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


form of Grace Poole, in prim cap, white apron, and handkerchief;
when I watched her glide along the gallery, her quiet tread muffled
in a list slipper; when I saw her look into the bustling, topsy-turvy
bedrooms,- just say a word, perhaps, to the charwoman about the
proper way to polish a grate, or clean a marble mantelpiece, or take
stains from papered walls, and then pass on. She would thus
descend to the kitchen once a day, eat her dinner, smoke a
moderate pipe on the hearth, and go back, carrying her pot of
porter with her, for her private solace, in her own gloomy, upper
haunt. Only one hour in the twenty-four did she pass with her
fellow-servants below; all the rest of her time was spent in some
low-ceiled, oaken chamber of the second storey: there she sat and
sewed-and probably laughed drearily to herself,- as
companionless as a prisoner in his dungeon.

The strangest thing of all was, that not a soul in the house, except
me, noticed her habits, or seemed to marvel at them: no one
discussed her position or employment; no one pitied her solitude
or isolation. I once, indeed, overheard part of a dialogue between
Leah and one of the charwomen, of which Grace formed the
subject. Leah had been saying something I had not caught, and the
charwoman remarked‘She gets good wages, I guess?’ ‘Yes,’ said
Leah; ‘I wish I had as good; not that mine are to complain of,there’s
no stinginess at Thornfield; but they’re not one fifth of the sum
Mrs. Poole receives. And she is laying by: she goes every quarter to
the bank at Millcote. I should not wonder but she has saved
enough to keep her independent if she liked to leave; but I suppose
she’s got used to the place; and then she’s not forty yet, and strong
and able for anything. It is too soon for her to give up business.’
‘She is a good hand, I daresay,’ said the charwoman.

‘Ah!- she understands what she has to do,- nobody better,’ rejoined
Leah significantly; ‘and it is not every one could fill her shoes-not
for all the money she gets.’ ‘That it is not!’ was the reply. ‘I wonder
whether the master-’ The charwoman was going on; but here Leah
turned and perceived me, and she instantly gave her companion a

‘Doesn’t she know?’ I heard the woman whisper.
Leah shook her head, and the conversation was of course dropped.
All I had gathered from it amounted to this,- that there was a
mystery at Thornfield; and that from participation in that mystery I
was purposely excluded.

Thursday came: all work had been completed the previous
evening; carpets were laid down, bed-hangings festooned, radiant
white counterpanes spread, toilet tables arranged, furniture
rubbed, flowers piled in vases: both chambers and saloons looked
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