He did not leave
for Cambridge the next day, as
he had said he would. He deferred
his departure a whole week, and
during that time
he made me feel what severe punishment a good yet stern, a
conscientious yet implacable man can inflict on one who has offended
him. Without one overt act of hostility, one upbraiding word, he
contrived to impress me momently with the conviction that I was put
beyond the pale of his favour.
Not that St. John harboured
a spirit of unchristian vindictiveness--
not that he would have injured
a hair of my head, if it had
been fully in his power to do
so. Both by nature and principle,
he was superior to the mean gratification
of vengeance: he had forgiven
me for saying I scorned him and
his love, but he had not forgotten
the words; and as long as he
and I lived he never would forget
them. I saw by his look, when
he turned to me, that they were
always written on the air between
me and him; whenever I spoke,
they sounded in my voice to his
ear, and their echo toned every
answer he gave me.
He did not abstain from conversing
with me: he even called me as
usual each morning to join him
at his desk; and I fear the corrupt
man within him had a pleasure
unimparted to, and unshared by,
the pure Christian, in evincing
with what skill he could, while
acting and speaking apparently
just as usual, extract from every
deed and every phrase the spirit
of interest and approval which
had formerly communicated a certain
austere charm to his language
and manner. To me, he was in
reality become no longer flesh,
but marble; his eye was a cold,
bright, blue gem; his tongue
a speaking instrument-- nothing
All this was torture to me--refined,
lingering torture. It kept up
a slow fire of indignation and
a trembling trouble of grief,
which harassed and crushed me
altogether. I felt how--if I
were his wife, this good man,
pure as the deep sunless source,
could soon kill me, without drawing
from my veins a single drop of
blood, or receiving on his own
crystal conscience the faintest
stain of crime. Especially I
felt this when I made any attempt
to propitiate him. No ruth met
my ruth. HE experienced no suffering
from estrangement- -no yearning
after reconciliation; and though,
more than once, my fast falling
tears blistered the page over
which we both bent, they produced
no more effect on him than if
his heart had been really a matter
of stone or metal. To his sisters,
meantime, he was somewhat kinder
than usual: as if afraid that
mere coldness would not sufficiently
convince me how completely I
was banished and banned, he added
the force of contrast; and this
I am sure he did not by force,
but on principle.
The night before he left home,
happening to see him walking
in the garden about sunset, and
remembering, as I looked at him,
that this man, alienated as he
now was, had once saved my life,
and that we were near relations,
I was moved to make a last attempt
to regain his friendship. I went
out and approached him as he
stood leaning over the little
gate; I spoke to the point at
John, I am
you are still angry with me.
Let us be friends."
"I hope we are friends," was
the unmoved reply; while he still
watched the rising of the moon,
which he had been contemplating
as I approached.
St. John, we
are not friends
as we were. You know that."
we not? That
is wrong. For
my part, I
wish you no
and all good."
St. John; for
I am sure you are incapable of
wishing any one ill; but, as
I am your kinswoman, I should
desire somewhat more of affection
than that sort of general philanthropy
you extend to mere strangers."
"Of course," he said. "Your
wish is reasonable, and I am
far from regarding you as a stranger."
This, spoken in a cool, tranquil
tone, was mortifying and baffling
enough. Had I attended to the
suggestions of pride and ire,
I should immediately have left
him; but something worked within
me more strongly than those feelings
could. I deeply venerated my
cousin's talent and principle.
His friendship was of value to
me: to lose it tried me severely.
I would not so soon relinquish
the attempt to reconquer it.
we part in
this way, St.
John? And when
you go to
India, will you leave me so,
without a kinder word than you
have yet spoken?"
He now turned quite from the
moon and faced me.
I go to India,
I leave you!
What! do you
not go to India?"
said I could
I married you."
you will not
marry me! You
adhere to that
Reader, do you know, as I do,
what terror those cold people
can put into the ice of their
questions? How much of the fall
of the avalanche is in their
anger? of the breaking up of
the frozen sea in their displeasure?
St. John, I
will not marry
you. I adhere to my resolution."
The avalanche had shaken and
slid a little forward, but it
did not yet crash down.
"Once more, why this refusal?" he
"Formerly," I answered, "because
you did not love me; now, I reply,
because you almost hate me. If
I were to marry you, you would
kill me. You are killing me now."
His lips and cheeks turned
YOU--I AM KILLING
YOU? Your words are such as ought
not to be used: violent, unfeminine,
and untrue. They betray an unfortunate
state of mind: they merit severe
reproof: they would seem inexcusable,
but that it is the duty of man
to forgive his fellow even until
I had finished the business
now. While earnestly wishing
to erase from his mind the trace
of my former offence, I had stamped
on that tenacious surface another
and far deeper impression, I
had burnt it in.
"Now you will indeed hate me," I
said. "It is useless to attempt
to conciliate you: I see I have
made an eternal enemy of you."
A fresh wrong did these words
inflict: the worse, because they
touched on the truth. That bloodless
lip quivered to a temporary spasm.
I knew the steely ire I had whetted.
I was heart-wrung.
"You utterly misinterpret my
words," I said, at once seizing
his hand: "I have no intention
to grieve or pain you--indeed,
I have not."
decidedly he withdrew his hand
from mine. "And now you recall
your promise, and will not go
to India at all, I presume?" said
he, after a considerable pause.
"Yes, I will, as your assistant," I
A very long silence succeeded.
What struggle there was in him
between Nature and Grace in this
interval, I cannot tell: only
singular gleams scintillated
in his eyes, and strange shadows
passed over his face. He spoke
to you the
a single woman
your age proposing to accompany
abroad a single man of mine.
I proved it to you in such terms
as, I should have thought, would
have prevented your ever again
alluding to the plan. That you
have done so, I regret--for your
like a tangible reproach gave
me courage at once. "Keep to
common sense, St. John: you are
verging on nonsense. You pretend
to be shocked by what I have
said. You are not really shocked:
for, with your superior mind,
you cannot be either so dull
or so conceited as to misunderstand
my meaning. I say again, I will
be your curate, if you like,
but never your wife."
Again he turned lividly pale;
but, as before, controlled his
passion perfectly. He answered
emphatically but calmly -
who is not
my wife, would
With me, then, it seems, you
cannot go: but if you are sincere
in your offer, I will, while
in town, speak to a married missionary,
whose wife needs a coadjutor.
Your own fortune will make you
independent of the Society's
aid; and thus you may still be
spared the dishonour of breaking
your promise and deserting the
band you engaged to join."
Now I never had, as the reader
knows, either given any formal
promise or entered into any engagement;
and this language was all much
too hard and much too despotic
for the occasion. I replied -
is no dishonour,
no breach of
in the case. I am not under the
slightest obligation to go to
India, especially with strangers.
With you I would have ventured
much, because I admire, confide
in, and, as a sister, I love
you; but I am convinced that,
go when and with whom I would,
I should not live long in that
"Ah! you are afraid of yourself," he
said, curling his lip.
am. God did
not give me
my life to throw away; and to
do as you wish me would, I begin
to think, be almost equivalent
to committing suicide. Moreover,
before I definitively resolve
on quitting England, I will know
for certain whether I cannot
be of greater use by remaining
in it than by leaving it."
do you mean?"
would be fruitless
but there is
on which I have long endured
painful doubt, and I can go nowhere
till by some means that doubt
turns and to
what it clings.
you cherish is lawless and unconsecrated.
Long since you ought to have
crushed it: now you should blush
to allude to it. You think of
It was true. I confessed it
you going to
seek Mr. Rochester?"
must find out
what is become
"It remains for me, then," he
said, "to remember you in my
prayers, and to entreat God for
you, in all earnestness, that
you may not indeed become a castaway.
I had thought I recognised in
you one of the chosen. But God
sees not as man sees: HIS will
He opened the gate, passed
through it, and strayed away
down the glen. He was soon out
On re-entering the parlour,
I found Diana standing at the
window, looking very thoughtful.
Diana was a great deal taller
than I: she put her hand on my
shoulder, and, stooping, examined
"Jane," she said, "you
I am sure there is something
the matter. Tell me what business
St. John and you have on hands.
I have watched you this half
hour from the window; you must
forgive my being such a spy,
but for a long time I have fancied
I hardly know what. St. John
is a strange being--"
She paused--I did not speak:
soon she resumed -
peculiar views of some sort respecting
you, I am sure: he has long distinguished
you by a notice and interest
he never showed to any one else--to
what end? I wish he loved you--does
put her cool
hand to my
hot forehead; "No,
Die, not one
why does he
so with his
eyes, and get
so frequently alone with him,
and keep you so continually at
his side? Mary and I had both
concluded he wished you to marry
asked me to
be his wife."
is just what we hoped and thought!
And you will marry him, Jane,
won't you? And then he will stay
sole idea in
is to procure a fitting fellow-labourer
in his Indian toils."
He wishes you
to go to India?"
"Madness!" she exclaimed. "You
would not live three months there,
I am certain. You never shall
go: you have not consented, have
to marry him--"
"And have consequently displeased
him?" she suggested.
he will never
I fear: yet
I offered to
accompany him as his sister."
folly to do
so, Jane. Think of the task you
undertook--one of incessant fatigue,
where fatigue kills even the
strong, and you are weak. St.
John--you know him--would urge
you to impossibilities: with
him there would be no permission
to rest during the hot hours;
and unfortunately, I have noticed,
whatever he exacts, you force
yourself to perform. I am astonished
you found courage to refuse his
hand. You do not love him then,
as a husband."
he is a handsome
I am so plain,
you see, Die.
We should never
"Plain! You? Not at all. You
are much too pretty, as well
as too good, to be grilled alive
in Calcutta." And again she earnestly
conjured me to give up all thoughts
of going out with her brother.
"I must indeed," I said; "for
when just now I repeated the
offer of serving him for a deacon,
he expressed himself shocked
at my want of decency. He seemed
to think I had committed an impropriety
in proposing to accompany him
unmarried: as if I had not from
the first hoped to find in him
a brother, and habitually regarded
him as such."
makes you say
he does not
love you, Jane?"
He has again
again explained that it is not
himself, but his office he wishes
to mate. He has told me I am
formed for labour--not for love:
which is true, no doubt. But,
in my opinion, if I am not formed
for love, it follows that I am
not formed for marriage. Would
it not be strange, Die, to be
chained for life to a man who
regarded one but as a useful
of the question!"
"And then," I continued, "though
I have only sisterly affection
for him now, yet, if forced to
be his wife, I can imagine the
possibility of conceiving an
inevitable, strange, torturing
kind of love for him, because
he is so talented; and there
is often a certain heroic grandeur
in his look, manner, and conversation.
In that case, my lot would become
unspeakably wretched. He would
not want me to love him; and
if I showed the feeling, he would
make me sensible that it was
a superfluity, unrequired by
him, unbecoming in me. I know
"And yet St. John is a good
man," said Diana.
"He is a good and a great man;
but he forgets, pitilessly, the
feelings and claims of little
people, in pursuing his own large
views. It is better, therefore,
for the insignificant to keep
out of his way, lest, in his
progress, he should trample them
down. Here he comes! I will leave
you, Diana." And I hastened upstairs
as I saw him entering the garden.
But I was forced to meet him
again at supper. During that
meal he appeared just as composed
as usual. I had thought he would
hardly speak to me, and I was
certain he had given up the pursuit
of his matrimonial scheme: the
sequel showed I was mistaken
on both points. He addressed
me precisely in his ordinary
manner, or what had, of late,
been his ordinary manner--one
scrupulously polite. No doubt
he had invoked the help of the
Holy Spirit to subdue the anger
I had roused in him, and now
believed he had forgiven me once
For the evening reading before
prayers, he selected the twenty-first
chapter of Revelation. It was
at all times pleasant to listen
while from his lips fell the
words of the Bible: never did
his fine voice sound at once
so sweet and full--never did
his manner become so impressive
in its noble simplicity, as when
he delivered the oracles of God:
and to-night that voice took
a more solemn tone--that manner
a more thrilling meaning--as
he sat in the midst of his household
circle (the May moon shining
in through the uncurtained window,
and rendering almost unnecessary
the light of the candle on the
table): as he sat there, bending
over the great old Bible, and
described from its page the vision
of the new heaven and the new
earth--told how God would come
to dwell with men, how He would
wipe away all tears from their
eyes, and promised that there
should be no more death, neither
sorrow nor crying, nor any more
pain, because the former things
were passed away.
The succeeding words thrilled
me strangely as he spoke them:
especially as I felt, by the
slight, indescribable alteration
in sound, that in uttering them,
his eye had turned on me.
"He that overcometh shall inherit
all things; and I will be his
God, and he shall be my son.
But," was slowly, distinctly
read, "the fearful, the unbelieving, &c.,
shall have their part in the
lake which burneth with fire
and brimstone, which is the second
Henceforward, I knew what fate
St. John feared for me.
A calm, subdued triumph, blent
with a longing earnestness, marked
his enunciation of the last glorious
verses of that chapter. The reader
believed his name was already
written in the Lamb's book of
life, and he yearned after the
hour which should admit him to
the city to which the kings of
the earth bring their glory and
honour; which has no need of
sun or moon to shine in it, because
the glory of God lightens it,
and the Lamb is the light thereof.
In the prayer following the
chapter, all his energy gathered--all
his stern zeal woke: he was in
deep earnest, wrestling with
God, and resolved on a conquest.
He supplicated strength for the
weak- hearted; guidance for wanderers
from the fold: a return, even
at the eleventh hour, for those
whom the temptations of the world
and the flesh were luring from
the narrow path. He asked, he
urged, he claimed the boon of
a brand snatched from the burning.
Earnestness is ever deeply solemn:
first, as I listened to that
prayer, I wondered at his; then,
when it continued and rose, I
was touched by it, and at last
awed. He felt the greatness and
goodness of his purpose so sincerely:
others who heard him plead for
it, could not but feel it too.
The prayer over, we took leave
of him: he was to go at a very
early hour in the morning. Diana
and Mary having kissed him, left
the room--in compliance, I think,
with a whispered hint from him:
I tendered my hand, and wished
him a pleasant journey.
As I said,
I shall return
in a fortnight: that space, then,
is yet left you for reflection.
If I listened to human pride,
I should say no more to you of
marriage with me; but I listen
to my duty, and keep steadily
in view my first aim--to do all
things to the glory of God. My
Master was long- suffering: so
will I be. I cannot give you
up to perdition as a vessel of
wrath: repent--resolve, while
there is yet time. Remember,
we are bid to work while it is
day--warned that 'the night cometh
when no man shall work.' Remember
the fate of Dives, who had his
good things in this life. God
give you strength to choose that
better part which shall not be
taken from you!"
He laid his hand on my head
as he uttered the last words.
He had spoken earnestly, mildly:
his look was not, indeed, that
of a lover beholding his mistress,
but it was that of a pastor recalling
his wandering sheep--or better,
of a guardian angel watching
the soul for which he is responsible.
All men of talent, whether they
be men of feeling or not; whether
they be zealots, or aspirants,
or despots--provided only they
be sincere--have their sublime
moments, when they subdue and
rule. I felt veneration for St.
John-- veneration so strong that
its impetus thrust me at once
to the point I had so long shunned.
I was tempted to cease struggling
with him-- to rush down the torrent
of his will into the gulf of
his existence, and there lose
my own. I was almost as hard
beset by him now as I had been
once before, in a different way,
by another. I was a fool both
times. To have yielded then would
have been an error of principle;
to have yielded now would have
been an error of judgment. So
I think at this hour, when I
look back to the crisis through
the quiet medium of time: I was
unconscious of folly at the instant.
I stood motionless under my
hierophant's touch. My refusals
were forgotten--my fears overcome--my
wrestlings paralysed. The Impossible--I.E.,
my marriage with St. John--was
fast becoming the Possible. All
was changing utterly with a sudden
sweep. Religion called--Angels
rolled together like a scroll--death's
gates opening, showed eternity
beyond: it seemed, that for safety
and bliss there, all here might
be sacrificed in a second. The
dim room was full of visions.
"Could you decide now?" asked
the missionary. The inquiry was
put in gentle tones: he drew
me to him as gently. Oh, that
gentleness! how far more potent
is it than force! I could resist
St. John's wrath: I grew pliant
as a reed under his kindness.
Yet I knew all the time, if I
yielded now, I should not the
less be made to repent, some
day, of my former rebellion.
His nature was not changed by
one hour of solemn prayer: it
was only elevated.
"I could decide if I were but
certain," I answered: "were I
but convinced that it is God's
will I should marry you, I could
vow to marry you here and now--come
afterwards what would!"
"My I prayers are heard!" ejaculated
St. John. He pressed his hand
firmer on my head, as if he claimed
me: he surrounded me with his
arm, ALMOST as if he loved me
(I say ALMOST--I knew the difference--
for I had felt what it was to
be loved; but, like him, I had
now put love out of the question,
and thought only of duty). I
contended with my inward dimness
of vision, before which clouds
yet rolled. I sincerely, deeply,
fervently longed to do what was
right; and only that. "Show me,
show me the path!" I entreated
of Heaven. I was excited more
than I had ever been; and whether
what followed was the effect
of excitement the reader shall
All the house was still; for
I believe all, except St. John
and myself, were now retired
to rest. The one candle was dying
out: the room was full of moonlight.
My heart beat fast and thick:
I heard its throb. Suddenly it
stood still to an inexpressible
feeling that thrilled it through,
and passed at once to my head
and extremities. The feeling
was not like an electric shock,
but it was quite as sharp, as
strange, as startling: it acted
on my senses as if their utmost
activity hitherto had been but
torpor, from which they were
now summoned and forced to wake.
They rose expectant: eye and
ear waited while the flesh quivered
on my bones.
"What have you heard? What
do you see?" asked St. John.
I saw nothing, but I heard a
voice somewhere cry -
"Jane! Jane! Jane!"--nothing
"O God! what is it?" I
said, "Where is
it?" for it did not seem in the
room-- nor in the house--nor
in the garden; it did not come
out of the air- -nor from under
the earth--nor from overhead.
I had heard it-- where, or whence,
for ever impossible to know!
And it was the voice of a human
being--a known, loved, well-remembered
voice--that of Edward Fairfax
Rochester; and it spoke in pain
and woe, wildly, eerily, urgently.
"I am coming!" I cried. "Wait
for me! Oh, I will come!" I flew
to the door and looked into the
passage: it was dark. I ran out
into the garden: it was void.
"Where are you?" I
sent the answer
are you?" I listened. The wind
sighed low in the firs: all was
moorland loneliness and midnight
"Down superstition!" I commented,
as that spectre rose up black
by the black yew at the gate. "This
is not thy deception, nor thy
witchcraft: it is the work of
nature. She was roused, and did--no
miracle--but her best."
I broke from St. John, who
had followed, and would have
detained me. It was MY time to
assume ascendency. MY powers
were in play and in force. I
told him to forbear question
or remark; I desired him to leave
me: I must and would be alone.
He obeyed at once. Where there
is energy to command well enough,
obedience never fails. I mounted
to my chamber; locked myself
in; fell on my knees; and prayed
in my way--a different way to
St. John's, but effective in
its own fashion. I seemed to
penetrate very near a Mighty
Spirit; and my soul rushed out
in gratitude at His feet. I rose
from the thanksgiving--took a
resolve--and lay down, unscared,
enlightened-- eager but for the