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lead me to a chair. As I spoke he gave my wrist a convulsive grip;
the smile on his lips froze: apparently a spasm caught his breath.
‘Mason!- the West Indies!’ he said, in the tone one might fancy a
speaking automaton to enounce its single words; ‘Mason!- the West
Indies!’ he reiterated; and he went over the syllables three times,
growing, in the intervals of speaking, whiter than ashes: he hardly
seemed to know what he was doing.

‘Do you feel ill, sir?’ I inquired.
‘Jane, I’ve got a blow; I’ve got a blow, Jane!’ He staggered.
‘Oh, lean on me, sir.’ ‘Jane, you offered me your shoulder once
before; let me have it now.’ ‘Yes, sir, yes; and my arm.’

He sat down, and made me sit beside him. Holding my hand in
both his own, he chafed it; gazing on me, at the same time, with the
most troubled and dreary look.

‘My little friend!’ said he, ‘I wish I were in a quiet island with only
you; and trouble, and danger, and hideous recollections removed
from me.’ ‘Can I help you, sir?- I’d give my life to serve you.’ ‘Jane,
if aid is wanted, I’ll seek it at your hands; I promise you that.’
‘Thank you, sir. Tell me what to do,- I’ll try, at least, to do it.’ ‘Fetch
me now, Jane, a glass of wine from the dining-room: they will be at
supper there; and tell me if Mason is with them, and what he is
doing.’ I went. I found all the party in the dining-room at supper,
as Mr. Rochester had said; they were not seated at table,- the
supper was arranged on the sideboard; each had taken what he
chose, and they stood about here and there in groups, their plates
and glasses in their hands. Every one seemed in high glee; laughter
and conversation were general and animated. Mr. Mason stood
near the fire, talking to Colonel and Mrs. Dent, and appeared as
merry as any of them. I filled a wine-glass (I saw Miss Ingram
watch me frowningly as I did so: she thought I was taking a
liberty, I daresay), and I returned to the library.

Mr. Rochester’s extreme pallor had disappeared, and he looked
once more firm and stern. He took the glass from my hand.

‘Here is to your health, ministrant spirit!’ he said. He swallowed
the contents and returned it to me. ‘What are they doing, Jane?’
‘Laughing and talking, sir.’ ‘They don’t look grave and mysterious,
as if they had heard something strange?’ ‘Not at all: they are full of
jests and gaiety.’ ‘And Mason?’ ‘He was laughing too.’ ‘If all these
people came in a body and spat at me, what would you do, Jane?’
‘Turn them out of the room, sir, if I could.’ He half smiled. ‘But if I
were to go to them, and they only looked at me coldly, and
whispered sneeringly amongst each other, and then dropped off
and left me one by one, what then? Would you go with them?’ ‘I
rather think not, sir: I should have more pleasure in staying with
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