“Mr. Rivers,” I said, turning to him and looking at him as he looked at me, openly and without indifference, “you and your sisters have done me a great service, the greatest man can do a fellow-being; you have rescued me, by your noble hospitality, from death. This benefit conferred gives you an unlimited claim on my gratitude, and a claim, to a certain extent, on my confidence. I will tell you as much of the history of the wanderer you have harbored as I can tell without compromising my own peace of mind—my own security”
“I mean now to open a second school, for girls. I have hired a building for the purpose, with a cottage of two rooms attached to it for the mistress’ house…Will you be this mistress?”…In truth it was humble—but then it was sheltered, and I wanted a safe asylum; it was plodding—but then, compared with that of a governess in a rich house, it was independent; and the fear of servitude with strangers entered my soul like iron; it was not ignoble—not unworthy—not mentally degrading. I made my decision.
Which is better? To have surrendered to temptation; listened to passion; made no painful effort—no struggle; but to have sunk down in the silken snare…But where am I wandering, and what am I saying, and, above all, feeling? Whether it is better, I ask, to be a slave in a fool’s paradise at Marseilles…or to be a village school-mistress, free and honest, in a breezy mountain nook in the healthy heart of England?
To live amid general regard, though it be but the regard of working-people, is like “sitting in sunshine, calm and sweet;”…my heart far oftener swelled with thankfulness than sunk with dejection; and yet, reader, to tell you all, in the midst of this calm…after a day passed in honorable exertion among my scholars, an evening spent in drawing or reading contentedly alone—I used to rush into strange dreams at night…dreams where, amid unusual scenes…I still again and again met Mr. Rochester”
“You are original…and not timid. There is something brave in your spirit, as well as penetrating in your eye; but allow me to assure you that you partially misinterpret my emotions…When I color and when I shake before Miss Oliver, I do not pity myself. I scorn the weakness. I know it is ignoble—a mere fever of the flesh; not, I declare, a convulsion of the soul…Know me to be what I am—a cold, hard man.”