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tissue paper, she merely exclaimed‘Oh ciel! Que c’est beau!’ and
then remained absorbed in ecstatic contemplation.

‘Is Miss Eyre there?’ now demanded the master, half rising from
his seat to look round to the door, near which I still stood.

‘Ah! well, come forward; be seated here.’ He drew a chair near his
own. ‘I am not fond of the prattle of children,’ he continued; ‘for,
old bachelor as I am, I have no pleasant associations connected
with their lisp. It would be intolerable to me to pass a whole
evening tete-a-tete with a brat. Don’t draw that chair farther off,
Miss Eyre; sit down exactly where I placed it-if you please, that is.
Confound these civilities! I continually forget them. Nor do I
particularly affect simpleminded old ladies. By the bye, I must
have mine in mind; it won’t do to neglect her; she is a Fairfax, or
wed to one; and blood is said to be thicker than water.’ He rang,
and despatched an invitation to Mrs. Fairfax, who soon arrived,
knitting-basket in hand.

‘Good evening, madam; I sent to you for a charitable purpose. I
have forbidden Adele to talk to me about her presents, and she is
bursting with repletion; have the goodness to serve her as auditress
and interlocutrice; it will be one of the most benevolent acts you
ever performed.’ Adele, indeed, no sooner saw Mrs. Fairfax, than
she summoned her to her sofa, and there quickly filled her lap with
the porcelain, the ivory, the waxen contents of her ‘boite’; pouring
out, meantime, explanations and raptures in such broken English
as she was mistress of.

‘Now I have performed the part of a good host,’ pursued Mr.
Rochester, ‘put my guests into the way of amusing each other, I
ought to be at liberty to attend to my own pleasure. Miss Eyre,
draw your chair still a little farther forward: you are yet too far
back; I cannot see you without disturbing my position in this
comfortable chair, which I have no mind to do.’ I did as I was bid,
though I would much rather have remained somewhat in the
shade; but Mr. Rochester had such a direct way of giving orders, it
seemed a matter of course to obey him promptly.

We were, as I have said, in the dining-room: the lustre, which had
been lit for dinner, filled the room with a festal breadth of light; the
large fire was all red and clear; the purple curtains hung rich and
ample before the lofty window and loftier arch; everything was
still, save the subdued chat of Adele (she dared not speak loud),
and, filling up each pause, the beating of winter rain against the

Mr. Rochester, as he sat in his damask-covered chair, looked
different to what I had seen him look before; not quite so stern-
much less gloomy. There was a smile on his lips, and his eyes
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