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



WHEN Mr. St. John went, it was beginning to snow; the whirling
storm continued all night. The next day a keen wind brought fresh
and blinding falls; by twilight the valley was drifted up and almost
impassable. I had closed my shutter, laid a mat to the door to
prevent the snow from blowing in under it, trimmed my fire, and
after sitting nearly an hour on the hearth listening to the muffled
fury of the tempest, I lit a candle, took down Marmion, and
beginning-‘Day set on Norham’s castled steep, And Tweed’s fair
river broad and deep, And Cheviot’s mountains lone; The massive
towers, the donjon keep, The flanking walls that round them
sweep, In yellow lustre shone’- - I soon forgot storm in music.

I heard a noise: the wind, I thought, shook the door. No; it was St.
John Rivers, who, lifting the latch, came in out of the frozen
hurricane-the howling darkness-and stood before me: the cloak
that covered his tall figure all white as a glacier. I was almost in
consternation, so little had I expected any guest from the blocked-
up vale that night.

‘Any ill news?’ I demanded. ‘Has anything happened?’
‘No. How very easily alarmed you are!’ he answered, removing his
cloak and hanging it up against the door, towards which he again
coolly pushed the mat which his entrance had deranged. He
stamped the snow from his boots.

‘I shall sully the purity of your floor,’ said he, ‘but you must excuse
me for once.’ Then he approached the fire. ‘I have had hard work
to get here, I assure you,’ he observed, as he warmed his hands
over the flame. ‘One drift took me up to the waist; happily the
snow is quite soft yet.’ ‘But why are you come?’ I could not forbear

‘Rather an inhospitable question to put to a visitor; but since you
ask it, I answer simply to have a little talk with you; I got tired of
my mute books and empty rooms. Besides, since yesterday I have
experienced the excitement of a person to whom a tale has been
half-told, and who is impatient to hear the sequel.’ He sat down. I
recalled his singular conduct of yesterday, and really I began to
fear his wits were touched. If he were insane, however, his was a
very cool and collected insanity: I had never seen that handsome-
featured face of his look more like chiselled marble than it did just
now, as he put aside his snow-wet hair from his forehead and let
the firelight shine free on his pale brow and cheek as pale, where it
grieved me to discover the hollow trace of care or sorrow now so
plainly graved. I waited, expecting he would say something I could
at least comprehend; but his hand was now at his chin, his finger
on his lip: he was thinking. It struck me that his hand looked
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