The Governess of Thornfield

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THIRTY-SIX

“Do you really love me? Me, who has not a friend in the world but you - if you are my friend; not a shilling but what you have given me?”

“Yes, you. I must have you for my own - entirely my own. Will you be mine? Say yes, quickly.”

“If you are in earnest, if you truly love me… then sir, I will marry you.”

“Edward - my little wife!”

“Dear Edward!”

Roused from the nightmare of parting - called to the paradise of union - you only think of bliss given to you to drink in so abundant a flow. Again, and again he asks, “Are you happy?” And again, and again, you answer yes. Your life has hitherto been a collection of emotional trials and hardships but finally, true happiness is before you. If you had loved him less you should have thought his accent and his look of exultation savage, but as he holds you close and avers his constancy, you dismiss the ferocity of his joy.

The weather has changed as you sit in the garden with Mr. Rochester. Hastening back to the house in the rain, he wishes you a good night with an embrace and repeated kisses before you rush to your room and take off your wet things.

The next morning, you are called from the schoolroom by Mr. Rochester. You can scarcely believe the events of last night truly happened, but he greets you not with a cold word or even a shake of the hand, but another embrace and kiss. It seems so genial to be well-loved by him.

“I sent Adele to the nursery, as we have an errand to run today. I must take you into town to select your trousseau. We are to be married in four weeks’ time - I cannot wait another moment beyond that to be your husband. Oh, my darling, you blush and now you turn pale?”

“It is the thought of being your wife in such a short amount of time. And of the trousseau - I have no need of such things, I am merely your plain, Quakerish governess.”

“You are a beauty in my eyes and a beauty just after the desire of my own heart, delicate and aerial. I will attire you in satin and lace, and you shall have gilded roses in your hair.”

“Then you won’t know me, sir. I would much rather have your confidence than your purse.”

Mr. Rochester’s face contorts in worry. “Confidence? What would you wish to know? Curiosity is a dangerous petitioner.”

“You will not exclude me from your confidence if you admit me to your heart?”

“You are welcome to all my confidence that is worth having, but don’t desire a useless burden!”

“A burden? I have only to ask why you feigned courtship with Miss Ingram if you wished to marry me?”

His brow unfurrows. “Is that all? Thank God it is no worse! I feigned courtship with Miss Ingram because I wished to render you as madly in love with me as I was with you; and I knew jealousy would be the best ally I could call.”

“Shame on you Mr. Rochester to act in that way. Did you think nothing of Miss Ingram’s feelings?”

“Feelings! Her feelings are concentrated in one - pride; and that needed humbling. Were you jealous?”

Well, yes you were, but you did not want to admit that now. “Never mind that, it is in no way interesting for you to know that. You have a curious and designing mind, Mr. Rochester. I am afraid your principles on some points are eccentric.”

Mr. Rochester smiles at you wryly. “My principles may have gone a little awry for want of attention.”

Your trip to town turns out to be a somewhat harassing one. Mr. Rochester obliges you to choose a half dozen dresses, but with entreaty and energetic whispers you reduce the six to two, yet he vows he will select them himself. He chooses a brilliant amethyst and a superb pink satin which you would never wear. In a new series of whispers, you convince him a sober black satin and pearl-gray silk would suit you much better.

Once out of the silk warehouse, he brings you to the jeweler’s shop, where, with a sense of annoyance and degradation, you tolerate his purchases there. It is difficult to bear being dressed like a doll by Mr. Rochester. If you had ever so small an independency… In all the upheaval you forgot to write to your Uncle John in Madeira! You will write to him at once that you are to be married. If you had just the prospect of one day bringing Mr. Rochester an accession of fortune, you could better endure being kept by him now.

It is clear that Mr. Rochester is a man used to having his own way in most things, and to give in to the tenderness and passion expressed in his every attention to you, your own sense of self and independence would gradually erode. Love, for you, must be between equals, and in an attempt to maintain that, you decide it best to keep Mr. Rochester at a distance. Soft scenes and a lamblike submission would foster his despotism more yet would please his judgment and his common-sense less. Keeping him fuming and fidgeting would make him rather cross, but he excellently entertained. And showing him the rugged points in your character during these four weeks would ensure he fully understood the bargain he has made while there is yet time to rescind it.

Yet, after all, your task is not an easy one. You would much rather have pleased than teased him. Your future husband was becoming your whole world.


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