#JaneEyreFF Rereading Jane Eyre in #FlashFiction #Chapter17 Part 2 #VictorianFiction #CharlotteBronte ‘Upset and belittled by Mr Rochester and his distinguished guests’

Jane Eyre in Flash Fiction Chapter XVII Part Two

The evening I was upset and belittled by Mr Rochester and his distinguished guests

It was with some trepidation that I perceived the hour approach when I was to join the party in the drawing-room enter repair with Adele, who had been in a state of ecstasy all day. Sophie dressed her in a pink satin frock with a sash and arranged her curls in drooping clusters.

I wore my best dress (the silver-grey one, purchased for Miss Temple’s wedding, and never worn since), smoothed my hair and attached the pearl brooch, my sole ornament.

When we descended to the drawing-room, it was vacant; they were still seated at dinner. Adele sat on the footstool while I retired to a window-seat, and taking a book from a table near endeavoured to read.

The curtain was swept back from the arch and eight tall ladies, many dressed in white, flocked in. I rose and curtseyed; one or two bent their heads in return, the others only stared at me.

They dispersed about the room, moving like a flock of white plumy birds. Mrs. Eshton, a handsome woman and two of her daughters, Amy and Louisa. Lady Lynn was a large, haughty-looking, stout woman of about forty, richly dressed in a satin robe and a band of gems. Mrs. Dent was less showy; but, I thought, more lady-like. She had a slight figure, a pale, gentle face, and fair hair. But the three most distinguished and the loftiest of stature were the Dowager Lady Ingram, a splendid woman for her age, and her daughters, Blanche and Mary, both attired in spotless white.

Lady Ingram had a fierce and a hard eye: it reminded me of Mrs. Reed’s. Her voice was deep, its inflections very pompous, very dogmatical,—very intolerable, in short. I regarded Blanche with special interest to see whether her appearance was such as I should fancy, likely to suit Mr. Rochester’s taste.

Her face was like her mother’s; the same low brow, high features, and same pride. She laughed continually; her laugh was satirical, and so was the habitual expression of her arched and haughty lip. She played on Mrs Dent’s ignorance of botany in a manner that was decidedly not good-natured. She played the piano and sang with a fine voice and she talked French apart to her mamma, with fluency and a good accent. Most gentlemen would admire her.

Adele rose, advanced to meet them, made a stately reverence, and said, ‘Bon jour, mesdames.’

Miss Ingram had looked down at her with a mocking air, and exclaimed, ‘Oh, what a little puppet!’

Lady Lynn had remarked, ‘It is Mr. Rochester’s ward, I suppose—the little French girl he was speaking of.’

Mrs. Dent had kindly taken her hand and given her a kiss.

Amy and Louisa Eshton had cried out simultaneously— ‘What a love of a child!’

And then they had called her to a sofa, where she now sat, ensconced between them, chattering alternately in French and broken English; absorbing the ladies’ attention and getting spoilt to her heart’s content.

The collective appearance of the gentlemen, all costumed in black, was impressive. Henry and Frederick Lynn were very dashing sparks indeed; and Colonel Dent was a fine soldierly man. Mr. Eshton, the magistrate of the district, was gentleman-like with white hair and dark eyebrows and whiskers. Lord Ingram, like his sisters, was very tall and handsome; but he shared Mary’s apathetic and listless look.

Mr Rochester came in last. I tried to concentrate my attention on my netting-needles, but distinctly beheld his figure, and inevitably recalled the moment when I last saw him, holding my hand, and surveying me with eyes that revealed a heart full and eager to overflow. Yet now, we were so far estranged, that I did not expect him to come and speak to me. He took a seat at the other side of the room and began conversing with some of the ladies.

I had an acute pleasure at gazing at him without being observed, like what the thirst-perishing man might feel who knows the well to which he has crept is poisoned, yet stoops and drinks divine draughts nevertheless.

Most true is it that ‘beauty is in the eye of the gazer.’ My master’s colourless, olive face, square, massive brow, broad and jetty eyebrows, deep eyes, strong features, firm, grim mouth,—all energy, decision, will,—were not beautiful, according to rule; but they were more than beautiful to me. I had not intended to love him; the reader knows I had wrought hard to extirpate from my soul the germs of love there detected; and now, at the first renewed view of him, they spontaneously arrived, green and strong! He made me love him without looking at me.

I saw Mr. Rochester smile:- his stern features softened; his eye grew both brilliant and gentle, its ray both searching and sweet. He was talking to Louisa and Amy Eshton. ‘He is not to them what he is to me,’ I thought: ‘he is not of their kind. I believe he is of mine;—I am sure he is—I feel akin to him; I understand the language of his countenance and movements: though rank and wealth sever us widely, I have something in my brain and heart, in my blood and nerves, that assimilates me mentally to him.

I knew I should conceal my sentiments. I must remember that he cannot care much for me:- and yet, while I breathe and think, I must love him.

Blanche Ingram is standing alone at the table, waiting to be sought; but she will not wait too long. Mr. Rochester stands on the hearth as solitary as she stands by the table: she confronts him, taking her station on the opposite side of the mantel- piece.

‘Mr. Rochester, I thought you were not fond of children?’

‘Nor am I.’

‘Then, what induced you to take charge of such a little doll as that?’ (pointing to Adele). ‘Where did you pick her up?’

‘I did not pick her up; she was left in my hands.’

‘You should have sent her to school.’

‘I could not afford it: schools are so dear.’

‘Why, I suppose you have a governess for her: I saw a person with her just now—is she gone? Oh, no! there she is still, behind the window-curtain. You pay her, of course, and you have them both to keep in addition.’

‘I have not considered the subject,’ said he indifferently, looking straight before him.

‘No, you men never do consider economy and common sense. Mary and I have had, I should think, a dozen at least in our day; half of them detestable and the rest ridiculous, were they not, mama?’

‘My dearest, don’t mention governesses. I have suffered a martyrdom from their incompetency and caprice. I thank Heaven I have now done with them!’

Mrs. Dent whispered something in her ear; I supposed, from the answer elicited, it was a reminder that one of the anathematised race was present.

‘I noticed her; I am a judge of physiognomy, and in hers I see all the faults of her class.’

‘What are they, madam?’ inquired Mr. Rochester aloud.

 ‘Ask Blanche; she is nearer you than I.’

‘Oh, don’t refer him to me, mama! I have just one word to say of the whole tribe; they are a nuisance. Not that I ever suffered much from them; I took care to turn the tables. We played tricks on ours. Theodore, do you remember those merry days?’

‘Yes, to be sure I do,’ drawled Lord Ingram.

‘No more need be said: I move the introduction of a new topic. Mr. Rochester, do you second my motion?’

‘Madam, I support you on this point, as on every other.’

‘Eduardo, are you in voice to-night?’

‘Donna Bianca, if you command it, I will be.’

She tossed her head with all its curls, as she moved to the piano, where she had now seated herself with proud grace.

‘Mr. Rochester, now sing, and I will play for you.’

‘I am all obedience,’ was the response.

‘Take care, then: if you don’t please me, I will shame you by showing how such things SHOULD be done.’

‘Now is my time to slip away,’ thought I: but the tones that then severed the air arrested me. Mr. Rochester possessed a fine voice: a mellow, powerful bass, into which he threw his own feeling, his own force; finding a way through the ear to the heart, and there waking sensation strangely. I waited till the last deep and full vibration had expired and then I quitted my sheltered corner and made my exit by the side-door.

Thence a narrow passage led into the hall: in crossing it, I stopped to tie my sandal on the mat at the foot of the staircase. I heard the dining-room door unclose; a gentleman came out; rising hastily, I stood face to face with him: it was Mr. Rochester.

‘How do you do?’ he asked.

‘I am very well, sir.’

‘Why did you not come and speak to me in the room?’

‘I did not wish to disturb you, as you seemed engaged, sir.’

‘What have you been doing during my absence?’

‘Nothing particular; teaching Adele as usual.’

‘And getting a good deal paler than you were—as I saw at first sight. What is the matter?’

‘Nothing at all, sir.’

‘Did you take any cold that night you half drowned me?’

‘Not she least.’

‘Return to the drawing-room: you are deserting too early.’

‘I am tired, sir.’

He looked at me for a minute.

‘And a little depressed,’ he said. ‘What about? Tell me.’

‘I am not depressed.’

‘But I affirm that you are so much depressed that a few more words would bring tears to your eyes—indeed, they are there now, shining and swimming. Well, to-night I excuse you; but understand that so long as my visitors stay, I expect you to appear in the drawing-room every evening; it is my wish; don’t neglect it. Now go. Send Sophie for Adele. Goodnight, my—‘ He stopped, bit his lip, and abruptly left me.

*****

Jane feels anxious about spending time with Mr Rochester’s distinguished guests in the drawing room. She knows her position in the household is barely above a servant’s. She feels inadequate next to the elegantly dressed and gemmed guests.

She admits to the reader that she is hopelessly in love with her employer, although she’s convinced that he has no feelings for her.

She has a dreadful evening, hiding by the window, being ignored and ridiculed and watching Blanche Ingram flirt with Mr Rochester, who appears to follow her lead.

There is a great deal of angst in this part of the chapter. The reader feels sympathy for Jane and understands her unease and emotional distress. We are also wondering how she could ever fit into Rochester’s world, even if he ever asked her to be part of it. The rigidness, hypocrisy and cruelty of Victorian society seems to point to a dead end for our protagonist. She will always be a poor governess in their eyes.

Mr Rochester’s behaviour is cruel. He ignores her while she’s in the room, teases her when he follows her out into the corridor, and finally insists that she should return to the drawing room every evening while his friends are at Thornfield.

Jane is upset and we can imagine that she’s going to cry her heart out in her room.

All the happiness and independence she had gained at Thornfield has dissolved and turned into misery. Poor Jane feels as excluded and destitute as she did when she was an unloved and bullied child at Gateshead.

Where will Jane go from here? Will she leave Thornfield at once, or will she stand up for herself? Is Mr Rochester interested in Blanche? Why is he adamant to make Jane suffer the criticism of his tactless and haughty guests?

Find out next week in chapter XVIII.

The summary is based on the free ebook by planet books which you can find here.

I’ll be posting a chapter of Jane Eyre in flash fiction every Friday. If you’re wondering why, read all about it here.

If you’d you’d like to Reread Jane Eyre with me, visit my blog every Friday for #JaneEyreFF posts.

See you next week for part two of chapter 18.

Images from Pixabay

#JaneEyreFF Rereading Jane Eyre in #FlashFiction #Chapter17 Part 1 #VictorianFiction #CharlotteBronte ‘Blanche Ingram arrives at Thornfield Hall’

Jane Eyre in Flash Fiction Chapter XVII Part One

My First glimpse of Blanche Ingram and Mr Rochester’s Elegant Guests

Ten days passed, and Mr Rochester had still not returned. When Mrs. Fairfax said he had frequently quitted in an abrupt and unexpected manner to travel to London and thence to the continent, I felt a sickening sense of disappointment. But rallying my wits, and recollecting my principles, I at once called my sensations to order, saying to myself, ‘You have nothing to do with the master of Thornfield., further than to receive the salary he gives you for teaching his protégé. Don’t make him the object of your fine feelings. He is not of your order; be too self-respecting to lavish your love where such a gift is not wanted.’

I went on with my day’s business tranquilly. Vague suggestions wandered across my brain of reasons why I should quit Thornfield.

Mr. Rochester had been absent upwards of a fortnight when Mrs Fairfax received a letter from the master.

‘Mr. Rochester is not likely to return soon, I suppose?’ I asked nonchalantly.

 ‘Indeed, he is—in three days, next Thursday, on time for dinner at six. He sends directions for all the best bedrooms to be prepared; and the library and drawing-rooms are to be cleaned out; I am to get more kitchen hands from the George Inn, at Millcote, and from wherever else I can; and the ladies will bring their maids and the gentlemen their valets: so we shall have a full house of it.’

The three days were, as she had foretold, busy enough. Three women were got to help; and such scrubbing, such brushing, such washing of paint and beating of carpets, such taking down and putting up of pictures, such polishing of mirrors and lustres, such lighting of fires in bedrooms, such airing of sheets and featherbeds on hearths, I never beheld, either before or since.

Adele ran quite wild in the midst of it: the preparations for company and the prospect of their arrival seemed to throw her into ecstasies. From school duties she was exonerated: Mrs. Fairfax had pressed me into her service, and I was all day in the storeroom, helping her and the cook; learning to make custards and cheesecakes and French pastry, to truss game and garnish desert-dishes.

During the intervening period I had no time to nurse chimeras; and I believe I was as active and gay as anybody.

Still, now and then, I received a damping check to my cheerfulness; and was, in spite of myself, thrown back on the region of doubts and portents and dark conjectures.

This was when I chanced to see the third-storey staircase door (which of late had always been kept locked) open slowly and give passage to the form of Grace Poole. She would descend to the kitchen once a day, only for an hour, eat her dinner, smoke a moderate pipe on the hearth, and go back, carrying her pot of porter with her, for her private solace, in her own gloomy, upper haunt, as companionless as a prisoner in his dungeon. The strangest thing of all was that not a soul in the house discussed her employment or pitied her isolation. I once overheard part of a dialogue between Leah and one of the charwomen.

‘She gets good wages, I guess?’

‘Yes,’ said Leah; ‘I wish I had as good; not that mine are to complain of,—there’s no stinginess at Thornfield; but they’re not one fifth of the sum Mrs. Poole receives. I should not wonder but she has saved enough to keep her independent if she liked to leave; but I suppose she’s got used to the place; and then she’s not forty yet, and strong and able for anything. It is too soon for her to give up business.’

‘She is a good hand, I daresay,’ said the charwoman. ‘Ah!—she understands what she has to do,—nobody better,’ replied Leah significantly; ‘and it is not everyone could fill her shoes—not for all the money she gets.’

‘That it is not!’ was the reply. ‘I wonder whether the master—’

Here Leah turned and perceived me, and she instantly gave her companion a nudge.

‘Doesn’t she know?’ I heard the woman whisper.

Leah shook her head, and the conversation was, of course, dropped. I gathered from their conversation that there was a mystery at Thornfield; and that from participation in that mystery, I was purposely excluded.

Thursday afternoon arrived; it was drawing to an end now; but the evening was even warm, and I sat at work in the schoolroom with the window open. It had been one of those spring days which, towards the end of March or the beginning of April, rise shining over the earth as heralds of summer.

‘It gets late,’ said Mrs. Fairfax, who had assumed her best black satin gown, her gloves, and her gold watch; for it was her part to receive the company. I had allowed Sophie to apparel Adele in one of her short, full muslin frocks. For myself, I had no need to make any change; I should not be called upon to quit my schoolroom, which had become a pleasant refuge in time of trouble.’

‘They’ll be here in ten minutes,’ said John.

Adele flew to the window. I followed, taking care to stand on one side, so that, screened by the curtain, I could see without being seen.

At last wheels were heard; four equestrians galloped up the drive, and after them came two open carriages. Fluttering veils and waving plumes filled the vehicles; two of the cavaliers were young, dashing-looking gentlemen; the third was Mr. Rochester, on his black horse, Mesrour, Pilot bounding before him; at his side rode a lady, and he and she were the first of the party. Her purple riding-habit almost swept the ground, her veil streamed long on the breeze; mingling with its transparent folds, and gleaming through them, shone rich raven ringlets.

‘Miss Ingram!’ exclaimed Mrs. Fairfax, and away she hurried to her post below.

Adele petitioned to go down; but I must not on any account think of venturing in sight of the ladies, either now or at any other time, unless expressly sent for.

A joyous stir was now audible in the hall: gentlemen’s deep tones and ladies’ silvery accents blent harmoniously together, and distinguishable above all, though not loud, was the sonorous voice of the master of Thornfield Hall, welcoming his fair and gallant guests under its roof. Then light steps ascended the stairs; and there was a tripping through the gallery, and soft cheerful laughs, and opening and closing doors, and, for a time, a hush.

‘Don’t you feel hungry, Adele?’

‘Mais oui, mademoiselle: voile cinq ou six heures que nous n’avons pas mange.’

‘Well now, while the ladies are in their rooms, I will venture down and get you something to eat.’

And issuing from my asylum with precaution, I sought a backstair which conducted directly to the kitchen. All in that region was fire and commotion, with servants bustling about everywhere. Threading this chaos, I at last reached the larder; there I took possession of a cold chicken, a roll of bread, some tarts, a plate or two and a knife and fork: with this booty I made a hasty retreat.

I had regained the gallery, which, being windowless, was dark: quite dark now, for the sun was set and twilight gathering. The guests stood grouped together at the other extremity of the gallery, conversing in a key of sweet, subdued vivacity before descending the staircase. Their collective appearance had left on me an impression of high-born elegance, such as I had never received.

Adele peeped through the schoolroom door, which she held ajar. ‘What beautiful ladies!’ cried she in English. ‘Oh, I wish I might go to them! Do you think Mr. Rochester will send for us by- and-bye, after dinner?’

‘No, indeed, I don’t; Mr. Rochester has something else to think about. Never mind the ladies to-night; perhaps you will see them to-morrow: here is your dinner.’

 I allowed Adele to sit up much later than usual; for she declared she could not possibly go to sleep while the doors kept opening and shutting below, and people bustling about.

When the evening was far advanced, a sound of music issued from the drawing-room. A lady who sang to the piano, a duet followed, and then a glee and joyous conversational murmur filled up the intervals. At eleven I carried Adele off to bed. It was near one before the gentlemen and ladies sought their chambers.

The next day was as fine as its predecessor and the party set off to an excursion early in the forenoon, some on horseback, the rest in carriages; I witnessed both the departure and the return. Miss Ingram, as before, was the only lady equestrian; and, as before, Mr. Rochester galloped at her side; the two rode a little apart from the rest. I pointed out this circumstance to Mrs. Fairfax.

‘You said it was not likely they should think of being married,’ said I, ‘but you see Mr. Rochester evidently prefers her to any of the other ladies.’

‘Yes, I daresay: no doubt he admires her.’

‘And she him,’ I added; ‘look how she leans her head towards him as if she were conversing confidentially; I wish I could see her face; I have never had a glimpse of it yet.’

‘You will see her this evening,’ answered Mrs. Fairfax. ‘I remarked to Mr. Rochester how much Adele wished to be introduced to the ladies, and he said: ‘Oh! let her come into the drawing-room after dinner; and request Miss Eyre to accompany her.’’

‘Yes; he said that from mere politeness: I need not go, I am sure,’ I answered.

 ‘Well, I observed to him that as you were unused to company, I did not think you would like appearing before so gay a party—all strangers; and he replied, in his quick way—‘Nonsense! If she objects, tell her it is my wish; and if she resists, say I shall come and fetch her in case of contumacy.’’

‘I will not give him that trouble,’ I answered. ‘I will go, if no better may be; but I don’t like it. Shall you be there, Mrs. Fairfax?’

‘No; I pleaded off, and he admitted my plea. I’ll tell you how to avoid the embarrassment of making a formal entrance, which is the most disagreeable part of the business. You must go into the drawing-room while it is empty, before the ladies leave the dinner-table; choose your seat in any quiet nook you like; you need not stay long after the gentlemen come in, unless you please: just let Mr. Rochester see you are there and then slip away—nobody will notice you.’

‘Will these people remain long, do you think?’

‘Perhaps two or three weeks, certainly not more.”

It was with some trepidation that I perceived the hour approach when I was to repair with my charge to the drawing-room.

****

This chapter starts with Jane’s angst because Mr Rochester left without a word, and according to Mrs Fairfax, he may not return for another year, as has happened on other occasions.

Jane is still curious about Mrs Poole, who Jane observes spends one hour a day downstairs and 23 in her room on the third storey. She also finds out there is a secret related to Mrs Poole and Thornfield by overhearing the end of a conversation between Leah and one of the new maids brought in for the guests.

‘Leah shook her head, and the conversation was, of course, dropped. I gathered from their conversation that there was a mystery at Thornfield; and that from participation in that mystery, I was purposely excluded.’

However, Jane investigates no further and soon receives news of Mr Rochester’s imminent return with a host of wealthy and distinguished guests. Jane observes them in awe from the schoolroom and a hidden corder in the corridor. She hides in the staircase with Adele to listen to their merry-making in the drawing-room in the evening. Once again Jane is as excluded from any type of enjoyment as she was at Gateshead with her aunt and cousins.

Jane also observes that Mr Rochester is spending is spending a lot of time with Blanche Ingram, whom he obviously favours over the other eligible young ladies.

Jane is unpleasantly surprised when Mrs Fairfax tells her that Mr Rochester insists Jane and Adele should be present in the drawing-room that evening.

Jane will come face to face with Blanche and all the other affluent visitors. How will she feel and react? Why does Mr Rochester want her to interact with his guests? Is it a test? Does he wish to humiliate her?

The plot thickens! See you next week for chapter XVII Part 2.

The summary is based on the free ebook by planet books which you can find here.

I’ll be posting a chapter of Jane Eyre in flash fiction every Friday. If you’re wondering why, read all about it here.

If you’d you’d like to Reread Jane Eyre with me, visit my blog every Friday for #JaneEyreFF posts.

See you next week for part two of chapter 17. 

Images from Pixabay

#JaneEyreFF Rereading Jane Eyre in #FlashFiction #Chapter15 Part I #VictorianFiction #CharlotteBronte ‘Who was Adele Varens’s Father?’

Jane Eyre in Flash Fiction Chapter XV Part I

How I Discovered Adele Varens’ Background

One afternoon, when Mr Rochester chanced to meet me and Adele in the grounds: and while she played with Pilot and her shuttlecock, he asked me to walk along the beech avenue and told me she was the daughter of a French opera-dancer.

‘I cherished such a ‘grande passion’ for her mother, Céline Varens that I installed her in an hotel and behaved like a spoony, giving her a complete establishment of servants, a carriage, cashmeres, and diamonds. Until I happened to call one evening when she did not expect me. It was a warm night, so I stepped out on to the balcony, sat down, and took out a cigar,—I will take one now, if you will excuse me.’

Here ensued a pause.

‘I watched the equipages that rolled along the fashionable streets towards the neighbouring opera-house, when I recognised the ‘voiture’ I had given Celine. My flame (that is the very word for an opera inamorata) alighted and a figure jumped from the carriage after her.’

He turned to me and continued.

‘You never felt jealousy, did you, Miss Eyre? Of course not: I need not ask you; because you never felt love. You have both sentiments yet to experience: your soul sleeps; the shock is yet to be given which shall waken it. You will come to a craggy pass in the channel, where the whole of life’s stream will be broken up into whirl and tumult.’

He looked up to the sky.

‘I like that sky of steel; the sternness and stillness of the world under this frost. I like Thornfield, its antiquity, its retirement, its old crow-trees and thorn trees, its grey facade, and lines of dark windows reflecting that metal welkin: and yet how long have I abhorred the very thought of it, shunned it like a great plague-house.’

He lifted his eye to the battlements, ground his teeth and was silent. Pain, shame, ire, impatience, disgust, detestation, seemed momentarily to hold a quivering conflict in the large pupil dilating under his ebon eyebrow.

Adele here ran before him with her shuttlecock. ‘keep at a distance, child,” he cried harshly.

‘Did you leave the balcony, when Mdlle. Varens entered?’ I asked.

‘Oh, I had forgotten Celine! Well, to resume. When I saw my charmer thus come in accompanied by a cavalier, the green snake of jealousy, rising on undulating coils from the moonlit balcony, glided within my waistcoat, and ate its way in two minutes to my heart’s core. Strange that I should choose you for the confidant of all this, young lady; passing strange that you should listen to me quietly, as if it were the most usual thing in the world for a man like me to tell stories of his opera-mistresses to a quaint, inexperienced girl like you! But I know I am confessing to a unique mind. I do not mean to harm it. The more you and I converse, the better; for while I cannot blight you, you may refresh me.’

He proceeded with his tale.

‘I remained in the balcony. ‘I drew the curtain over the open window, leaving an opening through which I could take observations. Celine’s chamber-maid entered, lit a lamp, left it on the table, and withdrew. The couple removed their cloaks and I recognised him as the a brainless and vicious youth whom I had sometimes met in society, the fang of the snake Jealousy was instantly broken; because at the same moment my love for Celine sank under an extinguisher. A woman who could betray me for such a rival was not worth contending for; she deserved only scorn; less, however, than I, who had been her dupe.

‘Their frivolous, mercenary, heartless, and senseless, conversation was wearisome. Then they insulted me as coarsely as they could. Celine pointed out my personal defects and physical deformities.’

Adele here came running up again.

‘Monsieur, John has just been to say that your agent has called and wishes to see you.’

‘Ah! in that case I must abridge. I opened the window, walked in upon them; liberated Celine from my protection; gave her notice to vacate her hotel; offered her a purse for immediate exigencies; disregarded screams, hysterics, prayers, protestations, convulsions; made an appointment with the vicomte for a meeting at the Bois de Boulogne. Next morning, I had the pleasure of leaving a bullet in one of his arms. But unluckily the Varens, six months before, had given me this filette Adele, who, she affirmed, was my daughter; and perhaps she may be, though I see no proofs of such grim paternity written in her countenance: Pilot is more like me than she. Some years after I had broken with the mother, she abandoned her child, and ran away to Italy with a musician or singer. I acknowledged no natural claim on Adele’s part to be supported by me, nor do I now acknowledge any, for I am not her father; but hearing that she was quite destitute, I took the poor thing out of the slime and mud of Paris, and transplanted it here, to grow up clean in the wholesome soil of an English country garden. Mrs. Fairfax found you to train it; but now you know that it is the illegitimate offspring of a French opera- girl, you will perhaps think differently of your post and protegee: you will be coming to me some day with notice that you have found another employment.’

‘No: Adele is not answerable for either her mother’s faults or yours: I have a regard for her; and now that I know she has been forsaken by her mother and disowned by you, sir, I shall cling closer to her than before. How could I possibly prefer the spoilt pet of a wealthy family, who would hate her governess as a nuisance, to a lonely little orphan, who leans towards her as a friend?’

After he left I stayed out a few minutes longer with Adele and Pilot. She had inherited a superficiality of character from her mother, hardly congenial to an English mind. I sought in her features a likeness to Mr. Rochester, but found none. It was a pity: if she could but have been proved to resemble him, he would have thought more of her.

****

Chapter XV is very long, so I have divided it into two parts. This is part one, in which Mr Rochester tells Jane about Adele’s mother and his relationship with her. He is partly honest with Jane, telling her that his mistress, Céline, told him he was the girl’s father, but he also describes Céline as unfaithful and claims to doubt his paternity. He says he accepted her as his ward out of pity. He is not fond of Adele and asks her to keep away, while he’s talking to Jane.. Jane is also wondering about his paternity.

Mr Rochester is very clever in his strategy. He convinces Jane of Celine’s unfaithfulness, although he has little proof, and persuades Jane to doubt his paternity. One cannot help wondering if such a selfish and arrogant man would look after a child he suspected was not his.

The next part of the chapter is very exciting. Bertha Mason, the present Mrs Rochester who is confined in the attic at Thornfield Hall, makes a brief appearance and causes havoc at Thornfield Hall. Find out more next week!

The summary is based on the free ebook by planet books which you can find here.

I’ll be posting a chapter of Jane Eyre in flash fiction every Friday. If you’re wondering why, read all about it here.

If you’d you’d like to Reread Jane Eyre with me, visit my blog every Friday for #JaneEyreFF posts.

See you next week for chapter 15 Part II. 

Images from Pixabay

#JaneEyreFF Rereading Jane Eyre in #FlashFiction #Chapter14 #VictorianFiction #CharlotteBronte ‘Mr Rochester Flirts with Miss Eyre, his ward’s Governess!’

Jane Eyre in Flash Fiction Chapter XIV

My Third and Most Peculiar Conversation with Mr Rochester

For several subsequent days I saw little of Mr. Rochester. He would sometimes pass me haughtily and coldly, acknowledging my presence by a distant nod or a cool glance, and sometimes bow and smile with gentlemanlike affability. One day he had company to dinner and sent for my portfolio to exhibit its contents. Soon after his acquaintances left, a message came that Adele and I were summoned to his presence.

Adele was gratified to see a little carton, on the table when we entered the dining-room.

‘Ma boite! ma boite!’ exclaimed she, running towards it.

‘Yes, there is your ‘boite’ at last: take it into a corner, and open it in silence: tiens-toi tranquille, enfant; comprends-tu?’

She untied the cord and exclaimed, ‘Oh ciel! Que c’est beau!’

‘Come forward Miss Eyre; be seated,’ demanded the master, drawing a chair near his own. ‘Don’t draw that chair farther off, Miss Eyre; sit down exactly where I placed it—if you please, that is. Confound these civilities! I continually forget them.”

When Mrs. Fairfax arrived, knitting-basket in hand, he instructed her to entertain Adele and turned to me. “Now, Miss Eyre, draw your chair still a little farther forward: you are yet too far back.”

The dining-room, which had been lit for dinner, filled the room with a festal breadth of light; the large fire was all red and clear. Mr. Rochester sat in his damask-covered chair and looked much less gloomy. He was in his after-dinner mood; more expanded than the frigid and rigid temper of the morning.

‘You examine me, Miss Eyre,’ said he: ‘do you think me handsome?’

The answer slipped from my tongue before I was aware. ‘No, sir.’

‘Ah! By my word! There is something singular about you,’ said he. “What do you mean by such a brusque answer?”

‘Sir, I was too plain; I beg your pardon. I should have said that tastes mostly differ, and beauty is of little consequence, or something of that sort.’

‘You stick a sly penknife under my ear! Go on: what fault do you find with me, pray? I suppose I have all my limbs and all my features like any other man?’

‘Mr. Rochester, allow me to disown my first answer. It was only a blunder.’

‘Criticise me: does my forehead not please you? Am I a fool?’

‘Far from it, sir. You would, perhaps, think me rude if I inquired in return whether you are a philanthropist?’

‘No, young lady, I am not a general philanthropist; but I bear a conscience. I once had a kind of rude tenderness of heart. When I was as old as you, I was a feeling fellow, but Fortune has knocked me about and now I flatter myself I am hard and tough. Does that leave hope for me?’

‘Hope of what, sir?’

‘Of my final re-transformation back to flesh?’

‘Decidedly he has had too much wine,’ I thought; and I did not know what answer to make to his queer question:

‘You looked very much puzzled, Miss Eyre; and though you are not pretty any more than I am handsome, yet a puzzled air becomes you.”

With this announcement he rose from his chair, and stood, leaning his arm on the marble mantelpiece.

‘I am disposed to be gregarious and communicative tonight,’ he repeated, ‘and that is why I sent for you. You puzzled me the first evening I invited you down here. I have almost forgotten you since: other ideas have driven yours from my head; but to-night I am resolved to learn more of you—therefore speak.’

‘What about, sir?’

‘Whatever you like. I leave both the choice of subject and the manner of treating it entirely to yourself.’

I sat and said nothing.

‘You are dumb, Miss Eyre.’

I was dumb still. He bent his head a little towards me, and with a single hasty glance, seemed to dive into my eyes. ‘Stubborn?’ he said, ‘and annoyed. I put my request in an absurd, almost insolent form. Miss Eyre, I beg your pardon. The fact is, once for all, I don’t wish to treat you like an inferior: that is, I claim only such superiority as must result from twenty years’ difference in age and a century’s advance in experience. It is by virtue of this superiority, and this alone, that I desire you to have the goodness to talk to me a little now, and divert my thoughts, which are cankering as a rusty nail.’

I was not insensible to his condescension, which was almost an apology. ‘I am willing to amuse you. Ask me questions, and I will do my best to answer them.’

‘Do you agree with me that I have a right to be masterful, abrupt, and perhaps exacting, on the grounds I have battled through a varied experience with many men of many nations, and roamed over half the globe, while you have lived quietly with one set of people in one house?’

‘Do as you please, sir.’

‘That is no answer. Reply clearly.’

‘I don’t think, sir, you have a right to command me, merely because you are older than I, or because you have seen more of the world than I have; your claim to superiority depends on the use you have made of your time and experience.’

‘Humph! Promptly spoken. Leaving superiority out of the question, then, you must still agree to receive my orders now and then, without being piqued or hurt by the tone of command. Will you?’

I smiled. Mr. Rochester seems to forget that he pays me 30 pounds per annum for receiving his orders.

‘The smile is very well,’ said he, catching instantly the passing expression; ‘but speak too.’

‘I was thinking, sir, that very few masters would trouble themselves to inquire whether or not their paid subordinates were piqued and hurt by their orders.’

‘What! you are my paid subordinate, are you? Oh yes, I had forgotten the salary! Well then, on that mercenary ground, will you agree to let me hector a little?’

‘I am sure, sir, nothing free-born would submit, even for a salary.’

‘Humbug! Most things freeborn will submit to anything for a salary. However, I mentally shake hands with you for your answer, despite its inaccuracy. Not three in three thousand raw school-girl-governesses would have answered me as you have just done. But I don’t mean to flatter you: if you are cast in a different mould to the majority, it is no merit of yours: Nature did it. And yet you may have intolerable defects to counterbalance your few good points.’

‘And so may you,’ I thought. My eye met his as the idea crossed my mind.

‘Yes, yes, you are right,’ said he; ‘I have plenty of faults of my own. I have a past existence. I was thrust on to a wrong tack at the age of one-and-twenty and have never recovered the right course since. I envy you your peace of mind, your clean conscience, your unpolluted memory.”

‘How was your memory when you were eighteen, sir?’

‘I was your equal at eighteen. Nature meant me to be, on the whole, a good man, Miss Eyre, but now I am a commonplace sinner. Remorse is the poison of life.’

‘Repentance is said to be its cure, sir.’

‘Reformation may be its cure; and I could reform, but since happiness is irrevocably denied me, I have a right to get pleasure out of life: and I WILL get it, cost what it may.’

‘Then you will degenerate still more, sir.’

‘Possibly: yet why should I, if I can get sweet, fresh pleasure? And I may get it as sweet and fresh as the wild honey the bee gathers on the moor.’

‘It will sting—it will taste bitter, sir.’

‘How do you know, you have no right to preach to me, you neophyte, that have not passed the porch of life, and are absolutely unacquainted with its mysteries.’

‘I only remind you of your own words, sir: you said error brought remorse, and you pronounced remorse the poison of existence.’

‘Justly thought; rightly said, Miss Eyre. I am laying down good intentions, which I believe durable as flint. Certainly, my associates and pursuits shall be other than they have been.’

He was thoughtful, and I stood to leave.

‘Where are you going?’

‘To put Adele to bed: it is past her bedtime.’

‘You are afraid of me, because I talk like a Sphynx.’

‘Your language is enigmatical, sir: but though I am bewildered, I am certainly not afraid.’

‘You are afraid—your self-love dreads a blunder.’

‘In that sense I do feel apprehensive—I have no wish to talk nonsense.’

‘If you did, it would be in such a grave, quiet manner, I should mistake it for sense. Do you never laugh, Miss Eyre? Don’t trouble yourself to answer—I see you laugh rarely. The Lowood constraint still clings to you somewhat; controlling your features, muffling your voice, and restricting your limbs; and you fear in the presence of a man to smile too gaily, speak too freely, or move too quickly: but, in time, I think you will learn to be natural with me, as I find it impossible to be conventional with you. You are still bent on going?’

‘It has struck nine, sir.’

‘Wait a minute: Adele is not ready to go to bed yet.”

Adele spread out her dress, she chasseed across the room to Mr. Rochester and wheeled lightly round before him on tip-toe, then dropped on one knee at his feet, thanking him for his present and asking, ‘C’est comme cela que maman fai- sait, n’est-ce pas, monsieur?’

‘Precisely!’ was the answer; ‘and, ‘comme cela,’ she charmed my English gold out of my British breeches’ pocket. I have been green, too, Miss Eyre. My Spring is gone, however, but it has left me that French floweret on my hands. I keep it and rear it rather on the Roman Catholic principle of expiating numerous sins, great or small, by one good work. I’ll explain all this some day. Goodnight.’

****

This is Mr Rochester’s third conversation with his ward’s governess, and he is clearly flirting as well as teasing her, in plain sight, while Adele and Mrs Fairfax are in the same room. It is an intense conversation in which he claims to have many regrets about the mistakes of his youth. He says he was thrust onto a wrong tack at twenty-one, and never recovered the right course since.

He claims to ‘lay down good intentions’ as a result of their conversation, and following Jane’s suggestions that repentance is the cure to remorse.

He says Adele’s mother ‘charmed my English gold out of my British breeches’ pocket’, which is a surprisingly vulgar way of describing his ward and Jane’s pupil’s mother.

To a modern reader, he comes across as a typical Byronic hero. That is a pompous, wealthy and privileged, pleasure-seeker. In his own words: “I have a right to get pleasure out of life: and I will get it, cost what it may,” who is trying to impress a naive, eighteen-year-old girl. Jane is obviously attracted to him and interested in ‘saving his soul’, but is he redeemable? And at what cost to Jane?

We shall see in the following chapters.

The summary is based on the free ebook by planet books which you can find here.

I’ll be posting a chapter of Jane Eyre in flash fiction every Friday. If you’re wondering why, read all about it here.

If you’d you’d like to Reread Jane Eyre with me, visit my blog every Friday for #JaneEyreFF posts.

See you next week for chapter 15. 

Images from Pixabay

#JaneEyreFF Rereading Jane Eyre in #FlashFiction #Chapter13 #VictorianFiction #CharlotteBronte Jane and Mr Rochester’s first conversation at Thornfield Hall. Sparks fly!

Jane Eyre in Flash Fiction Chapter XIII

My First Conversation with Mr Rochester

I did not see Mr. Rochester that night. I discerned in the course of the following morning that Thornfield Hall was a changed place I liked better. The outer world was flowing through it with visitors and fresh voices, as Mr. Rochester attended estate business in the library, which we were asked to vacate. We carried our books to an apartment upstairs.  Adele would not sit still or be quiet, imagining which present Mr Rochester had brought her from his travels. “Il y aura le dedans un cadeau pour moi,”

Mrs. Fairfax informed us that Mr. Rochester would be glad if we had tea with him in the drawing-room that evening at six o’clock.

“You had better change your frock,” she said. “I always dress for the evening when Mr. Rochester is here.”

So, I replaced my black stuff dress with one of black silk and a single little pearl ornament, which Miss Temple gave me as a parting keepsake.

When I entered the drawing room, Adele and Pilot sat by the fire, while Mr Rochester, who appeared not to notice our entrance, was half reclined on a couch with his foot supported by the cushion. I recognised my traveller’s jetty eyebrows, square forehead, and decisive nose, and grim expression. He was broad chested and thin, flanked, though neither tall nor graceful.

‘Here is Miss Eyre, sir,’ said Mrs. Fairfax.

‘Let Miss Eyre be seated,’ said he.

Shortly, he said, ‘Madam, I should like some tea,’ and when the tray came, we sat at the table and Mrs Fairfax poured the tea, but the master did not leave his couch.

‘Will you hand Mr. Rochester’s cup?’ said Mrs. Fairfax, and I did as requested.

Adele asked him in French if he had a present for me. “N’est-ce pas, monsieur, qu’il y a un cadeau pour Mademoiselle Eyre dans votre petit coffre?”

‘Are you fond of presents, Miss Eyre?” and he searched my face with eyes that I saw were dark, irate, and piercing.

‘I hardly know, sir; I have little experience of them: they are generally thought pleasant things.’

“I have examined Adele, and find you have taken great pains with her: she is not bright, she has no talents; yet in a short time she has made much improvement.’

‘Sir, you have now given me my ‘cadeau;’ I am obliged to you: it is the reward teachers most covet—praise of their pupils’ progress.’

‘You have been resident in my house three months?’

‘Yes, sir.’

‘And you came from—?’

‘From Lowood school, in—shire.’

‘Ah! a charitable concern. How long were you there?’

‘Eight years.’

‘Eight years! You must be tenacious of life. No wonder you have rather the look of another world. I marvelled at where you had got that sort of face. When you came on me in Hay Lane last night, I thought unaccountably of fairy tales, and had half a mind to demand whether you had bewitched my horse: I am not sure yet. Who are your parents?’

‘I have none.’

‘Do you remember them?’

‘No.’

‘Do you have any family?”

“None that I know of.”

‘Were you waiting for your people when you sat on that stile?’

‘For whom, sir?’

‘For the men in green: it was a proper moonlight evening for them. Did you spread that damned ice on the causeway?’

I shook my head. ‘The men in green all forsook England a hundred years ago.’

‘Who recommended you to come here?’

‘I advertised, and Mrs. Fairfax answered my advertisement.’

“Miss Eyre has been an invaluable companion to me, and a kind and careful teacher to Adele,” said Mrs Fairfax.

 ‘Don’t trouble yourself to give her a character,’ returned Mr. Rochester: ‘I shall judge for myself. She began by felling my horse. I have to thank her for this sprain.’ The widow looked bewildered.

‘Miss Eyre, have you ever lived in a town?’

‘No, sir.’

‘Have you seen much society?’

‘None but the pupils and teachers of Lowood, and now the inmates of Thornfield.’

‘Have you read much?’

‘Only such books as came in my way; and they have not been numerous or very learned.’

‘You have lived the life of a nun: no doubt you are well drilled in religious forms. Brocklehurst, who I understand directs Lowood, is a parson, is he not?’

‘Yes, sir.’

‘And you girls probably worshipped him.’

‘I disliked Mr. Brocklehurst; and I was not alone in the feeling. He is a harsh man; at once pompous and meddling; he cut off our hair, starved us.”

‘What age were you when you went to Lowood?’ ‘

About ten.’

‘And you stayed there eight years: you are now, then, eighteen?’

I assented.

‘Can you play?’

‘A little.’

‘Go into the library—I mean, if you please.—(Excuse my tone of command; I am used to saying, ‘Do this,’ and it is done: I cannot alter my customary habits for one new inmate.)—take a candle with you and play a tune.’

I departed, obeying his directions.

‘You play like any other English school-girl; perhaps rather better than some, but not well.’

When I returned, Mr. Rochester asked me about my sketches. “Adele showed me some sketches this morning, which she said were yours. Were they entirely of your doing, or did a master aid you?’

‘No, indeed!’ I interjected.

‘Fetch me your portfolio.”

He deliberately scrutinised each sketch and painting. ‘And when did you find time to do them? They have taken much time, and some thought.’

‘I did them in the last two vacations I spent at Lowood, when I had no other occupation.’

‘Where did you get your copies?’

‘Out of my head.’

They were watercolours. The first depicted clouds, rolling over a swollen sea with a half-submerged mast, on which sat a large, dark cormorant, below the bird and mast. A drowned corpse glanced through the green water, wearing a washed or torn bracelet.

The second picture contained the dim peak of a hill, and rising into the dark blue twilight sky was a woman’s shape to the bust, whose forehead was crowned with a star, the eyes shone dark and wild, and on her neck lay a pale reflection like moonlight and a vision of the Evening Star.

The third showed the pinnacle of an iceberg piercing a polar winter sky, with a muster of northern lights along the horizon. In the foreground, a colossal white head inclined towards the iceberg, with a hollow, despairing eye.

‘Were you happy when you painted these pictures?’ asked Mr. Rochester presently.

‘I was absorbed, sir: yes, and I was happy. To paint them was to enjoy one of the keenest pleasures I have ever known.’

‘That is not saying much. Your pleasures, by your own account, have been few. Did you sit at them long each day?’

‘It was the vacation, and I sat at them from morning till night.’

‘The drawings are, for a schoolgirl, peculiar.” He said, wondered on their meaning and told me to put them away and instructed me to take Adele to bed.

He endured Adele’s kiss and said, ‘I wish you all goodnight, now,’ making a movement of the hand towards the door, in token that he was tired of our company, and wished to dismiss us.

‘You said Mr. Rochester was not strikingly peculiar, Mrs. Fairfax,’ I observed.

‘Well, is he?’

‘I think so. He is very changeful and abrupt.’

‘True, but if he has peculiarities of temper, allowance should be made.’

 ‘Why?’

‘Partly because it is his nature and partly because he has painful thoughts.’

‘What about?’

‘Family troubles, for one thing.’

‘But he has no family.’

‘Not now, but he has had—or, at least, relatives. He lost his elder brother a few years since. The present Mr. Rochester has not been long in possession of the property; only about nine years.’

‘Was he so very fond of his brother as to be still inconsolable for his loss?’

‘I believe there were some misunderstandings between them. Mr. Rowland Rochester was not quite just to Mr. Edward; and perhaps he prejudiced his father against him. The old gentleman was fond of money, and anxious to keep the family estate together. He did not like to diminish the property by division, and yet he was anxious that Mr. Edward should have wealth, too, to keep up the consequence of the name; and, soon after he was of age, some steps were taken that were not quite fair, and made a great deal of mischief. He has ever been resident at Thornfield for a fortnight together. Perhaps he thinks it gloomy.’

I should have liked a clearer answer, but Mrs. Fairfax did not wish to elaborate.

****

This chapter, which takes place in the drawing room, is highly anticipated by the reader. Their first meeting was dramatic and unexpected, but this second one is their first regular conversation at Thornfield, and it does not disappoint. Mr Rochester and Jane are clearly attracted to and interested in each other. Jane is a naïve eighteen-year-old governess, but she does not shy away from their conversation, in fact she replies to all his questions with confidence and intelligence. In fact, if it were a contemporary novel, we would say that they engaged in ‘witty banter’.  

Mr Rochester shows a keen interest in his employee, asking her personal questions about her family and experience in life. He praises her qualities as a teacher, and he takes an interest in her skills such as drawing and music.

Jane is also interested in her employer, as well as a detailed physical description. She considers his character is peculiar, unpredictable and moody, but she is more curious than displeased. She is eager to know more about him, but Mrs Fairfax shares little information.

We learn he was the younger brother, the second son, or the ‘spare’ of the older brother and heir to the estate. His father made other financial provisions for him when he was young, because his older brother would inherit the estate. We later learn that this consisted of an arranged marriage with a Jamaican heiress, who is currently locked in his attic.

He never intended to inherit or live at Thornfield Hall, but he had to do so when his father and older brother, Rowland, died. We know nothing of the circumstances of their deaths or his mother.

The plot thickens… Don’t miss out on next weeks’ chapter!

The summary is based on the free ebook by planet books which you can find here.

I’ll be posting a chapter of Jane Eyre in flash fiction every Friday. If you’re wondering why, read all about it here.

If you’d you’d like to Reread Jane Eyre with me, visit my blog every Friday for #JaneEyreFF posts.

See you next week for chapter 14. 

Images from Pixabay

#JaneEyreFF Rereading Jane Eyre in #FlashFiction #Chapter12 #VictorianFiction #CharlotteBronte Jane meets Mr Rochester, at last!

Jane Eyre in Flash Fiction Chapter 12

How I Met Mr Rochester

My pupil was a lively child, who had been spoilt but became obedient, teachable and made reasonable progress. We were both content in each other’s society. Mrs Fairfax, John and his wife, Leah the housemaid, and Sophie the French nurse, were decent people; but in no respect remarkable and I grew restless at Thornfield.

I would climb the three staircases, raised the trap-door of the attic, and looked out afar over sequestered field and hill, and longed to reach the busy world, towns, regions full of life I and acquaintance with variety of character, than was here within my reach.

 Women feel the need to exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts, just as men do and it is narrow-minded to say that they ought to confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags. It is thoughtless to condemn them, or laugh at them, if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.

Some days I heard Grace Poole’s strange laugh and eccentric murmurs, others she would come out of her room with a tray go down to the kitchen and return bearing a pot of porter. I made some attempts to draw her into conversation, but she replied with monosyllables.

October, November, December passed and one fine, calm afternoon in January, tired of sitting still in the library I put on my bonnet and cloak and volunteered to take Mrs. Fairfax’s letter to be posted in Hay which was two miles away.

I walked in utter solitude and leafless repose, under the low-gliding and pale-beaming sun. If a breath of air stirred, it made no sound for there was not a leaf to rustle. I sat down on a stile in the middle of the causeway, which was covered by a sheet of ice, where a little brooklet, now congealed, had overflowed after a rapid thaw some days since.

A loud metallic clatter on the causeway meant a horse was approaching. I sat still to let it go by. In those days I was young, and all sorts of fancies tenanted my mind. As dusk fell and the horse approached, I remembered Bessie’s tale of a ‘Gytrash,’ which, in the form of horse, mule, or large dog, haunted solitary ways, and sometimes came upon belated travellers.

The horse was very near, but not yet in sight; when, a great black and white dog which looked like Bessie’s Gytrash, passed me, and the horse followed,—a tall steed, and on its back a rider. He passed, I went on and a sliding sound and a clattering tumble, arrested my attention. Man and horse were down; they had slipped on the sheet of ice which glazed the causeway. The dog came bounding back, and seeing his master in a predicament, and hearing the horse groan, barked till the evening hills echoed the sound, and then he ran up to me, as there was no other help at hand.

I walked down to the traveller. ‘Are you injured, sir? Can I do anything?’

‘You must just stand on one side,’ he answered, rose, stooped to feel his foot and leg, apparently something ailed them, for he halted to the stile whence I had just risen, and sat down.

I was in the mood for being useful, for I now drew near him again.

‘If you are hurt, sir, I can fetch someone either from Thornfield Hall or from Hay.’

‘Thank you: I shall do. I have no broken bones, only a sprain;’ but as he tried his foot, he extorted an involuntary ‘Ugh!’

Something of daylight still lingered, and the moon was waxing bright: I could see him plainly. His figure was enveloped in a riding cloak, fur collared and steel clasped. I traced the general points of middle height and considerable breadth of chest. He had a dark face, with stern features and a heavy brow; his eyes and gathered eyebrows looked ireful and thwarted just now; he was past youth, but had not reached middle-age; perhaps he might be thirty-five. I felt no fear of him, and but little shyness. Had he been a handsome, heroic-looking young gentleman, I should not have dared to stand thus questioning him against his will, and offering my services unasked.

I had hardly ever seen a handsome youth; never in my life spoken to one. If even this stranger had smiled and been good-humoured, I should have gone on my way, but the frown and roughness of the traveller, set me at my ease.

‘I cannot think of leaving you, sir, at so late an hour, in this solitary lane, till I see you are fit to mount your horse.’

He looked at me when I said this; he had hardly turned his eyes in my direction before.

‘I should think you ought to be at home yourself,’ said he, ‘Where do you come from?’

‘From just below; and I am not at all afraid of being out late when it is moonlight.”

‘Do you mean at that house with the battlements?’ he said, pointing to Thornfield Hall.

‘Yes, sir.’

‘Whose house is it?’

‘Mr. Rochester’s.’

‘Do you know Mr. Rochester?’

‘No, I have never seen him.’

‘He is not resident, then?’

‘No.’

‘Can you tell me where he is?’

‘I cannot.’

‘You are not a servant at the hall, of course. You are—‘ He stopped, ran his eye over my simple dress, black merino cloak, and black beaver bonnet. He seemed puzzled to decide what I was; I helped him.

‘I am the governess.’

‘Ah, the governess!’ he repeated; ‘deuce take me, if I had not forgotten! The governess!’ and again my raiment underwent scrutiny.

He rose from the stile, his face expressing pain when he tried to move. ‘I cannot commission you to fetch help,’ he said; ‘but you may help me a little yourself, if you will be so kind.’

‘Yes, sir.’

‘You have not an umbrella that I can use as a stick?’

‘No.’

“I must beg of you to come here. Excuse me,’ he continued: ‘necessity compels me to make you useful.’ He laid a heavy hand on my shoulder, and leaning on me with some stress, limped to his horse and sprang to his saddle, grimacing.

‘Thank you; now make haste with the letter to Hay, and return as fast as you can,’ he said and bound away.

I walked on. The incident was of no romance, or interest, yet it marked a change in my monotonous life. I was weary of a passive existence and the new face was dissimilar to all the others because it was masculine, dark, strong, and stern. I had it still before me when I entered Hay, and I saw it as I walked all the way home.

I lingered at the gates of the gloomy house and became aware of a cheerful mingling of voices. I hastened to Mrs. Fairfax’s room but only found a great black dog, just like the Gytrash of the lane.

‘What dog is this?’ I asked Leah.

‘He came with the master, Mr. Rochester. Mrs Fairfax and Miss Adele are in the dining-room, and John is gone for Dr Carter, the surgeon; for master has had an accident; his horse fell and his ankle is sprained.’

I went upstairs to take off my things.

****

The chapter begins with a mundane exposition of the three months which have passed, since her arrival in October. It is January and she is bored and restless at Thornfield. Jane is obviously an ambitious young girl who longs for excitement. There is an interesting feminist reflection on how women were viewed at her time, and how she views herself, as a person with a voice, an opinion and the desire to express it, in spite of identifying the gender roles which oppress women.    

It is also noteworthy that she hears the laugh of the person she believes to be Grace Poole, although she has her doubts (sorry for the spoiler, but I think we all know it’s Mr Rochester’s mad wife, who is confined in the attic). In retrospect, she would have realised she suspected there was someone in the attic, other than Grace, all along, but at the time she believed what she was told. The servants must know, but Jane, Adele and Sophie are unaware of the presence of another woman in the attic. Charlotte Bronte, builds suspense, as neither reader nor protagonist know what’s going on, although they suspect that it’s something ‘spooky’ or strange.

This second part of the chapter is the most exciting so far. Jane tells us how she met Mr Rochester, when his horse slipped on the ice on the causeway on his way to Thornfield Hall. It is not romantic, as she herself says, but it is the most romantic thing that has ever happened to her. She admits that her experience of men is limited, but the traveller obviously left an impression on her, as she couldn’t get him out of her mind, until she returned to Thornfield and discovered he was Mr Rochester.

The chapter ends rather flatly, ‘I went upstairs to take off my things’, after discovering the mysterious stranger was the owner of Thornfield, and therefore her boss, and we know nothing about her surprise or how she felt about his behaviour.

It is Mr Rochester’s first lie, by omission, on this occasion. He refuses to disclose his identity, presumably for his amusement, as there is no other reason to do so. In his first encounter, he is already toying with Jane. There is obviously going to be a romance, but we fear he is going to use his age and position to control the information she receives. I’d call that manipulation from their first meeting. But love is blind. The question is, will she be able to tame the Byronic hero/rake? More next week!

The summary is based on the free ebook by planet books which you can find here.

I’ll be posting a chapter of Jane Eyre in flash fiction every Friday. If you’re wondering why, read all about it here.

If you’d you’d like to Reread Jane Eyre with me, visit my blog every Friday for #JaneEyreFF posts.

See you next week for chapter 13. 

Images from Pixabay

#JaneEyreFF Rereading Jane Eyre in #FlashFiction #Chapter11 #VictorianFiction #CharlotteBronte

Jane Eyre in Flash Fiction Chapter 11

How I Arrived at Thornfield Hall

I arrived at the George Inn at Millcote at eight o’clock in the evening, after a sixteen hour coach ride from Lowton, where a man with a one-horse conveyance took me the final six more miles to Thornfield Hall.

I alighted and a maid-servant showed me in to a cosy room with a cheerful fire. An elderly lady, I fancied was Mrs Fairfax, sat a in widow’s cap and black silk gown sat in a high-backed, old-fashioned armchair, with a large cat sat at her feet.

As I entered, the old lady got up and promptly and kindly came forward to meet me. She conducted me to her own chair, removed my shawl and bonnet-strings, and told Leah, the maid, to bring me some hot negus and a sandwich. I was surprised to receive more attention than I ever had before. My heart warmed to the worthy lady who was so pleased to see me.

I learned that Leah, John and his wife were the rest of the staff, and that my pupil was Miss Varens, who had a nurse, Sophie.

She showed me upstairs to my small apartment, next to hers. A very chill and vault-like air pervaded the stairs and gallery, suggesting cheerless ideas of space and solitude, but I was glad to find a small, modern bedroom, with gay blue chintz window curtains, showing papered walls and a carpeted floor, so unlike the bare planks and stained plaster of Lowood, that my spirits.

I was now at last in safe haven, and the impulse of gratitude swelled my heart. I knelt down at the bedside and offered up thanks. My couch had no thorns in it that night; my solitary room, no fears. At once weary and content, I slept soon and soundly.

The following day I wore a Quaker like plain, black frock and clean white tucker. I sometimes regretted that I was not handsomer. I felt it a misfortune that I was so little, so pale, and had features so irregular and so marked.

Everything appeared very stately and imposing to me, as I was so little accustomed to grandeur. I stepped over the threshold and onto the lawn and surveyed the front of the three-storey mansion, of proportions not vast, though considerable: a gentleman’s manor-house, not a nobleman’s seat: battlements round the top gave it a picturesque look. Its grey front stood out well from the background of a rookery.

Mrs Fairfax greeted me with an affable kiss and shake of the hand. ‘How do you like Thornfield?’ she asked. I told her I liked it very much.

‘Yes,’ she said, ‘it is a pretty place; but I fear it will be getting out of order, unless Mr. Rochester should take it into his head to come and reside here permanently; or, at least, visit it rather oftener: great houses and fine grounds require the presence of the proprietor.’

‘Mr. Rochester!’ I exclaimed. ‘Who is he?’

‘The owner of Thornfield,’ she responded quietly. ‘Did you not know he was called Rochester?’

‘I thought,’ I continued, ‘Thornfield belonged to you.’ ‘I am only the housekeeper—the manager. My husband, who was a clergyman at Hay church, was a second cousin to Mr Rochester on his mother’s side.’

‘And the little girl—my pupil!’

‘She is Mr. Rochester’s ward; he commissioned me to find a governess for her.’

My pupil was perhaps seven or eight years old, slightly built, with a pale, small-featured face, and a redundancy of hair falling in curls to her waist.

‘Good morning, Miss Adela,’ said Mrs. Fairfax. ‘Come and speak to the lady who is to teach you, and to make you a clever woman some day.’ She approached, speaking French to her nurse.

‘Are they foreigners?’ I inquired, amazed at hearing the French language.

‘The nurse is a foreigner, and Adela was born on the Continent. She arrived here six months ago. She spoke no English. Now she talks it a little: I don’t understand her, she mixes it so with French; but you will make out her meaning very well, I dare say.’

I had had the advantage of being taught French by a French lady, and I had acquired a certain degree of readiness and correctness in the language.

‘Ah!’ cried she, in French, ‘you speak my language as well as Mr. Rochester does: I can talk to you as I can to him, and so can Sophie. She will be glad nobody here understands her.

Mrs Fairfax asked me to inquire about her parents.

“I lived long ago with mama; but she is gone to the Holy Virgin. Mama used to teach me to dance and sing, and to say verses. A great many gentlemen and ladies came to see mama, and I used to dance before them, or to sit on their knees and sing to them: I liked it. Shall I let you hear me sing now?’

She sang a song from some opera and recited ‘La Ligue des Rats: fable de La Fontaine.’

‘After your mama went to the Holy Virgin, as you say, with whom did you live?’

‘With Madame Frederic and her husband: she took care of me, but she is nothing related to me. I was not long there. Mr. Rochester asked me if I would like to go and live with him in England, and I said yes because he was always kind to me and gave me pretty dresses and toys.’

After breakfast, Adele and I withdrew to the library, which room, it appears, Mr. Rochester had directed should be used as the schoolroom. I found my pupil sufficiently docile, though disinclined to apply: she had not been used to regular occupation of any kind. I felt it would be injudicious to confine her too much at first; so, when I had got her to learn a little, and when the morning had advanced to noon, I allowed her to return to her nurse.

Mrs Fairfax showed me the imposing dining-room and a pretty drawing room and within it a boudoir, both spread with white carpets, crimson couches and ottomans. All of which she kept in readiness for Mr. Rochester’s rare and unexpected visits.

When I asked her about the owner she replied, ‘The family have always been respected here. Almost all the land in this neighbourhood, as far as you can see, has belonged to the Rochesters time out of mind. I believe he is considered a just and liberal landlord by his tenants. His character is unimpeachable, although he is rather peculiar, perhaps. He has travelled a great deal, and I dare say he is clever, but I never had much conversation with him. He is a very good master.’

Then she showed me the rest of the grand house and some of the third-storey rooms, with its eerie relics gave to the third storey of Thornfield Hall the aspect of a home of the past: a shrine of memory.

‘Do the servants sleep in these rooms?’ I asked.

‘No; they occupy a range of smaller apartments to the back; no one ever sleeps here: one would almost say that, if there were a ghost at Thornfield Hall, this would be its haunt.’

‘Are there any legends or ghost stories?’

‘None that I ever heard of,’ returned Mrs. Fairfax.

I followed up a very narrow staircase to the attics, and thence by a ladder and through a trap-door to the roof of the hall. I was now on a level with the crow colony, and could see into their nests. Leaning over the battlements, I surveyed the grounds. On my way down, I lingered in the long passage and the two rows of small black doors and a laugh struck my ear. I stopped: the sound ceased, only for an instant; it began again, louder.

‘Mrs. Fairfax!’ I called out. ‘Did you hear that loud laugh? Who is it?’

‘Some of the servants, very likely,’ she answered: ‘perhaps Grace Poole, a person we have to sew and assist Leah in her housemaid’s work. Sometimes Leah is with her; they are frequently noisy together.’

The door nearest me opened, and a middle-aged servant with a set square figure and red hair came out.

‘Too much noise, Grace,’ said Mrs. Fairfax. ‘Remember directions!’ Grace curtseyed silently and went in.

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Jane arrives at Thornfield Hall and is well received by Mrs Fairfield and her pupil. Adele Varens. She feels safe and valued in a comfortable room and a grand house.

It’s a long chapter with a great deal of information about Mr Rochester, the absent owner, Adele’s background and the all about the house and the servants.

The contemporary reader and everyone at Thornfield Hall knows who was really laughing in the spooky third storey.

The chapter ends on a warning omen; all is not as pleasant as it would seem.

The background chapters are over and we now come to the suspenseful part of the novel, and reader is eager to find out about the mysterious owner and the origin of the strange laughter. How exciting!

The summary is based on the free ebook by planet books which you can find here.

I’ll be posting a chapter of Jane Eyre in flash fiction every Friday. If you’re wondering why, read all about it here.

If you’d you’d like to Reread Jane Eyre with me, visit my blog every Friday for #JaneEyreFF posts.

See you next week for chapter 12. 

Images from Pixabay

Letter H #AtoZChallenge #JaneEyre’s Husband

This post is part of this year’s April Challenge to write a post a day. I’ve chosen to write about my greatest literary passion: Jane Eyre. Today it’s all about Jane Eyre’s Husband. Edward Rochester himself will tell us all about his life. This is Edward Rochester’s autobiography.

H

My name is Edward Fairfax Rochester. My honourable surname, dates back to Anglo-Saxon times. It’s etymology is related to a fortress, ‘chester’ meaning Roman fort in Old English. My family has lived in Yorkshire since the 12th century. My surname was briefly changed to ‘de Rochester’ after the Conquest, which was probably when my ancestor moved from Kent, where there were too many Norman invaders, to Yorkshire.

Battle_of_Marston_Moor,_1644

My first famous ancestor was Damer de Rochester, a brave soldier who had been struck by a cannon ball on Marston Moor in 1642, fighting for the Parliamentarians against the Royalists. My father used to say that was why King George, whom he considered a vengeful man, had denied my grandfather a Peerdom.

My mother’s surname is also of ancient Anglo-Saxon origins. In this case, the Fairfax were landed gentry who have always lived in Yorkshire. My mother’s older brother, retained all the land, as was customary. Her father remarried, when his wife died, and her younger step-brother, was later disowned and became a clergyman. My mother was rather fond of her little brother, so she insisted my father should employ him as vicar at Hay church, and when he died, his wife, Mrs. Fairfax, was employed as our housekeeper.

Mrs. Fairfax was a good woman who knew her place and never boasted of her husband’s relationship with the landowning Fairfax family. My parents cut off their relationship with the Fairfax shortly after they married. My mother’s family considered the Rochesters too fierce and warlike. I’ll admit, my father was never a patient man, much like myself, but he was an honourable Rochester.

Haddon_Hall

Our house, Thornfield Hall, and the nearby church, was built by my ancestors in the 12th century, shortly after moving to Yorkshire. Additions were made in the 13th and the 17th centuries.

The Hay district church stood just beyond the gates of Thornfield Hall. It was a small village place of worship, which was erected, when the original house was built in the 12th century. My grandfather renovated the older derelict building. It was the church where my grandparents were buried, where my parents married and were buried, and where my brother, Roland, was buried, too, in the family vault at the front of the altar. It was the same altar where I had stood as Jane’s groom, twice. It is where we christened our son, too. My unfortunate first wife, Bertha Mason, was buried anonymously in the graveyard.

This quiet, secluded place of worship, which would also be my last resting place, had been Roman Catholic before Henry VIII’s ecclesiastical reform, and although we had become Anglicans, not wanting to vex the King, there are still many reminders of our ancient religion, both in the church and in our minds.

Adele

I once confessed to Jane that I had brought Adele over from France when her mother died on the Roman Catholic principle of expiating numerous sins, great or small, by one good work. Adele was my expiation, and she was the person who brought Jane to me, so perhaps we shouldn’t have swapped our ancient beliefs so easily. In any case, officially, I’m an Anglican.

I was the spare, the second son, who would not inherit my ancestor’s lands. I hated being second best to my brother, simply because he had been born first. He was a whining, fair-haired and sickly Fairfax, like my mother. I was my father, and grandfather’s living image. I was the Rochester, but my brother, Rowland Rochester was destined to inherit what was mine. I realized I would always be the aimless and unlikely replacement to my brother, and behaved recklessly in my youth.

My father and my brother schemed to get me as far away as possible, out of the country, to be rid of the troublesome young man I had become. So, my father provided me with a wealthy marriage. He had an old acquaintance, Mr. Mason, a West India planter and merchant, whose possessions were vast. Mason had a son, Richard and a daughter, Bertha Antoinette. He offered thirty thousand pounds as dowry for his daughter, and my father signed the deal. I left college and was sent out to Jamaica, to espouse a bride already courted for me. My father told me Miss Mason was the boast of Spanish Town for her beauty, and this was no lie. She was a beautiful woman, tall, dark, and majestic, and I was suitably dazzled. Her family wished to secure me because I was of a good race, but they did not tell me the truth until it was too late.

Bertha

Miss Mason was Mr. Mason’s step-daughter. She was a creole, like her mother, his first wife, who was shut up in a lunatic asylum, and there was a younger brother, who was a dumb idiot. I soon learned her splendid dresses, and demure glances were a farce, because she had been familiar with other men on the island. I had been tricked to marring her.

I found her nature wholly alien to mine, her tastes obnoxious to me, her cast of mind common, low, narrow, and singularly incapable of being led to anything higher. In short, she had a pigmy mind. I found that I could not pass a single evening, nor even a single hour of the day with her. Soon she showed me her outbreaks of violent and unreasonable temper.

I lived with that monster for four years, on that infernal island, until I received news that both my father and my brother had died, and the Rochester Estate was mine, at last. I brought her back with me. Her brother insisted and what could I do? He reminded me of the dowry and I told him that it was insufficient for everything I had put up with, and still had to endure.

I made sure she was well fed and comfortably hidden in my attic. I paid a trustworthy woman to look after her. She had everything she needed, but her madness spiraled after our arrival in England. She escaped and tried to burn the house down, on several occasions

I could not stand living under the same roof as her, even though I never saw her, but I heard her. I began to abhor Thornfield Hall, so I travelled to the continent in search of a good and intelligent woman. Instead I fell under the spell of the beautiful but fickle opera singer, Celine Varens.

Six months before Jane arrived at Thornfield Hall, Celine gave me her daughter, Adele, affirming she was mine. I tell you Pilot is more like me than Adele! Celine abandoned her child, and ran away to Italy with a musician or singer. I am convinced I am not her father, but hearing that she was quite destitute, I took the poor thing out of the slime and mud of Paris, and transplanted it here, to grow up clean in the wholesome soil of an English country garden.

You see, my goodwill has always turned against me. I vowed never to become involved with a beautiful woman again.

Horse

One day, nine years after returning from Jamaica, I met a small, pale, elf-like creature who stole my heart. I fell in love with her youth, her naiveté, her quick, sharp mind and her generous spirit enraptured me. However, I soon learnt she was as independent and headstrong as I was selfish and scheming. I had to have her as my wife, not my employee or my mistress. I wanted her skin on my skin, our bodies joined as soon as possible, so I devised a plan.

I thought she was too young to realize she loved me yet, so I had to make her feel jealous,  I invited Blanche Ingram, a beautiful woman, who was the antithesis of Jane. Blanche was tall, with raven hair and dark eyes. She wore expensive clothes and jewels to catch a husband. She was also a snob and a bitch. I would tease them both nicely. It was a game for my enjoyment. I knew Jane would win. She already had my heart and Blanche was only after my money. I would never marry a dark beauty again, I had already done that once. I wanted a real, English rose, on this occasion. An intelligent, soul mate. I wanted Jane Eyre.

Wedding

After Jane left Thornfield Hall, when Richard Mason cruelly interrupted my first wedding attempt, the lunatic’s madness escalated. She succeeded in burning down the house, and when she went up to the battlements to throw herself down, I tried to save her. I swear that’s why I went up there, but she threw herself off, after burning down my ancestral home.

I had lied, and I had broken the law, God’s law and man’s law, to make Jane mine. I even tried to ruin her, by trying to convince her to be my mistress. I would have done anything in my power to have her back at my side, but she disappeared like a summer breeze. I became a desperate and brooding beast living in a decrepit and secluded manor house with two old servants.

I was crippled. On one arm, I had neither hand nor nails, but a mere, ghastly stump. My face had ugly burn marks, and I was almost blind. My eyes could only perceive a glow. Everything around me was a ruddy shapeless cloud, until a year later, when my fairy returned.

Mr. Rochester Blind

After the fire, I had a long time to think about my deeds. I did wrong to Jane. I would have sullied my innocent flower, breathed guilt on her purity. I began to experience remorse, repentance, and the wish for reconcilement to my Maker. I prayed that Jane would return to me and promised the heavens that I would be a better man. When she returned to me, I humbly entreated my Redeemer to give me strength to lead henceforth a purer life than I have done hitherto.

After we married, I recovered the sight of one eye, and learned to cater for my needs with one hand, instead of two. I held my son in my arms and saw he was a Rochester, like me, and thanked God for the second chance I had been awarded. I would try to be the man Jane Eyre deserved for the rest of my days.

I know some people don’t believe in me, and I can understand that. They think I can’t change, but I know I can. I’m not sorry for my past, I did what I had to do. I was a reckless youth and I married the wrong woman, but I was misled by my father and enticed by selfish women. None of it was my fault.

I’m only sorry for the unjust way I treated Jane. You may think I’m not good enough for Jane, and that’s true, too, but I’m going to try to be a better man for her. I will not go back to my gallivanting ways and I will never hurt her again.

Jane3

Dear Reader, do you believe him?

Letter F #AtoZChallenge #JaneEyre’s Friends

This post is part of this year’s April Challenge to write a post a day. I’ve chosen to write about my greatest literary passion: Jane Eyre. Today it’s all about Jane Eyre’s Friends. Jane will tell us all about her friends in her own words.

F

A friend is someone you can trust and a person with whom one has a bond of mutual affection, usually exclusive of intimate or family relations. You must both enjoy each others’ company and support each other, too.

I have had very few friends in my life. While I was living with my Aunt Reed, there was only one person, Bessie, their young servant, whom I could call a friend. She told me stories by the stove in the kitchen, looked after me when I was ill, and consoled me when I was depressed. Betty once told me, when I was sick and sad that, ‘God is a friend to the poor orphan child.’ She was the only person I missed at that cold house.

When I was at Lowood, I had some more friends. Helen Burns, a young girl my own age, whose family were from Northumberland. Her mother had died, and her father had remarried a young girl, who did not care for Helen, so she was sent to Lowood.

halen and jane

Helen sustained me during the first months in my new home, when I frequently cried. She did not vex me with questions. Helen was patient, sitting beside me, and remaining silent until I was ready to speak.

When I told her I was sad because Mr. Brocklehurst had humiliated me, she chastised me for being too impulsive, too vehement, and too feeble. She reminded me that there were guardian angels to help us, and that I should not let hatred get the better of me. Helen had calmed me, and comforted me. I used to rest my head on her shoulder, put my arms round her waist, and feel grateful that I had a real true friend, at last.

Helen was faithful, and never ill-humoured with anyone, however unpleasantly they treated her. She believed her strength and endurance would lead her into heaven, when her time on Earth was over.

She was called to heaven too soon, too young. Miss Temple found her in my arms one sad June morning. My face against Helen Burns’s shoulder, and my arms round her neck. I was asleep, and Helen was dead.

Even while she was dying, her last words had been to comfort me. She told me not to grieve because she was not in pain, and she did not mind dying, because it meant that she would escape the great sufferings life would bring her, and because she would be united with God, who would look after her.

She was buried at Brocklehurst Churchyard. , covered by a grassy mound. Fifteen years after her death, I returned to find a grassy mound. I had a grey marble tablet placed on the spot, inscribed with her name, and the word ‘Resurgam.’

Helen Burns Resurgam

I made other friends at Lowood. I often took walks in the woods in summer with Mary Ann, I tried my best to make friends, earn respect and win affection at Lowood. I was also well received by my fellow-pupils. Those my own age treated me as an equal, and I wasn’t not molested by any. However, I never had a friend like Helen again. If I have a daughter, I’ll certainly call her Helen.

Miss Miller and Miss Temple were pleased with me because I was a good student who pleased my teacher by reaching the head of my class.

Miss Temple

I also considered Miss Temple, who had become the superintendent at the seminary, a friend because she was my counsellor and guide while I was at Lowood. I owe the best part of my acquirements to her. She encouraged me in my studies, and her friendship and company had been my greatest comfort. She was the closest I have ever had to a mother figure, so I will never forget her either. I became a teacher thanks to her encouragement and direction.

I was devastated when she left to marry and move to a distant country. It was then I advertised for the position of governess.

I got on very well with all the servants at Thornfield Hall. Mrs. Fairfax always treated me with friendliness, and so did Leah, the young maid, and even Sophie, Adele’s French nurse.

Jane and Adele

Adele was my boisterous pupil, although she did not excel in her studies, she tried hard. She was always kind and respectful to me. When I married Edward I took her out of her strict boarding school, where Edward had sent her when I left. She stayed at home, for a time, until I found her a more indulgent school. We have become good friends over the years. Adele is a pleasing and obliging companion: docile, good-tempered, and well-principled.

Jane and Rochester friends

Mr. Rochester professed to be my friend, before he declared his love. He used to call me ‘my little friend’ and confessed many events to me, such as his relationship with Adele’s mother, the French opera singer, Celine Varens, and his wild years as a bachelor. I saved his life from a fire in his room one night, and he also called me when his friend, Mr. Mason was attacked in the attic. We enjoyed each other’s company and discussed many matters. Although he was my master, we were friends of a sort, at first, until we fell in love. Then friendship became something more powerful and absorbing.

When I left Eyre Hall, after discovering Mr. Rochester was already married, I had absolutely no friends, no family, and not a single shilling to my name.

Jane Mary Diana

I was fortunate to find the Rivers in Morton. Diana, Mary, and St. John, were kind to me, before they knew I was their cousin. I was starving, cold, sick, and penniless, when I arrived on their doorstep in search of charity. They took me into their home, nursed me, fed me, and found me a job as a teacher and a small house to live in. I thank God he helped me find them when I was close to death.

I have not felt the need for friends since I married Edward, because he is everything to me. He is my husband, my companion, my lover, and my friend.

Jane and Edward

Meet The Main Characters in Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall

Three Days to Book Launch

Main Characters in Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall

Twelfth Night at Eyre Hall is the second volume in the sequel to Jane Eyre. Some of the main characters in this novel also appeared in Charlotte Bronte’s original novel, nevertheless, I have moved them on 22 years. I have developed their characters, reinventing them at a later stage in their lives. Other characters are my own creation.

Characters mentioned in Jane Eyre:

Jane Eyre, Richard Mason, Leah, Admiral Fitzjames (he was captain in Jane Eyre), Mrs. Diana Fitzjames, Adele Varens, Bertha Mason, Dr. Carter.

Characters of my own creation:

John Eyre Rochester, Michael and Susan Kirkpatrick, Annette Mason, ‘young’ Dr. Carter, Captain Carrington, Mr. Greenwood, Dante Greenwood, Nell Rosset, Jenny Rosset, Phoebe, Simon and Beth.

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Jane Eyre. Jane is no longer a nineteen-year-old naïve and young girl. She is a mature woman in her early forties. She is involved in social work, mainly with orphans and parish schools. She writes novels, much like Charlotte Bronte did, and manages the Rochester estate. She had been married to Mr. Rochester for over 20 years, and had one son and several miscarriages. There were many ups and downs in the marriage, which ended with Edward Rochester’s death in book 1, All Hallows at Eyre Hall. The end of book one left Jane in a state of confusion, depression and physical illness. Her husband had died, she was blackmailed into marrying Mr. Mason, her husband’s brother-in-law, she suffered yet another miscarriage, and the man she thought she loved left her. She is gradually recovering her physical and mental stability.

Mr. Mason. Richard Mason was Mr. Rochester’s greedy and evil brother-in-law. He was Bertha Mason’s brother. Bertha Mason was Mr. Rochester’s first mad wife. Richard returned from Jamaica with Miss Annette Mason, Bertha’s secret daughter (Book 1). Jane married him because he promised to hide Mr. Rochester’s secrets from young John Eyre Rochester.

Annette Mason. She was born in Thornfield Hall from an unknown father, while her mother, Bertha Mason, was married to Edward Rochester and locked in his attic. Her uncle, Richard Mason, took Annette back with him to Jamaica, where she was brought up in a convent, as an orphan, supervised by her uncle. Her uncle brought her back to England to claim her birthright when Mr. Rochester died (book 1). She is living at Eyre Hall as Jane’s ward.

John Rochester. He is Jane and Rochester’s son. He is headstrong, spoilt, and rich. He is in love with Annette, whom he believes is his cousin. He had accepted an arranged marriage of convenience, but his fiancée died, and now Jane is trying to convince him to marry her flirtatious younger sister, Phoebe. He is studying Law at Oxford.

Michael Kirkpatrick. In book 1, he was Jane’s faithful valet, but he left when she accepted Mr. Mason’s proposal, because he was in love with Jane. He joined the Royal Navy and is promoted to lieutenant by Captain Carrington. In book 2 he returns to Eyre Hall to help his sister, Susan, who also works for the Rochester family.

Captain Carrington is Michael’s captain on board the HMS Princess Helena. He is a father-figure to Michael, whose father was killed at sea when he was a child. He was captain to Admiral Fitzjames, who is married to Jane’s cousin, Diana.

Nell Rosset. Nell is a lively, young girl who is Jane’s companion throughout her illness. She reads to her and walks with her. Her mother, Jenny, is a seamstress at Eyre Hall and Mr. Mason’s mistress.

Adele Varens was Mr. Rochester’s ward. Jane Eyre was first employed at Thornfield Hall as her governess. Her mother, Céline Varens, was Mr. Rochester’s mistress in France, for a time. He always denied being her father. She was a spinster, who now has a widowed suitor, the poet, Mr. Greenwood. They have been living in Venice for the past year with Mr. Greenwood’s young son, Dante. Susan, Michael’s sister, has accompanied Adele as her maid and companion. Adele and Mr. Greenwood are soon to be married.

‘Young’ Dr. Carter is Dr. Carter’s son. He is an intelligent young man, who has taken over his father’s practice in the area, with modern ideas on medicine. He is living at Ferndean, a manor house on the Rochester Estate, with his mother.

Mrs. Leah is the housekeeper at Eyre Hall. She also worked at Thornfield Hall before Jane Eyre arrived. She is the only living person who knows everything about the Rochester family, including their secrets.

 Simon and Beth are two loyal servants at Eyre Hall who are in a relationship.

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Would you like to know anything else about any of these characters?

For those of you who have read book one or two, which is your favourite character, and why?