But the answer my mind gave—“Leave Thornfield at once”—was so prompt, so dread, that I stopped my ears…I could not bear such words now. “That I am not Edward Rochester’s bride is the least part of my woe…that I have wakened out of most glorious dreams, and found them all void and vain, is a horror I could bear…but that I must leave him decidedly, instantly, entirely, is intolerable.”
Reader!—I forgave him at the moment, and on the spot. There was such deep remorse in his eye, such true pity in his tone, such manly energy in his manner; and, besides, there was such unchanged love in his whole look and mien, I forgave him all; yet not in words, not outwardly; only at my heart’s core.
“To tell me that I had already a wife is empty mockery; you know now that I had but a hideous demon. I was wrong to attempt to deceive you…I feared early instilled prejudice, I wanted to have you safe before hazarding confidences. This was cowardly…Then I should have asked you to accept my pledge of fidelity, and to give me yours; Jane—give it to me now.”
“Think of his misery, think of his danger, look at his state when left alone…soothe him, save him, love him…Who in the world cares for you? or who will be injured by what you do?” Still indomitable was the reply, “I care for myself. The more solitary, the more friendless, the more unsustained, I am, the more I will respect myself.”
This was the climax. A pang of exquisite suffering—a throe of true despair…not another step could I stir. I sunk on the wet door-step…Not only the anchor of hope, but the footing of fortitude, was gone—at least, for a moment…“All men must die,” said a voice, quite close at hand; “but all are not condemned to meet a lingering and premature doom, such as yours would be if you perished here of want.”