Some time in the afternoon I raised my head, and looking round and seeing the
western sun gilding the sign of its decline on the wall, I asked, "What am I to do?"
But the answer my mind gave--"Leave Thornfield at once"--was so prompt, so
dread, that I stopped my ears. I said I could not bear such words now. "That I am
not Edward Rochester's bride is the least part of my woe," I alleged: "that I have
wakened out of most glorious dreams, and found them all void and vain, is a
horror I could bear and master; but that I must leave him decidedly, instantly,
entirely, is intolerable. I cannot do it."
But, then, a voice within me averred that I could do it and foretold that I should do
it. I wrestled with my own resolution: I wanted to be weak that I might avoid the
awful passage of further suffering I saw laid out for me; and Conscience, turned
tyrant, held Passion by the throat, told her tauntingly, she had yet but dipped her
dainty foot in the slough, and swore that with that arm of iron he would thrust her
down to unsounded depths of agony.
"Let me be torn away," then I cried. "Let another help me!"
"No; you shall tear yourself away, none shall help you: you shall yourself pluck
out your right eye; yourself cut off your right hand: your heart shall be the victim,
and you the priest to transfix it."
I rose up suddenly, terror-struck at the solitude which so ruthless a judge
haunted,--at the silence which so awful a voice filled. My head swam as I stood
erect. I perceived that I was sickening from excitement and inanition; neither
meat nor drink had passed my lips that day, for I had taken no breakfast. And,
with a strange pang, I now reflected that, long as I had been shut up here, no
message had been sent to ask how I was, or to invite me to come down: not
even little Adele had tapped at the door; not even Mrs. Fairfax had sought me.
"Friends always forget those whom fortune forsakes," I murmured, as I undrew
the bolt and passed out. I stumbled over an obstacle: my head was still dizzy, my
sight was dim, and my limbs were feeble. I could not soon recover myself. I fell,
but not on to the ground: an outstretched arm caught me. I looked up--I was
supported by Mr. Rochester, who sat in a chair across my chamber threshold.
"You come out at last," he said. "Well, I have been waiting for you long, and
listening: yet not one movement have I heard, nor one sob: five minutes more of
that death-like hush, and I should have forced the lock like a burglar. So you
shun me?--you shut yourself up and grieve alone! I would rather you had come
and upbraided me with vehemence. You are passionate. I expected a scene of
some kind. I was prepared for the hot rain of tears; only I wanted them to be shed
on my breast: now a senseless floor has received them, or your drenched
handkerchief. But I err: you have not wept at all! I see a white cheek and a faded
eye, but no trace of tears. I suppose, then, your heart has been weeping blood?"
"Well, Jane! not a word of reproach? Nothing bitter--nothing poignant? Nothing to
cut a feeling or sting a passion? You sit quietly where I have placed you, and
regard me with a weary, passive look."
"Jane, I never meant to wound you thus. If the man who had but one little ewe
lamb that was dear to him as a daughter, that ate of his bread and drank of his