Live Stream: Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
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It might be two hours later, probably near eleven, when I—not having been able to fallasleep, and deeming, from the perfect silence of the dormitory, that my companionswere all wrapt in profound repose—rose softly, put on my frock over my night-dress, and,without shoes, crept from the apartment, and set off in quest of Miss Temple’s room. Itwas quite at the other end of the house; but I knew my way; and the light of the uncloudedsummer moon, entering here and there at passage windows, enabled me to find it withoutdifficulty. An odour of camphor and burnt vinegar warned me when I came near the feverroom: and I passed its door quickly, fearful lest the nurse who sat up all night should hearme. I dreaded being discovered and sent back; for I must see Helen,—I must embrace herbefore she died,—I must give her one last kiss, exchange with her one last word.Having descended a staircase, traversed a portion of the house below, and succeeded inopening and shutting, without noise, two doors, I reached another flight of steps; theseI mounted, and then just opposite to me was Miss Temple’s room. A light shone throughthe keyhole and from under the door; a profound stillness pervaded the vicinity. Comingnear, I found the door slightly ajar; probably to admit some fresh air into the close abodeof sickness. Indisposed to hesitate, and full of impatient impulses—soul and sensesquivering with keen throes—I put it back and looked in. My eye sought Helen, and feared tofind death.Close by Miss Temple’s bed, and half covered with its white curtains, there stood a littlecrib. I saw the outline of a form under the clothes, but the face was hid by the hangings:the nurse I had spoken to in the garden sat in an easy-chair asleep; an unsnuffed candleburnt dimly on the table. Miss Temple was not to be seen: I knew afterwards that shehad been called to a delirious patient in the fever-room. I advanced; then paused by thecrib side: my hand was on the curtain, but I preferred speaking before I withdrew it. I stillrecoiled at the dread of seeing a corpse.“Helen!” I whispered softly, “are you awake?”She stirred herself, put back the curtain, and I saw her face, pale, wasted, but quitecomposed: she looked so little changed that my fear was instantly dissipated.“Can it be you, Jane?” she asked, in her own gentle voice.“Oh!” I thought, “she is not going to die; they are mistaken: she could not speak and look socalmly if she were.”I got on to her crib and kissed her: her forehead was cold, and her cheek both cold andthin, and so were her hand and wrist; but she smiled as of old.“Why are you come here, Jane? It is past eleven o’clock: I heard it strike some minutessince.”“I came to see you, Helen: I heard you were very ill, and I could not sleep till I had spoken toyou.”“You came to bid me good-bye, then: you are just in time probably.”“Are you going somewhere, Helen? Are you going home?”“Yes; to my long home—my last home.”“No, no, Helen!” I stopped, distressed. While I tried to devour my tears, a fit of coughingseized Helen; it did not, however, wake the nurse; when it was over, she lay some minutesexhausted; then she whispered—“Jane, your little feet are bare; lie down and cover yourself with my quilt.”I did so: she put her arm over me, and I nestled close to her. After a long silence, sheresumed, still whispering—“I am very happy, Jane; and when you hear that I am dead, you must be sure and notgrieve: there is nothing to grieve about. We all must die one day, and the illness which isremoving me is not painful; it is gentle and gradual: my mind is at rest. I leave no one toregret me much: I have only a father; and he is lately married, and will not miss me. Bydying young, I shall escape great sufferings. I had not qualities or talents to make my wayvery well in the world: I should have been continually at fault.”“But where are you going to, Helen? Can you see? Do you know?”“I believe; I have faith: I am going to God.”“Where is God? What is God?”“My Maker and yours, who will never destroy what He created. I rely implicitly on Hispower, and confide wholly in His goodness: I count the hours till that eventful one arriveswhich shall restore me to Him, reveal Him to me.”“You are sure, then, Helen, that there is such a place as heaven, and that our souls can getto it when we die?”“I am sure there is a future state; I believe God is good; I can resign my immortal part toHim without any misgiving. God is my father; God is my friend: I love Him; I believe Heloves me.”“And shall I see you again, Helen, when I die?”“You will come to the same region of happiness: be received by the same mighty, universalParent, no doubt, dear Jane.”Again I questioned, but this time only in thought. “Where is that region? Does it exist?” And I clasped my arms closer round Helen; she seemed dearer to me than ever; I felt asif I could not let her go; I lay with my face hidden on her neck. Presently she said, in thesweetest tone—“How comfortable I am! That last fit of coughing has tired me a little; I feel as if I couldsleep: but don’t leave me, Jane; I like to have you near me.”“I’ll stay with you, dear Helen: no one shall take me away.”“Are you warm, darling?”“Yes.”“Good-night, Jane.”“Good-night, Helen.”She kissed me, and I her, and we both soon slumbered.When I awoke it was day: an unusual movement roused me; I looked up; I was insomebody’s arms; the nurse held me; she was carrying me through the passage back tothe dormitory. I was not reprimanded for leaving my bed; people had something else tothink about; no explanation was afforded then to my many questions; but a day or twoafterwards I learned that Miss Temple, on returning to her own room at dawn, had foundme laid in the little crib; my face against Helen Burns’s shoulder, my arms round her neck. Iwas asleep, and Helen was—dead.Her grave is in Brocklebridge churchyard: for fifteen years after her death it was onlycovered by a grassy mound; but now a grey marble tablet marks the spot, inscribed withher name, and the word “Resurgam.”
Posted by The Reader on Tuesday, June 23, 2020