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The Professor

By Charlotte Bronte

Taken from "The Professor", written in 1845-46,
published in 1857.
Notice the similarity in characters to the novel
"Jane Eyre".

"Set me as a seal upon thine heart,
As a seal upon thine arm:

For love is strong as death;
Jealousy is cruel as the grave:

The coals thereof are coals of fire,
Which hath a most vehement flame."

~ The Song of Solomon 8:6 ~

I gave, at first, attention close;
Then interest warm ensued;
From interest, as improvement rose,
Succeeded gratitude.

'Obedience was no effort soon,
And labour was no pain;
If tired, a word, a glance alone
Would give me strength again.

'From others of the studious band
Ere long he singled me,
But only by more close demand
And sterner urgency.

'The task he from another took,
From me he did reject;
He would no omission brook
And suffer no defect.

'If my companions went astray,
He scarce their wanderings blamed.
If I but faltered in the way
His anger fiercely flamed.

When sickness stayed awhile my course,
He seemed impatient still
Because his pupil's flagging force
Could not obey his will.

One day when summoned to the bed
Where pain and I did strive
I heard him, as he bent his head,
say, "God, she must revive!"

I felt his hand, with gentle stress,
A moment laid on mine,
And wished to mark my consciousness
By some responsive sign.

But powerless then to speak or move
I only felt within
The sense of hope, the strength of love
Their healing work begin.

And as he from the room withdrew,
My heart his steps pursued;
I longed to prove, by efforts new,
My speechless gratitude.

When once again I took my place,
Long vacant, in the class,
Th' unfrequent smile across his face,
Did for one moment pass.

The lessons done, the signal made
Of glad release and play,
He, as he passed, an instant stayed
One kindly word to say.

'Jane, till to-morrow you are free
From tedious task and rule;
This afternoon I must not see
That yet pale face in school.

"Seek in the garden shades a seat,
Far from the playground din;
The sun is warm, the air is sweet:
Stay till I call you in."

A long and pleasant afternoon
I passed in those green bowers,
All silent, tranquil, and alone
With birds, and bees, and flowers.

Yet when my master's voice I heard
Call, from the window, "Jane!"
I entered, joyful, at the word,
The busy house again.

He, in the hall, paced up and down;
He paused as I passed by;
His forehead stern relaxed its frown;
He raised his deep-set eye.

"Not quite so pale," he murmured low;
"Now, Jane, go rest awhile."
And as I smiled, his smoothened brow
Returned as glad a smile.

My perfect health restored, he took
His mien austere again,
And, as before, he would not brook
The slightest fault from Jane.

The longest task, the hardest theme,
Fell to my share as erst,
And still I toiled to place my name
In every study first.

He yet begrudged and stinted praise;
But I had learnt to read
The secret meaning of his face,
And that was my best meed.

Even when his hasty temper spoke
In tones that sorrow stirred
My grief was lulled as soon as woke
By some relenting word.

And when he lent some precious book,
Or gave some fragrant flower,
I did not quail to envy's look,
Upheld by pleasure's power.

At last our school ranks took their ground:
The hard-fought field I won;
The prize, a laurel-wreath, was bound
My throbbing forehead on.

Low at my master's knee I bent,
The offered crown to meet;
Its green leaves through my temples sent
A thrill as wild as sweet.

The strong pulse of ambition struck
In every vein I owned;
At the same instant bleeding broke
A secret, inward wound.

The hour of triumph was to me
The hour of sorrow sore;
A day hence I must cross the sea,
Ne'er to recross it more.

An hour hence, in my master's room,
I with him sat alone,
And told him what a dreary gloom
O'er joy had parting thrown.

He little said; the time was brief,
The ship was soon to sail,
And while I sobbed in bitter grief,
My master but looked pale.

They called in haste; he bade me go,
Then snatched me back again;
He held me fast and murmured low,
"Why will they part us, Jane?"

"Were you not happy in my care?
Did I not faithful prove?
Will others to my darling bear
As true, as deep a love?

"O God, watch o'er my foster child
O guard her gentle head!
When winds are high and tempests wild,
Protection round her spread.

"They call again; leave, then, my breast;
Quit thy true shelter, Jane;
But when deceived, repulsed opprest,
Come home to me again."