I am sure I was not the only impressionable teenager who read chapter IX of Jane Eyre and was haunted forever by Charlotte Bronte’s description of Helen Burns’ death in Jane Eyre’s arms, where Helen’s corpse rested, nestled with Jane until the following morning.
Helen Burns was Jane Eyre’s best friend at Lowood Institution for Orphans, where Jane spent seven years as a student and two as a teacher. Helen supported Jane through the public humiliations Mr Brocklehurst imposed on her, and helped a non-conformist Jane to understand and adapt to the teachers and routine at Lowood. In case you don’t remember, you can read a flash fiction summary of chapter VIII, in which their friendship is explained, and chapter IX, which deals with Helen’s death.
Chapter IX ends with a few brief lines about Helen’s burial in an unknown mass grave. Forty girls, half of the pupils at Lowood, died of typhus that summer. As most of the girls were orphans, few of them had families, and those who did could not afford to pay for a headstone.
Resurgam is dedicated to my grandmother, Rafaela Fernandez, whom I never met because she was killed in an air raid in August 1937, during the Spanish Civil War, and buried anonymously in a mass grave. My mother, who was seven at the time, was sitting on her lap. Miraculously, she survived.
No doubt that is why I was especially sensitive to Helen’s death and anonymous mass burial. When I decided to write an Eyre Hall Series Novella, Helen’s death scene, her anonymous mass grave, and the word Resurgam were constantly on my mind.
In Jane Eyre, Jane tells her Dear Reader, that she returned to the cemetery fifteen years later, when she was married to Mr Rochester and had a son, to lay a headstone on her friend’s grave with the word, Resurgam.
Why Resurgam? Resurgam is Latin for “I shall rise again.” It is found in the Bible referred to the resurrection of Christ on the third day. Helen was fervently religious, and stoically accepted her death. Helen also influenced Jane’s religious beliefs and faith in God, especially regarding life after death, which Jane firmly believed in. Her faith was the reason why she wanted her friend to have a headstone to remind everyone who saw it that they would rise again after death.
I wrote Resurgam to capture the moment Jane returned to Brocklebridge cemetery and erected Helen’s headstone. The plot explores the reasons Jane did so at that precise moment, and how the event came about. The novella delves into the themes of friendship, honouring our past and our deceased friends and relatives, as well as love, marriage, motherhood and social concerns.
Naturally I reimagined Jane, some years into her marriage, with her young son, John Eyre Rochester, while she was living at Eyre Hall, the house she built on the site of Thornfield Hall, with her uncle John Eyre’s inheritance.
Readers of Resurgam will see how the Rochesters’ marriage developed over the years and the way in which Jane adapted to her new life as the wife of the wealthy owner of the Rochester estate, as well as the reasons and way in which the word Resurgam finds its way to Brocklebridge Church graveyard.
Writing Resurgam was cathartic for me and my Jane Eyre. It was written at a challenging time, which led to a personal reflection about the life we lead, the dreams we achieve, and the people and life we leave behind, because we can’t have it all, or can we?
The events narrated in Resurgam occurred eleven years before Blood Moon at Eyre Hall, Book One of the Eyre Hall Series, so it can be read as a standalone or as a prequel to the series. Some of the main characters of The Eyre Hall Series, such as Michael, Susan, Mrs Leah, John Rochester, Bishop Templar (who is Archdeacon), and Isaac das Junot, appear in this 22,000-word novella. Check out yesterday’s post for the blurb and more information about Resurgam.
If this sounds intriguing, why not preorder here. It’s available on Amazon and other book retailers at a special launch price of one dollar click on the image below.
As always, if you would like a complimentary ARC in exchange for an honest review, just let me know in the comments or sign up for my newsletter by following the link below:
This post was written in response to the Insecure Writer’s Support Group monthly (first Wednesday of every month) blog hop to where writers express thoughts, doubts, and concerns about our profession. By the way, all writers are invited to join in!
September 1 question – How do you define success as a writer? Is it holding your book in your hand? Having a short story published? Making a certain amount of income from your writing?
Let’s rock the neurotic writing world! Our Twitter handle is @TheIWSG and hashtag is #IWSG
Defining Success as a Writer
Success as a writer will be unique to each author.
A writer’s perceived success will depend on the goals they set out to achieve as an author in the first place.
In my case, I wanted to publish a sequel to Jane Eyre that would include the premise of the prequel Wide Sargasso Sea, which gave Bertha Antoinetta Mason, the first Mrs Rochester, a voice.
I imagined a daughter, born in the attic at Thornfiled Hall, Annette Mason, who was rejected by Edward Rochester and taken to Jamaica by her uncle Richard Mason.
In Blood Moon at Eyre Hall, Richard Mason returns to the Rochester estate while Mr Rochester is on his death bed. He brings his niece, Annette Mason, who is now twenty-two years old, with him, in order to claim her birthright.
The Eyre Hall Series (Amazon.com link) is the sequel to Jane Eyre. Especially for readers who love action packed, neo-Victorian romantic thrillers, with gothic mansions, evil villains, unforgettable main characters, lots of drama, and unexpected twists and turns, reminiscent of Victorian novels.
I imagined I would write one novel, then I realised it would be a trilogy, and now it has become The Eyre Hall Series of six novels (four already available for purchase and two more will be published in 2022).
And Resurgam: An Eyre Hall Series Novella will be available for preorder shortly.
My aim in 2013 was to write and successfully publish one novel, which I did, so mission accomplished. But that doesn’t mean I’m satisfied with my writing career in 2021.
Goals are not fixed, they are constantly being revised and expanded.
Now I have new goals, which I haven’t yet achieved, namely to complete my series. I’m fairly confident that by the end of 2022, I will have published the entire Eyre Hall Series,.
I also have plenty of other literary projects underway, such as a A contemporary thriller, which is finished and on the waiting list for a second edit and proofread. I have also started work on another series of non-fiction books called, you guessed it: Rereading Jane Eyre! But more about those future projects in the coming months.
I am determined to present readers with a polished novel, which has a professional cover, is well written, edited and proofread. I cannot expect all readers to like my novels; they are not for everyone, no book is.
My ability to market as an independent author is limited, but reaching international fame and fortune is not my primary goal, as I have my retirement pension and I’m quite shy.
I’m happy to write to my heart’s delight and produce a polished product I enjoyed writing and which I can be proud of. So, as far as I’m concerned, I’m a successful writer!
If you click on the image, you will be taken to my newsletter sign up page. Go ahead, make my day and sign up if you want to get news of special offers, new releases and updates on The Eyre Hall Series and all things related to Jane Eyre.
Thanks for reading! And I hope you’re having a fabulous Friday and weekend!
Chapter Three also takes place at Eyre Hall in July 1865, twenty-two years after Jane Eyre’s marriage to Edward Rochester. As the title suggests, Mr Rochester is signing his last will and testament. In this case, the narrator is Mr Rochester.
He held out his hand. “Good morning, Mr Rochester. I trust you are in good health after your accident.”
“I’m still alive, for now,” I replied.
“And for many years to come, I hope.”
I wondered if he had forgotten I had called him to draft my last will and testament, or if he was more of an idiot than I had imagined.
“I am without patience, Mr Briggs. Be seated and let us get down to business.”
He sat, squinted, and looked around the room. “Is Master John not in attendance?”
“He’s not expected until tomorrow, but his presence is not required.”
Briggs coughed and wriggled in his chair. “Mr Rochester, I respectfully suggest Master John should be present.”
“My wife will be present. Master John is too young to take on any responsibility at Eyre Hall yet.”
“But Mrs Rochester…” He fumbled with his gold-rimmed eyeglasses and stared at me as if I had grown tusks. “She… I mean…The tenants and the leaseholders will not respect her.”
“Mr Briggs, you have forgotten your place, and you have also forgotten that Eyre Hall is so called in memory of my wife’s uncle, Mr John Eyre, a wealthy wine merchant from Madeira and her benefactor, whom I did not have the pleasure of meeting. My wife generously and wisely invested part of her inheritance in the construction of Eyre Hall. It is thanks to her insistence and desire that Eyre Hall was built on the grounds of Thornfield Hall.”
“Yes, I do recall the transaction, sir. In fact, as you may remember, Mr Eyre appointed me to locate his beloved niece. But that is not the issue, sir. Think of the land, the tenants; what will become of them? Need I remind you that Mrs Rochester, whom I greatly admire, is a woman? Therefore, she does not have enough knowledge to manage an estate.”
“Neither did I, as you well know. Mr Cooper takes care of the finances and you see to the legal matters. What else could she need? Or are you planning to abandon her?”
“Of course not. We will naturally assist Mrs Rochester in anything she requires; I am simply worried it could be too much for her.”
“Nothing is too much for Jane Eyre Rochester. She will have everything she deserves. Eyre Hall will belong to Jane for life. The Rochester Estate will remain in her hands until my son, John Rochester, is thirty, if he has a wife and legitimate heir, or as soon thereafter as the events should occur.”
“I must advise you that your son may not—”
“Did I ask you for your opinion, Mr Briggs?”
He shook his head, whispered, “No, sir,” and avoided my fierce gaze by opening his black leather case and extracting the documents.
“Then keep it to yourself unless I ask for it, which I guarantee you, I will not.”
He placed his brass fountain pen beside the documents and waited for my instructions. I had met plenty of pretentious London solicitors like him, making great effort to look important when travelling to the provinces, but I knew him too well to be fooled. He would sell his soul to the devil for the right price.
“It is my wish, and although my body is failing me, I am perfectly sound of mind. Write it all down, now. I do not want to wait another minute, or it may be too late. St Peter is impatient.”
“Sir, you exaggerate.”
“Don’t coddle me. I will not live long enough to lose my mind. Call my wife.”
“At once, sir. And we will need two witnesses, I suggest two trustworthy servants. Mrs Leah and Simon, perhaps?”
“Not Leah; it’s none of her business. She’ll find out soon enough. And Simon is a gossip who can’t even read. The others aren’t much wiser.”
He nodded, pursed his lips, and tapped his fingers on the table. “Who do you suggest, sir?”
“Call the sturdy one with wolf’s eyes and his sister, the glum girl who looks like a nun. Bring them and let us get this over with.”
“You mean Michael and Susan?”
“I’m not interested in their names; just bring them.”
Minutes later, the girl walked in behind her brother and lowered her head as if she would turn to stone if she looked at me, but the brother stood tall, with his hands behind his back, his amber eyes on me. He raised his eyebrows defiantly, wondering why I wanted to speak to him. I rarely spoke to any of the servants, except Simon, who had been my valet for years, but I had heard enough about this bold young man to know he was not an idiot like the rest of them.
“Simon told me you beat a man to an inch of his life because he made unwanted advances to one of our maids at the Rochester Arms. Is that true?”
His brow furrowed. He looked uncomfortable as if he were not proud of what he had done, or perhaps it was not true; Simon tended to exaggerate. Or perhaps he was just surprised by my question. In any case, he should have answered at once. “Well, is it?”
He nodded, pursing his lips. He was not going to volunteer any information, but I was curious, so I asked, “Why?” He clenched his fists in reply, but I was tired of his insolence. “Answer the question.”
“It was one of Mr Raven’s sons, sir. He was drunk, and Beth had not provoked his attentions. I asked him to respect her wishes, and when he ignored my words and Beth’s protests, I made him stop.”
“You made him stop? Old Raven was livid. His son’s vision was impaired for weeks after your battering, not to mention the limp he still sports.”
“I did what I had to do to protect Beth, sir.”
“She’s your sweetheart, is she?”
The fearless youth answered at once. “No, sir. I am not courting.”
“That’s not what Raven told me.”
His sister shot him a sideways glance; she knew her brother contained a beast who could be unleashed if provoked. She was not pretty, but neither was Jane when I met her, and yet she bloomed when she fell in love with me. The girl had intelligent eyes and a quiet strength about her. She was the type that could be taught to warm a man’s bed with fire. I turned back to her brother. “Have you ever had to defend your sister?”
He stood straighter, letting me know he was proud of defending his sister, but then he thought better of his admission, fidgeted, and looked towards the door. He did not want Jane to know, of course; righteous Jane would not like our servants to get involved in pub brawls. Little did she know he got up to a lot more than that.
“Well done. I can’t fault you for looking after your sister,” I said, because a man should defend the women he loves or the women he’s in charge of protecting.
“When I’m gone, you are to look after Mrs Rochester as if she were your sister; nobody is to take what is hers or molest her, do you hear me?”
His brow furrowed, and he nodded. Briggs was right; it was not easy for a woman to be respected in these parts, and Jane would be on her own. John was too youthful, coddled, and inexperienced to be of help, but this stealthy young man who had felt the pang of hunger and the fury of anger, he would do the job.
“John told me you carried him home, all the way from the Arms, after a problem with an unruly client.” He knitted his eyebrows, but his fierce gaze did not falter. “Yes, I found out, although John did not disclose the event.” The boy opened his mouth to speak but closed it again. He was hot-tempered, but not foolish. He knew it was not his place to question the master of the house. “And then you called Dr Carter, and you made sure his mother never found out about it.”
His sister did not know either. Her eyes widened, and she shot her brother a worried look. He glanced her way and then nodded, looking at me directly in the eyes. He was obedient, fearless, and astute, an excellent combination for a loyal servant.
“Look after John, too. Jane trusts you, and she is an excellent judge of character, so I’m willing to give you the benefit of the doubt, despite your audacious behaviour.” He blushed like a debutante and lowered his head in acknowledgement. “Give me your word that I can count on you to protect them.”
“You have my word, sir.”
“And you better keep it, or I’ll come back from hell and curse you till the day you die.”
“I give you my word that no one will harm Mrs Rochester or Master John while I’m employed at Eyre Hall.”
I lifted my cane towards Briggs. I needed to ensure the boy would stay at Eyre Hall for the foreseeable future.
“Tell Cooper to double his salary and secure it for the next ten years.”
Briggs nodded and made a note in his ledger.
The lad looked older and sturdier than John, too young to have many vices, but old enough to go to war. “How old are you?” I asked him.
“Twenty-five next month, sir.”
“You’re old enough to marry. Have you set your eyes on someone?”
“I’m not planning on marrying, sir. Not until my sister finds a position or marries.”
“Jane tells me your sister is apprenticed to the parish schoolteacher. She is a clever girl, and she’s not unpleasant to look at. Do not let her marry below her station. And keep away from Mrs Rossett, both of you. She’s a troublemaker.”
His sister turned to leave. “You wait here,” I said, and her face paled, but I was too sick to carry out what she thought I required. I might have desired her tender flesh once upon a time. She reminded me of the plain, meek Jane I had met twenty-three years ago, but my body was too wasted now. “Stay. You are both to be witnesses of my last will and testament.”
Their eyes widened, but they remained as still as two gate posts.
I turned to Briggs. “And where the devil is Jane?”
She walked in and strode to my side, placing her hand on my shoulder and glancing at the two servants in surprise. “Is everything all right, Edward?”
I squeezed her hand. “It is now that you’re here. Let us begin, Mr Briggs. Read out the testament you have written per my instructions.”
“It is time, Jane. I want everything to be in order as soon as possible.”
“Edward, shouldn’t we discuss—”
“Do not interrupt me.” The footman’s head jerked towards me, and I realised my words had been too harsh. “Because if you do, my darling, I will lose my nerve and my concentration. I am feeling stronger today, but I know this will not last, and I want everything to be in order before I leave. Do you understand, Jane?”
She nodded and sat beside me, covering her mouth with an embroidered handkerchief. I waved my cane at Briggs. “Read it!”
I watched them listen carefully as Briggs read my will and then presented the siblings with his pen so they could sign.
“Jane, find Susan a husband and her brother a wife.” She nodded, and I turned to them again. “Make sure you marry your equal, as I did. The man or woman who matches your wit and intelligence, who will adapt to your way of life and accept you as you are, with all your faults, because our virtues are easy to tolerate.”
The girl looked at her brother, who bowed and spoke. “Yes, sir. Thank you for your advice, sir.”
I didn’t like his tone, but I was in no mood to argue, and they had served their purpose. I waved towards the door. “You may return to your chores.”
The girl said, “Thank you, sir,” curtseyed, and spun towards the door, but her brother had the gall to ignore my words and turn to Jane.
“Mrs Rochester, is there anything you require?” I disliked his insolence, but it pleased me that he would be loyal to Jane over anyone else, including the present master of the house.
When she seemed too upset to reply, he insisted, “Shall I bring some tea to the drawing room?”
She composed herself, smiled and spoke at last. “Thank you, Michael.” It was a lovely smile, one that she had not bestowed on me for months, perhaps even years. She was right not to; I did not deserve her kindness. “I’ll be there shortly,” she added, and he followed his sister out.
“Jane, you are to be strong. John needs you, and you will have to run the estate single-handedly; he is not prepared yet. Mr Cooper is trustworthy. You can depend on him, but as with any employee, he must know you are his employer. He will respect you and answer to you. Have you gone through the books with him as I asked you?”
She nodded and glanced at Briggs. “There are some expenses I don’t understand. The payments to Jamaica, and others to…” she paused. I knew she must have seen the sums I had been sending to the convent in Spanish Town and London.
“You heard me tell Cooper yesterday they were to be discontinued, did you not?”
“Yes, I did, but I would like to know the subject and reason for the transactions.”
“They are old debts and burdens which have been amply paid. You are not required to carry any of them; that is all you need to know.”
The less she knew, the better. There was no point in displeasing her by opening old wounds. The past was dead and gone. I would soon be relegated to her memory, and I did not want her to know all the reasons she should not have loved me. I could at least be a better man in her recollections.
“Jane, you were too good for me. I never deserved you. I should have treasured you more, but I could not change my nature. You have been the love of my life, and if I did not love you more, it was because I was not capable of it, not because you did not deserve it. You are dearer to me than anyone has ever been, including my son. I have been a fortunate man to have had you by my side all these years. I am not proud of all my deeds; unfortunately, they cannot be undone, but I ask for your forgiveness.”
She was not angry or upset by my words, but she did not smile. Her face was calm, as if she had known a storm was coming and was taking refuge in a house on a cliff, watching the raging waves from afar.
“There is nothing to forgive that I have not already forgiven.
“There may be grievances you are not aware of and yet you must forgive them too.”
“Edward, I cannot forgive that which is unknown to me.”
“You would have me die in torment?”
“Of course not; I have nothing to reproach you.”
I wanted to tell her she was wrong; I needed her pardon, but she withheld her absolution. “Edward, I am tired. Simon will take you to your room and serve your dinner.” She dropped a chaste kiss on my forehead and left without waiting for my response. I never expected Jane to be so cruel, not after offering her my sincere repentance.
Why couldn’t she do as I asked and forgive all my sins, including the ones I had not confessed? If she understood I was trying to avoid the heavy burden she would have to carry if I told her everything, she would not deny me her forgiveness.
If you’d like to know more about Blood Moon at Eyre Hall, check out these three posts:
Chapter Two also takes place at Eyre Hall and the surrounding land in July 1865, twenty-two years after Jane Eyre’s marriage to Edward Rochester. Her husband has suffered an attack while they were walking in the grounds and they have returned to Eyre Hall and called the doctor. The narrator is Jane.
Michael called Simon as soon as we arrived and instructed him to take Edward to his room, wash his muddy wounds, change his clothes, and put him to bed. Then he told Beth to call Adele and Christy to bring hot tea and led me to the drawing room. I was shivering, despite the woollen cloak. Michael suggested I sit by the fire. I nodded, too shocked to speak. Edward’s face had looked as grey as a corpse’s, and his hands had felt as cold as death. Perhaps he had died, and I had not noticed.
“Michael, how is Edward?”
“Mr Rochester will recover.” But Michael’s intense stare did not appease my distressed thoughts.
“Why are you still here? Please fetch Dr Carter.”
“I’ll leave as soon as Miss Adele comes downstairs to join you.”
I was grateful for his loyalty, but my major concern was Edward’s health. “I’m well, Michael,” I said, forcing a smile, because I knew he would not leave me unless I convinced him I had recovered from the shock.
“John must come home as soon as possible.”
He nodded. “I’ll be back with Dr Carter in less than an hour, and then I’ll ride to Millcote to send a telegram to Master John.”
As soon as the door closed, grief crushed my chest like a boulder, and I felt helpless. Minutes later, Adele rushed in fussing as if I had suffered a heart attack. “Adele, I’m well. It is Edward who took another turn.”
“We were by the lake, and suddenly he clutched his chest, cried out, and lurched so violently that his chair overturned and he fell to the ground.”
She threw her arms around me. “How dreadful, Jane!”
“It was a blessing that Michael arrived so quickly.”
“What was Michael doing by the lake?”
I could not fathom why Michael had been so close by, and then I remembered he had draped the cloak over my shoulders. “He brought my winter cloak. I went out with my summer coat.”
“Well, thank goodness he’s so thoughtful. I hate to think of you alone with Edward, sick on the ground, out on the estate. You wouldn’t have been able to lift him and push him back on your own.”
Adele was right, and I shuddered to think of having been alone when Edward fell. Michael was nothing like the shy lad who had arrived at Eyre Hall nine years earlier. He was sturdy and loyal, like the trees in the orchard. I had grown to depend on him for my life to run smoothly. He brought my meals on time, and he knew what I preferred to eat and drink, he carried out my errands, kindled the fires and drove me wherever I needed to go.
But he would leave one day, when his sister, Susan, who had been a maid and was now apprenticed at the parish school, found a permanent position, or married. He would marry and find another employment, no doubt in a grander household. He was too clever and resourceful to stay at Eyre Hall forever.
They would all leave me soon, and I should be alone. First Edward, then Michael and finally John, who was already away most of the time at Oxford, or in London, with his fiancée, Elizabeth. He would marry in a few years and maybe find a position in London. Elizabeth’s father, Judge Harwood, a prominent London magistrate, would no doubt endeavour to keep his daughter and future grandchildren close to him.
I would become an old, widowed maid in this empty country house, which should have been full of children, if God had allowed me to have more, at least one more; the little girl I held in my arms for a few minutes before she died and was taken away from me forever. I saw the iron gate to the Rochester crypt inside our church every Sunday, and I never ceased to shed a tear for the innocent body I buried there ten years ago.
Dr Carter entered the room solemnly, with his navy-blue coat, as always, starched and buttoned, and his medical case firmly gripped in his broad hands.
The doctor was getting old. He walked stiffly and had trouble standing up after he had been seated. His overweight frame no longer had the worthy presence of his youth, but his light-grey hair, grave voice and expression conferred an air of wisdom which led his patients to believe every word he said and follow his instructions to the letter.
“Good day, madam, Miss Adele.” He greeted us both with the tragic tone of the bearer of bad news. I offered him some tea, which he declined, and delivered his medical diagnosis at once.
“Mr Rochester shows the typical signs of apoplexy, a distorted mouth, slurred speech, weakness of the right arm, and pain at the back of the head.”
Adele jumped up from her seat and rushed towards the doctor, who was still standing in the doorway. “How is he? Can we see him?”
“He is stable at the moment. Despite the weakening of the body and paralysis of his left limbs, his breathing is slow but deep and regular, and his heart activity is feeble, but even. I suggest we let him rest and recover.”
Adele grabbed his arm. “But tell us, will he get better? He must get better!”
Dr Carter coughed and retrieved his arm from Adele’s grasp. “When he is able to speak, we may discover that he has some long-term physical damage such as urinary incontinence, inferior vision and hearing, and perhaps impaired memory.”
“But you can cure him, Dr Carter?”
“Adele, please sit down or you will make yourself ill.” I patted the seat next to mine by the hearth, then I turned to the physician. “Please take a seat and tell us how we can help Edward.”
He approached the armchair to our left. “I cannot stay long; Mrs Carter is expecting me for lunch.”
He dropped his case on the floor and sat. “There is no definite cure for this malady, madam. However, periodic bloodletting can help by decreasing blood pressure as can the use of purgatives, and some laudanum for the pain, which may all prolong his life, or at least render it more comfortable. I have instructed Simon to rub his legs with a woollen cloth and some ginger ointment to improve the circulation and to prepare plantain tea twice a day to reduce the inflammation from his head injury. I also suggest several cups of dandelion tea for the bladder and kidneys.”
We sat in a tense silence, pondering over the doctor’s disturbing prognosis. “How long can we expect him to remain with us?”
“It’s hard to say. This episode was far worse than last year’s illness. He is older and weaker. I suggest you call John.”
“Michael is on his way to send him a telegram.”
Dr Carter shook his head. “I doubt he’ll be with us next Christmas.”
Adele cried into her handkerchief, and the doctor continued. “I will visit daily, more than once if needed. I would warn you that nervousness or distress of any kind should be avoided at all costs as it will worsen his weak health and shorten his life. He needs absolute rest. He must no longer engage in any kind of subjective labour.”
And so, we had reached the beginning of the end. Soon Edward would be but another memory of days gone by. His corpse would lie alone in the damp crypt, and I would remain in this empty house until it was my turn to join him.
Dr Carter interrupted my thoughts. “I trust his affairs are in order, madam?”
“Not yet. He has asked to see his accountant and his lawyer as soon as possible.”
“His mind may have softened after the accident. We will have to wait and see when he wakes up. I suggest you postpone their visit for a few days.”
“I can’t bear to see him suffer!” cried Adele, burying her face in her handkerchief.
“He will not suffer, Miss Adele. He may have difficulty swallowing and breathing, and his pulse will weaken as his blood flows more slowly. He will leave us gradually but painlessly when the time comes.”
The doctor’s diagnosis had been too pessimistic. A few days later, Edward’s words were slow but clear, and his memory had not been impaired. He insisted I call Mr Cooper and Mr Briggs, because he wanted to make sure all his accounts were in order.
Mr Cooper was a tall, skeletal man with a large head of unruly white hair whose jackets were too long and trousers too short, reminding me of a clown, although he never smiled at all. Simon carried Edward down to the library for his meeting. I was about to leave them to their business when Edward called me back.
“Stay, Jane. You are to supervise all transactions from now on. I have no more interest in earthly matters.”
Edward had asked me to help with the accounts over the last year, so I had become familiar with the procedure. I listened attentively to Edward as he instructed his accountant to prepare for my forthcoming responsibilities.
“You will send one final year’s payment to the following and inform them that all contact will be ceased thereafter.” Edward glanced at me before continuing. “Mr Pickering.”
Mr Cooper’s eyes shot up. “Excuse me, sir, did you say mister?”
Edward interrupted him. “I said Mr Pickering; are you deaf?”
I had seen the unfamiliar names with regular payments. Edward had told me Mr Cooper had mistakenly written Mrs instead of Mister in several entries. I supposed it was another of his lies, but his disloyalty had ceased to trouble me years ago, although Edward kept up appearances in front of his accountant.
“The same for Mr Weston and Mr Heath.”
Mr Cooper’s eyebrows reached his hairline. “Did you say, one year’s annuity, sir?”
“Why do you tire me so? Do not question or interrupt me again, or you will be out of a job, do you hear me?”
Mr Cooper nodded. “Excuse me, sir. I was merely checking the facts. We are dealing with a lot of money.”
“It will be a final payment. Make it known to them that if they ever ask for more, you are to speak to Briggs and he will press charges. Blackmail is a punishable crime and should be reported at once. Blackmailers and other extortionists are punished with seven years’ transportation. They can even be sentenced to death if the victim was threatened with murder.”
“Naturally,” said Cooper, scribbling in his notebook.
“Also, all rents, club annuities and any other expenses not directly related to Eyre Hall and the Rochester Estate will be discontinued immediately.”
Cooper coughed, wiped his forehead, and shot a sideways glance in my direction before asking, “Sir, the overseas expenses; what is to become of them?”
“Continue with the upkeep for the villa in the south of France and transfer it to Adele. Jane has no interest in it, do you, my love?”
“None.” It was the house he had asked me to travel to after Bertha Mason’s presence in the attic was discovered. He wanted me to live with him in France while his wife remained in the attic. I should have realised then that he would not be a worthy husband, but I was blinded by love. “Adele will be pleased.”
“And the other overseas expenses, sir?”
“The same as the rest; the annuity to mark the end of the agreement.”
“Are you sure, sir?”
Edward raised his cane. “I’m sure you are a deaf and dumb imbecile.”
Cooper held up his hand and moved further away to the other side of the desk. “They have not replied to the letter I sent last month, sir.”
“That is of no concern to me. I do not care for a reply, because I did not ask a question. I merely told you to inform them of the new situation. They have been informed, I trust?”
“Of course, sir. It was sent through the diplomatic dispatch to the governor’s office as you instructed.”
“Excellent. Then it is done. I have no more business with them and neither has my wife. I would like to spare Jane the burden of dealing with any of my unfinished affairs. You will take care of these matters at once, Mr Cooper.”
Edward did not intend to justify, explain or much less be penitent for any of his undisclosed expenses, which I supposed were clandestine; he merely wished to ensure they were terminated before I took over our finances. I did not ask or complain; I had no interest in his London acquaintances or dealings over the last ten years of our marriage. I had chosen to immerse myself in my writing and my involvement in local charities and Sunday schools as well as John, Adele, and the day-to-day running of Eyre Hall.
The first eleven years of our marriage had been like a protracted honeymoon, until the severe breakdown I suffered after my daughter’s death. I dread to remember the abyss I descended into, and I thank my dear cousin Mary and her husband, Reverend Wharton, for helping me recover my sanity during my stay with them in Wales. Unfortunately, by the time I returned, Edward had become restless and impatient at Eyre Hall. His trips to London and visits to acquaintances were frequent, but, in all honesty, I was partly to blame, for I had stopped loving him, and yet, his lies, betrayals, and imminent death still saddened me.
I surreptitiously wiped a tear as they continued to talk about the estate matters I was already familiar with. I felt old and unloved, and yet Edward had met me and found love later in life. Perhaps it was different for men, so free to feel love at any age while we women were constrained to find happiness only in our child-bearing years. I still had my courses, although little did they serve me, for I was barren. I was half a woman who would soon be a solitary widow nobody would ever love again.
Come back tomorrow I’ll be posting an excerpt of chapter three!
If you’d like to know more about Blood Moon at Eyre Hall, check out these two posts:
Book One of The Eyre Hall Series will be live in two day’s time! On Sunday 22 of August!
Relive the Mystery and Magic of Jane Eyre in Blood Moon at Eyre Hall, the first novel in The Eyre Hall Series, the Sequel to Jane Eyre.
While Jane is coping with Mr Rochester’s illness…
And a Malevolent prophecy hangs over Eyre Hall, built on the site of Thornfield Hall…
The unexpected Romance…
Richard Mason, the first Mrs Rochester’s brother, returns from Jamaica to reveal more secrets from the attic at Thornfield Hall.
Why Has Mr Mason returned to Eyre Hall? What new and devastating secrets will he disclose? And how will Jane cope?
Find out what could have happened twenty-two years after Jane Eyre married Edward Rochester in Blood Moon at Eyre Hall, Book One of The Eyre Hall Series.
Readers who have already readThe Eyre Hall Trilogy can skip directly to Thunder Moon at Eyre Hall, available in October 2021. If you have any questions about the reading order of the series, just let me know in the comments.
HappyWeekend and Happy Reading!
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During a walk with Adele on the grounds of Thornfield Hall, we understand why the full moon is a negative omen of betrayal. Mr Rochester tells Jane about the moonlit night he surprised Adele’s mother, the French opera singer, Celine Varens, with her lover.
“It was moonlight and gaslight besides, and very still and serene. The balcony was furnished with a chair or two.”
Mr Rochester tells Jane he realised she was using him for his money, as he was paying for all her expenses, but she was unfaithful, so he left her that very night, withdrew her allowance, and challenged the young officer to a duel.
The first time Jane saw the door to the hidden room where Bertha was kept prisoner, in chapter XX, was a full moon.
I had forgotten to draw my curtain, which I usually did, and also to let down my window-blind. The consequence was, that when the moon, which was full and bright (for the night was fine), came in her course to that space in the sky opposite my casement, and looked in at me through the unveiled panes, her glorious gaze roused me. Awaking in the dead of night, I opened my eyes on her disk—silver- white and crystal clear. It was beautiful, but too solemn; I half rose, and stretched my arm to draw the curtain.
And then she heard cries asking for help coming from the third storey. All the guests who were staying at Thornfield rushed out. Mr Rochester came down from the direction of the cries and sent them all to bed. Then he knocked on Jane’s door and took her upstairs to nurse Mason while he fetched the doctor.
Her visit to the tapestried room was terrifying. Behind the tapestry, which had been looped to one side she saw a hidden door and heard a snarling sound from within and Grace Poole’s voice.
Here the moon, which wakes her up and is ‘too solemn’ is warning Jane of danger ahead.
Jane enjoys drawing and the moon figures frequently in her illustrations. While she is at Thornfield Jane returns to Gateshead to her aunt’s, she draws some pictures including a rising moon.
Provided with a case of pencils, and some sheets of paper, I used to take a seat apart from them, near the window, and busy myself in sketching fancy vignettes, representing any scene that happened momentarily to shape itself in the ever-shifting kaleidoscope of imagination: a glimpse of sea between two rocks; the rising moon, and a ship crossing its disk; a group of reeds and water-flags, and a naiad’s head, crowned with lotus-flowers, rising out of them; an elf sitting in a hedge-sparrow’s nest, under a wreath of hawthorn- bloom.
The rising moon, and a ship crossing its disk, would suggest that Jane foresees a journey, or at least a change in her life. At this point, Jane has acknowledged that he is in love with Mr Rochester, but she believes he will marry Blanche, so she has resolved to leave Thornfield. She trusts the moon to guide her along to her new destination.
Shortly after her return to Thornfield Hall, Mr Rochester proposes to Jane on a full moon evening.
Jane went out to the garden as night fell. On seeing Mr Rochester, she tried to slip away, but he asked her to stay and watch the moonrise.
‘Turn back: on so lovely a night it is a shame to sit in the house; and surely no one can wish to go to bed while sunset is thus at meeting with moonrise.’
At first, he teases her by telling her she must go to Ireland, because he will marry Blanche. When Jane rises to leave, he proposes. She thinks he is lying and insists on looking at his face in the moonlight.
‘Mr. Rochester, let me look at your face: turn to the moonlight.’
‘Because I want to read your countenance—turn!’
The light of the moon allows Jane to see that his offer is sincere, si she accepts. They stay in the garden, talking all night until the moon was almost set, and she could no longer see his face.
The day after she has accepted his proposal, Adele, Jane, and Rochester go shopping to Millcote. In the carriage Rochester tells Adele he will take Jane to the moon where they will live in a cave and eat manna, which grows there plentifully.
I am to take mademoiselle to the moon, and there I shall seek a cave in one of the white valleys among the volcano-tops, and mademoiselle shall live with me there, and only me.’
‘She will have nothing to eat: you will starve her,’ observed Adele.
‘I shall gather manna for her morning and night: the plains and hillsides in the moon are bleached with manna, Adele.’
‘She will want to warm herself: what will she do for a fire?’
‘Fire rises out of the lunar mountains: when she is cold, I’ll carry her up to a peak, and lay her down on the edge of a crater.’
I suggest Mr Rochester is using moon symbolism and metaphor to describe the sexual relationship he hopes to have with Jane, but his dream-like description of their honeymoon is open to diverse interpretations.
One full moon night, a month after the proposal while Mr. Rochester was absent from home on business, Jane experienced a disturbing event.
She woke thinking it was daylight, but when she opened her eyes, there was candlelight on the dressing-table. Jane supposed Sophie had come in, but the closet door, where her wedding dress and veil were hanging, was open, and she heard a rustling noise. She thought it was Sophie, but and a form she had never seen before emerged from the closet. She describes a monster; a tall, corpulent woman with thick, dark hair hanging long down her back, wearing a white dress. She had bloodshot eyes with black eyebrows, purple skin and swollen dark lips. She took Jane’s veil tore it in two, threw it on the floor and trampled on it.
Then she stood by her bedside, glared at her, thrust up her candle close to her face, and extinguished it under her eyes. Jane was terrified and lost consciousness.
Mr Rochester was gone and she was terrified of staying inside the house that night without him, so she went out in the moonlit night in search of him. As before, Jane looks to the moon to guide her to a better place.
The following day, after their interrupted wedding, Mr Rochester has asked her to stay with him despite being married and suggested they live as husband and wife in his house in France. Jane of course refuses, she is too clever to become another woman abandoned by Rochester when he tires of her. Jane is in a desperate quandary. She doesn’t want to leave Mr Rochester, but neither can she stay and be his mistress.
That night, while she’s in her room sleeping, she dreams of a moon in the sky which becomes a white human form, her mother who gazes at her and says, ‘My daughter, flee temptation.’
Jane replies, ‘Mother, I will,’ and leaves Thornfield Hall that very night.
The moon, personified advises her on what she should do. In this instance, the moon takes the human form of her mother and tells Jane to leave in order to avoid temptation.
We cannot be sure if Jane is referring to her biological mother or Mary, the mother of God, her spiritual mother, or perhaps both. As the symbolism of the Virgin Mary is a major part of catholic doctrine and Jane is an Anglican, I would be inclined to assume that she is referring to her own mother. This is the only time Jane actively thinks about or refers to her mother in the novel.
At Moor House in Morton, the night before her cousin St John left for India, Jane, who had already turned down his proposal, has an auditory extrasensory experience.
In the evening while St John, Mary, Diana, and Jane are reading before prayers, the May moon is shining brightly through the uncurtained window, rendering almost unnecessary the light of the candle on the table.
It was later that full moon night when one of the most dramatic scenes in the novel takes place.
‘The room was full of moonlight. My heart beat fast and thick: I heard its throb. Suddenly it stood still to an inexpressible feeling that thrilled it through, and passed at once to my head and extremities. The feeling was not like an electric shock, but it was quite as sharp, as strange, as startling: it acted on my senses as if their utmost activity hitherto had been but torpor, from which they were now summoned and forced to wake. They rose expectant: eye and ear waited while the flesh quivered on my bones.
Jane heard Mr Rochester’s voice cry out her name three times.
‘I am coming!’ she cried. ‘Wait for me! Oh, I will come!’ and the following day she returned to Thornfield Hall.
Days later, when she finds him in Ferndean Mr Rochester tells her that a few nights earlier, while he was watching the full moon, he called her name three times in desperation.
‘Did you speak these words aloud?’
‘I did, Jane. If any listener had heard me, he would have thought me mad: I pronounced them with such frantic energy.’
He also tells her he heard her reply.
‘As I exclaimed ‘Jane! Jane! Jane!’ a voice—I cannot tell whence the voice came, but I know whose voice it was—replied, ‘I am coming: wait for me.’
Rochester states that, ‘In spirit, I believe we must have met…perhaps your soul wandered from its cell to comfort mine.’
So here at the end of the novel, the moon becomes a positive omen for both, carrying their voices and feelings across space, simultaneously. From then on, they will both remember the night of the full moon they contacted each other supernaturally, and as a result they were reunited. The moon’s final appearance in the novel is the central element to the grand finale. Jane and Rochester’s love is like the tide, controlled by the moon, who pulls them together in the novel’s final happy ever after.
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?
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.
I woke up in my own bed after a frightful nightmare.
Bessie refused to sleep alone with me for fear that I might die during the night, so Sarah stayed with her. I heard them say a white apparition had passed over me and my uncle’s grave, and although I have forgiven my aunt, to this day I still suffer at the memory of that ghostly night.
The next day, Mr Lloyd, the apothecary visited and asked me why I was crying and I told him I had been locked in a dark room with a ghost and that I was very unhappy at Gateshead.
When he asked me if I’d like to go away to school, I agreed because I could learn French and how to paint, sing and play the piano. He said he would speak to Mrs Reed and as she says I’m a tiresome, ill- conditioned child, I hope she will be glad to be rid of me and let me go.
Later that night, I heard Miss Abbot tell Bessie my father had been a poor clergyman. My mother’s father had disagreed with the marriage and cut her off without a shilling. A year later my father caught the typhus fever while visiting the poor, and shortly after my mother had died, too, making me a penniless orphan.
The third chapter of Jane Eyre introduces a new character, Mr Lloyd, the apothecary. He is not a major character, but he is significant for two reasons. Firstly, he suggests Jane should be removed from Gateshead and taken to a boarding school, an event which initiates the next stage of jane’s journey. Secondly, he is the first adult who is actively involved in helping Jane, as we will see in chapter VIII.
Jane is aware at such a young age how learning can help her improve her future and in fact it is her knowledge of French which will be one of the reasons she is offered the job of governess at Thornfield Hall nine years later, to teach Mr Rochester’s French ward English.
Jane also learns about her parents’ deaths. This chapter begins the transition from the fear and torture she is putting up with at Gateshead to the possibility of hope and a new life at a school, away from her aunt and cousins.