Jane Eyre HTML version

Chapter 16
I both wished and feared to see Mr. Rochester on the day which followed this
sleepless night: I wanted to hear his voice again, yet feared to meet his eye.
During the early part of the morning, I momentarily expected his coming; he was
not in the frequent habit of entering the schoolroom, but he did step in for a few
minutes sometimes, and I had the impression that he was sure to visit it that day.
But the morning passed just as usual: nothing happened to interrupt the quiet
course of Adele's studies; only soon after breakfast, I heard some bustle in the
neighbourhood of Mr. Rochester's chamber, Mrs. Fairfax's voice, and Leah's, and
the cook's--that is, John's wife--and even John's own gruff tones. There were
exclamations of "What a mercy master was not burnt in his bed!" "It is always
dangerous to keep a candle lit at night." "How providential that he had presence
of mind to think of the water-jug!" "I wonder he waked nobody!" "It is to be hoped
he will not take cold with sleeping on the library sofa," &c.
To much confabulation succeeded a sound of scrubbing and setting to rights;
and when I passed the room, in going downstairs to dinner, I saw through the
open door that all was again restored to complete order; only the bed was
stripped of its hangings. Leah stood up in the window-seat, rubbing the panes of
glass dimmed with smoke. I was about to address her, for I wished to know what
account had been given of the affair: but, on advancing, I saw a second person in
the chamber--a woman sitting on a chair by the bedside, and sewing rings to new
curtains. That woman was no other than Grace Poole.
There she sat, staid and taciturn-looking, as usual, in her brown stuff gown, her
check apron, white handkerchief, and cap. She was intent on her work, in which
her whole thoughts seemed absorbed: on her hard forehead, and in her
commonplace features, was nothing either of the paleness or desperation one
would have expected to see marking the countenance of a woman who had
attempted murder, and whose intended victim had followed her last night to her
lair, and (as I believed), charged her with the crime she wished to perpetrate. I
was amazed--confounded. She looked up, while I still gazed at her: no start, no
increase or failure of colour betrayed emotion, consciousness of guilt, or fear of
detection. She said "Good morning, Miss," in her usual phlegmatic and brief
manner; and taking up another ring and more tape, went on with her sewing.
"I will put her to some test," thought I: "such absolute impenetrability is past
"Good morning, Grace," I said. "Has anything happened here? I thought I heard
the servants all talking together a while ago."
"Only master had been reading in his bed last night; he fell asleep with his candle
lit, and the curtains got on fire; but, fortunately, he awoke before the bed-clothes
or the wood-work caught, and contrived to quench the flames with the water in
the ewer.
"A strange affair!" I said, in a low voice: then, looking at her fixedly--"Did Mr.
Rochester wake nobody? Did no one hear him move?"