‘Why do you have to leave?’ he asked innocently. ‘Why?’ I repeated, amazed. ‘Because you’re marrying Miss Ingram — she’s your bride!’
‘My bride! I have no bride!’ he answered. ‘But I will have one, and you must stay!’
‘I can’t stay!’ I cried furiously. ‘Do you think I can watch another woman become your bride? Do you think I’m a machine, without feelings? Do you think, because I’m small and poor and plain, that I have no soul and no heart? Well, you’re wrong! I have as much soul and heart as you. It is my spirit that speaks to your spirit! We are equal in the sight of God!’
‘We are!’ repeated Mr. Rochester, taking me in his arms and kissing me. ‘Don’t struggle, Jane, like a wild restless bird!’
‘Let me go, Mr. Rochester. I am no bird, but a free human being,’ and I managed to break away.
‘Yes, Jane, you are free to decide. I ask you to walk through life with me, to be my constant companion.’
‘You’re laughing at me. You’ve already chosen your companion for life.’ I was crying quietly, while Mr. Rochester looked gently and seriously at me.
‘Jane,’ he said, ‘I ask you to be my wife. You are my equal, Jane. Will you marry me? Don’t you believe me?’
‘Not at all,’ I answered.
‘I’ll convince you! Listen, I don’t love Miss Ingram and she doesn’t love me. She only liked me for my wealth, and when I, disguised as the gipsy woman, told her that I had only a little money, she and her mother lost interest in me. You strange magical spirit, I love you! You, small and poor and plain, I ask you to marry me!’
‘You want to marry me?’ I cried, almost beginning to believe him. ‘But I have no friends, no money, no family!’
‘I don’t care, Jane! Say yes, quickly! It’s cruel to make me suffer like this! Give me my name, say, «Edward, I’ll marry you!» ‘ he cried, his face very pale in the moonlight.
‘Are you serious? Do you really love me? Do you honestly want me to be your wife?’ I asked.
‘I swear it.’
‘Then, Edward, I will marry you.’
‘My little wife!’ He held me in his arms for a long time, kissing me gently. Once he murmured, ‘No family! That’s good. No family to interfere!’ and then, ‘I don’t care what people think!’ and again and again, ‘Are you happy, Jane?’ I thought of nothing except the great happiness of being with him for ever.
But while we were talking the weather had changed. A strong wind was now blowing and there was a loud crack of thunder. Suddenly rain poured down, and although we hurried back to the house, we were quite wet when we arrived in the hall. We did not notice Mrs. Fairfax standing in the shadows.
‘Good night, my darling,’ he said, kissing me repeatedly. As I ran upstairs, I caught sight of the old lady’s shocked face.
‘Tomorrow I’ll explain to her,’ I thought. Just then I was too happy to think about anything except our bright future.
Outside, the storm continued furiously all night, and in the morning we discovered that the great tree at the bottom of the garden, which had stood for hundreds of years, had been hit by lightning and torn in half.