A new chapter in a novel is something like a new scene in a play; and when I
draw up the curtain this time, reader, you must fancy you see a room in the
George Inn at Millcote, with such large figured papering on the walls as inn
rooms have; such a carpet, such furniture, such ornaments on the mantelpiece,
such prints, including a portrait of George the Third, and another of the Prince of
Wales, and a representation of the death of Wolfe. All this is visible to you by the
light of an oil lamp hanging from the ceiling, and by that of an excellent fire, near
which I sit in my cloak and bonnet; my muff and umbrella lie on the table, and I
am warming away the numbness and chill contracted by sixteen hours' exposure
to the rawness of an October day: I left Lowton at four o'clock a.m., and the
Millcote town clock is now just striking eight.
Reader, though I look comfortably accommodated, I am not very tranquil in my
mind. I thought when the coach stopped here there would be some one to meet
me; I looked anxiously round as I descended the wooden steps the "boots"
placed for my convenience, expecting to hear my name pronounced, and to see
some description of carriage waiting to convey me to Thornfield. Nothing of the
sort was visible; and when I asked a waiter if any one had been to inquire after a
Miss Eyre, I was answered in the negative: so I had no resource but to request to
be shown into a private room: and here I am waiting, while all sorts of doubts and
fears are troubling my thoughts.
It is a very strange sensation to inexperienced youth to feel itself quite alone in
the world, cut adrift from every connection, uncertain whether the port to which it
is bound can be reached, and prevented by many impediments from returning to
that it has quitted. The charm of adventure sweetens that sensation, the glow of
pride warms it; but then the throb of fear disturbs it; and fear with me became
predominant when half-an-hour elapsed and still I was alone. I bethought myself
to ring the bell.
"Is there a place in this neighbourhood called Thornfield?" I asked of the waiter
who answered the summons.
"Thornfield? I don't know, ma'am; I'll inquire at the bar." He vanished, but
reappeared instantly -
"Is your name Eyre, Miss?"
"Person here waiting for you."
I jumped up, took my muff and umbrella, and hastened into the inn- passage: a
man was standing by the open door, and in the lamp-lit street I dimly saw a one-
"This will be your luggage, I suppose?" said the man rather abruptly when he
saw me, pointing to my trunk in the passage.
"Yes." He hoisted it on to the vehicle, which was a sort of car, and then I got in;
before he shut me up, I asked him how far it was to Thornfield.
"A matter of six miles."