When Mr. St.
John went, it was beginning
to snow; the whirling
storm continued all night. The
next day a keen wind brought
blinding falls; by twilight the valley was drifted up and almost
impassable. I had closed my shutter, laid a mat to the door to
prevent the snow from blowing in under it, trimmed my fire, and
after sitting nearly an hour on the hearth listening to the muffled
fury of the tempest, I lit a candle, took down "Marmion," and
"Day set on Norham's castled
steep, And Tweed's fair river
broad and deep, And Cheviot's
mountains lone; The massive towers,
the donjon keep, The flanking
walls that round them sweep,
In yellow lustre shone" -
I soon forgot storm in music.
I heard a noise: the wind,
I thought, shook the door. No;
it was St. John Rivers, who,
lifting the latch, came in out
of the frozen hurricane--the
howling darkness--and stood before
me: the cloak that covered his
tall figure all white as a glacier.
I was almost in consternation,
so little had I expected any
guest from the blocked-up vale
"Any ill news?" I demanded. "Has
"No. How very easily alarmed
you are?" he answered, removing
his cloak and hanging it up against
the door, towards which he again
coolly pushed the mat which his
entrance had deranged. He stamped
the snow from his boots.
"I shall sully the purity of
your floor," said he, "but you
must excuse me for once." Then
he approached the fire. "I have
had hard work to get here, I
assure you," he observed, as
he warmed his hands over the
flame. "One drift took me up
to the waist; happily the snow
is quite soft yet."
"But why are you come?" I
could not forbear saying.
inhospitable question to put
to a visitor; but since
you ask it, I answer simply to
have a little talk with you;
I got tired of my mute books
and empty rooms. Besides, since
yesterday I have experienced
the excitement of a person to
whom a tale has been half- told,
and who is impatient to hear
He sat down. I recalled his
singular conduct of yesterday,
and really I began to fear his
wits were touched. If he were
insane, however, his was a very
cool and collected insanity:
I had never seen that handsome-featured
face of his look more like chiselled
marble than it did just now,
as he put aside his snow-wet
hair from his forehead and let
the firelight shine free on his
pale brow and cheek as pale,
where it grieved me to discover
the hollow trace of care or sorrow
now so plainly graved. I waited,
expecting he would say something
I could at least comprehend;
but his hand was now at his chin,
his finger on his lip: he was
thinking. It struck me that his
hand looked wasted like his face.
A perhaps uncalled-for gush of
pity came over my heart: I was
moved to say -
"I wish Diana
or Mary would come and live
with you: it is
too bad that you should be quite
alone; and you are recklessly
rash about your own health."
"Not at all," said he: "I
care for myself when necessary.
am well now. What do you see
amiss in me?"
This was said with a careless,
abstracted indifference, which
showed that my solicitude was,
at least in his opinion, wholly
superfluous. I was silenced.
He still slowly moved his finger
over his upper lip, and still
his eye dwelt dreamily on the
glowing grate; thinking it urgent
to say something, I asked him
presently if he felt any cold
draught from the door, which
was behind him.
"No, no!" he
responded shortly and somewhat
"Well," I reflected, "if
you won't talk, you may be
I'll let you alone now, and return
to my book."
So I snuffed
the candle and resumed the
perusal of "Marmion." He
soon stirred; my eye was instantly
drawn to his movements; he only
took out a morocco pocket-book,
thence produced a letter, which
he read in silence, folded it,
put it back, relapsed into meditation.
It was vain to try to read with
such an inscrutable fixture before
me; nor could I, in impatience,
consent to be dumb; he might
rebuff me if my he liked, but
talk I would.
"Have you heard
from Diana and Mary lately?"
the letter I showed you a week
not been any change made about
your own arrangements?
You will not be summoned to leave
England sooner than you expected?"
"I fear not, indeed: such chance
is too good to befall me." Baffled
so far, I changed my ground.
I bethought myself to talk about
the school and my scholars.
mother is better, and Mary
came back to the school
this morning, and I shall have
four new girls next week from
the Foundry Close--they would
have come to-day but for the
pays for two."
"He means to
give the whole school a treat
"Was it your
"It is like
her: she is so good-natured."
Again came the blank of a pause:
the clock struck eight strokes.
It aroused him; he uncrossed
his legs, sat erect, turned to
"Leave your book a moment,
and come a little nearer the
fire," he said.
Wondering, and of my wonder
finding no end, I complied.
"Half-an-hour ago," he pursued, "I
spoke of my impatience to hear
the sequel of a tale: on reflection,
I find the matter will be better
managed by my assuming the narrator's
part, and converting you into
a listener. Before commencing,
it is but fair to warn you that
the story will sound somewhat
hackneyed in your ears; but stale
details often regain a degree
of freshness when they pass through
new lips. For the rest, whether
trite or novel, it is short.
ago, a poor curate--never mind
his name at this moment--fell
in love with a rich man's daughter;
she fell in love with him, and
married him, against the advice
of all her friends, who consequently
disowned her immediately after
the wedding. Before two years
passed, the rash pair were both
dead, and laid quietly side by
side under one slab. (I have
seen their grave; it formed part
of the pavement of a huge churchyard
surrounding the grim, soot-black
old cathedral of an overgrown
manufacturing town in - shire.)
They left a daughter, which,
at its very birth, Charity received
in her lap--cold as that of the
snow-drift I almost stuck fast
in to-night. Charity carried
the friendless thing to the house
of its rich maternal relations;
it was reared by an aunt-in-law,
called (I come to names now)
Mrs. Reed of Gateshead. You start--did
you hear a noise? I daresay it
is only a rat scrambling along
the rafters of the adjoining
schoolroom: it was a barn before
I had it repaired and altered,
and barns are generally haunted
by rats.--To proceed. Mrs. Reed
kept the orphan ten years: whether
it was happy or not with her,
I cannot say, never having been
told; but at the end of that
time she transferred it to a
place you know--being no other
than Lowood School, where you
so long resided yourself. It
seems her career there was very
honourable: from a pupil, she
became a teacher, like yourself--really
it strikes me there are parallel
points in her history and yours--she
left it to be a governess: there,
again, your fates were analogous;
she undertook the education of
the ward of a certain Mr. Rochester."
"Mr. Rivers!" I
"I can guess your feelings," he
said, "but restrain them for
a while: I have nearly finished;
hear me to the end. Of Mr. Rochester's
character I know nothing, but
the one fact that he professed
to offer honourable marriage
to this young girl, and that
at the very altar she discovered
he had a wife yet alive, though
a lunatic. What his subsequent
conduct and proposals were is
a matter of pure conjecture;
but when an event transpired
which rendered inquiry after
the governess necessary, it was
discovered she was gone--no one
could tell when, where, or how.
She had left Thornfield Hall
in the night; every research
after her course had been vain:
the country had been scoured
far and wide; no vestige of information
could be gathered respecting
her. Yet that she should be found
is become a matter of serious
urgency: advertisements have
been put in all the papers; I
myself have received a letter
from one Mr. Briggs, a solicitor,
communicating the details I have
just imparted. Is it not an odd
"Just tell me this," said I, "and
since you know so much, you surely
can tell it me--what of Mr. Rochester?
How and where is he? What is
he doing? Is he well?"
"I am ignorant
of all concerning Mr. Rochester:
the letter never
mentions him but to narrate the
fraudulent and illegal attempt
I have adverted to. You should
rather ask the name of the governess--
the nature of the event which
requires her appearance."
"Did no one
go to Thornfield Hall, then?
Did no one see Mr.
"But they wrote
"And what did
he say? Who has his letters?"
intimates that the answer to
was not from Mr. Rochester, but
from a lady: it is signed 'Alice
I felt cold
and dismayed: my worst fears
then were probably
true: he had in all probability
left England and rushed in reckless
desperation to some former haunt
on the Continent. And what opiate
for his severe sufferings--what
object for his strong passions--had
he sought there? I dared not
answer the question. Oh, my poor
master--once almost my husband--whom
I had often called "my dear Edward!"
"He must have been a bad man," observed
"You don't know him--don't
pronounce an opinion upon him," I
said, with warmth.
"Very well," he answered quietly: "and
indeed my head is otherwise occupied
than with him: I have my tale
to finish. Since you won't ask
the governess's name, I must
tell it of my own accord. Stay!
I have it here--it is always
more satisfactory to see important
points written down, fairly committed
to black and white."
And the pocket-book
was again deliberately produced,
sought through; from one of its
compartments was extracted a
shabby slip of paper, hastily
torn off: I recognised in its
texture and its stains of ultra-marine,
and lake, and vermillion, the
ravished margin of the portrait-cover.
He got up, held it close to my
eyes: and I read, traced in Indian
ink, in my own handwriting, the
words "JANE EYRE"--the work doubtless
of some moment of abstraction.
"Briggs wrote to me of a Jane
Eyre:" he said, "the advertisements
demanded a Jane Eyre: I knew
a Jane Elliott.--I confess I
had my suspicions, but it was
only yesterday afternoon they
were at once resolved into certainty.
You own the name and renounce
but where is Mr. Briggs? He
perhaps knows more
of Mr. Rochester than you do."
in London. I should doubt his
knowing anything at
all about Mr. Rochester; it is
not in Mr. Rochester he is interested.
Meantime, you forget essential
points in pursuing trifles: you
do not inquire why Mr. Briggs
sought after you--what he wanted
did he want?"
tell you that your uncle, Mr.
Eyre of Madeira, is
dead; that he has left you all
his property, and that you are
now rich-- merely that--nothing
rich--quite an heiress."
"You must prove your identity
of course," resumed St. John
presently: "a step which will
offer no difficulties; you can
then enter on immediate possession.
Your fortune is vested in the
English funds; Briggs has the
will and the necessary documents."
Here was a new card turned
up! It is a fine thing, reader,
to be lifted in a moment from
indigence to wealth--a very fine
thing; but not a matter one can
comprehend, or consequently enjoy,
all at once. And then there are
other chances in life far more
thrilling and rapture-giving:
THIS is solid, an affair of the
actual world, nothing ideal about
it: all its associations are
solid and sober, and its manifestations
are the same. One does not jump,
and spring, and shout hurrah!
at hearing one has got a fortune;
one begins to consider responsibilities,
and to ponder business; on a
base of steady satisfaction rise
certain grave cares, and we contain
ourselves, and blood over our
bliss with a solemn brow.
Besides, the words Legacy,
Bequest, go side by side with
the words, Death, Funeral. My
uncle I had heard was dead--my
only relative; ever since being
made aware of his existence,
I had cherished the hope of one
day seeing him: now, I never
should. And then this money came
only to me: not to me and a rejoicing
family, but to my isolated self.
It was a grand boon doubtless;
and independence would be glorious--yes,
I felt that--that thought swelled
"You unbend your forehead at
last," said Mr. Rivers. "I thought
Medusa had looked at you, and
that you were turning to stone.
Perhaps now you will ask how
much you are worth?"
"How much am
"Oh, a trifle!
Nothing of course to speak
pounds, I think they say--but
what is that?"
Here was a new stunner--I had
been calculating on four or five
thousand. This news actually
took my breath for a moment:
Mr. St. John, whom I had never
heard laugh before, laughed now.
"Well," said he, "if
you had committed a murder,
and I had
told you your crime was discovered,
you could scarcely look more
"It is a large
sum--don't you think there
is a mistake?"
have read the figures wrong--it
may be two
"It is written
in letters, not figures,--twenty
I again felt rather like an
individual of but average gastronomical
powers sitting down to feast
alone at a table spread with
provisions for a hundred. Mr.
Rivers rose now and put his cloak
"If it were not such a very
wild night," he said, "I would
send Hannah down to keep you
company: you look too desperately
miserable to be left alone. But
Hannah, poor woman! could not
stride the drifts so well as
I: her legs are not quite so
long: so I must e'en leave you
to your sorrows. Good-night."
He was lifting
the latch: a sudden thought
occurred to me. "Stop
one minute!" I cried.
me to know why Mr. Briggs wrote
to you about
me; or how he knew you, or could
fancy that you, living in such
an out-of-the- way place, had
the power to aid in my discovery."
"Oh! I am a clergyman," he
said; "and the clergy are often
appealed to about odd matters." Again
the latch rattled.
"No; that does not satisfy
me!" I exclaimed: and indeed
there was something in the hasty
and unexplanatory reply which,
instead of allaying, piqued my
curiosity more than ever.
"It is a very strange piece
of business," I added; "I must
know more about it."
"No; to-night!--to-night!" and
as he turned from the door, I
placed myself between it and
him. He looked rather embarrassed.
"You certainly shall not go
till you have told me all," I
"I would rather
not just now."
"I would rather
Diana or Mary informed you."
Of course these objections
wrought my eagerness to a climax:
gratified it must be, and that
without delay; and I told him
"But I apprised you that I
was a hard man," said he, "difficult
"And I am a
hard woman,--impossible to
"And then," he pursued, "I
am cold: no fervour infects me."
am hot, and fire dissolves
ice. The blaze there
has thawed all the snow from
your cloak; by the same token,
it has streamed on to my floor,
and made it like a trampled street.
As you hope ever to be forgiven,
Mr. Rivers, the high crime and
misdemeanour of spoiling a sanded
kitchen, tell me what I wish
"Well, then," he said, "I
yield; if not to your earnestness,
your perseverance: as stone is
worn by continual dropping. Besides,
you must know some day,--as well
now as later. Your name is Jane
that was all settled before."
"You are not,
perhaps, aware that I am your
I was christened St. John Eyre
I remember now seeing the letter
in your initials written in books
you have at different times lent
me; but I never asked for what
name it stood. But what then?
I stopped: I could not trust
myself to entertain, much less
to express, the thought that
rushed upon me--that embodied
itself,-- that, in a second,
stood out a strong, solid probability.
Circumstances knit themselves,
fitted themselves, shot into
order: the chain that had been
lying hitherto a formless lump
of links was drawn out straight,--every
ring was perfect, the connection
complete. I knew, by instinct,
how the matter stood, before
St. John had said another word;
but I cannot expect the reader
to have the same intuitive perception,
so I must repeat his explanation.
"My mother's name was Eyre;
she had two brothers; one a clergyman,
who married Miss Jane Reed, of
Gateshead; the other, John Eyre,
Esq., merchant, late of Funchal,
Madeira. Mr. Briggs, being Mr.
Eyre's solicitor, wrote to us
last August to inform us of our
uncle's death, and to say that
he had left his property to his
brother the clergyman's orphan
daughter, overlooking us, in
consequence of a quarrel, never
forgiven, between him and my
father. He wrote again a few
weeks since, to intimate that
the heiress was lost, and asking
if we knew anything of her. A
name casually written on a slip
of paper has enabled me to find
her out. You know the rest." Again
he was going, but I set my back
against the door.
"Do let me speak," I said; "let
me have one moment to draw breath
and reflect." I paused--he stood
before me, hat in hand, looking
composed enough. I resumed -
was my father's sister?"
"My aunt, consequently?"
"My uncle John
was your uncle John? You, Diana,
and Mary are
his sister's children, as I am
his brother's child?"
then, are my cousins; half
our blood on each side flows
from the same source?"
"We are cousins;
I surveyed him. It seemed I
had found a brother: one I could
be proud of,--one I could love;
and two sisters, whose qualities
were such, that, when I knew
them but as mere strangers, they
had inspired me with genuine
affection and admiration. The
two girls, on whom, kneeling
down on the wet ground, and looking
through the low, latticed window
of Moor House kitchen, I had
gazed with so bitter a mixture
of interest and despair, were
my near kinswomen; and the young
and stately gentleman who had
found me almost dying at his
threshold was my blood relation.
Glorious discovery to a lonely
wretch! This was wealth indeed!--wealth
to the heart!--a mine of pure,
genial affections. This was a
blessing, bright, vivid, and
exhilarating;--not like the ponderous
gift of gold: rich and welcome
enough in its way, but sobering
from its weight. I now clapped
my hands in sudden joy--my pulse
bounded, my veins thrilled.
"Oh, I am glad!--I am glad!" I
St. John smiled. "Did I not
say you neglected essential points
to pursue trifles?" he asked. "You
were serious when I told you
you had got a fortune; and now,
for a matter of no moment, you
"What can you
mean? It may be of no moment
to you; you have
sisters and don't care for a
cousin; but I had nobody; and
now three relations,--or two,
if you don't choose to be counted,--are
born into my world full-grown.
I say again, I am glad!"
I walked fast through the room:
I stopped, half suffocated with
the thoughts that rose faster
than I could receive, comprehend,
settle them:- thoughts of what
might, could, would, and should
be, and that ere long. I looked
at the blank wall: it seemed
a sky thick with ascending stars,--every
one lit me to a purpose or delight.
Those who had saved my life,
whom, till this hour, I had loved
barrenly, I could now benefit.
They were under a yoke,--I could
free them: they were scattered,--I
could reunite them: the independence,
the affluence which was mine,
might be theirs too. Were we
not four? Twenty thousand pounds
shared equally would be five
thousand each, justice--enough
and to spare: justice would be
done,--mutual happiness secured.
Now the wealth did not weigh
on me: now it was not a mere
bequest of coin,--it was a legacy
of life, hope, enjoyment.
How I looked while these ideas
were taking my spirit by storm,
I cannot tell; but I perceived
soon that Mr. Rivers had placed
a chair behind me, and was gently
attempting to make me sit down
on it. He also advised me to
be composed; I scorned the insinuation
of helplessness and distraction,
shook off his hand, and began
to walk about again.
"Write to Diana and Mary to-morrow," I
said, "and tell them to come
home directly. Diana said they
would both consider themselves
rich with a thousand pounds,
so with five thousand they will
do very well."
"Tell me where I can get you
a glass of water," said St. John; "you
must really make an effort to
tranquillise your feelings."
and what sort of an effect
will the bequest have
on you? Will it keep you in England,
induce you to marry Miss Oliver,
and settle down like an ordinary
your head becomes confused.
I have been too abrupt
in communicating the news; it
has excited you beyond your strength."
you quite put me out of patience:
I am rational
enough; it is you who misunderstand,
or rather who affect to misunderstand."
you explained yourself a little
I should comprehend better."
is there to explain? You cannot
fail to see
that twenty thousand pounds,
the sum in question, divided
equally between the nephew and
three nieces of our uncle, will
give five thousand to each? What
I want is, that you should write
to your sisters and tell them
of the fortune that has accrued
"To you, you
"I have intimated
my view of the case: I am incapable
any other. I am not brutally
selfish, blindly unjust, or fiendishly
ungrateful. Besides, I am resolved
I will have a home and connections.
I like Moor House, and I will
live at Moor House; I like Diana
and Mary, and I will attach myself
for life to Diana and Mary. It
would please and benefit me to
have five thousand pounds; it
would torment and oppress me
to have twenty thousand; which,
moreover, could never be mine
in justice, though it might in
law. I abandon to you, then,
what is absolutely superfluous
to me. Let there be no opposition,
and no discussion about it; let
us agree amongst each other,
and decide the point at once."
"This is acting
on first impulses; you must
take days to consider
such a matter, ere your word
can be regarded as valid."
"Oh! if all
you doubt is my sincerity,
I am easy: you see
the justice of the case?"
"I DO see a
certain justice; but it is
contrary to all custom.
Besides, the entire fortune is
your right: my uncle gained it
by his own efforts; he was free
to leave it to whom he would:
he left it to you. After all,
justice permits you to keep it:
you may, with a clear conscience,
consider it absolutely your own."
"With me," said I, "it
is fully as much a matter of
of conscience: I must indulge
my feelings; I so seldom have
had an opportunity of doing so.
Were you to argue, object, and
annoy me for a year, I could
not forego the delicious pleasure
of which I have caught a glimpse--that
of repaying, in part, a mighty
obligation, and winning to myself
"You think so now," rejoined
St. John, "because you do not
know what it is to possess, nor
consequently to enjoy wealth:
you cannot form a notion of the
importance twenty thousand pounds
would give you; of the place
it would enable you to take in
society; of the prospects it
would open to you: you cannot--"
"And you," I interrupted, "cannot
at all imagine the craving I
have for fraternal and sisterly
love. I never had a home, I never
had brothers or sisters; I must
and will have them now: you are
not reluctant to admit me and
own me, are you?"
"Jane, I will
be your brother--my sisters
will be your sisters--
without stipulating for this
sacrifice of your just rights."
at the distance of a thousand
Yes; slaving amongst strangers!
I, wealthy--gorged with gold
I never earned and do not merit!
You, penniless! Famous equality
and fraternisation! Close union!
your aspirations after family
ties and domestic
happiness may be realised otherwise
than by the means you contemplate:
you may marry."
again! Marry! I don't want
to marry, and never
"That is saying
too much: such hazardous affirmations
proof of the excitement under
which you labour."
"It is not
saying too much: I know what
I feel, and how averse
are my inclinations to the bare
thought of marriage. No one would
take me for love; and I will
not be regarded in the light
of a mere money speculation.
And I do not want a stranger--unsympathising,
alien, different from me; I want
my kindred: those with whom I
have full fellow-feeling. Say
again you will be my brother:
when you uttered the words I
was satisfied, happy; repeat
them, if you can, repeat them
"I think I
can. I know I have always loved
my own sisters;
and I know on what my affection
for them is grounded,--respect
for their worth and admiration
of their talents. You too have
principle and mind: your tastes
and habits resemble Diana's and
Mary's; your presence is always
agreeable to me; in your conversation
I have already for some time
found a salutary solace. I feel
I can easily and naturally make
room in my heart for you, as
my third and youngest sister."
that contents me for to-night.
Now you had better
go; for if you stay longer, you
will perhaps irritate me afresh
by some mistrustful scruple."
"And the school,
Miss Eyre? It must now be shut
up, I suppose?"
"No. I will
retain my post of mistress
till you get a substitute."
He smiled approbation: we shook
hands, and he took leave.
I need not narrate in detail
the further struggles I had,
and arguments I used, to get
matters regarding the legacy
settled as I wished. My task
was a very hard one; but, as
I was absolutely resolved--as
my cousins saw at length that
my mind was really and immutably
fixed on making a just division
of the property--as they must
in their own hearts have felt
the equity of the intention;
and must, besides, have been
innately conscious that in my
place they would have done precisely
what I wished to do--they yielded
at length so far as to consent
to put the affair to arbitration.
The judges chosen were Mr. Oliver
and an able lawyer: both coincided
in my opinion: I carried my point.
The instruments of transfer were
drawn out: St. John, Diana, Mary,
and I, each became possessed
of a competency.