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speak truth, I have an acquaintance with one of them, Mrs. Poole-’ I
started to my feet when I heard the name.

‘You have-have you?’ thought I; ‘there is diablerie in the business
after all, then!’ ‘Don’t be alarmed,’ continued the strange being;
‘she’s a safe hand is Mrs. Poole: close and quiet; any one may
repose confidence in her. But, as I was saying: sitting in that
window-seat, do you think of nothing but your future school?
Have you no present interest in any of the company who occupy
the sofas and chairs before you? Is there not one face you study?
one figure whose movements you follow with at least curiosity?’ ‘I
like to observe all the faces and all the figures.’ ‘But do you never
single one from the rest-or it may be, two?’ ‘I do frequently; when
the gestures or looks of a pair seem telling a tale: it amuses me to
watch them.’ ‘What tale do you like best to hear?’ ‘Oh, I have not
much choice! They generally run on the same theme-courtship;
and promise to end in the same catastrophe-marriage.’ ‘And do
you like that monotonous theme?’ ‘Positively, I don’t care about it:
it is nothing to me.’ ‘Nothing to you? When a lady, young and full
of life and health, charming with beauty and endowed with the
gifts of rank and fortune, sits and smiles in the eyes of a gentleman
you-’ ‘I what?’ ‘You know-and perhaps think well of.’ ‘I don’t
know the gentlemen here. I have scarcely interchanged a syllable
with one of them; and as to thinking well of them, I consider some
respectable, and stately, and middle-aged, and others young,
dashing, handsome, and lively: but certainly they are all at liberty
to be the recipients of whose smiles they please, without my feeling
disposed to consider the transaction of any moment to me.’ ‘You
don’t know the gentlemen here? You have not exchanged a syllable
with one of them? Will you say that of the master of the house!’ ‘He
is not at home.’ ‘A profound remark! A most ingenious quibble! He
went to Millcote this morning, and will be back here to-night or to-
morrow: does that circumstance exclude him from the list of your
acquaintance-blot him, as it were, out of existence?’ ‘No; but I can
scarcely see what Mr. Rochester has to do with the theme you had
introduced.’ ‘I was talking of ladies smiling in the eyes of
gentlemen; and of late so many smiles have been shed into Mr.
Rochester’s eyes that they overflow like two cups filled above the
brim: have you never remarked that?’ ‘Mr. Rochester has a right to
enjoy the society of his guests.’ ‘No question about his right: but
have you never observed that, of all the tales told here about
matrimony, Mr. Rochester has been favoured with the most lively
and the most continuous?’ ‘The eagerness of a listener quickens the
tongue of a narrator.’ I said this rather to myself than to the gipsy,
whose strange talk, voice, manner, had by this time wrapped me in
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