I softened considerably what related to the three days of wandering and starvation,
because to have told him all would have been to inflict unnecessary pain:
the little I did say lacerated his faithful heart deeper than I wished.
I should not have left him thus, he said, without any means of making my way:
I should have told him my intention.
I should have confided in him: he would never have forced me to be his mistress.
Violent as he had seemed in his despair, he, in truth, loved me far too well and too tenderly to constitute himself my tyrant:
he would have given me half his fortune, without demanding so much as a kiss in return,
rather than I should have flung myself friendless on the wide world.
I had endured, he was certain, more than I had confessed to him.
"Well, whatever my sufferings had been, they were very short,"
I answered: and then I proceeded to tell him how I had been received at Moor House;
how I had obtained the office of schoolmistress, etc.
The accession of fortune, the discovery of my relations, followed in due order.
Of course, St. John Rivers' name came in frequently in the progress of my tale.
When I had done, that name was immediately taken up.
"This St. John, then, is your cousin?"
"You have spoken of him often: do you like him?"
"He was a very good man, sir; I could not help liking him."
"A good man. Does that mean a respectable well-conducted man of fifty?
Or what does it mean?"
"St John was only twenty-nine, sir."
"'Jeune encore,' as the French say.
Is he a person of low stature, phlegmatic, and plain.
A person whose goodness consists rather in his guiltlessness of vice, than in his prowess in virtue."