Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre: Ch. 15

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“Just so.  Grace Poole—you have guessed it.  She is, as you say, singular—very.  Well, I shall reflect on the subject.  Meantime, I am glad that you are the only person, besides myself, acquainted with the precise details of to-night’s incident.  You are no talking fool: say nothing about it.  I will account for this state of affairs” (pointing to the bed): “and now return to your own room.  I shall do very well on the sofa in the library for the rest of the night.  It is near four:—in two hours the servants will be up.”

“Good-night, then, sir,” said I, departing.

He seemed surprised—very inconsistently so, as he had just told me to go.

“What!” he exclaimed, “are you quitting me already, and in that way?”

“You said I might go, sir.”

“But not without taking leave; not without a word or two of acknowledgment and good-will: not, in short, in that brief, dry fashion.  Why, you have saved my life!—snatched me from a horrible and excruciating death! and you walk past me as if we were mutual strangers!  At least shake hands.”

He held out his hand; I gave him mine: he took it first in one, them in both his own.(d)

“You have saved my life: I have a pleasure in owing you so immense a debt.  I cannot say more.  Nothing else that has being would have been tolerable to me in the character of creditor for such an obligation: but you: it is different;—I feel your benefits no burden, Jane.”

He paused; gazed at me: words almost visible trembled on his lips,—but his voice was checked.

“Good-night again, sir.  There is no debt, benefit, burden, obligation, in the case.”

“I knew,” he continued, “you would do me good in some way, at some time;—I saw it in your eyes when I first beheld you: their expression and smile did not”—(again he stopped)—“did not” (he proceeded hastily) “strike delight to my very inmost heart so for nothing.  People talk of natural sympathies; I have heard of good genii: there are grains of truth in the wildest fable.  My cherished preserver, goodnight!”

Strange energy was in his voice, strange fire in his look.

“I am glad I happened to be awake,” I said: and then I was going.

“What! you will go?”

“I am cold, sir.”

“Cold?  Yes,—and standing in a pool!  Go, then, Jane; go!”  But he still retained my hand, and I could not free it.  I bethought myself of an expedient.

“I think I hear Mrs. Fairfax move, sir,” said I.

“Well, leave me:” he relaxed his fingers, and I was gone.

I regained my couch,w but never thought of sleep.  Till morning dawned I was tossed on a buoyant but unquiet sea, where billows of trouble rolled under surges of joy.  I thought sometimes I saw beyond its wild waters a shore, sweet as the hills of Beulah;h and now and then a freshening gale, wakened by hope, bore my spirit triumphantly towards the bourne: but I could not reach it, even in fancy—a counteracting breeze blew off land, and continually drove me back.  Sense would resist delirium: judgment would warn passion.  Too feverish to rest, I rose as soon as day dawned.

X [(d)] He held out his hand; I gave him mine: he too…

Illustration.

X [w] couch,

Bed.

X [h] Beulah;

Places

Israel, or the land promised the Jews following their exile in Egypt: "Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephizbah, and thy land Beulah: for the Lord delighteth in thee, and they land shall be married" (Isaiah, 62: 4). The Land of Beulah also appears in The Pilgrim's Progress, where it is fertile and garden-like.