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Mr. Rochester continued, hardily and recklessly: ‘Bigamy is an
ugly word!- I meant, however, to be a bigamist; but fate has out-
manoeuvred me, or Providence has checked me,- perhaps the last. I
am little better than a devil at this moment; and, as my pastor there
would tell me, deserve no doubt the sternest judgments of God,
even to the quenchless fire and deathless worm. Gentlemen, my
plan is broken up:- what this lawyer and his client say is true: I
have been married, and the woman to whom I was married lives!
You say you never heard of a Mrs. Rochester at the house up
yonder, Wood; but I daresay you have many a time inclined your
ear to gossip about the mysterious lunatic kept there under watch
and ward.

Some have whispered to you that she is my bastard half-sister:
some, my cast-off mistress. I now inform you that she is my wife,
whom I married fifteen years ago,Bertha Mason by name; sister of
this resolute personage, who is now, with his quivering limbs and
white cheeks, showing you what a stout heart men may bear.
Cheer up, Dick!- never fear me!- I’d almost as soon strike a woman
as you. Bertha Mason is mad; and she came of a mad family; idiots
and maniacs through three generations! Her mother, the Creole,
was both a mad-woman and a drunkard!- as I found out after I had
wed the daughter: for they were silent on family secrets before.
Bertha, like a dutiful child, copied her parent in both points. I had
a charming partner-pure, wise, modest: you can fancy I was a
happy man. I went through rich scenes! Oh! my experience has
been heavenly, if you only knew it! But I owe you no further
explanation. Briggs, Wood, Mason, I invite you all to come up to
the house and visit Mrs. Poole’s patient, and my wife! You shall see
what sort of a being I was cheated into espousing, and judge
whether or not I had a right to break the compact, and seek
sympathy with something at least human.

This girl,’ he continued, looking at me, ‘knew no more than you,
Wood, of the disgusting secret: she thought all was fair and legal,
and never dreamt she was going to be entrapped into a feigned
union with a defrauded wretch, already bound to a bad, mad, and
embruted partner! Come all of you-follow!’ Still holding me fast,
he left the church: the three gentlemen came after. At the front door
of the hall we found the carriage.

‘Take it back to the coach-house, John,’ said Mr. Rochester coolly:
‘it will not be wanted to-day.’ At our entrance, Mrs. Fairfax, Adele,
Sophie, Leah, advanced to meet and greet us.

‘To the right-about-every soul!’ cried the master; ‘away with your
congratulations! Who wants them? Not I!- they are fifteen years too
late!’ He passed on and ascended the stairs, still holding my hand,
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