Read an Excerpt
"I tell you I must go!" I retorted, roused to something like passion. "Do you think I can stay to become nothing to you? Do you think I am an automaton?—a machine without feelings? and can bear to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed from my cup? 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! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you. 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 we stood at God's feet, equal,—as we are!"
"As we are!" repeated Mr Rochester—"so," he added, enclosing me in his arms. Gathering me to his breast, pressing his lips on my lips very quickly: "so, Jane!"
"Yes, so, sir," I rejoined: "and yet not so; for you are a married man—or as good as a married man, and wed to one inferior to you—to one with whom you have no sympathy—whom I do not believe you truly love; for I have seen and heard you sneer at her. I would scorn such a union: therefore I am better than you—let me go!" I could endure no more; not his touch; not his words; not the past; not the unbearable, barren future! More passionately I enjoin him again, "Let me go!"
"Where, Jane? To Ireland?"
"Yes—to Ireland. I have spoken my mind, and can go anywhere now."
"Jane, be still; don't struggle so, like a wild frantic bird that is rending its own plumage in its desperation."
"I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will, which I now exert to leave you."
Another effort set me at liberty, and I stood erect before him.
"And your will shall decide your destiny," he said, "I offer you my hand, my heart, and a share of all my possessions."
"You play a farce, which I merely laugh at."
"I ask you to pass through life at my side—to be my second self, and best earthly companion."
"For that fate you have already made your choice, and must abide by it."
"Jane, be still a few moments, you are over-excited. I will be still too."
My master captured my wrists and secured them behind my back, imprisoning me and preventing my movements.
Again he rejoined me, finally piercing the armour I'd worn like a cloak. Desperately I sought to shut out the dreadful pain of knowing I must go. We would both have an interminable future—he with the lovely and hollow Miss Ingram, and me entombed hundreds of miles away. With my pain, I choked back a cry and whispered, "I cannot, Mr Rochester, by all that is holy—"
"Be still, Jane, I implore you," he interjected. His bass tone was soothing as well as demanding. When he issued a command, there would be no refusing him. "Be still."
He exerted the force of his will as effortlessly as he schooled my person, relentlessly and with an inexorable force, he commanded me against his body. Those torrid throbbings of desire surely filled my deepest recesses. No matter how I controlled my mind, my very flesh was weak. How I yearned for his mastery—even now, especially now!
No matter how I longed to quit his presence and nurse my emotional injuries, I was powerless to tear myself away. I wanted him to compel me to my knees as he took the knot from my hair and filled me as only he could. This very well could be our last time together. I would seize it; I would have a lifetime for regrets while tonight I merely had this moment.
"Look at me, Jane—"
"Do not tease me, sir, I beg you!"
With his strong and powerful grip on my wrists, he forced me up onto my tiptoes.
At once I saw he meant to kiss me once again. His lips would be relentless and ruthless; and the taste of him—the smokiness of his cigar combined with his uncivilised power—would render me helpless.
"Surrender, sweet Jane."
"Nay, sir, I cannot; I will not."
His thick brows furrowed above those eyes. Though the sun had been swallowed by eve, the intent was as clear as a spring brook. Mr Rochester would have me.
Any further protest was swallowed by his lips.
I knew I could have turned away; he held my hands—thus my upper body—imprisoned at the small of my back. My head was free.
"Kiss me," he commanded, moving closer.
"Indeed not," I rejoined. My voice sounded fragile, even to my own ears.
"Then you leave me no choice."
My heart pounded like a vicious storm. He held my eyes captive. Nature won out, and as he came closer, I closed my eyes. Thornfield's master claimed my lips. At first, it was a simple press; nothing untoward, much like his earlier, more hurried one.
This, I could endure; soon it would be over. I barely felt any response. But then he pulled back and said, "Open your mouth, Miss Eyre."
I did open my mouth, but only to continue my protests. He'd succeeded in his singular mission. He entered my mouth, and with his tongue, he stilled my words.
He tasted of wine; he tasted of force. His will be done. The thought was as blasphemous as it was truthful for this man, when he set his rich mind to something, would see it to fruition. Even though he was intended for another, he would have me. I reminded myself of the vow I'd taken upon leaving Lowood. I would sip from all life's experiences. I knew now the folly of that reckless promise. The thought of never seeing my love again was unendurable.
God insulate me from the pain of knowing this momentary pleasure!
I tried to pull away. Mr Rochester subdued me instantly. He forced me more firmly against his body. I felt the uncompromising strength of his chest against mine. To admit the truth to myself as well as others, I confess I didn't put up much of a fight. I wanted to be mastered. My struggles were more internal than external. I should not want this, but I did.
He plundered my mouth; he demanded my compliance.
After a few more valiant moments of resistance—resistance that ended up being futile—I yielded.
He relented slightly in his hold on me; my shoulders were not forced so far out of position. The strength of his fingers relaxed on my wrists. Still he continued the sensual assault until my knees could hardly support me. If he would but release me, I would cling to him, throw myself on his mercy and beg him to have me.
Now that I was dazed by a sensual fog, Mr Rochester held me with only one hand. The other he moved to my head. He dug his fingers into my hair immediately disentangling the knot I'd so carefully constructed; and he tightened his grip and pulled my head backwards, forcing my neck to be exposed. With my body contoured into this unusual position, I was more open and revealed to him.
Very slowly—backing away the pressure by slight measures—he ended the kiss. "Open your eyes, fair one, and look at me."
It was by far the most difficult of requests to comply with. I wished to remain in my cocoon of delirium, but Mr Rochester urged me, as always, to become the butterfly. At times such as these, he rarely allowed me the respite of my thoughts.
Eventually I opened my eyes to find him looking at me. His lips had punished mine, bruising them; breaths laboured in my chest, seeking escape.
"My penis is hard, Jane. That is what kissing you does to me. My body is filled with desire."
His blunt words would have shocked previously, now they aroused me.
"Dare I hope you are similarly afflicted?"
I would have looked away to hide the flush that stole up my cheeks, but his grip on my hair prevented such liberty.
"Answer me directly and honestly, Jane."
"Yes," I whispered.
"Speak so the night can hear your words."
I said firmly, "Yes, sir. I am aroused by the taste of your mouth."
"I wish to receive proof of this claim. Lift your dress."
During his adulthood, Mr Rochester had had many paramours; I knew I could never compare to the beauty of his French opera-girl. Even though I was but a plain governess, my master made me feel exquisite.
"Do I need to repeat myself?"
His tone had changed, sharpened somewhat. The sound of his voice could put me into a trancelike state in mere moments. I shook my head as much as I was able against the firm grip with which he held me.
"Jane, it is always my desire to hear your voice; it speaks to my heart. Your words and the way they are said gives me insight into your well-being. Thus I require you to answer me clearly and plainly. Tell me you understand."
"I do, sir."
"Very well. What did I urge you to do?"
"To lift my dress, sir."
"Then do so."
He loosened his grip enough that I could extract my hands.
I was grateful for the gloaming; I prayed it made the trembling of my limbs less visible, and it would help me feel less exposed to his gaze.
As he'd wished, I lifted the front of my black dress.
"I shall see you attired in the finest of fabrics, the loveliest of silks and satins."
"No, sir." This I had no problem saying firmly. I would always be the sensible , even in my selection of undergarments.
"Defy me always, will you, Jane?"
"At every turn, sir." Of course, he would expect nothing less. But in our more intimate moments, I would deny him nothing.
He unfurled his grip from my hair. Long locks fell over my shoulders, making me feel wanton.
"Put your hand between your legs, rub yourself if you must, but show me the moisture gathered on your fingertips." He kept his eyes on my face rather than looking down. In moments such as these—indeed in all moments—each act, each word, was deliberate.
It took some moments to fulfil his desire. Touching myself was still foreign to me. And touching myself while he watched was decadent; secretly, though I delighted in the act.
My fingers found moisture, but I rubbed myself, nevertheless, just for the joy of it.
"That's quite enough," he said. The words were almost ferocious!
"Yes, sir." Always defiant, as I had given my word that I would be, I rubbed myself again.
"There's a way to deal with wayward submissives, Jane."
Before I could draw my next breath, my master had spun me around! The hem spilled from my hands with the haste.
"Hands on yonder branch!"
The branch he indicated was above my head and a bit far away, but Mr Rochester's tone brooked no refusal. I quivered, but whether it was from fear or anticipation, I knew not.
He half pulled and half dragged me to where he wanted. His touch was masterful and intoxicatingly rough, leaving me breathless.
"Reach now, Jane, or rue the extra penalty for tardiness."
"Yes, sir." I grabbed for the branch and curled my fingers around it.
He lifted my dress, exposing my undergarments. I shivered from the evening's cool air.
"Now to rid you of these garments to properly redden your backside."
"Sir!" The word was more an entreaty than a plea for leniency; I had goaded my master to this very end.
How he did it, I wasn't quite sure, but he secured my dress and at once loosened my undergarments so that they tumbled to the earth, acting as a binding for my ankles. Thus I was virtually trussed and tied, half-naked and dreading—nay, anticipating—the first sting against my bare buttocks.
"Ask for it, Jane. Ask for your master's punishment that you might atone for your behaviour."
Insisted I, "Indeed I shall not for I've done nothing wrong, sir." Even though it meant my lower body was exposed to his wrath, I was grateful I was faced away from him so that he did not see the devilry playing in my eyes! "I am completely remorseless, sir. Do your worst."