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of her pocket, let herself out of her chamber, and go roaming about
the house, doing any wild mischief that came into her head. They
say she had nearly burnt her husband in his bed once: but I don’t
know about that. However, on this night, she set fire first to the
hangings of the room next her own, and then she got down to a
lower Storey, and made her way to the chamber that had been the
governess’s(she was like as if she knew somehow how matters had
gone on, and had a spite at her)- and she kindled the bed there; but
there was nobody sleeping in it, fortunately. The governess had
run away two months before; and for all Mr. Rochester sought her
as if she had been the most precious thing he had in the world, he
never could hear a word of her; and he grew savage-quite savage
on his disappointment: he never was a wild man, but he got
dangerous after he lost her. He would be alone, too. He sent Mrs.
Fairfax, the housekeeper, away to her friends at a distance; but he
did it handsomely, for he settled an annuity on her for life: and she
deserved it-she was a very good woman. Miss Adele, a ward he
had, was put to school. He broke off acquaintance with all the
gentry, and shut himself up like a hermit at the Hall.’ ‘What! did he
not leave England?’ ‘Leave England? Bless you, no! He would not
cross the door-stones of the house, except at night, when he walked
just like a ghost about the grounds and in the orchard as if he had
lost his senses-which it is my opinion he had; for a more spirited,
bolder, keener gentleman than he was before that midge of a
governess crossed him, you never saw, ma’am. He was not a man
given to wine, or cards, or racing, as some are, and he was not so
very handsome; but he had a courage and a will of his own, if ever
man had. I knew him from a boy, you see: and for my part, I have
often wished that Miss Eyre had been sunk in the sea before she
came to Thornfield Hall.’ ‘Then Mr. Rochester was at home when
the fire broke out?’ ‘Yes, indeed was he; and he went up to the
attics when all was burning above and below, and got the servants
out of their beds and helped them down himself, and went back to
get his mad wife out of her cell. And then they called out to him
that she was on the roof, where she was standing, waving her
arms, above the battlements, and shouting out till they could hear
her a mile off: I saw her and heard her with my own eyes. She was
a big woman, and had long black hair: we could see it streaming
against the flames as she stood. I witnessed, and several more
witnessed, Mr. Rochester ascend through the skylight on to the
roof; we heard him call “Bertha!” We saw him approach her; and
then, ma’am, she yelled and gave a spring, and the next minute she
lay smashed on the pavement.’ ‘Dead?’ ‘Dead! Ay, dead as the
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