch-darknight 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 awild night as it is! come in–your sisters are quite uneasyabout 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, nowlet me do mine in admitting her. i was near, and listened to both you andher. i think this is a peculiar case–i must atleast examine into it. young woman, rise, and pass before me intothe house." {hush, hannah; i have a word to say to thewoman: p323.jpg} with difficulty i obeyed him. presently i stood within that clean, brightkitchen–on the very hearth–trembling, sickening; conscious of an aspect in thelast 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 her sit." and indeed my head swam: i dropped, but achair received me. i still possessed my senses, though justnow 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 isaw drooping between me and the fire as she bent over me) broke some bread, dipped itin milk, and put it to my lips. her face was near mine: i saw there waspity 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; andmary’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," saidthe brother; "she has had enough." and he withdrew the cup of milk and theplate of bread. "a little more, st. john–look at theavidity 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–"myname is jane elliott." anxious as ever to avoid discovery, i hadbefore resolved to assume an alias. "and where do you live? where are your friends?"i was silent. "can we send for any one you know?"i shook my head. "what account can you give of yourself?" somehow, now that i had once crossed thethreshold of this house, and once was brought face to face with its owners, ifelt no longer outcast, vagrant, and

disowned by the wide world. i dared to put off the mendicant–to resumemy natural manner and character. i began once more to know myself; and whenmr. st. john demanded an account–which at present i was far too weak to render–isaid after a brief pause– "sir, i can give you no details to-night." "but what, then," said he, "do you expectme 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 nowgiven you what aid you require? and that we

may dismiss you to the moor and the rainynight?" i looked at her. she had, i thought, a remarkablecountenance, instinct both with power and goodness.i took sudden courage. answering her compassionate gaze with asmile, i said–"i will trust you. if i were a masterless and stray dog, iknow that you would not turn me from your hearth to-night: as it is, i really have nofear. do with me and for me as you like; butexcuse 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, "lether sit there at present, and ask her no questions; in ten minutes more, give herthe remainder of that milk and bread. mary and diana, let us go into the parlourand 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 overme as i sat by the genial fire. in an undertone she gave some directions tohannah. ere long, with the servant’s aid, icontrived to mount a staircase; my dripping

clothes were removed; soon a warm, dry bedreceived me. i thanked god–experienced amidstunutterable exhaustion a glow of grateful joy–and slept.

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