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stones on which her brains and blood were scattered.’ ‘Good God!’
‘You may well say so, ma’am: it was frightful!’ He shuddered.
‘And afterwards?’ I urged.
‘Well, ma’am, afterwards the house was burnt to the ground: there
are only some bits of walls standing now.’ ‘Were any other lives
lost?’ ‘No-perhaps it would have been better if there had.’ ‘What
do you mean?’ ‘Poor Mr. Edward!’ he ejaculated, ‘I little thought
ever to have seen it? Some say it was a just judgment on him for
keeping his first marriage secret, and wanting to take another wife
while he had one living: but I pity him, for my part.’ ‘You said he
was alive?’ I exclaimed.
‘Yes, yes: he is alive; but many think he had better be dead.’ ‘Why?
How?’ My blood was again running cold. ‘Where is he?’ I
‘Is he in England?’ ‘Ay-ay-he’s in England; he can’t get out of
England, I fancy-he’s a fixture now.’ What agony was this! And
the man seemed resolved to protract it.
‘He is stone-blind,’ he said at last. ‘Yes, he is stone-blind, is Mr.
Edward.’ I had dreaded worse. I had dreaded he was mad. I
summoned strength to ask what had caused this calamity.
‘It was all his own courage, and a body may say, his kindness, in a
way, ma’am: he wouldn’t leave the house till every one else was
out before him. As he came down the great staircase at last, after
Mrs. Rochester had flung herself from the battlements, there was a
great crash-all fell. He was taken out from under the ruins, alive,
but sadly hurt: a beam had fallen in such a way as to protect him
partly; but one eye was knocked out, and one hand so crushed that
Mr. Carter, the surgeon, had to amputate it directly. The other eye
inflamed: he lost the sight of that also. He is now helpless, indeed-
blind and a cripple.’
‘Where is he? Where does he now live?’ ‘At Ferndean, a manor-
house on a farm he has, about thirty miles off: quite a desolate
spot.’ ‘Who is with him?’ ‘Old John and his wife: he would have
none else. He is quite broken down, they say.’ ‘Have you any sort
of conveyance?’ ‘We have a chaise, ma’am, a very handsome
chaise.’ ‘Let it be got ready instantly; and if your post-boy can
drive me to Ferndean before dark this day, I’ll pay both you and
him twice the hire you usually demand.’