Because,' he said, 'I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you, 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 situation 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 the nI've a nervous notion I should take to bleeding inwardly. As for you, you'd forget me.'
'That I never would, sir; you know -,' impossible to proceed.
The vehemence of emotion, stirred by grief and love within me, was claiming mastery, and struggling for full sway and asserting a right to predominate - to overcome, to live, rise, and reign at last; yes, and to speak.
'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 communion 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 origin, a vigorous, and expanded mind. I have known you, Mr. Rochester; and it strikes me with terror and anguish to feel I absolutely must be torn from you forever. I see the necessity of departure; and it is like looking on the necessity of death.'
'Where do you see the necessity?' he asked, suddenly.
'Where? You, sir, have placed it before me.'
'In what shape?'
'In the shape of Miss Ingram; a noble and beautiful woman, your bride.'
'My bride! What bride? I have no bride!'
'But you will have.'
'Yes; I will! I will!' He set his teeth.
'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!' I retorted, roused to something like passion. 'Do you think I can stay to become nothing to you? Do you think I am an automation? 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 hard for you to leave me, as it is 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 spirits; just as if both had passed through the grace, and we stood at God's feel, equal - as we are!'
'As we are!' repeated Mr. Rochester - 'so,' he added, including me in his arms, gathering me to his breast, pressing his lips on my lips; 'so, Jane!'
'Yes, so, sir,' I rejoined; 'and yet not so; for you are a married man, or as good as a married man, and we'd to one inferior to you - to one with 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 spoke my mind, and can go anywhere now.'
'Jane, be still; don't struggle so, like a wild, frantic bird that is tending its own plumage in its desperation.'
'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.'
Another effort set me at liberty, and I stood erect before him.
'And your will shall decide your destiny,' he said; 'I offer you my hand, my heart, and a share of all my possessions.'
'You play a farce, which I merely taught at.'
'I ask you to pass through life at my side - to be my second self, and best earthly companion.'
'Do you doubt me, Jane?'
'You have no faith in me?'
'Not a whit.