Jane Eyre eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 567 pages of information about Jane Eyre.

He then said that she was the daughter of a French opera-dancer, Celine Varens, towards whom he had once cherished what he called a “grande passion.”  This passion Celine had professed to return with even superior ardour.  He thought himself her idol, ugly as he was:  he believed, as he said, that she preferred his “taille d’athlete” to the elegance of the Apollo Belvidere.

“And, Miss Eyre, so much was I flattered by this preference of the Gallic sylph for her British gnome, that I installed her in an hotel; gave her a complete establishment of servants, a carriage, cashmeres, diamonds, dentelles, &c.  In short, I began the process of ruining myself in the received style, like any other spoony.  I had not, it seems, the originality to chalk out a new road to shame and destruction, but trode the old track with stupid exactness not to deviate an inch from the beaten centre.  I had —­ as I deserved to have —­ the fate of all other spoonies.  Happening to call one evening when Celine did not expect me, I found her out; but it was a warm night, and I was tired with strolling through Paris, so I sat down in her boudoir; happy to breathe the air consecrated so lately by her presence.  No, —­ I exaggerate; I never thought there was any consecrating virtue about her:  it was rather a sort of pastille perfume she had left; a scent of musk and amber, than an odour of sanctity.  I was just beginning to stifle with the fumes of conservatory flowers and sprinkled essences, when I bethought myself to open the window and step out on to the balcony.  It was moonlight and gaslight besides, and very still and serene.  The balcony was furnished with a chair or two; I sat down, and took out a cigar, —­ I will take one now, if you will excuse me.”

Here ensued a pause, filled up by the producing and lighting of a cigar; having placed it to his lips and breathed a trail of Havannah incense on the freezing and sunless air, he went on —

“I liked bonbons too in those days, Miss Eyre, and I was croquant —­ (overlook the barbarism) —­ croquant chocolate comfits, and smoking alternately, watching meantime the equipages that rolled along the fashionable streets towards the neighbouring opera-house, when in an elegant close carriage drawn by a beautiful pair of English horses, and distinctly seen in the brilliant city-night, I recognised the ‘voiture’ I had given Celine.  She was returning:  of course my heart thumped with impatience against the iron rails I leant upon.  The carriage stopped, as I had expected, at the hotel door; my flame (that is the very word for an opera inamorata) alighted:  though muffed in a cloak —­ an unnecessary encumbrance, by-the-bye, on so warm a June evening —­ I knew her instantly by her little foot, seen peeping from the skirt of her dress, as she skipped from the carriage-step.  Bending over the balcony, I was about to murmur ‘Mon ange’ —­ in a tone, of course, which should be audible to the ear of love alone —­ when a figure jumped from the carriage after her; cloaked also; but that was a spurred heel which had rung on the pavement, and that was a hatted head which now passed under the arched porte cochere of the hotel.

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Jane Eyre from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.