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


expecting it to open and admit him. The door remained shut;
darkness only came in through the window. Still it was not late; he
often sent for me at seven and eight o’clock, and it was yet but six.
Surely I should not be wholly disappointed to-night, when I had so
many things to say to him! I wanted again to introduce the subject
of Grace Poole, and to hear what he would answer; I wanted to ask
him plainly if he really believed it was she who had made last
night’s hideous attempt; and if so, why he kept her wickedness a
secret. It little mattered whether my curiosity irritated him; I knew
the pleasure of vexing and soothing him by turns; it was one I
chiefly delighted in, and a sure instinct always prevented me from
going too far; beyond the verge of provocation I never ventured; on
the extreme brink I liked well to try my skill.

Retaining every minute form of respect, every propriety of my
station, I could still meet him in argument without fear or uneasy
restraint; this suited both him and me.

A tread creaked on the stairs at last. Leah made her appearance;
but it was only to intimate that tea was ready in Mrs. Fairfax’s
room. Thither I repaired, glad at least to go downstairs; for that
brought me, I imagined, nearer to Mr. Rochester’s presence.

‘You must want your tea,’ said the good lady, as I joined her; ‘you
ate so little at dinner. I am afraid,’ she continued, ‘you are not well
to-day: you look flushed and feverish.’ ‘Oh, quite well! I never felt
better.’ ‘Then you must prove it by evincing a good appetite; will
you fill the teapot while I knit off this needle?’ Having completed
her task, she rose to draw down the blind, which she had hitherto
kept up, by way, I suppose, of making the most of daylight, though
dusk was now fast deepening into total obscurity.

‘It is fair to-night,’ said she, as she looked through the panes,
‘though not starlight; Mr. Rochester has, on the whole, had a
favourable day for his journey.’ ‘Journey!- Is Mr. Rochester gone
anywhere? I did not know he was out.’ ‘Oh, he set off the moment
he had breakfast! He is gone to the Leas, Mr. Eshton’s place, ten
miles on the other side Millcote. I believe there is quite a party
assembled there; Lord Ingram, Sir George Lynn, Colonel Dent, and
others.’ ‘Do you expect him back to-night?’ ‘No-nor to-morrow
either; I should think he is very likely to stay a week or more: when
these fine, fashionable people get together, they are so surrounded
by elegance and gaiety, so well provided with all that can please
and entertain, they are in no hurry to separate. Gentlemen
especially are often in request on such occasions; and Mr. Rochester
is so talented and so lively in society, that I believe he is a general
favourite: the ladies are very fond of him; though you would not
think his appearance calculated to recommend him particularly in
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