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He checked himself in his exultation to demand, ‘But is there
anything the matter, Janet, that you come to meet me at such an
hour? Is there anything wrong?’
‘No, but I thought you would never come. I could not bear to wait
in the house for you, especially with this rain and wind.’ ‘Rain and
wind, indeed! Yes, you are dripping like a mermaid; pull my cloak
round you: but I think you are feverish, Jane: both your cheek and
hand are burning hot. I ask again, is there anything the matter?’
‘Nothing now; I am neither afraid nor unhappy.’ ‘Then you have
been both?’ ‘Rather: but I’ll tell you all about it by and by, sir; and I
daresay you will only laugh at me for my pains.’ ‘I’ll laugh at you
heartily when to-morrow is past; till then I dare not: my prize is
not certain. This is you, who have been as slippery as an eel this
last month, and as thorny as a briar-rose? I could not lay a finger
anywhere but I was pricked; and now I seem to have gathered up a
stray lamb in my arms. You wandered out of the fold to seek your
shepherd, did you, Jane?’ ‘I wanted you: but don’t boast. Here we
are at Thornfield: now let me get down.’ He landed me on the
pavement. As John took his horse, and he followed me into the
hall, he told me to make haste and put something dry on, and then
return to him in the library; and he stopped me, as I made for the
staircase, to extort a promise that I would not be long: nor was I
long; in five minutes I rejoined him. I found him at supper.
‘Take a seat and bear me company, Jane: please God, it is the last
meal but one you will eat at Thornfield Hall for a long time.’ I sat
down near him, but told him I could not eat.
‘Is it because you have the prospect of a journey before you, Jane?
Is it the thoughts of going to London that takes away your
appetite?’ ‘I cannot see my prospects clearly to-night, sir; and I
hardly know what thoughts I have in my head. Everything in life
seems unreal.’ ‘Except me: I am substantial enough-touch me.’
‘You, sir, are the most phantom-like of all: you are a mere dream.’
He held out his hand, laughing. ‘Is that a dream?’ said he, placing
it close to my eyes. He had a rounded, muscular, and vigorous
hand, as well as a long, strong arm.
‘Yes; though I touch it, it is a dream,’ said I, as I put it down from
before my face. ‘Sir, have you finished supper?’ ‘Yes, Jane.’ I rang
the bell and ordered away the tray. When we were again alone, I
stirred the fire, and then took a low seat at my master’s knee.
‘It is near midnight,’ I said.
‘Yes: but remember, Jane, you promised to wake with me the night
before my wedding.’
‘I did; and I will keep my promise, for an hour or two at least: I
have no wish to go to bed.’ ‘Are all your arrangements complete?’