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MR. ROCHESTER had given me but one week’s leave of absence:
yet a month elapsed before I quitted Gateshead. I wished to leave
immediately after the funeral, but Georgiana entreated me to stay
till she could get off to London, whither she was now at last invited
by her uncle, Mr. Gibson, who had come down to direct his sister’s
interment and settle the family affairs. Georgiana said she dreaded
being left alone with Eliza; from her she got neither sympathy in
her dejection, support in her fears, nor aid in her preparations; so I
bore with her feeble-minded wailings and selfish lamentations as
well as I could, and did my best in sewing for her and packing her
dresses. It is true, that while I worked, she would idle; and I
thought to myself, ‘If you and I were destined to live always
together, cousin, we would commence matters on a different
footing. I should not settle tamely down into being the forbearing
party; I should assign you your share of labour, and compel you to
accomplish it, or else it should be left undone: I should insist, also,
on your keeping some of those drawling, half-insincere complaints
hushed in your own breast. It is only because our connection
happens to be very transitory, and comes at a peculiarly mournful
season, that I consent thus to render it so patient and compliant on
my part.’ At last I saw Georgiana off; but now it was Eliza’s turn to
request me to stay another week. Her plans required all her time
and attention, she said; she was about to depart for some unknown
bourne; and all day long she stayed in her own room, her door
bolted within, filling trunks, emptying drawers, burning papers,
and holding no communication with any one. She wished me to
look after the house, to see callers, and answer notes of condolence.
One morning she told me I was at liberty. ‘And,’ she added, ‘I am
obliged to you for your valuable services and discreet conduct!
There is some difference between living with such an one as you
and with Georgiana: you perform your own part in life and burden
no one. To-morrow,’ she continued, ‘I set out for the Continent. I
shall take up my abode in a religious house near Lisle-a nunnery
you would call it; there I shall be quiet and unmolested. I shall
devote myself for a time to the examination of the Roman Catholic
dogmas, and to a careful study of the workings of their system: if I
find it to be, as I half suspect it is, the one best calculated to ensure
the doing of all things decently and in order, I shall embrace the
tenets of Rome and probably take the veil.’ I neither expressed
surprise at this resolution nor attempted to dissuade her from it.
‘The vocation will fit you to a hair,’ I thought: ‘much good may it
do you!’ When we parted, she said: ‘Good-bye, cousin Jane Eyre; I
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