WARNING: Reading this will give away the plot of Jane Eyre, which is a classic, and this, well, suffice to say that it is not. If, on the other hand, you have read the story and enjoy wasting your time, then please feel free.
On the way home I thought of my mother. In passing, I might as well relate to you, Reader, a brief history of her, as I am sure that without her I would not be here and there would be no story to tell. Born Miss Anne Fairfax, she was the only daughter of the incumbent of Hay, who, though of good family, was certainly not a man of great wealth. (Upon his death, the incumbency was assumed by Mrs. Fairfax's late husband who was my mother's second cousin, hence my connection to Mrs. Fairfax.) My father, the new master of Thornfield Hall, was in love with her, but she refused his proposal of marriage on the grounds that all would believe that she had married him for his fortune and rank. After pursuing her relentlessly, my father finally won her hand and they were married at the small church just outside of Thornfield. In two years time she gave birth to my brother Roland, and twelve years later, I was born.
My father was happy and contented then. My mother was a loving companion to my father, and doted on us children. Despite her good fortune she did not forget her old friends. What Hartstone said was true, she was kind to everyone she met, so she was respected by all, from the most puffed up dowager, to the humblest washer woman in the village. Her sweet disposition and strong conscience checked my father's faults of character which were mere seeds at the time, and only grew and came to fruition until after her death.
I was eight years old when she died. My father's grief was such that he shut himself off from everyone, and admitted only the society of his agent and few visitors for necessary business. In his isolation, he gradually forgot the lessons that my mother taught him and his natural propensities finally gave way, namely, pride and greed. This, combined with bitterness over her death made him a neglectful father. While my mother was alive there was regulation, upright conduct and affection. Now, however, I was allowed to run quite wild, which would have caused our mother shame had she been alive. All good principles were then lost to me.
I verily believe that had she lived, my life might have turned out quite differently. Although it is a matter of conjecture, I am convinced that she would have persuaded my father to do right by me, namely, to divide his property between Roland and me, or at least, so set me up in an honorable profession, perhaps as a soldier, or the study of law, not merely supplying me with a gentleman's education. Instead, not wishing to diminish his estate, he settled on Roland, leaving me with nothing.
What she would have thought of my father's and brother's scheme to send me away to the East Indies to seek my fortune by mercenary means, I cannot say, but, pious sensible woman that she was, I do not think that she would have regarded it with any favour. Still, I am glad that she is dead. She did not live to see my father and brother sell me off, like a prize bull, to a family that only wanted to enhance its pedigree. She never saw the degradation, and what I became as a result, a restless, dissipated and melancholy man, now quite alone—that is, of course, with the exception of the fiend on the third storey. How would Mrs. Anne Fairfax Rochester, daughter of the incumbent of Hay, have welcomed her as a daughter? No doubt, much better than my father, who, when he learned the whole state of affairs of what had befallen me, was most anxious to conceal the truth.It is not until later, when life's arrows have pierced our souls, in solitary moments as this, when we realize that the death of a most beloved parent alters the course of our whole existence, how a mother's love and gentle influence, so taken for granted when we are children, are mourned after when are grown, when we find ourselves, as it were orphans.
Ironical, is it not? that after the mischief my father and brother did to me, both were now dead, and what they denied me in life, the Rochester Estate, was now mine in its entirely.
Chapter 12: The Window Seat (Click here.)