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PinkMonkey.com Digital Library - PinkMonkey.com Digital Library-Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte


362

CHAPTER XXXV

HE did not leave for Cambridge the next day, as he had said he
would. He deferred his departure a whole week, and during that
time he made me feel what severe punishment a good yet stern, a
conscientious yet implacable man can inflict on one who has
offended him. Without one overt act of hostility, one upbraiding
word he contrived to impress me momently with the conviction
that I was put beyond the pale of his favour.

Not that St. John harboured a spirit of unchristian vindictiveness-
not that he would have injured a hair of my head, if it had been
fully in his power to do so.

Both by nature and principle, he was superior to the mean
gratification of vengeance: he had forgiven me for saying I scorned
him and his love, but he had not forgotten the words; and as long
as he and I lived he never would forget them. I saw by his look,
when he turned to me, that they were always written on the air
between me and him; whenever I spoke, they sounded in my voice
to his ear, and their echo toned every answer he gave me.

He did not abstain from conversing with me: he even called me as
usual each morning to join him at his desk; and I fear the corrupt
man within him had a pleasure unimparted to, and unshared by,
the pure Christian, in evincing with what skill he could, while
acting and speaking apparently just as usual, extract from every
deed and every phrase the spirit of interest and approval which
had formerly communicated a certain austere charm to his
language and manner. To me, he was in reality become no longer
flesh, but marble; his eye was a cold, bright, blue gem; his tongue a
speaking instrument-nothing more.

All this was torture to me-refined, lingering torture. It kept up a
slow fire of indignation and a trembling trouble of grief, which
harassed and crushed me altogether. I felt how-if I were his wife,
this good man, pure as the deep sunless source, could soon kill me,
without drawing from my veins a single drop of blood, or
receiving on his own crystal conscience the faintest stain of crime.
Especially I felt this when I made any attempt to propitiate him.
No ruth met my ruth.

He experienced no suffering from estrangement-no yearning after
reconciliation; and though, more than once, my fast falling tears
blistered the page over which we both bent, they produced no
more effect on him than if his heart had been really a matter of
stone or metal. To his sisters, meantime, he was somewhat kinder
than usual: as if afraid that mere coldness would not sufficiently
convince me how completely I was banished and banned, he
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