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‘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.’ ‘Thank you, sir; I am sorry to
give-’ ‘Oh, no need to apologise! I consider that when a dependant
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 warmhearted people there, they say.’ ‘It is a
long way off, sir.’ ‘No matter-a girl of your sense will not object to
the voyage or the distance.’ ‘Not the voyage, but the distance: and
then the sea is a barrier-’ ‘From what, Jane?’ ‘From England and
from Thornfield: and-’ ‘Well?’ ‘From you, sir.’ 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 loved.

‘It is a long way,’ I again said.
‘It is, to be sure; and when you get to Bitternutt Lodge, 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?’ ‘Yes, sir.’
‘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.

‘It is a long way to Ireland, 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, Jane?’ I could
risk no sort of answer by this time: my heart was still.

‘Because,’ he said, ‘I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard 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
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