Henry Craik, ed. English Prose. 1916. Vol. V. Nineteenth Century
A Call Unanswered
By Charlotte Brontë (18161855)
From Jane Eyre
THE BREEZE was from the west: it came over the hills, sweet with scents of heath and rush; the sky was of stainless blue; the stream descending the ravine, swelled with past spring rains, poured along plentiful and clear, catching golden gleams from the sun, and sapphire tints from the firmament. As we advanced and left the track, we trod a soft turf, mossy fine and emerald green, minutely enamelled with a tiny white flower, and spangled with a star-like yellow blossom: the hills, meantime, shut us quite in; for the glen, towards its head, wound to their very core.
Let us rest here, said St. John, as we reached the first stragglers of a battalion of rocks, guarding a sort of pass, beyond which the beck rushed down a waterfall; and where, still a little further, the mountain shook off turf and flower, had only heath for raiment, and crag for gemwhere it exaggerated the wild to the savage, and exchanged the fresh for the frowningwhere it guarded the forlorn hope of solitude, and a last refuge for silence.
I took a seat: St. John stood near me. He looked up the pass and down the hollow; his glance wandered away with the stream, and returned to traverse the unclouded heaven which coloured it: he removed his hat, let the breeze stir his hair and kiss his brow. He seemed in communion with the genius of the haunt: with his eye he bade farewell to something.
Yes, said he, there is my glory and joy. I am the servant of an infallible master. I am not going out under human guidance, subject to the defective laws and erring control of my feeble fellow-worms: my king, my lawgiver, my captain, is the All-perfect. It seems strange to me that all round me do not burn to enlist under the same banner,to join in the same enterprise.
You say truly: but when found, it is right to stir them upto urge and exhort them to the effortto show them what their gifts are, and why they were givento speak heavens message in their ear,to offer them, direct from God, a place in the ranks of His chosen.
The glen and sky spun round: the hills heaved! It was as if I had heard a summons from heavenas if a visionary messenger, like him of Macedonia, had enounced, Come over and help us! But I was no apostleI could not behold the herald,I could not receive his call.