Sunday, April 3, 2011

Chapter 33: Jane finds a fortune

The chapter opens with St. John making his way through a storm to visit Jane -- and at first it appears it's for no purpose other than to demonstrate his Edward Cullen skills.
I had never seen that handsome-featured face of his look more like chiselled marble than it did just now, as he put aside his snow-wet hair from his forehead and let the firelight shine free on his pale brow and cheek as pale, where it grieved me to discover the hollow trace of care or sorrow now so plainly graved.
But no. Instead, it's storytime, as he begins to narrate a history that should sound quite familiar to anyone who's been paying attention thus far:
"Twenty years ago, a poor curate—never mind his name at this moment—fell in love with a rich man’s daughter; she fell in love with him, and married him, against the advice of all her friends, who consequently disowned her immediately after the wedding. Before two years passed, the rash pair were both dead, and laid quietly side by side under one slab. (I have seen their grave; it formed part of the pavement of a huge churchyard surrounding the grim, soot-black old cathedral of an overgrown manufacturing town in ---shire.) They left a daughter, which, at its very birth, Charity received in her lap—cold as that of the snow-drift I almost stuck fast in to-night. Charity carried the friendless thing to the house of its rich maternal relations; it was reared by an aunt-in-law, called (I come to names now) Mrs. Reed of Gateshead. You start—did you hear a noise? I daresay it is only a rat scrambling along the rafters of the adjoining schoolroom: it was a barn before I had it repaired and altered, and barns are generally haunted by rats.—To proceed. Mrs. Reed kept the orphan ten years: whether it was happy or not with her, I cannot say, never having been told; but at the end of that time she transferred it to a place you know—being no other than Lowood School, where you so long resided yourself. It seems her career there was very honourable: from a pupil, she became a teacher, like yourself—really it strikes me there are parallel points in her history and yours—she left it to be a governess: there, again, your fates were analogous; she undertook the education of the ward of a certain Mr. Rochester."
(Side note: I love the narration here because it's so much more arch than is typical for St. John. "Did you hear a noise?")

You remember that slip of paper he absconded with in the previous chapter? He noticed that Jane signed her real name to one of the paintings she'd been working on -- and that name just happened to be that of the cousin who inherited the great-uncle's family wealth. (We've gone back about three chapters here. This was the bit where the chapter ended with the Rivers siblings finding out they were cut out of the will.)

So to sum up: Jane has just inherited 20,000 pounds. But she's more interested in a) the fact that Rochester came up several times in the conversation, though St. John didn't actually have any information about him, and b) Jane the Lonely now has a family, in the form of her Rivers cousins.

She much prefers family to wealth, so (after much contention) the inheritance is divided among the four cousins: they have 5,000 apiece, and no one has to go out and work any longer.
I need not narrate in detail the further struggles I had, and arguments I used, to get matters regarding the legacy settled as I wished. My task was a very hard one; but, as I was absolutely resolved—as my cousins saw at length that my mind was really and immutably fixed on making a just division of the property—as they must in their own hearts have felt the equity of the intention; and must, besides, have been innately conscious that in my place they would have done precisely what I wished to do—they yielded at length so far as to consent to put the affair to arbitration. The judges chosen were Mr. Oliver and an able lawyer: both coincided in my opinion: I carried my point. The instruments of transfer were drawn out: St. John, Diana, Mary, and I, each became possessed of a competency.

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