When once more alone, I reviewed the information I had got; looked into my heart, examined its thoughts and feelings, and endeavoured to bring back with a strict hand such as had been straying through imagination's boundless and trackless waste, into the safe fold of common sense.
Arraigned to my own bar, Memory having given her evidence of the hopes, wishes, sentiments I had been cherishing since last night--of the general state of mind in which I had indulged for nearly a fortnight past; Reason having come forward and told, in her quiet way a plain, unvarnished tale, showing how I had rejected the real, and rapidly devoured the ideal--I pronounced judgement to this effect--
That a greater fool than Jane Eyre had never breathed the breath of life; that a more fantastic idiot had never surfeited herself on sweet lies, and swallowed poison as if it were nectar.
"You," I said, "a favourite with Mr. Rochester? You're gifted with the power of pleasing him? You're of importance to him in any way? Go!--your folly sickens me. And you have derived pleasure from occasional tokens of preference--equivocal tokens shown by a gentleman of family and a man of the world to dependent and novice. How dared you? Poor stupid dupe! Could not even self-interest make you wiser? You repeated to yourself this morning the brief scene of last night? Cover your face and be ashamed! He said something in praise of your eyes, did he? Blind puppy! Open their bleared lids and look on your own accursed senselessness! It does no good to no woman to be flattered by her superior, who cannot possibly intend to marry her; and it is madness in all women to let a secret love kindle within them, which, if unreturned and unknown, must devour the life that feeds it; and if discovered and responded to, must lead into miry wilds whence there is no extrication.
"Listen, then, Jane Eyre, to your sentence: tomorrow, place the glass before you, and draw in chalk your own pictures, faithfully, without softening on defect; omit no harsh line, smooth away no displeasing irregularity; write under it, 'Portrait of a Governess, disconnected, poor, and plain.'
"Afterwards, take a piece of smooth ivory--you have one prepared in your drawing-box: take your palette, mix your freshest, finest, clearest tints; choose your most delicate camel-hair pencils; delineate carefully the loveliest face you can imageine; paint it in your softest shades and sweetest lines, according to the description given by Mrs. Fairfax of Blanche Ingram; remember the raven ringlets, the oriental eye--What! you revert to Mr. Rochester as a model! Order! No snivel!--no sentiment!--no regret! I will endure only sense and resolution...
"Whenever, in the future, you should chance to fancy Mr. Rochester thinks well of you, take out these two pictures and compare them--say, "Mr. Rochester might probably win that noble lady's love, if he chose to strive for it; is it likely he would waste a serious thought on this indignent and insignifican plebian?"
"I'll do it," I resolved; and having framed this determination, I grew calm, and fell asleep.