“Love me then or hate me, as you will,” you say at last. “You have my full and free forgiveness; ask now for God’s and be at peace.”
Poor, suffering woman! It is too late for her to make the effort to change her habitual frame of mind; living, she had ever hated you -- dying, she must hate you still.
The nurse enters, and you linger half an hour longer, hoping to see some sign of amity; but she gives none. She is fast relapsing into a stupor, and her mind does not rally. At midnight she dies and you and her daughters were not present to close her eyes.
The next morning you are told that all is over. Eliza and Georgiana are with you at breakfast and none of you shed a tear. A strange and solemn occasion is Mrs. Reed’s death - with her constitution she should have lived to a good old age, but her life was shortened by trouble. Perhaps she had a major role to play in that trouble. Your cousins seem strangely unaffected by their mother’s death, but you are aware they have been expecting this outcome for some time.
It takes another two weeks for you to help wrap up the affairs of your cousins. Though you are about as close to them as you were as children (so not at all) you don’t have the heart to deny them aid in their preparations. Soon enough, you are on your way back to Thornfield and Mr. Rochester.
You can scarcely account for your feelings of happiness on your return coach journey. Mr. Rochester must be preparing for his upcoming wedding - as Mrs. Fairfax has told you in a letter that he has talked about purchasing a new carriage. He is probably not thinking of you, yet you are glad of the chance to just be in his presence once again.
Go to THIRTY-FOUR