The Governess of Thornfield

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Despite your cousins’ arguments regarding the legacy, matters are settled as you wish. They realize your mind is set on making a just division of the inheritance and in a matter of weeks, you find yourself settled at Moor House.

Having found a suitable replacement for the girl’s school, you look to the joys of sisterly society at Moor House. Diana and Mary have left their positions as governesses and the three of you resume your usual habits and studies.

St. John seems pleased with the presence of his sisters, but he is still intent on his plan to be a missionary. While you, Diana and Mary decipher German, he translates scrolls of Hindustani. One day, while you happen to be sitting in the parlor with St. John alone, you catch him regarding you seriously.

“What are you doing?” he asks.

“I am learning German.”

“I want you to give up German and learn Hindustani.”

“You are not in earnest?”

“I am. It would help me to have a pupil with whom to go over the elements and so fix them in my mind. I feel that you are more able than my sisters at sitting at a task for a long time. Will you do me this favor?”

St. John is not a man to be lightly refused, every impression made on him seems deeply engraved and permanent. While you enjoy your studies with Diana and Mary, you feel that a call for aid from St. John must be answered with acceptance.

He is a very patient, forbearing, and yet exacting master and he expects you to do a great deal. By degrees, you find interest in meeting his expectations and that you seek his praise and notice most eagerly. Because of that, he starts to exude a certain influence over your mind.

With all of these changes, you have not forgotten Mr. Rochester. In the course of your correspondence with Mr. Briggs about the will, you inquired about Rochester and Thornfield, but he knew nothing of his present residence and state of health. You even wrote to Mrs. Fairfax, entreating her for information, but received no reply. In the chance that your first letter missed her, you write again. After some months, Mary informs you of a letter arrived, and irrationally you feel certain it is news of Mr. Rochester. But it is only an unimportant note from Mr. Briggs. Consequently, your spirits are lower than usual when you take up your studies with St. John that day.

St. John, ever watchful and observant, eventually puts the books away and says, “Come, we shall take a walk; just you and me.”

In ten minutes the two of you are treading the wild track of the glen, side by side.

The breeze from the west rushed over the hills, sweet with scents of heath and moss. Winding along the trail, the two of you make your way to its very core.

“Let us rest here,” suggests St. John as you reach a battalion of rocks guarding a pass.

For half an hour neither of you speak, so quiet and serene are your surroundings. It seems like human voices would disturb the idyllic scene.

Yet St. John does finally speak. “I’m going to India in six weeks.”

“God will protect you, for you have undertaken his work,” you answer.

“Yes. It is strange to me that those with the gifts and the power to follow my calling do not march with me.”

“All have not your powers, St. John.”

“Yet there are those worthy of the work and competent to accomplish it. I think it is right to stir those people up and exhort them to the effort - to show them what their gifts are and why they were given, and to offer them a place in the ranks of God’s chosen.”

Some awful charm seems to gather over you; you tremble at the words St John might speak next.

“You, for instance,” he continues implacably, “God and nature intended you for a missionary’s life. Let us marry and you can come with me to India, as my help-meet and fellow-laborer. As a missionary’s wife you will undertake God’s work.”

“Oh St. John!” you cry, surprise at his intentions overtaking your fear of his words. “I am not fit for it; I have no vocation.”

“Humility is the ground-work of Christian virtues. No one is ever truly worthy of the summons, but do not suffer personal doubt to daunt you. I have seen how well you performed your tasks at the village school - you labored with capacity and tact. When you learned you had become suddenly rich, you readily cut your wealth into four shares. I recognized a soul that reveled in sacrifice. At my wish, you gave up a study you were interested in, just to help me, and the untiring assiduity with which you have persevered with Hindustani is a compliment to your diligent nature. I know you to be docile, disinterested, faithful, constant, and courageous. And as a helper among Indian women, your assistance will be invaluable to me.”

His words succeed in making a way through a path you thought blocked up. You know you can do what he wants, and this will be another interest in life; an occupation that is noble and sublime. It would fill the void left by uptorn affections and demolished hope. Yes, you could join St. John in his work, but could you marry him?

He would never love you, but marriage would afford you more security in a foreign land. And if forced to be his wife you can imagine the possibility of conceiving an inevitable, torturing kind of love for him, because he is so talented and there is often such a heroic grandeur in his look, manner, and conversation.

You feel that you must accept his invitation to accompany him to India, but should you refuse his offer of marriage?

To agree to marry St. John, go to FORTY-EIGHT

To agree to become a missionary but be like a sister to him, go to FORTY-NINE

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