Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre: Ch. 15

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“In the name of all the elves in Christendom, is that Jane Eyre?” he demanded.  “What have you done with me, witch, sorceress?  Who is in the room besides you?  Have you plotted to drown me?”

“I will fetch you a candle, sir; and, in Heaven’s name, get up.  Somebody has plotted something: you cannot too soon find out who and what it is.”

“There!  I am up now; but at your peril you fetch a candle yet: wait two minutes till I get into some dry garments, if any dry there be—yes, here is my dressing-gown.  Now run!”

I did run; I brought the candle which still remained in the gallery.  He took it from my hand, held it up, and surveyed the bed, all blackened and scorched, the sheets drenched, the carpet round swimming in water.

“What is it? and who did it?” he asked.  I briefly related to him what had transpired: the strange laugh I had heard in the gallery: the step ascending to the third storey; the smoke,—the smell of fire which had conducted me to his room; in what state I had found matters there, and how I had deluged him with all the water I could lay hands on.

He listened very gravely; his face, as I went on, expressed more concern than astonishment; he did not immediately speak when I had concluded.

“Shall I call Mrs. Fairfax?” I asked.

“Mrs. Fairfax?  No; what the deuce would you call her for?  What can she do?  Let her sleep unmolested.”

“Then I will fetch Leah, and wake John and his wife.”

“Not at all: just be still.  You have a shawl on.  If you are not warm enough, you may take my cloak yonder;(d) wrap it about you, and sit down in the arm-chair: there,—I will put it on.  Now place your feet on the stool, to keep them out of the wet.  I am going to leave you a few minutes.  I shall take the candle.  Remain where you are till I return; be as still as a mouse.  I must pay a visit to the second storey.  Don’t move, remember, or call any one.”

He went: I watched the light withdraw.  He passed up the gallery very softly, unclosed the staircase door with as little noise as possible, shut it after him, and the last ray vanished.  I was left in total darkness.  I listened for some noise, but heard nothing.  A very long time elapsed.  I grew weary: it was cold, in spite of the cloak; and then I did not see the use of staying, as I was not to rouse the house.  I was on the point of risking Mr. Rochester’s displeasure by disobeying his orders, when the light once more gleamed dimly on the gallery wall, and I heard his unshod feet tread the matting.  “I hope it is he,” thought I, “and not something worse.”

He re-entered, pale and very gloomy.d  “I have found it all out,” said he, setting his candle down on the washstand; “it is as I thought.”

“How, sir?”

He made no reply, but stood with his arms folded, looking on the ground.  At the end of a few minutes he inquired in rather a peculiar tone—

“I forget whether you said you saw anything when you opened your chamber door.”

“No, sir, only the candlestick on the ground.”

“But you heard an odd laugh?  You have heard that laugh before, I should think, or something like it?”

“Yes, sir: there is a woman who sews here, called Grace Poole,—she laughs in that way.  She is a singular person.”

X [(d)] If you are not warm enough, you may take my c…

Illustration.

X [d] He re-entered, pale and very gloomy.

Illustratiion.