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 confidence.
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.