"The truest love that ever heart Felt at its kindled core, Did through each vein, in quickened start, The tide of being pour.
Her coming was my hope each day, Her parting was my pain; The chance that did her steps delay Was ice in every vein.
I dreamed it would be nameless bliss, As I loved, loved to be; And to this object did I press As blind as eagerly.
But wide as pathless was the space That lay our lives between, And dangerous as the foamy race Of ocean-surges green.
And haunted as a robber-path Through wilderness or wood; For Might and Right, and Woe and Wrath, Between our spirits stood.
I dangers dared; I hindrance scorned; I omens did defy: Whatever menaced, harassed, warned, I passed impetuous by.
On sped my rainbow, fast as light; I flew as in a dream; For glorious rose upon my sight That child of Shower and Gleam.
Still bright on clouds of suffering dim Shines that soft, solemn joy; Nor care I now, how dense and grim Disasters gather nigh.
I care not in this moment sweet, Though all I have rushed o'er Should come on pinion, strong and fleet, Proclaiming vengeance sore:
Though haughty Hate should strike me down, Right, bar approach to me, And grinding Might, with furious frown, Swear endless enmity.
My love has placed her little hand With noble faith in mine, And vowed that wedlock's sacred band Our nature shall entwine.
My love has sworn, with sealing kiss, With me to live — to die; I have at last my nameless bliss. As I love — loved am I!"
He rose and came towards me, and I saw his face all kindled, and his full falcon-eye flashing, and tenderness and passion in every lineament. I quailed momentarily — then I rallied. Soft scene, daring demonstration, I would not have; and I stood in peril of both: a weapon of defence must be prepared — I whetted my tongue: as he reached me, I asked with asperity, "whom he was going to marry now?"
"That was a strange question to be put by his darling Jane."
"Indeed! I considered it a very natural and necessary one: he had talked of his future wife dying with him. What did he mean by such a pagan idea? I had no intention of dying with him — he might depend on that."
"Oh, all he longed, all he prayed for, was that I might live with him! Death was not for such as I."
"Indeed it was: I had as good a right to die when my time came as he had: but I should bide that time, and not be hurried away in a suttee."
"Would I forgive him for the selfish idea, and prove my pardon by a reconciling kiss?"
"No: I would rather be excused."
Here I heard myself apostrophised as a "hard little thing;" and it was added, "any other woman would have been melted to marrow at hearing such stanzas crooned in her praise."
I assured him I was naturally hard — very flinty, and that he would often find me so; and that, moreover, I was determined to show him divers rugged points in my character before the ensuing four weeks elapsed: he should know fully what sort of a bargain he had made, while there was yet time to rescind it.
"Would I be quiet and talk rationally?"
"I would be quiet if he liked, and as to talking rationally, I flattered myself I was doing that now."
He fretted, pished, and pshawed. "Very good," I thought; "you may fume and fidget as you please: but this is the best plan to pursue with you, I am certain. I like you more than I can say; but I'll not sink into a bathos of sentiment: and with this needle of repartee I'll keep you from the edge of the gulf too; and, moreover, maintain by its pungent aid that distance between you and myself most conducive to our real mutual advantage."
From less to more, I worked him up to considerable irritation; then, after he had retired, in dudgeon, quite to the other end of the room, I got up, and saying, "I wish you good-night, sir," in my natural and wonted respectful manner, I slipped out by the side-door and got away.
The system thus entered on, I pursued during the whole season of probation; and with the best success. He was kept, to be sure, rather cross and crusty; but on the whole I could see he was excellently entertained, and that a lamb-like submission and turtle-dove sensibility, while fostering his despotism more, would have pleased his judgment, satisfied his common-sense, and even suited his taste less.
In other people's presence I was, as formerly, deferential and quiet; any other line of conduct being uncalled for: it was only in the evening conferences I thus thwarted and afflicted him. He continued to send for me punctually the moment the clock struck seven; though when I appeared before him now, he had no such honeyed terms as "love" and "darling" on his lips: the best words at my service were "provoking puppet," "malicious elf," "sprite," "changeling," &c. For caresses, too, I now got grimaces; for a pressure of the hand, a pinch on the arm; for a kiss on the cheek, a severe tweak of the ear. It was all right: at present I decidedly preferred these fierce favours to anything more tender. Mrs. Fairfax, I saw, approved me: her anxiety on my account vanished; therefore I was certain I did well. Meantime, Mr. Rochester affirmed I was wearing him to skin and bone, and threatened awful vengeance for my present conduct at some period fast coming. I laughed in my sleeve at his menaces. "I can keep you in reasonable check now," I reflected; "and I don't doubt to be able to do it hereafter: if one expedient loses its virtue, another must be devised."
Yet after all my task was not an easy one; often I would rather have pleased than teased him. My future husband was becoming to me my whole world; and more than the world: almost my hope of heaven. He stood between me and every thought of religion, as an eclipse intervenes between man and the broad sun. I could not, in those days, see God for His creature: of whom I had made an idol.