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Chapter 20

  • I had forgotten to draw my curtain, which I usually did, and also to let dow_y window-blind.  The consequence was, that when the moon, which was full an_right (for the night was fine), came in her course to that space in the sk_pposite my casement, and looked in at me through the unveiled panes, he_lorious gaze roused me.  Awaking in the dead of night, I opened my eyes o_er disk—silver-white and crystal clear.  It was beautiful, but too solemn; _alf rose, and stretched my arm to draw the curtain.
  • Good God!  What a cry!
  • The night—its silence—its rest, was rent in twain by a savage, a sharp, _hrilly sound that ran from end to end of Thornfield Hall.
  • My pulse stopped: my heart stood still; my stretched arm was paralysed.  Th_ry died, and was not renewed.  Indeed, whatever being uttered that fearfu_hriek could not soon repeat it: not the widest-winged condor on the Ande_ould, twice in succession, send out such a yell from the cloud shrouding hi_yrie.  The thing delivering such utterance must rest ere it could repeat th_ffort.
  • It came out of the third storey; for it passed overhead.  And overhead—yes, i_he room just above my chamber-ceiling—I now heard a struggle: a deadly one i_eemed from the noise; and a half-smothered voice shouted—
  • “Help! help! help!” three times rapidly.
  • “Will no one come?” it cried; and then, while the staggering and stamping wen_n wildly, I distinguished through plank and plaster:—
  • “Rochester!  Rochester! for God’s sake, come!”
  • A chamber-door opened: some one ran, or rushed, along the gallery.  Anothe_tep stamped on the flooring above and something fell; and there was silence.
  • I had put on some clothes, though horror shook all my limbs; I issued from m_partment.  The sleepers were all aroused: ejaculations, terrified murmur_ounded in every room; door after door unclosed; one looked out and anothe_ooked out; the gallery filled.  Gentlemen and ladies alike had quitted thei_eds; and “Oh! what is it?”—“Who is hurt?”—“What has happened?”—“Fetch _ight!”—“Is it fire?”—“Are there robbers?”—“Where shall we run?” was demande_onfusedly on all hands.  But for the moonlight they would have been i_omplete darkness.  They ran to and fro; they crowded together: some sobbed, some stumbled: the confusion was inextricable.
  • “Where the devil is Rochester?” cried Colonel Dent.  “I cannot find him in hi_ed.”
  • “Here! here!” was shouted in return.  “Be composed, all of you: I’m coming.”
  • And the door at the end of the gallery opened, and Mr. Rochester advanced wit_ candle: he had just descended from the upper storey.  One of the ladies ra_o him directly; she seized his arm: it was Miss Ingram.
  • “What awful event has taken place?” said she.  “Speak! let us know the wors_t once!”
  • “But don’t pull me down or strangle me,” he replied: for the Misses Eshto_ere clinging about him now; and the two dowagers, in vast white wrappers, were bearing down on him like ships in full sail.
  • “All’s right!—all’s right!” he cried.  “It’s a mere rehearsal of Much Ad_bout Nothing.  Ladies, keep off, or I shall wax dangerous.”
  • And dangerous he looked: his black eyes darted sparks.  Calming himself by a_ffort, he added—
  • “A servant has had the nightmare; that is all.  She’s an excitable, nervou_erson: she construed her dream into an apparition, or something of that sort, no doubt; and has taken a fit with fright.  Now, then, I must see you all bac_nto your rooms; for, till the house is settled, she cannot be looked after.
  • Gentlemen, have the goodness to set the ladies the example.  Miss Ingram, I a_ure you will not fail in evincing superiority to idle terrors.  Amy an_ouisa, return to your nests like a pair of doves, as you are.   Mesdames” (t_he dowagers), “you will take cold to a dead certainty, if you stay in thi_hill gallery any longer.”
  • And so, by dint of alternate coaxing and commanding, he contrived to get the_ll once more enclosed in their separate dormitories.  I did not wait to b_rdered back to mine, but retreated unnoticed, as unnoticed I had left it.
  • Not, however, to go to bed: on the contrary, I began and dressed mysel_arefully.  The sounds I had heard after the scream, and the words that ha_een uttered, had probably been heard only by me; for they had proceeded fro_he room above mine: but they assured me that it was not a servant’s drea_hich had thus struck horror through the house; and that the explanation Mr.
  • Rochester had given was merely an invention framed to pacify his guests.  _ressed, then, to be ready for emergencies.  When dressed, I sat a long tim_y the window looking out over the silent grounds and silvered fields an_aiting for I knew not what.  It seemed to me that some event must follow th_trange cry, struggle, and call.
  • No: stillness returned: each murmur and movement ceased gradually, and i_bout an hour Thornfield Hall was again as hushed as a desert.  It seemed tha_leep and night had resumed their empire.  Meantime the moon declined: she wa_bout to set.  Not liking to sit in the cold and darkness, I thought I woul_ie down on my bed, dressed as I was.  I left the window, and moved wit_ittle noise across the carpet; as I stooped to take off my shoes, a cautiou_and tapped low at the door.
  • “Am I wanted?” I asked.
  • “Are you up?” asked the voice I expected to hear, viz., my master’s.
  • “Yes, sir.”
  • “And dressed?”
  • “Yes.”
  • “Come out, then, quietly.”
  • I obeyed.  Mr. Rochester stood in the gallery holding a light.
  • “I want you,” he said: “come this way: take your time, and make no noise.”
  • My slippers were thin: I could walk the matted floor as softly as a cat.  H_lided up the gallery and up the stairs, and stopped in the dark, low corrido_f the fateful third storey: I had followed and stood at his side.
  • “Have you a sponge in your room?” he asked in a whisper.
  • “Yes, sir.”
  • “Have you any salts—volatile salts?”
  • “Yes.”
  • “Go back and fetch both.”
  • I returned, sought the sponge on the washstand, the salts in my drawer, an_nce more retraced my steps.  He still waited; he held a key in his hand: approaching one of the small, black doors, he put it in the lock; he paused, and addressed me again.
  • “You don’t turn sick at the sight of blood?”
  • “I think I shall not: I have never been tried yet.”
  • I felt a thrill while I answered him; but no coldness, and no faintness.
  • “Just give me your hand,” he said: “it will not do to risk a fainting fit.”
  • I put my fingers into his.  “Warm and steady,” was his remark: he turned th_ey and opened the door.
  • I saw a room I remembered to have seen before, the day Mrs. Fairfax showed m_ver the house: it was hung with tapestry; but the tapestry was now looped u_n one part, and there was a door apparent, which had then been concealed.
  • This door was open; a light shone out of the room within: I heard thence _narling, snatching sound, almost like a dog quarrelling.  Mr. Rochester, putting down his candle, said to me, “Wait a minute,” and he went forward t_he inner apartment.  A shout of laughter greeted his entrance; noisy a_irst, and terminating in Grace Poole’s own goblin ha! ha!  _She_ then wa_here.  He made some sort of arrangement without speaking, though I heard _ow voice address him: he came out and closed the door behind him.
  • “Here, Jane!” he said; and I walked round to the other side of a large bed, which with its drawn curtains concealed a considerable portion of the chamber.
  • An easy-chair was near the bed-head: a man sat in it, dressed with th_xception of his coat; he was still; his head leant back; his eyes wer_losed.  Mr. Rochester held the candle over him; I recognised in his pale an_eemingly lifeless face—the stranger, Mason: I saw too that his linen on on_ide, and one arm, was almost soaked in blood.
  • “Hold the candle,” said Mr. Rochester, and I took it: he fetched a basin o_ater from the washstand: “Hold that,” said he.  I obeyed.  He took th_ponge, dipped it in, and moistened the corpse-like face; he asked for m_melling-bottle, and applied it to the nostrils.  Mr. Mason shortly unclose_is eyes; he groaned.  Mr. Rochester opened the shirt of the wounded man, whose arm and shoulder were bandaged: he sponged away blood, trickling fas_own.
  • “Is there immediate danger?” murmured Mr. Mason.
  • “Pooh!  No—a mere scratch.  Don’t be so overcome, man: bear up!  I’ll fetch _urgeon for you now, myself: you’ll be able to be removed by morning, I hope.
  • Jane,” he continued.
  • “Sir?”
  • “I shall have to leave you in this room with this gentleman, for an hour, o_erhaps two hours: you will sponge the blood as I do when it returns: if h_eels faint, you will put the glass of water on that stand to his lips, an_our salts to his nose.  You will not speak to him on any pretext—and—Richard, it will be at the peril of your life if you speak to her: open you_ips—agitate yourself—and I’ll not answer for the consequences.”
  • Again the poor man groaned; he looked as if he dared not move; fear, either o_eath or of something else, appeared almost to paralyse him.  Mr. Rocheste_ut the now bloody sponge into my hand, and I proceeded to use it as he ha_one.  He watched me a second, then saying, “Remember!—No conversation,” h_eft the room.  I experienced a strange feeling as the key grated in the lock, and the sound of his retreating step ceased to be heard.
  • Here then I was in the third storey, fastened into one of its mystic cells; night around me; a pale and bloody spectacle under my eyes and hands; _urderess hardly separated from me by a single door: yes—that wa_ppalling—the rest I could bear; but I shuddered at the thought of Grace Pool_ursting out upon me.
  • I must keep to my post, however.  I must watch this ghastly countenance—thes_lue, still lips forbidden to unclose—these eyes now shut, now opening, no_andering through the room, now fixing on me, and ever glazed with the dulnes_f horror.  I must dip my hand again and again in the basin of blood an_ater, and wipe away the trickling gore.  I must see the light of th_nsnuffed candle wane on my employment; the shadows darken on the wrought, antique tapestry round me, and grow black under the hangings of the vast ol_ed, and quiver strangely over the doors of a great cabinet opposite—whos_ront, divided into twelve panels, bore, in grim design, the heads of th_welve apostles, each enclosed in its separate panel as in a frame; whil_bove them at the top rose an ebon crucifix and a dying Christ.
  • According as the shifting obscurity and flickering gleam hovered here o_lanced there, it was now the bearded physician, Luke, that bent his brow; no_t. John’s long hair that waved; and anon the devilish face of Judas, tha_rew out of the panel, and seemed gathering life and threatening a revelatio_f the arch-traitor—of Satan himself—in his subordinate’s form.
  • Amidst all this, I had to listen as well as watch: to listen for the movement_f the wild beast or the fiend in yonder side den.  But since Mr. Rochester’_isit it seemed spellbound: all the night I heard but three sounds at thre_ong intervals,—a step creak, a momentary renewal of the snarling, canin_oise, and a deep human groan.
  • Then my own thoughts worried me.  What crime was this that lived incarnate i_his sequestered mansion, and could neither be expelled nor subdued by th_wner?—what mystery, that broke out now in fire and now in blood, at th_eadest hours of night?  What creature was it, that, masked in an ordinar_oman’s face and shape, uttered the voice, now of a mocking demon, and anon o_ carrion-seeking bird of prey?
  • And this man I bent over—this commonplace, quiet stranger—how had he becom_nvolved in the web of horror? and why had the Fury flown at him?  What mad_im seek this quarter of the house at an untimely season, when he should hav_een asleep in bed?  I had heard Mr. Rochester assign him an apartmen_elow—what brought him here!  And why, now, was he so tame under the violenc_r treachery done him?  Why did he so quietly submit to the concealment Mr.
  • Rochester enforced?  Why _did_ Mr. Rochester enforce this concealment?  Hi_uest had been outraged, his own life on a former occasion had been hideousl_lotted against; and both attempts he smothered in secrecy and sank i_blivion!  Lastly, I saw Mr. Mason was submissive to Mr. Rochester; that th_mpetuous will of the latter held complete sway over the inertness of th_ormer: the few words which had passed between them assured me of this.  I_as evident that in their former intercourse, the passive disposition of th_ne had been habitually influenced by the active energy of the other: whenc_hen had arisen Mr. Rochester’s dismay when he heard of Mr. Mason’s arrival?
  • Why had the mere name of this unresisting individual—whom his word no_ufficed to control like a child—fallen on him, a few hours since, as _hunderbolt might fall on an oak?
  • Oh!  I could not forget his look and his paleness when he whispered: “Jane, _ave got a blow—I have got a blow, Jane.”  I could not forget how the arm ha_rembled which he rested on my shoulder: and it was no light matter whic_ould thus bow the resolute spirit and thrill the vigorous frame of Fairfa_ochester.
  • “When will he come?  When will he come?” I cried inwardly, as the nigh_ingered and lingered—as my bleeding patient drooped, moaned, sickened: an_either day nor aid arrived.  I had, again and again, held the water t_ason’s white lips; again and again offered him the stimulating salts: m_fforts seemed ineffectual: either bodily or mental suffering, or loss o_lood, or all three combined, were fast prostrating his strength.  He moane_o, and looked so weak, wild, and lost, I feared he was dying; and I might no_ven speak to him.
  • The candle, wasted at last, went out; as it expired, I perceived streaks o_rey light edging the window curtains: dawn was then approaching.  Presently _eard Pilot bark far below, out of his distant kennel in the courtyard: hop_evived.  Nor was it unwarranted: in five minutes more the grating key, th_ielding lock, warned me my watch was relieved.  It could not have lasted mor_han two hours: many a week has seemed shorter.
  • Mr. Rochester entered, and with him the surgeon he had been to fetch.
  • “Now, Carter, be on the alert,” he said to this last: “I give you but half-an- hour for dressing the wound, fastening the bandages, getting the patien_ownstairs and all.”
  • “But is he fit to move, sir?”
  • “No doubt of it; it is nothing serious; he is nervous, his spirits must b_ept up.  Come, set to work.”
  • Mr. Rochester drew back the thick curtain, drew up the holland blind, let i_ll the daylight he could; and I was surprised and cheered to see how far daw_as advanced: what rosy streaks were beginning to brighten the east.  Then h_pproached Mason, whom the surgeon was already handling.
  • “Now, my good fellow, how are you?” he asked.
  • “She’s done for me, I fear,” was the faint reply.
  • “Not a whit!—courage!  This day fortnight you’ll hardly be a pin the worse o_t: you’ve lost a little blood; that’s all.  Carter, assure him there’s n_anger.”
  • “I can do that conscientiously,” said Carter, who had now undone the bandages; “only I wish I could have got here sooner: he would not have bled so much—bu_ow is this?  The flesh on the shoulder is torn as well as cut.  This woun_as not done with a knife: there have been teeth here!”
  • “She bit me,” he murmured.  “She worried me like a tigress, when Rochester go_he knife from her.”
  • “You should not have yielded: you should have grappled with her at once,” sai_r. Rochester.
  • “But under such circumstances, what could one do?” returned Mason.  “Oh, i_as frightful!” he added, shuddering.  “And I did not expect it: she looked s_uiet at first.”
  • “I warned you,” was his friend’s answer; “I said—be on your guard when you g_ear her.  Besides, you might have waited till to-morrow, and had me with you: it was mere folly to attempt the interview to-night, and alone.”
  • “I thought I could have done some good.”
  • “You thought! you thought!  Yes, it makes me impatient to hear you: but, however, you have suffered, and are likely to suffer enough for not taking m_dvice; so I’ll say no more.  Carter—hurry!—hurry!  The sun will soon rise, and I must have him off.”
  • “Directly, sir; the shoulder is just bandaged.  I must look to this othe_ound in the arm: she has had her teeth here too, I think.”
  • “She sucked the blood: she said she’d drain my heart,” said Mason.
  • I saw Mr. Rochester shudder: a singularly marked expression of disgust, horror, hatred, warped his countenance almost to distortion; but he only said—
  • “Come, be silent, Richard, and never mind her gibberish: don’t repeat it.”
  • “I wish I could forget it,” was the answer.
  • “You will when you are out of the country: when you get back to Spanish Town, you may think of her as dead and buried—or rather, you need not think of he_t all.”
  • “Impossible to forget this night!”
  • “It is not impossible: have some energy, man.  You thought you were as dead a_ herring two hours since, and you are all alive and talking now.
  • There!—Carter has done with you or nearly so; I’ll make you decent in a trice.
  • Jane” (he turned to me for the first time since his re-entrance), “take thi_ey: go down into my bedroom, and walk straight forward into my dressing-room: open the top drawer of the wardrobe and take out a clean shirt and neck- handkerchief: bring them here; and be nimble.”
  • I went; sought the repository he had mentioned, found the articles named, an_eturned with them.
  • “Now,” said he, “go to the other side of the bed while I order his toilet; bu_on’t leave the room: you may be wanted again.”
  • I retired as directed.
  • “Was anybody stirring below when you went down, Jane?” inquired Mr. Rocheste_resently.
  • “No, sir; all was very still.”
  • “We shall get you off cannily, Dick: and it will be better, both for you_ake, and for that of the poor creature in yonder.  I have striven long t_void exposure, and I should not like it to come at last.  Here, Carter, hel_im on with his waist-coat.  Where did you leave your furred cloak?  You can’_ravel a mile without that, I know, in this damned cold climate.  In you_oom?—Jane, run down to Mr. Mason’s room,—the one next mine,—and fetch a cloa_ou will see there.”
  • Again I ran, and again returned, bearing an immense mantle lined and edge_ith fur.
  • “Now, I’ve another errand for you,” said my untiring master; “you must away t_y room again.  What a mercy you are shod with velvet, Jane!—a clod-hoppin_essenger would never do at this juncture.  You must open the middle drawer o_y toilet-table and take out a little phial and a little glass you will fin_here,—quick!”
  • I flew thither and back, bringing the desired vessels.
  • “That’s well!  Now, doctor, I shall take the liberty of administering a dos_yself, on my own responsibility.  I got this cordial at Rome, of an Italia_harlatan—a fellow you would have kicked, Carter.  It is not a thing to b_sed indiscriminately, but it is good upon occasion: as now, for instance.
  • Jane, a little water.”
  • He held out the tiny glass, and I half filled it from the water-bottle on th_ashstand.
  • “That will do;—now wet the lip of the phial.”
  • I did so; he measured twelve drops of a crimson liquid, and presented it t_ason.
  • “Drink, Richard: it will give you the heart you lack, for an hour or so.”
  • “But will it hurt me?—is it inflammatory?”
  • “Drink! drink! drink!”
  • Mr. Mason obeyed, because it was evidently useless to resist.  He was dresse_ow: he still looked pale, but he was no longer gory and sullied.  Mr.
  • Rochester let him sit three minutes after he had swallowed the liquid; he the_ook his arm—
  • “Now I am sure you can get on your feet,” he said—“try.”
  • The patient rose.
  • “Carter, take him under the other shoulder.  Be of good cheer, Richard; ste_ut—that’s it!”
  • “I do feel better,” remarked Mr. Mason.
  • “I am sure you do.  Now, Jane, trip on before us away to the backstairs; unbolt the side-passage door, and tell the driver of the post-chaise you wil_ee in the yard—or just outside, for I told him not to drive his rattlin_heels over the pavement—to be ready; we are coming: and, Jane, if any one i_bout, come to the foot of the stairs and hem.”
  • It was by this time half-past five, and the sun was on the point of rising; but I found the kitchen still dark and silent.  The side-passage door wa_astened; I opened it with as little noise as possible: all the yard wa_uiet; but the gates stood wide open, and there was a post-chaise, with horse_eady harnessed, and driver seated on the box, stationed outside.  _pproached him, and said the gentlemen were coming; he nodded: then I looke_arefully round and listened.  The stillness of early morning slumbere_verywhere; the curtains were yet drawn over the servants’ chamber windows; little birds were just twittering in the blossom-blanched orchard trees, whos_oughs drooped like white garlands over the wall enclosing one side of th_ard; the carriage horses stamped from time to time in their closed stables: all else was still.
  • The gentlemen now appeared.  Mason, supported by Mr. Rochester and th_urgeon, seemed to walk with tolerable ease: they assisted him into th_haise; Carter followed.
  • “Take care of him,” said Mr. Rochester to the latter, “and keep him at you_ouse till he is quite well: I shall ride over in a day or two to see how h_ets on.  Richard, how is it with you?”
  • “The fresh air revives me, Fairfax.”
  • “Leave the window open on his side, Carter; there is no wind—good-bye, Dick.”
  • “Fairfax—”
  • “Well what is it?”
  • “Let her be taken care of; let her be treated as tenderly as may be: let her—” he stopped and burst into tears.
  • “I do my best; and have done it, and will do it,” was the answer: he shut u_he chaise door, and the vehicle drove away.
  • “Yet would to God there was an end of all this!” added Mr. Rochester, as h_losed and barred the heavy yard-gates.
  • This done, he moved with slow step and abstracted air towards a door in th_all bordering the orchard.  I, supposing he had done with me, prepared t_eturn to the house; again, however, I heard him call “Jane!”  He had opene_eel portal and stood at it, waiting for me.
  • “Come where there is some freshness, for a few moments,” he said; “that hous_s a mere dungeon: don’t you feel it so?”
  • “It seems to me a splendid mansion, sir.”
  • “The glamour of inexperience is over your eyes,” he answered; “and you see i_hrough a charmed medium: you cannot discern that the gilding is slime and th_ilk draperies cobwebs; that the marble is sordid slate, and the polishe_oods mere refuse chips and scaly bark.  Now _here_ ” (he pointed to the leaf_nclosure we had entered) “all is real, sweet, and pure.”
  • He strayed down a walk edged with box, with apple trees, pear trees, an_herry trees on one side, and a border on the other full of all sorts of old- fashioned flowers, stocks, sweet-williams, primroses, pansies, mingled wit_outhernwood, sweet-briar, and various fragrant herbs.  They were fresh now a_ succession of April showers and gleams, followed by a lovely spring morning, could make them: the sun was just entering the dappled east, and his ligh_llumined the wreathed and dewy orchard trees and shone down the quiet walk_nder them.
  • “Jane, will you have a flower?”
  • He gathered a half-blown rose, the first on the bush, and offered it to me.
  • “Thank you, sir.”
  • “Do you like this sunrise, Jane?  That sky with its high and light cloud_hich are sure to melt away as the day waxes warm—this placid and balml_tmosphere?”
  • “I do, very much.”
  • “You have passed a strange night, Jane.”
  • “Yes, sir.”
  • “And it has made you look pale—were you afraid when I left you alone wit_ason?”
  • “I was afraid of some one coming out of the inner room.”
  • “But I had fastened the door—I had the key in my pocket: I should have been _areless shepherd if I had left a lamb—my pet lamb—so near a wolf’s den, unguarded: you were safe.”
  • “Will Grace Poole live here still, sir?”
  • “Oh yes! don’t trouble your head about her—put the thing out of you_houghts.”
  • “Yet it seems to me your life is hardly secure while she stays.”
  • “Never fear—I will take care of myself.”
  • “Is the danger you apprehended last night gone by now, sir?”
  • “I cannot vouch for that till Mason is out of England: nor even then.  T_ive, for me, Jane, is to stand on a crater-crust which may crack and spu_ire any day.”
  • “But Mr. Mason seems a man easily led.  Your influence, sir, is evidentl_otent with him: he will never set you at defiance or wilfully injure you.”
  • “Oh, no!  Mason will not defy me; nor, knowing it, will he hurt me—but, unintentionally, he might in a moment, by one careless word, deprive me, i_ot of life, yet for ever of happiness.”
  • “Tell him to be cautious, sir: let him know what you fear, and show him how t_vert the danger.”
  • He laughed sardonically, hastily took my hand, and as hastily threw it fro_im.
  • “If I could do that, simpleton, where would the danger be?  Annihilated in _oment.  Ever since I have known Mason, I have only had to say to him ‘D_hat,’ and the thing has been done.  But I cannot give him orders in thi_ase: I cannot say ‘Beware of harming me, Richard;’ for it is imperative tha_ should keep him ignorant that harm to me is possible.  Now you look puzzled; and I will puzzle you further.  You are my little friend, are you not?”
  • “I like to serve you, sir, and to obey you in all that is right.”
  • “Precisely: I see you do.  I see genuine contentment in your gait and mien, your eye and face, when you are helping me and pleasing me—working for me, an_ith me, in, as you characteristically say, ‘ _all that is right_ :’ for if _id you do what you thought wrong, there would be no light-footed running, n_eat-handed alacrity, no lively glance and animated complexion.  My frien_ould then turn to me, quiet and pale, and would say, ‘No, sir; that i_mpossible: I cannot do it, because it is wrong;’ and would become immutabl_s a fixed star.  Well, you too have power over me, and may injure me: yet _are not show you where I am vulnerable, lest, faithful and friendly as yo_re, you should transfix me at once.”
  • “If you have no more to fear from Mr. Mason than you have from me, sir, yo_re very safe.”
  • “God grant it may be so!  Here, Jane, is an arbour; sit down.”
  • The arbour was an arch in the wall, lined with ivy; it contained a rusti_eat.  Mr. Rochester took it, leaving room, however, for me: but I stoo_efore him.
  • “Sit,” he said; “the bench is long enough for two.  You don’t hesitate to tak_ place at my side, do you?  Is that wrong, Jane?”
  • I answered him by assuming it: to refuse would, I felt, have been unwise.
  • “Now, my little friend, while the sun drinks the dew—while all the flowers i_his old garden awake and expand, and the birds fetch their young ones’ breakfast out of the Thornfield, and the early bees do their first spell o_ork—I’ll put a case to you, which you must endeavour to suppose your own: bu_irst, look at me, and tell me you are at ease, and not fearing that I err i_etaining you, or that you err in staying.”
  • “No, sir; I am content.”
  • “Well then, Jane, call to aid your fancy:—suppose you were no longer a gir_ell reared and disciplined, but a wild boy indulged from childhood upwards; imagine yourself in a remote foreign land; conceive that you there commit _apital error, no matter of what nature or from what motives, but one whos_onsequences must follow you through life and taint all your existence.  Mind, I don’t say a _crime_ ; I am not speaking of shedding of blood or any othe_uilty act, which might make the perpetrator amenable to the law: my word i_error_.  The results of what you have done become in time to you utterl_nsupportable; you take measures to obtain relief: unusual measures, bu_either unlawful nor culpable.  Still you are miserable; for hope has quitte_ou on the very confines of life: your sun at noon darkens in an eclipse, which you feel will not leave it till the time of setting.  Bitter and bas_ssociations have become the sole food of your memory: you wander here an_here, seeking rest in exile: happiness in pleasure—I mean in heartless, sensual pleasure—such as dulls intellect and blights feeling.  Heart-weary an_oul-withered, you come home after years of voluntary banishment: you make _ew acquaintance—how or where no matter: you find in this stranger much of th_ood and bright qualities which you have sought for twenty years, and neve_efore encountered; and they are all fresh, healthy, without soil and withou_aint.  Such society revives, regenerates: you feel better days com_ack—higher wishes, purer feelings; you desire to recommence your life, and t_pend what remains to you of days in a way more worthy of an immortal being.
  • To attain this end, are you justified in overleaping an obstacle of custom—_ere conventional impediment which neither your conscience sanctifies nor you_udgment approves?”
  • He paused for an answer: and what was I to say?  Oh, for some good spirit t_uggest a judicious and satisfactory response!  Vain aspiration!  The wes_ind whispered in the ivy round me; but no gentle Ariel borrowed its breath a_ medium of speech: the birds sang in the tree-tops; but their song, howeve_weet, was inarticulate.
  • Again Mr. Rochester propounded his query:
  • “Is the wandering and sinful, but now rest-seeking and repentant, ma_ustified in daring the world’s opinion, in order to attach to him for eve_his gentle, gracious, genial stranger, thereby securing his own peace of min_nd regeneration of life?”
  • “Sir,” I answered, “a wanderer’s repose or a sinner’s reformation should neve_epend on a fellow-creature.  Men and women die; philosophers falter i_isdom, and Christians in goodness: if any one you know has suffered an_rred, let him look higher than his equals for strength to amend and solace t_eal.”
  • “But the instrument—the instrument!  God, who does the work, ordains th_nstrument.  I have myself—I tell it you without parable—been a worldly, dissipated, restless man; and I believe I have found the instrument for m_ure in—”
  • He paused: the birds went on carolling, the leaves lightly rustling.  I almos_ondered they did not check their songs and whispers to catch the suspende_evelation; but they would have had to wait many minutes—so long was th_ilence protracted.  At last I looked up at the tardy speaker: he was lookin_agerly at me.
  • “Little friend,” said he, in quite a changed tone—while his face changed too, losing all its softness and gravity, and becoming harsh and sarcastic—“yo_ave noticed my tender penchant for Miss Ingram: don’t you think if I marrie_er she would regenerate me with a vengeance?”
  • He got up instantly, went quite to the other end of the walk, and when he cam_ack he was humming a tune.
  • “Jane, Jane,” said he, stopping before me, “you are quite pale with you_igils: don’t you curse me for disturbing your rest?”
  • “Curse you?  No, sir.”
  • “Shake hands in confirmation of the word.  What cold fingers!  They wer_armer last night when I touched them at the door of the mysterious chamber.
  • Jane, when will you watch with me again?”
  • “Whenever I can be useful, sir.”
  • “For instance, the night before I am married!  I am sure I shall not be abl_o sleep.  Will you promise to sit up with me to bear me company?  To you _an talk of my lovely one: for now you have seen her and know her.”
  • “Yes, sir.”
  • “She’s a rare one, is she not, Jane?”
  • “Yes, sir.”
  • “A strapper—a real strapper, Jane: big, brown, and buxom; with hair just suc_s the ladies of Carthage must have had.  Bless me! there’s Dent and Lynn i_he stables!  Go in by the shrubbery, through that wicket.”
  • As I went one way, he went another, and I heard him in the yard, sayin_heerfully—
  • “Mason got the start of you all this morning; he was gone before sunrise: _ose at four to see him off.”