“JANE EYRE”  1973 BBC Miniseries

 

Starring Sorcha Cusack and Michael Jayston

 

PART ONE

PART TWO

PART THREE

PART FOUR

PART FIVE

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PART ONE

 

Afternoon.

Gateshead Hall. The drawing room: the Reeds, taking tea; Bessie and Jane.

JANE – (Voiceover.) What a consternation of soul was mine that dreary afternoon! I was ten years old; and a discord at Gateshead Hall: a useless thing; a noxious thing; an orphan, cherishing the germs of indignation at my supposed benefactors’ treatment of me.

Mrs. REED – Jane, I dislike cavillers and questioners.

JANE – But, Bessie! (To Mrs. Reed.) What did she say I have done?

Mrs. REED – Oh, child! Seat yourself somewhere; and until you can speak pleasantly, remain silent.

JOHN REED – Boh! Madam Mope!

JANE – (Voiceover.) I had nothing in harmony with Mrs. Reed or her children.

Mrs. REED – There is something truly forbidding in a child taking up her elders in that solemn manner.

GEORGIANA REED – She questions us, too, Mama.

Mrs. REED – I know, darling. We are all under a necessity to teach her to be more natural.

JOHN REED – And more respectful, too.

ELIZA REED – After all, without our charity, she would be a pauper.

 

Later.

The breakfast room: Jane, reading a book at a window seat.

JANE – (Voiceover.) Why could I never please?... (Sighs.) (Aloud, reading.) ...where the Northern Ocean, in vast whirls, / Boils round the naked melancholy isles / Of farthest...

JOHN REED – (Off scene.) Where the dickens is she? Not here! Lizzie! Tell Mama she is run out into the rain: the bad animal!

Jane hides herself behind the window curtain.

ELIZA REED – (Off scene.) No, she hates the rain, such as lamb in paddling; she is in the window-seat, to be sure, Jack.

JANE – Yes, I am. (Voiceover.) And I step forth to meet my chief oppressor. (Aloud.) What do you want?

Jane, before John, Eliza and Georgiana Reed, standing.

JOHN REED – Say: “What do you want, Master Reed?” (Sits down, grinning; sisters laugh.) “Master Reed”: because I am; I will be. Come here.

Jane steps forward: John Reed grimaces at her.

JANE – (Voiceover.) John Reed ought to have been at school; but his Mama had taken him home, “on account of his delicate health.”

John Reed strikes Jane, suddenly and strongly.

JOHN REED – That is for your impudence, answering Mama; and for sneaking behind curtains: you rat! What were you doing behind there?

JANE – I was reading.

JOHN REED – Show the book. (Jane hands it to him.) You have no business taking our books; you are a dependent; you have no money; your father left you none. Stand over there, clear of the windows. (Jane obeys.) I’ll teach you to rummage my bookshelves; to eat our food; to wear our clothes at Mama’s expense. Stand still!

John Reed throws at Jane the book, which hits her: sisters laugh.

JANE – (Rising to her knees, bleeding from her forehead.) Wicked, cruel! Like a murderer, a Roman emperor!

JOHN REED – Did you hear that, Lizzie, Georgie?  I’ll teach her! I’ll teach her! (Runs to Jane and grabs her.) Rat! Rat!

JANE – Lizzie! Georgie!

ELIZA REED – (Exiting.) Mama! Mama!

JOHN REED – (Strikes Jane.) Wait I tell Mama! (Jane strikes him.) How!

Enter Mrs. Reed and Eliza Reed.

Mrs. REED – Darlings! Darlings!

ELIZA REED – She has been stealing our books, Mama!

GEORGIANA REED – She has just flow at Jack!

JANE – I didn’t...

Mrs. REED – She attacked you, my darling?!

JOHN REED – Like a fury! But have no fear: I have mastered her viciousness.

Mrs. REED – Lizzie: fetch Abbot and... and Bessie. (To Jane.) What a picture of passion! What a viper I have harboured! She must be controlled!

 

Later.

A room, upstairs.

JANE – (Off scene.) No! Bessie, please! Don’t!

Enters Bessie, dragging Jane.

JANE – No! You must not! Not in here! You must not! Not in this room!...

BESSIE – If you don’t sit still, (sits Jane on a chair) (enters Abbot) you must be tied down! Miss Abbot, let me your garter! She’ll break mine, directly.

Abbot means to take out one of her garters.

JANE – No: don’t; I will not stir...

BESSIE – Mind you don’t.

JANE – (Voiceover.) Both looked darkly and doubtfully upon me, as if incredulous of my sanity.

BESSIE – She never behaved so before: such a tantrum!

ABBOT – It was always in her. I’ve told Missis often my opinion of the child, and Missis agreed with me. (To Jane.) For shame, Miss Eyre! To strike a young gentleman, your young master, your benefactress’s son!

JANE – Master! How is he my master? Am I a servant?

ABBOT – No; you are less than a servant, for you do nothing for your keep.

BESSIE – What we tell is for your good, Jane.

JANE – How can it be to lock me in here?

ABBOT – So you may reflect upon your wickedness.

JANE – But old Mr. Reed died in here...

All three watch the room, afraid.

BESSIE – Say your prayers.

ABBOT – And ask God to make you humble, Miss Eyre; so you may not put yourself on an equality with Mrs. Reed and Master Reed. They will have a great deal of money; you will have none: it is your place to be useful and pleasant.

BESSIE – For if you are passionate and rude, Missis will send you away.

ABBOT – And then where would you go?

JANE – But it was he who struck me!

ABBOT – Oh! Come, Bessie. An underhand little thing: I never saw a child with so much cover.

Exit Abbot and Bessie, locking the door.

JANE – (Rises.) Please! Unfair! (Sits down.) Unjust! (Bends over the chair and weeps.) (Voiceover.) All said I was wicked; but what fault had I committed, save to be born and incubus?

 

At the same time.

The drawing room: the Reeds.

Mrs. REED – ...but I promised your poor dear Papa that I would rear her as my own. (John pours himself a glass of wine.) Oh, John, darling, I don’t care for you to drink wine.

JOHN REED – The devil you don’t, Mama! One glass: to your health, old girl!

Mrs. REED – Oh! (Laughs.) Oh, John!

JOHN REED – I think it unjust of Papa to demand such a pledge: at our expense, and for so distant a relative.

Mrs. REED – But, darling, that pledge was wronged from me on his deathbed.

JANE – (Voiceover.) No one thwarted John, no one locked him away without a candle; and he twisted the necks of the pigeons, and set the dogs at the sheep; he called his mother “old girl”, and bluntly disregarded her wishes: still, he was “her own darling”. But I, who dared commit no fault, who strove to fulfil every duty, I was termed naughty and sneaky, from morning to noon, and from noon to night.

 

At the same time.

The room upstairs: all dark; Jane, weeping.

JANE – Please, Aunt Reed: don’t... (Glimpses at the bed.) I must not look at the bed; I must not look at the bed... (Sits down on another chair; looks at a mirror and “sees” her uncle in his deathbed: screams, and runs to the door.) No! No! Take me out! Take me out! (Tries to open the door.) Pity, Aunt Reed! Forgive me! I cannot endure it! Let me be punished some other way! Please, please, love me! Love me...

 

The following morning.

The nursery: Bessie and a gentleman, at the fireplace; Jane, in bed.

Mr. LLOYD – (To Jane.) Well, who am I?

JANE – (Voiceover.) I knew him; he was Mr. Lloyd, an apothecary, called in by Mrs. Reed when the servants were ill: for herself and the children she employed a physician.

Mr. LLOYD – Well?

JANE – Mr. Lloyd.

Mr. LLOYD – (Smiles.) We shall do well by-and-by. Ah, you have been crying! Can you tell me what about? Have you any pain?

JANE – No, sir.

BESSIE – I daresay she is crying because she could not go out with Missis in the carriage.

Mr. LLOYD – Oh, what nonsense! At her age, such pettishness?

JANE – I hate going out in the carriage. I cried because I am miserable.

BESSIE – Oh, fie, Miss!

Mr. LLOYD – What made you ill last night, Jane?

BESSIE – She had a fall.

Mr. LLOYD – Fall! Why, that is like a baby again!  Can’t she manage to walk at her age?

JANE – I was knocked down; but that did not make me ill...

Off scene: bell rings.

Mr. LLOYD – Ah, that will be for your dinner, Bessie; you may go down.

Mr. Lloyd opens the door to Bessie; Bessie gives a mug to Jane.

BESSIE – Eat up, if you can, Miss; (whispers) and mind your sharp tongue!

Mr. LLOYD – I shall give Miss Eyre a lecture until you return. (Exits Bessie, closing the door.) (To Jane.) No lecture. (Brings a chair next to her bed.) It was not the fall that made you ill, you say?

JANE – No. I was shut up in a room where there is a ghost till after dark.

Mr. LLOYD – Ghosts?! (Giggles.) That, it is like a baby: to be afraid of ghosts!

JANE – Of Mr. Reed’s ghost I am: he died in that room. None of the servants will go in there at night; yet, they shut me in there without a candle.

Mr. LLOYD – Are you afraid now?

JANE – No. It was cruel: I think I shall never forget it.

Mr. LLOYD – (Sitting down.) Oh, what nonsense, Jane! And is it that that makes you so miserable?

JANE – No. (Voiceover.) How much I wished to reply fully to that question! (Putting the mug away.) How difficult it was to frame my answer!

Mr. LLOYD – Well?

JANE – (Voiceover.) Children can feel: they cannot analyse their feelings. (Aloud.) I am... very unhappy...

Mr. LLOYD – Why?

JANE – Because... a number of things...

Mr. LLOYD – Well, can you tell me some of them, Jane?

JANE – One is that I have no father or mother, or brothers or sisters.

Mr. LLOYD – Well, you have a kind aunt and cousins.

JANE – But John Reed knocked me down, and my aunt locked me in the red-room.

Mr. LLOYD – Hmm. (Produces his snuff-box.) Tell me, why did Bessie tell you to hold your tongue?

JANE – For fear I might tell you the truth.

Mr. LLOYD – (Snuffs.) Yes... You have no relations of any kind?

JANE – I think not, sir.

Mr. LLOYD – None belonging to your father?

JANE – I don’t know. I asked Aunt Reed once...

Mr. LLOYD – Yes?

JANE – She said I might have some poor, low down relations called Eyre, but she knew nothing of them.

Mr. LLOYD – And if you had such, would you like to go to them?

JANE – (Voiceover.) I reflected. Poverty looks grim to grown people; still more so to children: they have not much idea of respectable poverty; they think only of ragged clothes, scanty food, and rude manners: poverty for me was synonymous with degradation. (Aloud.) No; I should not like to belong to poor people.

Mr. LLOYD – Not even if they were kind to you?

JANE – (Shaking her head no.) (Voiceover.) I was not heroic enough to purchase liberty at the price of caste.

Mr. LLOYD – But are they so poor?  Perhaps they are honest, industrious, working people?

JANE – I cannot tell; Aunt Reed said that if I had any, they must be a beggarly set: I should not like to go a begging.

Mr. LLOYD – Jane, would you like to go to school?

JANE – (Voiceover.) I scarcely knew what school was: Bessie sometimes spoke of it as a place where young ladies wore blackboards, and were expected to be exceedingly genteel; but school also implied an entire separation from Gateshead Hall, (smiling) an entrance into a new life.

Mr. LLOYD – Well?

JANE – Yes, I should indeed like to go to school.

Mr. LLOYD – (Smiling.) I shall speak to Mrs. Reed. Can you be patient, Jane?

JANE – I will try.

Mr. LLOYD – (Holding her hand.) You must grow strong: your nerves have been too severely shaken.

 

Morning.

The drawing room: a stony stranger standing and Mrs. Reed sitting down, both by the fireside.

Mrs. REED – This is the little girl respecting whom I applied to you, Mr. Brocklehurst.

Jane, with her eyes bent on the floor.

Mr. BROCKLEHURST – Her size is small: what is her age?

Mrs. REED – Ten years.

Mr. BROCKLEHURST – Your name, little girl?

JANE – Jane Eyre, sir.

Mr. BROCKLEHURST – Well, Jane Eyre, and are you a good child?

JANE – (Voiceover.) Impossible to reply in the affirmative: my little world held a contrary opinion.

Mrs. REED – The less said on that subject the better, Mr. Brocklehurst.

Mr. BROCKLEHURST – Hmm!... No sight so sad, as that of a naughty child. (To Jane.)  Do you know where the wicked go after death?

JANE – They go to hell, sir.

Mr. BROCKLEHURST – And what is hell?

JANE – A pit full of fire, sir.

Mr. BROCKLEHURST – And should you like to fall into that pit, and burn for ever there, child?

JANE – No, sir.

Mr. BROCKLEHURST – What must you do to avoid it?

JANE – (After deliberating a moment.) I must keep in good health, and not die.

Mr. BROCKLEHURST – But children younger than you die daily. I buried a little child of five years old only yesterday: a good little child, whose soul is now in Heaven. It is to be feared the same could not be said of you were you to be called hence. (Jane sighs.) I hope that sigh is from the heart, and that you repent of ever having been the occasion of discomfort to your excellent benefactress.

JANE – (Voiceover.) “Benefactress!” said I inwardly: “they all call Mrs. Reed my benefactress; if so, a benefactress is a disagreeable thing.”

Mr. BROCKLEHURST – Do you say your prayers night and morning?

JANE – Yes, sir.

Mr. BROCKLEHURST – Do you read your Bible?

JANE – Yes, sometimes.

Mr. BROCKLEHURST – With pleasure?  Are you fond of it?

JANE – Some parts: I like the Revelations; and Daniel in the lion’s den.

Mr. BROCKLEHURST – The Psalms?  I hope you like the Psalms?

JANE – No.

Mr. BROCKLEHURST – No? But this is shocking!  I have a little boy, younger than you, and he knows six Psalms by heart; and if you ask him which he would rather have, a gingerbread-nut to eat or a verse of a Psalm to learn: “Oh! A verse of a Psalm!” says he, “Angels sing Psalms; and I wish to be a little angel here below”; and then he gets two nuts to recompense him for his infant piety.

JANE – Psalms are not interesting.

Mr. BROCKLEHURST – That proves your wicked heart; you must pray to God to change it: to give you a new and clean one.

JANE – How would He perform that... operation?

Mrs. REED – Mr. Brocklehurst, as I intimated in my letter, this child has not quite the character and disposition I could wish.

Mr. BROCKLEHURST – I remember your words perfectly, Ma’ am: (turning to Jane) a tendency to deceit.

Mrs. REED – Precisely! I should wish, therefore, that the teachers of Lowood School were to keep a special eye upon her. I say this in your hearing, Jane, so that you may not attempt to impose on good Mr. Brocklehurst.

Mr. BROCKLEHURST – She shall be watched, Mrs. Reed, have no fear: I will speak to the superintendent, Miss Temple, about her.

Mrs. REED – I wish her to be brought up in a manner suiting her low prospects; (Jane bends her eyes to the floor) as for the vacations, she will, with your permission, spend them always at Lowood...

Mr. BROCKLEHURST – Your decisions are perfectly judicious, Ma’am. She shall be kept humble, as are all the pupils at Lowood. Humility is a Christian grace, and one peculiarly appropriate to the orphan girls within my charge: I have therefore directed that special attention be bestowed on its cultivation among them. I have studied how best to mortify among them the worldly sentiment of pride: only the other day, I had a pleasing instance of my success. My second daughter, Augusta, went to visit the school with her Mama; on her return she said: “Oh, dear Papa, how quiet and plain all the girls at Lowood are, with their hair combed behind their ears, and their long pinafores: they look almost like poor people’s children!”; and then she said: “You know, they looked at my dress and Mama’s, as if they had never seen a silk gown before.”

Mrs. REED – Exactly! Had I searched all England over, I could not have found a system more fitting a girl like Jane Eyre.

Mr. BROCKLEHURST – Now, Mrs. Reed, may I take my leave of you?

Mrs. Reed – (Rises.) Goodbye, Mr. Brocklehurst.

Mr. BROCKLEHURST – (Taking a thin pamphlet out of his jacket.) Little girl, this book is entitled the “Child’s Guide”: read it with prayer, especially that part containing “An account of the awfully sudden death of Mar-tha Grieg, a naughty child addicted to falsehood.” (Gives the pamphlet to Jane.) (To Mrs. Reed.) Good day, Ma’am.

Mrs. Reed – Mr. Brocklehurst.

Exits Mr. Brocklehurst. Mrs. Reed sits elsewhere in the drawing room, sewing.

Mrs. REED – You may go, Jane.

JANE – (Exiting.) (Voiceover.) Speak I had to: I had been trodden on severely, and must turn: but how?  What strength had I to dart retaliation at my antagonist?  I gathered my energies. (Turning back.) (Aloud.) I am not deceitful: if I were, I would say I loved you; but I don’t.

Mrs. REED – Jane! Jane!

JANE – And this book about the liar, (handling the pamphlet to Mrs. Reed) you may give to your children, for it is they who tells lies, not I.

Mrs. REED – (Collecting the pamphlet.) Have you more to say?

JANE – (Voiceover.) I had, and I did: and, as I did it, my soul expanded. (Aloud.) Yes, yes! You think that I can do without one bit of love or kindness; but I cannot live so. I will never call you “Aunt” again; and, if anybody asks me how you treated me, I will say the very thought of you makes me sick, because you treated me with miserable cruelty: that is the truth, Mrs. Reed!

Mrs. REED – (Frightened.) Jane, you are passionate. Go to the nursery, there’s a dear: go, and lie down a little.

JANE – I am not your dear; I cannot lie down: send me to school soon, Mrs. Reed, for I cannot live here.

Mrs. REED – (Rising.) I shall, child. (Exiting.) I shall, indeed.

Exits Mrs. Reed.

JANE – (Voiceover.) I was left there alone, winner of the field. But a child cannot quarrel with its elders, without experiencing afterwards the pang of remorse and the chill of reaction. Silence and reflection soon showed me the madness of my conduct, and the dreariness of my hated and hating position. Would I ever be free?

 

Another day.

Jane, in a carriage, leaving Gateshead Hall to Lowood School.

 

Morning.

Lowood School. The classroom: Miss Temple, reading the Scriptures to all.

Miss TEMPLE – ...but then shall I know, even as also I am known. And now abideth Faith, Hope and Charity; but the greatest of these is Charity.

Miss MILLER – (Clapping her hands.) To your seats!

Miss TEMPLE – Miss Miller, I have a word to address to the pupils. You had this morning a breakfast which you could not eat: you must be hungry. I have ordered that a lunch of bred and cheese shall be served to all. (Teachers smile; pupils delight.) Monitors of the first class, fetch the globe!

Miss MILLER – (Clapping her hands.) Form classes!

All sit. Before sitting at Miss Miller’s table, Jane acknowledges one of the senior class pupils.

Miss MILLER – We will start with the six times table.

All begin reciting the six times table.

At Miss Scatcherd’s table: the senior class pupil coughing very much.

Miss SCATCHERD – Burns! I insist on your holding your head up! I will not have you before me in that attitude!

Miss MILLER – (To Jane, looking at Miss Scatcherd’s table.) Eyre! Twelve sixes?

JANE – (Pause.) Ten sixes are sixty; eleven sixes...

Miss MILLER – You must attend!

JANE – I’m sorry... Seventy two.

Miss MILLER – (Smiling.) Good! (To the pupils.) Seven times.

All begin reciting the seven times table.

At Miss Scatcherd’s table: Helen Burns coughing still.

Miss SCATCHERD – Burns! Bring the badge.

Helen Burns obeys: Jane observes.

Miss TEMPLE – (At another table, to her pupils.) ...flows northward, so the equatorial currents flow westward, creating a circular movement with a scarcely moving centre known as the Sargasso Sea. Sargasso Sea is a relatively still tract...

Helen Burn returns, with Jane looking at her, and handles a rod to Miss Scatcherd.

Miss SCATCHERD – Dirty, disagreeable girl! (Collects the rod, and takes out her glasses.) (Helen Burns uncovers her back, with Jane always looking at her.) Ah! I doubt that even the rod can correct you of your slatternly habits.

Miss Scatcherd strikes Burns in the back with the rod: Jane watches it, frightened.

 

Later.

The garden: the pupils, having a time break. Jane walks about; looks at a stone tablet with an inscription, on a column; then, turns to Burns, who is reading a book. Helen Burns smiles at her.

JANE – Is your book interesting?

HELEN BURNS – I like it. You may look at it.

JANE – (Voiceover.) It looked dull to my trifling taste; closely-printed in black, and one picture. (Aloud.) No fairies in it?

HELEN BURNS – No.

JANE – No genii, no strange spirits? (Returning the book; looking at the stone tablet.) Why is it called “Lowood Institution”, and not “Lowood School”?

HELEN BURNS – Well, because it is a charitable institution for educating orphans.

JANE – Do they keep us for nothing?

HELEN BURNS – Oh, no! We pay, or our friends pay, fifteen pounds a year for each of us.

JANE – Then why are we called charity-children?

HELEN BURNS – (Coughing.) (Rises.) Well, because fifteen pounds a year is not enough for board and teaching; the deficiency is supplied by benevolent minded ladies and gentlemen, from here and in London.

JANE – Who is Naomi Brocklehurst?

HELEN BURNS – She is the mother of the gentleman who is treasurer and manager of this establishment. (Coughing.)

JANE – Then this house does not belong to the lady who wears a watch, and who gave us bread and cheese when the porridge was burnt?

HELEN BURNS – To Miss Temple?  No!  I wish it did: she has to answer to Mr. Brocklehurst for all she does. He buys all our food and all our clothes.

JANE – Which we make our own. And I am still hungry.

HELEN BURNS – Yes.

JANE – Is Mr. Brocklehurst a good man?

HELEN BURNS – He is a clergyman, and is said to do a great deal of good.

 

In the meantime.

The entrance hall: enter Mr. Brocklehurst and his family.

Mr. BROCKLEHURST – Miss Miller. Miss Scatcherd. Miss Temple. (Miss Temple curtseys, and hands him an account book.) I trust we shall find all in order: at our last visit, as I recall, there was an irregularity respecting superfluous blankets.

Miss TEMPLE – Your count mounted the order for them, sir; the girls have since shivered for it.

Mr. BROCKLEHURST – Souls, Miss Temple! Souls; not mortal flesh!

Passes Mr. Brocklehurst, followed by his family.

Miss TEMPLE – (Curtseying.) Mrs. Brocklehurst.

Exit all.

 

At the same time.

The garden: the pupils, feeling cold; Jane and Helen Burns (coughing), walking by.

JANE – What is your name besides Burns?

HELEN BURNS – Helen.

JANE – I’m Jane. Are you happy here?

HELEN BURNS – You ask rather too many questions. I have given you enough answers for the present: (sitting down) now I want to read.

Jane withdraws; Helen Burns coughs; Jane turns back.

JANE – Why did you let Miss Scatcherd hit you like that? It was cruel.

HELEN BURNS – She is severe; she dislikes my faults.

JANE – If she struck me, I would resist; I would break the rod under her nose.

HELEN BURNS – Probably you would do nothing of the sort: but if you did, Mr. Brocklehurst would expel you from the school. It is far better to endure patiently a slight which nobody feels but yourself, than to commit a hasty action whose evil consequences will extend to all connected with you; besides, the Bible bids us return good for evil.

JANE – (Sitting down at her side.) But to be singled out for punishment before so many people: I could not bear it.

HELEN BURNS – Yet, it would be your duty to bear it, if you could not avoid it.

Off scene: bell rings. All pupils enter the building.

 

Somewhat later.

The classroom: all the pupils, standing in line, with their slates. Enters Mr. Brocklehurst with Miss Temple, followed by the other teachers.

Mr. BROCKLEHURST – (Pointing at the account book.)  Who introduced this innovation? A lunch of bread and cheese?

Miss TEMPLE – I did, sir: the breakfast was so ill prepared, my pupils could not eat it; I dared not allow them to remain fasting till dinner-time.

Mr. BROCKLEHURST – But, Madam, you are aware that my plan in bringing up these girls is, not to accustom them to luxury, but to render them self-denying. The accidental spoiling of a meal ought not to be neutralised by replacing the comfort lost with something more delicate. (Miss Temple gazes at Mr. Brocklehurst.) A brief address on such an occasion would not be mistimed, wherein a judicious instructor would refer (turning to the class) to the sufferings of the primitive Christians; the torments of the martyrs; the exhortations of our blessed Lord Himself, calling upon His disciples to take up their cross and follow Him; and warning us that man shall not live by bread alone. (Turning to Miss Temple.) Oh, Madam, why did you not remind them of His very words: If ye suffer hunger and thirst for My sake, happy are ye? (Noticing a pupil off scene.) Miss Temple! (Approaches him.) That girl, with curled hair? Red hair, Ma’am, curled all over?

Miss TEMPLE – She is Julia Severn, sir: her hair curls naturally.

Mr. BROCKLEHURST – Naturally?! We are not to conform to nature, here: I desire hair to be arranged closely, modestly, plainly. (Handling the account book to Miss Temple.) Tell the senior class to direct their faces to the wall.

Pass both Mr. Brocklehurst’s daughters, and sit down.

Miss TEMPLE – Turn, girls.

Mr. BROCKLEHURST – (Whispering to his wife.) My dear, the girl’s hair! I shall send the barber tomorrow. (His wife nods.) (Scrutinises the pupils’ hair.) All those top-knots must be cut off.

Miss TEMPLE – But, sir!

Mr. BROCKLEHURST – All, turn! (Pupils obey.) Madam, my mission here is to mortify in these girls the lusts of the flesh; teaching them to clothe themselves with shame-facedness, and not with braided excrescences of Babylon. We all have a Master to serve whose kingdom is not of this world... (Jane drops her slate to the floor.) A new pupil, I perceive: a careless girl! I have a word to say respecting her.

Miss TEMPLE – (Whispers.) Do not be afraid, Jane, I saw it was an accident.

Mr. BROCKLEHURST – Let the child who broke her slate come forward! Fetch that stool! (A senior class pupil obeys.) Place the child upon it. (Misses Miller and Scatcherd obey: Mr. Brocklehurst gazes at Jane upon the stool.) Ladies, Miss Temple, teachers, and children, you see this girl? She is yet young. Who would believe that the Evil One has already found a servant and agent in her?  Yet, such, I grieve to say it, is the case. Children, it is my melancholy duty to warn you to be on your guard against her; shun her example; avoid her company. Teachers, watch her: weigh well her words, scrutinise her actions; because... because – my tongue falters as I tell it – this girl is a liar!

JANE – (Voiceover.) There was I, then, mounted aloft; I, who had said I could not bear the shame of public reproof.

Mr. BROCKLEHURST – This I learned (Helen Burns looks at Jane with a kind smile) from her benefactress, a pious and charitable lady who adopted her in her orphan state, and reared her as her own with her own. And how did this girl repaid her kindness? With an ingratitude so dreadful, that at last her patroness was forced to separate her from her own young ones, lest her vicious example contaminate their purity: she is here to be healed, by correction. Let her stand on that stool half-an-hour longer, and let no one speak to her for the remainder of the day. (To his family.) Come, ladies.

Exit Mr. Brocklehurst and his family.

 

Evening.

The classroom: all dark; Jane, sitting down on the floor, weeping.

JANE – (Voiceover.) Nothing sustained me; left to myself, I abandoned myself. I had meant to be so good, and to do so much at Lowood: (enters Helen Burns, with a candle and a cup) to earn respect, to win affectation.

HELEN BURNS – Jane, come: drink something.

JANE – (Voiceover.) I could not yet abate my agitation, though I tried hard. (Helen Burns kneels at her side.) Helen remained silent as an Indian. I was the first who spoke. (Aloud.) Helen, why do you stay with a girl everybody believes is a liar?

HELEN BURNS – Everybody, Jane?  Why, only this small school in the whole great world has heard you called so.

JANE – I don’t care about the world! But the people here despise me.

HELEN BURNS – You are mistaken: they don’t. Probably not one person in the school despises or dislikes you: many, I am sure, pity you.

JANE – How can they, after what Mr. Brocklehurst said?

HELEN BURNS – Mr. Brocklehurst is not a god, Jane: he is not even a great and admired man: he is little liked here; he never took steps to make himself liked. Had he treated you as a favourite, you would have found enemies. Come; drink your coffee, while it is warm. (Jane picks the cup from Helen Burns.) Besides, if all the world hated you, and be-lieved you wicked, when you are innocent, you would not be without friends.

JANE – But I would be: nobody would love me. (Standing.) I would rather die than not be loved!

HELEN BURNS – Hush, Jane! You think too much of the love of human beings. Besides this earth, and besides this race of men, there is an invisible world and a kingdom of spirits: that world is round us, it is everywhere; and those spirits, which are angels, watch us, guard us; they recognise our innocence, if innocent we be; and God waits only the separation of spirit from flesh to crown us with a full reward. (Coughs very much.) Why, then, should we ever sink overwhelmed with distress, when life is so soon past, and death is so certain an entrance to happiness, to glory?

Enters Miss Temple.

JANE - (Rising.) Miss Temple.

Miss TEMPLE – Is it all over? I came on purpose to find you, Jane: I want you to come to my room; and, as Helen Burns is with you, she may come, too. Have you cried your grief away?

JANE – I am afraid I shall never do that.

Miss TEMPLE – Why?

JANE – Because I have been wrongly accused; and you, Ma’am, and everybody else, will now think me wicked.

Miss TEMPLE – We shall think you what you prove yourself to be, my child. Continue to act as a good girl, and you will satisfy me.

JANE – Shall I?

Miss TEMPLE – Come. I want you to tell me about the lady who sent you here.

Exit all.

 

Somewhat later.

Miss Temple’s room: Miss Temple, Jane and Helen Burns, having tea and cake.

Miss TEMPLE – (To Jane.) So, Mr. Brocklehurst was mistaken when he implied Mrs. Reed had adopted you of her own accord?

JANE – My uncle made her promise to keep me just before he died, or so the servants told me.

Miss TEMPLE – Well, Jane, I shall write to this Mr. Lloyd, your apothecary; and if his reply agrees with your statements here to-night, you shall be publicly cleared from every imputation; to me, Jane, you are clear now, (kisses her forehead) as I am sure you are with Helen; so, now you have two people who believe you. (To Helen Burns, coughing.) Well, Helen, have you coughed much today?

HELEN BURNS – Not quite so much, I think, Ma’am.

Miss TEMPLE – And the pain in your chest?

HELEN BURNS – It is a little better.

Miss Temple takes Helen Burns’ pulse.

JANE – (Voiceover.) I, in my ignorance, was puzzled by her concern for Helen’s cough.

Miss TEMPLE – (Sitting down.) Have you enjoyed the book I lent you, Helen?

HELEN BURNS – “Rasselas”, Ma’am? It has impressed me: Doctor Johnson’s stories is a bit sombre, but very grand. Jane did not like the look of it, because it had no pictures.

Miss TEMPLE – (Smiling.) Jane is yet young.

HELEN BURNS – I then recalled a line or two from a poem of his...

Miss TEMPLE – Yes?

HELEN BURNS – Must helpless man, in innocence sedate, / Roll darkling down the torrent of his fate?

Miss TEMPLE – I hope Doctor Johnson denied that idea! Does he?

HELEN BURNS – Oh, yes. Yes, he says: Inquirer, cease! Petitions yet remain, / Which Heaven may hear, nor deem Religion vain. / Still raise for good the supplicating voice, / But leave to Heaven the measure and the choice.

Off scene: bell rings.

Miss TEMPLE – And so we shall. (Rises.) Bless you, my children!

Jane and Helen Burns handle their tea cups to Miss Temple, curtsey and exit.

 

About a week subsequently.

The classroom: the whole school, assembled.

Miss TEMPLE – (Holding Jane.) An inquiry having been made to the allegations against Jane Eyre, she is completely cleared of every imputation.

Murmurs of pleasure.

Miss SCATCHERD – (Shaking Jane’s hand.) Jane, I am very glad!

Miss MILLER – (Shaking Jane’s both hands.) And I am glad, too, Jane. Come along. (Clapping her hands.) Monitors for the books; and form classes.

JANE – (Voiceover.) Thus relieved of a grievous burden, I set to work afresh. (Passes to Miss Miller’s table: Helen Burns smiles at her.) I toiled hard; my memory improved with practice; exercise sharpened my wits. I learned the first two tenses of the verb Être; and sketched my first cottage, whose walls, by the way, outrivaled in slope those of the leaning Tower of Pisa. And soon, I would not have exchanged Lowood with all its privations for Gateshead and its daily luxuries.

A pupil loses her senses behind Jane, and falls on the floor.

 

Morning.

Outside: a typhus fever edict, affixed to a door. The classroom: pupils, being taken care of; Mr. Brocklehurst and two citizens, watching around.

Miss SCATCHERD – (To Miss Temple.) Can I help?

Miss TEMPLE – (Looking off scene.) Oh, no! Not Julia Severn as well! Help her, Miss Scatcherd!

Miss SCATCHERD – Of course.

A physician acknowledges the death of a pupil.

THE TALLER CITIZEN – They all seem half starved.

THE SHORTER CITIZEN – Prime cause of the infection, probably.

THE TALLER CITIZEN – No doubt about it.

Miss SCATCHERD – (Off scene.) Doctor! (Entering, with Julia Severn.) Come along, now: we will get you in bed. (Both help Julia Severn to lie down.)

THE TALLER CITIZEN – (To Mr. Brocklehurst.) It is only too clear! The wretched food; the fetid water in which is prepared; the thread bared clothing of the pupils! These are the causes, sir; and you, the provider of them!

Exit both citizens. Mr. Brocklehurst looks around, afraid.

Miss MILLER – Miss Scatcherd! Miss Temple! (Both hasten to help her with a pupil.)

 

Moments later.

The entrance hall: both citizens, awaiting Mr. Brocklehurst.

THE SHORTER CITIZEN – It is absolutely scandalous!

THE TALLER CITIZEN – Indeed, it is! Will you tell him?

THE SHORTER CITIZEN – Yes, I will. (To Mr. Brocklehurst, approaching.) We shall recommend that a committee is formed to manage this school, Mr. Brocklehurst: a committee of persons with more enlarged and sympathizing minds than yours, sir. We wish you good day.

THE TALLER CITIZEN – Good day, sir.

Exit both citizens. Mr. Brocklehurst closes the door, angry.

 

Evening.

Miss Temple’s room: enters Jane, with a candle; Helen Burns, lying in bed.

JANE – (Whispering.) Helen!

HELEN BURNS – Why, you come! It’s late!

JANE – (Voiceover.) “Oh!” I thought, “they are mistaken: she is not going to die; she could not speak so calmly if she were.” (Kisses her.)

HELEN BURNS – Have you come to bid me goodbye?

JANE – Are you going somewhere, Helen? Are you going home?

HELEN BURNS – Hm, yes; to my last home.

JANE – No! You must not! The other girls are recovering now...

HELEN BURNS – But I have consumption, not typhus fever, Jane. (Coughs very much.) Jane, your feet are bare; come, lie down and cover yourself with my quilt. (Jane gets into the bed, at Helen Burns’ side.) I am very happy, Jane; and when you hear I am dead, you must be sure and not grieve. By dying young, I shall escape great sufferings. I had not qualities or talents to make my way very well in the world.

JANE – But where are you going to? Do you know?

HELEN BURNS – I believe; I have faith: I am going to God.

JANE – Where is God? What is God?

HELEN BURNS – My Maker and yours. I rely implicitly on His power, and confide wholly in His goodness. How comfortable I am! I feel I could sleep: but don’t leave me, Jane; I like to have you near me.

JANE – I’ll stay. I’ll stay!

 

The following morning.

The same room: enters Miss Temple, and looks at both Jane and Helen Burns, in bed.

JANE – (Voiceover.) I learned later that Miss Temple, on returning at dawn, had found me, my face against Helen Burns’ shoulder, my arms around her neck. I was asleep... and Helen was dead.

 

An afternoon.

The garden: pupils, having a time break; Jane, walking by.

JANE – (Voiceover.) Hitherto, I have recorded in detail the events of my insignificant existence. This is not to be a regular autobiography: I am only bound to invoke memory where I know her responses will possess interest. Therefore, I now pass over a space of eight years almost, in silence, six years as a pupil, two as a teacher at Lowood. (Opens a gate, and takes a few steps outside.) I desired liberty; and for liberty I uttered a prayer: it seemed scattered on the wind. I abandoned it and framed a humbler supplication, for change: that petition, too, seemed swept off into vague space. Then I cried, half desperate: (aloud) “Grant me at least a new servitude!”

 

An evening.

Thornfield Hall. The entrance hall: enter Mrs. Fairfax and Jane, followed by a male servant, carrying two trunks.

JANE – Oh, shall I have the pleasure of seeing Miss Fairfax this evening?

Mrs. FAIRFAX – Miss Fairfax? Oh, you mean Miss Varens! Varens is the name of your future pupil. She is Mr. Rochester’s ward.

JANE – Mr. Rochester? But who is he?

Mrs. FAIRFAX – The owner of the Hall... Did you not know he was called Rochester?

JANE – I thought the Hall belonged to you, Mrs. Fairfax, since you answered my advertisement.

Mrs. FAIRFAX – To me? Why, bless you, child, what an idea! (Laughs.) (Both climb the stairs.) I am just the housekeeper; though, to be sure, I am distantly related to the Rochester’s, on the mother’s side. (Both arrive upstairs.) (The male servant comes out of a bedroom.) Thank you, John. (John bows to both Mrs. Fairfax and Jane, and exits.) This is your room, Miss Eyre. (Comes a female servant from the upstairs hallway, with a food tray.) I hope you will be comfortable. You must be tired after travelling all day.

JANE – Yes, I am, a little.

Mrs. FAIRFAX – Good evening, Grace.

GRACE POOLE – Evening, Ma’am. (Stops: looks at Jane, first; and then, at Mrs. Fairfax.)

Mrs. FAIRFAX – Good night, Miss Eyre.

JANE – Oh, good night. (In the bedroom, unpacking her luggage.) (Voiceover.) My prayer for a new servitude had been granted, and I was grateful. By the expedient of placing an advertisement in the county newspaper, I had secured a competency as a governess. My pupil was to be one little girl of nine years, and my salary thirty pounds per annum. The place was called Thornfield, in Yorkshire. (Off scene: a demoniac laugh. Jane intrigued, at first; then, dismissive.) I considered myself independent, at last.

 

The following day.

The grounds: Jane and Mrs. Fairfax, walking by.

Mrs. FAIRFAX – The family has always been respected here. Almost all the land in this neighbourhood, as far as you can see, has belonged to the Rochesters, time out of mind.

JANE – But leaving his land out of the question, do you like him? Is Mr. Rochester liked for himself? In short, what is his character?

Mrs. FAIRFAX – Oh, unimpeachable, I suppose. He is rather peculiar, perhaps.

JANE – In what way?

Mrs. FAIRFAX – I don’t know; one cannot be sure if he is in jest, or in earnest; but it is of no consequence. He is a gentleman. (Enter a little girl and a nurse.) Ah, here is your charge, Miss Eyre. Mr. Rochester commissioned me to find her a governess. Adèle was born on the Continent. When she first came here, she could speak no English.

ADÈLE – C’est la gouvernante?

SOPHIE – Mais oui, certainement!

ADÈLE – Oooh!

Mrs. FAIRFAX – Good morning, Miss Adela. This is the lady who is to teach you.

JANE – (As Adèle curtseys to her and both shake hands.) Je suis contente de faire votre connaissance, Mademoiselle Adèle.

ADÈLE – Elle parle bien le Français, Sophie! Comment vous appellez-vous, Mademoiselle?

JANE – Je m’appelle Jane Eyre.

ADÈLE – Airrre? (Laughs.) Oooh! I cannot say it.

Mrs. FAIRFAX – Adela, you must be very good with Miss Eyre. It is Mr. Rochester’s wish that you obey her in everything.

ADÈLE – Je peux parlez a Mademoiselle comme je le fais à Monsieur de Rochester; vous aussi, Sophie. Vous allez l’aimer, ça!

Adèle and Sophie walk away together.

JANE – Is Mr. Rochester often at home?

Mrs. FAIRFAX – He travels a great deal. His visits here are rare, always sudden, unexpected.

 

Evening.

Hay Lane: a dog and a horse rider, coming by; Jane, at a gate.

JANE – (Voiceover.) I had volunteered to carry a letter for Mrs. Fairfax to the village, but had lingered by the gate till the moon rose. Now, as I heard a horse approach, I remembered certain childish tales of a North-of-England spirit called a Gytrash, which in the form of a horse or a large dog hunted solitary ways. But the horse had a rider. (Pass the dog and the horse rider.) Nothing every rode the Gytrash. The spell was broken at once.

Jane goes on. Off scene: sounds of the horse sliding and whinnying, and of the horse rider falling down. Jane turns back.

ROCHESTER – (Off scene.) Agh! What the deuce is to do now?!  (Down on the lane.) You great brute! How the devil did you... How!... Get away, “Pilot”! Dear Heaven! Ah!...

JANE – Can I do anything, sir?

ROCHESTER – You can stand at one side.

JANE – (Kneeling next to the horse rider.) Oh, if you are hurt, I can fetch help.

ROCHESTER – Who the deuce provided you?!...

 

 

PART TWO

 

An evening.

Hay Lane: a dog and a horse rider, coming by; Jane looks at them, and goes on. Off scene: sounds of the horse sliding and whinnying, and of the horse rider falling down. Jane turns back.

ROCHESTER – (Down on the lane.) Agh! What the deuce is to do now?! You great brute! How the devil did you... Agh!... Get away, “Pilot”! Oh, dear Heaven...

JANE – (Voiceover.) Had he been a handsome, heroic young gentleman, I should not have dared to address him; but his frown and the roughness of his manners set me at once at my ease. (Kneeling next to the horse rider.) (Aloud.) If you are injured sir, I can fetch help either from Thornfield Hall or the village.

ROCHESTER – Thank you, I shall do: (rising both) I have no broken bones, only a sprain. You may go on.

JANE – I cannot think of leaving you, sir, until I see you are fit to mount your horse.

ROCHESTER – I should think you ought to be at home, if you have a home in this neighbourhood. Are you a sprite or an elf, to be out so late?

JANE – I am a governess, sir.

ROCHESTER – Where?

JANE – From just below. And I am not at all afraid of being out late, when it is moonlight.

ROCHESTER – The devil you are not! Agh!

JANE – I will gladly run over to Hay for you. Indeed, I was going there to post a letter.

ROCHESTER – You live just below, the house with the battlements?

JANE – Yes.

ROCHESTER – Whose house is it?

JANE – Mr. Rochester’s.

ROCHESTER – Do you know him?

JANE – No, I have never seen him.

Rochester – Hmm, the governess! Deuce take me, if I had not forgotten! The governess!... No, I cannot commission you to fetch help; but you may help me a little, if you would be so kind: your shoulder. Only necessity, you understand, compels me to make you useful. (To the horse.) Hey, hey, hold still! (Mounts up, groaning.) (To Jane.) Thank you. Now, make haste to post your letter, and return as fast as you can.

JANE – (Voiceover.) All three vanished. The incident had occurred and was gone for me, an incident of no moment; yet, it had marked a change. My help had been needed and claimed: trivial, transitory though the deed was, it was yet an active thing, and I was weary of an existence all passive.

 

Later.

The entrance hall: “Pilot”, lying down. Enters Jane.

JANE – “Pilot”? (Rings bell: enters Leah.)

LEAH – Yes, Miss?

JANE – Whose dog is this?

LEAH – It came with master, Mr. Rochester: he’s just arrived.

JANE – Oh, indeed? And is Mrs. Fairfax with him?

LEAH – And Miss Adela; they’re in the drawing room now. John is gone for the surgeon; for Master has had an accident; his horse fell and his ankle is sprained: slipped on some ice, they say.

JANE – Did it? Oh, Leah, fetch me a candle, will you?

LEAH – Directly, Miss. (Curtseys and exits.)

Mrs. FAIRFAX – (Off scene.) Leah? (Entering.) Where is Leah? Oh, Miss Jane! Have you heard? Mr. Rochester has come home: so unexpected!

JANE – Yes, so I believe.

Mrs. FAIRFAX – He has had an accident; and I am going to get him some brandy. Oh, dear! Such a to-do! (Exiting.) Leah! Leah!

 

The following day.

The classroom: Adèle, at a desk, writing; Jane, standing near her, with a book.

ADÈLE – Mais mon ami, Edouard de Rochester, il a parlé de vous, Mademoiselle...

JANE – Adèle, we are speaking English today.

ADÈLE – He ask me the name of my governess.

JANE – “He asked me”, not “ask”. “Asked” is the past tense.

ADÈLE – (Rising.) Écoutez-moi, Mademoiselle Jeannette. Il m’a demandé si vous étiez une petite personne. J’ai répondu qu’oui, for it is true you are little, are you not?

JANE – Yes. Now, Adèle, I want you...

ADÈLE – Wait, he is coming out of the library, I hear him! (Runs to open the door: it’s Mrs. Fairfax.)

Mrs. FAIRFAX – Oh! Adela! (Laughs.)

ADÈLE - (Curtseying.) Excusez-moi!

JANE – She is so excited today: she can speak of nothing but Mr. Rochester.

ADÈLE – Parce qu’il m’a dit que j’aurais...

Mrs. FAIRFAX – Hush, child! You will see Mr. Rochester soon enough.

JANE – He has promised her a present, apparently: her “boite”, as she calls it.

Mrs. FAIRFAX – Mr. Rochester would be glad if you and your pupil will take tea with him: he has been so much engaged today that he could not as to see you before.

JANE – When is his teatime?

Mrs. FAIRFAX – Six o’clock: he keeps early hours in the country. Oh, you would better change your frock.

ADÈLE – So will I! For Monsieur de Rochester, (twirling) I be like grande cocotte!

JANE – Adèle! You must not speak so! (To Mrs. Fairfax.) Is it necessary to change?

Mrs. FAIRFAX – Oh, yes! I always dress for the evening when Mr. Rochester is here.

 

Tea time.

The drawing room: Adèle, sitting down by the fireplace, with “Pilot”; Rochester, half reclined on a couch, resting his left leg. Enter Mrs. Fairfax and Jane.

JANE – (Voiceover.) This additional ceremony seemed somewhat stately; however, I replaced my black stuff dress by another of black silk: the best and only additional one I had, except one of light grey, which, in my Lowood notions of toilette, I thought too fine to be worn, except on first rate occasions.

Mrs. FAIRFAX – Here is Miss Eyre, sir.

ROCHESTER – Let Miss Eyre be seated.

JANE – (Voiceover.) I sat down, quite disembarrassed. A reception of finished politeness would probably have confused me; but harsh caprice such as this laid me under no obligation. (Mrs. Fairfax pointedly clears her throat.) The eccentricity of the proceedings was piquant: I simply studied my traveller of the night before.

Mrs. FAIRFAX – Pray, accept my condolences, sir, on the pressures of business you have had to endure today; particularly, as your ankle must have pained you. (Sits down, next to Adèle and Jane.)

JANE – (Voiceover.) Clearly, Mrs. Fairfax’s kindly but trite observations pained him more.

ROCHESTER – Madam, I should like some tea.

Mrs. FAIRFAX – Oh! Of course, sir! (Rises to ring bell.)

ROCHESTER – You have been resident of my house three months?... Miss Eyre?

JANE – Yes, sir.

ADÈLE – (Rising.) N’est-ce pas, Monsieur de Rochester, qu’il y a un cadeau...?

ROCHESTER – Mrs. Fairfax, have the goodness to amuse this child! She thinks of naught but presents!

Mrs. FAIRFAX – Come, Adèle. (Both go to the table.)

ROCHESTER – Do you expect a present, Miss Eyre?

JANE – No, sir, I have little experience of them. Unlike Adèle, I have less confidence in my deserts; and no claim, being a stranger to you.

ROCHESTER – Oh, don’t fall back on over modesty! I have examined Adèle, (enters Leah, with a tea tray: puts it on the table) and find you have taken great pains with her: she has no talents, but she has made much improvement. (Leah curtseys to Mrs. Fairfax, and exits.)

JANE – Sir, you have given me my present; the meed teachers covet most: praise at their pupil’s progress.

ROCHESTER – Hmm. And you come from? Where?

JANE – Lowood School, sir, in the West Riling.

ROCHESTER – Ah, a charitable concern. How long were you there?

JANE – Eight years.

ROCHESTER – Eight?! You must be tenacious of life! I would have thought half the time in such a place would have done up any constitution! No wonder you have the look of another world. (Mrs. Fairfax hands a cup of tea to Rochester.) Oh, bring Miss Eyre her cup too, if you please.

Mrs. FAIRFAX – Adela... (Adèle brings a cup of tea to Jane; Mrs. Fairfax picks her own cup of tea, and sits next to Adèle and Jane.)

ROCHESTER – When you came on me in Hay Lane last night, I thought unaccountably of fairy tales: I had half a mind to demand whether you had bewitched my horse. Had you?

JANE – No, sir.

ROCHESTER – Promptly spoken! Do I believe you! Who are your parents?

JANE – I have none.

ROCHESTER – Nor ever had, I suppose. Do you remember them?

JANE – No, sir.

ROCHESTER – I thought not. So, you were waiting for your people when I saw you in the lane?

JANE – (Puzzled.) For whom, sir?

ROCHESTER – For the men in green: it was a proper moonlight evening for them. Did I break through one of your rings that you spread that damned ice on the causeway?

JANE – The men in green all forsook England a hundred years ago. Not even in Hay Lane or the fields about it would you find a trace of them. (Mrs. Fairfax, seeming wondering what sort of talk that is.) I don’t think summer, harvest or winter moon will ever shine on their revels more.

ROCHESTER – (Gasps.) So, no kinsfolk of any sort?

JANE – No, sir.

ROCHESTER – No aunts, uncles, cousins?

JANE – No.

ROCHESTER – Who recommended you to come here?

JANE – I advertised, and Mrs. Fairfax answered my advertisement.

Mrs. FAIRFAX – (Smiling.) Yes, and I am daily thankful for the choice Providence lead me to make. Miss Eyre has been an invaluable companion to me, and a kind and careful teacher to Adèle.

ROCHESTER – Oh, don’t trouble yourself to give her a character: (handing Mrs. Fairfax his cup of tea) I shall judge for myself. She began by felling my horse!

Mrs. FAIRFAX – Sir?!

ROCHESTER – I have to thank her for this sprain!

Mrs. FAIRFAX – Oh, I’m sure not!

ROCHESTER – Oh, but I am.

ADÈLE – Monsieur de Rochester, vous m’avez promis...

ROCHESTER – Mrs. Fairfax, I charged you to amuse Adèle!

Mrs. FAIRFAX – Oh, yes! Come, come, child.

ROCHESTER – I cannot endure her prattle: too like her mother! (Mrs. Fairfax and Adèle put the cups of tea on the tray at the table, and go to sit elsewhere.) Miss Eyre, have you ever lived in a town? (Enters Leah, collects the tea tray, and exits.)

JANE – No, sir.

ROCHESTER – Have you seen much of society?

JANE – None but the pupils and teachers at Lowood, and now the inmates of Thornfield.

ROCHESTER – Hmm. Have you read much?

JANE – Only such books as came my way; and they have not been numerous or very learned.

ROCHESTER – You have lived the life of a nun! No doubt you are well drilled in religious forms: Brocklehurst, who I understand directs Lowood, is a parson, is he not?

JANE – Yes.

ROCHESTER – You girls probably worshipped him, as a convent of religieuses would worship their director.

JANE – Oh, no!

ROCHESTER – You are very cool! No? What! a novice not worship her priest? That sounds blasphemous.

JANE – He starved us when he had sole superintendence of the school, before the committee was appointed; and he bored us with long lectures, once a week. He is a harsh man, at once pompous and meddling. I disliked him, (Rochester, gazing at Jane; Mrs. Fairfax and Adèle, holding a yarn, listening) and I was not alone in the feeling.

Mrs. FAIRFAX – (To Adèle.) Hold it straight, child, hold it straight! Tsk-tsk!

ROCHESTER – How old are you, Miss Eyre?

JANE – Eighteen, sir.

ROCHESTER – Hmm. A point difficult to fix in your case: such freshness of feature allied to so decisive a spirit. Now, what did you learn in school? Can you play the piano?

JANE – A little, sir.

ROCHESTER – The established answer. Go into the library... I mean: if you please. You must excuse my tone of command; I am used to saying: “Do this”, and it is done. I cannot alter my customary habits for one new inmate of Thornfield. Take a candle with you; leave the door open; sit down at the piano, and play a tune.

Jane departs, obeying Rochester’s directions.

ROCHESTER – (Off scene.) Enough! (Jane stops playing.) You play like any other English schoolgirl. (Jane returns to the drawing room.) Perhaps you play better than some schoolgirls, but not well.

JANE – I said I played a little, sir.

ROCHESTER – Yes... Adèle showed me some sketches this morning: she said they were yours. I don’t know whether they were entirely your doing; probably a master aided you.

JANE – No, indeed!

ROCHESTER – Ah! That pricks pride. Well, fetch your portfolio, if you can vouch for its contents being original. (As Jane is exiting.) I warn you: I can recognize patchwork.

JANE – (Walking through the hall.) (Voiceover.) I did not doubt him: he seemed at great pains to expose his worldliness to my inexperience.

Grace Poole, coming downstairs, with a food tray: passes by Jane, staring at her.

 

Somewhat later.

The drawing room: Rochester, on the couch, handling some drawings; Mrs. Fairfax and Adèle, standing, looking at them, behind and over him; Jane, standing also, in front of him.

ROCHESTER – No crowding. Mrs. Fairfax, take these others to the table: you may look at them with Adèle.

Mrs. FAIRFAX – Thank you.

ROCHESTER – (To Jane.) Where did you get your copies?

JANE – Out of my head, sir.

ROCHESTER – That head I see on your shoulders?

JANE – I have no other.

ROCHESTER – Has it more furniture of the same kind within?

JANE – I should think it may have: I should hope better.

ROCHESTER – Hmm. Did you sit long each day painting these?

JANE – Yes, it was the vacation; and I sat at them from morning to noon, and from noon to night: the length of the midsummer days favoured my inclination to apply.

ROCHESTER – And were you happy?

JANE – I was absorbed, sir: yes, I was happy. To paint them was to enjoy one of the keenest pleasures I have ever known.

ROCHESTER – Humph! That is not saying much. Your pleasures, by your own account, have been few. Hmm, I daresay you did exist in a kind of artist’s dreamland. Did you feel self-satisfied with these results of your long labours?

JANE – Far from it. (Sitting down.) I was tormented by my idea and my handiwork: in each case I had imagined something... something I was quite powerless to realize.

ROCHESTER – Not quite: you secured the shadow of your thou-ght, but you were not enough skilled to give it full being; yet, these are, for a schoolgirl, peculiar. As to the thoughts, they are elfish. And who taught you to paint wind? There is a high gale in that sky. And that hilltop is Latmos. Where did you see Latmos? (Rochester gazes at Jane: she looks at him.) There! (Rises.) Put them away! (Clock chimes: Rochester takes out his pocket watch and looks at it.) It is nine o’clock! What are you about, Miss Eyre, to let Adèle sit up so long? Take her to bed. I wish you all good night.

ADÈLE – (Meaning to kiss Rochester.) Bon soir, cher Monsieur de Rochester.

ROCHESTER – Off with you!

Rochester goes to the liquor table, to pour himself some brandy. Exit Adèle, Jane and Mrs. Fair-fax: Adèle runs to Sophie, upstairs.

ADÈLE – Il ne m’a pas encore donné mon cadeau, Sophie!

SOPHIE – Oh! Mais ça ne fait rien, ma chérie. Il te donnera demain...

ADÈLE – J’espère bien!

Jane and Mrs. Fairfax go upstairs.

Mrs. FAIRFAX – I am so accustomed to his manner, I never think of it. You find him changeful and abrupt?

JANE – Very.

Mrs. FAIRFAX – No doubt to a stranger he would appear so. But allowances should be made.

JANE – Why?

Mrs. FAIRFAX – He has had family troubles, which no doubt ha-rass him.

JANE – But he has no family.

Mrs. FAIRFAX – Not now: he lost both his father and his elder brother a few years since.

JANE – His elder brother?

Mrs. FAIRFAX – Yes. The present Mr. Rochester has not been long in possession of the property: some nine years.

JANE – But nine years is a tolerable time. Was he so very fond of his brother as to be inconsolable at his loss?

Mrs. FAIRFAX – Well, perhaps not. I believe there were some misunderstandings between them. His brother, Mr. Rowland Rochester, was not quite just to our Mr. Edward; and perhaps he prejudiced his father against him. The old gentleman was fond of money, and anxious to keep the family estate together. He did not like to diminish the property by division, and yet he was anxious that Mr. Edward should have wealth, too; so, soon after he came of age, some steps were taken which were not quite fair to Mr. Edward, and greatly affected his future.

JANE – In what way?

Mrs. FAIRFAX – I have never clearly known. He broke with his family, lead an unsettled life. I don’t think he has been resident here for a fortnight together since he became master of the estate: he shuns the old place.

JANE – But why should he shun it?

Mrs. FAIRFAX – Perhaps he finds it gloomy. Good night, Miss Eyre.

Exits Mrs. Fairfax; Jane goes to her bedroom. Off scene: a demoniac laugh, again. Jane looks at the upstairs hallway, intrigued; then, enters her bedroom.

 

Another day.

The premises: Jane and Adèle, walking by; horse riders, coming up, Rochester amongst them.

ADÈLE – Monsieur de Rochester! Monsieur de Rochester!

JANE – (Voiceover.) Sometimes he acknowledged my presence, sometimes not. His changes of mood did not offend me because I saw that I had nothing to do with their alteration.

ADÈLE – He did not see me...

JANE – Oh, he had company. Adèle, you must not cry.

ADÈLE – He is not my friend anymore; and next time I see him, I won’t see him!

 

Evening.

The drawing room: a large blue box, on the liquor table; Rochester, standing by the fireside, having a brandy. Enter Adèle and Jane.

ADÈLE – (Running to the box.) Ma boite! Ma boite!

ROCHESTER – Yes, your “cadeau” at last, you genuine daughter of Paris: take it into a corner, and amuse yourself disembowelling it. And don’t bother me with any of the anatomical details now, nor the condition of the entrails. Tiens-toi tranquille, enfant! (Adèle retires to one of the couches with the box.) Come forward, Miss Eyre, why hang back? Be seated. (Placing a chair for Jane.) Old bachelor that I am, I do not care for the sole company of children. And don’t draw that chair further off; sit down exactly where I placed it... if you please, that is. (Jane obeys.) Confound these civilities, I am continually forgetting them. Nor do I affect simple minded old ladies; but it won’t do to neglect: Mrs. Fairfax. (Rings bell.) I daresay you believe in propriety, Miss Eyre: you have not spoken once.

JANE – No, sir.

ROCHESTER – Why not?

JANE – You did not appear to require an answer, until now.

Enters Mrs. Fairfax.

ROCHESTER – Madam, I send to you to a charitable purpose. I have forbidden Adèle to talk to me about her presents, and she is bursting with repletion; have the goodness to entertain and absorb her enthusiasms; it will be one of the most benevolent acts you have ever performed.

Mrs. FAIRFAX – With pleasure, sir.

ADÈLE – (Rising, with the box.) Mrs. Fairfax, please, you must help me!

Mrs. FAIRFAX – Oh, yes, child, yes!

Mrs. Fairfax goes with Adèle to the couch. Jane draws her chair backwards.

ROCHESTER – (Turning to Jane.) Now, having performed the part of host, I ought to be at liberty to attend to my own pleasures. (Sits down.) Miss Eyre, you are yet too far back. I cannot see you without disturbing my position in this comfortable chair, which I have no mind to do. (Jane draws her chair forward.) Yes, there. You have been examining me all this while, have you not? Do not demur, you have. Well, do you find me handsome?

JANE – Oh, no, sir.

ROCHESTER – Ah! By my word, there is something singular about you! You have the air of a little nonnette, quaint, quiet, grave; you sit there, your hands before you, and your eyes generally bent upon the carpet, except just now when they were directed piercingly to my face; and when one asks a question or makes a remark to which you are bound to reply, you rap out a rejoinder, which, if not blunt, is at least brusque. What do you mean by it?

JANE – Sir, I was too plain. I beg your pardon.

ROCHESTER – Do you? Hmm!

JANE – I ought to have replied that it is not easy to give an impromptu answer about appearances; that tastes mostly differ, and that beauty is of little consequence; something of that sort...

ROCHESTER – You ought to have replied no such thing! Beauty of little consequence?! So, instead of softening the previous outrage, of stroking and soothing me into placidity, you stick a sly penknife under my dear! Well, go on: what fault do you find with me, pray? I suppose I have all my limbs and features, like any other man.

JANE – Mr. Rochester, allow me to disown my first answer; I intended no pointed repartee: it was only a blunder.

ROCHESTER – Just so, and you shall be answerable for it. (Rises, to get more brandy.)

JANE – (Voiceover.) “Decidedly he has had too much wine”, I thought. He was more expansive and genial than in his frigid and rigid temper of the mornings. He still looked preciously grim, however.

ROCHESTER – Criticize me: does my forehead please you or not? Is it low enough to prove me a fool?

JANE – Far from it, sir. (Rochester sits down.) You would perhaps think me rude if I enquired in return whether those bumps indicate that you are a philanthropist.

ROCHESTER – There, again! Another stick of the penknife, when she pretended to pat my head; and that because, low be it spoken, I said I did not like the society of children and old women. No, young lady, I am not a general philanthropist, though I do bear a conscience, and I once had a kind of rude tenderness of heart when I was as... as old as you; but Fortune has since kneaded me with her knuckles, and now I flatter myself I am as tough as an Indian rubber ball, but with one point of feeling left in the middle of the lump. Yes... (Gazing at Jane.) Does that leave hope for me?

JANE – Hope of what, sir?

ROCHESTER – A puzzled air becomes you, though you are no more pretty than I am handsome. Miss Eyre, you puzzled me the first evening I invited you down. I had almost forgotten you since: other ideas have driven yours from my head; but tonight I am resolved to be at ease, gregarious, communicative, to dismiss what importunes and to recall what pleases. It would please me now to draw you out, to learn more of you: therefore, speak.

JANE – (Voiceover.) Instead of speaking, I smiled; and not a very submissive smile, either.

ROCHESTER – Speak.

JANE – What about, sir?

ROCHESTER – Whatever you like. I leave the choice of subject and the manner of treating it entirely to yourself. (Rises.)

JANE – (Voiceover.) Accordingly I sat and said nothing. “If he expects me to talk for the mere sake of talking and showing off, he will find he has addressed the wrong person.”

ROCHESTER – You are dumb, Miss Eyre.

ADÈLE – Qu’elle est belle! (Exits with a pink frock, observed by Rochester. Mrs. Fairfax giggles.)

ROCHESTER – (Looking at Jane.) Hmm! Stubborn... and annoyed. It is consistent. Miss Eyre, I beg your pardon. The fact is I don’t wish to treat you as an inferior; or, at least, I only claim such superiority as must result from twenty years difference in age and a century’s advance in experience. That is legitimate, surely.

JANE – (Voiceover.) He had designed an explanation, almost an apology: to such I would reply. (Aloud.) Sir, I am willing to amuse you if I can; but I cannot introduce a topic, since I do not know what will interest you. Ask me questions, and I will do my best to answer.

ROCHESTER – Yes, I shall. In the first place, do you agree that my superiority in age and experience grants me the right to be a little masterful, abrupt sometimes?

JANE – Do as you please, sir.

ROCHESTER – Oh! That is no answer: at least, if it is, it is irritating and evasive. Reply clearly.

JANE – I do not think you have the right to command me merely because you are older than I.

ROCHESTER – (Surprised.) Do you not?

JANE – No, nor because you have seen more of the world than I have: your claim to superiority must depend on the use you have made of that time and experience.

ROCHESTER – Hmm! Pointedly spoken! But it will never suit my case to allow it, since I have made an indifferent, not to say bad, use of both advantages. Well, leaving superiority to one side, do you agree to receive my orders without being piqued by the tone of com-mand?

JANE – (Smiling.) (Voiceover.) Mr. Rochester was certainly peculiar: he seemed to forget he paid me thirty pounds per annum for receiving his orders.

ROCHESTER – The smile is all very well, but speak too.

JANE – I was thinking that few masters would trouble to inquire whether their paid subordinates were hurt or piqued by their orders, sir...

ROCHESTER – Paid subordinates?! (Looks at Mrs. Fairfax: Mrs. Fairfax looks at Rochester.) I had forgotten your salary! (Sits down.) Well, on that mercenary ground, will you agree to let me hector you a little?

JANE – No, not on that ground; but on the other, that you did forget the salary and that you do care whether or not a dependent is comfortable in his dependency, I agree heartily.

ROCHESTER – Then you consent to dispense with a great many conventional forms and phrases, without thinking the omission arises from insolence?

JANE – Oh, I am sure, sir, I should never mistake informality for insolence: one, I rather like; the other, nothing freeborn would submit to, even for a salary.

ROCHESTER – Humbug! Most things freeborn will submit to anything for a salary.

JANE – That may be your experience, sir: it will not be mine.

ROCHESTER – You venture on generalities, of which you are intensely ignorant: keep them to yourself! (Pause.) But I mentally shake hands with you for your answer, despite its inaccuracy. Not three in three thousand raw schoolgirl governesses would have answered me as you have just done. Stupid coarse-minded misunderstanding is the usual reward of candour – or affectation –: your manner was frank and sincere. But I don’t want to flatter you; if you are cast in a different mould from the majority, it is no merit of yours: Nature did it.

JANE – Oh, of course, sir, naturally...

ROCHESTER – (Gazing at Jane.) Ah! The penknife, again!... Perhaps I go too fast in my conclusions about you: for all I yet know, you may have intolerable defects to counterbalance your good points.

JANE – (Voiceover.) “And so may you”, I thought. (Turns her head to see what time it is.) (Aloud, rising.) Sir, it is past Adèle’s bedtime.

ROCHESTER – But she is gone.

JANE – But she would not go where...

ROCHESTER – And I can tell you where and what to do: (rising) her “toilette”, as she calls it. She pulled out of the box, a few moments ago, a pink frock; (picks up the box) rapture lit her face; coquetry runs in her blood, blends with her brains and seasons the marrow of her bones. (Throws down the box to the couch.) She is now with Sophie, undergoing a robbing process: soon, she will re-enter, a miniature of her mother, Céline Varens, as she used to appear on the boards of the rising of... But never mind that. However, my tenderest feelings are about to receive a shock: I require you, if you will, to help me support it.

JANE – Is that an order, sir?

ROCHESTER – Yes... but put as considerately as I am able.

JANE – Then I will stay.

ROCHESTER – Thank you. (Jane sits down on a couch.) You were thinking that I too might have defects, were you not? Ah, yes, I begin to read you, Miss Eyre. You are right, I have plenty. Like other defaulters, I like to lay the blame on ill fortune, adverse circumstances. I was thrust on the wrong track at one and twenty, and have never recovered the right course since. (Sitting down, next to Jane.) I envy you your peace of mind, your unpolluted memory, your clean conscience.

JANE – How was your memory when you were eighteen, sir?

ROCHESTER – Limpid: no gush of bilge water had turned it into a fetid puddle. I was your equal at eighteen, quite your equal, Miss Eyre. You would say I should have been superior to my circumstances: at least, I see as much in your eye. Beware, by the way, what you express with that organ: I am quick to interpret its language. (Jane bends her eyes to the floor.) And so, I should have been superior to my circumstances, but I was not. When fate wronged me, I had not the wisdom to remain cool: I turned desperate; then, degenerate. Dread remorse, when you are tempted to err: remorse is the poison of life, Miss Eyre.

JANE – Repentance is said to be its cure.

ROCHESTER – Reformation, maybe... Yes, what is the use of thinking of it, burdened, cursed as I am... But, since happiness is denied me, I have the right to get pleasure out of life; and I will get it, cost what it may.

JANE – Then you will degenerate still more, sir.

ROCHESTER – Possibly... Yet, why should I, when I can get fresh sweet pleasure, as sweet and fresh as the honey that the wild bee gathers on the moor?

JANE – It will sting: it will taste bitter.

ROCHESTER – How do you know? You have never tried it.

JANE – I only remind you of your own words: you said error brings remorse.

ROCHESTER – Who talks of error now? I scarcely think the notion that flitted across my mind was an error. No, it is an inspiration, not a temptation: (rising) no devil; or, if it be, it has put on the robes of an angel of light.

JANE – It is not a true angel, sir: distrust it.

ROCHESTER – No! I must admit... so fair a guest to my heart! “Come in, bonny wanderer!” (Embraces an invisible being. Mrs. Fairfax looks at him.)

JANE – To speak truth, sir, I don’t understand you at all.

ROCHESTER – (Laughing.) I am sure not! Yet, from this moment, Miss Eyre, my pursuits and associates will be other, better than they have been. I know now what my aim is, and what my motives are; (sitting down elsewhere) and I pass a law, unalterable, that both are right.

JANE – They cannot be, sir, if they require a new statute to legalize them.

ROCHESTER – Unheard-of circumstances demand unheard-of rules.

JANE – A dangerous maxim: one can see at once it is liable to abuse. We are human and fallible, sir; and should not arrogate a power...

ROCHESTER – Power? What power?

JANE – That of saying of any strange, unsanctioned line of action: “Let it be right”. Such power belongs only... to God.

ROCHESTER – “Let it be right”! The very words: you have pronounced them! (Jane bends her eyes to the floor.) You shrink, Miss Eyre: are you afraid of me because I talk like a sphinx?

JANE – You are enigmatical, sir: your words bewilder me; but I am not afraid.

ROCHESTER – You are; you are: your self love dreads a blunder.

JANE – In that sense, I do feel apprehensive: I have no wish to talk nonsense.

ROCHESTER – If you did, it would be in such a quiet grave manner I should probably mistake it for sense. Do you never laugh, Miss Eyre? (Jane looks at Rochester.) Believe me, you are not naturally austere: your schooling clings to you; but I believe in time you will be natural with me. I see in you, at intervals, a vivid restless soul, now caged about with closed set bars; but, were it set free, it would soar cloud high.

Enters Adèle.

ADÈLE – Est-ce-que ma robe me va bien? Et mes souliers?

ROCHESTER – The deuce...

ADÈLE – Tenez, je crois que je vais dancer. (Twirls, and curtseys to Rochester.) Monsieur, je vous remercie mille fois de votre bonté. C’est comme cela que Maman faisait, n’est-ce pas, Monsieur?

ROCHESTER – Precisely! And, comme cela, your mother char-med my English gold out of my British breeches pocket. (Rising abruptly.) Good night, ladies! (Exits.)

ADÈLE – (To Jane.) I took so much care to please him...

Exit all.

 

As she is going to her bedroom, Jane sees Rochester and Grace Poole talking to each other, at the upstairs hallway.

ROCHESTER – Good night, Grace.

GRACE POOLE – Good night, sir.

Jane goes on to her bedroom. Exits Grace Poole. Rochester stares after Jane.

JANE – (After closing her bedroom door.) (Voiceover.) Though Mr. Rochester talked strangely at times, I always felt I understood him: not in the mere matter of his words – there, I was frequently at a loss –, but in their innermost beginnings. His manner to Adèle certainly puzzled me: he appeared to abhor an object he had succoured; and his talk of his earlier life was an enigma still. He did not seem to be a good man, and yet...

 

Another day.

The schoolroom: Jane, at a window, standing; Adèle, at the desk, painting.

ADÈLE – Vous l’aimez?

JANE – Oui, c’est jolie. Mais... où est le nez?

Off scene: a demoniac laugh. Jane, intrigued, steps out to the hall: sees Leah, sweeping a carpet. Off scene: a demoniac laugh, again. Leah, disturbed, stops sweeping for a moment; Jane, more intrigued, turns to the upstairs hallway, walks through it, climbs some of the stairs, and looks up, as if in search for something. The hall: enters Mrs. Fairfax.

JANE – (Returning to the hall.) Did you hear that strange laugh, Mrs. Fairfax? It seemed to come from above; and then a door slammed.

Mrs. FAIRFAX – Leah and Grace Poole, probably.

JANE – But Leah is behind you.

Mrs. FAIRFAX – (Laughs.) Oh, so she is!

JANE – There is no... there is no ghost at Thornfield?

Mrs. FAIRFAX – None that I have ever heard of.

JANE – Nor any traditions of one? No... legends or stories?

Mrs. FAIRFAX – I believe not; though it is said that the Rochesters have been rather violent in their time.

Comes Grace Pool out of the upstairs hallway, with linen.

Mrs. FAIRFAX – Grace!

GRACE POOLE – Ma’am?

Mrs. FAIRFAX – (Glancing to Jane) Too much noise; remember your directions.

GRACE POOLE – Yes, Ma’am... (Dumps the linen, glances at Jane, and returns.)

JANE – Mrs. Poole sleeps above? I thought all the servants...

Mrs. FAIRFAX – She is not popular with the other servants; though she does well enough: plain sewing.

JANE – Would she laugh in that fashion?

Mrs. FAIRFAX – I daresay... Leah, take Mrs. Poole’s bedding down.

Exits Mrs. Fairfax: Leah curtseys, and obeys. Enters Adèle.

ADÈLE – Mademoiselle Jeanette, c’est fini. (Holds a painting of a bride to Jane.)

 

Another day.

The gardens: Rochester and Jane, walking by; Sophie and Adèle, nearby.

ROCHESTER – Her mother deceived me, as she deceived others before me. My rival for her costly charms was, I discovered, a young roué of a vicomte, brainless, vicious. I encountered him the following morning in the Bois de Boulogne, where I had the pleasure of leaving a bullet in one of his poor etiolated arms.

ADÈLE – Viens m’asseoir à la balançoise, Sophie.

JANE – And then you left Paris?

ROCHESTER – Yes. You will now doubtless think differently of your post and protégée: governess to the illegitimate offspring of a French opera girl.

JANE – No, Adèle is not answerable for her mother’s faults or yours, sir.

ROCHESTER – She is not my fault, Miss Eyre; I disclaim paternity: no blood of mind runs in that child’s veins. I am not her father; but her mother abandoned her to the slime and mud of Paris. I, merely for Charity’s sake, implanted her to grow up clean here. So, do you now beg me to look out for a new governess?

JANE – Why, sir? Which should I prefer? Some spoiled pet of a wealthy family who will despise her governess, or an orphan such as Adèle, abandoned by her mother and disowned by you?

ROCHESTER – Is that how you view it?

JANE – It is, sir.

ROCHESTER – Hmm... (Looking around.) I like this day: that sky of steel. I like Thornfield, its antiquity, its grey façade. And yet, how long have I abhorred the very thought of it, shunned it like a great plague house; how I do still abhor it, loathe it...

JANE – (Voiceover.) He was silent. Within him, pain – or was it shame and disgust? – seemed to hold a quivering conflict.

ROCHESTER – I will like it; I dare like it; I will break every obstacle to happiness, and, yes, to goodness. (Turning to Jane.) Forgive me, Miss Eyre, I was arranging a point with my destiny. She stood there like a witch: “You like Thornfield?” she said, pointing a finger; and then wrote in air, in lurid hieroglyphics, all along the house front: “Like it if you dare!”

JANE – And do you dare, sir?

ROCHESTER – I do.

JANE – Despite her warning?

ROCHESTER – Though hell should gape before me, Miss Eyre. Good day. (Walks away.)

JANE – (Voiceover.) And was Mr. Rochester now ugly in my eyes? No: the confidence he had thought fit to repose in me seemed a tribute to my discretion. His changes of mood, his harshnesses were never directed at me, but at his former faults and associates. Yet, what alienated him from the house? Would he leave again soon? Mrs. Fairfax said he rarely stayed longer than a fortnight: he had now remained eight weeks.

ADÈLE – (Off scene.) Mademoiselle Eyre! Mademoiselle Eyre!

 

Night.

Jane’s bedroom: Jane, getting ready to go to bed.

JANE – (Voiceover.) Suppose he were to go: how joyless Thornfield would become...

Jane goes to bed. Outside: hard fast breathing, shuffled steps.

JANE – Who is it? “Pilot”?

Outside: creaks. Jane gets into bed: clock chimes.

 

Later.

The same bedroom: Jane, in bed.

JANE – (Voiceover.) But sleep remained far from me that night, even though an unbroken hush, save the clock in the hall below, (clock chimes) now reigned throughout the house.

Outside: creaks. Jane rises. Outside: a low laugh.

JANE – (Rises.) Who is there?

Outside: the demoniac laugh; more creaks; a door slam.

JANE – (Getting out of the bed, and putting on a shawl.) (Voiceover.) Was that Grace Poole? Is she possessed with the devil?

Jane steps out of her bedroom: sees a candle on the floor, first; then, smoke coming out of Rochester’s bedroom, and runs to it.

Rochester’s bedroom: Rochester asleep, his bed in flames. Enters Jane.

JANE – Mr. Rochester! Wake! (Shakes him.) Wake, sir! (Picks his ewer and throws the water it has on him.)

ROCHESTER – Ah! Is there a flood?!

JANE – No, sir; but there is a fire! Get up!

Both Jane and Rochester put out the flames.

ROCHESTER – In the name of all the elves in Christendom, is that Jane Eyre? Have you plotted to burn or drown me?

JANE – I will fetch a candle, sir.

Exits Jane. Rochester opens a window, and puts on a robe. Re-enters Jane, with a candle.

ROCHESTER – What have you done with me, you witch?... (Picking the candle.) You sorceress?...

JANE – I heard a strange... laugh. I... Shall I call Mrs. Fairfax?

ROCHESTER – What the deuce could she do?

JANE – But you must discover who did it, sir!

ROCHESTER – Yes. Can you remain still, without a candle?

JANE – (Sitting down.) Yes, sir.

ROCHESTER – Don’t move or call anyone. I shall not be long.

Rochester steps out of his bedroom, down the hallway, and up the stairs.

 

Somewhat later.

The same bedroom: Jane feels cold, rises, and closes the open window.

JANE – (Voiceover.) I did not see the use of staying. I was on the point of risking Mr. Rochester’s displeasure by disobeying...

Enters Rochester.

ROCHESTER – I have found it all out; it is as I thought.

JANE – How, sir?

ROCHESTER – I forget whether you said you saw anything when you opened your door?

JANE – Only a candle.

ROCHESTER – But you heard an odd laugh? You have heard that laugh before, I should think, or something like it?

JANE – Yes, there is a woman who sews here, Grace Poole: she laughs in that fashion. She is a singular person.

ROCHESTER – Just so, you guessed it: Grace Poole. Now, you are no talking fool, are you? So, say nothing of this: I will account for it. Return to your room: I shall do very well on the sofa in the library.

JANE – Good night then, sir. (Means to go.)

ROCHESTER – What! You are quitting me already?

JANE – But you said I might go.

ROCHESTER – But not without a word or two of goodwill; not in that short, brief, dry fashion. Why, you saved my life, saved me from a horrible and excruciating death; and now you propose to go as if we were mutual strangers? At least, shake hands. (Takes her hand.) I have pleasure in owing you so immense a debt.

JANE – Good night, sir. There is no debt.

ROCHESTER – I knew... (Gazing at Jane.) I saw it in your eyes when I first beheld you...

JANE – What, sir?

ROCHESTER – That you would revive some goodness in me. Your eyes... their expression did not... did not strike delight to my inmost heart for nothing. People talk of natural sympathies: I have heard of good genii; and there are grains of truth in the wildest fable. My cherished preserver, good night... You are cold: go then...

JANE – I will sir, when you release my hand...

ROCHESTER – Your hand...

JANE – Good night, sir.

ROCHESTER – (Releasing her hand.) Yes. Good night. (Exits Jane.) Jane!...

Jane closes Rochester’s bedroom door behind her, and goes to her bedroom: as she begins to go, she looks back to the upstairs hallway, intrigued.

 

 

 

PART THREE

 

The following morning.

The premises: Rochester, riding away, followed by “Pilot”.

JANE – (Voiceover.) Mr. Rochester had already departed, and I did not know it.

Rochester’s bedroom: John and Leah, removing some of the (burned) linen. Enters Mrs. Fairfax.

Mrs. FAIRFAX – It was a mercy he was not burnt where he lay.

LEAH – It’s a wonder that master waked nobody.

Exit all.

 

Later.

The same bedroom. Enters Jane: Grace Poole, sewing; Leah, cleaning a window.

JANE – (Voiceover.) There she sat: her commonplace features betraying no mark of a woman who had attempted murder.

GRACE POOLE – Good morning, Miss.

JANE – Good morning, Grace. (Voiceover.) “I will put her to the test”, I thought. “Such absolute impenetrability is past comprehension.” (Aloud.) What has happened here?

GRACE POOLE – Master was reading in bed last night. He fell asleep with the candle lit, and the curtains got on fire.

LEAH – But luckily he awoke just in time...

GRACE POOLE – ...and contrived to quench the flames with a jug of water.

JANE – Strange! Did he wake no one? Did no one hear the disturbance?

GRACE POOLE – The servants sleep too far off, Miss. Mrs. Fairfax’s room and yours are the nearest. Did you not hear anything? I should say you were a light sleeper, Miss.

JANE – Yes, I did; and, at first, I thought it was his dog, “Pilot”. But “Pilot” cannot laugh.

GRACE POOLE – It’s hardly likely master would have laughed when in such danger, Miss; you must have been dreaming.

JANE – (With warmth.)  I was not!

GRACE POOLE – You did not think to open your door and look into the gallery?

JANE – (Voiceover.) She was cross-questioning me! And I realized if she discovered I knew her guilt, she could well play off some of her malignancy upon my person. (Aloud.) Oh, on the contrary, I bolted my door.

GRACE POOLE – You do not always do that?

JANE – Hitherto, I have not, I was not aware of any danger to be dreaded; but, in future, I shall.

GRACE POOLE – A wise precaution, Miss. This neighbourhood is as quiet as any I have known, and I have never heard of the Hall being attacked by robbers, though there are hundreds of pounds worth of plate here, as is well known; but I have always thought it best to err on the safe side, and a door is soon fastened.

JANE – (Voiceover.) Her self-possession struck me dumb. Such hypocrisy verged upon the miraculous or the lunatic.

Enters Mrs. Fairfax.

Mrs. FAIRFAX – Ah, Grace. Good morning, Miss Jane. Grace, the servant’s dinner is ready: are you coming down?

GRACE POOLE – No, thank you, Ma’am. If cook will put my pint of porter and a bit of pudding on a tray, I’ll take it upstairs. (Exits.)

Mrs. FAIRFAX – Leah? (Leah curtseys, and exits.) You look flushed, Miss Jane: are you feverish?

JANE – Oh, no! I am perfectly well.

Mrs. FAIRFAX – Grace Poole told you of the fire.

JANE – Oh, yes, indeed, she did.

Mrs. FAIRFAX – Hmm! I thank Providence Mr. Rochester awoke in time. (Approaches the window.) Ah, the mist is cleared: he will have a favourable day for his journey.

JANE – Journey! Is Mr. Rochester gone anywhere? I... I did not know he was out.

Mrs. FAIRFAX – He set out the moment he had breakfasted. He is gone to Mr. Eshton’s place: the Leas, ten miles beyond Millcote. Quite a party is assembled there, I believe: Lord Ingram, Sir George Lynn...

JANE – But do you expect him back tonight?

Mrs. FAIRFAX – No; nor tomorrow, either. Oh, Mr. Rochester is a general favourite in society. The ladies are very fond of him, (sitting down) though you would not think that his appearance was calculated to recommend him particularly in their eyes.

JANE – There are ladies at the Leas? Of course...

Mrs. FAIRFAX – Well, they will be, hmm, Mrs. Eshton and her three daughters... the honourable Blanche and Mary Ingram... Blanche is the belle of every ball in the county.

JANE – She is greatly admired?

Mrs. FAIRFAX – Oh, indeed! She is so tall, so graceful; raven hair; with eyes as brilliant as her jewels; and so accomplished: she plays and sings superbly.

JANE – And Miss Ingram is not yet married? (Mrs. Fairfax looks at Jane.) Oh, no, no, of course she could not be...

Mrs. FAIRFAX – Are you sure you are not feverish, Miss Jane?

JANE – No... I wonder no wealthy gentleman has taken a fancy to her. Mr. Rochester, for instance, he is rich is he not?

Mrs. FAIRFAX – Oh, yes! But there is a considerable difference in age: Mr. Rochester is nearly forty; Miss Ingram, but twenty-five.

Enters Adèle.

ADÈLE – Ah, vous voilà, Mesdames! Le déjeuner est servi: vous pouvez venir.

Exit all, down the stairs: Adèle, singing in French; Jane, lagging behind.

JANE – (Voiceover.) Already I pronounced judgment upon myself. A greater fool than Jane Eyre had never breathed the breath of life: to have imagined myself a favourite of his.

Mrs. FAIRFAX – I should not be surprised if Mr. Rochester went straight from the Leas to London, and from there to the Continent. He has often quitted Thornfield quite as abruptly, and not shown his face again here for a year.

ADÈLE – (Picking Mrs. Fairfax’s hand.) J’ai faim, moi.

JANE – (Voiceover.) Had a more fantastic idiot than I ever surfeited herself on sweet lies, or swallowed poison as if it were nectar? To ha-ve derived pleasure from the occasional, equivocal tokens of preference shown by a gentleman to a dependent, a governess; to have imagined love, where there was mere carelessness; to let it kindle. (Sighs; retreats to her bedroom.) (Afterwards: finishing two portraits.) I made a vow; and, in a fortnight, I had accomplished a wholesome discipline to which I forced my feelings to submit. The sentence I pronounced upon myself for my blind, puppyish imaginings towards Mr. Rochester was to paint two portraits: one of (aloud, while signing the portrait) “A Governess, Disconnected, Poor, and Plain”; (voiceover) and the other? This other, I shall call: “Blanche, An Accomplished Lady of Rank”.

 

Another day.

The premises: Rochester and his guests, arriving.

Jane’s bedroom: Jane, signing the second portrait. Enters Adèle, excited.

ADÈLE – Mademoiselle! Mademoiselle! They are come! Monsieur de Rochester and all the ladies!

JANE – Adèle, how many times have I told you to knock?

ADÈLE – Mais ils sont arrivés!

JANE – (Rises.) Oh, very well. We will go, and see them coming from the gallery.

Both step out.

 

The entrance hall: Mrs. Fairfax, waiting. Sam, the footman, opens the door: enter Rochester and his guests.

BLANCHE – Oh, it is just as I remember it. Clearly, you do not believe in change, Signior Eduardo.

ROCHESTER – Neither of the hearts affections nor of places, Donna Bianca.

Blanche Ingram and other ladies laugh. Jane and Adèle seeing them, upstairs.

ADÈLE – I must go down!

JANE – No, Adèle.

ADÈLE – (Escaping downstairs.) I cannot stay!

ROCHESTER – Mrs. Fairfax: Mrs. Eshton, the Honourable Miss Blanche Ingram.

Mrs. FAIRFAX – It is a pleasure to see you again, Miss Ingram, Mrs. Eshton.

ROCHESTER – My housekeeper will show you to your rooms.

Lady INGRAM – Come along, girls.

The party climbs upstairs: Jane flees.

 

Evening.

Mrs. Fairfax finds Jane sewing in the schoolroom.

Mrs. FAIRFAX – Oh, there you are, Miss Jane. Oh, what a to-do! The house has not seen such company for years. Oh, I am fashed, as they say! (Sighs.) Still, now that they are all gone down, (sitting down) I can rest a little. You are requested in the drawing room after dinner, and Adèle.

JANE – I? Oh, I need not go, surely.

Mrs. FAIRFAX – Well, I did observe to Mr. Rochester that you are unused to company...

JANE – Yes, indeed, I am.

Mrs. FAIRFAX – ...and that I did not think you would like appearing before so gay a party; but he replied in his quick way, you know: “Nonsense! If she objects, tell her it is my particular wish; and, if she resists, say that I will come and fetch her!”

JANE – (Rises.) Shall you be there?

Mrs. FAIRFAX – Oh, no, I pleaded off, and he agreed.

JANE – But I have to go...

Mrs. FAIRFAX – He was determined you should. If you wish to avoid making a formal entrance, which is quite the most disagreeable part of the business, you must slip into the drawing room while they are all at dinner, and choose your seat in any nook you like.

 

After dinner.

The drawing room: Jane, sitting down, sewing; Adèle, listening at the door, excited.

ADÈLE – Ils arrivent! Ils arrivent! (Sits down, next to Jane.)

Enter the ladies.

AMY ESHTON – No, Louisa, I never liked him one jot!

LOUISA ESHTON – You did.

AMY ESHTON – No, I did not like him! He is a coarse fellow!

LOUISA ESHTON – She did, did she not, Mama?

Mrs. ESHTON – Who, dear?

LOUISA ESHTON – Why, John Reed of Gateshead! Did you not hear, Mama? (Jane raises her eyes from her sewing.) Papa said that we...

Mrs. ESHTON – Oh, my dear, I stopped listening to your father years ago.

Mrs. LYNN – (To Lady Ingram.) ...there was no restraining hand on the indulgences of the young Duke...

Lady INGRAM – (Looking around the room.) I knew it: a bachelor’s rustic drawing room.

BLANCHE – It seems, Mrs. Dent, that you have not sufficiently studied the science of Botany.

Mrs. DENT – Not at all; I simply like flowers, especially wild ones. (Blanche and Mary Ingram laugh.)

ADÈLE – (Curtseys to Mrs. Lynn.) Vous êtes-la bienvenue, Madame.

Mrs. LYNN – Et toi, ma petite! (Takes Adèle by the hand.)

Lady INGRAM - Ah! Qu’elle est charmante!

Mrs. LYNN – (Going with Adèle to take a seat.) Quelle jolie robe!

BLANCHE – But, Mrs. Dent, how can one like what one is too ignorant to name?

MARY INGRAM – Blanche, you are confusing Mrs. Dent! (Laughs.)

BLANCHE – But how can one? I must hear.

Mrs. DENT – Well, I... I cannot tell.

Lady INGRAM – One would know if one preferred a lily to a dandelion. (Acknowledges Jane’s presence: gives her a haughty look.)

AMY ESHTON – (About Adèle.) Isn’t she a love of a child?

Mrs. LYNN – Quite a little puppet; and such a pretty dress.

ADÈLE – (Curtseys.) Merci beaucoup, Madame.

JANE – (Voiceover.) I confess I regarded Blanche Ingram with special interest. First, to see whether she resembled at all the imagined miniature I painted of her: in many points she did. (Blanche Ingram acknowledges Jane’s presence: gives her also a haughty look.) And, secondly – it will out! –, to discover if she was such as I should fancy likely to suit Mr. Rochester’s taste: I could not tell. But, to me, she appeared remarkably self-conscious.

BLANCHE – Where are the gentlemen? I cannot stand female company, so insipid. Mr. Rochester said they would be out in a moment.

Enter the gentlemen: in last, Mr. Rochester and two others.

YOUNG ESHTON – What a splendid piece of horseflesh! And you refuse to wager, Ingram?

“TEDO” INGRAM – Well, at such odds, who would not? Oh, Miss Eshton, I dare swear, your colour has risen. Has Miss Louisa been trailing you?

AMY ESHTON – Oh, a little; she likes to...

“TEDO” INGRAM – Well, give thanks you have not fallen prey to my sister Blanche: she is a cruel tease.

COLONEL DENT – An ill-considered reform, sir, which I fear the Tories will live to repent. What say you, Rochester?

ROCHESTER – I detest politics: the calculated clashings of opposed party interests; rutting stags, battling for the doubtful favours of a docile public...

BLANCHE – Signior Eduardo?

ROCHESTER – (Turning.) Donna Bianca!

BLANCHE – (After handling Rochester a cup of coffee.)  I thought you detested children.

ROCHESTER – Usually, yes.

BLANCHE – But how did you come to take upon such a little doll as that? Where did you pick her up?

ROCHESTER – She was left on my hands.

BLANCHE – Oh! You should have sent her to school.

ROCHESTER – I could not afford to, Donna Bianca.

BLANCHE – Really? No, you tease! I suppose you have a governess for her. I thought I saw a person just now. Is she gone?... (Jane shrinks.) No, she is still there... I would have thought it quite as expensive. (Jane looks at both.)

ROCHESTER – I have not considered the subject.

BLANCHE – No, you men never do! Oh, you should hear Mama on the subject of governesses. Mary and I have had a dozen: half of them detestable, and the rest ridiculous. All incubi, were they not, Mama?

Lady INGRAM – Did you speak, my own?

BLANCHE – Of governesses, Mama.

Lady INGRAM – Oh, don’t, dearest! I have suffered martyrdoms from their incompetency and caprice.

Mrs. DENT – We do have Miss Adèle’s governess here with us, you know? (Jane looks at the ladies.)

Lady INGRAM – (Looking at Jane.) Tant pis! Let her hear what she will, it may do her good! I am a judge of physiognomy, and in her I see all the faults of her class.

ROCHESTER – And what are they, Madam?

Lady INGRAM – Oh, ask Blanche: she is as good a judge as I am.

BLANCHE – Oh, I have only one word to say of the whole tribe: they are a nuisance, lachrymose, low-spirited creatures.

ROCHESTER – I see.

BLANCHE – Signior Eduardo? I move the introduction of a new topic.

ROCHESTER – And I second it, Donna Bianca.

BLANCHE – (Laughs.) Are you in good voice tonight?

ROCHESTER – If you command it.

Blanche sits at the piano.

BLANCHE – Here, then, is a Corsair song. (Plays.) Know that I dote on Corsairs. (Plays.) Banditti! (Plays.) Any man with the devil in him! (Plays.) Oh, young men of today! They are such puny things: they are not fit to stir a step beyond papa’s park gates; (glancing at “Tedo” Ingram) nor go so far without mama’s permission. (Young Eshton laughs; “Tedo” Ingram storms off; Rochester smiles.) Creatures so absorbed with care of their own pretty looks: as if a man had anything to do with beauty; as if loveliness were not the special prerogative of women. (Rochester bows to her.) (Looking at Jane.) I grant an ugly woman is a blot on the face of Creation; (Jane looks at Blanche Ingram, first; and, then, at Rochester) but, as to the gentleman, let them possess only strength to hunt, shoot, and fight: (laughs) the rest is not worth a fillip. (Plays.) Do you know it, Signior Eduardo?

ROCHESTER – How could I not, since it was you who taught me it?

BLANCHE – Then sing, con spirito! (Plays.)

ROCHESTER – (Singing.) My boat’s by the tower, my barque’s in the bay. / And both must be gone ere the dawn of the day. / The moon’s in her shroud but to guide thee afar, / On the deck of the Daring’s a love-lighted star. / Then wake, lady, wake, I am waiting for thee, / (Jane sighs, rises and exits.) And this night or never, my bride thou shalt be. / (Rochester follows Jane with his eyes.) Then wake, lady, wake, I am waiting for thee, / And this night or never, my bride thou shalt be.

Storming applauses by the party. Exits Rochester, after Jane.

 

Outside the drawing room: Jane closes the doors behind her, and begins to climb upstairs. En-ters Rochester.

ROCHESTER – Jane! (Jane stops, and turns. Rochester climbs some stairs.) Why did you not come and speak to me?

JANE – You seemed engaged, sir: I did not wish to disturb you.

ROCHESTER – (Climbing closer.) What have you been doing during my absence?

JANE – Nothing in particular; been teaching Adèle, as usual.

ROCHESTER – And getting a good deal paler than you were, as I saw at first sight. Did you take cold that night you half drowned me?

JANE – Not in the least.

ROCHESTER – Return to the drawing room: you are deserting too early.

JANE – I am tired, sir.

ROCHESTER – And depressed.

JANE – I am not!

ROCHESTER – But I affirm you are: so much depressed, that a few more words would bring tears. Indeed, they are there, shining. (Jane bends her eyes to the stairs.) If I had time, I would know what this means. Tonight, I excuse you; but not tomorrow, nor the next night. Now, go and send Sophie for Adèle. (Jane looks at him.) Good night...

Rochester gazes at Jane for a moment; then, exits abruptly.

 

The following morning.

The courtyard: Blanche Ingram with Rochester, mounting a horse and departing. Jane, obser-ving both, from a window.

JANE – (Voiceover.) Despite all intentions, all the dictates of com-mon sense, I had learned to love Mr. Rochester. That he would marry Blanche Ingram was certain however; though why was less so: for family, perhaps political reasons. But he had not given her his love: that I knew. Knowledge has no power to lessen pain.

 

Later.

The drawing room: Blanche Ingram, restless; Lady Ingram and Mrs. Lynn, playing cards; Jane and Adèle, quietly sitting at a window.

BLANCHE – We should have taken our excursion, Mama.

Lady INGRAM – To view a few wretched gypsies? In the rain, my lily flower?

BLANCHE – Well, anything rather than this tedium.

Lady INGRAM – Why don’t you play billiards with the others, dearest?

BLANCHE – Please, Mama!

 

Somewhat later.

The entrance hall: enters a gentleman, announced by Sam, the footman, to Lady Ingram.

SAM – A Mr. Mason has arrived, Ma’am.

Lady INGRAM – Well, if he is a gentleman, show him in.

Enters Mason.

MASON – Ahem. It... appears I come at an inopportune time, Madam, when my friend, Mr. Rochester, is away on business.

Lady INGRAM – He returns tonight.

MASON – I trust I may presume therefore to install myself here until he returns?

Lady INGRAM – I am sure you may.

MASON – I come from a very long journey: from Spanish Town, in Jamaica.

Off scene: bell rings. Enters Blanche Ingram.

Lady INGRAM – My daughter, Miss Ingram.

Mason means to kiss Blanche Ingram’s hand: she gives him a haughty look; he detains himself.

Lady INGRAM – Forgive us, sir, we must dress for dinner. Come, my dear.

Exit all but Mason. In passing, Jane smiles at him.

Evening.

The party, in the drawing room.

SAM – But I cannot persuade her to go away, Milady.

Lady INGRAM – A gypsy woman?! Ah! Dismiss her!

BLANCHE – Mama!

Lady INGRAM – At once! These low impostors should really...

BLANCHE – Mama, I insist! I wish, too!

Lady INGRAM – My angel, I cannot countenance any such inconsistent proceeding.

BLANCHE – Oh, you can and you will! I have a curiosity to hear my fortune told. I shall go first.

SAM – Oh, she looks such a rough one, Ma’am: a real tinkler, black as a crock!

BLANCHE – Go, blockhead!

Exits Sam.

Mr. ESHTON – Miss Ingram, I think perhaps I ought to look in upon her before any of the ladies go.

BLANCHE – But the footman said she would see no gentleman; and, of the ladies, only the young and single.

Mr. ESHTON – Even so...

BLANCHE – Even so, I am determined to hear my fortune told. Had we gone out this afternoon, I would have, anyway.

Lady INGRAM – Blanche, my darling, recollect, I beg of you.

BLANCHE – I do, I recollect all you can suggest... (kisses her mother in the cheek) but I will have my way!

Lady INGRAM – Oh, dearest, you should...

AMY ESHTON – Oh, will you go, Mary?

MARY INGRAM – For my part, I would never dare venture!

Sam ushers Blanche Ingram into the library.

 

Later.

The party, in the drawing room.

JANE – (Voiceover.) Something of a masquerade, I suspected, from the moment this gypsy woman’s presence was announced.

Mr. ESHTON – And did Rochester like the West Indies?

MASON – (Laughs.) Scarcely at all! The burning heats and the rainy seasons all disagreed with his constitution.

Mr. ESHTON – But this was some years back, you say.

MASON – Yes, he had just come of age: yes, he would be...

Enters Blanche Ingram.

“TEDO” INGRAM - Well?

MARY INGRAM – Well, what did she say? Is she a real gypsy?

BLANCHE – Please, don’t press upon me. I have seen a vagabond: she has practiced her trade in hackneyed fashion. My whim is gratified; and now, I suggest that Mr. Eshton and Colonel Dent put her out.

LOUISA ESHTON – Oh, but we have not seen her yet!

Enter Amy Eshton, Mary Ingram and Louisa Eshton in the library, giggling, and stop at the sight of the gypsy woman.

GYPSY WOMAN – Approach, children...

AMY ESHTON – Come on, Mary! (Grabs her hand.)

MARY INGRAM – Come on, Louisa! (Grabs her hand.)

 

Later.

The party, in the drawing room. Enter Mary Ingram, Amy and Louisa Eshton.

LOUISA ESHTON – Mama! She told us such things!

AMY ESHTON – She knows all about us!

MARY INGRAM – To say nothing of the ornaments we put in our boudoirs!

BLANCHE – (To Mason.) Oh, I am sure she is not quite right.

JANE – (To Sam, taking her teacup.) Thank you, Sam.

SAM – If you please, Miss, the gypsy declares that there is another single lady who has not been to her yet, and I thought it must be you. What shall I tell her?

JANE – (Rising.) Oh, I will go, by all means.

SAM – If you like, Miss, I’ll wait in the hall. If she frightens you, just call and I’ll come in.

JANE – Oh, no, Sam, I am not in the least afraid. (Voiceover.) Nor was I; but I was a good deal interested. (Exits.)

 

Later.

The library: Jane, kneeling by the fireplace, at the gypsy woman’s feet.

JANE – Do not keep me long; the fire scorches me.

GYPSY WOMAN – The eye is favourable, it is soft and full of feeling. As to the mouth, it would like to laugh more: indeed it ought to. While the forehead declares: “Reason sits firm and holds the reigns. She will not let her feelings burst away and hurry her to wild chasms.”

JANE – You do not speak like a gypsy, mother!

GYPSY WOMAN – You have no faith: your impudence said so! Your fortune is yet doubtful: chance has meted you a measure of happiness; it depends on yourself to stretch out your hand and take it up. You smile at my jargon?

JANE – And at your voice, sir.

GYPSY WOMAN – What?

JANE – And the ring on your hand, also.

ROCHESTER – You witch! (Rising both.) Off, ye lendings! Ah, the string is in a knot. Help me, Jane.

JANE – Break it, sir.

ROCHESTER – (After removing the disguising clothes.) Well, did you like my charade? Was it well carried out? (Cleans his face.)

JANE – Well, you managed very well with the other ladies.

ROCHESTER – But not with you.

JANE – No; you did not act the character of a gypsy with me.

ROCHESTER – Did I not? Whose, then? My own?

JANE – Oh, no: some unaccountable one.

ROCHESTER – Hmm. And the others, what did they say about me? (Pouring himself a brandy.)

JANE – That you knew everything about them – which, of course, you do.

ROCHESTER – (Laughs.) And Miss Ingram? What did she say?

JANE – (Pauses.) Oh, sir, it is past eleven o’clock: I must go.

ROCHESTER – No, stay: I am not here, remember; so, we are free.

JANE – Oh, but Miss Ingram is expecting your return from business this evening.

ROCHESTER – (Taking her hand.) What if she does?

JANE – Mr. Rochester, are you aware that a stranger has arrived since you left this morning?

ROCHESTER – What stranger? I was expecting no one. Is he gone?

JANE – No, he said he has known you for many years and would install himself here till you returned.

ROCHESTER – The devil he did! Did he give his name?

JANE – As Mason, sir.

ROCHESTER – (Surprised.) Mason?

JANE – He comes from the West Indies: from Jamaica, I think.

ROCHESTER – Mason!...

JANE – Are you ill, sir?

ROCHESTER – Oh, Jane! Jane!...

JANE – Lean on me, sir.

ROCHESTER – As I did before?... Mason!... Where is he now?

JANE – In the drawing room, sir.

ROCHESTER – And the others, what are they doing?

JANE – Laughing and talking.

ROCHESTER – They don’t look grave or mysterious, as if they had heard something strange?

JANE – No, they are full of jest and gaiety.

ROCHESTER – (Putting his hand on her shoulder.) Jane, if all my guests came in a body and spat on me, what would you do?

JANE – I would turn them out of the room, if I could, sir.

ROCHESTER – And if I went to them and they looked at me coldly, whispered and sneered behind my back and, one by one, dropped off and left me, what then? Would you go with them?

JANE – I should have more pleasure in staying with you.

ROCHESTER – To comfort me?

JANE – As well as I could.

ROCHESTER – And if they laid you under a ban for adhering to me?

JANE – I should care nothing for that.

ROCHESTER – You would dare censure for my sake?

JANE – As I would for any friend; as you would too, I am sure, sir.

ROCHESTER – (Smiling.) Go back now; step quietly up to Mason, whisper that I am returned and wish to see him here; then, leave us.

JANE – Yes, sir.

Exits Jane. Rochester sits down.

 

A moment later.

Jane ushers Mason into the library.

ROCHESTER – (Off scene.) Well, Dick? (As Mason goes inside.) You bird of ill omen...

Jane closes the door, and goes up to her bedroom: as she begins climbing the stairs, she looks back at the same door, intrigued.

 

Night.

Jane’s bedroom: Jane in bed.

JANE – (Voiceover.) I had forgotten to draw my curtain, which I usually did. The consequence was that when the moon, which was full and bright, came in her course to that space in the sky opposite my casement, her glorious gaze roused me in the dead of night. (Rises.) Her disc was silver white, crystal clear: it was beautiful, but too solemn. (Off scene: sudden shouting.) My pulse stopped: my heart stood still; my stretched arm was paralyzed. The cry was not renewed. But what being could have delivered such an utterance?

The hallway: the party, aroused, confusedly crowded.

Mrs. LYNN - Dent, did you hear that dreadful...?

Mr. ESHTON – ...I will raise Rochester. (Exits.)

Mrs. LYNN – I think it came from that direction over there.

BLANCHE – Oh, Mama!

Mrs. LYNN – Never mind, dear: Mr. Rochester will tell us what it was; I expect it was nothing at all.

Mr. ESHTON – (Entering.) Where the devil is Rochester? I cannot find him in his room.

Mrs. DENT – Where can he be?

ROCHESTER – (Coming out of the upstairs hallway.) Here! Be composed, all of you.

BLANCHE – What awful event has taken place? Speak! Let us know what has happened.

ROCHESTER – All’s right; all’s right!

Mrs. LYNN – But that cry?

ROCHESTER – A mere rehearsal of “Much Ado about Nothing”. (All the ladies speak at the same time.) Ladies, keep off, or I shall wax dangerous! (Calming himself by an effort.) A... a servant has had a nightmare: that is all. She is a nervous, excitable person: she construed her dream into an apparition, and has taken a fit with fright. Now, I must see you all back to your rooms; for, until the house is settled, she cannot be pro-perly looked after. Gentleman, have the goodness to set the ladies the example. (Blanche Ingram seizes Rochester’s arm.) Miss Ingram, I am sure you will not fail in evincing superiority to idle terrors. Good night. (Exits.)

Mrs. LYNN – Come on, girls; you would better go back to bed.

All return to their bedrooms.

 

Later.

Jane’s bedroom: Jane, dressed up, sitting down on a chair.

JANE – (Voiceover.) A servant’s dream was merely and invention Mr. Rochester had framed to pacify his guests. I waited for, I knew not what: for it seemed to me that some event must follow that strange cry.

Someone knocks at the door.

ROCHESTER – Jane? (Jane opens the door.) Up and dressed?

JANE – Oh, I thought I might be wanted, sir.

ROCHESTER – Yes; come this way. No, wait: have you a sponge?

JANE – Yes, sir.

ROCHESTER – And salts? Volatile salts?

JANE – Yes.

ROCHESTER – Fetch them. (Rochester and Jane step out to the hallway.) You don’t turn sick at the sight of blood?

JANE – I think I shall not. I have never been tried yet.

ROCHESTER – Give me your hand. (Takes it.) Hmm, warm and steady: good. Come.

 

Moments later.

A room, in the third storey. Enter Rochester and Jane: Mason, lying on a bed, in stupor. Off scene: a woman’s snarling, snatching sounds.

ROCHESTER – Wait.

Rochester passes to an inner-room, hidden behind a curtain: the woman’s sounds stop. Rochester re-enters, locks the inner-room door, turns to Mason, and tries to lift the left part of his shirt.

MASON – (Screams: Rochester holds Mason by the wrists.) Oh! Oh! Rochester! (Groans.) (Rochester lifts the left part of Mason’s shirt, disclosing a bleeding wound.) Is there... is there any immediate danger?...

ROCHESTER – It is a mere scratch: bear up, man! (Mason looks at his wound and loses his senses. Rochester snaps his fingers: Jane handles him a basin with water; Rochester sponges away the blood from Mason’s wound.) Salts. (Holds them under Mason’s nose: Mason coughs and recovers his senses.) I am going to fetch that surgeon myself, Dick. You will be removed from here before morning. Jane?

JANE – Sir?

ROCHESTER – I must leave you alone with this gentleman, for an hour, maybe two. Sponge the blood as it returns: if he faints, use your salts; and don’t speak to him. Dick, it will be on peril of your life if you attempt to speak: open your mouth, say one word, and I shall not answer for the consequences. (Opens the door to the stairs.) Remember: no conversation. (Exits.)

Mason groans: Jane shushes him comfortingly; then, sponges his wound.

JANE – (Voiceover.) What crime was this that lived incarnate in this sequestered mansion that could neither be expelled nor subdued by its owner? What creature was it that, masked in an ordinary woman’s face and shape, uttered the voice, now of a mocking demon, then of a carrion seeking bird of prey, and hardly separated from me but by a single door? And this quiet stranger, so commonplace, how was he involved in the web of horror?

 

Later.

The same room in the third storey: Carter, a surgeon, examining Mason; Rochester and Jane, standing.

CARTER – Not only cut by a knife, but teeth marks...

MASON – She... she bit me. She worried me like... like a tigress.

ROCHESTER – You should have grappled with her at once. Jane, fetch his cloak. (Exits Jane.) Hurry, Carter, hurry! I must have him away from here before the house stirs.

MASON – She seemed so... so quiet, at first.

ROCHESTER – I warned you: it was folly to attempt the interview tonight, and alone.

MASON – She sucked the blood! She said she would drain my heart!

ROCHESTER – Courage, man! Never mind her gibberish. Carter?

CARTER – Ready!

 

Moments later.

Mason, supported by Rochester and Carter, is lead out to a carriage: Jane follows.

ROCHESTER – (After closing the carriage door to Mason and Carter.) I shall ride over in a day or two, to see how he gets on.

CARTER – Right.

MASON – Rochester, let her be taken care of, even if she...

ROCHESTER – I do my best: I have done, and I will do! Away with you! (The carriage drives away.) Would to God, there was an end of all this... Jane?

JANE – Sir?

ROCHESTER – Come with me. (Holds his hand out to Jane’s: both run into the garden; then, walk by.) Will you have a flower?

JANE – Thank you, sir.

ROCHESTER – Were you frightened when I left you alone with Mason?

JANE – Very: I feared lest some... someone come from the inner-room.

ROCHESTER – But I had locked the door. I should have been a careless shepherd if I had left a lamb, my pet lamb, so near a wolf’s den, unguarded.

JANE – Will Grace Poole continue to live here, sir?

ROCHESTER – Yes.

JANE – And the danger you feared last night from Mr. Mason, is that now gone?

ROCHESTER – Not till he is out of England. To live, for me, is to stand upon a crater crust, Jane.

JANE – But Mr. Mason seems a man easily lead. He would not defy you, surely.

ROCHESTER – No, not knowingly hurt me; but unintentionally, he might: one careless word, Jane, could deprive me, if not of life, yet forever of happiness.

JANE – But tell him so, sir.

ROCHESTER – (Laughs.) If I could do that, simpleton, where would the danger be? (Takes her hand.) You look puzzled... (Lets go of her hand.) I will puzzle you further. You... you are my friend, are you not?

JANE – I like to serve you, sir, and obey you, in all that is right.

ROCHESTER – Humph! Yes, in all that is right, yes. You are implacable, Jane: properly so. But, suppose you were no longer a girl, well reared and disciplined, but a wild boy as I was, indulged from childhood upwards. Imagine yourself in a remote, foreign land: con-ceive that you commit there a capital error – mind, I do not say cri-me: my word is error –, the results of which dog you all your life. Suppose, twenty world weary years after, you discover a stranger whose goodness and true qualities revive you, regenerate you...

JANE – What then, sir?

ROCHESTER – Yes, what then? Is the wandering and sinful but repentant man justified in overleaping an obstacle of custom, a mere conventional impediment, in order to attach to him this gentle gracious stranger who can work his reformation?

JANE – I think not, sir: salvation should never depend on a fellow creature but on God.

ROCHESTER – But God ordains the instrument; and I believe I have found the instrument for my cure in... in Miss Ingram. Don’t you think if I married her, she would regenerate me with a vengeance? She is a rare one, is she not, Jane?... You say nothing...

JANE – Yes, sir...

ROCHESTER – Hmm, a deliberate silence, I see... Bless me! There’s Ingram and Lynn up, already! Go in by the shrubbery, through the wicket. (To the others.) Mason got the start of you all this morning; he was gone before sunrise.

 

Another day.

Jane, coming downstairs, to meet a stranger.

JANE – Yes?

ROBERT LEAVEN – I daresay you hardly remember me, Miss. Name is Leaven: I lived coachman with Mrs. Reed at Gateshead Hall.

JANE – Why, Robert! I remember you well. How are you?

ROBERT LEAVEN – (Shaking hands with Jane.) I live there, still.

JANE – I remember you used to give me rides sometimes on Miss Georgiana’s pony. Oh, and how is Bessie? You are married to Bessie?

ROBERT LEAVEN – Yes, she is very hearty, thank you.

JANE – And Mrs. Reed? (Acknowledging Robert Leaven’s mourning top hat.) I hope no one is dead!

ROBERT LEAVEN – Mr. John died, yesterday was a week, in London.

JANE – And how does his mother bear it?

ROBERT LEAVEN – Well, that’s why I’ve come, Miss. Terrible news gave her a stroke: she was three days without speaking; but, last Tuesday, she asked for you, Miss.

JANE – (Surprised.) For me?

ROBERT LEAVEN – Kept calling your name. Mr. John’s death was a suicide, Miss, you see: ruined his health and the estate. Mrs. Reed had been ill for some time before he... with the worry of it. She insists you come, Miss. “Bring Jane Eyre, I must speak with her”: keeps saying it.

 

Later.

The library: Rochester, standing and Jane, sitting down; both by the fireside.

ROCHESTER – Go? Where to go?

JANE – Gateshead Hall, in Derbyshire, sir.

ROCHESTER – Why?

JANE – To see a sick lady who has sent for me. Her name is Reed.

ROCHESTER – Reed of Gateshead? There was a magistrate, called...

JANE – It is his widow, sir. Mr. Reed was my uncle, my mother’s brother.

ROCHESTER – The deuce he was! You always said you had no relations.

JANE – None that would own me. Mr. Reed died and his wife cast me off.

ROCHESTER – Why?

JANE – Oh, because I was poor and burdensome: she disliked me.

ROCHESTER – Then, leave her where she is! (Sits down.) It is nonsense, Jane, to go to such a person who cast you off.

JANE – But that was long ago, sir, and she is dying, they think. Her son, John Reed, committed suicide a week ago.

ROCHESTER – Ah, John Reed, yes! Ingram was saying only yesterday: one of the veriest rascals in town.

JANE – Sir, I could not be easy to neglect what may be Mrs. Reed’s last wishes.

ROCHESTER – How long will you stay? Promise me not more than a week.

JANE – Oh, I would better not pass my word, sir: I may be obliged to break it.

ROCHESTER – You will come back? You will not be induced under any pretext to take up residence with her?

JANE – No, sir.

ROCHESTER – I should think not! Who goes with you? You cannot travel so far alone.

JANE – Mrs. Reed has sent her coachman.

ROCHESTER – Is he to be trusted?

JANE – He has been with the family ten years, sir.

ROCHESTER – Well... When do you want to go?

JANE – Early tomorrow.

ROCHESTER – You will need money. (Rising.) I have given you no salary yet. (Smiling.) How much have you in the world, Jane?

JANE – (Embarrassed, after looking at her purse.) Five shillings, sir.

Rochester takes the purse from Jane, pours the hoard into his palm, and chuckles over it. Enters Blanche Ingram, holding a billiards cue.

BLANCHE – Ah! There you are, Signior Eduardo! I insist you play!

ROCHESTER – (Returning the purse to Jane.) Uno momento, Donna Bianca.

BLANCHE – Surely, you can deal with that person later, Mr. Rochester!

ROCHESTER – I am engaged, Miss Ingram; I shall come to you when I am at liberty.

JANE – (Voiceover.) His manner scarcely seemed that of a loving prospective bridegroom.

Blanche Ingram storms off, in anger. Rochester chuckles again, while drawing a handful of bank notes from one of his pockets.

ROCHESTER – (Giving Jane one of the bank notes.) Here, take your wages.

JANE – (Picking the bank note, and reading it.) But that is fifty pounds, sir! You owe me but fifteen. (Holding the bank note to Rochester.) I have no change...

ROCHESTER – I don’t want any change, you know that.

JANE – I will not take it, sir.

ROCHESTER – Obstinate!

JANE – Yes!

ROCHESTER – Right! (Snatching the bank note out of Jane’s hand.) I would better not give you all at once: you may stay away three months. (Giving Jane a different bank note.) There is ten: is that not enough?

JANE – Plenty, sir. Oh, but now you owe me five.

ROCHESTER – Hmm!... Come back for it then. I will be your banker.

JANE – Sir, there is another matter of business.

ROCHESTER – There is? What?

JANE – (Rising.) You have as good as informed me that you are shortly to be married.

ROCHESTER – Yes...

JANE – In that case, I think Adèle ought to go to school.

ROCHESTER – To keep her out of my bride’s way?... Yes, there’s sense in the suggestion... Yes, Adèle must go to school; and you, of course, must march straight to... the devil?

JANE – I hope not, sir; but I must seek another situation... somewhere.

ROCHESTER – Of course.

JANE – Perhaps I should advertise, sir.

ROCHESTER – You shall walk up the pyramids of Egypt! At your peril you advertise! I wish I’d only given you a sovereign. Give me back nine pounds, Jane; I’ve a use for it.

JANE – And so have I, sir.

ROCHESTER – You little niggard! Just let me look at the money again.

JANE – No, you are not to be trusted.

ROCHESTER – Hmm!... Jane: promise me not to advertise, and I will seek a situation for you. Is that a bargain?

JANE – Yes, sir, if you, in your turn, will promise that both Adèle and I shall be safe out of this house before your bride enters it.

ROCHESTER – Very well... (Both address to the door.) Shall you come down after dinner tonight?

JANE – Oh, no, sir. I must prepare for the journey.

ROCHESTER – Then we must say goodbye now, for a little while?

JANE – Yes, I suppose so.

ROCHESTER – And how do people perform that ceremony? Teach me; I’m not quite up to it.

JANE – They say “Farewell”, or any other form they prefer.

ROCHESTER – Then say it.

JANE – Farewell, Mr. Rochester, for the present.

ROCHESTER – And what must I say?

JANE – The same.

ROCHESTER – Farewell, Miss Eyre, for the present. Is that all?

JANE – Yes.

ROCHESTER – It seems stingy to my notions, and dry and unfriendly. If one shook hands... (Gazing at Jane.) No, that would not content me either. Farewell, Jane.

JANE – Your back is to the door, sir.

ROCHESTER – So it is...

Rochester opens the door to Jane, and lets her pass.

 

An evening.

A bedroom: Jane with Mrs. Reed, in her sickbed.

Mrs. REED – Jane Eyre? Jane Eyre? You Jane Eyre?

JANE – I am.

Mrs. REED – Oh, fiend of a child: deceitful! I was glad to get her out of the house. What did they do with her at Lowood? The fever broke out there: many pupils died. She did not die, oh no! I wish she had, I wish she had!

JANE – Strange wish, Aunt Reed.

Mrs. REED – Aunt? Who calls me Aunt?

JANE – I do: Jane Eyre. You sent for me.

Mrs. REED – Sent? Why did I sent? She is dead, I said she was dead! Those eyes... that forehead... you are like Jane Eyre. I wanted to see her... Here. (Means to ask Jane’s help to stir in the bed.) Oh! I cannot move a limb! I wronged Jane Eyre. Are you she? You are like her...

JANE – Yes, Aunt, I am.

Mrs. REED – An unnatural child! Go to my dressing case: (Jane ri-ses) there is a letter. Read it: read it to me.

JANE – Madam. Will you have the goodness to send me the address of my niece, Jane Eyre. It is my intention to write shortly and desire her to come to Madeira. Providence has blessed my labours to secure a competency; and, as I am unmarried and childless, I wish to adopt Jane Eyre during my life and bequeath her at my death, whatever I have to leave. I am, Madam, most sincerely yours, John Eyre. Madeira. Oh! Why did I not hear of this? It is dated three years back!

Mrs. REED –I disliked you too fixedly!... The fury you turned on me, when you declared you abhorred me the worst of anyone in the world...

JANE – But I was a child!

Mrs. REED – ...so that I wrote that you were dead! Dead of the fever at Lowood School! Now, act as you please. Expose my falsehood, if you will. You were born, I think, to be my torment!

JANE – Many a time as a child I would have been happy to love you; now, I long to be reconciled. Kiss me, Aunt Reed.

Mrs. REED – Never! I hate Jane Eyre! A fiend of a child! You should be dead! And then my falsehood would come true...

JANE – (Voiceover.) Poor, suffering woman! It was too late for her to change her habitual frame of mind. Living she hated me; and she died hating me. (Later: Jane sitting at Mrs. Reed’s death bead.) A strange and solemn object was that corpse to me: her brow and lineaments wore yet the impress of her inexorable soul. I gazed on it with gloom and pain: a sombre tearless dismay at the fearfulness of death in such a form. And to think how desperately I had longed for love from her.

PART FOUR

 

Another day.

The premises. Jane, arriving, on foot.

JANE – (Voiceover.) I was going back to Thornfield: but for how long was I to stay there? Not long; I was sure. I had heard from Mrs. Fairfax in the interim: the party at the Hall had dispersed; and Mr. Rochester had left for London, to make arrangements for his wedding to Miss Ingram.

Jane sees Rochester, sitting on a stile, a book and a pencil in his hand: he acknowledges her.

ROCHESTER – There you are!

JANE – (Voiceover.) Well, he is not a ghost; but every nerve I have is unstrung.

ROCHESTER – Come on, if you please! (Rises.) Is this Jane Eyre, coming from Millcote, on foot? Oh, yes, just one of your tricks: not to send for a carriage, and come clattering home like a common mortal. Oh, no, you must steal in, just as if you were a dream or a shade! What the deuce have you done with yourself this last month?

JANE – I have been with my Aunt, sir, who is dead.

ROCHESTER – A true Janian reply! Good angels be my guard! She comes from the other world, from the abode of people who are dead; and tells me so here, alone. If I dared, I’d touch you, to see if you are substance or shadow. (Pause.) Truant! Truant! Absent from me a whole month, and forgetting me quite, I’ll be sworn!

JANE – (Abruptly.) I might as much the same as you, sir! I thought you were in London...

ROCHESTER – (Surprised.) I was. I suppose you found that out by second sight.

JANE – Mrs. Fairfax wrote to me.

ROCHESTER – Did she inform you what I went there to do?

JANE – Oh, yes, sir! Everyone knew your errand. (Means to pass.)

ROCHESTER – (Putting his hand on the closed stile gate.) You must see the carriage, Jane, and tell me if you won’t think it will suit Mrs. Rochester exactly: she will look like Queen Bodicea, leaning back against those purple cushions. I only wish I was a trifle better adapted to match with her externally.

JANE – (Frowning.) Will you let me pass, sir?

ROCHESTER – No. Not till you give me a charm, elf as you are, or a philtre, to make me a handsome man.

JANE – It would be past the power of magic, sir.

ROCHESTER – (Smiles.) Pass, Janet; and stay your weary little wandering feet at a friend’s threshold. (Opens the stile gate: passes Jane.)

JANE – (Turning to him.) Thank you, Mr. Rochester, for your great... kindness. I’m strangely glad to get back again to you. Wherever you are is my home... my only home. (Walks away very fast.)

 

Moments later.

The entrance hall. Adèle (with “Pilot”): delights when sees Jane.

JANE – (Picking up Adèle.) Oh! Such a weight!

ADÈLE – Ma petite maman anglaise!

Mrs. Fairfax, coming downstairs.

Mrs. FAIRFAX – Once the ladies left, poor Adèle was at a loss. She has bothered the life out of me: “When is Mademoiselle returning?” every minute of the day!

JANE – Well, I am home now, Adèle.

ADÈLE – (Climbing up the stairs, embraced with Jane.) Exactement! Et maintenant je veux que tu viens voir le dessin...

JANE – Oh, speak English, child! We shall begin our lessons again tomorrow.

SOPHIE - (Upstairs, to Adèle.) Viens...

ADÈLE – Sophie...

 

Another day.

The classroom: Jane, sitting at the table; Adèle, standing, before her.

JANE – ...and so, Arthur Wellesley became the Duke of Wellington.

ADÈLE – But I like better Napoleon, because he was French.

JANE – (Rising.) He was Corsican, really. (Taking Adèle to the desk.) Now, Adèle, I want you to write a short essay: compare these two great men; and remember...

ADÈLE – But it is too difficult!

JANE – No, it is not: (giving Adèle a pencil) you must learn to apply yourself. (Returning to the table.) (Voiceover.) A fortnight of dubious calm succeeded my return. (Turning to one of the windows.) Nothing was said of my master’s marriage, and I saw no preparation for such an event. (Sitting at the window.) There was no journeying backward and forward to Ingram Park. True, it was twenty miles off; but what was that distance to an ardent lover?

 

Afternoon.

The garden: Jane, sitting down, under a tree.

JANE – (Voiceover.) I began to cherish hopes I had no right to conceive. Never had Mr. Rochester been kinder to me; and, alas! never had I loved him so well.

Enters Rochester, smoking a cigar. Jane does her best to hide herself from him behind the tree. Rochester walks past, and stops by a bush, looking at a moth. Jane means to slip away.

ROCHESTER – Jane, come and have a look at this fellow.

JANE – (Surprised.) (Voiceover.) Could his shadow feel?

ROCHESTER – Look at his wings: he reminds me of a West Indian insect. One doesn’t often see so large and gay a night-rover in England. Ah! He is flown. (Jane means to retreat.) Stay, turn back: it is a shame to sit in the house on so lovely an evening.

JANE – (Voiceover.) Though my tongue is usually prompt enough at answer, there are times when it sadly fails me.

ROCHESTER – (Holds his hand out to her.) Come: the sun is setting as the moon rises. (Both walk on; then, enter the enclosed garden.) Jane, Thornfield is a pleasant place, is it not?

JANE – Yes, sir.

ROCHESTER – And I suspect you have become attached to it...

JANE – Yes.

ROCHESTER – ...as you have become attached in some degree, though I don’t comprehend it, to that foolish little girl, Adèle, and even to simple Mrs. Fairfax.

JANE – In different ways, I have an affection for both.

ROCHESTER – Pity! It is always the way: no sooner have you got settled in a pleasant resting place, than a voice calls out to you to rise and move on.

JANE – Must I move on, sir?

ROCHESTER – I believe you must, Jane.

JANE – (Sits down.) Well, sir, I shall be ready to move when the order comes.

ROCHESTER – We made a bargain, did we not? You requested that, when I married Miss Ingram, Adèle should be sent to school and you allowed to leave.

JANE – Then, you are going to be married?

ROCHESTER – Very soon, Miss Eyre... You are not turning to look after more moths, are you? That was only a lady-clock, child, flying away home... And I promised I would find you a new post.

JANE – Yes, sir, you did.

ROCHESTER – Well, I have heard of a place that will suit: it is to undertake the education of the five daughters of Mrs. Dionysius O’Gall of Bitternutt Lodge, Connaught, Ireland.

JANE – It is a long way off, sir.

ROCHESTER – No matter: a girl of your sense will not object to the voyage or the distance.

JANE – Not the voyage, (rises) but the distance: and then the sea is a barrier...

ROCHESTER – From what, Jane?

JANE – From England, sir; from Thornfield; and...

ROCHESTER – Well?

JANE – From you, sir.

ROCHESTER – It is a long way; (holds her by the shoulder and walks her by) and I am sorry to send my little friend on such weary travels; but if I can’t do better, how is it to be helped? (Jane sits down, under a tree.) Are you anything akin to me, do you think, Jane?

JANE – (Voiceover.) I could risk no sort of answer.

ROCHESTER – (Sitting next to her.) Because I sometimes have a fee-ling, especially when you are near to me as you are now: it is as if I had a string under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame. And if that boisterous Channel should come between us, I am afraid this cord of communion will be snapped; and I’ve a nervous notion I should take to bleeding inwardly. As for you: you’d forget me.

JANE – That I never should!... (Voiceover.) Impossible to proceed.

(Aloud.) Oh, I wish... I wish I had never been born nor come to Thornfield!

ROCHESTER – Because you are sorry to leave it?

JANE – Because I love it; because I have lived properly here. I have not been trampled on, (rising) not been petrified. I have not been buried with inferior minds. I have, talked face to face, with what I reverence, and delight in: with an original, a vigorous and expanded mind. I have known you, Mr. Rochester; and now, I see the necessity of departure: it is like looking on the necessity of death.

ROCHESTER – Where do you see the necessity?

JANE – Where? You, sir, have placed it before me in the shape of Miss Ingram: your bride!

ROCHESTER – My bride! What bride? I have no bride!

JANE – But you will have.

ROCHESTER – Yes, I will! (Rising.) I will!...

JANE – Then I must go: you have said it yourself.

ROCHESTER – No: you must stay.

JANE – I tell you I must go! (Passionate.) Do you think I could stay to become nothing to you? Do you think I am an automaton? A machine without feelings? Or 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! (Means to go.) And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I would make it as hard for you to leave me, as it is for me to leave you.

ROCHESTER – Jane!

JANE – No! 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 spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and stood at God’s feet, equal... as we are!

ROCHESTER – As we are! (Kisses her.) So, Jane, so! (Kisses her, again.)

JANE – Yes, so, sir; and yet not so; for you are a married man, or as good as, and wed to one inferior to you, whom I do not believe you truly love. I scorn such a union; therefore I am better than you: let me go!

ROCHESTER – Where, Jane? To Ireland?

JANE – Yes... anywhere. I have spoken my mind, and I am free.

ROCHESTER – Jane, be still; don’t struggle so, like a wild frantic bird.

JANE – I am no bird; no net ensnares me. I am a free human being with an independent will, which I now exert to leave you!

ROCHESTER – And your will shall decide your destiny! Jane, come back to me!

JANE – Never! I am torn away now, and I cannot return.

ROCHESTER – But I summon you as my wife: it is you only I intend to marry.

JANE – (Voiceover.) I thought he mocked me.

ROCHESTER – I offer you my heart and my hand.

JANE – Your bride stands between us!

ROCHESTER – My bride is here, (holding her by her shoulders) because my equal is here, and my likeness. Jane, will you marry me? (Pauses.) You doubt me?

JANE – Entirely, sir.

ROCHESTER – You have no faith in me?

JANE – Not a whit.

ROCHESTER – Am I a liar in your eyes? Little sceptic, you shall be convinced! (Holds her by the hand and walks her by.) What love have I for Miss Ingram? None. What love has she for me? None. I caused a rumour to reach her that my fortune was not a third of what was supposed: such sudden coldness when we next met. I could not, I would not marry her. But you... you strange, almost unearthly thing, I love you like my own flesh. You... poor, and obscure, and small, and plain as you are... I entreat you to accept me as a husband.

JANE – (Voiceover.) His earnestness and incivility began to give credit to his sincerity.

ROCHESTER – You, Jane, I must have you for my own. Say yes, quickly.

JANE – Mr. Rochester, let me see your face: turn to the moonlight.

ROCHESTER – Why?

JANE – Because I want to read your countenance: turn!

ROCHESTER – There! Read on; only make haste, for I suffer. Oh, Jane, you torture me!

JANE – How can I do that? If you are true, and your offer real...

ROCHESTER – It is!

JANE – ...my only feelings to you must be gratitude and devotion: they cannot torture.

ROCHESTER – Gratitude! Jane, accept me quickly. Say: “Edward” – give me my name – “I will marry you.”

JANE – Do you truly love me? Do you sincerely wish me to be your wife?

ROCHESTER – I do.

JANE – Then, sir, I will marry you.

ROCHESTER – (Smiling.) “Edward”.

JANE – Edward.

ROCHESTER – My little wife! Come to me entirely now. Make my happiness: I will make yours. (Embraces her.) (Murmurs.) God pardon me, and man meddle not with me: I have her, and will hold her!

JANE – There is no one to meddle, sir. I have no kindred to interfere. (Sits down under a tree.)

ROCHESTER – No: that is the best of it. You are happy, Jane?

JANE – Yes, sir. (Rochester kneels at her feet.) (Thunders.)

ROCHESTER – (Murmurs.) It will atone. Is there not love in my heart, and constancy in my resolve? It will expiate at God’s tribunal. I know my Maker sanctions what I do. (Kisses and embraces her.) (Murmurs.) For the world’s judgment: I wash my hands thereof. For man’s opinion: I defy it. (Thunder and lightning.) The weather changes: we must go in. I could have sat with thee all till morning, Jane. (Exit both, in the midst of more thunders and lightning.)

 

Moments later.

The entrance hall: Mrs. Fairfax, coming downstairs. Clock chimes twelve. Enter Jane and Ro-chester.

ROCHESTER – Hasten to take off your wet things; and, before you go, good night. Good night, my darling.

Both kiss each other: Mrs. Fairfax looks shocked. Jane climbs the stairs, and sees her.

JANE – (Voiceover.) Explanations will do another time.

Exits Jane: Mrs. Fairfax follows her with her eyes, looking worried.

 

The following morning.

Jane’s bedroom: Jane, in bed, sleeping. Someone knocks at the door: enters Adèle.

ADÈLE – Mademoiselle Jeanette?

JANE – Oh! Is it late?

ADÈLE – No, it is early; but I must tell you. Pendant la nuit, au milieu de l’orage...

JANE – (Voiceover.) ...and she told me that the horse-chestnut tree with the seat around it at the bottom of the gardens had been struck by lightning in the night, and half of it split away.

ADÈLE – ...and Mister de Rochester is up already, and says I am to have no lessons this morning.

 

Somewhat later.

The schoolroom. Enters Jane: Rochester, standing by a window.

ROCHESTER – Jane, I have decided: you must give up your governessing slavery at once.

JANE – Indeed, sir, begging your pardon, I shall not.

ROCHESTER – You will not?

JANE – No, sir, we should go on as before.

ROCHESTER – As before? As thus? (Kisses her.) Jane, you look blooming, and smiling, and pretty. Is this my pale little elf?

JANE – It is Jane Eyre, sir.

ROCHESTER – Soon to be Jane Rochester: in four weeks, not a day more.

JANE – (Voiceover.) The announcement made me giddy. A feeling stronger than joy stunned me: it was, I think, almost fear.

ROCHESTER – You blushed, now you are pale, Jane. Why?

JANE – Because you gave me a new name: Jane Rochester.

ROCHESTER – Yes, Mrs. Rochester, young Mrs. Rochester. And you must be attired in satins and lace. This morning I wrote to my banker in London to send me certain jewels he has in his keeping. In a few days, I shall pour them into your lap: for every attention, every privilege shall be yours, as I would accord a peer’s daughter, if about to marry her.

JANE – Oh, sir, never mind jewels! Jewels for Jane Eyre sounds unnatural and strange: I would rather not have them.

ROCHESTER – I will myself put the diamond chain around your neck.

JANE – Sir, please! Don’t address me as if I were your captive beauty, for I am not; I am your plain, Quakerish governess.

ROCHESTER – You are a beauty in my eyes; and I shall make the world acknowledge it. (Kisses her hands.)

JANE – But then you will not know me, sir: and I shall not be your Jane Eyre any longer.

ROCHESTER – Oh, no, you shall be Jane Rochester...

JANE – Oh, an ape, rather, in a harlequin’s jacket; a jay in borrowed plumes.

ROCHESTER – ...and after we are married (kisses her) in the church below yonder, I shall waft you away to regions nearer the sun: to France, to Italy. All the ground I have wandered over shall be retrodden by you. My Jane, my bride! Ten years since, I flew through Europe half-mad, with hate, rage and disgust as my companions; now, I shall revisit it healed and cleansed, with a very angel as my comforter.

JANE – (Laughs.) I am not an angel, and I will not be one till I die: I will be myself. Sir, do not send for jewels or satins: I will not wear them.

ROCHESTER – You refuse?

JANE – Absolutely.

ROCHESTER – (Sulks.) Hmm!...

JANE – Aaah! That will be your married look, I suppose, sir, or after six months. I have observed in books written by men, that period assigned as the furthest to which any husband’s ardour extends.

ROCHESTER – Humph! Distasteful! And like you again!

JANE – Oh, is that how you will appear should I ask a favour... as your wife?

ROCHESTER – Who talks of favours? I have offered you favours.

JANE – But not of my choosing, sir. May I ask one now?

ROCHESTER – What, you changeling?

JANE – There! You are less than civil now, and I like rudeness a great deal better than flattery. (Rochester smiles.) This is what I have to ask: why did you take such pains to make me believe you wished to marry Miss Ingram?

ROCHESTER – Is that all? Thank God it is no worse! It may make you indignant, Jane; and I have seen what a fire spirit you can be. You positively glowed in the cool moonlight last night, when you mutinied against fate, and claimed your rank as my equal.

JANE – Of course I did. But to the point: Miss Ingram?

ROCHESTER – I feigned courtship of her, because I wished to render you as in love with me as I was with you. I knew jealousy would be my best ally.

JANE – Excellent! Now you are small: not one whit bigger than the end of my little finger. Was it not a burning shame and disgrace? Did you think nothing of Miss Ingram’s feelings?

ROCHESTER – Because she has none, save pride; and that needs humbling.

JANE – But won’t she feel forsaken and... deserted?

ROCHESTER – (Embracing Jane.) On the contrary, she deserted me, did she not, on hearing I might not be as wealthy as she had supposed?

JANE – Oh, you have a curious, designing mind, Mr. Rochester.

ROCHESTER – Matched to yours, you said so...

JANE – But your principles are, in some points, eccentric, sir.

ROCHESTER – They have not been trained as yours have, Jane: they may have grown a little awry for lack of attention. (Kisses her.)

Have you anything else to ask? It is my delight to be entreated and to yield.

JANE – Yes, sir.

ROCHESTER – So prompt?!

JANE – Please, communicate your intentions to Mrs. Fairfax. Well, she saw me with you last night in the hall, and she was shocked, sir.

ROCHESTER – (Laughs.) Did she think you had given the world for love, and thought it well lost?

JANE – I believe she thought I had forgotten my station, sir, and yours.

ROCHESTER – Station! Your station is in my heart, Jane, and on the necks of those that insult you now or hereafter. (Exiting.) I shall enlighten her. (Exits.)

JANE – (Voiceover.) I saw that I could not allow him or myself descending to a bathos of sentiment: I determined to show him in the ensuing weeks all the more rugged points in my character, that he might know fully what sort of bargain he had made while it was yet time to rescind it; (sitting down at the table) nor would I bear to be dressed like a doll by Mr. Rochester, to sit like a second Danae with the golden shower falling daily around me. I resolved to write to my Uncle John in Madeira, who had been informed that I was dead: if I had the prospect of one day bringing Mr. Rochester a fortune, be it ever so small, I could better endure to be kept by him now.

 

Another day.

Jane’s bedroom: Mrs. Fairfax, helping Jane trying her wedding gown.

Mrs. FAIRFAX – There! I declare, Miss Jane, you look almost pretty. Mr. Rochester may be proud of his bride, after all. Try the veil.

JANE – Oh, it is too fine: I should have preferred a square of plain lace.

Mrs. FAIRFAX – But it was worn by Mr. Edward’s mother, and her mother before her.

JANE – That only serves to make it too solemn an object for such as I.

Mrs. FAIRFAX – What nonsense! You may wear it with head held high: have you not won him against all odds?

JANE – It is like a dream: I cannot believe it...

 

Night.

Jane’s bedroom: all dark; Jane in bed, sleeping. Enters a mysterious woman, with a candle: she acknowledges Jane and laughs softly; then, puts down the candle, gazes at her and seems moved; then, turns to the closet and takes out the dressing gown, but drops it after touching her image in the closet mirror; then, sees the veil and puts it on. Jane wakes up.

JANE – Sophie? Sophie, what are you doing?

The mysterious woman tears the veil, in anger; then, turns to Jane, picks the candle, and holds it before her face. Jane loses her senses: the mysterious woman puts out the candle, and exits, laughing.

 

The following night.

The library: Jane and Rochester, sitting down, talking to each other; «Pilot», at their feet.

ROCHESTER – And these dreams weigh on your spirits now, Jane, now I am with you? Little nervous subject! Forget visionary woe: think only of real happiness! Do you love me, Jane? Repeat that you do.

JANE – I do, sir: I do, with my whole heart.

ROCHESTER – Look wicked, Jane; coin one of your wild, shy, provoking smiles; tease me, vex me, (embracing her) as you have these last weeks; tell me you hate me; do anything, but move me.

JANE – I will tease you and vex you, sir, to your heart’s content, when I finish my tale.

ROCHESTER – (Taking his arm away from her.) I thought you told me all; I thought I had learned the source of your melancholy in a dream: there is more? I will not believe it. I warn you of incredulity beforehand.

JANE – (Voiceover.) His disquietude, his apprehensive impatience surprised me. Was I looking for comfort where there would be none? (Aloud.) I awoke from my dream of Thornfield as a dreary ruin, and a light dazzled my eyes. “Daylight!”, I thought, “No, a candle! Sophie has come in.” But, then, a form emerged; and my blood crept cold in my veins. “Sophie?” I cried. But it was not she, nor Leah, nor Mrs. Fairfax; no, nor even that strange woman, Grace Poole.

ROCHESTER – It must have been one of them.

JANE – No, sir, I solemnly assure you. It seemed a woman, tall, with thick dark hair. Her face... I wish I could forget that savage face! She took my wedding veil, and placed it over her head.

ROCHESTER – Then? Then, what did she do?

JANE – Removed the veil once more, and rent it in two parts. Then, she came towards me, thrust the candle close to my face. Her lurid visage flamed over mine: for only the second time in my life, I became insensible from terror.

ROCHESTER – Great God! (Taking her hand.) Who was with you when you revived?

JANE – No one but the broad day, sir.

ROCHESTER – The creature of an over stimulated brain.

JANE – Oh, no, sir! The thing was real!

ROCHESTER – As your previous dreams? Is Thornfield a ruin? Am I leaving you without a tear, a kiss, a word?

JANE – Not yet.

ROCHESTER – Am I about to? (Clock chimes.) There, the clock announces the day which is to bind us... indissolubly; (rising) and, once we are... united, there shall be no recurrence of these mental terrors: I assure you.

JANE – (Rising.) It was no mental terror, sir! For there, on the carpet, in full daylight, was the veil, torn in two.

ROCHESTER – (Embracing her.) My darling! I thank God, if anything malignant had come near you last night, it was only the veil that was torn. And to think what might have happened! Now, it was half dream, half true. A woman did, I doubt not, enter your room, tear your veil: and that woman was Grace Poole.

JANE – Oh, no, sir!

ROCHESTER – Yes, it was she! In a state between waking and sleeping, you ascribed to her a goblin appearance, different from her own: her hair, her black face.

JANE – (Voiceover.) But I had not referred to the blackness of her face...

ROCHESTER – I see you would ask why I keep such a woman as Grace Poole in my house; and I will tell you (kisses her) when we have been married a year and a day. Are you satisfied Jane? Do you accept my solution of the mystery?

JANE – (Rising.) It seems the only possible one, sir. (As Rochester picks a candle.) (Voiceover.) Satisfied I was not, but to please him I answered with a contented smile. (Aloud.) It is something of relief, sir.

ROCHESTER – Could you not share Adèle’s bed tonight? It is no wonder that the incident has made you nervous. Promise me to go to the nursery.

JANE – I shall be glad to.

ROCHESTER – And fasten the door securely on the inside. (Opens the door, and hands the candle to her.) And now, no more sombre thoughts: chase dull care away, Janet. (Opens the window curtains, and looks outside.) The wind has fallen: it is a lovely night. (Holds his hand out to Jane.)

JANE – The night is serene; and so am I.

ROCHESTER – And tonight, you will not dream of separation and sorrow, but of happy love and blissful union. (Both embrace each other.)

 

Morning.

In church: the marriage service of Jane and Rochester, in course. Enter two men.

Rev. WOOD – These two persons present come now to be joined: therefore, if any man can show any just cause why they may not lawfully be joined together, let him now speak; or else, hereafter forever hold his peace.

MASON – (Murmurs, aside.) Now!

BRIGGS – No: he may yet himself recant.

Rev. WOOD – I require and charge you both (as ye will answer at the dreadful day of judgment, when the secrets of all hearts should be disclosed) (the other man steps in) that if either of you know any impediment, why ye may not be lawfully joined together in Matrimony, ye do now confess it. For be ye well assured, that so many as are coupled together otherwise than God’s Word doth allow, are not joined together by God, neither is their Matrimony lawful.

JANE – (Voiceover.) He paused, as the custom is.

BRIGGS – The marriage cannot go on: I declare the existence of an impediment.

BRIGGS – (To Rev. Wood.) Proceed.

Rev. WOOD – (Astonished, looking at the clerk.) I cannot proceed without some investigation of the charge of impediment.

ROCHESTER – The objector had his opportunity: he did not take it; he has been enjoined to hold his peace forever. Proceed.

Rev. WOOD – I cannot, Mr. Rochester.

BRIGGS – I waited, sir, lest you might yourself recant.

ROCHESTER – (Clasping Jane’s hand to his chest.) Proceed!

BRIGGS – The ceremony is quite broken off. I am in a condition to prove my allegation: an insuperable impediment to this marriage exists.

Rev. WOOD – What is its nature? Perhaps it can be explained away?

BRIGGS – It cannot be: it simply consists in the existence of a previous marriage. Mr. Rochester has a wife now living.

JANE – (Surprised.) (Voiceover.) He disavowed nothing.

Rochester puts Jane aside.

ROCHESTER – Who are you?

BRIGGS – My name is Briggs, a solicitor of Essex Street, London.

ROCHESTER – And you would thrust on me a wife?

BRIGGS – I would remind you of her existence, sir, which the law recognizes, if you do not.

ROCHESTER – Favour me with an account of her: with her name, her parentage, her place of abode.

BRIGGS – Certainly. (Takes a document out of his jacket, and reads it aloud.) I affirm and can prove that on the 20th of October AD 1821, Edward Fairfax Rochester, of Thornfield Hall, Yorkshire, was married to my sister, Bertha Antoinetta Mason, (Jane acknowledges Mason in the church) daughter of Jonas Mason, merchant, and of Antoinetta Mason, his wife, a Creole, at the Church of St. Paul, Spanish Town, Jamaica. The record of the marriage will be found in the register of that church: a copy of it is now in my possession. Signed, Richard Mason.

ROCHESTER – That, if a genuine document, may prove that I have been married, but it does not prove that the woman mentioned therein as my wife is still living.

BRIGGS – She was, three months ago. I have a witness to the fact, whose testimony even you, sir, would scarcely controvert.

ROCHESTER – Produce him; or proceed to hell, sir.

BRIGGS – He is here. Mr. Mason, have the goodness to step forward.

Mason steps in, afraid.

ROCHESTER – You! What have you to say?

MASON – Please, Rochester...

ROCHESTER – The devil is in it if you cannot answer distinctly. I demand again, Dick: what have you to say???

Rev. WOOD – (To Rochester.) Sir, do not forget this is a sacred place. (To Mason.) Are you aware, sir, whether or not this gentleman’s wife is still living?

BRIGGS – Courage: speak out.

MASON – She is now at Thornfield Hall: I saw her there last April. I am her brother.

Rev. WOOD – At Thornfield?! Impossible! I am an old resident in this neighbourhood, sir, and I have never heard of a Mrs. Rochester at the Hall.

ROCHESTER – No, by God! I took care that none should hear of it.

JANE – (Voiceover.) He held counsel with himself, formed his resolve, and announced it.

ROCHESTER – Enough! Wood, close your book; John Green, (to the clerk) leave the church: there will be no wedding today. Fate has outmanoeuvred me, or Providence checked me. I am little better than a devil at this moment; and deserve, no doubt, the sternest judgments of God, even to the quenchless fire and deathless worm. What this lawyer and his client say is true: I am married. But to what kind of wife, you shall see directly: Bertha Mason by name, sister of this resolute personage. Cheer up, Dick! Never fear me! I’d as soon strike a woman as you. My wife is mad, gentlemen; and she came of a mad family: idiots and maniacs through three generations. I found out, after I wed the daughter: for they were silent on family secrets before. Oh! I went through rich scenes! Briggs, Wood, Mason, I invite you all to visit Mrs. Poole’s patient and my wife! You shall see what sort of being I was cheated into espousing, and judge whether or not I had a right to break the compact. This girl knew no more than you of the disgusting secret: she thought all was fair and legal, and never dreamt she was going to be entrapped into a feigned union with a defrauded wretch. Come, all of you!

Exit all.

 

Somewhat later.

The entrance hall: Mrs. Fairfax, Adèle and the servants, waiting. John opens the door: enters the party.

ROCHESTER – To the right-about, every soul! Away with your congratulations! Who wants them? Not I! They are fifteen years too late! (Climbing the stairs, taking Jane by her hand.) Mason! (The party walks through the second storey hallway.) Did you never hear rumours, Wood? Some said she was my bastard half-sister; others, my cast-off mistress. (The party enters the room outside Bertha Mason’s room.) You remember this place, Mason? She bit and stabbed him here. (The party enters Bertha Mason’s room.) Good morrow, Mrs. Poole.

GRACE POOLE – Morning, sir.

ROCHESTER – How are you and your charge today?

GRACE POOLE – We’re tolerable, sir, thank you: snappish, but not ‘rageous. Careful, sir, she sees you! You’d better not stay.

ROCHESTER – You must allow me a few moments, Grace.

GRACE POOLE – But, sir!

ROCHESTER – You must allow me!

GRACE POOLE – But take care, sir!

MASON – We would better leave her.

ROCHESTER – Go to the devil!

GRACE POOLE – (Trying to master Bertha Mason.) Take care! I...

BERTHA MASON – (To Rochester, who pushes Jane aside.) You lie! You say you take me home. (Attacks Rochester.)

ROCHESTER – Agh! Grace! (Rochester and Grace Poole succeed in tying Bertha Mason to a chair.) That is my wife: such is the sole conjugal embrace I am ever to know! And this is what I wished to have: this young girl, who stands so grave and quiet at the mouth of hell. Compare them: then judge me, priest of the Gospel and man of the law, and remember with what judgment you shall be judged! Go now. I must shut up my prize. (Bertha Mason starts laughing at Rochester.)

 

Moments later.

The stairs: Jane, coming down, supported by Briggs; both, followed by Mason.

BRIGGS – You, Madam, are cleared of all blame. Your uncle would be glad to hear of it, if indeed he would still be living, when Mr. Mason returns to Madeira.

JANE – My uncle? What of him? Do you know him?

BRIGGS – Mr. Mason does. Mr. John Eyre has been the Funchal correspondent of his house for some years.

MASON – We deal in Madeira wine, Madam. Your uncle received your letter concerning your contemplated marriage to Mr. Rochester while I was staying with him.

BRIGGS – Mr. Mason was on his return to Jamaica; but had stopped to recover his health.

JANE – And you revealed the true state of matters to him?

MASON – I did...

BRIGGS – Whereupon, your uncle implored Mr. Mason to prevent the false marriage, being himself on his last sickbed. Mr. Mason referred to me; and I used all dispatch. I am thankful that I was not too late; as doubtless you must be, too.

JANE – (Voiceover.) Was I? As yet, I could not tell.

MASON – Were I not morally certain your uncle will be dead before I return, I would suggest that you should accompany me.

BRIGGS – I suggest Miss Eyre remain in England until she can hear further from or of her uncle.

JANE – Yes.

BRIGGS – Have we anything else to stay for?

MASON – Oh, no, let us be gone.

Exits Briggs and Mason. Rev. Wood comes downstairs.

Rev. WOOD – I shall await Mr. Rochester in the library, Miss Eyre.

JANE – By all means.

Rev. WOOD – Accept my sympathy, Miss Eyre.

JANE – Thank you.

 

Later.

Jane’s bedroom: the wedding gown, laying out on the floor; luggage, ready and labelled. Jane, standing by the window.

JANE – (Voiceover.) I was myself still, without obvious change. Yet, where was the Jane Eyre of yesterday? Where was her life? Where, her prospects? My hopes were all dead: struck with a subtle doom, such as, in one night, fell on all the first-born of Egypt. (Sitting down.) I looked on my cherished wishes: they lay stark, chill corpses that could never revive. I looked at my love: it shivered in my heart, like a suffering child in a cold cradle.

 

At the same time.

The library: Rochester and Rev. Wood, seemingly exasperated.

Rev. WOOD – I wish you good day, Mr. Rochester.

ROCHESTER – Be damned too, you, Wood! You safe man of God!

Exits Rev. Wood: Rochester, alone, with “Pilot”.

 

Later, the same day.

Jane’s bedroom: Jane, sitting down at the toilette table, looking herself in the mirror.

JANE – (Voiceover.) I wrestled with my own resolution: to leave Thornfield. Oh, I wanted to be weak! (Aloud.) Let another help me! (Rising.) (Voiceover.) But conscience, turned tyrant, held passion by the throat. (Stumbles.) I perceived I was sickening from inanition: neither meat nor drink had passed my lips that day. (Opens the door: enters Rochester.) My head swam: I almost fell. (Rochester holds and embraces her.)

ROCHESTER – You come out at last. I have been waiting and listening: yet, not one movement have I heard, nor one sob: five minutes more of that death-like silence, and I should have forced the door. (Jane looks at him.) A white cheek, a faded eye, and no trace of tears: I suppose, then, your heart has been weeping blood? (Rochester embraces her again.) Come.

Exit both.

 

Later.

The library: Jane, sitting down on a chair; Rochester, kneeling at her feet, giving her a glass of wine.

ROCHESTER – Not a word of reproach, Jane? Nothing bitter?... Jane, I never meant to wound you thus. Will you ever forgive me?

JANE – (Voiceover.) I forgave him at that moment: yet, not inwords, not outwardly; only at my heart’s core.

ROCHESTER – You know me to be a scoundrel, Jane?

JANE – Yes, sir.

ROCHESTER – Then tell me so! (Rising.) Roundly, sharply!

JANE – I cannot: (handling him the wine glass) I am tired and sick.

ROCHESTER – I can read your thoughts: (putting the wine glass over the fireplace) you intend, do you not, to make yourself a stranger to me?

JANE – All is changed about me, sir; I must change, too; Adèle must have a new governess.

ROCHESTER – Adèle shall go to school: we have settled that already, have we not?... I have settled that. I shall shut up Thornfield Hall, nail the front door, board the lower windows, and give Mrs. Poole two hundred pounds a year to live here with my... wife, as you all term that fearful demon.

JANE – Sir, you speak of her with hate. It is cruel: she cannot help being mad.

ROCHESTER – (Kneeling at her feet.) Jane, my darling, you misjudge me again: it is not because she is mad I hate her. If you were mad, do you think I should hate you?

JANE – I do, sir.

ROCHESTER – Then you are mistaken, and know nothing about me, (rising) nothing about the sort of love of which I am capable. Your flesh is as dear to me as my own. Your mind is my treasure, and if it were broken, it would be my treasure still.

JANE – Did you never once feel the same towards your wife?

ROCHESTER – Never! I was deluded, hoodwinked: by her, her family, my brother, and my own father. (Sits down.) My father, Jane, was an avaricious, grasping man; my elder brother, too. Did you ever hear anything of them?

JANE – Mrs. Fairfax told me your brother died.

ROCHESTER – (Laughs mirthlessly.) But not before he connived together with my father, to provide me with a fortune and a wife. My father could not bear to break up the estate. Instead, he sent me – how green I was!... –, to Spanish Town, Jamaica. There was my chosen bride: imposing, beautiful; with thirty thousand pounds, her dowry. Bemused by lies – they told me her mother was dead, not locked in an asylum –, I married her, dutiful to my father’s careful wishes. And then, on our honeymoon, I learned the truth: saw it in her eyes; heard it in her voice; experienced it in her violent, vicious contradictions. For four years, I endured her: Bertha Mason, the true daughter of an infamous family, diseased, lunatic. (Rising.) In the interim, my brother died; my father, also. I formed a plan – it was that or suicide, Jane –, to return here, with my lunatic burden; to confine her, with due attendance here: to which I did. Ten years followed: I travelled; first, cursing all mankind; then, seeking the solace my foolishness and others falsehood had denied me. I did not find it, until... (looking at her) you were walking in Hay Lane. I rode past you without a thought: I had no presentiment of what that quiet little figure would be to me. (She looks at him, with tears in her eyes.) I did not know it, even when my horse stumbled. You came to my aid: it was as if a linnet had hopped to my foot and proposed to bear me on its tiny wing. I was surly; but you did not go. I was to be aided, and by that small hand; (taking it) and aided I was. I demand that aid again, Jane.

JANE – I would give it gladly, sir.

ROCHESTER – You can! You can!

JANE – How?

ROCHESTER – (Kneeling at her feet.) Jane: we are packed and ready; nothing holds us, save dull convention. You shall be Mrs. Rochester, both virtually and nominally: I shall keep you as long as you and I live.

JANE – No!

ROCHESTER – You don’t love me then? It was only my station and the rank of wife that you valued. Now you find me disqualified to be your husband? You recoil from me?

JANE – I do love you, more than ever: but I must not show or indulge the feeling; and this is the last time I must express it. I must leave you, Mr. Rochester.

ROCHESTER – Oh, Jane, you must be reasonable; or, in truth, I shall go mad!

JANE – If I were to live with you as you desire, I should then be your mistress, a thing owned by you; and that I will not be, both for my own sake and for yours.

ROCHESTER – (Rising.) Jane, I am not a gentle tempered man. Do you truly mean to go one way in the world, and leave me to go another?

JANE – Oh, I do. (Rises.)

ROCHESTER – (Kissing her.) Do you still mean it?

JANE – Yes.

ROCHESTER – (Kissing her again.) Still?

JANE – I do!

ROCHESTER – Jane, this is bitter, wicked! It would not be wicked to love me.

JANE – It would be to obey you.

ROCHESTER – But what shall I do, Jane? Where shall I turn for companion? For hope?

JANE – Do as I do: trust in God; believe in Heaven, and hope to meet again there. Farewell.

ROCHESTER – Jane, you condemn me to live wretched and to die accursed!

JANE – No! No! God bless you, direct you, solace you, and reward you well for your past kindness to me.

ROCHESTER – (As she runs away from him.) Jane! Jane!! Jane!!!

 

Two days after.

A road stop: a coach, departing; Jane, standing on the spot.

JANE – (Voiceover.) The coachman had set me down at a place cal-led Whitcross, some sixty miles from Thornfield: he could take me no further for the twenty shillings I had given him, and I was not possessed of another penny in the world. (Pause.) It was only now I realized that, in my distress, I had left the few belongings I had brought with me on the seat: I was destitute and quite alone.

 

 

 

 

PART FIVE

 

A rainy night.

Moors: Jane, drifting.

JANE – (Voiceover.) It is not pleasant to dwell upon the details of my destitution. After two days on the moors without food, with this feeling of faintness and chill, must I lay my head on the cold drenched ground? Shall I be an outcast again this night? Oh, some people say there is enjoyment in looking back on painful experience past! I do not. (Sees light coming from a house.) The light was yet there, shining dim but constant through the rain. (Drags herself to the house. Looks through one of the windows: sees two young ladies and a housemaid, talking; hears a clock, chiming.) How desolate, how desperate my own position seemed, compared with these! They were all delicacy and cultivation. I had nowhere seen such faces as theirs; yet, beg from them I must, or die.

Jane knocks at the door: the housemaid opens.

HANNAH – What’s your business at this hour?

JANE – May I speak to your mistresses?

HANNAH – Not you! What can they do for you?

JANE – A night’s shelter, an outhouse, anywhere; and a morsel of bread. Don’t shut the door!

HANNAH – I must, the rain’s driving in.

JANE – Let me see the young ladies.

HANNAH – Indeed, I won’t. You aren’t what you ought to be. Move off! I fear you’ve some ill plans agate.

JANE – Oh, but, I will...

The housemaid shuts the door.

JANE – (Falling on her knees, and sighing.) (Voiceover) Not only the anchor of hope, but a footing of fortitude was gone. (Aloud.) I can but die... I be-lieve in God: let me try to await His will in silence.

ST. JOHN – All men must die...

JANE – Who speaks?

ST. JOHN – ...but all are not condemned to meet a premature doom. (Knocks at the door.)

HANNAH – Is that you, Mr. St. John?

ST. JOHN – Yes; open quickly.

HANNAH – Oh, come in! Such a wild night: your sisters were uneasy; and there’s been bad folks about, there’s a beggar woman... (Acknowledging Jane.) Not gone yet?! Get up! For shame!

ST. JOHN – Hush, Hannah! You did your duty in excluding; let me do mine in admitting her.

HANNAH – Mr. St. John!

ST. JOHN – I must examine into this case, Hannah. (Hannah goes in.) (To Jane.) Young woman, rise.

Jane is helped into the house, to the kitchen’s fireplace.

HANNAH – Is she ill, or only famished?

ST. JOHN – The latter, I think. Warm some milk.

DIANA – What is your name?

JANE – Jane... Elliott.

DIANA – Where do you live? Where are your friends?

JANE – None... I have none... (Loses her senses.)

 

The following morning.

A bedroom: Jane, sleeping. Enter St. John and Mary.

MARY – Poor, pallid wanderer. It is as well we took her in.

ST. JOHN – Her state of lethargy is due to excessive and protracted fatigue. Rather an unusual physiognomy, not indicative of vulgarity or degradation. She looks sensible, but not at all handsome.

MARY – She is not an uneducated person; her accent was quite pure.

ST. JOHN – I imagine she will recover rapidly enough.

Exit both.

 

Another morning.

The same bedroom: Jane, sleeping still.

JANE – (Wakes up.) (Voiceover.) On the third day, I was better; on the fourth, I could speak, move. (Rises, and sees her dress, cleaned, on a chair.)

 

Later.

The kitchen: Jane, sitting on a chair, by the fireplace; Hannah, working.

HANNAH – (Filling a fruit basket with gooseberries.) Did you ever go a-begging afore you came here?

JANE – I am no beggar; anymore than yourself, or your young ladies.

HANNAH – Oh, I dunnut understand that: you’ve like no house and no brass?

JANE – The want of a house and brass, by which I suppose you mean money, does not make a beggar.

HANNAH – Are you book-learned? (Goes to the kitchen table.)

JANE – Yes, very. What are you going to do with those gooseberries?

HANNAH – Mak’ ‘em into pies.

JANE – Oh, let me pick them, top and tail.

HANNAH – Nay; I dunnut want you to do naught.

JANE – (Rising.) Please, I must do something.

HANNAH – You’ll need a towel, least you mucky ya dress. (Jane sits down at the kitchen table, and picks the fruit basket: Hannah puts a clean towel over Jane’s lap.) Oh, oh! You’ve not been used to servant’s work: I see by your hands. Have you ever been to school? (Returns to her work at the kitchen table.)

JANE – Yes, I was at a boarding school eight years.

HANNAH – Eight?! Whatever can’t you keep yourself for, then?

JANE – Oh, I have; I trust I shall again. But never mind where I have been: tell me the name of this house.

HANNAH – Oh, some call it Marsh End, and some call it Moor House.

JANE – And the gentleman who lives here?

HANNAH – Oh, he dunna live ‘ere, not Mr. St. John. He has his own parish at Morton.

JANE – He is a parson?

HANNAH – Aye, downhill. This was his father’s house, old Mr. Rivers.

JANE – So his name is Mr. St. John Rivers.

HANNAH – Aye; and his sisters are Diana and Mary.

JANE – Their father is dead, you said?

HANNAH – Aye, three weeks since: a stroke.

JANE – And they have no mother?

HANNAH – Mistress has been dead this many a year. I’ve lived with the family for thirty. I nursed them all three.

JANE – That proves you must have been an honest and faithful servant. I will say that much for you, though you have had the incivility to call me a beggar.

HANNAH – Oh, you mun’ forgive me, as so many cheats goes about.

JANE – But you wished to turn me from the door, and on such a night as you should not have shut out a dog.

HANNAH – Oh, it were hard; but I though more of the children then on myself. They’ve like nobody to take care of them but me. I’m like to look sharpish. You mun’ut think too hardly of me.

JANE – Oh, but I do: not so much because you refused me shelter – I might have been an impostor –, but just now you made it a species of reproach that I had no “brass” and no house. Some of the best people that ever lived have been as destitute as I am: if you are a Christian, you should not consider poverty a crime.

HANNAH – No more I ought. Mr. St. John tells me so, too: I see I wor wrong. (Smiles.) Oh, but I have a clear different notion on you now to what I had. (Laughs.) You look a right down decent little creature.

JANE – I forgive you now.

Both shake hands.

 

Tea time.

The back parlour: St. John, cross-questioning Jane, before Diana and Mary.

ST. JOHN – I accept your account of yourself; and I shall respect your reluctance to divulge the reasons for you leaving your post as governess, as well as indeed the whereabouts of that employment, Miss Elliott. (Jane gives an involuntary half start.) You said your name was Jane Elliott?

JANE – Yes, I did; and it is the name I think it expedient to be called at present; but it is not my real name, and to hear it sounds strange.

ST. JOHN – Your real name you will not give?

JANE – No: I fear discovery; and whatever disclosure might lead to it, I avoid.

DIANA – I am sure you are right. (Rising.) Now do, brother, let her be at peace for a while.

ST. JOHN – (Handling his cup of tea to Diana.) I cannot, Diana, if I am to give the aid this lady requests. You desire to be independent of us?

JANE – Oh, yes, I do. Show me work, or how to seek it: that is all I ask; then let me go. But till then, let me stay here: I dread another essay of the horrors of homeless destitution.

MARY – (Rising.) Indeed you shall stay here.

DIANA – You must.

ST. JOHN – My sisters, you see, have pleasure in keeping you, as they would in cherishing a wild bird with a broken wing; but I feel more inclination to put you in the way of keeping yourself. But observe, my sphere is narrow. I am but the incumbent of a poor country parish: my help must be of the humblest kind.

DIANA – She said she is willing to do anything honest she can do. Why are you so crusty, St. John?

ST. JOHN – Some people are inclined to despise the day of small things, Diana.

JANE – Oh, I would not! I will be a dressmaker, or plain-work-woman, servant, nurse-girl, if I can do no better.

ST. JOHN – Right. If such is your true spirit, I promise to aid you.

 

Another day.

A brook: Jane, sitting by; Diana and Mary, picking berries.

JANE – (Voiceover.) And had I forgotten Mr. Rochester all this while? Not for a moment. His idea was still with me, because it was not a vapour sunshine could disperse: it was a name graven on a tablet, fated to last as long as the marble it inscribed. Diana and Mary became as two sisters to me; our natures dovetailed: the strongest mutual affection was the result. Their brother, however, was another matter.

All leave.

 

Later.

The back parlour: St. John, reading a letter. Pass Jane, Diana and Mary by the door.

ST. JOHN – Diana. Mary.

MARY – We should have wintry pie for supper, St. John.

ST. JOHN – Come through, I beg you.

The kitchen: Mary and Diana go to St. John; Jane remains, with Hannah.

HANNAH – Why, Miss Jane, you have picked a quantity. (Laughs.)

JANE – Oh, Diana and Mary did! I idled by the stream.

HANNAH – Quite right: you gather your strength.

Both laugh.

 

The back parlour: Diana and Mary, reading the letter, with St. John.

DIANA – Nothing?

ST. JOHN – No.

DIANA – Amen. We can yet live.

MARY – It makes us no worse off than we were before.

ST. JOHN – Only it forces rather strongly on the mind the picture of what might have been had our uncle chosen, and contrasts it somewhat too vividly with what is.

St. John puts the letter on a drawer, and exits; a moment later, passes through the kitchen, to leave the house.

JANE – Is anything wrong?

ST. JOHN – A private matter. (Exits.)

Jane passes to the parlour: Diana and Mary, sitting down.

JANE – (Voiceover.) Both sisters seemed struck: the tidings, whatever they were, seemed more momentous than afflicting. (Aloud.) May I know what has occurred?

DIANA – Yes, of course. Our Uncle John has died. Well, you may think us hard-hearted not to be more moved by the death of so near a relation; but we have never known him or seen him. Our father and he quarrelled long ago; and it was through Uncle John’s advice that father lost most of his property in a speculation.

MARY – Father always cherished the idea that he would atone by leaving us a competency; but he has not.

DIANA – We are to receive thirty guineas between us, to purchase mourning rings.

JANE – Oh, I am sorry.

DIANA – (Sighing.) We were, of course, foolish to hope...

 

Evening.

The back parlour: St. John, reading the Scriptures to all.

ST. JOHN – Fulfil now, O Lord, the desires and petitions of thy servants as may be most expedient for them; granting in this world knowledge of thy truth, and in the world to come life everlasting.

JANE, DIANA, MARY, HANNAH – Amen. (All rise, and bid good night to St. John.)

HANNAH – Good night, Mr. St. John.

ST. JOHN – (Kisses Hannah.) Good night, Hannah. (Kisses Diana and Mary.) (To Jane.) Will you stay a moment?

DIANA – Good night, brother.

MARY – Good night, brother.

ST. JOHN – Good night.

JANE – You have heard of employment for me?

ST. JOHN – Yes, but it is a service of poverty and obscurity: you may even think it degrading. My parish at Morton requires a school for girls; and that school requires a mistress: will you take the post?

JANE – Oh, yes! I thank you, with all my heart.

ST. JOHN – But you comprehend me? It is a village school: your scholars will be poor girls, quite unlettered. There is a small cottage also, attached to the school: two rooms only. It will be a monstrous labour.

JANE – I understand what I undertake.

ST. JOHN – Very well: so be it.

 

An afternoon.

Jane’s cottage: Ruth, a young girl, sweeping the floor; Jane, at table, painting a watercolour.

RUTH – I’m on being going now, Miss Elliot.

JANE – Oh, thank you, Ruth: home you go, then. (Ruth picks up Jane’s watercolour.) Take your wages. (Gives her an orange.)

RUTH – Oh, thank you, Ma’am. You pictured our school just like.

JANE – Oh, do you think so?

RUTH – Aye, Ma’am.

JANE – (Collects the watercolour.) Oh, Ruth, tell Mary Garrett not to forget the holly she promised for tomorrow.

RUTH – No, Ma’am. (Curtseying and exiting.) Good night.

JANE – Good night, Ruth. (Voiceover.) I thought myself happy: had I not made the right choice, shunning temptation, adhering to principle? My labours as a schoolmistress were now rewarded in the village with cordial salutations: I lived amidst general regard. Why, then, do I find myself weeping?

Someone knocks at the door: enters St. John.

ST. JOHN – I cannot stay long; I have only brought a little parcel my sisters sent me yesterday; and their letter, too: it is addressed to you too, as well as myself.

JANE – Thank you.

ST. JOHN – I think it is a colour-box, some pencils, and paper. (Sees Jane’s watercolours on the table, and acknowledges that one is signed.)  But you must open it. (St. John tears the signature “Jane Eyre” off that watercolour, and puts it in one of his pockets, without Jane noticing it.)

JANE – Oh, you are right. It is most welcome.

ST. JOHN – I hear nothing but praise of you in all sides in the village: your pupils’ progress has been remarkable. You now begin to enjoy a sense of tranquillity, Jane?

JANE – I do not repine.

ST. JOHN – Nor look back?

JANE – I feel my solitude occasionally, once the day’s work is done.

ST. JOHN – Of course... It is hard to control the workings of inclination and turn the bent of nature; but it may be done, I know from experience. A year ago, I was myself intensely miserable because I thought I had made a mistake in entering the ministry: its uniform duties wearied me to death. I burned for the more active life of the world; for the destiny of an artist, author, orator, politician; anything rather than a priest; yes, a soldier, even. But God all the while had given me an errand; to bear which afar I needed all the skills and strengths of soldier, statesman, and orator: for all these centre in the good missionary. And so I resolved to be. From that moment, all doubts cleared, the fetters dissolved: I had bent my nature to the will of God. So may you, Jane.

JANE – I wonder...

 

A week later, nearer Christmas.

Jane’s cottage: St. John, visiting Jane.

JANE – You still have not said why you braved this snow to come?

ST. JOHN – I grew tired of my mute books and empty room. Besides, since yesterday I have experienced the excitement of a person to whom a tale has been half-told. I am impatient to hear the sequel.

JANE – Oh, I wish Diana and Mary could come and live with you.

ST. JOHN – They of the poor must work.

JANE – (Sitting down.) Have you heard from them?

ST. JOHN – Not since the letter I brought you last week.

JANE – And your own arrangements with the Missionary Society? You have not been summoned away sooner than expected?

ST. JOHN – No, would that I had; but such a chance is too good to befall me... Now, I spoke of a tale half-told: let me assume the part of narrator, though I must warn you the story may sound somewhat hackneyed in your ears. Twenty years ago, a poor curate fell in love with a rich man’s daughter, and she with him: they married. The girl’s family at once disowned her. Within two years, the rash pair were dead: I have seen their grave. They left a daughter...

JANE – Mr. Rivers!

ST. JOHN – Charity received her, carried the friendless thing to the house of its rich maternal relations, to be reared by an aunt-in-law. I come to names now. She was called Mrs. Reed of Gateshead...

JANE – Do not trouble yourself to tell me the rest.

ST. JOHN – After ten years, Mrs. Reed transferred this orphan to Lowood School, where you so long resided. Finally, she left to be a governess, as you did, to undertake the education of the ward of a certain Mr. Rochester...

JANE – (Rising.) Mr. Rivers, I do not wish to hear more!

ST. JOHN – (Rising.) I must insist. Of Mr. Rochester’s character I know nothing, but the fact that he proposed honourable marriage to this young girl, and at the very altar she discovered he had a wife yet alive, though a lunatic. What his subsequent conduct and proposals were, I do not know; but the governess fled, and every research after her has, so far, been in vain. Yet, that she should be found has become a matter of urgency...

JANE – Why? Do you have news of Mr. Rochester? How is he? Where is he? What is he doing? Is he well?

ST. JOHN – You should rather ask the name of the governess; and the nature of the event that requires her appearance.

JANE – You know nothing of Mr. Rochester?

ST. JOHN – No more than I have imparted.

JANE – (Sitting down.) Oh...

ST. JOHN – And that, I learned from a letter of a solicitor: a Mr. Briggs. His informant was a lady: Alice Fairfax. Briggs wrote to me of a Jane Eyre; I knew a Jane Elliott. You will, I hope, forgive me: this caught my eye the last time I called. (Shows her the signature “Jane Eyre” from her watercolour.) You must have written your true name in an idle moment...

JANE – Yes, I must have...

ST. JOHN – You own the name and renounce the alias?

JANE – Oh, of course. But did no one go to Thornfield?

ST. JOHN – You forget essential points in pursuing trifles. You did not ask why Mr. Briggs sought after you.

JANE – Well, what did he want?

ST. JOHN – Merely to tell you that your uncle, Mr. Eyre of Madeira, is dead; that he has left you all his property, and that you are now rich.

JANE – I?! Oh, but I cannot be!

ST. JOHN – Yes, rich: quite an heiress.

JANE – (Rising.) (Voiceover.) It is a fine thing to be lifted in a moment from poverty to wealth; but it is not a matter one can comprehend all at once.

ST. JOHN – Still you do not ask how much you are worth.

JANE – How much?

ST. JOHN – Oh, nothing much to speak of: a trifling twenty thousand pounds! (Laughs.) Well, if you were a murderess discovered, you could scarcely look more aghast.

JANE – But it is a large sum! Don’t you think there has been a mistake? Perhaps you read the figures wrong.

ST. JOHN – It is written in words, not figures: “twenty thousand”. Well, I must leave you to your sorrows. (Picks his hat and cloak.)

JANE – Wait! It puzzles me why this solicitor should write to you.

ST. JOHN – The clergy are often appealed to about odd matters.

JANE – No, that does not satisfy me!

ST. JOHN – (Pauses. Means to go.) Another time: it is late.

JANE – No, tonight!

ST. JOHN – I should rather not.

JANE – Oh, but you shall! You must!

ST. JOHN – Very well. It is simple enough. You are not perhaps aware that I am your namesake? That I was christened St. John Eyre Rivers?

JANE – No! (Voiceover.) In an instant, by instinct, I knew how the matter stood. (Aloud.) Eyre was your mother’s name?

ST. JOHN – Yes, it was. She had two brothers...

JANE – One, my father; the other, my uncle of Madeira.

ST. JOHN – You have guessed correctly.

JANE – But then, you and Diana and Mary are my cousins?

ST. JOHN – We are cousins, yes.

JANE – Now... now I have found wealth, indeed! Wealth to the heart! Oh, I am glad!

ST. JOHN – Did I not say you neglected essentials to chase trifles? You were serious a moment ago, when I told you that you had got a fortune; now, for a matter of no moment, you are excited.

JANE – What can you mean? Oh, it may be of no importance to you: you have sisters, and do not care for a cousin. But I had nobody, and now three relations – two, if you do not choose to be counted – are born into my world full-grown. Oh, I say again, I am glad! (Kisses St. John on the cheek.)

ST. JOHN – Have I not said you are guided too much by the heart’s affections, Jane?

JANE – Oh, I am! I confess it, so much so that I... Oh, you must write to Diana and Mary and tell them to come home directly. I intend to benefit them with five thousand pounds apiece; and you also.

ST. JOHN – Jane, you really must tranquilize your feelings.

JANE – But why? You cannot fail to see that twenty thousand pounds, divided equally between the four of us, gives five thousand each!

ST. JOHN – No, this is acting on first impulses.

JANE – Yes, and it is also just. Our uncle... our uncle should have done what I propose. Three mourning rings?...

ST. JOHN – Possibly; but he did not. Therefore, no division is necessary; and you may, with a clear conscience, consider the entire fortune absolutely your own.

JANE – Oh, but I could not; and I shall not.

Opens the door: exits St. John.

 

Another evening.

Moor House. The back parlour: Diana, Mary, St. John and Hannah, singing. Enters Jane: gives presents to all.

DIANA, MARY, ST. JOHN, HANNAH – God rest ye merry gentlemen, / let nothing you dismay. / Remember, Christ our Saviour / was born on Christmas-day...

JANE – (Voiceover.) My insistence was rewarded: Moor House refurbished; the legacy divided justly, immutably; even our lawyers smiled to see natural justice performed. It was a time of holiday, and we were all content, save St. John: he had another master to serve... (Another day. The back parlour: St. John and Jane, both studying, at separate tables.) His was the ambition of the high master spirit which aims to fill a place in the first rank of those who are redeemed from Earth.

ST. JOHN – Jane, what are you doing?

JANE – Learning German, as well as I am able.

ST. JOHN – Will you help me study Hindustani?

JANE – You are not in earnest?

ST. JOHN – It will be a great service. I would have asked my sisters; but I have observed in you a greater capacity for application. (Rises.) Will you do me, and God, this favour?

 

Another day.

Moor House. The back parlour: St. John and Jane, both studying, at the same table.

ST. JOHN – Jane, may I interrupt this lesson? It is important.

JANE – Of course.

ST. JOHN – I leave for India in six weeks.

JANE – God will protect you. You have undertaken His work.

ST. JOHN – Yes, (rising) there is my glory and joy. I am the servant of an infallible Master. It seems strange to me that all around me do not burn to enlist under the same banner.

JANE – All have not your powers; it would be folly for the feeble to attempt to march with the strong.

ST. JOHN – I do not speak to the feeble, Jane. You are not feeble...

JANE – I?

ST. JOHN – ...neither in spirit nor body. Jane, come with me to India: come as my helpmate and fellow labourer.

JANE – (Voiceover.) It was as if I heard the summons from Heaven. But I was no apostle. (Aloud.) Sir, have some mercy!

ST. JOHN – God intended you for a missionary’s wife. It is not personal, but mental adornments He has given you: you were formed for a labour, not for love. A missionary’s wife you must, shall be. I claim you; not for my pleasure, but for my Sovereign’s service.

JANE – I am not fitted for it: I have no vocation.

ST. JOHN – Who is fit for the work? None! Yet, we are chosen. (Sits down.)

JANE – I know nothing of a missionary life: I have never studied missionary labours.

ST. JOHN – Then I can help you, Jane: I can set your task from hour to hour.

JANE – Where are my powers for such an undertaking? I do not feel them. Do not persuade me to attempt what I cannot perform.

ST. JOHN – You can. Have I not observed you? In the village school, you performed well a labour uncongenial to your inclinations. In the calm with which you learnt of your inheritance, I read of a mind clear of the vice of Demas: lucre has no undue power over you. In the resolute readiness with which you cut your wealth into four shares, I recognized a soul that revelled in the flame and excitement of sacrifice. Jane, you are docile, diligent, courageous, very gentle, and very heroic: cease to mistrust yourself; I trust you unreservedly. As a conductress of Indian schools and a helper among Indian women, your assistance will be to me invaluable.

JANE – (Rising.) (Voiceover.) My iron shroud contracted round me. I could do what he wanted, if life were spared me. (Looking at St. John.) He would never love me; but, oh, he would approve me! I would show him such energies, resources he had never suspected I possessed.

ST. JOHN – (Rising.) Your answer, Jane?

JANE – (Voiceover.) But marriage to him would be a monstrous martyrdom of half my nature.

ST. JOHN – Jane?

JANE – I am ready to go with you to India, if I may go free, as a sister to you.

ST. JOHN – That cannot be. I want a wife: the sole helpmate I can influence efficiently in life, and retain absolutely till death.

JANE – Seek one elsewhere than in me, St. John: seek one fit-ted to you. Oh, I will go with you as a missionary; but not as a wife.

ST. JOHN – Do you think God will be satisfied with half a sacrifice? It is the cause of God I advocate. I cannot accept on His behalf divided allegiance: it must be entire.

JANE – Oh! I will give my heart to God. You do not want it.

ST. JOHN – Jane, we must be married. There is no other way; and undoubtedly enough of love would follow upon marriage to render the union right even in your eyes.

JANE – I scorn your idea of love. It is a counterfeit sentiment you offer. And yes, St. John, I scorn you when you offer it.

ST. JOHN – (Shocked.) I scarcely expected such an answer: I think I have done and uttered nothing to deserve scorn.

JANE – Oh, forgive my words; but it is your own fault: you have introduced a topic on which our natures are at variance. Dear cousin, abandon your scheme of marriage.

ST. JOHN – No, it is long cherished; but I shall urge you no further at present. Reflect, and consider well.

 

Later.

Jane, in her bedroom, standing by the window, wiping her tears. Someone knocks at the door.

JANE – Who is it?

DIANA – Diana.

JANE – Come in.

DIANA – Jane, you must tell me what business you and my brother have on hand: so agitated, so pale. I wish he loved you Jane: does he?

JANE – Not one whit... (Sits down on her bed.)

DIANA – Then, why does he follow you with his eyes, and get you so frequently alone with him? Both Mary and I had concluded that he wished you to marry him.

JANE – Oh, he has asked me to be his wife; or, rather, a fitting fellow-labourer in his Indian toils.

DIANA – (Sitting down before Jane.) He wishes you to go to India?!

JANE – Yes.

DIANA – But that is madness! You would not live three months in India. Oh, you have not consented?

JANE – I have refused to marry him.

DIANA – And consequently displeased him?

JANE – Deeply; and yet, I offered to accompany him as a sister.

DIANA – It was fantastic folly to do so, Jane.

JANE – Oh, but he is so good, so noble: I cannot be insensitive to his virtues.

DIANA – He would urge you to impossibilities and you would force yourself to perform them. I am astonished you even found courage to refuse his hand. You do not love him, Jane?

JANE – Not as a husband; and yet, if forced to be his wife, I can imagine the possibility of conceiving an inevitable, strange, torturing kind of love for him; but he would not want me to love him.

DIANA – In that case, your lot would become unspeakably wretched.

JANE – He has told me I am formed for labour, not for love; if true, it follows I am not formed for marriage. Your brother is good and great, Diana; but he forgets pitilessly the feelings and claims of those less exalted than himself.

 

Later.

Moor House. The back parlour: St. John, reading the Scriptures to all.

ST. JOHN – He that overcometh shall inherit all things; (Mary exchanges a worried look with Diana) and I will be his God, and he shall be My son. But the fearful, (gazing at Jane) the unbelieving, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.

JANE – (Voiceover.) Henceforth, I knew what fate St. John feared for me. (Rising.) Had not Mr. Brocklehurst, when I was ten, feared the same?

MARY – Good night.

ST. JOHN – (Kisses Mary.) Good night.

DIANA – Good night, brother.

ST. JOHN – (Kisses Diana.) Good night.

Exit Mary and Diana.

JANE – I wish you a pleasant journey to Cambridge.

ST. JOHN – I shall return in a fortnight, Jane: that space is yet left to you. May God give you the strength to choose the path of rightful duty, to do all things to the glory of God.

JANE – (Voiceover.) He spoke earnestly, mildly. Oh, I was tempted to cease struggling, to rush down the torrent of his will, into the gulf of his existence, and there lose my own!

ST. JOHN – Could you decide now?

JANE – If I were but certain, were I convinced it is God’s will I should marry you, I could vow to do so here, now, come afterwards what would.

ST. JOHN – My prayers are heard! (Embraces her.) Jane, you long to do what is right: do it. You can, you must.

JANE – Oh, God, show me the path.

ROCHESTER – (Voiceover.) Jane!... Jane!...

JANE – Oh! I am coming!

ROCHESTER – (Voiceover.) Jaaane!...

JANE – Wait for me! (Runs outside the house.) Where are you? Where? Oh, I will come, I will! (Voiceover.) That voice was not superstition, but the work of nature: she was roused and did, no miracle, but her best.

ST. JOHN – Jane...

JANE – Do not question me, cousin: I, too, have a master to serve.

Jane enters the house, leaving back St. John, confused.

 

Another day.

The road to Thornfield Hall: Jane, walking on.

JANE – (Voiceover.) Once more on road to Thornfield, I felt like a messenger-pigeon returning home. I recalled that voice I heard, that inward sensation I experienced: whence had it come? It seemed in me: not in the external world. Was it a mere nervous impression, a delusion? If it were, then I should find my master either gone, or still at Thornfield Hall... and who besides him? His lunatic wife? (Aloud.)

Oh, God, I have lost my labour! (Voiceover.) “Return to the inn, ask information there.” No, I must see the Hall. (Jane acknowledges Thornfield Hall in ruins.) (Aloud.) Oh, God, a delusion!...

                      

Later.

At the inn: Jane, talking with the innkeeper.

JANE – The late Mr. Rochester! Is he dead?

THE INNKEEPER – I meant the present gentleman, Mr. Edward’s father, Ma’am.

JANE – The present! Mr. Edward Rochester is alive?

THE INNKEEPER – Well, in a way of speaking, aye. There was a...

JANE – What way? What way?

THE INNKEEPER – Oh, you, being a stranger, you won’t have heard. That Hall’s quite a ruin, burned to the ground last Autumn, at dead o’ night. I witnessed the fire meeself: mass of flames.

JANE – And was it his... How did the fire originate?

THE INNKEEPER – It was guessed, Ma’am: oh, yes. There was a lady, a lunatic, kept at the Hall: they guessed it was she. But a queer thing happened about a year ago. There was a governess at the Hall; and Mr. Rochester fell in love with this governess...

JANE – But the fire...

THE INNKEEPER – Yeah, aye, I’m coming to that... See, Mr. Rochester fell in love with this governess. He set store on her above everything, though none but him thought her handsome: small, plain little thing, not more than twenty; and Mr. Rochester rising forty...

JANE – But the fire, was it suspected the lunatic had started it?

THE INNKEEPER – Oh, yes, Ma’am: quite certain. You see, she was Mr. Rochester’s wife, though all thought him a bachelor. It all come out, when he attempted to marry this governess.

JANE – Please, I must know what you mean when you say Mr. Rochester is alive in a way of speaking. Was he hurt in the fire? Was he...

THE INNKEEPER – Stone-blinded, Ma’am.

JANE – Blinded?!

THE INNKEEPER – Aye; and his left arm were maimed. He tried to rescue the mad woman: climbed up into the attics when all was burning; but she eluded him, went up onto the battlements. Saw her standing there, against the flames: he begged her to come down, he called to her; but she ga’e a spring, and the next moment she lay smashed on the pavement below...

JANE – Dead?

THE INNKEEPER – As dead as the stones on which her brains and blood were scattered. It was frightful!

JANE – Oh, God!

THE INNKEEPER – Say, it were Mr. Rochester’s courage that...

JANE – And is he now abroad?

THE INNKEEPER – Oh, no, Ma’am, no: no, he is at Ferndean, a manor-house some thirteen mile away, desolate spot. Quite broken down they say he is. (Turns, and sees that Jane has left.)

 

Later.

Ferndean Manor. Rochester comes out the house: looks up, trying to see the sky. Jane arrives: rushes down the portal steps, and sees him.

JANE – (Voiceover.) His form was of the same strong and stalwart contour: a year’s space could not quell or blight its vigorous prime. Yet, he looked desperate, brooding, in his blind ferocity. Where was his daring stride now?

John comes out of the house: tries to take Rochester in.

ROCHESTER – Let me alone!

John returns to the house.

 

The kitchen: Leah and John, sitting by. Enters Jane.

JANE – Leah?

John and Leah rise.

LEAH – Miss Eyre!

JANE – How are you, Leah?

LEAH – (Shaking hands with Jane.) Oh, is it really you, Miss?

JANE – Yes. And how are you, John?

JOHN – (Shaking hands with Jane.) Nicely, thank you, Miss.

LEAH – They searched far and wide for you, Miss, after the fire. You heard about the fire at Thornfield?

JANE – Yes, the landlord of “The George” at Millcote informed me.

LEAH – And of Mr. Rochester’s accident?

JANE – Yes. Oh, John, could you go down to the turnpike house? I left my trunk there.

JOHN – Of course, Miss.

JANE – Could you arrange for me to stay the night, Leah? I have travelled far.

LEAH – I think so, Miss. (Off scene: bell rings.) Oh, excuse me. (Curtseys.)

JANE – When you go in, tell Mr. Rochester a person wishes to speak to him; but do not give my name.

LEAH – I don’t think he’ll see you, Miss: he refuses anybody.

JOHN – (Stepping out the kitchen.) It was his kindness blinded him.

JANE – So I believe. (Voiceover.) And kindness, my kindness, would give him eyes again.

LEAH – (Returning.) You’re to send in your name and your business, Miss. (Picks a tray with a glass of water and a candle.)

JANE – Oh, is that what he rang for, Leah?

LEAH – Yes, Miss: he always has candles, although he is blind.

JANE – Give me the tray.

 

A moment later.

The drawing room: Rochester, standing by the fireplace; “Pilot”, lying on the floor. Enters Jane: “Pilot” recognizes her.

JANE – Sush, “Pilot”! Lie down.

ROCHESTER – What is it? Leah? Is it you?

JANE – Leah is in the kitchen.

ROCHESTER – Who is it? (Stumbles.) What is it? Who speaks?

JANE – “Pilot” knows me, and John and Leah. I only came this evening. (Puts the tray on the dinner table.)

ROCHESTER – Great God! What delusion has come over me? What sweet madness?

JANE – Neither, sir.

ROCHESTER – Where is the speaker? Or is it only a voice? Oh, God, I cannot see, but I must feel, or my heart will stop and my brain burst. Whoever... whatever you are, be perceptible to touch or I cannot live!

JANE – (Arresting his wandering hand.) There, sir.

ROCHESTER – Her very fingers! There must be more of her. Is it Jane? This is her shape and size...

JANE – And this, her voice. She is all here: her heart, too.

ROCHESTER – Jane Eyre? Jane... Eyre!

JANE – Yes, I have come back to you. I have found you out.

ROCHESTER – In truth? In the flesh? My living Jane?

JANE – Oh, you touch me, you hold me, sir: I am not cold like a corpse, nor vacant like air, am I?

ROCHESTER – My living darling! No, I cannot be so blest. It’s a dream, such as I have had when I have kissed her as thus... (kissing her forehead) but I always awoke and found her gone. Gentle, soft dream, you will fly too; but kiss me before you go, Jane.

JANE – (Kisses him.) There, sir.

ROCHESTER – It is you! You are not dead in some ditch under some stream? Not a pining outcast amongst strangers?

JANE – No, sir! I am an independent woman now.

ROCHESTER – What do you mean?

JANE – My uncle in Madeira left me five thousand pounds.

ROCHESTER – (Sitting down.) Ah! This is practical: this is real. I should never dream that. Besides, there is that peculiar voice of hers, so animating and piquant: it cheers my withered heart. And you are independent woman? A rich woman?

JANE – I am my own mistress: I could choose to stay with you, if I wish.

ROCHESTER – Do you?

JANE – (Embracing him.) Certainly.

ROCHESTER – A blind lameter like me?

JANE – If you do not object. Oh, I will be your neighbour, your nurse, your housekeeper, your... (Voiceover.) Had I too rashly overleaped conventionalities? I had made the proposal from the idea that he wished and would ask me to be his wife: perhaps I had played the fool unwittingly. (Means to leave him.)

ROCHESTER – (Holding Jane by her arm, and rising.) No, don’t leave me! I have touched you and heard you: I cannot give up these joys.

JANE – I will stay: I have said so.

ROCHESTER – To be my nurse? You are young, you must marry someday.

JANE – I do not care about being married.

ROCHESTER – You should care, Janet! If I were as I once was, I would try and make you care – but, a sightless block! (Sitting down.)

JANE – (Voiceover.) I took fresh courage, seeing now where the difficulty lay. (Aloud.) It is time that someone undertook to rehumanise you. You look like Nebuchadnezzar in the fields: your hair remind me of eagle’s feathers; whether your nails have grown like birds’ claws, I have not yet noticed.

ROCHESTER – On this arm, I have neither hand nor nails: a mere stump.

JANE – It is a pity to see it: a pity to see your eyes, the scar on your forehead... (Kisses the scar.) The worst of it is, one is in danger of making too much of you, and loving you too well for all that. And now, I must leave you and make a fire, light the candles. (While lighting them.) Can you tell when there is a good fire?

ROCHESTER – Yes, I see a glow: a red haze.

JANE – And the candles?

ROCHESTER – Very dimly: each, a luminous cloud.

JANE – (Turning to him.) Can you see me?

ROCHESTER – No, my elf: I am only thankful to hear you and touch you. (Holds his hand out to her.)

JANE – (Taking his hand.) When do you take supper?

ROCHESTER – I never take supper.

JANE – Oh, you shall tonight. I am hungry: so are you, I daresay, only you forget. (Rings bell.)

 

Later.

At the dinner table: Rochester and Jane, pouring him wine.

ROCHESTER – Who the deuce have you been with, Jane?

JANE – With good people, sir; far better than you.

ROCHESTER – Hmm! They have not diminished your impudence. Who were they?

JANE – Oh, you shall not get it out of me tonight; you must wait till tomorrow; to leave my tale half told will be a sort of security that I shall appear at your breakfast table to finish it; (caresses his hand) and I shall bring you, not a glass of water, but an egg at least, to say nothing of fried ham.

ROCHESTER – You changeling: fairy-born and human bred... (Kisses her hand.)

JANE – Now, I shall leave you: (rises) I have been travelling and I am tired.

ROCHESTER – Jane, one word more: were there only ladies in the house where you have been?

JANE – (Smiling.) Good night, sir! (Exits.)

 

The following morning.

Outside: Jane and Rochester, returning from a walk.

ROCHESTER – This parson, Rivers, is your cousin?

JANE – Yes...

ROCHESTER – Do you like him?

JANE – He is a very good man...

Both, entering the house.

ROCHESTER – A good man? Hmm. By that, do you mean a respectable, well-conducted man of fifty, sixty?

JANE – St. John is but twenty-nine, sir.

Both, entering the drawing room.

ROCHESTER – But his brain? Rather soft? You shrug your shoulders to hear him talk?

JANE – He talks little; and ever to the point. He is thoroughly educated. (Fetches a stool.)

ROCHESTER – But priggish, parsonical? (Sitting down). A sort of raw curate, half-strangled by his white neck cloth?

JANE – He dresses well. He is a handsome man: (sitting down on the stool, next to him) tall, with fair hair, blue eyes, and a Grecian profile.

ROCHESTER – Damn him!... Perhaps you would rather not sit so close to me, Miss Eyre?

JANE – Why not, Mr. Rochester?

ROCHESTER – The picture you have just drawn is suggestive of a rather too overwhelming contrast. Your words have delineated, very prettily, a graceful Apollo. Your eyes dwell on a Vulcan: a real blacksmith, blind and maimed into the bargain.

JANE – I had not thought of it, before; but you are rather like Vulcan, sir.

ROCHESTER – Hmm!... After you returned to reside with your newly discovered cousins, did Rivers spend much time there?

JANE – Oh, yes! The back parlour was both his study and ours.

ROCHESTER – What did you study?

JANE – German; and a little Hindustani.

ROCHESTER – Hindustani?! What use could that language be to you?

JANE – He wished me to go with him to India, sir.

ROCHESTER – Ah! The root of the matter! He wanted you to marry him.

JANE – He asked me to marry him.

ROCHESTER – Then you must go to the husband you have chosen: this St. John Rivers.

JANE – Oh, but he is not my husband; nor ever will be. Oh, he is good and great, but severe as an ice poke. Must I leave you, sir, to go to him? I only wanted to tease you a little, to make you less sad...

ROCHESTER – But my scarred vision, my crippled strength...

JANE – They are honourable scars, sir. Your sacrifice is legendary: none but speaks well of you.

ROCHESTER – Possibly; and the result is I am no better than the old lightning-struck chestnut tree at Thornfield. (Rising.) What right would that ruin have to bid a budding woodbine cover its decay with freshness?

JANE – (Rising.) You are no ruin, sir. Oh, Thornfield may be: I have seen it. But you are not: friends will ever lean towards you.

ROCHESTER – (Turning to her.) But I want... a wife, Jane.

JANE – Do you, sir?

ROCHESTER – Yes: is it news to you?

JANE – Well, of course: you said nothing of it before.

ROCHESTER – Is it unwelcome news?

JANE – That depends on your choice, sir.

ROCHESTER – Which you shall make for me. I will abide by your decision.

JANE – Choose then, sir: her who loves you best.

ROCHESTER – No, I will choose: her I love best. Jane, will you marry me?

JANE – Yes, sir.

ROCHESTER – A crippled, twenty years older than yourself, whom you will have to lead about by the hand?

JANE – Oh, yes, sir.

ROCHESTER – Truly, Jane?

JANE – Most truly.

ROCHESTER – Oh! My darling! God bless you and reward you! (Kisses her hand.)

JANE – To be your wife is, for me, to be as happy as I can be on earth.

ROCHESTER – Because you delight in sacrifice.

JANE – And what do I sacrifice? Famine for food, expectation for content...

ROCHESTER – (Smiling.) Jane suits me. Do I suit her?

JANE – To the finest fibre of my nature, sir. (Kisses him.)

 

Days later.

Outside: Jane, stepping to a coach, and sitting next to Rochester.

JANE – (Voiceover.) I married him. I hold myself supremely blest because I am my husband’s life as fully as he is mine. (As the coach drives away.) Mr. Rochester continued blind the first two years of our union; but, gradually, the obscurity clouding his left eye cleared. The sky is no longer a blank to him; the earth no longer a void. God has tempered judgment with mercy.

Exit all.

 

THE END