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


Jane, is an arbour; sit down.’ The arbour was an arch in the wall,
lined with ivy; it contained a rustic seat.

Mr. Rochester took it, leaving room, however, for me: but I stood
before him.

‘Sit,’ he said; ‘the bench is long enough for two. You don’t hesitate
to take a place at my side, do you? Is that wrong, Jane?’ I answered
him by assuming it: to refuse would, I felt, have been unwise.
‘Now, my little friend, while the sun drinks the dew-while all the
flowers in this old garden awake and expand, and the birds fetch
their young ones’ breakfast out of the Thornfield, and the early
bees do their first spell of work-I’ll put a case to you, which you
must endeavour to suppose your own: but first, look at me, and tell
me you are at ease, and not fearing that I err in detaining you, or
that you err in staying.’ ‘No, sir; I am content.’ ‘Well then, Jane, call
to aid your fancy:- suppose you were no longer a girl well reared
and disciplined, but a wild boy indulged from childhood upwards;
imagine yourself in a remote foreign land; conceive that you there
commit a capital error, no matter of what nature or from what
motives, but one whose consequences must follow you through life
and taint all your existence. Mind, I don’t say a crime; I am not
speaking of shedding of blood or any other guilty act, which might
make the perpetrator amenable to the law: my word is error. The
results of what you have done become in time to you utterly
insupportable; you take measures to obtain relief: unusual
measures, but neither unlawful nor culpable. Still you are
miserable; for hope has quitted you on the very confines of life:
your sun at noon darkens in an eclipse, which you feel will not
leave it till the time of setting. Bitter and base associations have
become the sole food of your memory: you wander here and there,
seeking rest in exile: happiness in pleasure-I mean in heartless,
sensual pleasure-such as dulls intellect and blights feeling. Heart-
weary and soul-withered, you come home after years of voluntary
banishment: you make a new acquaintance-how or where no
matter: you find in this stranger much of the good and bright
qualities which you have sought for twenty years, and never before
encountered; and they are all fresh, healthy, without soil and
without taint. Such society revives, regenerates: you feel better
days come backhigher wishes, purer feelings; you desire to
recommence your life, and to spend what remains to you of days in
a way more worthy of an immortal being. To attain this end, are
you justified in overleaping an obstacle of custom-a mere
conventional impediment which neither your conscience sanctifies
nor your judgment approves?’ He paused for an answer: and what
was I to say? Oh, for some good spirit to suggest a judicious and
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