Thursday, February 17, 2011

Chapter 16: Midnight disturbance? What midnight disturbance?

"I both wished and feared to see Mr. Rochester on the day which followed this sleepless night: I wanted to hear his voice again, yet feared to meet his eye."
The rest of the household thinks nothing much went on the night before, just a little accident, but Jane hasn't forgotten. She thinks it has something to do with the mysterious Grace Poole, but her inquiries in that line get her nowhere. Speculation about Grace's relationship with Rochester is equally productive, but it does provoke this leap of logic:
"Yet," suggested the secret voice which talks to us in our own hearts, "you are not beautiful either, and perhaps Mr. Rochester approves you: at any rate, you have often felt as if he did; and last night—remember his words; remember his look; remember his voice!"
Remember, indeed.

But after Jane has spent the whole day expecting to see Rochester anyminutenow, Mrs. Fairfax says that he's left. Off to join a nearby house party.

With Blanche Ingram.

From Mrs. Fairfax's description, it does seem that there's something special about the lady:
"Tall, fine bust, sloping shoulders; long, graceful neck: olive complexion, dark and clear; noble features; eyes rather like Mr. Rochester’s: large and black, and as brilliant as her jewels. And then she had such a fine head of hair; raven-black and so becomingly arranged: a crown of thick plaits behind, and in front the longest, the glossiest curls I ever saw. She was dressed in pure white; an amber-coloured scarf was passed over her shoulder and across her breast, tied at the side, and descending in long, fringed ends below her knee. She wore an amber-coloured flower, too, in her hair: it contrasted well with the jetty mass of her curls."
Aaaand we get another round of foreshadowing:
"Oh! yes. But you see there is a considerable difference in age: Mr. Rochester is nearly forty; she is but twenty-five."

"What of that? More unequal matches are made every day."
You think you know unequal, Mrs. Fairfax? You ain't seen nothin'.

But for now, Jane takes this description of the lovely Miss Ingram as a sign that no, she has no effect whatsoever on Rochester; that it's absurd to even consider such a thing; and that it's now necessary to abase herself further for having considered it.

But that doesn't mean the idea's gone away.

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