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


It was the 5 th of November, and a holiday. My little servant, after
helping me to clean my house, was gone, well satisfied with the fee
of a penny for her aid.

All about me was spotless and bright-scoured floor, polished
grate, and wellrubbed chairs. I had also made myself neat, and had
now the afternoon before me to spend as I would.

The translation of a few pages of German occupied an hour; then I
got my palette and pencils, and fell to the more soothing, because
easier occupation, of completing Rosamond Oliver’s miniature. The
head was finished already: there was but the background to tint
and the drapery to shade off; a touch of carmine, too, to add to the
ripe lips-a soft curl here and there to the tresses-a deeper tinge to
the shadow of the lash under the azured eyelid. I was absorbed in
the execution of these nice details, when, after one rapid tap, my
door unclosed, admitting St. John Rivers.

‘I am come to see how you are spending your holiday,’ he said.
‘Not, I hope, in thought? No, that is well: while you draw you will
not feel lonely. You see, I mistrust you still, though you have borne
up wonderfully so far. I have brought you a book for evening
solace,’ and he laid on the table a new publication-a poem: one of
those genuine productions so often vouchsafed to the fortunate
public of those days-the golden age of modern literature. Alas! the
readers of our era are less favoured. But courage! I will not pause
either to accuse or repine. I know poetry is not dead, nor genius
lost; nor has Mammon gained power over either, to bind or slay:
they will both assert their existence, their presence, their liberty
and strength again one day. Powerful angels, safe in heaven! they
smile when sordid souls triumph, and feeble ones weep over their
destruction. Poetry destroyed? Genius banished? No! Mediocrity,
no: do not let envy prompt you to the thought.

No; they not only live, but reign and redeem: and without their
divine influence spread everywhere, you would be in hell-the hell
of your own meanness.

While I was eagerly glancing at the bright pages of Marmion (for
Marmion it was), St. John stooped to examine my drawing. His tall
figure sprang erect again with a start: he said nothing. I looked up
at him: he shunned my eye. I knew his thoughts well, and could
read his heart plainly; at the moment I felt calmer and cooler than
he: I had then temporarily the advantage of him, and I conceived
an inclination to do him some good, if I could.

‘With all his firmness and self-control,’ thought I, ‘he tasks himself
too far: locks every feeling and pang within-expresses, confesses,
imparts nothing. I am sure it would benefit him to talk a little
about this sweet Rosamond, whom he thinks he ought not to
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