it seems, by the surgeon's orders,
went to bed early that night; nor
did he rise soon next morning.
When he did come
down, it was to attend to business: his agent and some of his
tenants were arrived, and waiting to speak with him.
Adele and I had now to vacate
the library: it would be in daily
requisition as a reception-room
for callers. A fire was lit in
an apartment upstairs, and there
I carried our books, and arranged
it for the future schoolroom.
I discerned in the course of
the morning that Thornfield Hall
was a changed place: no longer
silent as a church, it echoed
every hour or two to a knock
at the door, or a clang of the
bell; steps, too, often traversed
the hall, and new voices spoke
in different keys below; a rill
from the outer world was flowing
through it; it had a master:
for my part, I liked it better.
was not easy
to teach that
day; she could
she kept running to the door
and looking over the banisters
to see if she could get a glimpse
of Mr. Rochester; then she coined
pretexts to go downstairs, in
order, as I shrewdly suspected,
to visit the library, where I
knew she was not wanted; then,
when I got a little angry, and
made her sit still, she continued
to talk incessantly of her "ami,
Monsieur Edouard Fairfax DE Rochester," as
she dubbed him (I had not before
heard his prenomens), and to
conjecture what presents he had
brought her: for it appears he
had intimated the night before,
that when his luggage came from
Millcote, there would be found
amongst it a little box in whose
contents she had an interest.
"Et cela doit signifier," said
she, "qu'il y aura le dedans
un cadeau pour moi, et peut-etre
pour vous aussi, mademoiselle.
Monsieur a parle de vous: il
m'a demande le nom de ma gouvernante,
et si elle n'etait pas une petite
personne, assez mince et un peu
pale. J'ai dit qu'oui: car c'est
vrai, n'est-ce pas, mademoiselle?"
I and my pupil dined as usual
in Mrs. Fairfax's parlour; the
afternoon was wild and snowy,
and we passed it in the schoolroom.
At dark I allowed Adele to put
away books and work, and to run
downstairs; for, from the comparative
silence below, and from the cessation
of appeals to the door-bell,
I conjectured that Mr. Rochester
was now at liberty. Left alone,
I walked to the window; but nothing
was to be seen thence: twilight
and snowflakes together thickened
the air, and hid the very shrubs
on the lawn. I let down the curtain
and went back to the fireside.
In the clear embers I was tracing
a view, not unlike a picture
I remembered to have seen of
the castle of Heidelberg, on
the Rhine, when Mrs. Fairfax
came in, breaking up by her entrance
the fiery mosaic I had been piercing
together, and scattering too
some heavy unwelcome thoughts
that were beginning to throng
on my solitude.
"Mr. Rochester would be glad
if you and your pupil would take
tea with him in the drawing-room
this evening," said she: "he
has been so much engaged all
day that he could not ask to
see you before."
"When is his tea-time?" I
at six o'clock:
he keeps early
hours in the
had better change your frock
now; I will go with you and fasten
it. Here is a candle."
to change my
you had better:
I always dress
for the evening
Rochester is here."
This additional ceremony seemed
somewhat stately; however, I
repaired to my room, and, with
Mrs. Fairfax's aid, replaced
my black stuff dress by one of
black silk; the best and the
only additional one I had, except
one of light grey, which, in
my Lowood notions of the toilette,
I thought too fine to be worn,
except on first-rate occasions.
"You want a brooch," said
I had a single
pearl ornament which Miss Temple
gave me as a parting keepsake:
I put it on, and then we went
downstairs. Unused as I was to
strangers, it was rather a trial
to appear thus formally summoned
in Mr. Rochester's presence.
I let Mrs. Fairfax precede me
into the dining-room, and kept
in her shade as we crossed that
apartment; and, passing the arch,
whose curtain was now dropped,
entered the elegant recess beyond.
Two wax candles stood lighted
on the table, and two on the
mantelpiece; basking in the light
and heat of a superb fire, lay
Pilot--Adele knelt near him.
Half reclined on a couch appeared
Mr. Rochester, his foot supported
by the cushion; he was looking
at Adele and the dog: the fire
shone full on his face. I knew
my traveller with his broad and
jetty eyebrows; his square forehead,
made squarer by the horizontal
sweep of his black hair. I recognised
his decisive nose, more remarkable
for character than beauty; his
full nostrils, denoting, I thought,
choler; his grim mouth, chin,
and jaw--yes, all three were
very grim, and no mistake. His
shape, now divested of cloak,
I perceived harmonised in squareness
with his physiognomy: I suppose
it was a good figure in the athletic
sense of the term--broad chested
and thin flanked, though neither
tall nor graceful.
Mr. Rochester must have been
aware of the entrance of Mrs.
Fairfax and myself; but it appeared
he was not in the mood to notice
us, for he never lifted his head
as we approached.
"Here is Miss Eyre, sir," said
Mrs. Fairfax, in her quiet way.
He bowed, still not taking his
eyes from the group of the dog
"Let Miss Eyre be seated," said
he: and there was something in
the forced stiff bow, in the
impatient yet formal tone, which
seemed further to express, "What
the deuce is it to me whether
Miss Eyre be there or not? At
this moment I am not disposed
to accost her."
I sat down quite disembarrassed.
A reception of finished politeness
would probably have confused
me: I could not have returned
or repaid it by answering grace
and elegance on my part; but
harsh caprice laid me under no
obligation; on the contrary,
a decent quiescence, under the
freak of manner, gave me the
advantage. Besides, the eccentricity
of the proceeding was piquant:
I felt interested to see how
he would go on.
He went on as a statue would,
that is, he neither spoke nor
moved. Mrs. Fairfax seemed to
think it necessary that some
one should be amiable, and she
began to talk. Kindly, as usual--and,
as usual, rather trite--she condoled
with him on the pressure of business
he had had all day; on the annoyance
it must have been to him with
that painful sprain: then she
commended his patience and perseverance
in going through with it.
"Madam, I should like some
tea," was the sole rejoinder
she got. She hastened to ring
the bell; and when the tray came,
she proceeded to arrange the
cups, spoons, &c., with assiduous
celerity. I and Adele went to
the table; but the master did
not leave his couch.
"Will you hand Mr. Rochester's
cup?" said Mrs. Fairfax to me; "Adele
might perhaps spill it."
I did as requested. As he took
the cup from my hand, Adele,
thinking the moment propitious
for making a request in my favour,
cried out -
qu'il y a un
Eyre dans votre petit coffre?"
"Who talks of cadeaux?" said
he gruffly. "Did you expect a
present, Miss Eyre? Are you fond
of presents?" and he searched
my face with eyes that I saw
were dark, irate, and piercing.
sir; I have
little experience of them: they
are generally thought pleasant
what do YOU
should be obliged
to take time,
I could give
you an answer worthy of your
acceptance: a present has many
faces to it, has it not? and
one should consider all, before
pronouncing an opinion as to
Eyre, you are
not so unsophisticated
as Adele: she
demands a 'cadeau,' clamorously,
the moment she sees me: you beat
about the bush."
I have less
in my deserts
she can prefer the claim of old
acquaintance, and the right too
of custom; for she says you have
always been in the habit of giving
her playthings; but if I had
to make out a case I should be
puzzled, since I am a stranger,
and have done nothing to entitle
me to an acknowledgment."
back on over-modesty!
I have examined Adele, and find
you have taken great pains with
her: she is not bright, she has
no talents; yet in a short time
she has made much improvement."
you have now
given me my
you: it is the meed teachers
most covet--praise of their pupils'
and he took his tea in silence.
"Come to the fire," said
when the tray
away, and Mrs. Fairfax had settled
into a corner with her knitting;
while Adele was leading me by
the hand round the room, showing
me the beautiful books and ornaments
on the consoles and chiffonnieres.
We obeyed, as in duty bound;
Adele wanted to take a seat on
my knee, but she was ordered
to amuse herself with Pilot.
have been resident
in my house
you came from--?"
long were you
must be tenacious
of life. I thought half the time
in such a place would have done
up any constitution! No wonder
you have rather the look of another
world. I marvelled where you
had got that sort of face. When
you came on me in Hay Lane last
night, I thought unaccountably
of fairy tales, and had half
a mind to demand whether you
had bewitched my horse: I am
not sure yet. Who are your parents?"
ever had, I
you remember them?"
And so you
for your people
when you sat on that stile?"
the men in
green: it was
a proper moonlight evening for
them. Did I break through one
of your rings, that you spread
that damned ice on the causeway?"
shook my head. "The men in
green all forsook England a hundred
years ago," said I, speaking
as seriously as he had done. "And
not even in Hay Lane, or the
fields about it, could you find
a trace of them. I don't think
either summer or harvest, or
winter moon, will ever shine
on their revels more."
Mrs. Fairfax had dropped her
knitting, and, with raised eyebrows,
seemed wondering what sort of
talk this was.
"Well," resumed Mr. Rochester, "if
you disown parents, you must
have some sort of kinsfolk: uncles
none that I
do your brothers
have no brothers
you to come
and Mrs. Fairfax
answered my advertisement."
"Yes," said the good lady,
who now knew what ground we were
upon, "and I am daily thankful
for the choice Providence led
me to make. Miss Eyre has been
an invaluable companion to me,
and a kind and careful teacher
"Don't trouble yourself to
give her a character," returned
Mr. Rochester: "eulogiums will
not bias me; I shall judge for
myself. She began by felling
have to thank
her for this
The widow looked bewildered.
you ever lived
in a town?"
you seen much
but the pupils
of Lowood, and now the inmates
you read much?"
as came in
my way; and
they have not
numerous or very learned."
the life of
a nun: no doubt you are well
drilled in religious forms;--Brocklehurst,
who I understand directs Lowood,
is a parson, is he not?"
you girls probably
him, as a convent
full of religieuses
would worship their director."
are very cool!
No! What! a
That sounds blasphemous."
and I was not alone in the feeling.
He is a harsh man; at once pompous
and meddling; he cut off our
hair; and for economy's sake
bought us bad needles and thread,
with which we could hardly sew."
"That was very false economy," remarked
Mrs. Fairfax, who now again caught
the drift of the dialogue.
"And was that the head and
front of his offending?" demanded
when he had
the sole superintendence of the
provision department, before
the committee was appointed;
and he bored us with long lectures
once a week, and with evening
readings from books of his own
inditing, about sudden deaths
and judgments, which made us
afraid to go to bed."
age were you
when you went
years: you are now, then, eighteen?"
you see, is
its aid, I
have been able to guess your
age. It is a point difficult
to fix where the features and
countenance are so much at variance
as in your case. And now what
did you learn at Lowood? Can
is the established
answer. Go into the library--I
mean, if you please.--(Excuse
my tone of command; I am used
to say, 'Do this,' and it is
done: I cannot alter my customary
habits for one new inmate.)--Go,
then, into the library; take
a candle with you; leave the
door open; sit down to the piano,
and play a tune."
I departed, obeying his directions.
"Enough!" he called out in
a few minutes. "You play A LITTLE,
I see; like any other English
school-girl; perhaps rather better
than some, but not well."
piano and returned.
Mr. Rochester continued--"Adele
showed me some sketches this
morning, which she said were
yours. I don't know whether they
were entirely of your doing;
probably a master aided you?"
"No, indeed!" I
fetch me your portfolio, if you
can vouch for its contents being
original; but don't pass your
word unless you are certain:
I can recognise patchwork."
I will say
you shall judge for yourself,
I brought the portfolio from
"Approach the table," said
he; and I wheeled it to his couch.
Adele and Mrs. Fairfax drew near
to see the pictures.
"No crowding," said Mr. Rochester: "take
the drawings from my hand as
I finish with them; but don't
push your faces up to mine."
He deliberately scrutinised
each sketch and painting. Three
he laid aside; the others, when
he had examined them, he swept
"Take them off to the other
table, Mrs. Fairfax," said he,
and look at them with Adele;--you" (glancing
at me) "resume your seat, and
answer my questions. I perceive
those pictures were done by one
hand: was that hand yours?"
when did you
find time to
do them? They
time, and some thought."
did them in
the last two
vacations I spent at Lowood,
when I had no other occupation."
did you get
of my head."
head I see
now on your
it other furniture
of the same
it may have:
I should hope--better."
He spread the pictures before
him, and again surveyed them
While he is so occupied, I
will tell you, reader, what they
are: and first, I must premise
that they are nothing wonderful.
The subjects had, indeed, risen
vividly on my mind. As I saw
them with the spiritual eye,
before I attempted to embody
them, they were striking; but
my hand would not second my fancy,
and in each case it had wrought
out but a pale portrait of the
thing I had conceived.
These pictures were in water-colours.
The first represented clouds
low and livid, rolling over a
swollen sea: all the distance
was in eclipse; so, too, was
the foreground; or rather, the
nearest billows, for there was
no land. One gleam of light lifted
into relief a half-submerged
mast, on which sat a cormorant,
dark and large, with wings flecked
with foam; its beak held a gold
bracelet set with gems, that
I had touched with as brilliant
tints as my palette could yield,
and as glittering distinctness
as my pencil could impart. Sinking
below the bird and mast, a drowned
corpse glanced through the green
water; a fair arm was the only
limb clearly visible, whence
the bracelet had been washed
The second picture contained
for foreground only the dim peak
of a hill, with grass and some
leaves slanting as if by a breeze.
Beyond and above spread an expanse
of sky, dark blue as at twilight:
rising into the sky was a woman's
shape to the bust, portrayed
in tints as dusk and soft as
I could combine. The dim forehead
was crowned with a star; the
lineaments below were seen as
through the suffusion of vapour;
the eyes shone dark and wild;
the hair streamed shadowy, like
a beamless cloud torn by storm
or by electric travail. On the
neck lay a pale reflection like
moonlight; the same faint lustre
touched the train of thin clouds
from which rose and bowed this
vision of the Evening Star.
of an iceberg piercing a polar
winter sky: a muster of northern
lights reared their dim lances,
close serried, along the horizon.
Throwing these into distance,
rose, in the foreground, a head,--a
colossal head, inclined towards
the iceberg, and resting against
it. Two thin hands, joined under
the forehead, and supporting
it, drew up before the lower
features a sable veil, a brow
quite bloodless, white as bone,
and an eye hollow and fixed,
blank of meaning but for the
glassiness of despair, alone
were visible. Above the temples,
amidst wreathed turban folds
of black drapery, vague in its
character and consistency as
cloud, gleamed a ring of white
flame, gemmed with sparkles of
a more lurid tinge. This pale
crescent was "the likeness of
a kingly crown;" what it diademed
was "the shape which shape had
"Were you happy when you painted
these pictures?" asked Mr. Rochester
sir: yes, and
I was happy.
To paint them,
in short, was to enjoy one of
the keenest pleasures I have
is not saying
by your own
have been few; but I daresay
you did exist in a kind of artist's
dreamland while you blent and
arranged these strange tints.
Did you sit at them long each
else to do,
because it was the vacation,
and I sat at them from morning
till noon, and from noon till
night: the length of the midsummer
days favoured my inclination
you felt self-satisfied
with the result of your ardent
from it. I
by the contrast between my idea
and my handiwork: in each case
I had imagined something which
I was quite powerless to realise."
the shadow of your thought; but
no more, probably. You had not
enough of the artist's skill
and science to give it full being:
yet the drawings are, for a school-
girl, peculiar. As to the thoughts,
they are elfish. These eyes in
the Evening Star you must have
seen in a dream. How could you
make them look so clear, and
yet not at all brilliant? for
the planet above quells their
rays. And what meaning is that
in their solemn depth? And who
taught you to paint wind. There
is a high gale in that sky, and
on this hill-top. Where did you
see Latmos? For that is Latmos.
There! put the drawings away!"
I had scarce tied the strings
of the portfolio, when, looking
at his watch, he said abruptly
is nine o'clock:
what are you
Eyre, to let
Adele sit up so long? Take her
Adele went to kiss him before
quitting the room: he endured
the caress, but scarcely seemed
to relish it more than Pilot
would have done, nor so much.
"I wish you all good-night,
now," said he, making a movement
of the hand towards the door,
in token that he was tired of
our company, and wished to dismiss
us. Mrs. Fairfax folded up her
knitting: I took my portfolio:
we curtseyed to him, received
a frigid bow in return, and so
"You said Mr. Rochester was
not strikingly peculiar, Mrs.
Fairfax," I observed, when I
rejoined her in her room, after
putting Adele to bed.
think so: he
is very changeful
no doubt he
so to a stranger,
but I am so
accustomed to his manner, I never
think of it; and then, if he
has peculiarities of temper,
allowance should be made."
is his nature--and
we can none of us help our nature;
and partly because he has painful
thoughts, no doubt, to harass
him, and make his spirits unequal."
he has no family."
now, but he
at least, relatives. He lost
his elder brother a few years
has not been very long in possession
of the property; only about nine
years is a
Was he so very
his brother as to be still inconsolable
for his loss?"
not. I believe
there were some misunderstandings
between them. Mr. Rowland Rochester
was not quite just to Mr. Edward;
and perhaps he prejudiced his
father against him. The old gentleman
was fond of money, and anxious
to keep the family estate together.
He did not like to diminish the
property by division, and yet
he was anxious that Mr. Edward
should have wealth, too, to keep
up the consequence of the name;
and, soon after he was of age,
some steps were taken that were
not quite fair, and made a great
deal of mischief. Old Mr. Rochester
and Mr. Rowland combined to bring
Mr. Edward into what he considered
a painful position, for the sake
of making his fortune: what the
precise nature of that position
was I never clearly knew, but
his spirit could not brook what
he had to suffer in it. He is
not very forgiving: he broke
with his family, and now for
many years he has led an unsettled
kind of life. I don't think he
has ever been resident at Thornfield
for a fortnight together, since
the death of his brother without
a will left him master of the
estate; and, indeed, no wonder
he shuns the old place."
should he shun
he thinks it
The answer was evasive. I should
have liked something clearer;
but Mrs. Fairfax either could
not, or would not, give me more
explicit information of the origin
and nature of Mr. Rochester's
trials. She averred they were
a mystery to herself, and that
what she knew was chiefly from
conjecture. It was evident, indeed,
that she wished me to drop the
subject, which I did accordingly.