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[日期:2006-06-12]   [字体: ]
THE month of courtship had wasted: its very last hours were being

numbered. There was no putting off the day that advanced- the bridal

day; and all preparations for its arrival were complete. I, at

least, had nothing more to do: there were my trunks, packed, locked,

corded, ranged in a row along the wall of my little chamber;

to-morrow, at this time, they would be far on their road to London:

and so should I (D.V.),- or rather, not I, but one Jane Rochester, a

person whom as yet I knew not. The cards of address alone remained

to nail on: they lay, four little squares, in the drawer. Mr.

Rochester had himself written the direction, 'Mrs. Rochester,-

Hotel, London,' on each: I could not persuade myself to affix them, or

to have them affixed. Mrs. Rochester! She did not exist: she would not

be born till to-morrow, some time after eight o'clock A.M.; and I

would wait to be assured she had come into the world alive before I

assigned to her all that property. It was enough that in yonder

closet, opposite my dressing-table, garments said to be hers had

already displaced my black stuff Lowood frock and straw bonnet: for

not to me appertained that suit of wedding raiment; the pearl-coloured

robe, the vapoury veil pendent from the usurped portmanteau. I shut

the closet to conceal the strange, wraith-like apparel it contained;

which, at this evening hour- nine o'clock- gave out certainly a most

ghostly shimmer through the shadow of my apartment. 'I will leave

you by yourself, white dream,' I said. 'I am feverish: I hear the wind

blowing: I will go out of doors and feel it.'

   It was not only the hurry of preparation that made me feverish; not

only the anticipation of the GREat change- the new life which was to

commence to-morrow: both these circumstances had their share,

doubtless, in producing that restless, excited mood which hurried me

forth at this late hour into the darkening grounds: but a third

cause influenced my mind more than they.

   I had at heart a strange and anxious thought. Something had

happened which I could not comprehend; no one knew of or had seen

the event but myself: it had taken place the preceding night. Mr.

Rochester that night was absent from home; nor was he yet returned:

business had called him to a small estate of two or three farms he

possessed thirty miles off- business it was requisite he should settle

in person, previous to his meditated departure from England. I

waited now his return; eager to disburthen my mind, and to seek of him

the solution of the enigma that perplexed me. Stay till he comes,

reader: and, when I disclose my secret to him, you shall share the


   I sought the orchard, driven to its shelter by the wind, which

all day had blown strong and full from the south, without, however,

bringing a speck of rain. Instead of subsiding as night drew on, it

seemed to augment its rush and deepen its roar: the trees blew

steadfastly one way, never writhing round, and scarcely tossing back

their boughs once in an hour; so continuous was the strain bending

their branchy heads northward- the clouds drifted from pole to pole,

fast following, mass on mass: no glimpse of blue sky had been

visible that July day.

   It was not without a certain wild pleasure I ran before the wind,

delivering my trouble of mind to the measureless air-torrent

thundering through space. Descending the laurel walk, I faced the

wreck of the chestnut-tree; it stood up black and riven: the trunk,

split down the centre, gaped ghastly. The cloven halves were not

broken from each other, for the firm base and strong roots kept them

unsundered below; though community of vitality was destroyed- the

sap could flow no more: their GREat boughs on each side were dead, and

next winter's tempests would be sure to fell one or both to earth:

as yet, however, they might be said to form one tree- a ruin, but an

entire ruin.

   'You did right to hold fast to each other,' I said: as if the

monster-splinters were living things, and could hear me. 'I think,

scathed as you look, and charred and scorched, there must be a

little sense of life in you yet, rising out of that adhesion at the

faithful, honest roots: you will never have GREen leaves more- never

more see birds making nests and singing idyls in your boughs; the time

of pleasure and love is over with you: but you are not desolate:

each of you has a comrade to sympathise with him in his decay.' As I

looked up at them, the moon appeared momentarily in that part of the

sky which filled their fissure; her disk was blood-red and half

overcast; she seemed to throw on me one bewildered, dreary glance, and

buried herself again instantly in the deep drift of cloud. The wind

fell, for a second, round Thornfield; but far away over wood and

water, poured a wild, melancholy wail: it was sad to listen to, and

I ran off again.

   Here and there I strayed through the orchard, gathered up the

apples with which the grass round the tree roots was thickly strewn;

then I employed myself in dividing the ripe from the unripe; I carried

them into the house and put them away in the storeroom. Then I

repaired to the library to ascertain whether the fire was lit, for,

though summer, I knew on such a gloomy evening Mr. Rochester would

like to see a cheerful hearth when he came in: yes, the fire had

been kindled some time, and burnt well. I placed his arm-chair by

the chimney-corner: I wheeled the table near it: I let down the

curtain, and had the candles brought in ready for lighting. More

restless than ever, when I had completed these arrangements I could

not sit still, nor even remain in the house: a little timepiece in the

room and the old clock in the hall simultaneously struck ten.

   'How late it grows!' I said. 'I will run down to the gates: it is

moonlight at intervals; I can see a good way on the road. He may be

coming now, and to meet him will save some minutes of suspense.'

   The wind roared high in the GREat trees which embowered the

gates; but the road as far as I could see, to the right hand and the

left, was all still and solitary: save for the shadows of clouds

crossing it at intervals as the moon looked out, it was a long pale

line, unvaried by one moving speck.

   A puerile tear dimmed my eye while I looked- a tear of

disappointment and impatience; ashamed of it, I wiped it away. I

lingered; the moon shut herself wholly within her chamber, and drew

close her curtain of dense cloud: the night GREw dark; rain came

driving fast on the gale.

   'I wish he would come! I wish he would come!' I exclaimed, seized

with hypochondriac foreboding. I had expected his arrival before

tea; now it was dark: what could keep him? Had an accident happened?

The event of last night again recurred to me. I interpreted it as a

warning of disaster. I feared my hopes were too bright to be realised;

and I had enjoyed so much bliss lately that I imagined my fortune

had passed its meridian, and must now decline.

   'Well, I cannot return to the house,' I thought; 'I cannot sit by

the fireside, while he is abroad in inclement weather: better tire

my limbs than strain my heart; I will go forward and meet him.'

   I set out; I walked fast, but not far: ere I had measured a quarter

of a mile, I heard the tramp of hoofs; a horseman came on, full

gallop; a dog ran by his side. Away with evil presentiment! It was he:

here he was, mounted on Mesrour, followed by Pilot. He saw me; for the

moon had opened a blue field in the sky, and rode in it watery bright:

he took his hat off, and waved it round his head. I now ran to meet


   'There!' he exclaimed, as he stretched out his hand and bent from

the saddle: 'you can't do without me, that is evident. Step on my

boot-toe; give me both hands: mount!'

   I obeyed: joy made me agile: I sprang up before him. A hearty

kissing I got for a welcome, and some boastful triumph, which I

swallowed as well as I could. He checked himself in his exultation

to demand, 'But is there anything the matter, Janet, that you come

to meet me at such an hour? Is there anything wrong?'

   'No, but I thought you would never come. I could not bear to wait

in the house for you, especially with this rain and wind.'

   'Rain and wind, indeed! Yes, you are dripping like a mermaid;

pull my cloak round you: but I think you are feverish, Jane: both your

cheek and hand are burning hot. I ask again, is there anything the


   'Nothing now; I am neither afraid nor unhappy.'

   'Then you have been both?'

   'Rather: but I'll tell you all about it by and by, sir; and I

daresay you will only laugh at me for my pains.'

   'I'll laugh at you heartily when to-morrow is past; till then I

dare not: my prize is not certain. This is you, who have been as

slippery as an eel this last month, and as thorny as a briar-rose? I

could not lay a finger anywhere but I was pricked; and now I seem to

have gathered up a stray lamb in my arms. You wandered out of the fold

to seek your shepherd, did you, Jane?'

   'I wanted you: but don't boast. Here we are at Thornfield: now

let me get down.'

   He landed me on the pavement. As John took his horse, and he

followed me into the hall, he told me to make haste and put

something dry on, and then return to him in the library; and he

stopped me, as I made for the staircase, to extort a promise that I

would not be long: nor was I long; in five minutes I rejoined him. I

found him at supper.

   'Take a seat and bear me company, Jane: please God, it is the

last meal but one you will eat at Thornfield Hall for a long time.'

   I sat down near him, but told him I could not eat.

   'Is it because you have the prospect of a journey before you, Jane?

Is it the thoughts of going to London that takes away your appetite?'

   'I cannot see my prospects clearly to-night, sir; and I hardly know

what thoughts I have in my head. Everything in life seems unreal.'

   'Except me: I am substantial enough- touch me.'

   'You, sir, are the most phantom-like of all: you are a mere dream.'

   He held out his hand, laughing. 'Is that a dream?' said he, placing

it close to my eyes. He had a rounded, muscular, and vigorous hand, as

well as a long, strong arm.

   'Yes; though I touch it, it is a dream,' said I, as I put it down

from before my face. 'Sir, have you finished supper?'

   'Yes, Jane.'

   I rang the bell and ordered away the tray. When we were again

alone, I stirred the fire, and then took a low seat at my master's


   'It is near midnight,' I said.

   'Yes: but remember, Jane, you promised to wake with me the night

before my wedding.'

   'I did; and I will keep my promise, for an hour or two at least:

I have no wish to go to bed.'

   'Are all your arrangements complete?'

   'All, sir.'

   'And on my part likewise,' he returned, 'I have settled everything;

and we shall leave Thornfield to-morrow, within half an hour after our

return from church.'

   'Very well, sir.'

   'With what an extraordinary smile you uttered that word- "very

well," Jane! What a bright spot of colour you have on each cheek!

and how strangely your eyes glitter! Are you well?'

   'I believe I am.'

   'Believe! What is the matter? Tell me what you feel.'

   'I could not, sir: no words could tell you what I feel. I wish this

present hour would never end: who knows with what fate the next day

may come charged?'

   'This is hypochondria, Jane. You have been over-excited, or


   'Do you, sir, feel calm and happy?'

   'Calm?- no: but happy- to the heart's core.'

   I looked up at him to read the signs of bliss in his face: it was

ardent and flushed.

   'Give me your confidence, Jane,' he said: 'relieve your mind of any

weight that oppresses it, by imparting it to me. What do you fear?-

that I shall not prove a good husband?'

   'It is the idea farthest from my thoughts.'

   'Are you apprehensive of the new sphere you are about to enter?- of

the new life into which you are passing?'


   'You puzzle me, Jane: your look and tone of sorrowful audacity

perplex and pain me. I want an explanation.'

   'Then, sir, listen. You were from home last night?'

   'I was: I know that; and you hinted a while ago at something

which had happened in my absence:- nothing, probably, of

consequence; but, in short, it has disturbed you. Let me hear it. Mrs.

Fairfax has said something, perhaps? or you have overheard the

servants talk?- your sensitive self-respect has been wounded?'

   'No, sir.' It struck twelve- I waited till the timepiece had

concluded its silver chime, and the clock its hoarse, vibrating

stroke, and then I proceeded.

   'All day yesterday I was very busy, and very happy in my

ceaseless bustle; for I am not, as you seem to think, troubled by

any haunting fears about the new sphere, et cetera: I think it a

glorious thing to have the hope of living with you, because I love

you. No, sir, don't caress me now- let me talk undisturbed.

Yesterday I trusted well in Providence, and believed that events

were working together for your good and mine: it was a fine day, if

you recollect- the calmness of the air and sky forbade apprehensions

respecting your safety or comfort on your journey. I walked a little

while on the pavement after tea, thinking of you; and I beheld you

in imagination so near me, I scarcely missed your actual presence. I

thought of the life that lay before me- your life, sir- an existence

more expansive and stirring than my own: as much more so as the depths

of the sea to which the brook runs are than the shallows of its own

strait channel. I wondered why moralists call this world a dreary

wilderness: for me it blossomed like a rose. Just at sunset, the air

turned cold and the sky cloudy: I went in, Sophie called me upstairs

to look at my wedding-dress, which they had just brought; and under it

in the box I found your present- the veil which, in your princely

extravagance, you sent for from London: resolved, I suppose, since I

would not have jewels, to cheat me into accepting something as costly.

I smiled as I unfolded it, and devised how I would tease you about

your aristocratic tastes, and your efforts to masque your plebeian

bride in the attributes of a peeress. I thought how I would carry down

to you the square of unembroidered blond I had myself prepared as a

covering for my low-born head, and ask if that was not good enough for

a woman who could bring her husband neither fortune, beauty, nor

connections. I saw plainly how you would look; and heard your

impetuous republican answers, and your haughty disavowal of any

necessity on your part to augment your wealth, or elevate your

standing, by marrying either a purse or a coronet.'

   'How well you read me, you witch!' interposed Mr. Rochester: 'but

what did you find in the veil besides its embroidery? Did you find

poison, or a dagger, that you look so mournful now?'

   'No, no, sir; besides the delicacy and richness of the fabric, I

found nothing save Fairfax Rochester's pride; and that did not scare

me, because I am used to the sight of the demon. But, sir, as it

GREw dark, the wind rose: it blew yesterday evening, not as it blows

now- wild and high- but "with a sullen, moaning sound" far more eerie.

I wished you were at home. I came into this room, and the sight of the

empty chair and fireless hearth chilled me. For some time after I went

to bed, I could not sleep- a sense of anxious excitement distressed

me. The gale still rising, seemed to my ear to muffle a mournful

under-sound; whether in the house or abroad I could not at first tell,

but it recurred, doubtful yet doleful at every lull; at last I made

out it must be some dog howling at a distance. I was glad when it

ceased. On sleeping, I continued in dreams the idea of a dark and

gusty night. I continued also the wish to be with you, and experienced

a strange, reGREtful consciousness of some barrier dividing us. During

all my first sleep, I was following the windings of an unknown road;

total obscurity environed me; rain pelted me; I was burdened with

the charge of a little child: a very small creature, too young and

feeble to walk, and which shivered in my cold arms, and wailed

piteously in my ear. I thought, sir, that you were on the road a

long way before me; and I strained every nerve to overtake you, and

made effort on effort to utter your name and entreat you to stop-

but my movements were fettered, and my voice still died away

inarticulate; while you, I felt, withdrew farther and farther every


   'And these dreams weigh on your spirits now, Jane, when I am

close to you? Little nervous subject! Forget visionary woe, and

think only of real happiness! You say you love me, Janet: yes- I

will not forget that; and you cannot deny it. Those words did not

die inarticulate on your lips. I heard them clear and soft: a

thought too solemn perhaps, but sweet as music- "I think it is a

glorious thing to have the hope of living with you, Edward, because

I love you." Do you love me, Jane?- repeat it.'

   'I do, sir- I do, with my whole heart.'

   'Well,' he said, after some minutes' silence, 'it is strange; but

that sentence has penetrated my breast painfully. Why? I think because

you said it with such an earnest, religious energy, and because your

upward gaze at me now is the very sublime of faith, truth, and

devotion: it is too much as if some spirit were near me. Look

wicked, Jane: as you know well how to look: coin one of your wild,

shy, provoking smiles, tell me you hate me- tease me, vex me; do

anything but move me: I would rather be incensed than saddened.'

   'I will tease you and vex you to your heart's content, when I

have finished my tale: but hear me to the end.'

   'I thought, Jane, you had told me all. I thought I had found the

source of your melancholy in a dream.'

   I shook my head. 'What! is there more? But I will not believe it to

be anything important. I warn you of incredulity beforehand. Go on.'

   The disquietude of his air, the somewhat apprehensive impatience of

his manner, surprised me: but I proceeded.

   'I dreamt another dream, sir: that Thornfield Hall was a dreary

ruin, the retreat of bats and owls. I thought that of all the

stately front nothing remained but a shell-like wall, very high and

very fragile-looking. I wandered, on a moonlight night, through the

grass-grown enclosure within: here I stumbled over a marble hearth,

and there over a fallen fragment of cornice. Wrapped up in a shawl,

I still carried the unknown little child: I might not lay it down

anywhere, however tired were my arms- however much its weight

impeded my proGREss, I must retain it. I heard the gallop of a horse

at a distance on the road; I was sure it was you; and you were

departing for many years and for a distant country. I climbed the thin

wall with frantic perilous haste, eager to catch one glimpse of you

from the top: the stones rolled from under my feet, the ivy branches I

grasped gave way, the child clung round my neck in terror, and

almost strangled me; at last I gained the summit. I saw you like a

speck on a white track, lessening every moment. The blast blew so

strong I could not stand. I sat down on the narrow ledge; I hushed the

scared infant in my lap: you turned an angle of the road: I bent

forward to take a last look; the wall crumbled; I was shaken; the

child rolled from my knee, I lost my balance, fell, and woke.'

   'Now, Jane, that is all.'

   'All the preface, sir; the tale is yet to come. On waking, a

gleam dazzled my eyes; I thought- Oh, it is daylight! But I was

mistaken; it was only candlelight. Sophie, I supposed, had come in.

There was a light in the dressing-table, and the door of the closet,

where, before going to bed, I had hung my wedding-dress and veil,

stood open; I heard a rustling there. I asked, "Sophie, what are you

doing?" No one answered; but a form emerged from the closet; it took

the light, held it aloft, and surveyed the garments pendent from the

portmanteau. "Sophie! Sophie!" I again cried: and still it was silent.

I had risen up in bed, I bent forward: first surprise, then

bewilderment, came over me; and then my blood crept cold through my

veins. Mr. Rochester, this was not Sophie, it was not Leah, it was not

Mrs. Fairfax: it was not- no, I was sure of it, and am still- it was

not even that strange woman, Grace Poole.'

   'It must have been one of them,' interrupted my master.

   'No, sir, I solemnly assure you to the contrary. The shape standing

before me had never crossed my eyes within the precincts of Thornfield

Hall before; the height, the contour were new to me.'

   'Describe it, Jane.'

   'It seemed, sir, a woman, tall and large, with thick and dark

hair hanging long down her back. I know not what dress she had on:

it was white and straight; but whether gown, sheet, or shroud, I

cannot tell.'

   'Did you see her face?'

   'Not at first. But presently she took my veil from its place; she

held it up, gazed at it long, and then she threw it over her own head,

and turned to the mirror. At that moment I saw the reflection of the

visage and features quite distinctly in the dark oblong glass.'

   'And how were they?'

   'Fearful and ghastly to me- oh, sir, I never saw a face like it! It

was a discoloured face- it was a savage face. I wish I could forget

the roll of the red eyes and the fearful blackened inflation of the


   'Ghosts are usually pale, Jane.'

   'This, sir, was purple: the lips were swelled and dark; the brow

furrowed: the black eyebrows widely raised over the bloodshot eyes.

Shall I tell you of what it reminded me?'

   'You may.'

   'Of the foul German spectre- the Vampyre.'

   'Ah!- what did it do?'

   'Sir, it removed my veil from its gaunt head, rent it in two parts,

and flinging both on the floor, trampled on them.'


   'It drew aside the window-curtain and looked out; perhaps it saw

dawn approaching, for, taking the candle, it retreated to the door.

Just at my bedside, the figure stopped: the fiery eyes glared upon me-

she thrust up her candle close to my face, and extinguished it under

my eyes. I was aware her lurid visage flamed over mine, and I lost

consciousness: for the second time in my life- only the second time- I

became insensible from terror.'

   'Who was with you when you revived?'

   'No one, sir, but the broad day. I rose, bathed my head and face in

water, drank a long draught; felt that though enfeebled I was not ill,

and determined that to none but you would I impart this vision. Now

sir, tell me who and what that woman was?'

   'The creature of an over-stimulated brain; that is certain. I

must be careful of you, my treasure: nerves like yours were not made

for rough handling.'

   'Sir, depend on it, my nerves were not in fault; the thing was

real: the transaction actually took place.'

   'And your previous dreams, were they real too? Is Thornfield Hall a

ruin? Am I severed from you by insuperable obstacles? Am I leaving you

without a tear- without a kiss- without a word?'

   'Not yet.'

   'Am I about to do it? Why, the day is already commenced which is to

bind us indissolubly; and when we are once united, there shall be no

recurrence of these mental terrors: I guarantee that.'

   'Mental terrors, sir! I wish I could believe them to be only

such: I wish it more now than ever; since even you cannot explain to

me the mystery of that awful visitant.'

   'And since I cannot do it, Jane, it must have been unreal.'

   'But, sir, when I said so to myself on rising this morning, and

when I looked round the room to gather courage and comfort from the

cheerful aspect of each familiar object in full daylight, there- on

the carpet- I saw what gave the distinct lie to my hypothesis,- the

veil, torn from top to bottom in two halves!'

   I felt Mr. Rochester start and shudder; he hastily flung his arms

round me. 'Thank God!' he exclaimed, 'that if anything malignant did

come near you last night, it was only the veil that was harmed. Oh, to

think what might have happened!'

   He drew his breath short, and strained me so close to him, I

could scarcely pant. After some minutes' silence, he continued,


   'Now, Janet, I'll explain to you all about it. It was half dream,

half reality. A woman did, I doubt not, enter your room: and that

woman was- must have been- Grace Poole. You call her a strange being

yourself: from all you know, you have reason so to call her- what

did she do to me? what to Mason? In a state between sleeping and

waking, you noticed her entrance and her actions; but feverish, almost

delirious as you were, you ascribed to her a goblin appearance

different from her own: the long dishevelled hair, the swelled black

face, the exaggerated stature, were figments of imagination; results

of nightmare: the spiteful tearing of the veil was real: and it is

like her. I see you would ask why I keep such a woman in my house:

when we have been married a year and a day, I will tell you; but not

now. Are you satisfied, Jane? Do you accept my solution of the


   I reflected, and in truth it appeared to me the only possible

one: satisfied I was not, but to please him I endeavoured to appear

so- relieved, I certainly did feel; so I answered him with a contented

smile. And now, as it was long past one, I prepared to leave him.

   'Does not Sophie sleep with Adele in the nursery?' he asked, as I

lit my candle.

   'Yes, sir.'

   'And there is room enough in Adele's little bed for you. You must

share it with her to-night, Jane: it is no wonder that the incident

you have related should make you nervous, and I would rather you did

not sleep alone: promise me to go to the nursery.'

   'I shall be very glad to do so, sir.'

   'And fasten the door securely on the inside. Wake Sophie when you

go upstairs, under pretence of requesting her to rouse you in good

time to-morrow; for you must be dressed and have finished breakfast

before eight. And now, no more sombre thoughts: chase dull care

away, Janet. Don't you hear to what soft whispers the wind has fallen?

and there is no more beating of rain against the window-panes: look

here' (he lifted up the curtain)- 'it is a lovely night!'

   It was. Half heaven was pure and stainless: the clouds, now

trooping before the wind, which had shifted to the west, were filing

off eastward in long, silvered columns. The moon shone peacefully.

   'Well,' said Mr. Rochester, gazing inquiringly into my eyes, 'how

is my Janet now?'

   'The night is serene, sir; and so am I.'

   'And you will not dream of separation and sorrow to-night; but of

happy love and blissful union.'

   This prediction was but half fulfilled: I did not indeed dream of

sorrow, but as little did I dream of joy; for I never slept at all.

With little Adele in my arms, I watched the slumber of childhood- so

tranquil, so passionless, so innocent- and waited for the coming

day: all my life was awake and astir in my frame: and as soon as the

sun rose I rose too. I remember Adele clung to me as I left her: I

remember I kissed her as I loosened her little hands from my neck; and

I cried over her with strange emotion, and quitted her because I

feared my sobs would break her still sound repose. She seemed the

emblem of my past life; and he I was now to array myself to meet,

the dread, but adored, type of my unknown future day.

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