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<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library - Digital Library-Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte


she did not know the sensations of sympathy and pity; tenderness
and truth were not in her. Too often she betrayed this, by the
undue vent she gave to a spiteful antipathy she had conceived
against little Adele: pushing her away with some contumelious
epithet if she happened to approach her; sometimes ordering her
from the room, and always treating her with coldness and
acrimony. Other eyes besides mine watched these manifestations of
character-watched them closely, keenly, shrewdly. Yes; the future
bridegroom, Mr. Rochester himself, exercised over his intended a
ceaseless surveillance; and it was from this sagacity-this
guardedness of his-this perfect, clear consciousness of his fair
one’s defects-this obvious absence of passion in his sentiments
towards her, that my ever-torturing pain arose.

I saw he was going to marry her, for family, perhaps political
reasons, because her rank and connections suited him; I felt he had
not given her his love, and that her qualifications were ill adapted
to win from him that treasure. This was the point-this was where
the nerve was touched and teased-this was where the fever was
sustained and fed: she could not charm him.

If she had managed the victory at once, and he had yielded and
sincerely laid his heart at her feet, I should have covered my face,
turned to the wall, and (figuratively) have died to them. If Miss
Ingram had been a good and noble woman, endowed with force,
fervour, kindness, sense, I should have had one vital struggle with
two tigers-jealousy and despair: then, my heart torn out and
devoured, I should have admired her-acknowledged her
excellence, and been quiet for the rest of my days: and the more
absolute her superiority, the deeper would have been my
admiration-the more truly tranquil my quiescence. But as matters
really stood, to watch Miss Ingram’s efforts at fascinating Mr.
Rochester, to witness their repeated failure-herself unconscious
that they did fail; vainly fancying that each shaft launched hit the
mark, and infatuatedly pluming herself on success, when her pride
and self-complacency repelled further and further what she wished
to allure-to witness this, was to be at once under ceaseless
excitation and ruthless restraint.

Because, when she failed, I saw how she might have succeeded.
Arrows that continually glanced off from Mr. Rochester’s breast
and fell harmless at his feet, might, I knew, if shot by a surer hand,
have quivered keen in his proud hearthave called love into his
stern eye, and softness into his sardonic face; or, better still,
without weapons a silent conquest might have been won.

‘Why can she not influence him more, when she is privileged to
draw so near to him?’ I asked myself. ‘Surely she cannot truly like
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