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think it necessary. I was not aware any danger or annoyance was to
be dreaded at Thornfield Hall: but in future’ (and I laid marked
stress on the words) ‘I shall take good care to make all secure
before I venture to lie down.’ ‘It will be wise so to do,’ was her
answer: ‘this neighbourhood is as quiet as any I know, and I never
heard of the hall being attempted by robbers since it was a house;
though there are hundreds of pounds’ worth of plate in the plate-
closet, as is well known. And you see, for such a large house, there
are very few servants, because master has never lived here much;
and when he does come, being a bachelor, he needs little waiting
on: but I always think it best to err on the safe side; a door is soon
fastened, and it is as well to have a drawn bolt between one and
any mischief that may be about. A deal of people, Miss, are for
trusting all to Providence; but I say Providence will not dispense
with the means, though He often blesses them when they are used
discreetly.’ And here she closed her harangue: a long one for her,
and uttered with the demureness of a Quakeress.

I still stood absolutely dumfoundered at what appeared to me her
miraculous self-possession, and most inscrutable hypocrisy, when
the cook entered.

‘Mrs. Poole,’ said she, addressing Grace, ‘the servants’ dinner will
soon be ready: will you come down?’ ‘No; just put my pint of
porter and bit of pudding on a tray, and I’ll carry it upstairs.’
‘You’ll have some meat?’ ‘Just a morsel, and a taste of cheese, that’s
all.’ ‘And the sago?’ ‘Never mind it at present: I shall be coming
down before tea-time: I’ll make it myself.’ The cook here turned to
me, saying that Mrs. Fairfax was waiting for me: so I departed.

I hardly heard Mrs. Fairfax’s account of the curtain conflagration
during dinner, so much was I occupied in puzzling my brains over
the enigmatical character of Grace Poole, and still more in
pondering the problem of her position at Thornfield and
questioning why she had not been given into custody that
morning, or, at the very least, dismissed from her master’s service.
He had almost as much as declared his conviction of her
criminality last night: what mysterious cause withheld him from
accusing her? Why had he enjoined me, too, to secrecy? It was
strange: a bold, vindictive, and haughty gentleman seemed
somehow in the power of one of the meanest of his dependants; so
much in her power, that even when she lifted her hand against his
life, he dared not openly charge her with the attempt, much less
punish her for it.

Had Grace been young and handsome, I should have been tempted
to think that tenderer feelings than prudence or fear influenced Mr.
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