This is only my second Jane Eyre fanfiction. I have read quite a few of Charlotte Bronte's works, however (Vilette, The Professor, Shirley) and so hope that I have at least a basic idea of what her writing sounds like. Constructive criticism is welcome, however - I do wish to improve my writing, and any tips will be most appreciated. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoy the story!
Disclaimer: Jane Eyre belongs to Charlotte Bronte. I do not own the characters or the plot.
Edward Fairfax Rochester was no fool. Being thusly described, if a person had told him a year ago that, someday, a fairy would inhabit his wretched estate, he would have deemed them mad and left instantly, for fear that the madness might be contagious to all.
But here she was. A fairy, disguised as a young, pale, and plain girl, walking through the gardens. If the same hypothetical person had also told him that he would fall violently in love with this fairy, he would have laughed bitterly and proclaimed that love had forsaken him.
But so he had – he was in love with her. Violently, desperately, madly in love with this little fairy who appeared in the mist that night on Hay Lane, who, for the first time in years, made him unsure of his feelings. She banished his despair and bitterness and replaced it with hope. And, for that, he was greatly indebted to this strange little being.
He watched her from the window of the library, calmly smoking a cigar, but, in a moment of temporary foolishness (for, as we know, Edward Rochester is no fool) he neglected to close the window. His clever little fairy, catching the scent of the cigar, sensed that mortal eyes were upon her and fled to the orchard.
It would not do. He could not have his fairy become unseen – for if there was not one to lay eyes upon her, who was to say that she would not simply vanish, as many of her kind are known for? Stealing quietly from the library, he went thence to the orchard, listening for the sound of her footsteps, but, once again, he had neglected to remember the potent scent of his cigar, and so she was forewarned and hid. He saw her briefly, half-concealed behind some shrubbery.
Well he knew that surprising her now would frighten her. To prevent causing distress to his beloved, he turned his back and feigned study of a moth that had landed upon a plant near his feet. He felt, rather than heard, her determination to quit the area and thus spoke without turning his back.
"Jane, come and look at this fellow."
He felt the poor fairy start in surprise and deemed that she had thought he knew nothing of her presence. But, obedient being that she was, she soon approached him.
"Look at his wings," said he calmly, still appearing to focus on the moth. Jane, of course, knew not that, in actuality, his attention was wholly upon her. Her expressions, her movements, her breathing – he watched all from his peripheral vision. "he reminds me rather of a West Indian insect; one does not often see so large and gay a night-rover in England. There! he is flown."
He saw Jane slowly withdrawing and turned to halt her retreat. He walked with her and, upon reaching the wicket, said to her, "Turn back; on so lovely a night it is a shame to sit in the house; and surely no one can wish to go to bed while sunset is thus at meeting with moonrise."
He felt a twinge of guilt in his heart, knowing that the fairy did not dare disobey him, no matter how he phrased a command – whether kind or harsh. But he meant to make her his bride, and would thusly have ample opportunity to correct the offense upon a later occasion.
Jane turned quietly and continued with him. The two walked in silence a long way. He could sense that her mind was uneasy, but did not understand why it should be so. Having no means of alleviation, he was forced to remain silent. Thus they continued, unspeaking, until they reached laurel-walk.
"Jane," he said suddenly. "Thornfield is pleasant place in the summer, is it not?"
"Yes, sir," replied she in her quiet manner.
"You must have become in some degree attached to the house – you, who have an eye for natural beauties, and a good deal of the organ of adhesiveness?"
"I am attached to it indeed." She did not look at him, but stared straight ahead, her face carefully emotionless.
"And though I don't comprehend how it is, I perceive you have acquired a degree of regard for that foolish little child Adele, too; and even for that simple dame Fairfax?"
"Yes, sir; in different ways, I have an affection for both."
"And would be sorry to part with them?"
She answered in the affirmative, a small glimpse of despair showing on her face before she quickly regained control of the traitorous emotion and concealed in once more.
She gave him no other response, no glimpse of how she felt as for him. He had hoped the words hung unspoken in the air, but it appeared that they did not. He sighed and continued, beginning to spew fallacies to her that made him once again feel remorse at deceiving one such as Jane, but, he knew, it would end in her happiness as well as his.
"Pity! It is always the way of events in this life," he sighed, "no sooner have you got settled in a pleasant resting-place, than a voice calls out for you to rise and move on, for the hour of repose is expired."
"Must I move on, sir? Must I leave Thornfield?" He thought he heard a slight tremor in her voice, but did not trust that he heard correctly – he must continue on.
"I believe you must, Jane. I am sorry, Janet; but I believe, indeed, you must."
Her careful control of her emotions began to slip; her anguish lay in her eyes, unconcealed, open. The sight of it nearly broke his resolve, but he continued bravely forward.
"Well, sir, I shall be ready when the order comes to march." Her voice was even and he detected not even a slight hint of a tremor.
"It is come now – I must give it tonight."
"Then you are going to be married, sir?"
He replied in the affirmative in a cheery, jovial way that caused more anguish to swim in his beloved Jane's eyes. She uttered merely two words in reply.
"Very soon, my –," he broke off, nearly having said my fairy and revealed all. He knew that jealously would be the way to win his Janet's heart and that he must not disillusion her until he was certain of her regard. He prattled on about how he was to marry "his beautiful Blanche", Miss Ingram. (Of all the lies told that night, this he regretted the most! Such a blatant falsehood had surely never been seen!) He concluded by proclaiming that she must find a new situation.
"Yes, sir, I will advertise immediately; and meantime, I suppose – " She stopped speaking abruptly, igniting curiosity in his heart, but he dared not lose his train of thought and question her now. He could interrogate her on a later occasion.
"In about a month I hope to be a bridegroom," he bravely continued, "and in the interim, I shall myself look out for employment and an asylum for you."
She began to thank him and apologize for the trouble, but he cut her off.
"Oh, no need to apologize! I consider that when a dependent does her duty as well as you have done yours, she has a sort of claim upon her employer for any little assistance he can conveniently render her; indeed, I have already, through my future mother-in-law, heard of a place that I think will suit; it is to undertake the education of the rive daughters of Mrs. Dionysius O'Gall of Bitternutt Lodge, Connaught, Ireland. You'll like Ireland, I think; they're such a warm-hearted people there, they say."
In truth, Lady Ingram had merely been complaining about governesses and how she had attempted to reconcile her friend, Mrs. O'Gall of Connaught, Ireland, that the five Misses O'Gall would only be ruined by governesses and that it would be best to send them to school instead. Mrs. O'Gall, apparently, had dared to disagree with Lady Ingram and had decided to continue in her search for an appropriate governess. While he was certain that Mrs. O'Gall would be delighted by Jane, he by no means wanted to give up his precious fairy to the Irish.
"It is a long way off, sir," Jane replied. He was certain now – her voice trembled.
"No matter," he said dismissively. "A girl of your sense will not object to the voyage or the distance."
"Not the voyage, but the distance," she said tremulously, "and then the sea is a barrier – "
"From what, Jane?"
He could sense it – he could feel the walls she had constructed around herself crumbling, could feel her self-control slipping, allowing herself to be ruled by her heart rather than her head.
"From England; and from Thornfield; and – " She seemed to add the last involuntarily. He could see her eyes growing wet, but he could not release the pressure upon her. He had to hear her say it.
"Well?" he said.
"From you, sir," she said. At this, her tears fell and cried quietly, with none of the show and attempts to grab attention that he had seen in other ladies. But his fairy was nothing like other ladies.
He was silent, allowing her time to regain her composure.
"It is a long way," she repeated sadly.
"It is, to be sure; and when you get to Bitternutt Lodge, Connaught, Ireland, I shall never see you again Jane; that's morally certain." It was still not enough. He had stabbed her with his words – now he must turn the knife. "I never go over to Ireland, not having myself much of a fancy for the country. We have been good friends, Jane, have we not?"
"Yes, sir," she said tearfully.
"And when friends are on the eve of separation, they like to spend the little time that remains to them close to each other. Come we'll talk over the voyage and the parting quietly, half an hour or so, while the stars enter into their shining life up in heaven yonder; here is the chestnut-tree; here is the bench at its old roots. Come, we will sit there in peace tonight, though we should never more be destined to sit there together."
She obeyed silently and sat beside him, still crying incontinently, noiselessly.
"It is a long way to Ireland, Janet, and I am sorry to send my little friend on such weary travels; but if I can't do better, how is it to be helped? Are you anything akin to me, do you think, Jane?"
He did not expect a reply – he could see that, should she endeavor to speak, her words would hardly be distinguishable.
"Because I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you," he admitted. "especially when you are near me, as now; it is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame. And if that boisterous channel, and two hundred miles or so of land, come broad between us, I am afraid that cord of communion will be snapped; and then I've a nervous notion I should take to bleeding inwardly. As for you, you'd forget me."
The agony in her eyes increased. "That I never should, sir; you know – " She broke off once again, too grieved to speak. It wounded him to afflict her thus, but it was necessary.
"Jane, you hear that nightingale singing in the wood? Listen!"
As they stopped speaking, Jane's silent crying transformed into quiet, convulsive sobs. He resolved not to speak until she did and, at length she obliged him. In a trembling and teary voice, she expressed vehemently that she wished she had never been born and that she had never come to Thornfield.
"Because you are sorry to leave it?"
Her emotions at last overtook her completely and were voiced in a manner that was almost unusual for the quiet fairy-like being.
"I grieve to leave Thornfield; I love Thornfield; I love it because I have lived in it a full and delightful life, momentarily at least. I have not been trampled on. I have not been petrified. I have not been buried with inferior minds, and excluded from every glimpse of communication with what is bright, and energetic, and high. I have talked, face to face, with what I reverence; with what I delight in. with an original, a vigorous, an expanded mind. I have known you, Mr. Rochester; and it strikes me with terror and anguish to feel that I must absolutely be torn from you forever. I see the necessity of departure;; and it is like looking on the necessity of death."
Her declaration was so nearly one of love, one that bespoke of it in every word, exclaiming love with feeling, but never outright. It caused him to forget the fallacies he had told her regarding himself and Miss Ingram.
"Where do you see the necessity?"
He could see her confusion, but recollected nothing yet; too lost was he in knowing that she loved him as he loved her.
"Where?" she exclaimed incredulously. "You, sir, have placed it before me."
"In what shape?"
"In the shape of Miss Ingram; a noble and beautiful woman, your bride," cried she.
"My bride! What bride! I have no bride!" He now remembered what he had said previously, but determined that she should be made to understand that he had no bride but she. The demon in the attic that he was legally bound to was forgotten. It had never been a true marriage; he had been deceived by those he trusted, by those who only wished to fill his purse, not his heart. Surely God would sanction his union to Jane – she had redeemed him and rescued him from his former self. Their marriage would be holy, the epitome of what matrimony was created to be. God could not begrudge him the first genuine happiness he felt in his entire life on earth.
"But you will have," Jane continued, drawing him back to the conversation.
"Yes; I will! I will!" He ground his teeth together, looking at the little anguished figure before him and very nearly crushing her to his breast at that very moment.
"Then I must go; you have said it yourself."
"No; you must stay! I swear it, and the oath shall be kept!"
"I tell you I must go!" she said passionately. "Do you think I can stay and become nothing to you? Do you think I am an automaton? A machine without feelings? And can bear to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed from my cup? Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! I have as much soul as you and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty, and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it now for me to leave you. I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, nor even of mortal flesh; it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God's feet equal – as we are!"
"As we are!" he repeated passionately. "so," he added, pulling her to his breast and holding her as he had longed to do for so long, daring to kiss those lips of the one he adored; "so, Jane!"
"Yes, so, sir," she repeated, beginning to struggle in his gentle grip. "and yet not so; for you are a married man, or as good as a married man, and wed to one inferior to you – to whom you have no sympathy – whom I do not believe you truly love; for I have seen and heard you sneer at her. I would scorn such a union; therefore I am better than you – let me go!"
"Where, Jane? To Ireland?"
"Yes – to Ireland. I have spoken my mind, and can go anywhere now."
"Jane, be still; do not struggle so, like a wild, frantic bird that is rending its own plumage in its desperation," he said gently, but it only served to incite her more.
"I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being, with an independent will; which I now exert to leave you."
She struggled violently and, fearing that she may harm herself, he released his grip, allowing her to step backwards.
"And your will shall decide your destiny," he said, looking at her with the emotions he no longer need conceal. "I offer you my hand, my heart, and a share of all my possessions."
"You play a farce, which I merely laugh at."
"I ask you to pass through life at my side – to be my second self and best earthly companion."
"For that fate you have already made your choice, and must abide by it."
Seeing that she was truly agitated and resolved and, at this point, would not hear reason, he attempted to calm her. "Jane, be still a few moments; you are over-excited; I will be still too."
Silence fell and Jane again began to sob. He looked at her gently, tenderly, waiting before he dared speak again, hoping that she would listen to him explain.
"Come to my side, Jane, and let us explain and understand one another."
"I will never again come to your side; I am torn away now, and cannot return."
"But, Jane, I summon you as my wife; it is only you I intend to marry."
He could hear skepticism in her silence.
"Come, Jane – come hither."
"Your bride stands between us," she said stiffly, but he could see how she longed to obey him.
He stood from his seat and approached her, pulling her into an embrace slowly and gently. "My bride is here," he said softly, "because my equal is here, and my likeness. Jane, will you marry me?"
She again recoiled from his grip, silent, looking at him with incredulity. He could read her doubt and skepticism in her eyes. His lies that he had used to cause her confession had love hindered her in accepting his own confession.
"Do you doubt me, Jane?" he asked.
"You have no faith in me?"
"Not a whit," she said firmly.
"Am I a liar in your eyes?" he said earnestly. "Little skeptic, you shall be convinced. What love have I for Miss Ingram? None, and that you know. What love has she for me? None, as I have taken pains to prove; I caused a rumor to reach her that my fortune was not a third of what it was supposed, and after that I presented myself to see the result; it was coldness both from her and her mother. I would not – I could not – marry Miss Ingram. You – you strange – you almost unearthly thing! I love you my own flesh. You – poor and obscure, and small and plain, as you are – I entreat you to accept me as a husband."
"What, me!" ejaculated she in shock, "Me, who have not a friend in the world but you – if you are my friend; not a shilling but what you have given me?"
"You, Jane," he affirmed. "I must have you for my own – entirely my own. Will you be mine? Say yes, quickly."
He could no longer endure the suspense. He knew he did not mistake her words – she loved him. But would she rather wed one who was young, who was handsome, who was, in short, everything he himself was not?
"Mr. Rochester, let me look at your face; turn to the moonlight."
"Why?" he enquired impatiently.
"Because I want to read your countenance; turn!"
He turned. "There; you will find it scarcely more legible than a crumpled, scratched page. Read on; only make haste, for I suffer."
He felt her eyes on his face and, were he not so agonized from waiting for her response to his offer, he would have enjoyed the sensation of her gentle probing gaze.
"Oh, Jane, you torture me!" ejaculated he, when moments had passed and she still had yet to speak. "With that searching and yet faithful and generous look you torture me?"
"How can I do that?" she enquired. "If you are true, and your offer real, my only feelings to you must be gratitude and devotion – they cannot torture."
Gratitude. That one word echoed in his mind and brought forth such hope and feeling that he had not felt in years.
"Gratitude!" he cried. "Jane, accept me quickly. Say, Edward – give me my name – Edward, I will marry you."
"Are you in earnest? Do you truly love me? Do you sincerely wish me to be your wife?" she asked hesitantly.
"I do; and if an oath is necessary to satisfy you I swear it."
Her next words lifted his heart and brought such emotions to the surface that he had never dreamed were possible. "Then, sir, I will marry you," his little Jane said.
"Edward – my dear little wife!"
The sound of his name on her lips raised more emotions to the surface and, feeling as if one human could hardly survive such happiness, such earthly bliss, he rested his cheek against hers.
"Come to me – come to me entirely now. Make my happiness – I will make yours."
He knew not what he spoke from then on, only knowing that Jane had replied and that he had answered her. His heart was filled to the brim with such joy that he had never felt in his life. It was only when he felt the harsh wind and heard the groaning of the chestnut-tree that he recalled himself.
"We must go in," he said, "the weather changes. I could have sat with thee till morning, Jane."
She did not reply, but her expression spoke volumes. He sensed she was to speak, but, at that moment, lightning flashed and there was a loud crack, crash and rattling. Jane clutched at him and hid her face against his shoulder. He looked behind them and saw that lightning had struck the chestnut-tree, very nearly missing them. The rain followed almost instantaneously.
He hurried to the house with Jane, anxiously attempting to keep her dry, but the rain was so heavy that they were soon quite drenched. He gently removed her wet shawl and shook the water out of her loosened hair.
"Hasten to take off your wet things, and before you go, good-night – good-night, my darling!"
He kissed her many times, each time attempting to leave, but finding himself returning to the object of his joy. He quit the room, beaming in exultation.
For the first time in his miserable life, he had found true happiness – he would let nothing take his Jane from him.