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THE manor-house of Ferndean was a building of considerable
antiquity, moderate size, and no architectural pretensions, deep
buried in a wood. I had heard of it before. Mr. Rochester often
spoke of it, and sometimes went there. His father had purchased
the estate for the sake of the game covers. He would have let the
house, but could find no tenant, in consequence of its ineligible and
insalubrious site. Ferndean then remained uninhabited and
unfurnished, with the exception of some two or three rooms fitted
up for the accommodation of the squire when he went there in the
season to shoot.

To this house I came just ere dark on an evening marked by the
characteristics of sad sky, cold gale, and continued small
penetrating rain. The last mile I performed on foot, having
dismissed the chaise and driver with the double remuneration I
had promised. Even when within a very short distance of the
manor-house, you could see nothing of it, so thick and dark grew
the timber of the gloomy wood about it. Iron gates between granite
pillars showed me where to enter, and passing through them, I
found myself at once in the twilight of close-ranked trees.

There was a grass-grown track descending the forest aisle between
hoar and knotty shafts and under branched arches. I followed it,
expecting soon to reach the dwelling; but it stretched on and on, it
wound far and farther: no sign of habitation or grounds was

I thought I had taken a wrong direction and lost my way. The
darkness of natural as well as of sylvan dusk gathered over me. I
looked round in search of another road. There was none: all was
interwoven stem, columnar trunk, dense summer foliage-no
opening anywhere.

I proceeded: at last my way opened, the trees thinned a little;
presently I beheld a railing, then the house-scarce, by this dim
light, distinguishable from the trees, so dank and green were its
decaying walls. Entering a portal, fastened only by a latch, I stood
amidst a space of enclosed ground, from which the wood swept
away in a semicircle. There were no flowers, no garden-beds; only
a broad gravelwalk girdling a grass-plat, and this set in the heavy
frame of the forest. The house presented two pointed gables in its
front; the windows were latticed and narrow:
the front door was narrow too, one step led up to it. The whole
looked, as the host of the Rochester Arms had said, ‘quite a
desolate spot.’ It was as still as a church on a week-day: the
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