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sparkled, whether with wine or not, I am not sure; but I think it
very probable. He was, in short, in his after dinner mood; more
expanded and genial, and also more self-indulgent than the frigid
and rigid temper of the morning; still he looked preciously grim,
cushioning his massive head against the swelling back of his chair,
and receiving the light of the fire on his granite-hewn features, and
in his great, dark eyes; for he had great, dark eyes, and very fine
eyes, too-not without a certain change in their depths sometimes,
which, if it was not softness, reminded you, at least, of that feeling.
He had been looking two minutes at the fire, and I had been
looking the same length of time at him, when, turning suddenly, he
caught my gaze fastened on his physiognomy.

‘You examine me, Miss Eyre,’ said he: ‘do you think me
handsome?’ I should, if I had deliberated, have replied to this
question by something conventionally vague and polite; but the
answer somehow slipped from my tongue before I was aware-‘No,
sir.’ ‘Ah! By my word! there is something singular about you,’ said
he: ‘you have the air of a little nonnette; quaint, quiet, grave, and
simple, as you sit with your hands before you, and your eyes
generally bent on the carpet (except, by the bye, when they are
directed piercingly to my face; as just now, for instance); and when
one asks you a question, or makes a remark to which you are
obliged to reply, you rap out a round rejoinder, which, if not blunt,
is at least brusque. What do you mean by it?’ ‘Sir, I was too plain; I
beg your pardon. I ought to have replied that it was not easy to
give an impromptu answer to a question about appearances; that
tastes mostly differ; and that beauty is of little consequence, or
something of that sort.’ ‘You ought to have replied no such thing.
Beauty of little consequence, indeed! And so, under pretence of
softening the previous outrage, of stroking and soothing me into
placidity, you stick a sly penknife under my ear! Go on: what fault
do you find with me, pray? I suppose I have all my limbs and all
my features like any other man?’ ‘Mr. Rochester, allow me to
disown my first answer: I intended no pointed repartee: it was
only a blunder.’

‘Just so: I think so: and you shall be answerable for it. Criticise me:
does my forehead not please you?’ He lifted up the sable waves of
hair which lay horizontally over his brow, and showed a solid
enough mass of intellectual organs, but an abrupt deficiency where
the suave sign of benevolence should have risen.

‘Now, ma’am, am I a fool?’ ‘Far from it, sir. You would, perhaps,
think me rude if I inquired in return whether you are a
philanthropist?’ ‘There again! Another stick of the penknife, when
she pretended to pat my head: and that is because I said I did not
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