A splendid Midsummer
shone over England: skies so pure,
suns so radiant as were then
seen in long succession, seldom
singly, our wave-girt land. It was as if a band of Italian days had
come from the South, like a flock of glorious passenger birds, and
lighted to rest them on the cliffs of Albion. The hay was all got
in; the fields round Thornfield were green and shorn; the roads
white and baked; the trees were in their dark prime; hedge and wood,
full-leaved and deeply tinted, contrasted well with the sunny hue of
the cleared meadows between.
On Midsummer-eve, Adele, weary
with gathering wild strawberries
in Hay Lane half the day, had
gone to bed with the sun. I watched
her drop asleep, and when I left
her, I sought the garden.
was now the
of the twenty-four:- "Day its
fervid fires had wasted," and
dew fell cool on panting plain
and scorched summit. Where the
sun had gone down in simple state--pure
of the pomp of clouds--spread
a solemn purple, burning with
the light of red jewel and furnace
flame at one point, on one hill-peak,
and extending high and wide,
soft and still softer, over half
heaven. The east had its own
charm or fine deep blue, and
its own modest gem, a casino
and solitary star: soon it would
boast the moon; but she was yet
beneath the horizon.
I walked a while on the pavement;
but a subtle, well-known scent--
that of a cigar--stole from some
window; I saw the library casement
open a handbreadth; I knew I
might be watched thence; so I
went apart into the orchard.
No nook in the grounds more sheltered
and more Eden-like; it was full
of trees, it bloomed with flowers:
a very high wall shut it out
from the court, on one side;
on the other, a beech avenue
screened it from the lawn. At
the bottom was a sunk fence;
its sole separation from lonely
fields: a winding walk, bordered
with laurels and terminating
in a giant horse- chestnut, circled
at the base by a seat, led down
to the fence. Here one could
wander unseen. While such honey-dew
fell, such silence reigned, such
gloaming gathered, I felt as
if I could haunt such shade for
ever; but in threading the flower
and fruit parterres at the upper
part of the enclosure, enticed
there by the light the now rising
moon cast on this more open quarter,
my step is stayed-- not by sound,
not by sight, but once more by
a warning fragrance.
Sweet-briar and southernwood,
jasmine, pink, and rose have
long been yielding their evening
sacrifice of incense: this new
scent is neither of shrub nor
flower; it is--I know it well--it
is Mr. Rochester's cigar. I look
round and I listen. I see trees
laden with ripening fruit. I
hear a nightingale warbling in
a wood half a mile off; no moving
form is visible, no coming step
audible; but that perfume increases:
I must flee. I make for the wicket
leading to the shrubbery, and
I see Mr. Rochester entering.
I step aside into the ivy recess;
he will not stay long: he will
soon return whence he came, and
if I sit still he will never
But no--eventide is as pleasant
to him as to me, and this antique
garden as attractive; and he
strolls on, now lifting the gooseberry-
tree branches to look at the
fruit, large as plums, with which
they are laden; now taking a
ripe cherry from the wall; now
stooping towards a knot of flowers,
either to inhale their fragrance
or to admire the dew-beads on
their petals. A great moth goes
humming by me; it alights on
a plant at Mr. Rochester's foot:
he sees it, and bends to examine
"Now, he has his back towards
me," thought I, "and he is occupied
too; perhaps, if I walk softly,
I can slip away unnoticed."
trode on an
edging of turf
that the crackle of the pebbly
gravel might not betray me: he
was standing among the beds at
a yard or two distant from where
I had to pass; the moth apparently
engaged him. "I shall get by
very well," I meditated. As I
crossed his shadow, thrown long
over the garden by the moon,
not yet risen high, he said quietly,
without turning -
come and look
at this fellow."
I had made no noise: he had
not eyes behind--could his shadow
feel? I started at first, and
then I approached him.
"Look at his wings," said he, "he
reminds me rather of a West Indian
insect; one does not often see
so large and gay a night-rover
in England; there! he is flown."
The moth roamed away. I was
sheepishly retreating also; but
Mr. Rochester followed me, and
when we reached the wicket, he
back: on so
lovely a night
it is a shame
to sit in
the house; and surely no one
can wish to go to bed while sunset
is thus at meeting with moonrise."
It is one of my faults, that
though my tongue is sometimes
prompt enough at an answer, there
are times when it sadly fails
me in framing an excuse; and
always the lapse occurs at some
crisis, when a facile word or
plausible pretext is specially
wanted to get me out of painful
embarrassment. I did not like
to walk at this hour alone with
Mr. Rochester in the shadowy
orchard; but I could not find
a reason to allege for leaving
him. I followed with lagging
step, and thoughts busily bent
on discovering a means of extrication;
but he himself looked so composed
and so grave also, I became ashamed
of feeling any confusion: the
evil--if evil existent or prospective
there was--seemed to lie with
me only; his mind was unconscious
"Jane," he recommenced, as
we entered the laurel walk, and
slowly strayed down in the direction
of the sunk fence and the horse-
chestnut, "Thornfield is a pleasant
place in summer, is it not?"
must have become
in some degree
who have an eye for natural beauties,
and a good deal of the organ
to it, indeed."
though I don't
how it is,
acquired a degree of regard for
that foolish little child Adele,
too; and even for simple dame
sir; in different
ways, I have
would be sorry
to part with
"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 am sorry, Janet, but I believe
indeed you must."
This was a blow: but I did
not let it prostrate me.
sir, I shall
be ready when
the order to
is come now--I
must give it
you ARE going
to be married,
with your usual
hit the nail straight on the
is, Miss Eyre:
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."
you, sir; I
am sorry to
no need to
that when a
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."
is a long way
of your sense
will not object
voyage or the distance."
but the distance:
and then the sea is a barrier--"
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
"It is a long way," I
is, to be sure;
and when you
get to Bitternutt
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?"
"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.
is a long way
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,
I could risk no sort of answer
by this time: my heart was still.
"Because," he said, "I
a queer feeling
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
"That I NEVER should, sir:
you know--" Impossible to proceed.
do you hear
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
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.
grieve to leave
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
You, sir, have
placed it before
the shape of
a noble and beautiful woman,--your
bride? I have
you will have."
"Yes;--I will!--I will!" He
set his teeth.
I must go:-
you have said
you must stay!
I swear it--and
the oath shall
"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!"
Jane? To Ireland?"
my mind, and can go anywhere
be still; don't
like a wild
that is rending its own plumage
in its desperation."
am no bird;
and no net
I am a free
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."
play a farce,
which I merely
ask you to
life at my side--to be my second
self, and best earthly companion."
that fate you
made your choice, and must abide
be still a
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 -
to my side,
Jane, and let
to your side:
I am torn away
and cannot return."
Jane, I summon
you as my wife:
it is you only
I was silent: I thought he
He rose, and with a stride
"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.
you doubt me,
have no faith
"Am I a liar in your eyes?" he
asked passionately. "Little sceptic,
you SHALL be convinced. What
love have I for Miss Ingram?
None: and that you know. What
love has she for me? None: as
I have taken pains to prove:
I caused a rumour to reach her
that my fortune was not a third
of what was supposed, and after
that I presented myself to see
the result; it was coldness both
from her and her mother. I would
not--I could not--marry Miss
Ingram. You-- you strange, you
almost unearthly thing!--I love
as my own flesh. You--poor and
obscure, and small and plain
as you are--I entreat to accept
me as a husband."
"What, me!" I ejaculated, beginning
in his earnestness--and especially
in his incivility--to credit
his sincerity: "me who have not
a friend in the world but you-
if you are my friend: not a shilling
but what you have given me?"
Jane, I must
have you for
Will you be mine? Say yes, quickly."
let me look
at your face: turn to the moonlight."
I want to read
you will find
more legible than a crumpled,
scratched page. Read on: only
make haste, for I suffer."
His face was very much agitated
and very much flushed, and there
were strong workings in the features,
and strange gleams in the eyes
"Oh, Jane, you torture me!" he
exclaimed. "With that searching
and yet faithful and generous
look, you torture me!"
can I do that?
If you are
true, and your
my only feelings to you must
be gratitude and devotion--they
"Gratitude!" he ejaculated;
and added wildly--"Jane accept
me quickly. Say, Edward--give
me my name--Edward--I will marry
you in earnest?
Do you truly
love me? Do
wish me to be your wife?"
do; and if
an oath is
I swear it."
sir, I will
"Come to me--come to me entirely
now," said he; and added, in
his deepest tone, speaking in
my ear as his cheek was laid
on mine, "Make my happiness--I
will make yours."
"God pardon me!" he subjoined
ere long; "and man meddle not
with me: I have her, and will
is no one to
I have no kindred
"No--that is the best of it," he
said. And if I had loved him
less I should have thought his
accent and look of exultation
savage; but, sitting by him,
roused from the nightmare of
parting--called to the paradise
of union--I thought only of the
bliss given me to drink in so
abundant a flow. Again and again
he said, "Are you happy, Jane?" And
again and again I answered, "Yes." After
which he murmured, "It will atone--it
will atone. Have I not found
her friendless, and cold, and
comfortless? Will I not guard,
and cherish, and solace her?
Is there not love in my heart,
and constancy in my resolves?
It will expiate at God's tribunal.
I know my Maker sanctions what
I do. For the world's judgment--I
wash my hands thereof. For man's
opinion--I defy it."
But what had befallen the night?
The moon was not yet set, and
we were all in shadow: I could
scarcely see my master's face,
near as I was. And what ailed
the chestnut tree? it writhed
and groaned; while wind roared
in the laurel walk, and came
sweeping over us.
"We must go in," said Mr. Rochester: "the
weather changes. I could have
sat with thee till morning, Jane."
"And so," thought I, "could
I with you." I should have said
so, perhaps, but a livid, vivid
spark leapt out of a cloud at
which I was looking, and there
was a crack, a crash, and a close
rattling peal; and I thought
only of hiding my dazzled eyes
against Mr. Rochester's shoulder.
The rain rushed down. He hurried
me up the walk, through the grounds,
and into the house; but we were
quite wet before we could pass
the threshold. He was taking
off my shawl in the hall, and
shaking the water out of my loosened
hair, when Mrs. Fairfax emerged
from her room. I did not observe
her at first, nor did Mr. Rochester.
The lamp was lit. The clock was
on the stroke of twelve.
"Hasten to take off your wet
things," said he; "and before
you go, good-night--good-night,
kissed me repeatedly.
When I looked
up, on leaving
there stood the widow, pale,
grave, and amazed. I only smiled
at her, and ran upstairs. "Explanation
will do for another time," thought
I. Still, when I reached my chamber,
I felt a pang at the idea she
should even temporarily misconstrue
what she had seen. But joy soon
effaced every other feeling;
and loud as the wind blew, near
and deep as the thunder crashed,
fierce and frequent as the lightning
gleamed, cataract-like as the
rain fell during a storm of two
hours' duration, I experienced
no fear and little awe. Mr. Rochester
came thrice to my door in the
course of it, to ask if I was
safe and tranquil: and that was
comfort, that was strength for
Before I left my bed in the
morning, little Adele came running
in to tell me that the great
horse-chestnut at the bottom
of the orchard had been struck
by lightning in the night, and
half of it split away.