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


‘It would do,’ I affirmed with some disdain, ‘perfectly well. I have
a woman’s heart, but not where you are concerned; for you I have
only a comrade’s constancy; a fellow-soldier’s frankness, fidelity,
fraternity, if you like; a neophyte’s respect and submission to his
hierophant: nothing more-don’t fear.’ ‘It is what I want,’ he said,
speaking to himself; ‘it is just what I want. And there are obstacles
in the way: they must be hewn down. Jane, you would not repent
marrying me-be certain of that; we must be married. I repeat it:
there is no other way; and undoubtedly enough of love would
follow upon marriage to render the union right even in your eyes.’
‘I scorn your idea of love,’ I could not help saying, as I rose up and
stood before him, leaning my back against the rock. ‘I scorn the
counterfeit sentiment you offer: yes, St. John, and I scorn you when
you offer it.’ He looked at me fixedly, compressing his well-cut lips
while he did so.

Whether he was incensed or surprised, or what, it was not easy to
tell: he could command his countenance thoroughly.

‘I scarcely expected to hear that expression from you,’ he said: ‘I
think I have done and uttered nothing to deserve scorn.’ I was
touched by his gentle tone, and overawed by his high, calm mien.
‘Forgive me the words, St. John; but it is your own fault that I have
been roused to speak so unguardedly. You have introduced a topic
on which our natures are at variance-a topic we should never
discuss: the very name of love is an apple of discord between us. If
the reality were required, what should we do? How should we
feel? My dear cousin, abandon your scheme of marriage-forget it.’
‘No,’ said he; ‘it is a long-cherished scheme, and the only one
which can secure my great end: but I shall urge you no further at
present. To-morrow, I leave home for Cambridge: I have many
friends there to whom I should wish to say farewell. I shall be
absent a fortnight-take that space of time to consider my offer: and
do not forget that if you reject it, it is not me you deny, but God.
Through my means, He opens to you a noble career; as my wife
only can you enter upon it.

Refuse to be my wife, and you limit yourself for ever to a track of
selfish ease and barren obscurity. Tremble lest in that case you
should be numbered with those who have denied the faith, and are
worse than infidels!’ He had done. Turning from me, he once more
‘Looked to river, looked to hill.’ - But this time his feelings were all
pent in his heart: I was not worthy to hear them uttered. As I
walked by his side homeward, I read well in his iron silence all he
felt towards me: the disappointment of an austere and despotic
nature, which has met resistance where it expected submission-the
disapprobation of a cool, inflexible judgment, which has detected
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