Charlotte Brontë – Jane Eyre (1847)

by vyh

“I was thinking, sir, that very few masters would trouble themselves to inquire whether or not their paid subordinates were piqued and hurt by their orders.”

“Paid subordinates! What! you are my paid subordinate, are you? Oh, yes, I had forgotten the salary! Well, then, on that mercenary ground, will you agree to let me hector a little?”

“No, sir, not on that ground; but on the ground that you did forget it, and that you care whether or not a dependent is comfortable in his dependency, I agree heartily.”

“And will you consent to dispense with a great many conventional forms and phrases, without thinking that the omission arises from insolence?”

“I am sure, sir, I should never mistake informality for insolence; one, I rather like; the other, nothing free-born would submit to, even for a salary.”

“Humbug! Most things free-born will submit to anything for a salary; therefore, keep to yourself, and don’t venture on generalities of which you are intensely ignorant. However, I mentally shake hands with you for your answer, despite its inaccuracy; and as much for the manner in which it was said, as for the substance of the speech; the manner was frank and sincere; one does not often see such a manner; no, on the contrary, affectation or coldness, or stupid, coarse-minded misapprehension of one’s meaning, are the usual rewards of candor.”