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into a listener. Before commencing, it is but fair to warn you that
the story will sound somewhat hackneyed in your ears; but stale
details often regain a degree of freshness when they pass through
new lips. For the rest, whether trite or novel, it is short.

‘Twenty years ago, a poor curate-never mind his name at this
moment-fell in love with a rich man’s daughter; she fell in love
with him, and married him, against the advice of all her friends,
who consequently disowned her immediately after the wedding.
Before two years passed, the rash pair were both dead, and laid
quietly side by side under one slab. (I have seen their grave; it
formed part of the pavement of a huge churchyard surrounding
the grim, soot-black old cathedral of an overgrown manufacturing
town in ___shire.) They left a daughter, which, at its very birth,
Charity received in her lap-cold as that of the snow-drift I almost
stuck fast in to-night. Charity carried the friendless thing to the
house of its rich maternal relations; it was reared by an aunt-in-
law, called (I come to names now) Mrs. Reed of Gateshead. You
start-did you hear a noise? I daresay it is only a rat scrambling
along the rafters of the adjoining schoolroom: it was a barn before I
had it repaired and altered, and barns are generally haunted by
rats.- To proceed.

Mrs. Reed kept the orphan ten years: whether it was happy or not
with her, I cannot say, never having been told; but at the end of
that time she transferred it to a place you know-being no other
than Lowood School, where you so long resided yourself. It seems
her career there was very honourable: from a pupil, she became a
teacher, like yourself-really it strikes me there are parallel points
in her history and yours-she left it to be a governess: there, again,
your fates were analogous; she undertook the education of the
ward of a certain Mr. Rochester.’ ‘Mr. Rivers!’ I interrupted.

‘I can guess your feelings,’ he said, ‘but restrain them for a while: I
have nearly finished; hear me to the end. Of Mr. Rochester’s
character I know nothing, but the one fact that he professed to offer
honourable marriage to this young girl, and that at the very altar
she discovered he had a wife yet alive, though a lunatic.

What his subsequent conduct and proposals were is a matter of
pure conjecture; but when an event transpired which rendered
inquiry after the governess necessary, it was discovered she was
gone-no one could tell when, where, or how. She had left
Thornfield Hall in the night; every research after her course had
been vain: the country had been scoured far and wide; no vestige
of information could be gathered respecting her. Yet that she
should be found is become a matter of serious urgency:
advertisements have been put in all the papers; I myself have
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