Support the Monkey! Tell All your Friends and Teachers
to my sister, Bertha Antoinetta Mason, daughter of Jonas Mason,
merchant, and of Antoinetta his wife, a Creole, at-church, Spanish
Town, Jamaica. The record of the marriage will be found in the
register of that church-a copy of it is now in my possession.
Signed, Richard Mason.”’ ‘That-if a genuine document-may prove
I have been married, but it does not prove that the woman
mentioned therein as my wife is still living.’ ‘She was living three
months ago,’ returned the lawyer.
‘How do you know?’ ‘I have a witness to the fact, whose testimony
even you, sir, will scarcely controvert.’ ‘Produce him-or go to hell.’
‘I will produce him first-he is on the spot. Mr. Mason, have the
goodness to step forward.’ Mr. Rochester, on hearing the name, set
his teeth; he experienced, too, a sort of strong convulsive quiver;
near to him as I was, I felt the spasmodic movement of fury or
despair run through his frame. The second stranger, who had
hitherto lingered in the background, now drew near; a pale face
looked over the solicitor’s shoulder-yes, it was Mason himself. Mr.
Rochester turned and glared at him. His eye, as I have often said,
was a black eye: it had now a tawny, nay, a bloody light in its
gloom; and his face flushed-olive cheek and hueless forehead
received a glow as from spreading, ascending heart-fire: and he
stirred, lifted his strong arm he could have struck Mason, dashed
him on the church-floor, shocked by ruthless blow the breath from
his body-but Mason shrank away and cried faintly, ‘Good God!’
Contempt fell cool on Mr. Rochester-his passion died as if a blight
had shrivelled it up: he only asked-‘What have you to say?’ An
inaudible reply escaped Mason’s white lips.
‘The devil is in it if you cannot answer distinctly. I again demand,
what have you to say?’ ‘Sir-sir,’ interrupted the clergyman, ‘do not
forget you are in a sacred place.’ Then addressing Mason, he
inquired gently, ‘Are you aware, sir, whether or not this
gentleman’s wife is still living?’ ‘Courage,’ urged the lawyer,-
‘speak out.’ ‘She is now living at Thornfield Hall,’ said Mason, in
more articulate tones: ‘I saw her there last April. I am her brother.’
‘At Thornfield Hall!’ ejaculated the clergyman. ‘Impossible! I am an
old resident in this neighbourhood, sir, and I never heard of a Mrs.
Rochester at Thornfield Hall.’ I saw a grim smile contort Mr.
Rochester’s lips, and he muttered‘No, by God! I took care that none
should hear of it-or of her under that name.’ He mused-for ten
minutes he held counsel with himself: he formed his resolve, and
announced it-‘Enough! all shall bolt out at once, like the bullet
from the barrel. Wood, close your book and take off your surplice;
John Green (to the clerk), leave the church: there will be no
wedding to-day.’ The man obeyed.