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 answer.
John withdrew without having observed me. Mr. Rochester now tried to walk about: vainly,all was too uncertain. He groped his way back to the house, and, re-entering it, closed the door.
I now drew near and knocked: Johns wife opened for me. Mary, I said, how are you?
She started as if she had seen a ghost: I calmed her. To her hurried Is it really you, miss, come at this late hour to this lonely place? I answered by taking her hand; and then I followed her into the kitchen, where John now sat by a good fire. I explained to them, in few words, that I had heard all which had happened since I left Thornfield, and that I was come to see Mr. Rochester. I asked John to go down to the turn-pike-house, where I had dismissed the chaise, and bring my trunk, which I had left there: and then, while I removed my bonnet and shawl, I questioned Mary as to whether I could be accommodated at the Manor House for the night; and finding that arrangements to that effect, though difficult, would not be impossible, I informed her I should stay. Just at this moment the parlour-bell rang.
When you go in, said I, tell your master that a person wishes to speak to him, but do not give my name.
I dont think he will see you, she answered; he refuses everybody.
When she returned, I inquired what he had said. You are to send in your name and your business, she replied. She then proceeded to fill a glass with water, and place it on a tray, together with candles.
Is that what he rang for? I asked.
Yes: he always has candles brought in at dark, though he is blind.
Give the tray to me; I will carry it in.
I took it from her hand: she pointed me out the parlour door. The tray shook as I held it; the water spilt from the glass; my heart struck my ribs loud and fast. Mary opened the door for me, and shut it behind me.
This parlour looked gloomy: a neglected handful of fire burnt low in the grate; and, leaning over it, with his head supported against the high, old-fashioned mantelpiece, appeared the blind tenant of the room. His old dog, Pilot, lay on one side, removed out of the way, and coiled up as if afraid of being inadvertently trodden upon. Pilot pricked up his ears when I came in: then he jumped up with a yelp and a whine, and bounded towards me: he almost knocked the tray from my hands. I set it on the table; then patted him, and said softly, Lie down! Mr. Rochester turned mechanically to see what the commotion was: but as he saw nothing, he returned and sighed.
Give me the water, Mary, he said.
I approached him with the now only half-filled glass; Pilot followed me, still excited.
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|