A greater fool than Jane Eyre had never breathed the breath of life

“You saw her, you say, Mrs. Fairfax: what was she like?”

“Yes, I saw her. The dining-room doors were thrown open; and, as it was
Christmas-time, the servants were allowed to assemble in the hall, to
hear some of the ladies sing and play. Mr. Rochester would have me to
come in, and I sat down in a quiet corner and watched them. I never saw
a more splendid scene: the ladies were magnificently dressed; most of
them–at least most of the younger ones–looked handsome; but Miss Ingram
was certainly the queen.”

“And what was she like?”

“Tall, fine bust, sloping shoulders; long, graceful neck: olive
complexion, dark and clear; noble features; eyes rather like Mr.
Rochester’s: large and black, and as brilliant as her jewels. And then
she had such a fine head of hair; raven-black and so becomingly arranged:
a crown of thick plaits behind, and in front the longest, the glossiest
curls I ever saw. She was dressed in pure white; an amber-coloured scarf
was passed over her shoulder and across her breast, tied at the side, and
descending in long, fringed ends below her knee. She wore an
amber-coloured flower, too, in her hair: it contrasted well with the
jetty mass of her curls.”

“She was greatly admired, of course?”

“Yes, indeed: and not only for her beauty, but for her accomplishments.
She was one of the ladies who sang: a gentleman accompanied her on the
piano. She and Mr. Rochester sang a duet.”

“Mr. Rochester? I was not aware he could sing.”

“Oh! he has a fine bass voice, and an excellent taste for music.”

“And Miss Ingram: what sort of a voice had she?”

“A very rich and powerful one: she sang delightfully; it was a treat to
listen to her;–and she played afterwards. I am no judge of music, but
Mr. Rochester is; and I heard him say her execution was remarkably good.”

“And this beautiful and accomplished lady, she is not yet married?”

“It appears not: I fancy neither she nor her sister have very large
fortunes. Old Lord Ingram’s estates were chiefly entailed, and the
eldest son came in for everything almost.”

“But I wonder no wealthy nobleman or gentleman has taken a fancy to her:
Mr. Rochester, for instance. He is rich, is he not?”

“Oh! yes. But you see there is a considerable difference in age: Mr.
Rochester is nearly forty; she is but twenty-five.”

“What of that? More unequal matches are made every day.”

“True: yet I should scarcely fancy Mr. Rochester would entertain an idea
of the sort. But you eat nothing: you have scarcely tasted since you
began tea.”

“No: I am too thirsty to eat. Will you let me have another cup?”

I was about again to revert to the probability of a union between Mr.
Rochester and the beautiful Blanche; but Adele came in, and the
conversation was turned into another channel.

When once more alone, I reviewed the information I had got; looked into
my heart, examined its thoughts and feelings, and endeavoured to bring
back with a strict hand such as had been straying through imagination’s
boundless and trackless waste, into the safe fold of common sense.

Arraigned at my own bar, Memory having given her evidence of the hopes,
wishes, sentiments I had been cherishing since last night–of the general
state of mind in which I had indulged for nearly a fortnight past; Reason
having come forward and told, in her own quiet way a plain, unvarnished
tale, showing how I had rejected the real, and rabidly devoured the
ideal;–I pronounced judgment to this effect:–

That a greater fool than Jane Eyre had never breathed the breath of life;
that a more fantastic idiot had never surfeited herself on sweet lies,
and swallowed poison as if it were nectar.

Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

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