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pattering rain on the forest leaves was the only sound audible in its
‘Can there be life here?’ I asked.
Yes, life of some kind there was; for I heard a movement-that
narrow frontdoor was unclosing, and some shape was about to
issue from the grange.
It opened slowly: a figure came out into the twilight and stood on
the step; a man without a hat: he stretched forth his hand as if to
feel whether it rained. Dusk as it was, I had recognised him-it was
my master, Edward Fairfax Rochester, and no other.
I stayed my step, almost my breath, and stood to watch him-to
examine him, myself unseen, and alas! to him invisible. It was a
sudden meeting, and one in which rapture was kept well in check
by pain. I had no difficulty in restraining my voice from
exclamation, my step from hasty advance.
His form was of the same strong and stalwart contour as ever: his
port was still erect, his hair was still raven black; nor were his
features altered or sunk: not in one year’s space, by any sorrow,
could his athletic strength be quelled or his vigorous prime
blighted. But in his countenance I saw a change: that looked
desperate and brooding-that reminded me of some wronged and
fettered wild beast or bird, dangerous to approach in his sullen
woe. The caged eagle, whose goldringed eyes cruelty has
extinguished, might look as looked that sightless Samson.
And, reader, do you think I feared him in his blind ferocity?- if you
do, you little know me. A soft hope blent with my sorrow that soon
I should dare to drop a kiss on that brow of rock, and on those lips
so sternly sealed beneath it: but not yet. I would not accost him yet.
He descended the one step, and advanced slowly and gropingly
towards the grass-plat. Where was his daring stride now? Then he
paused, as if he knew not which way to turn. He lifted his hand
and opened his eyelids; gazed blank, and with a straining effort, on
the sky, and toward the amphitheatre of trees: one saw that all to
him was void darkness. He stretched his right hand (the left arm,
the mutilated one, he kept hidden in his bosom); he seemed to
wish by touch to gain an idea of what lay around him: he met but
vacancy still; for the trees were some yards off where he stood. He
relinquished the endeavour, folded his arms, and stood quiet and
mute in the rain, now falling fast on his uncovered head. At this
moment John approached him from some quarter.
‘Will you take my arm, sir?’ he said; ‘there is a heavy shower
coming on: had you not better go in?’ ‘Let me alone,’ was the