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


down; but I took her on my knee, and gave her to understand that
she must not on any account think of venturing in sight of the
ladies, either now or at any other time, unless expressly sent for:
that Mr. Rochester would be very angry, etc. ‘Some natural tears
she shed’ on being told this; but as I began to look very grave, she
consented at last to wipe them.

A joyous stir was now audible in the hall: gentlemen’s deep tones
and ladies’ silvery accents blent harmoniously together, and
distinguishable above all, though not loud, was the sonorous voice
of the master of Thornfield Hall, welcoming his fair and gallant
guests under its roof. Then light steps ascended the stairs; and
there was a tripping through the gallery, and soft cheerful laughs,
and opening and closing doors, and, for a time, a hush.

‘Elles changent de toilettes,’ said Adele; who, listening attentively,
had followed every movement; and she sighed.

‘Chez maman,’ said she, ‘quand il y avait du monde, je le suivais
partout, au salon et a leurs chambres; souvent je regardais les
femmes de chambre coiffer et habiller les dames, et c’etait si
amusant: comme cela on apprend.’ ‘Don’t you feel hungry, Adele?’
‘Mais oui, mademoiselle: voila cinq ou six heures que nous n’avons
pas mange.’

‘Well now, while the ladies are in their rooms, I will venture down
and get you something to eat.’ And issuing from my asylum with
precaution, I sought a backstairs which conducted directly to the
kitchen. All in that region was fire and commotion; the soup and
fish were in the last stage of projection, and the cook hung over her
crucibles in a frame of mind and body threatening spontaneous
combustion. In the servants’ hall two coachmen and three
gentlemen’s gentlemen stood or sat round the fire; the abigails, I
suppose, were upstairs with their mistresses; the new servants, that
had been hired from Millcote, were bustling about everywhere.
Threading this chaos, I at last reached the larder; there I took
possession of a cold chicken, a roll of bread, some tarts, a plate or
two and a knife and fork: with this booty I made a hasty retreat. I
had regained the gallery, and was just shutting the backdoor
behind me, when an accelerated hum warned me that the ladies
were about to issue from their chambers. I could not proceed to the
schoolroom without passing some of their doors, and running the
risk of being surprised with my cargo of victualage; so I stood still
at this end, which, being windowless, was dark: quite dark now,
for the sun was set and twilight gathering.

Presently the chambers gave up their fair tenants one after another:
each came out gaily and airily, with dress that gleamed lustrous
through the dusk. For a moment they stood grouped together at
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