Jane Eyre eBook

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

He had done.  Turning from me, he once more

“Looked to river, looked to hill.”

But this time his feelings were all pent in his heart:  I was not worthy to hear them uttered.  As I walked by his side homeward, I read well in his iron silence all he felt towards me:  the disappointment of an austere and despotic nature, which has met resistance where it expected submission —­ the disapprobation of a cool, inflexible judgment, which has detected in another feelings and views in which it has no power to sympathise:  in short, as a man, he would have wished to coerce me into obedience:  it was only as a sincere Christian he bore so patiently with my perversity, and allowed so long a space for reflection and repentance.

That night, after he had kissed his sisters, he thought proper to forget even to shake hands with me, but left the room in silence.  I —­ who, though I had no love, had much friendship for him —­ was hurt by the marked omission:  so much hurt that tears started to my eyes.

“I see you and St. John have been quarrelling, Jane,” said Diana, “during your walk on the moor.  But go after him; he is now lingering in the passage expecting you —­ he will make it up.”

I have not much pride under such circumstances:  I would always rather be happy than dignified; and I ran after him —­ he stood at the foot of the stairs.

“Good-night, St. John,” said I.

“Good-night, Jane,” he replied calmly.

“Then shake hands,” I added.

What a cold, loose touch, he impressed on my fingers!  He was deeply displeased by what had occurred that day; cordiality would not warm, nor tears move him.  No happy reconciliation was to be had with him —­ no cheering smile or generous word:  but still the Christian was patient and placid; and when I asked him if he forgave me, he answered that he was not in the habit of cherishing the remembrance of vexation; that he had nothing to forgive, not having been offended.

And with that answer he left me.  I would much rather he had knocked me down.

CHAPTER XXXV

He did not leave for Cambridge the next day, as he had said he would.  He deferred his departure a whole week, and during that time he made me feel what severe punishment a good yet stern, a conscientious yet implacable man can inflict on one who has offended him.  Without one overt act of hostility, one upbraiding word, he contrived to impress me momently with the conviction that I was put beyond the pale of his favour.

Not that St. John harboured a spirit of unchristian vindictiveness —­ not that he would have injured a hair of my head, if it had been fully in his power to do so.  Both by nature and principle, he was superior to the mean gratification of vengeance:  he had forgiven me for saying I scorned him and his love, but he had not forgotten the words; and as long as he and I lived he never would forget them.  I saw by his look, when he turned to me, that they were always written on the air between me and him; whenever I spoke, they sounded in my voice to his ear, and their echo toned every answer he gave me.

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Jane Eyre from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.