The following is an excerpt from the novel, Jane Eyre. I don't quite understand the meaning of the italicized sentence. Would someone please enlighten me on that?

"It is a long way to Ireland, Janet, and I am sorry to send my little friend on such weary travels: but if I can't do better, how is it to be helped? Are you anything akin to me, do you think, Jane?

I could risk no sort of answer to by this time: my heart was still.

"Because," he said, "I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you — especially when you are near me, as now; ...

  • but needs must – Edwin Ashworth Oct 1 '13 at 7:28
  • Lit crit is off-topic. – Kris Oct 1 '13 at 7:31
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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about interpreting literary work. – Kris Oct 1 '13 at 7:31
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    I think this is more a matter of understanding the language than lit crit. – Barrie England Oct 1 '13 at 7:32
  • As an aside, though: there are idiomatic expressions in the italicized part. What part (word, phrase, expression) did you not understand? – Kris Oct 1 '13 at 7:32

Rochester is suggesting that there is nothing else to be done, given his inability to perform any alternative course of action. One of the meanings of help is ‘to remedy, obviate, prevent, cause to be otherwise’.

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