Part 7 out of 11
scorn such a union: therefore I am better than you -- let me go!"
"Where, Jane? To Ireland?"
"Yes -- to Ireland. I have spoken my mind, and can go anywhere
"Jane, be still; don't struggle so, like a wild frantic bird that
is rending its own plumage in its desperation."
"I am no bird; and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with
an independent will, which I now exert to leave you."
Another effort set me at liberty, and I stood erect before him.
"And your will shall decide your destiny," he said: "I offer you
my hand, my heart, and a share of all my possessions."
"You play a farce, which I merely laugh at."
"I ask you to pass through life at my side -- to be my second self,
and best earthly companion."
"For that fate you have already made your choice, and must abide
"Jane, be still a few moments: you are over-excited: I will be
A waft of wind came sweeping down the laurel-walk, and trembled
through the boughs of the chestnut: it wandered away -- away --
to an indefinite distance -- it died. The nightingale's song was
then the only voice of the hour: in listening to it, I again wept.
Mr. Rochester sat quiet, looking at me gently and seriously.
Some time passed before he spoke; he at last said -
"Come to my side, Jane, and let us explain and understand one
"I will never again come to your side: I am torn away now, and
"But, Jane, I summon you as my wife: it is you only I intend to
I was silent: I thought he mocked me.
"Come, Jane -- come hither."
"Your bride stands between us."
He rose, and with a stride reached me.
"My bride is here," he said, again drawing me to him, "because my
equal is here, and my likeness. Jane, will you marry me?"
Still I did not answer, and still I writhed myself from his grasp:
for I was still incredulous.
"Do you doubt me, Jane?"
"You have no faith in me?"
"Not a whit."
"Am I a liar in your eyes?" he asked passionately. "Little sceptic,
you SHALL be convinced. What love have I for Miss Ingram? None:
and that you know. What love has she for me? None: as I have
taken pains to prove: I caused a rumour to reach her that my fortune
was not a third of what was supposed, and after that I presented
myself to see the result; it was coldness both from her and her
mother. I would not -- I could not -- marry Miss Ingram. You --
you strange, you almost unearthly thing! -- I love as my own flesh.
You -- poor and obscure, and small and plain as you are -- I entreat
to accept me as a husband."
"What, me!" I ejaculated, beginning in his earnestness -- and
especially in his incivility -- to credit his sincerity: "me who
have not a friend in the world but you -- if you are my friend:
not a shilling but what you have given me?"
"You, Jane, I must have you for my own -- entirely my own. Will
you be mine? Say yes, quickly."
"Mr. Rochester, let me look at your face: turn to the moonlight."
"Because I want to read your countenance -- turn!"
"There! you will find it scarcely more legible than a crumpled,
scratched page. Read on: only make haste, for I suffer."
His face was very much agitated and very much flushed, and there
were strong workings in the features, and strange gleams in the
"Oh, Jane, you torture me!" he exclaimed. "With that searching
and yet faithful and generous look, you torture me!"
"How can I do that? If you are true, and your offer real, my
only feelings to you must be gratitude and devotion -- they cannot
"Gratitude!" he ejaculated; and added wildly -- "Jane accept me
quickly. Say, Edward -- give me my name -- Edward -- I will marry
"Are you in earnest? Do you truly love me? Do you sincerely wish
me to be your wife?"
"I do; and if an oath is necessary to satisfy you, I swear it."
"Then, sir, I will marry you."
"Edward -- my little wife!"
"Come to me -- come to me entirely now," said he; and added, in
his deepest tone, speaking in my ear as his cheek was laid on mine,
"Make my happiness -- I will make yours."
"God pardon me!" he subjoined ere long; "and man meddle not with
me: I have her, and will hold her."
"There is no one to meddle, sir. I have no kindred to interfere."
"No -- that is the best of it," he said. And if I had loved
him less I should have thought his accent and look of exultation
savage; but, sitting by him, roused from the nightmare of parting
-- called to the paradise of union -- I thought only of the bliss
given me to drink in so abundant a flow. Again and again he said,
"Are you happy, Jane?" And again and again I answered, "Yes."
After which he murmured, "It will atone -- it will atone. Have I
not found her friendless, and cold, and comfortless? Will I not
guard, and cherish, and solace her? Is there not love in my heart,
and constancy in my resolves? It will expiate at God's tribunal.
I know my Maker sanctions what I do. For the world's judgment --
I wash my hands thereof. For man's opinion -- I defy it."
But what had befallen the night? The moon was not yet set, and we
were all in shadow: I could scarcely see my master's face, near as
I was. And what ailed the chestnut tree? it writhed and groaned;
while wind roared in the laurel walk, and came sweeping over us.
"We must go in," said Mr. Rochester: "the weather changes. I
could have sat with thee till morning, Jane."
"And so," thought I, "could I with you." I should have said so,
perhaps, but a livid, vivid spark leapt out of a cloud at which I
was looking, and there was a crack, a crash, and a close rattling
peal; and I thought only of hiding my dazzled eyes against Mr.
The rain rushed down. He hurried me up the walk, through the grounds,
and into the house; but we were quite wet before we could pass the
threshold. He was taking off my shawl in the hall, and shaking
the water out of my loosened hair, when Mrs. Fairfax emerged from
her room. I did not observe her at first, nor did Mr. Rochester.
The lamp was lit. The clock was on the stroke of twelve.
"Hasten to take off your wet things," said he; "and before you go,
good-night -- good-night, my darling!"
He kissed me repeatedly. When I looked up, on leaving his arms,
there stood the widow, pale, grave, and amazed. I only smiled at
her, and ran upstairs. "Explanation will do for another time,"
thought I. Still, when I reached my chamber, I felt a pang at the
idea she should even temporarily misconstrue what she had seen. But
joy soon effaced every other feeling; and loud as the wind blew,
near and deep as the thunder crashed, fierce and frequent as the
lightning gleamed, cataract-like as the rain fell during a storm
of two hours' duration, I experienced no fear and little awe. Mr.
Rochester came thrice to my door in the course of it, to ask if
I was safe and tranquil: and that was comfort, that was strength
Before I left my bed in the morning, little Adele came running
in to tell me that the great horse-chestnut at the bottom of the
orchard had been struck by lightning in the night, and half of it
As I rose and dressed, I thought over what had happened, and wondered
if it were a dream. I could not be certain of the reality till I
had seen Mr. Rochester again, and heard him renew his words of love
While arranging my hair, I looked at my face in the glass, and felt
it was no longer plain: there was hope in its aspect and life in
its colour; and my eyes seemed as if they had beheld the fount of
fruition, and borrowed beams from the lustrous ripple. I had often
been unwilling to look at my master, because I feared he could not
be pleased at my look; but I was sure I might lift my face to his
now, and not cool his affection by its expression. I took a plain
but clean and light summer dress from my drawer and put it on: it
seemed no attire had ever so well become me, because none had I
ever worn in so blissful a mood.
I was not surprised, when I ran down into the hall, to see that a
brilliant June morning had succeeded to the tempest of the night;
and to feel, through the open glass door, the breathing of a fresh
and fragrant breeze. Nature must be gladsome when I was so happy.
A beggar-woman and her little boy -- pale, ragged objects both --
were coming up the walk, and I ran down and gave them all the money
I happened to have in my purse -- some three or four shillings:
good or bad, they must partake of my jubilee. The rooks cawed,
and blither birds sang; but nothing was so merry or so musical as
my own rejoicing heart.
Mrs. Fairfax surprised me by looking out of the window with a
sad countenance, and saying gravely -- "Miss Eyre, will you come
to breakfast?" During the meal she was quiet and cool: but I
could not undeceive her then. I must wait for my master to give
explanations; and so must she. I ate what I could, and then I
hastened upstairs. I met Adele leaving the schoolroom.
"Where are you going? It is time for lessons."
"Mr. Rochester has sent me away to the nursery."
"Where is he?"
"In there," pointing to the apartment she had left; and I went in,
and there he stood.
"Come and bid me good-morning," said he. I gladly advanced; and it
was not merely a cold word now, or even a shake of the hand that I
received, but an embrace and a kiss. It seemed natural: it seemed
genial to be so well loved, so caressed by him.
"Jane, you look blooming, and smiling, and pretty," said he:
"truly pretty this morning. Is this my pale, little elf? Is this
my mustard-seed? This little sunny-faced girl with the dimpled
cheek and rosy lips; the satin-smooth hazel hair, and the radiant
hazel eyes?" (I had green eyes, reader; but you must excuse the
mistake: for him they were new-dyed, I suppose.)
"It is Jane Eyre, sir."
"Soon to be Jane Rochester," he added: "in four weeks, Janet; not
a day more. Do you hear that?"
I did, and I could not quite comprehend it: it made me giddy. The
feeling, the announcement sent through me, was something stronger
than was consistent with joy -- something that smote and stunned.
It was, I think almost fear.
"You blushed, and now you are white, Jane: what is that for?"
"Because you gave me a new name -- Jane Rochester; and it seems so
"Yes, Mrs. Rochester," said he; "young Mrs. Rochester -- Fairfax
"It can never be, sir; it does not sound likely. Human beings
never enjoy complete happiness in this world. I was not born for
a different destiny to the rest of my species: to imagine such a
lot befalling me is a fairy tale -- a day-dream."
"Which I can and will realise. I shall begin to-day. This morning
I wrote to my banker in London to send me certain jewels he has in
his keeping, -- heirlooms for the ladies of Thornfield. In a day
or two I hope to pour them into your lap: for every privilege, every
attention shall be yours that I would accord a peer's daughter, if
about to marry her."
"Oh, sir! -- never rain jewels! I don't like to hear them spoken
of. Jewels for Jane Eyre sounds unnatural and strange: I would
rather not have them."
"I will myself put the diamond chain round your neck, and the circlet
on your forehead, -- which it will become: for nature, at least,
has stamped her patent of nobility on this brow, Jane; and I will
clasp the bracelets on these fine wrists, and load these fairy-like
fingers with rings."
"No, no, sir! think of other subjects, and speak of other things,
and in another strain. Don't address me as if I were a beauty; I
am your plain, Quakerish governess."
"You are a beauty in my eyes, and a beauty just after the desire
of my heart, -- delicate and aerial."
"Puny and insignificant, you mean. You are dreaming, sir, -- or
you are sneering. For God's sake don't be ironical!"
"I will make the world acknowledge you a beauty, too," he went on,
while I really became uneasy at the strain he had adopted, because
I felt he was either deluding himself or trying to delude me. "I
will attire my Jane in satin and lace, and she shall have roses in
her hair; and I will cover the head I love best with a priceless
"And then you won't know me, sir; and I shall not be your Jane
Eyre any longer, but an ape in a harlequin's jacket -- a jay in
borrowed plumes. I would as soon see you, Mr. Rochester, tricked
out in stage-trappings, as myself clad in a court-lady's robe; and
I don't call you handsome, sir, though I love you most dearly: far
too dearly to flatter you. Don't flatter me."
He pursued his theme, however, without noticing my deprecation.
"This very day I shall take you in the carriage to Millcote, and
you must choose some dresses for yourself. I told you we shall be
married in four weeks. The wedding is to take place quietly, in
the church down below yonder; and then I shall waft you away at
once to town. After a brief stay there, I shall bear my treasure
to regions nearer the sun: to French vineyards and Italian plains;
and she shall see whatever is famous in old story and in modern
record: she shall taste, too, of the life of cities; and she shall
learn to value herself by just comparison with others."
"Shall I travel? -- and with you, sir?"
"You shall sojourn at Paris, Rome, and Naples: at Florence,
Venice, and Vienna: all the ground I have wandered over shall be
re-trodden by you: wherever I stamped my hoof, your sylph's foot
shall step also. Ten years since, I flew through Europe half mad;
with disgust, hate, and rage as my companions: now I shall revisit
it healed and cleansed, with a very angel as my comforter."
I laughed at him as he said this. "I am not an angel," I asserted;
"and I will not be one till I die: I will be myself. Mr. Rochester,
you must neither expect nor exact anything celestial of me -- for
you will not get it, any more than I shall get it of you: which
I do not at all anticipate."
"What do you anticipate of me?"
"For a little while you will perhaps be as you are now, -- a very
little while; and then you will turn cool; and then you will be
capricious; and then you will be stern, and I shall have much ado
to please you: but when you get well used to me, you will perhaps
like me again, -- LIKE me, I say, not LOVE me. I suppose your love
will effervesce in six months, or less. I have observed in books
written by men, that period assigned as the farthest to which a
husband's ardour extends. Yet, after all, as a friend and companion,
I hope never to become quite distasteful to my dear master."
"Distasteful! and like you again! I think I shall like you again,
and yet again: and I will make you confess I do not only LIKE,
but LOVE you -- with truth, fervour, constancy."
"Yet are you not capricious, sir?"
"To women who please me only by their faces, I am the very devil
when I find out they have neither souls nor hearts -- when they
open to me a perspective of flatness, triviality, and perhaps
imbecility, coarseness, and ill-temper: but to the clear eye and
eloquent tongue, to the soul made of fire, and the character that
bends but does not break -- at once supple and stable, tractable
and consistent -- I am ever tender and true."
"Had you ever experience of such a character, sir? Did you ever
love such an one?"
"I love it now."
"But before me: if I, indeed, in any respect come up to your
"I never met your likeness. Jane, you please me, and you master me
-- you seem to submit, and I like the sense of pliancy you impart;
and while I am twining the soft, silken skein round my finger, it
sends a thrill up my arm to my heart. I am influenced -- conquered;
and the influence is sweeter than I can express; and the conquest
I undergo has a witchery beyond any triumph I can win. Why do you
smile, Jane? What does that inexplicable, that uncanny turn of
"I was thinking, sir (you will excuse the idea; it was involuntary),
I was thinking of Hercules and Samson with their charmers -- "
"You were, you little elfish -- "
"Hush, sir! You don't talk very wisely just now; any more than
those gentlemen acted very wisely. However, had they been married,
they would no doubt by their severity as husbands have made up for
their softness as suitors; and so will you, I fear. I wonder how
you will answer me a year hence, should I ask a favour it does not
suit your convenience or pleasure to grant."
"Ask me something now, Jane, -- the least thing: I desire
to be entreated -- "
"Indeed I will, sir; I have my petition all ready."
"Speak! But if you look up and smile with that countenance, I shall
swear concession before I know to what, and that will make a fool
"Not at all, sir; I ask only this: don't send for the jewels, and
don't crown me with roses: you might as well put a border of gold
lace round that plain pocket handkerchief you have there."
"I might as well 'gild refined gold.' I know it: your request is
granted then -- for the time. I will remand the order I despatched
to my banker. But you have not yet asked for anything; you have
prayed a gift to be withdrawn: try again."
"Well then, sir, have the goodness to gratify my curiosity, which
is much piqued on one point."
He looked disturbed. "What? what?" he said hastily. "Curiosity
is a dangerous petition: it is well I have not taken a
vow to accord every request -- "
"But there can be no danger in complying with this, sir."
"Utter it, Jane: but I wish that instead of a mere inquiry into,
perhaps, a secret, it was a wish for half my estate."
"Now, King Ahasuerus! What do I want with half your estate? Do
you think I am a Jew-usurer, seeking good investment in land? I
would much rather have all your confidence. You will not exclude
me from your confidence if you admit me to your heart?"
"You are welcome to all my confidence that is worth having, Jane;
but for God's sake, don't desire a useless burden! Don't long for
poison -- don't turn out a downright Eve on my hands!"
"Why not, sir? You have just been telling me how much you liked
to be conquered, and how pleasant over-persuasion is to you. Don't
you think I had better take advantage of the confession, and begin
and coax and entreat -- even cry and be sulky if necessary -- for
the sake of a mere essay of my power?"
"I dare you to any such experiment. Encroach, presume, and the
game is up."
"Is it, sir? You soon give in. How stern you look now! Your
eyebrows have become as thick as my finger, and your forehead
resembles what, in some very astonishing poetry, I once saw styled,
'a blue-piled thunderloft.' That will be your married look, sir,
"If that will be YOUR married look, I, as a Christian, will soon
give up the notion of consorting with a mere sprite or salamander.
But what had you to ask, thing, -- out with it?"
"There, you are less than civil now; and I like rudeness a great
deal better than flattery. I had rather be a THING than an angel.
This is what I have to ask, -- Why did you take such pains to make
me believe you wished to marry Miss Ingram?"
"Is that all? Thank God it is no worse!" And now he unknit his
black brows; looked down, smiling at me, and stroked my hair, as if
well pleased at seeing a danger averted. "I think I may confess,"
he continued, "even although I should make you a little indignant,
Jane -- and I have seen what a fire-spirit you can be when you are
indignant. You glowed in the cool moonlight last night, when you
mutinied against fate, and claimed your rank as my equal. Janet,
by-the-bye, it was you who made me the offer."
"Of course I did. But to the point if you please, sir -- Miss
"Well, I feigned courtship of Miss Ingram, because I wished to
render you as madly in love with me as I was with you; and I knew
jealousy would be the best ally I could call in for the furtherance
of that end."
"Excellent! Now you are small -- not one whit bigger than the
end of my little finger. It was a burning shame and a scandalous
disgrace to act in that way. Did you think nothing of Miss Ingram's
"Her feelings are concentrated in one -- pride; and that needs
humbling. Were you jealous, Jane?"
"Never mind, Mr. Rochester: it is in no way interesting to you
to know that. Answer me truly once more. Do you think Miss Ingram
will not suffer from your dishonest coquetry? Won't she feel
forsaken and deserted?"
"Impossible! -- when I told you how she, on the contrary, deserted
me: the idea of my insolvency cooled, or rather extinguished, her
flame in a moment."
"You have a curious, designing mind, Mr. Rochester. I am afraid
your principles on some points are eccentric."
"My principles were never trained, Jane: they may have grown a
little awry for want of attention."
"Once again, seriously; may I enjoy the great good that has been
vouchsafed to me, without fearing that any one else is suffering
the bitter pain I myself felt a while ago?"
"That you may, my good little girl: there is not another being in
the world has the same pure love for me as yourself -- for I lay
that pleasant unction to my soul, Jane, a belief in your affection."
I turned my lips to the hand that lay on my shoulder. I loved him
very much -- more than I could trust myself to say -- more than
words had power to express.
"Ask something more," he said presently; "it is my delight to be
entreated, and to yield."
I was again ready with my request. "Communicate your intentions
to Mrs. Fairfax, sir: she saw me with you last night in the hall,
and she was shocked. Give her some explanation before I see her
again. It pains me to be misjudged by so good a woman."
"Go to your room, and put on your bonnet," he replied. "I mean
you to accompany me to Millcote this morning; and while you prepare
for the drive, I will enlighten the old lady's understanding. Did
she think, Janet, you had given the world for love, and considered
it well lost?"
"I believe she thought I had forgotten my station, and yours, sir."
"Station! station! -- your station is in my heart, and on the
necks of those who would insult you, now or hereafter. -- Go."
I was soon dressed; and when I heard Mr. Rochester quit Mrs.
Fairfax's parlour, I hurried down to it. The old lady, had been
reading her morning portion of Scripture -- the Lesson for the
day; her Bible lay open before her, and her spectacles were upon
it. Her occupation, suspended by Mr. Rochester's announcement,
seemed now forgotten: her eyes, fixed on the blank wall opposite,
expressed the surprise of a quiet mind stirred by unwonted tidings.
Seeing me, she roused herself: she made a sort of effort to smile,
and framed a few words of congratulation; but the smile expired, and
the sentence was abandoned unfinished. She put up her spectacles,
shut the Bible, and pushed her chair back from the table.
"I feel so astonished," she began, "I hardly know what to say to
you, Miss Eyre. I have surely not been dreaming, have I? Sometimes
I half fall asleep when I am sitting alone and fancy things that
have never happened. It has seemed to me more than once when I
have been in a doze, that my dear husband, who died fifteen years
since, has come in and sat down beside me; and that I have even
heard him call me by my name, Alice, as he used to do. Now, can
you tell me whether it is actually true that Mr. Rochester has
asked you to marry him? Don't laugh at me. But I really thought
he came in here five minutes ago, and said that in a month you
would be his wife."
"He has said the same thing to me," I replied.
"He has! Do you believe him? Have you accepted him?"
She looked at me bewildered. "I could never have thought it. He
is a proud man: all the Rochesters were proud: and his father,
at least, liked money. He, too, has always been called careful.
He means to marry you?"
"He tells me so."
She surveyed my whole person: in her eyes I read that they had
there found no charm powerful enough to solve the enigma.
"It passes me!" she continued; "but no doubt, it is true since you
say so. How it will answer, I cannot tell: I really don't know.
Equality of position and fortune is often advisable in such cases;
and there are twenty years of difference in your ages. He might
almost be your father."
"No, indeed, Mrs. Fairfax!" exclaimed I, nettled; "he is nothing
like my father! No one, who saw us together, would suppose it for
an instant. Mr. Rochester looks as young, and is as young, as some
men at five-and-twenty."
"Is it really for love he is going to marry you?" she asked.
I was so hurt by her coldness and scepticism, that the tears rose
to my eyes.
"I am sorry to grieve you," pursued the widow; "but you are
so young, and so little acquainted with men, I wished to put you
on your guard. It is an old saying that 'all is not gold that
glitters;' and in this case I do fear there will be something found
to be different to what either you or I expect."
"Why? -- am I a monster?" I said: "is it impossible that Mr.
Rochester should have a sincere affection for me?"
"No: you are very well; and much improved of late; and Mr. Rochester,
I daresay, is fond of you. I have always noticed that you were a
sort of pet of his. There are times when, for your sake, I have
been a little uneasy at his marked preference, and have wished
to put you on your guard: but I did not like to suggest even the
possibility of wrong. I knew such an idea would shock, perhaps
offend you; and you were so discreet, and so thoroughly modest and
sensible, I hoped you might be trusted to protect yourself. Last
night I cannot tell you what I suffered when I sought all over
the house, and could find you nowhere, nor the master either; and
then, at twelve o'clock, saw you come in with him."
"Well, never mind that now," I interrupted impatiently; "it is
enough that all was right."
"I hope all will be right in the end," she said: "but believe me,
you cannot be too careful. Try and keep Mr. Rochester at a distance:
distrust yourself as well as him. Gentlemen in his station are
not accustomed to marry their governesses."
I was growing truly irritated: happily, Adele ran in.
"Let me go, -- let me go to Millcote too!" she cried. "Mr. Rochester
won't: though there is so much room in the new carriage. Beg him
to let me go mademoiselle."
"That I will, Adele;" and I hastened away with her, glad to quit
my gloomy monitress. The carriage was ready: they were bringing
it round to the front, and my master was on the pavement, Pilot
following him backwards and forwards.
"Adele may accompany us, may she not, sir?"
"I told her no. I'll have no brats! -- I'll have only you."
"Do let her go, Mr. Rochester, if you please: it would be better."
"Not it: she will be a restraint."
He was quite peremptory, both in look and voice. The chill of
Mrs. Fairfax's warnings, and the damp of her doubts were upon me:
something of unsubstantiality and uncertainty had beset my hopes.
I half lost the sense of power over him. I was about mechanically
to obey him, without further remonstrance; but as he helped me into
the carriage, he looked at my face.
"What is the matter?" he asked; "all the sunshine is gone. Do
you really wish the bairn to go? Will it annoy you if she is left
"I would far rather she went, sir."
"Then off for your bonnet, and back like a flash of lightning!"
cried he to Adele.
She obeyed him with what speed she might.
"After all, a single morning's interruption will not matter much,"
said he, "when I mean shortly to claim you -- your thoughts,
conversation, and company -- for life."
Adele, when lifted in, commenced kissing me, by way of expressing
her gratitude for my intercession: she was instantly stowed away
into a corner on the other side of him. She then peeped round to
where I sat; so stern a neighbour was too restrictive to him, in
his present fractious mood, she dared whisper no observations, nor
ask of him any information.
"Let her come to me," I entreated: "she will, perhaps, trouble
you, sir: there is plenty of room on this side."
He handed her over as if she had been a lapdog. "I'll send her to
school yet," he said, but now he was smiling.
Adele heard him, and asked if she was to go to school "sans
"Yes," he replied, "absolutely sans mademoiselle; for I am to take
mademoiselle to the moon, and there I shall seek a cave in one of
the white valleys among the volcano-tops, and mademoiselle shall
live with me there, and only me."
"She will have nothing to eat: you will starve her," observed
"I shall gather manna for her morning and night: the plains and
hillsides in the moon are bleached with manna, Adele."
"She will want to warm herself: what will she do for a fire?"
"Fire rises out of the lunar mountains: when she is cold, I'll
carry her up to a peak, and lay her down on the edge of a crater."
"Oh, qu' elle y sera mal -- peu comfortable! And her clothes, they
will wear out: how can she get new ones?"
Mr. Rochester professed to be puzzled. "Hem!" said he. "What
would you do, Adele? Cudgel your brains for an expedient. How
would a white or a pink cloud answer for a gown, do you think? And
one could cut a pretty enough scarf out of a rainbow."
"She is far better as she is," concluded Adele, after musing some
time: "besides, she would get tired of living with only you in
the moon. If I were mademoiselle, I would never consent to go with
"She has consented: she has pledged her word."
"But you can't get her there; there is no road to the moon: it is
all air; and neither you nor she can fly."
"Adele, look at that field." We were now outside Thornfield gates,
and bowling lightly along the smooth road to Millcote, where the
dust was well laid by the thunderstorm, and, where the low hedges
and lofty timber trees on each side glistened green and rain-refreshed.
"In that field, Adele, I was walking late one evening about
a fortnight since -- the evening of the day you helped me to make
hay in the orchard meadows; and, as I was tired with raking swaths,
I sat down to rest me on a stile; and there I took out a little book
and a pencil, and began to write about a misfortune that befell me
long ago, and a wish I had for happy days to come: I was writing
away very fast, though daylight was fading from the leaf, when
something came up the path and stopped two yards off me. I looked
at it. It was a little thing with a veil of gossamer on its head.
I beckoned it to come near me; it stood soon at my knee. I never
spoke to it, and it never spoke to me, in words; but I read its eyes,
and it read mine; and our speechless colloquy was to this effect -
"It was a fairy, and come from Elf-land, it said; and its errand
was to make me happy: I must go with it out of the common world to
a lonely place -- such as the moon, for instance -- and it nodded
its head towards her horn, rising over Hay-hill: it told me of
the alabaster cave and silver vale where we might live. I said I
should like to go; but reminded it, as you did me, that I had no
wings to fly.
"'Oh,' returned the fairy, 'that does not signify! Here is a
talisman will remove all difficulties;' and she held out a pretty
gold ring. 'Put it,' she said, 'on the fourth finger of my left
hand, and I am yours, and you are mine; and we shall leave earth,
and make our own heaven yonder.' She nodded again at the moon.
The ring, Adele, is in my breeches-pocket, under the disguise of
a sovereign: but I mean soon to change it to a ring again."
"But what has mademoiselle to do with it? I don't care for the
fairy: you said it was mademoiselle you would take to the moon?"
"Mademoiselle is a fairy," he said, whispering mysteriously. Whereupon
I told her not to mind his badinage; and she, on her part, evinced
a fund of genuine French scepticism: denominating Mr. Rochester "un
vrai menteur," and assuring him that she made no account whatever
of his "contes de fee," and that "du reste, il n'y avait pas de
fees, et quand meme il y en avait:" she was sure they would never
appear to him, nor ever give him rings, or offer to live with him
in the moon.
The hour spent at Millcote was a somewhat harassing one to me. Mr.
Rochester obliged me to go to a certain silk warehouse: there I
was ordered to choose half-a-dozen dresses. I hated the business,
I begged leave to defer it: no -- it should be gone through with
now. By dint of entreaties expressed in energetic whispers, I
reduced the half-dozen to two: these however, he vowed he would
select himself. With anxiety I watched his eye rove over the gay
stores: he fixed on a rich silk of the most brilliant amethyst dye,
and a superb pink satin. I told him in a new series of whispers,
that he might as well buy me a gold gown and a silver bonnet at
once: I should certainly never venture to wear his choice. With
infinite difficulty, for he was stubborn as a stone, I persuaded him
to make an exchange in favour of a sober black satin and pearl-grey
silk. "It might pass for the present," he said; "but he would yet
see me glittering like a parterre."
Glad was I to get him out of the silk warehouse, and then out of
a jewellers shop: the more he bought me, the more my cheek burned
with a sense of annoyance and degradation. As we re-entered the
carriage, and I sat back feverish and fagged, I remembered what,
in the hurry of events, dark and bright, I had wholly forgotten --
the letter of my uncle, John Eyre, to Mrs. Reed: his intention to
adopt me and make me his legatee. "It would, indeed, be a relief,"
I thought, "if I had ever so small an independency; I never can
bear being dressed like a doll by Mr. Rochester, or sitting like
a second Danae with the golden shower falling daily round me. I
will write to Madeira the moment I get home, and tell my uncle John
I am going to be married, and to whom: if I had but a prospect
of one day bringing Mr. Rochester an accession of fortune, I could
better endure to be kept by him now." And somewhat relieved by
this idea (which I failed not to execute that day), I ventured once
more to meet my master's and lover's eye, which most pertinaciously
sought mine, though I averted both face and gaze. He smiled; and
I thought his smile was such as a sultan might, in a blissful and
fond moment, bestow on a slave his gold and gems had enriched: I
crushed his hand, which was ever hunting mine, vigorously, and
thrust it back to him red with the passionate pressure.
"You need not look in that way," I said; "if you do, I'll wear
nothing but my old Lowood frocks to the end of the chapter. I'll
be married in this lilac gingham: you may make a dressing-gown
for yourself out of the pearl-grey silk, and an infinite series of
waistcoats out of the black satin."
He chuckled; he rubbed his hands. "Oh, it is rich to see and hear
her?" he exclaimed. "Is she original? Is she piquant? I would
not exchange this one little English girl for the Grand Turk's
whole seraglio, gazelle-eyes, houri forms, and all!"
The Eastern allusion bit me again. "I'll not stand you an inch in
the stead of a seraglio," I said; "so don't consider me an equivalent
for one. If you have a fancy for anything in that line, away with
you, sir, to the bazaars of Stamboul without delay, and lay out
in extensive slave-purchases some of that spare cash you seem at
a loss to spend satisfactorily here."
"And what will you do, Janet, while I am bargaining for so many
tons of flesh and such an assortment of black eyes?"
"I'll be preparing myself to go out as a missionary to preach
liberty to them that are enslaved -- your harem inmates amongst the
rest. I'll get admitted there, and I'll stir up mutiny; and you,
three-tailed bashaw as you are, sir, shall in a trice find yourself
fettered amongst our hands: nor will I, for one, consent to cut
your bonds till you have signed a charter, the most liberal that
despot ever yet conferred."
"I would consent to be at your mercy, Jane."
"I would have no mercy, Mr. Rochester, if you supplicated for it
with an eye like that. While you looked so, I should be certain
that whatever charter you might grant under coercion, your first
act, when released, would be to violate its conditions."
"Why, Jane, what would you have? I fear you will compel me to go
through a private marriage ceremony, besides that performed at the
altar. You will stipulate, I see, for peculiar terms -- what will
"I only want an easy mind, sir; not crushed by crowded obligations.
Do you remember what you said of Celine Varens? -- of the diamonds,
the cashmeres you gave her? I will not be your English Celine
Varens. I shall continue to act as Adele's governess; by that I
shall earn my board and lodging, and thirty pounds a year besides.
I'll furnish my own wardrobe out of that money, and you
shall give me nothing but -- "
"Well, but what?"
"Your regard; and if I give you mine in return, that debt will be
"Well, for cool native impudence and pure innate pride, you haven't
your equal," said he. We were now approaching Thornfield. "Will
it please you to dine with me to-day?" he asked, as we re-entered
"No, thank you, sir."
"And what for, 'no, thank you?' if one may inquire."
"I never have dined with you, sir: and I see no reason
why I should now: till -- "
"Till what? You delight in half-phrases."
"Till I can't help it."
"Do you suppose I eat like an ogre or a ghoul, that you dread being
the companion of my repast?"
"I have formed no supposition on the subject, sir; but I want to
go on as usual for another month."
"You will give up your governessing slavery at once."
"Indeed, begging your pardon, sir, I shall not. I shall just go
on with it as usual. I shall keep out of your way all day, as I
have been accustomed to do: you may send for me in the evening,
when you feel disposed to see me, and I'll come then; but at no
"I want a smoke, Jane, or a pinch of snuff, to comfort me under
all this, 'pour me donner une contenance,' as Adele would say; and
unfortunately I have neither my cigar-case, nor my snuff-box. But
listen -- whisper. It is your time now, little tyrant, but it will
be mine presently; and when once I have fairly seized you, to have
and to hold, I'll just -- figuratively speaking -- attach you to
a chain like this" (touching his watch-guard). "Yes, bonny wee
thing, I'll wear you in my bosom, lest my jewel I should tyne."
He said this as he helped me to alight from the carriage, and while
he afterwards lifted out Adele, I entered the house, and made good
my retreat upstairs.
He duly summoned me to his presence in the evening. I had prepared
an occupation for him; for I was determined not to spend the whole
time in a tete-e-tete conversation. I remembered his fine voice;
I knew he liked to sing -- good singers generally do. I was
no vocalist myself, and, in his fastidious judgment, no musician,
either; but I delighted in listening when the performance was good.
No sooner had twilight, that hour of romance, began to lower her
blue and starry banner over the lattice, than I rose, opened the
piano, and entreated him, for the love of heaven, to give me a
song. He said I was a capricious witch, and that he would rather
sing another time; but I averred that no time was like the present.
"Did I like his voice?" he asked.
"Very much." I was not fond of pampering that susceptible vanity
of his; but for once, and from motives of expediency, I would e'en
soothe and stimulate it.
"Then, Jane, you must play the accompaniment."
"Very well, sir, I will try."
I did try, but was presently swept off the stool and denominated "a
little bungler." Being pushed unceremoniously to one side -- which
was precisely what I wished -- he usurped my place, and proceeded
to accompany himself: for he could play as well as sing. I hied
me to the window-recess. And while I sat there and looked out on
the still trees and dim lawn, to a sweet air was sung in mellow
tones the following strain:-
"The truest love that ever heart
Felt at its kindled core,
Did through each vein, in quickened start,
The tide of being pour.
"Her coming was my hope each day,
Her parting was my pain;
The chance that did her steps delay
Was ice in every vein.
"I dreamed it would be nameless bliss,
As I loved, loved to be;
And to this object did I press
As blind as eagerly.
"But wide as pathless was the space
That lay our lives between,
And dangerous as the foamy race
Of ocean-surges green.
"And haunted as a robber-path
Through wilderness or wood;
For Might and Right, and Woe and Wrath,
Between our spirits stood.
"I dangers dared; I hindrance scorned
I omens did defy:
Whatever menaced, harassed, warned,
I passed impetuous by.
"On sped my rainbow, fast as light;
I flew as in a dream;
For glorious rose upon my sight
That child of Shower and Gleam.
"Still bright on clouds of suffering dim
Shines that soft, solemn joy;
Nor care I now, how dense and grim
Disasters gather nigh.
"I care not in this moment sweet,
Though all I have rushed o'er
Should come on pinion, strong and fleet,
Proclaiming vengeance sore:
"Though haughty Hate should strike me down,
Right, bar approach to me,
And grinding Might, with furious frown,
Swear endless enmity.
"My love has placed her little hand
With noble faith in mine,
And vowed that wedlock's sacred band
Our nature shall entwine.
"My love has sworn, with sealing kiss,
With me to live -- to die;
I have at last my nameless bliss.
As I love -- loved am I!"
He rose and came towards me, and I saw his face all kindled, and
his full falcon-eye flashing, and tenderness and passion in every
lineament. I quailed momentarily -- then I rallied. Soft scene,
daring demonstration, I would not have; and I stood in peril of
both: a weapon of defence must be prepared -- I whetted my tongue:
as he reached me, I asked with asperity, "whom he was going to
"That was a strange question to be put by his darling Jane."
"Indeed! I considered it a very natural and necessary one: he
had talked of his future wife dying with him. What did he mean
by such a pagan idea? I had no intention of dying with him -- he
might depend on that."
"Oh, all he longed, all he prayed for, was that I might live with
him! Death was not for such as I."
"Indeed it was: I had as good a right to die when my time came as
he had: but I should bide that time, and not be hurried away in
"Would I forgive him for the selfish idea, and prove my pardon by
a reconciling kiss?"
"No: I would rather be excused."
Here I heard myself apostrophised as a "hard little thing;" and
it was added, "any other woman would have been melted to marrow at
hearing such stanzas crooned in her praise."
I assured him I was naturally hard -- very flinty, and that he would
often find me so; and that, moreover, I was determined to show him
divers rugged points in my character before the ensuing four weeks
elapsed: he should know fully what sort of a bargain he had made,
while there was yet time to rescind it.
"Would I be quiet and talk rationally?"
"I would be quiet if he liked, and as to talking rationally, I
flattered myself I was doing that now."
He fretted, pished, and pshawed. "Very good," I thought; "you may
fume and fidget as you please: but this is the best plan to pursue
with you, I am certain. I like you more than I can say; but I'll
not sink into a bathos of sentiment: and with this needle of
repartee I'll keep you from the edge of the gulf too; and, moreover,
maintain by its pungent aid that distance between you and myself
most conducive to our real mutual advantage."
From less to more, I worked him up to considerable irritation; then,
after he had retired, in dudgeon, quite to the other end of the
room, I got up, and saying, "I wish you good-night, sir," in my
natural and wonted respectful manner, I slipped out by the side-door
and got away.
The system thus entered on, I pursued during the whole season of
probation; and with the best success. He was kept, to be sure, rather
cross and crusty; but on the whole I could see he was excellently
entertained, and that a lamb-like submission and turtle-dove
sensibility, while fostering his despotism more, would have pleased
his judgment, satisfied his common-sense, and even suited his taste
In other people's presence I was, as formerly, deferential and
quiet; any other line of conduct being uncalled for: it was only
in the evening conferences I thus thwarted and afflicted him. He
continued to send for me punctually the moment the clock struck
seven; though when I appeared before him now, he had no such
honeyed terms as "love" and "darling" on his lips: the best words
at my service were "provoking puppet," "malicious elf," "sprite,"
"changeling," &c. For caresses, too, I now got grimaces; for a
pressure of the hand, a pinch on the arm; for a kiss on the cheek, a
severe tweak of the ear. It was all right: at present I decidedly
preferred these fierce favours to anything more tender. Mrs.
Fairfax, I saw, approved me: her anxiety on my account vanished;
therefore I was certain I did well. Meantime, Mr. Rochester
affirmed I was wearing him to skin and bone, and threatened awful
vengeance for my present conduct at some period fast coming. I
laughed in my sleeve at his menaces. "I can keep you in reasonable
check now," I reflected; "and I don't doubt to be able to do
it hereafter: if one expedient loses its virtue, another must be
Yet after all my task was not an easy one; often I would rather have
pleased than teased him. My future husband was becoming to me my
whole world; and more than the world: almost my hope of heaven.
He stood between me and every thought of religion, as an eclipse
intervenes between man and the broad sun. I could not, in those
days, see God for His creature: of whom I had made an idol.
The month of courtship had wasted: its very last hours were being
numbered. There was no putting off the day that advanced -- the
bridal day; and all preparations for its arrival were complete. I,
at least, had nothing more to do: there were my trunks, packed,
locked, corded, ranged in a row along the wall of my little chamber;
to-morrow, at this time, they would be far on their road to London:
and so should I (D.V.), -- or rather, not I, but one Jane Rochester,
a person whom as yet I knew not. The cards of address alone remained
to nail on: they lay, four little squares, in the drawer. Mr.
Rochester had himself written the direction, "Mrs. Rochester,
-- Hotel, London," on each: I could not persuade myself to affix
them, or to have them affixed. Mrs. Rochester! She did not exist:
she would not be born till to-morrow, some time after eight o'clock
a.m.; and I would wait to be assured she had come into the world
alive before I assigned to her all that property. It was enough
that in yonder closet, opposite my dressing-table, garments said to
be hers had already displaced my black stuff Lowood frock and straw
bonnet: for not to me appertained that suit of wedding raiment;
the pearl-coloured robe, the vapoury veil pendent from the usurped
portmanteau. I shut the closet to conceal the strange, wraith-like
apparel it contained; which, at this evening hour -- nine o'clock
-- gave out certainly a most ghostly shimmer through the shadow
of my apartment. "I will leave you by yourself, white dream," I
said. "I am feverish: I hear the wind blowing: I will go out of
doors and feel it."
It was not only the hurry of preparation that made me feverish;
not only the anticipation of the great change -- the new life which
was to commence to-morrow: both these circumstances had their
share, doubtless, in producing that restless, excited mood which
hurried me forth at this late hour into the darkening grounds: but
a third cause influenced my mind more than they.
I had at heart a strange and anxious thought. Something had
happened which I could not comprehend; no one knew of or had seen
the event but myself: it had taken place the preceding night. Mr.
Rochester that night was absent from home; nor was he yet returned:
business had called him to a small estate of two or three farms he
possessed thirty miles off -- business it was requisite he should
settle in person, previous to his meditated departure from England.
I waited now his return; eager to disburthen my mind, and to seek
of him the solution of the enigma that perplexed me. Stay till
he comes, reader; and, when I disclose my secret to him, you shall
share the confidence.
I sought the orchard, driven to its shelter by the wind, which all
day had blown strong and full from the south, without, however,
bringing a speck of rain. Instead of subsiding as night drew on,
it seemed to augment its rush and deepen its roar: the trees blew
steadfastly one way, never writhing round, and scarcely tossing
back their boughs once in an hour; so continuous was the strain
bending their branchy heads northward -- the clouds drifted from
pole to pole, fast following, mass on mass: no glimpse of blue
sky had been visible that July day.
It was not without a certain wild pleasure I ran before the wind,
delivering my trouble of mind to the measureless air-torrent thundering
through space. Descending the laurel walk, I faced the wreck of
the chestnut-tree; it stood up black and riven: the trunk, split
down the centre, gasped ghastly. The cloven halves were not broken
from each other, for the firm base and strong roots kept them
unsundered below; though community of vitality was destroyed --
the sap could flow no more: their great boughs on each side were
dead, and next winter's tempests would be sure to fell one or both
to earth: as yet, however, they might be said to form one tree --
a ruin, but an entire ruin.
"You did right to hold fast to each other," I said: as if
the monster-splinters were living things, and could hear me. "I
think, scathed as you look, and charred and scorched, there must
be a little sense of life in you yet, rising out of that adhesion
at the faithful, honest roots: you will never have green leaves
more -- never more see birds making nests and singing idyls in
your boughs; the time of pleasure and love is over with you: but
you are not desolate: each of you has a comrade to sympathise
with him in his decay." As I looked up at them, the moon appeared
momentarily in that part of the sky which filled their fissure;
her disk was blood- red and half overcast; she seemed to throw on
me one bewildered, dreary glance, and buried herself again instantly
in the deep drift of cloud. The wind fell, for a second, round
Thornfield; but far away over wood and water, poured a wild,
melancholy wail: it was sad to listen to, and I ran off again.
Here and there I strayed through the orchard, gathered up the apples
with which the grass round the tree roots was thickly strewn; then
I employed myself in dividing the ripe from the unripe; I carried
them into the house and put them away in the store-room. Then
I repaired to the library to ascertain whether the fire was lit,
for, though summer, I knew on such a gloomy evening Mr. Rochester
would like to see a cheerful hearth when he came in: yes, the fire
had been kindled some time, and burnt well. I placed his arm-chair
by the chimney-corner: I wheeled the table near it: I let down
the curtain, and had the candles brought in ready for lighting.
More restless than ever, when I had completed these arrangements
I could not sit still, nor even remain in the house: a little
time-piece in the room and the old clock in the hall simultaneously
"How late it grows!" I said. "I will run down to the gates: it
is moonlight at intervals; I can see a good way on the road. He may
be coming now, and to meet him will save some minutes of suspense."
The wind roared high in the great trees which embowered the gates;
but the road as far as I could see, to the right hand and the
left, was all still and solitary: save for the shadows of clouds
crossing it at intervals as the moon looked out, it was but a long
pale line, unvaried by one moving speck.
A puerile tear dimmed my eye while I looked -- a tear of disappointment
and impatience; ashamed of it, I wiped it away. I lingered; the
moon shut herself wholly within her chamber, and drew close her
curtain of dense cloud: the night grew dark; rain came driving
fast on the gale.
"I wish he would come! I wish he would come!" I exclaimed, seized
with hypochondriac foreboding. I had expected his arrival before
tea; now it was dark: what could keep him? Had an accident happened?
The event of last night again recurred to me. I interpreted it
as a warning of disaster. I feared my hopes were too bright to be
realised; and I had enjoyed so much bliss lately that I imagined
my fortune had passed its meridian, and must now decline.
"Well, I cannot return to the house," I thought; "I cannot sit by
the fireside, while he is abroad in inclement weather: better tire
my limbs than strain my heart; I will go forward and meet him."
I set out; I walked fast, but not far: ere I had measured a quarter
of a mile, I heard the tramp of hoofs; a horseman came on, full
gallop; a dog ran by his side. Away with evil presentiment! It
was he: here he was, mounted on Mesrour, followed by Pilot. He
saw me; for the moon had opened a blue field in the sky, and rode
in it watery bright: he took his hat off, and waved it round his
head. I now ran to meet him.
"There!" he exclaimed, as he stretched out his hand and bent from
the saddle: "You can't do without me, that is evident. Step on
my boot-toe; give me both hands: mount!"
I obeyed: joy made me agile: I sprang up before him. A hearty
kissing I got for a welcome, and some boastful triumph, which I
swallowed as well as I could. He checked himself in his exultation
to demand, "But is there anything the matter, Janet, that you come
to meet me at such an hour? Is there anything wrong?"
"No, but I thought you would never come. I could not bear to wait
in the house for you, especially with this rain and wind."
"Rain and wind, indeed! Yes, you are dripping like a mermaid; pull
my cloak round you: but I think you are feverish, Jane: both your
cheek and hand are burning hot. I ask again, is there anything
"Nothing now; I am neither afraid nor unhappy."
"Then you have been both?"
"Rather: but I'll tell you all about it by-and-bye, sir; and I
daresay you will only laugh at me for my pains."
"I'll laugh at you heartily when to-morrow is past; till then I
dare not: my prize is not certain. This is you, who have been as
slippery as an eel this last month, and as thorny as a briar-rose?
I could not lay a finger anywhere but I was pricked; and now I seem
to have gathered up a stray lamb in my arms. You wandered out of
the fold to seek your shepherd, did you, Jane?"
"I wanted you: but don't boast. Here we are at Thornfield: now
let me get down."
He landed me on the pavement. As John took his horse, and he followed
me into the hall, he told me to make haste and put something dry
on, and then return to him in the library; and he stopped me, as
I made for the staircase, to extort a promise that I would not be
long: nor was I long; in five minutes I rejoined him. I found
him at supper.
"Take a seat and bear me company, Jane: please God, it is the last
meal but one you will eat at Thornfield Hall for a long time."
I sat down near him, but told him I could not eat. "Is it because
you have the prospect of a journey before you, Jane? Is it the
thoughts of going to London that takes away your appetite?"
"I cannot see my prospects clearly to-night, sir; and I hardly know
what thoughts I have in my head. Everything in life seems unreal."
"Except me: I am substantial enough -- touch me."
"You, sir, are the most phantom-like of all: you are a mere dream."
He held out his hand, laughing. "Is that a dream?" said he, placing
it close to my eyes. He had a rounded, muscular, and vigorous
hand, as well as a long, strong arm.
"Yes; though I touch it, it is a dream," said I, as I put it down
from before my face. "Sir, have you finished supper?"
I rang the bell and ordered away the tray. When we were again
alone, I stirred the fire, and then took a low seat at my master's
"It is near midnight," I said.
"Yes: but remember, Jane, you promised to wake with me the night
before my wedding."
"I did; and I will keep my promise, for an hour or two at least:
I have no wish to go to bed."
"Are all your arrangements complete?"
"And on my part likewise," he returned, "I have settled everything;
and we shall leave Thornfield to-morrow, within half-an-hour after
our return from church."
"Very well, sir."
"With what an extraordinary smile you uttered that word -- 'very
well,' Jane! What a bright spot of colour you have on each cheek!
and how strangely your eyes glitter! Are you well?"
"I believe I am."
"Believe! What is the matter? Tell me what you feel."
"I could not, sir: no words could tell you what I feel. I wish
this present hour would never end: who knows with what fate the
next may come charged?"
"This is hypochondria, Jane. You have been over-excited, or
"Do you, sir, feel calm and happy?"
"Calm? -- no: but happy -- to the heart's core."
I looked up at him to read the signs of bliss in his face: it was
ardent and flushed.
"Give me your confidence, Jane," he said: "relieve your mind of
any weight that oppresses it, by imparting it to me. What do you
fear?- -that I shall not prove a good husband?"
"It is the idea farthest from my thoughts."
"Are you apprehensive of the new sphere you are about to enter? --
of the new life into which you are passing?"
"You puzzle me, Jane: your look and tone of sorrowful audacity
perplex and pain me. I want an explanation."
"Then, sir, listen. You were from home last night?"
"I was: I know that; and you hinted a while ago at something which
had happened in my absence:- nothing, probably, of consequence;
but, in short, it has disturbed you. Let me hear it. Mrs. Fairfax
has said something, perhaps? or you have overheard the servants
talk? -- your sensitive self-respect has been wounded?"
"No, sir." It struck twelve -- I waited till the time-piece had
concluded its silver chime, and the clock its hoarse, vibrating
stroke, and then I proceeded.
"All day yesterday I was very busy, and very happy in my ceaseless
bustle; for I am not, as you seem to think, troubled by any haunting
fears about the new sphere, et cetera: I think it a glorious
thing to have the hope of living with you, because I love you. No,
sir, don't caress me now -- let me talk undisturbed. Yesterday I
trusted well in Providence, and believed that events were working
together for your good and mine: it was a fine day, if you recollect
-- the calmness of the air and sky forbade apprehensions respecting
your safety or comfort on your journey. I walked a little while
on the pavement after tea, thinking of you; and I beheld you in
imagination so near me, I scarcely missed your actual presence.
I thought of the life that lay before me -- YOUR life, sir -- an
existence more expansive and stirring than my own: as much more
so as the depths of the sea to which the brook runs are than the
shallows of its own strait channel. I wondered why moralists call
this world a dreary wilderness: for me it blossomed like a rose.
Just at sunset, the air turned cold and the sky cloudy: I went in,
Sophie called me upstairs to look at my wedding-dress, which they
had just brought; and under it in the box I found your present --
the veil which, in your princely extravagance, you sent for from
London: resolved, I suppose, since I would not have jewels, to
cheat me into accepting something as costly. I smiled as I unfolded
it, and devised how I would tease you about your aristocratic tastes,
and your efforts to masque your plebeian bride in the attributes
of a peeress. I though how I would carry down to you the square
of unembroidered blond I had myself prepared as a covering for my
low-born head, and ask if that was not good enough for a woman who
could bring her husband neither fortune, beauty, nor connections.
I saw plainly how you would look; and heard your impetuous republican
answers, and your haughty disavowal of any necessity on your part
to augment your wealth, or elevate your standing, by marrying either
a purse or a coronet."
"How well you read me, you witch!" interposed Mr. Rochester: "but
what did you find in the veil besides its embroidery? Did you find
poison, or a dagger, that you look so mournful now?"
"No, no, sir; besides the delicacy and richness of the fabric,
I found nothing save Fairfax Rochester's pride; and that did not
scare me, because I am used to the sight of the demon. But, sir,
as it grew dark, the wind rose: it blew yesterday evening, not as
it blows now -- wild and high -- but 'with a sullen, moaning sound'
far more eerie. I wished you were at home. I came into this room,
and the sight of the empty chair and fireless hearth chilled me.
For some time after I went to bed, I could not sleep -- a sense of
anxious excitement distressed me. The gale still rising, seemed
to my ear to muffle a mournful under-sound; whether in the house
or abroad I could not at first tell, but it recurred, doubtful
yet doleful at every lull; at last I made out it must be some dog
howling at a distance. I was glad when it ceased. On sleeping, I
continued in dreams the idea of a dark and gusty night. I continued
also the wish to be with you, and experienced a strange, regretful
consciousness of some barrier dividing us. During all my first
sleep, I was following the windings of an unknown road; total
obscurity environed me; rain pelted me; I was burdened with the
charge of a little child: a very small creature, too young and
feeble to walk, and which shivered in my cold arms, and wailed
piteously in my ear. I thought, sir, that you were on the road
a long way before me; and I strained every nerve to overtake you,
and made effort on effort to utter your name and entreat you to
stop -- but my movements were fettered, and my voice still died
away inarticulate; while you, I felt, withdrew farther and farther
"And these dreams weigh on your spirits now, Jane, when I am close
to you? Little nervous subject! Forget visionary woe, and think
only of real happiness! You say you love me, Janet: yes -- I will
not forget that; and you cannot deny it. THOSE words did not die
inarticulate on your lips. I heard them clear and soft: a thought
too solemn perhaps, but sweet as music -- 'I think it is a glorious
thing to have the hope of living with you, Edward, because I love
you.' Do you love me, Jane? -- repeat it."
"I do, sir -- I do, with my whole heart."
"Well," he said, after some minutes' silence, "it is strange; but
that sentence has penetrated my breast painfully. Why? I think
because you said it with such an earnest, religious energy, and
because your upward gaze at me now is the very sublime of faith,
truth, and devotion: it is too much as if some spirit were near
me. Look wicked, Jane: as you know well how to look: coin one
of your wild, shy, provoking smiles; tell me you hate me -- tease
me, vex me; do anything but move me: I would rather be incensed
"I will tease you and vex you to your heart's content, when I have
finished my tale: but hear me to the end."
"I thought, Jane, you had told me all. I thought I had found the
source of your melancholy in a dream."
I shook my head. "What! is there more? But I will not believe
it to be anything important. I warn you of incredulity beforehand.
The disquietude of his air, the somewhat apprehensive impatience
of his manner, surprised me: but I proceeded.
"I dreamt another dream, sir: that Thornfield Hall was a dreary
ruin, the retreat of bats and owls. I thought that of all the
stately front nothing remained but a shell-like wall, very high and
very fragile-looking. I wandered, on a moonlight night, through
the grass-grown enclosure within: here I stumbled over a marble
hearth, and there over a fallen fragment of cornice. Wrapped up
in a shawl, I still carried the unknown little child: I might not
lay it down anywhere, however tired were my arms -- however much its
weight impeded my progress, I must retain it. I heard the gallop
of a horse at a distance on the road; I was sure it was you; and
you were departing for many years and for a distant country. I
climbed the thin wall with frantic perilous haste, eager to catch
one glimpse of you from the top: the stones rolled from under my
feet, the ivy branches I grasped gave way, the child clung round
my neck in terror, and almost strangled me; at last I gained the
summit. I saw you like a speck on a white track, lessening every
moment. The blast blew so strong I could not stand. I sat down
on the narrow ledge; I hushed the scared infant in my lap: you
turned an angle of the road: I bent forward to take a last look;
the wall crumbled; I was shaken; the child rolled from my knee, I
lost my balance, fell, and woke."
"Now, Jane, that is all."
"All the preface, sir; the tale is yet to come. On waking, a
gleam dazzled my eyes; I thought -- Oh, it is daylight! But I was
mistaken; it was only candlelight. Sophie, I supposed, had come
in. There was a light in the dressing-table, and the door of the
closet, where, before going to bed, I had hung my wedding-dress
and veil, stood open; I heard a rustling there. I asked, 'Sophie,
what are you doing?' No one answered; but a form emerged from the
closet; it took the light, held it aloft, and surveyed the garments
pendent from the portmanteau. 'Sophie! Sophie!' I again cried:
and still it was silent. I had risen up in bed, I bent forward:
first surprise, then bewilderment, came over me; and then my blood
crept cold through my veins. Mr. Rochester, this was not Sophie,
it was not Leah, it was not Mrs. Fairfax: it was not -- no, I was
sure of it, and am still -- it was not even that strange woman,
"It must have been one of them," interrupted my master.
"No, sir, I solemnly assure you to the contrary. The shape
standing before me had never crossed my eyes within the precincts
of Thornfield Hall before; the height, the contour were new to me."
"Describe it, Jane."
"It seemed, sir, a woman, tall and large, with thick and dark hair
hanging long down her back. I know not what dress she had on:
it was white and straight; but whether gown, sheet, or shroud, I
"Did you see her face?"
"Not at first. But presently she took my veil from its place; she
held it up, gazed at it long, and then she threw it over her own
head, and turned to the mirror. At that moment I saw the reflection
of the visage and features quite distinctly in the dark oblong
"And how were they?"
"Fearful and ghastly to me -- oh, sir, I never saw a face like it!
It was a discoloured face -- it was a savage face. I wish I could
forget the roll of the red eyes and the fearful blackened inflation
of the lineaments!"
"Ghosts are usually pale, Jane."
"This, sir, was purple: the lips were swelled and dark; the brow
furrowed: the black eyebrows widely raised over the bloodshot
eyes. Shall I tell you of what it reminded me?"
"Of the foul German spectre -- the Vampyre."
"Ah! -- what did it do?"
"Sir, it removed my veil from its gaunt head, rent it in two parts,
and flinging both on the floor, trampled on them."
"It drew aside the window-curtain and looked out; perhaps it saw
dawn approaching, for, taking the candle, it retreated to the door.
Just at my bedside, the figure stopped: the fiery eyes glared upon
me -- she thrust up her candle close to my face, and extinguished
it under my eyes. I was aware her lurid visage flamed over mine,
and I lost consciousness: for the second time in my life -- only
the second time -- I became insensible from terror."
"Who was with you when you revived?"
"No one, sir, but the broad day. I rose, bathed my head and face
in water, drank a long draught; felt that though enfeebled I was
not ill, and determined that to none but you would I impart this
vision. Now, sir, tell me who and what that woman was?"
"The creature of an over-stimulated brain; that is certain. I must
be careful of you, my treasure: nerves like yours were not made
for rough handling."
"Sir, depend on it, my nerves were not in fault; the thing was
real: the transaction actually took place."
"And your previous dreams, were they real too? Is Thornfield
Hall a ruin? Am I severed from you by insuperable obstacles? Am
I leaving you without a tear -- without a kiss -- without a word?"
"Am I about to do it? Why, the day is already commenced which is
to bind us indissolubly; and when we are once united, there shall
be no recurrence of these mental terrors: I guarantee that."
"Mental terrors, sir! I wish I could believe them to be only such:
I wish it more now than ever; since even you cannot explain to me
the mystery of that awful visitant."
"And since I cannot do it, Jane, it must have been unreal."
"But, sir, when I said so to myself on rising this morning, and
when I looked round the room to gather courage and comfort from the
cheerful aspect of each familiar object in full daylight, there --
on the carpet -- I saw what gave the distinct lie to my hypothesis,
-- the veil, torn from top to bottom in two halves!"
I felt Mr. Rochester start and shudder; he hastily flung his arms
round me. "Thank God!" he exclaimed, "that if anything malignant
did come near you last night, it was only the veil that was harmed.
Oh, to think what might have happened!"
He drew his breath short, and strained me so close to him, I could
scarcely pant. After some minutes' silence, he continued, cheerily -
"Now, Janet, I'll explain to you all about it. It was half dream,
half reality. A woman did, I doubt not, enter your room: and that
woman was -- must have been -- Grace Poole. You call her a strange
being yourself: from all you know, you have reason so to call
her -- what did she do to me? what to Mason? In a state between
sleeping and waking, you noticed her entrance and her actions;
but feverish, almost delirious as you were, you ascribed to her
a goblin appearance different from her own: the long dishevelled
hair, the swelled black face, the exaggerated stature, were figments
of imagination; results of nightmare: the spiteful tearing of the
veil was real: and it is like her. I see you would ask why I keep
such a woman in my house: when we have been married a year and a
day, I will tell you; but not now. Are you satisfied, Jane? Do
you accept my solution of the mystery?"
I reflected, and in truth it appeared to me the only possible one:
satisfied I was not, but to please him I endeavoured to appear so
-- relieved, I certainly did feel; so I answered him with a contented
smile. And now, as it was long past one, I prepared to leave him.
"Does not Sophie sleep with Adele in the nursery?" he asked, as
I lit my candle.
"And there is room enough in Adele's little bed for you. You must
share it with her to-night, Jane: it is no wonder that the incident
you have related should make you nervous, and I would rather you
did not sleep alone: promise me to go to the nursery."
"I shall be very glad to do so, sir."
"And fasten the door securely on the inside. Wake Sophie when you
go upstairs, under pretence of requesting her to rouse you in good
time to-morrow; for you must be dressed and have finished breakfast
before eight. And now, no more sombre thoughts: chase dull care
away, Janet. Don't you hear to what soft whispers the wind has
fallen? and there is no more beating of rain against the window-panes:
look here" (he lifted up the curtain) -- "it is a lovely night!"
It was. Half heaven was pure and stainless: the clouds, now
trooping before the wind, which had shifted to the west, were filing
off eastward in long, silvered columns. The moon shone peacefully.
"Well," said Mr. Rochester, gazing inquiringly into my eyes, "how
is my Janet now?"
"The night is serene, sir; and so am I."
"And you will not dream of separation and sorrow to-night; but of
happy love and blissful union."
This prediction was but half fulfilled: I did not indeed dream of
sorrow, but as little did I dream of joy; for I never slept at all.
With little Adele in my arms, I watched the slumber of childhood
-- so tranquil, so passionless, so innocent -- and waited for the
coming day: all my life was awake and astir in my frame: and as
soon as the sun rose I rose too. I remember Adele clung to me as I
left her: I remember I kissed her as I loosened her little hands
from my neck; and I cried over her with strange emotion, and quitted
her because I feared my sobs would break her still sound repose.
She seemed the emblem of my past life; and he I was now to array
myself to meet, the dread, but adored, type of my unknown future
Sophie came at seven to dress me: she was very long indeed in
accomplishing her task; so long that Mr. Rochester, grown, I suppose,
impatient of my delay, sent up to ask why I did not come. She was
just fastening my veil (the plain square of blond after all) to
my hair with a brooch; I hurried from under her hands as soon as
"Stop!" she cried in French. "Look at yourself in the mirror:
you have not taken one peep."
So I turned at the door: I saw a robed and veiled figure, so
unlike my usual self that it seemed almost the image of a stranger.
"Jane!" called a voice, and I hastened down. I was received at
the foot of the stairs by Mr. Rochester.
"Lingerer!" he said, "my brain is on fire with impatience, and
you tarry so long!"
He took me into the dining-room, surveyed me keenly all over,
pronounced me "fair as a lily, and not only the pride of his life,
but the desire of his eyes," and then telling me he would give me
but ten minutes to eat some breakfast, he rang the bell. One of
his lately hired servants, a footman, answered it.
"Is John getting the carriage ready?"
"Is the luggage brought down?"
"They are bringing it down, sir."
"Go you to the church: see if Mr. Wood (the clergyman) and the
clerk are there: return and tell me."
The church, as the reader knows, was but just beyond the gates;
the footman soon returned.
"Mr. Wood is in the vestry, sir, putting on his surplice."
"And the carriage?"
"The horses are harnessing."
"We shall not want it to go to church; but it must be ready the
moment we return: all the boxes and luggage arranged and strapped
on, and the coachman in his seat."
"Jane, are you ready?"
I rose. There were no groomsmen, no bridesmaids, no relatives to
wait for or marshal: none but Mr. Rochester and I. Mrs. Fairfax
stood in the hall as we passed. I would fain have spoken to her,
but my hand was held by a grasp of iron: I was hurried along by a
stride I could hardly follow; and to look at Mr. Rochester's face
was to feel that not a second of delay would be tolerated for any
purpose. I wonder what other bridegroom ever looked as he did --
so bent up to a purpose, so grimly resolute: or who, under such
steadfast brows, ever revealed such flaming and flashing eyes.
I know not whether the day was fair or foul; in descending the drive,
I gazed neither on sky nor earth: my heart was with my eyes; and
both seemed migrated into Mr. Rochester's frame. I wanted to see
the invisible thing on which, as we went along, he appeared to
fasten a glance fierce and fell. I wanted to feel the thoughts
whose force he seemed breasting and resisting.
At the churchyard wicket he stopped: he discovered I was quite out
of breath. "Am I cruel in my love?" he said. "Delay an instant:
lean on me, Jane."
And now I can recall the picture of the grey old house of God
rising calm before me, of a rook wheeling round the steeple, of a
ruddy morning sky beyond. I remember something, too, of the green
grave-mounds; and I have not forgotten, either, two figures of
strangers straying amongst the low hillocks and reading the mementoes
graven on the few mossy head-stones. I noticed them, because,
as they saw us, they passed round to the back of the church; and
I doubted not they were going to enter by the side-aisle door and
witness the ceremony. By Mr. Rochester they were not observed; he
was earnestly looking at my face from which the blood had, I daresay,
momentarily fled: for I felt my forehead dewy, and my cheeks and
lips cold. When I rallied, which I soon did, he walked gently with
me up the path to the porch.
We entered the quiet and humble temple; the priest waited in his
white surplice at the lowly altar, the clerk beside him. All was
still: two shadows only moved in a remote corner. My conjecture
had been correct: the strangers had slipped in before us, and they
now stood by the vault of the Rochesters, their backs towards us,
viewing through the rails the old time-stained marble tomb, where
a kneeling angel guarded the remains of Damer de Rochester, slain
at Marston Moor in the time of the civil wars, and of Elizabeth,
Our place was taken at the communion rails. Hearing a cautious
step behind me, I glanced over my shoulder: one of the strangers
-- a gentleman, evidently -- was advancing up the chancel. The
service began. The explanation of the intent of matrimony was gone
through; and then the clergyman came a step further forward, and,
bending slightly towards Mr. Rochester, went on.
"I require and charge you both (as ye will answer at the dreadful
day of judgment, when the secrets of all hearts shall be disclosed),
that if either of you know any impediment why ye may not lawfully
be joined together in matrimony, ye do now confess it; for be ye
well assured that so many as are coupled together otherwise than
God's Word doth allow, are not joined together by God, neither is
their matrimony lawful."
He paused, as the custom is. When is the pause after that sentence
ever broken by reply? Not, perhaps, once in a hundred years. And
the clergyman, who had not lifted his eyes from his book, and had
held his breath but for a moment, was proceeding: his hand was
already stretched towards Mr. Rochester, as his lips unclosed to
ask, "Wilt thou have this woman for thy wedded wife?" --
when a distinct and near voice said -
"The marriage cannot go on: I declare the existence of an impediment."
The clergyman looked up at the speaker and stood mute; the clerk
did the same; Mr. Rochester moved slightly, as if an earthquake had
rolled under his feet: taking a firmer footing, and not turning
his head or eyes, he said, "Proceed."
Profound silence fell when he had uttered that word, with
deep but low intonation. Presently Mr. Wood said -
"I cannot proceed without some investigation into what has been
asserted, and evidence of its truth or falsehood."
"The ceremony is quite broken off," subjoined the voice behind
us. "I am in a condition to prove my allegation: an insuperable
impediment to this marriage exists."
Mr. Rochester heard, but heeded not: he stood stubborn and rigid,
making no movement but to possess himself of my hand. What a hot
and strong grasp he had! and how like quarried marble was his
pale, firm, massive front at this moment! How his eye shone, still
watchful, and yet wild beneath!
Mr. Wood seemed at a loss. "What is the nature of the impediment?"
he asked. "Perhaps it may be got over -- explained away?"
"Hardly," was the answer. "I have called it insuperable, and I
The speaker came forward and leaned on the rails. He continued,
uttering each word distinctly, calmly, steadily, but not loudly -
"It simply consists in the existence of a previous marriage. Mr.
Rochester has a wife now living."
My nerves vibrated to those low-spoken words as they had never
vibrated to thunder -- my blood felt their subtle violence as it
had never felt frost or fire; but I was collected, and in no danger
of swooning. I looked at Mr. Rochester: I made him look at me.
His whole face was colourless rock: his eye was both spark and
flint. He disavowed nothing: he seemed as if he would defy all
things. Without speaking, without smiling, without seeming to
recognise in me a human being, he only twined my waist with his
arm and riveted me to his side.
"Who are you?" he asked of the intruder.
"My name is Briggs, a solicitor of -- Street, London."
"And you would thrust on me a wife?"
"I would remind you of your lady's existence, sir, which the law
recognises, if you do not."
"Favour me with an account of her -- with her name, her parentage,
her place of abode."
"Certainly." Mr. Briggs calmly took a paper from his pocket, and
read out in a sort of official, nasal voice:-
"'I affirm and can prove that on the 20th of October A.D. -- (a
date of fifteen years back), Edward Fairfax Rochester, of Thornfield
Hall, in the county of -, and of Ferndean Manor, in -shire, England,
was married to my sister, Bertha Antoinetta Mason, daughter of
Jonas Mason, merchant, and of Antoinetta his wife, a Creole, at --
church, Spanish Town, Jamaica. The record of the marriage will be
found in the register of that church -- a copy of it is now in my
possession. Signed, Richard Mason.'"
"That -- if a genuine document -- may prove I have been married,
but it does not prove that the woman mentioned therein as my wife
is still living."
"She was living three months ago," returned the lawyer.
"How do you know?"
"I have a witness to the fact, whose testimony even you, sir, will
"Produce him -- or go to hell."
"I will produce him first -- he is on the spot. Mr. Mason, have
the goodness to step forward."
Mr. Rochester, on hearing the name, set his teeth; he experienced,
too, a sort of strong convulsive quiver; near to him as I was, I
felt the spasmodic movement of fury or despair run through his frame.
The second stranger, who had hitherto lingered in the background,
now drew near; a pale face looked over the solicitor's shoulder
-- yes, it was Mason himself. Mr. Rochester turned and glared at
him. His eye, as I have often said, was a black eye: it had now
a tawny, nay, a bloody light in its gloom; and his face flushed --
olive cheek and hueless forehead received a glow as from spreading,
ascending heart-fire: and he stirred, lifted his strong arm -- he
could have struck Mason, dashed him on the church-floor, shocked
by ruthless blow the breath from his body -- but Mason shrank away,
and cried faintly, "Good God!" Contempt fell cool on Mr. Rochester
-- his passion died as if a blight had shrivelled it up: he only
asked -- "What have YOU to say?"
An inaudible reply escaped Mason's white lips.
"The devil is in it if you cannot answer distinctly. I again
demand, what have you to say?"
"Sir -- sir," interrupted the clergyman, "do not forget you are in
a sacred place." Then addressing Mason, he inquired gently, "Are
you aware, sir, whether or not this gentleman's wife is still
"Courage," urged the lawyer, -- "speak out."
"She is now living at Thornfield Hall," said Mason, in more articulate
tones: "I saw her there last April. I am her brother."
"At Thornfield Hall!" ejaculated the clergyman. "Impossible! I
am an old resident in this neighbourhood, sir, and I never heard
of a Mrs. Rochester at Thornfield Hall."
I saw a grim smile contort Mr. Rochester's lips, and he muttered -
"No, by God! I took care that none should hear of it --
or of her under that name." He mused -- for ten minutes he held
counsel with himself: he formed his resolve, and announced it -
"Enough! all shall bolt out at once, like the bullet from the
barrel. Wood, close your book and take off your surplice; John
Green (to the clerk), leave the church: there will be no wedding
to-day." The man obeyed.
Mr. Rochester continued, hardily and recklessly: "Bigamy is an
ugly word! -- I meant, however, to be a bigamist; but fate has out-
manoeuvred me, or Providence has checked me, -- perhaps the last.
I am little better than a devil at this moment; and, as my pastor
there would tell me, deserve no doubt the sternest judgments of
God, even to the quenchless fire and deathless worm. Gentlemen,
my plan is broken up:- what this lawyer and his client say is true:
I have been married, and the woman to whom I was married lives!
You say you never heard of a Mrs. Rochester at the house up yonder,
Wood; but I daresay you have many a time inclined your ear to gossip
about the mysterious lunatic kept there under watch and ward. Some
have whispered to you that she is my bastard half-sister: some,
my cast-off mistress. I now inform you that she is my wife, whom
I married fifteen years ago, -- Bertha Mason by name; sister of
this resolute personage, who is now, with his quivering limbs and
white cheeks, showing you what a stout heart men may bear. Cheer
up, Dick! -- never fear me! -- I'd almost as soon strike a woman
as you. Bertha Mason is mad; and she came of a mad family; idiots
and maniacs through three generations! Her mother, the Creole,
was both a madwoman and a drunkard! -- as I found out after I had
wed the daughter: for they were silent on family secrets before.
Bertha, like a dutiful child, copied her parent in both points.
I had a charming partner -- pure, wise, modest: you can fancy I
was a happy man. I went through rich scenes! Oh! my experience
has been heavenly, if you only knew it! But I owe you no further
explanation. Briggs, Wood, Mason, I invite you all to come up to
the house and visit Mrs. Poole's patient, and MY WIFE! You shall
see what sort of a being I was cheated into espousing, and judge
whether or not I had a right to break the compact, and seek sympathy
with something at least human. This girl," he continued, looking
at me, "knew no more than you, Wood, of the disgusting secret:
she thought all was fair and legal and never dreamt she was going
to be entrapped into a feigned union with a defrauded wretch,
already bound to a bad, mad, and embruted partner! Come all of
you -- follow!"
Still holding me fast, he left the church: the three gentlemen
came after. At the front door of the hall we found the carriage.
"Take it back to the coach-house, John," said Mr. Rochester coolly;
"it will not be wanted to-day."
At our entrance, Mrs. Fairfax, Adele, Sophie, Leah, advanced to
meet and greet us.
"To the right-about -- every soul!" cried the master; "away with
your congratulations! Who wants them? Not I! -- they are fifteen
years too late!"
He passed on and ascended the stairs, still holding my hand, and
still beckoning the gentlemen to follow him, which they did. We
mounted the first staircase, passed up the gallery, proceeded to
the third storey: the low, black door, opened by Mr. Rochester's
master-key, admitted us to the tapestried room, with its great bed
and its pictorial cabinet.
"You know this place, Mason," said our guide; "she bit and stabbed
He lifted the hangings from the wall, uncovering the second door:
this, too, he opened. In a room without a window, there burnt a
fire guarded by a high and strong fender, and a lamp suspended from
the ceiling by a chain. Grace Poole bent over the fire, apparently
cooking something in a saucepan. In the deep shade, at the farther
end of the room, a figure ran backwards and forwards. What it
was, whether beast or human being, one could not, at first sight,
tell: it grovelled, seemingly, on all fours; it snatched and growled
like some strange wild animal: but it was covered with clothing,
and a quantity of dark, grizzled hair, wild as a mane, hid its head
"Good-morrow, Mrs. Poole!" said Mr. Rochester. "How are you? and
how is your charge to-day?"
"We're tolerable, sir, I thank you," replied Grace, lifting the
boiling mess carefully on to the hob: "rather snappish, but not
A fierce cry seemed to give the lie to her favourable report: the
clothed hyena rose up, and stood tall on its hind-feet.
"Ah! sir, she sees you!" exclaimed Grace: "you'd better not
"Only a few moments, Grace: you must allow me a few moments."
"Take care then, sir! -- for God's sake, take care!"
The maniac bellowed: she parted her shaggy locks from her visage,
and gazed wildly at her visitors. I recognised well that purple
face, -- those bloated features. Mrs. Poole advanced.
"Keep out of the way," said Mr. Rochester, thrusting her aside:
"she has no knife now, I suppose, and I'm on my guard."
"One never knows what she has, sir: she is so cunning: it is not
in mortal discretion to fathom her craft."
"We had better leave her," whispered Mason.
"Go to the devil!" was his brother-in-law's recommendation.
"'Ware!" cried Grace. The three gentlemen retreated simultaneously.
Mr. Rochester flung me behind him: the lunatic sprang and grappled
his throat viciously, and laid her teeth to his cheek: they
struggled. She was a big woman, in stature almost equalling her