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<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library - Digital Library-Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte



FOR several subsequent days I saw little of Mr. Rochester. In the
mornings he seemed much engaged with business, and, in the
afternoon, gentlemen from Millcote or the neighbourhood called,
and sometimes stayed to dine with him. When his sprain was well
enough to admit of horse exercise, he rode out a good deal;
probably to return these visits, as he generally did not come back
till late at night.

During this interval, even Adele was seldom sent for to his
presence, and all my acquaintance with him was confined to an
occasional rencontre in the hall, on the stairs, or in the gallery,
when he would sometimes pass me haughtily and coldly, just
acknowledging my presence by a distant nod or a cool glance, and
sometimes bow and smile with gentlemanlike affability. His
changes of mood did not offend me, because I saw that I had
nothing to do with their alternation; the ebb and flow depended on
causes quite disconnected with me.

One day he had had company to dinner, and had sent for my
portfolio; in order, doubtless, to exhibit its contents: the gentlemen
went away early, to attend a public meeting at Millcote, as Mrs.
Fairfax informed me; but the night being wet and inclement, Mr.
Rochester did not accompany them. Soon after they were gone he
rang the bell: a message came that I and Adele were to go
downstairs. I brushed Adele’s hair and made her neat, and having
ascertained that I was myself in my usual Quaker trim, where there
was nothing to retouch-all being too close and plain, braided locks
included, to admit of disarrangement-we descended, Adele
wondering whether the petit coffre was at length come; for, owing
to some mistake, its arrival had hitherto been delayed. She was
gratified: there it stood, a little carton, on the table when we
entered the dining-room. She appeared to know it by instinct.

‘Ma boite! ma boite!’ exclaimed she, running towards it.
‘Yes, there is your “boite” at last: take it into a corner, you genuine
daughter of Paris, and amuse yourself with disembowelling it,’
said the deep and rather sarcastic voice of Mr. Rochester,
proceeding from the depths of an immense easychair at the
fireside. ‘And mind,’ he continued, ‘don’t bother me with any
details of the anatomical process, or any notice of the condition of
the entrails: let your operation be conducted in silence: tiens-toi
tranquille, enfant; comprends-tu?’ Adele seemed scarcely to need
the warning; she had already retired to a sofa with her treasure,
and was busy untying the cord which secured the lid. Having
removed this impediment, and lifted certain silvery envelopes of
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