Jane Eyre HTML version

Chapter 22
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 wish you well: you
have some sense."
I then returned: "You are not without sense, cousin Eliza; but what you have, I
suppose, in another year will be walled up alive in a French convent. However, it
is not my business, and so it suits you, I don't much care."
"You are in the right," said she; and with these words we each went our separate
way. As I shall not have occasion to refer either to her or her sister again, I may
as well mention here, that Georgiana made an advantageous match with a