Support the Monkey! Tell All your Friends and Teachers
descended from the upper storey. One of the ladies ran to him
directly; she seized his arm: it was Miss Ingram.
‘What awful event has taken place?’ said she. ‘Speak! let us know
the worst at once!’ ‘But don’t pull me down or strangle me,’ he
replied: for the Misses Eshton were clinging about him now; and
the two dowagers, in vast white wrappers, were bearing down on
him like ships in full sail.
‘All’s right!- all’s right!’ he cried. ‘It’s a mere rehearsal of Much
Ado about Nothing. Ladies, keep off, or I shall wax dangerous.’
And dangerous he looked: his black eyes darted sparks. Calming
himself by an effort, he added‘A servant has had the nightmare;
that is all. She’s an excitable, nervous person: she construed her
dream into an apparition, or something of that sort, no doubt; and
has taken a fit with fright. Now, then, I must see you all back into
your rooms; for, till the house is settled, she cannot be looked after.
Gentlemen, have the goodness to set the ladies the example. Miss
Ingram, I am sure you will not fail in evincing superiority to idle
terrors. Amy and Louisa, return to your nests like a pair of doves,
as you are. Mesdames’ (to the dowagers), ‘you will take cold to a
dead certainty, if you stay in this chill gallery any longer.’ And so,
by dint of alternate coaxing and commanding, he contrived to get
them all once more enclosed in their separate dormitories. I did not
wait to be ordered back to mine, but retreated unnoticed, as
unnoticed I had left it.
Not, however, to go to bed: on the contrary, I began and dressed
myself carefully. The sounds I had heard after the scream, and the
words that had been uttered, had probably been heard only by me;
for they had proceeded from the room above mine: but they
assured me that it was not a servant’s dream which had thus struck
horror through the house; and that the explanation Mr. Rochester
had given was merely an invention framed to pacify his guests. I
dressed, then, to be ready for emergencies. When dressed, I sat a
long time by the window looking out over the silent grounds and
silvered fields and waiting for I knew not what. It seemed to me
that some event must follow the strange cry, struggle, and call.
No: stillness returned: each murmur and movement ceased
gradually, and in about an hour Thornfield Hall was again as
hushed as a desert. It seemed that sleep and night had resumed
their empire. Meantime the moon declined: she was about to set.
Not liking to sit in the cold and darkness, I thought I would lie
down on my bed, dressed as I was. I left the window, and moved
with little noise across the carpet; as I stooped to take off my shoes,
a cautious hand tapped low at the door.
‘Am I wanted?’ I asked.