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<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library - Digital Library-Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte


‘Well, I sometimes think we are too quiet; but we run a chance of
being busy enough now: for a little while at least,’ said Mrs.
Fairfax, still holding the note before her spectacles.

Ere I permitted myself to request an explanation, I tied the string of
Adele’s pinafore, which happened to be loose: having helped her
also to another bun and refilled her mug with milk, I said
nonchalantly‘Mr. Rochester is not likely to return soon, I suppose?’
‘Indeed he is-in three days, he says: that will be next Thursday;
and not alone either. I don’t know how many of the fine people at
the Leas are coming with him: he sends directions for all the best
bedrooms to be prepared; and the library and drawing-rooms are
to be cleaned out; and I am to get more kitchen hands from the
George Inn, at Millcote, and from wherever else I can; and the
ladies will bring their maids and the gentlemen their valets: so we
shall have a full house of it.’ And Mrs. Fairfax swallowed her
breakfast and hastened away to commence operations.

The three days were, as she had foretold, busy enough. I had
thought all the rooms at Thornfield beautifully clean and well
arranged; but it appears I was mistaken. Three women were got to
help; and such scrubbing, such brushing, such washing of paint
and beating of carpets, such taking down and putting up of
pictures, such polishing of mirrors and lustres, such lighting of
fires in bedrooms, such airing of sheets and feather-beds on
hearths, I never beheld, either before or since. Adele ran quite wild
in the midst of it: the preparations for company and the prospect of
their arrival, seemed to throw her into ecstasies. She would have
Sophie to look over all her ‘toilettes,’ as she called frocks; to furbish
up any that were ‘passees,’ and to air and arrange the new. For
herself, she did nothing but caper about in the front chambers,
jump on and off the bedsteads, and lie on the mattresses and piled-
up bolsters and pillows before the enormous fires roaring in the
chimneys. From school duties she was exonerated: Mrs. Fairfax
had pressed me into her service, and I was all day in the
storeroom, helping (or hindering) her and the cook; learning to
make custards and cheese-cakes and French pastry, to truss game
and garnish dessert-dishes.

The party were expected to arrive on Thursday afternoon, in time
for dinner at six. During the intervening period I had no time to
nurse chimeras; and I believe I was as active and gay as anybody-
Adele excepted. Still, now and then, I received a damping check to
my cheerfulness; and was, in spite of myself, thrown back on the
region of doubts and portents, and dark conjectures. This was
when I chanced to see the third-storey staircase door (which of late
had always been kept locked) open slowly, and give passage to the
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