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John withdrew without having observed me. Mr. Rochester now
tried to walk about: vainly,- all was too uncertain. He groped his
way back to the house, and, re-entering it, closed the door.
I now drew near and knocked: John’s wife opened for me. ‘Mary,’ I
said, ‘how are you?’ She started as if she had seen a ghost: I calmed
her. To her hurried ‘Is it really you, miss, come at this late hour to
this lonely place?’ I answered by taking her hand; and then I
followed her into the kitchen, where John now sat by a good fire.
I explained to them, in a few words, that I had heard all which had
happened since I left Thornfield, and that I was come to see Mr.
Rochester. I asked John to go down to the turnpike-house, where I
had dismissed the chaise, and bring my trunk, which I had left
there: and then, while I removed my bonnet and shawl, I
questioned Mary as to whether I could be accommodated at the
Manor House for the night; and finding that arrangements to that
effect, though difficult, would not be impossible, I informed her I
should stay. just at this moment the parlour-bell rang.
‘When you go in,’ said I, ‘tell your master that a person wishes to
speak to him, but do not give my name.’ ‘I don’t think he will see
you,’ she answered; ‘he refuses everybody.’ When she returned, I
inquired what he had said.
‘You are to send in your name and your business,’ she replied. She
then proceeded to fill a glass with water, and place it on a tray,
together with candles.
‘Is that what he rang for?’ I asked.
‘Yes: he always has candles brought in at dark, though he is blind.’
‘Give the tray to me; I will carry it in.’ I took it from her hand: she
pointed me out the parlour door. The tray shook as I held it; the
water spilt from the glass; my heart struck my ribs loud and fast.
Mary opened the door for me, and shut it behind me.
This parlour looked gloomy: a neglected handful of fire burnt low
in the grate; and, leaning over it, with his head supported against
the high, old-fashioned mantelpiece, appeared the blind tenant of
the room. His old dog, Pilot, lay on one side, removed out of the
way, and coiled up as if afraid of being inadvertently trodden
upon. Pilot pricked up his ears when I came in: then he jumped up
with a yelp and a whine, and bounded towards me: he almost
knocked the tray from my hands. I set it on the table; then patted
him, and said softly, ‘Lie down!’ Mr. Rochester turned
mechanically to see what the commotion was: but as he saw
nothing, he returned and sighed.
‘Give me the water, Mary,’ he said.
I approached him with the now only half-filled glass; Pilot
followed me, still excited.