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Charlotte Bronte: Jane Eyre
34. CHAPTER XXXIV (continued)
"No," said he; "it is a long-cherished scheme, and the only one which can secure my great end: but I shall urge you no further at present. To-morrow, I leave home for Cambridge: I have many friends there to whom I should wish to say farewell. I shall be absent a fortnight--take that space of time to consider my offer: and do not forget that if you reject it, it is not me you deny, but God. Through my means, He opens to you a noble career; as my wife only can you enter upon it. Refuse to be my wife, and you limit yourself for ever to a track of selfish ease and barren obscurity. Tremble lest in that case you should be numbered with those who have denied the faith, and are worse than infidels!"
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.
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