Jane Eyre HTML version

Chapter 14
For several subsequent days I saw little of Mr. Rochester. In the mornings he
seemed much engaged with business, and, in the afternoon, gentlemen from
Millcote or the neighbourhood called, and sometimes stayed to dine with him.
When his sprain was well enough to admit of horse exercise, he rode out a good
deal; probably to return these visits, as he generally did not come back till late at
During this interval, even Adele was seldom sent for to his presence, and all my
acquaintance with him was confined to an occasional rencontre in the hall, on the
stairs, or in the gallery, when he would sometimes pass me haughtily and coldly,
just acknowledging my presence by a distant nod or a cool glance, and
sometimes bow and smile with gentlemanlike affability. His changes of mood did
not offend me, because I saw that I had nothing to do with their alternation; the
ebb and flow depended on causes quite disconnected with me.
One day he had had company to dinner, and had sent for my portfolio; in order,
doubtless, to exhibit its contents: the gentlemen went away early, to attend a
public meeting at Millcote, as Mrs. Fairfax informed me; but the night being wet
and inclement, Mr. Rochester did not accompany them. Soon after they were
gone he rang the bell: a message came that I and Adele were to go downstairs. I
brushed Adele's hair and made her neat, and having ascertained that I was
myself in my usual Quaker trim, where there was nothing to retouch-- all being
too close and plain, braided locks included, to admit of disarrangement--we
descended, Adele wondering whether the petit coffre was at length come; for,
owing to some mistake, its arrival had hitherto been delayed. She was gratified:
there it stood, a little carton, on the table when we entered the dining-room. She
appeared to know it by instinct.
"Ma boîte! ma boîte!" exclaimed she, running towards it.
"Yes, there is your 'boîte' at last: take it into a corner, you genuine daughter of
Paris, and amuse yourself with disembowelling it," said the deep and rather
sarcastic voice of Mr. Rochester, proceeding from the depths of an immense
easy-chair at the fireside. "And mind," he continued, "don't bother me with any
details of the anatomical process, or any notice of the condition of the entrails: let
your operation be conducted in silence: tiens-toi tranquille, enfant; comprends-
Adele seemed scarcely to need the warning--she had already retired to a sofa
with her treasure, and was busy untying the cord which secured the lid. Having
removed this impediment, and lifted certain silvery envelopes of tissue paper,
she merely exclaimed -
"Oh ciel! Que c'est beau!" and then remained absorbed in ecstatic contemplation.
"Is Miss Eyre there?" now demanded the master, half rising from his seat to look
round to the door, near which I still stood.
"Ah! well, come forward; be seated here." He drew a chair near his own. "I am
not fond of the prattle of children," he continued; "for, old bachelor as I am, I have
no pleasant associations connected with their lisp. It would be intolerable to me