An Excerpt from Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

“Jane,” he (Mr. Rochester) recommenced, as we entered the laurel walk, and slowly
strayed down in the direction of the sunk fence and the horse-
chestnut, “Thornfield is a pleasant place in summer, is it not?”
“Yes, sir.”
“You must have become in some degree attached to the house,–you,
who have an eye for natural beauties, and a good deal of the organ
of Adhesiveness?”
“I am attached to it, indeed.”
“And though I don’t comprehend how it is, I perceive you have
acquired a degree of regard for that foolish little child Adele,
too; and even for simple dame Fairfax?”
“Yes, sir; in different ways, I have an affection for both.”
“And would be sorry to part with them?”
“Yes.”
“Pity!” he said, and sighed and paused.  “It is always the way of
events in this life,” he continued presently:  “no sooner have you
got settled in a pleasant resting-place, than a voice calls out to
you to rise and move on, for the hour of repose is expired.”
“Must I move on, sir?” I asked.  “Must I leave Thornfield?”
“I believe you must, Jane.  I am sorry, Janet, but I believe indeed
you must.”
This was a blow:  but I did not let it prostrate me.
“Well, sir, I shall be ready when the order to march comes.”
“It is come now–I must give it to-night.”
“Then you ARE going to be married, sir?”
“Ex-act-ly–pre-cise-ly:  with your usual acuteness, you have hit
the nail straight on the head.”
“Soon, sir?”
“Very soon, my–that is, Miss Eyre:  and you’ll remember, Jane, the
first time I, or Rumour, plainly intimated to you that it was my
intention to put my old bachelor’s neck into the sacred noose, to
enter into the holy estate of matrimony–to take Miss Ingram to my
bosom, in short (she’s an extensive armful:  but that’s not to the
point–one can’t have too much of such a very excellent thing as my
beautiful Blanche):  well, as I was saying–listen to me, Jane!
You’re not turning your head to look after more moths, are you?
That was only a lady-clock, child, ‘flying away home.’  I wish to
remind you that it was you who first said to me, with that
discretion I respect in you–with that foresight, prudence, and
humility which befit your responsible and dependent position–that
in case I married Miss Ingram, both you and little Adele had better
trot forthwith.  I pass over the sort of slur conveyed in this
suggestion on the character of my beloved; indeed, when you are far
away, Janet, I’ll try to forget it:  I shall notice only its wisdom;
which is such that I have made it my law of action.  Adele must go
to school; and you, Miss Eyre, must get a new situation.”
“Yes, sir, I will advertise immediately:  and meantime, I suppose–”
I was going to say, “I suppose I may stay here, till I find another
shelter to betake myself to:” but I stopped, feeling it would not do
to risk a long sentence, for my voice was not quite under command.
“In about a month I hope to be a bridegroom,” continued Mr.
Rochester; “and in the interim, I shall myself look out for
employment and an asylum for you.”
“Thank you, sir; I am sorry to give–”
“Oh, no need to apologise!  I consider that when a dependent does
her duty as well as you have done yours, she has a sort of claim
upon her employer for any little assistance he can conveniently
render her; indeed I have already, through my future mother-in-law,
heard of a place that I think will suit:  it is to undertake the
education of the five daughters of Mrs. Dionysius O’Gall of
Bitternutt Lodge, Connaught, Ireland.  You’ll like Ireland, I think:
they’re such warm-hearted people there, they say.”
“It is a long way off, sir.”
“No matter–a girl of your sense will not object to the voyage or
the distance.”
“Not the voyage, but the distance:  and then the sea is a barrier–”
“From what, Jane?”
“From England and from Thornfield:  and–”
“Well?”
“From YOU, sir.”
I said this almost involuntarily, and, with as little sanction of
free will, my tears gushed out.  I did not cry so as to be heard,
however; I avoided sobbing.  The thought of Mrs. O’Gall and
Bitternutt Lodge struck cold to my heart; and colder the thought of
all the brine and foam, destined, as it seemed, to rush between me
and the master at whose side I now walked, and coldest the
remembrance of the wider ocean–wealth, caste, custom intervened
between me and what I naturally and inevitably loved.
“It is a long way,” I again said.
“It is, to be sure; and when you get to Bitternutt Lodge, Connaught, Ireland, I shall never see you again, Jane:  that’s morally certain.
I never go over to Ireland, not having myself much of a fancy for
the country.  We have been good friends, Jane; have we not?”
“Yes, sir.”
“And when friends are on the eve of separation, they like to spend
the little time that remains to them close to each other.  Come!
we’ll talk over the voyage and the parting quietly half-an-hour or
so, while the stars enter into their shining life up in heaven
yonder:  here is the chestnut tree:  here is the bench at its old
roots.  Come, we will sit there in peace to-night, though we should
never more be destined to sit there together.”  He seated me and
himself.

“It is a long way to Ireland, Janet, and I am sorry to send my
little friend on such weary travels:  but if I can’t do better, how
is it to be helped?  Are you anything akin to me, do you think,
Jane?”
I could risk no sort of answer by this time:  my heart was still.
“Because,” he said, “I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to
you–especially when you are near me, as now:  it is as if I had a
string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably
knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of
your little frame.  And if that boisterous Channel, and two hundred
miles or so of land come broad between us, I am afraid that cord of
communion will be snapt; and then I’ve a nervous notion I should
take to bleeding inwardly.  As for you,–you’d forget me.”
“That I NEVER should, sir:  you know–”  Impossible to proceed.
“Jane, do you hear that nightingale singing in the wood?  Listen!”
In listening, I sobbed convulsively; for I could repress what I
endured no longer; I was obliged to yield, and I was shaken from
head to foot with acute distress.  When I did speak, it was only to
express an impetuous wish that I had never been born, or never come
to Thornfield.
“Because you are sorry to leave it?”
The vehemence of emotion, stirred by grief and love within me, was
claiming mastery, and struggling for full sway, and asserting a
right to predominate, to overcome, to live, rise, and reign at last:
yes,–and to speak.
“I grieve to leave Thornfield:  I love Thornfield:- I love it,
because I have lived in it a full and delightful life,–momentarily
at least.  I have not been trampled on.  I have not been petrified.
I have not been buried with inferior minds, and excluded from every
glimpse of communion with what is bright and energetic and high.  I
have talked, face to face, with what I reverence, with what I
delight in,–with an original, a vigorous, an expanded mind.  I have
known you, Mr. Rochester; and it strikes me with terror and anguish
to feel I absolutely must be torn from you for ever.  I see the
necessity of departure; and it is like looking on the necessity of
death.”
“Where do you see the necessity?” he asked suddenly.
“Where?  You, sir, have placed it before me.”
“In what shape?”
“In the shape of Miss Ingram; a noble and beautiful woman,–your
bride.”
“My bride!  What bride?  I have no bride!”
“But you will have.”
“Yes;–I will!–I will!”  He set his teeth.
“Then I must go:- you have said it yourself.”
“No:  you must stay!  I swear it–and the oath shall be kept.”
“I tell you I must go!” I retorted, roused to something like
passion.  “Do you think I can stay to become nothing to you?  Do you
think I am an automaton?–a machine without feelings? and can bear
to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of
living water dashed from my cup?  Do you think, because I am poor,
obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless?  You think
wrong!–I have as much soul as you,–and full as much heart!  And if
God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have
made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave
you.  I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom,
conventionalities, nor even of mortal flesh;–it is my spirit that
addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave,
and we stood at God’s feet, equal,–as we are!”
“As we are!” repeated Mr. Rochester–“so,” he added, enclosing me in
his arms.  Gathering me to his breast, pressing his lips on my lips:
“so, Jane!”
“Yes, so, sir,” I rejoined:  “and yet not so; for you are a married
man–or as good as a married man, and wed to one inferior to you–to
one with whom you have no sympathy–whom I do not believe you truly
love; for I have seen and heard you sneer at her.  I would scorn
such a union:  therefore I am better than you–let me go!”
“Where, Jane?  To Ireland?”
“Yes–to Ireland.  I have spoken my mind, and can go anywhere now.”
“Jane, be still; don’t struggle so, like a wild frantic bird that is
rending its own plumage in its desperation.”
“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with
an independent will, which I now exert to leave you.”
Another effort set me at liberty, and I stood erect before him.
“And your will shall decide your destiny,” he said:  “I offer you my
hand, my heart, and a share of all my possessions.”
“You play a farce, which I merely laugh at.”
“I ask you to pass through life at my side–to be my second self,
and best earthly companion.”
“For that fate you have already made your choice, and must abide by
it.”
“Jane, be still a few moments:  you are over-excited:  I will be
still too.”
A waft of wind came sweeping down the laurel-walk, and trembled
through the boughs of the chestnut:  it wandered away–away–to an
indefinite distance–it died.  The nightingale’s song was then the
only voice of the hour:  in listening to it, I again wept.  Mr.
Rochester sat quiet, looking at me gently and seriously.  Some time
passed before he spoke; he at last said –
“Come to my side, Jane, and let us explain and understand one
another.”
“I will never again come to your side:  I am torn away now, and
cannot return.”
“But, Jane, I summon you as my wife:  it is you only I intend to
marry.”
I was silent:  I thought he mocked me.
“Come, Jane–come hither.”
“Your bride stands between us.”
He rose, and with a stride reached me.
“My bride is here,” he said, again drawing me to him, “because my
equal is here, and my likeness.  Jane, will you marry me?”
Still I did not answer, and still I writhed myself from his grasp:
for I was still incredulous.
“Do you doubt me, Jane?”
“Entirely.”
“You have no faith in me?”
“Not a whit.”
“Am I a liar in your eyes?” he asked passionately.  “Little sceptic,
you SHALL be convinced.  What love have I for Miss Ingram?  None:
and that you know.  What love has she for me?  None:  as I have
taken pains to prove:  I caused a rumour to reach her that my
fortune was not a third of what was supposed, and after that I
presented myself to see the result; it was coldness both from her
and her mother.  I would not–I could not–marry Miss Ingram.  You–
you strange, you almost unearthly thing!–I love as my own flesh.
You–poor and obscure, and small and plain as you are–I entreat to
accept me as a husband.”

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s