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Chapter 25

THE month of courtship had wasted: its very last hours were being numbered. There was no putting off the day that advanced- the bridal day; and all preparations for its arrival were complete. I, at least, had nothing more to do: there were my trunks, packed, locked, corded, ranged in a row along the wall of my little chamber; to-morrow, at this time, they would be far on their road to London: and so should I (D.V.),- or rather, not I, but one Jane Rochester, a person whom as yet I knew not. The cards of address alone remained to nail on: they lay, four little squares, in the drawer. Mr. Rochester had himself written the direction, 'Mrs. Rochester,- Hotel, London,' on each: I could not persuade myself to affix them, or to have them affixed. Mrs. Rochester! She did not exist: she would not be born till to-morrow, some time after eight o'clock A.M.; and I would wait to be assured she had come into the world alive before I assigned to her all that property. It was enough that in yonder closet, opposite my dressing-table, garments said to be hers had already displaced my black stuff Lowood frock and straw bonnet: for not to me appertained that suit of wedding raiment; the pearl-coloured robe, the vapoury veil pendent from the usurped portmanteau. I shut the closet to conceal the strange, wraith-like apparel it contained;
which, at this evening hour- nine o'clock- gave out certainly a most ghostly shimmer through the shadow of my apartment. 'I will leave you by yourself, white dream,' I said. 'I am feverish: I hear the wind blowing: I will go out of doors and feel it.'

It was not only the hurry of preparation that made me feverish; not only the anticipation of the great change- the new life which was to commence to-morrow: both these circumstances had their share, doubtless, in producing that restless, excited mood which hurried me forth at this late hour into the darkening grounds: but a third cause influenced my mind more than they.

I had at heart a strange and anxious thought. Something had happened which I could not comprehend; no one knew of or had seen the event but myself: it had taken place the preceding night. Mr. Rochester that night was absent from home; nor was he yet returned: business had called him to a small estate of two or three farms he possessed thirty miles off- business it was requisite he should settle in person, previous to his meditated departure from England. I waited now his return; eager to disburthen my mind, and to seek of him the solution of the enigma that perplexed me. Stay till he comes, reader: and, when I disclose my secret to him, you shall share the confidence.

I sought the orchard, driven to its shelter by the wind, which all day had blown strong and full from the south, without, however, bringing a speck of rain. Instead of subsiding as night drew on, it seemed to augment its rush and deepen its roar: the trees blew steadfastly one way, never writhing round, and scarcely tossing back their boughs once in an hour; so continuous was the strain bending their branchy heads northward- the clouds drifted from pole to pole, fast following, mass on mass: no glimpse of blue sky had been visible that July day.

It was not without a certain wild pleasure I ran before the wind, delivering my trouble of mind to the measureless air-torrent thundering through space. Descending the laurel walk, I faced the wreck of the chestnut-tree; it stood up black and riven: the trunk, split down the centre, gaped ghastly. The cloven halves were not broken from each other, for the firm base and strong roots kept them unsundered below; though community of vitality was destroyed- the sap could flow no more: their great boughs on each side were dead, and next winter's tempests would be sure to fell one or both to earth: as yet, however, they might be said to form one tree- a ruin, but an entire ruin.

'You did right to hold fast to each other,' I said: as if the monster-splinters were living things, and could hear me. 'I think, scathed as you look, and charred and scorched, there must be a little sense of life in you yet, rising out of that adhesion at the faithful, honest roots: you will never have green leaves more- never more see birds making nests and singing idyls in your boughs; the time of pleasure and love is over with you: but you are not desolate: each of you has a comrade to sympathise with him in his decay.' As I looked up at them, the moon appeared momentarily in that part of the sky which filled their fissure; her disk was blood-red and half overcast; she seemed to throw on me one bewildered, dreary glance, and buried herself again instantly in the deep drift of cloud. The wind fell, for a second, round Thornfield; but far away over wood and water, poured a wild, melancholy wail: it was sad to listen to, and I ran off again.

Here and there I strayed through the orchard, gathered up the apples with which the grass round the tree roots was thickly strewn; then I employed myself in dividing the ripe from the unripe; I carried them into the house and put them away in the storeroom. Then I repaired to the library to ascertain whether the fire was lit, for, though summer, I knew on such a gloomy evening Mr. Rochester would like to see a cheerful hearth when he came in: yes, the fire had been kindled some time, and burnt well. I placed his arm-chair by the chimney-corner: I wheeled the table near it: I let down the  curtain, and had the candles brought in ready for lighting. More restless than ever, when I had completed these arrangements I could not sit still, nor even remain in the house: a little timepiece in the room and the old clock in the hall simultaneously struck ten.

'How late it grows!' I said. 'I will run down to the gates: it is moonlight at intervals; I can see a good way on the road. He may be coming now, and to meet him will save some minutes of suspense.'

The wind roared high in the great trees which embowered the gates; but the road as far as I could see, to the right hand and the left, was all still and solitary: save for the shadows of clouds crossing it at intervals as the moon looked out, it was a long pale line, unvaried by one moving speck.

A puerile tear dimmed my eye while I looked- a tear of disappointment and impatience; ashamed of it, I wiped it away. I lingered; the moon shut herself wholly within her chamber, and drew close her curtain of dense cloud: the night grew dark; rain came driving fast on the gale.

'I wish he would come! I wish he would come!' I exclaimed, seized with hypochondriac foreboding. I had expected his arrival before tea; now it was dark: what could keep him? Had an accident happened?

The event of last night again recurred to me. I interpreted it as a warning of disaster. I feared my hopes were too bright to be realised; and I had enjoyed so much bliss lately that I imagined my fortune had passed its meridian, and must now decline.

'Well, I cannot return to the house,' I thought; 'I cannot sit by the fireside, while he is abroad in inclement weather: better tire my limbs than strain my heart; I will go forward and meet him.'

I set out; I walked fast, but not far: ere I had measured a quarter of a mile, I heard the tramp of hoofs; a horseman came on, full gallop; a dog ran by his side. Away with evil presentiment! It was he: here he was, mounted on Mesrour, followed by Pilot. He saw me; for the moon had opened a blue field in the sky, and rode in it watery bright: he took his hat off, and waved it round his head. I now ran to meet him.

'There!' he exclaimed, as he stretched out his hand and bent from the saddle: 'you can't do without me, that is evident. Step on my boot-toe; give me both hands: mount!'

I obeyed: joy made me agile: I sprang up before him. A hearty kissing I got for a welcome, and some boastful triumph, which I swallowed as well as I could. He checked himself in his exultation to demand, 'But is there anything the matter, Janet, that you come to meet me at such an hour? Is there anything wrong?'

'No, but I thought you would never come. I could not bear to wait in the house for you, especially with this rain and wind.'

'Rain and wind, indeed! Yes, you are dripping like a mermaid; pull my cloak round you: but I think you are feverish, Jane: both your cheek and hand are burning hot. I ask again, is there anything the matter?'

'Nothing now; I am neither afraid nor unhappy.'

'Then you have been both?'

'Rather: but I'll tell you all about it by and by, sir; and I daresay you will only laugh at me for my pains.'

'I'll laugh at you heartily when to-morrow is past; till then I dare not: my prize is not certain. This is you, who have been as slippery as an eel this last month, and as thorny as a briar-rose? I could not lay a finger anywhere but I was pricked; and now I seem to have gathered up a stray lamb in my arms. You wandered out of the fold to seek your shepherd, did you, Jane?'

'I wanted you: but don't boast. Here we are at Thornfield: now let me get down.'

He landed me on the pavement. As John took his horse, and he followed me into the hall, he told me to make haste and put something dry on, and then return to him in the library; and he stopped me, as I made for the staircase, to extort a promise that I would not be long: nor was I long; in five minutes I rejoined him. I found him at supper.

'Take a seat and bear me company, Jane: please God, it is the last meal but one you will eat at Thornfield Hall for a long time.'

I sat down near him, but told him I could not eat.

'Is it because you have the prospect of a journey before you, Jane?

Is it the thoughts of going to London that takes away your appetite?'

'I cannot see my prospects clearly to-night, sir; and I hardly know what thoughts I have in my head. Everything in life seems unreal.'

'Except me: I am substantial enough- touch me.'

'You, sir, are the most phantom-like of all: you are a mere dream.'

He held out his hand, laughing. 'Is that a dream?' said he, placing it close to my eyes. He had a rounded, muscular, and vigorous hand, as well as a long, strong arm.

'Yes; though I touch it, it is a dream,' said I, as I put it down from before my face. 'Sir, have you finished supper?'

'Yes, Jane.'

I rang the bell and ordered away the tray. When we were again alone, I stirred the fire, and then took a low seat at my master's knee.

'It is near midnight,' I said.

'Yes: but remember, Jane, you promised to wake with me the night before my wedding.'

'I did; and I will keep my promise, for an hour or two at least: I have no wish to go to bed.'

'Are all your arrangements complete?'

'All, sir.'

'And on my part likewise,' he returned, 'I have settled everything; and we shall leave Thornfield to-morrow, within half an hour after our return from church.'

'Very well, sir.'

'With what an extraordinary smile you uttered that word- "very well," Jane! What a bright spot of colour you have on each cheek! and how strangely your eyes glitter! Are you well?'

'I believe I am.'

'Believe! What is the matter? Tell me what you feel.'

'I could not, sir: no words could tell you what I feel. I wish this present hour would never end: who knows with what fate the next day may come charged?'

'This is hypochondria, Jane. You have been over-excited, or over-fatigued.'

'Do you, sir, feel calm and happy?'

'Calm?- no: but happy- to the heart's core.'

I looked up at him to read the signs of bliss in his face: it was ardent and flushed.

'Give me your confidence, Jane,' he said: 'relieve your mind of any weight that oppresses it, by imparting it to me. What do you fear?- that I shall not prove a good husband?'

'It is the idea farthest from my thoughts.'

'Are you apprehensive of the new sphere you are about to enter?- of the new life into which you are passing?'

'No.'

'You puzzle me, Jane: your look and tone of sorrowful audacity perplex and pain me. I want an explanation.'

'Then, sir, listen. You were from home last night?'

'I was: I know that; and you hinted a while ago at something which had happened in my absence:- nothing, probably, of consequence; but, in short, it has disturbed you. Let me hear it. Mrs. Fairfax has said something, perhaps? or you have overheard the servants talk?- your sensitive self-respect has been wounded?'

'No, sir.' It struck twelve- I waited till the timepiece had concluded its silver chime, and the clock its hoarse, vibrating stroke, and then I proceeded.

'All day yesterday I was very busy, and very happy in my ceaseless bustle; for I am not, as you seem to think, troubled by any haunting fears about the new sphere, et cetera: I think it a glorious thing to have the hope of living with you, because I love you. No, sir, don't caress me now- let me talk undisturbed.

Yesterday I trusted well in Providence, and believed that events were working together for your good and mine: it was a fine day, if you recollect- the calmness of the air and sky forbade apprehensions respecting your safety or comfort on your journey. I walked a little while on the pavement after tea, thinking of you; and I beheld you in imagination so near me, I scarcely missed your actual presence. I thought of the life that lay before me- your life, sir- an existence more expansive and stirring than my own: as much more so as the depths of the sea to which the brook runs are than the shallows of its own strait channel. I wondered why moralists call this world a dreary wilderness: for me it blossomed like a rose. Just at sunset, the air turned cold and the sky cloudy: I went in, Sophie called me upstairs to look at my wedding-dress, which they had just brought; and under it in the box I found your present- the veil which, in your princely extravagance, you sent for from London: resolved, I suppose, since I would not have jewels, to cheat me into accepting something as costly.

I smiled as I unfolded it, and devised how I would tease you about your aristocratic tastes, and your efforts to masque your plebeian bride in the attributes of a peeress. I thought how I would carry down to you the square of unembroidered blond I had myself prepared as a covering for my low-born head, and ask if that was not good enough for a woman who could bring her husband neither fortune, beauty, nor connections. I saw plainly how you would look; and heard your impetuous republican answers, and your haughty disavowal of any necessity on your part to augment your wealth, or elevate your standing, by marrying either a purse or a coronet.'

'How well you read me, you witch!' interposed Mr. Rochester: 'but what did you find in the veil besides its embroidery? Did you find poison, or a dagger, that you look so mournful now?'

'No, no, sir; besides the delicacy and richness of the fabric, I found nothing save Fairfax Rochester's pride; and that did not scare me, because I am used to the sight of the demon. But, sir, as it grew dark, the wind rose: it blew yesterday evening, not as it blows now- wild and high- but "with a sullen, moaning sound" far more eerie.

I wished you were at home. I came into this room, and the sight of the empty chair and fireless hearth chilled me. For some time after I went to bed, I could not sleep- a sense of anxious excitement distressed me. The gale still rising, seemed to my ear to muffle a mournful under-sound; whether in the house or abroad I could not at first tell, but it recurred, doubtful yet doleful at every lull; at last I made out it must be some dog howling at a distance. I was glad when it ceased. On sleeping, I continued in dreams the idea of a dark and gusty night. I continued also the wish to be with you, and experienced a strange, regretful consciousness of some barrier dividing us. During all my first sleep, I was following the windings of an unknown road; total obscurity environed me; rain pelted me; I was burdened with the charge of a little child: a very small creature, too young andfeeble to walk, and which shivered in my cold arms, and wailed piteously in my ear. I thought, sir, that you were on the road a long way before me; and I strained every nerve to overtake you, and made effort on effort to utter your name and entreat you to stop- but my movements were fettered, and my voice still died away inarticulate; while you, I felt, withdrew farther and farther every moment.'

'And these dreams weigh on your spirits now, Jane, when I am close to you? Little nervous subject! Forget visionary woe, and think only of real happiness! You say you love me, Janet: yes- I will not forget that; and you cannot deny it. Those words did not die inarticulate on your lips. I heard them clear and soft: a thought too solemn perhaps, but sweet as music- "I think it is a glorious thing to have the hope of living with you, Edward, because I love you." Do you love me, Jane?- repeat it.'

'I do, sir- I do, with my whole heart.'

'Well,' he said, after some minutes' silence, 'it is strange; but that sentence has penetrated my breast painfully. Why? I think because you said it with such an earnest, religious energy, and because your upward gaze at me now is the very sublime of faith, truth, and devotion: it is too much as if some spirit were near me. Look wicked, Jane: as you know well how to look: coin one of your wild, shy, provoking smiles, tell me you hate me- tease me, vex me; do anything but move me: I would rather be incensed than saddened.'

'I will tease you and vex you to your heart's content, when I have finished my tale: but hear me to the end.'

'I thought, Jane, you had told me all. I thought I had found the source of your melancholy in a dream.'

I shook my head. 'What! is there more? But I will not believe it to be anything important. I warn you of incredulity beforehand. Go on.'

The disquietude of his air, the somewhat apprehensive impatience of his manner, surprised me: but I proceeded.

'I dreamt another dream, sir: that Thornfield Hall was a dreary ruin, the retreat of bats and owls. I thought that of all the stately front nothing remained but a shell-like wall, very high and very fragile-looking. I wandered, on a moonlight night, through the grass-grown enclosure within: here I stumbled over a marble hearth, and there over a fallen fragment of cornice. Wrapped up in a shawl, I still carried the unknown little child: I might not lay it down anywhere, however tired were my arms- however much its weight impeded my progress, I must retain it. I heard the gallop of a horse at a distance on the road; I was sure it was you; and you were departing for many years and for a distant country. I climbed the thin wall with frantic perilous haste, eager to catch one glimpse of you from the top: the stones rolled from under my feet, the ivy branches I grasped gave way, the child clung round my neck in terror, and almost strangled me; at last I gained the summit. I saw you like a speck on a white track, lessening every moment. The blast blew so strong I could not stand. I sat down on the narrow ledge; I hushed the scared infant in my lap: you turned an angle of the road: I bent forward to take a last look; the wall crumbled; I was shaken; the child rolled from my knee, I lost my balance, fell, and woke.'

'Now, Jane, that is all.'

'All the preface, sir; the tale is yet to come. On waking, a gleam dazzled my eyes; I thought- Oh, it is daylight! But I was mistaken; it was only candlelight. Sophie, I supposed, had come in.

There was a light in the dressing-table, and the door of the closet, where, before going to bed, I had hung my wedding-dress and veil, stood open; I heard a rustling there. I asked, "Sophie, what are you doing?" No one answered; but a form emerged from the closet; it took the light, held it aloft, and surveyed the garments pendent from the portmanteau. "Sophie! Sophie!" I again cried: and still it was silent.

I had risen up in bed, I bent forward: first surprise, then bewilderment, came over me; and then my blood crept cold through my veins. Mr. Rochester, this was not Sophie, it was not Leah, it was not Mrs. Fairfax: it was not- no, I was sure of it, and am still- it was not even that strange woman, Grace Poole.'

'It must have been one of them,' interrupted my master.

'No, sir, I solemnly assure you to the contrary. The shape standing before me had never crossed my eyes within the precincts of Thornfield Hall before; the height, the contour were new to me.'

'Describe it, Jane.'

'It seemed, sir, a woman, tall and large, with thick and dark hair hanging long down her back. I know not what dress she had on: it was white and straight; but whether gown, sheet, or shroud, I cannot tell.'

'Did you see her face?'

'Not at first. But presently she took my veil from its place; she held it up, gazed at it long, and then she threw it over her own head, and turned to the mirror. At that moment I saw the reflection of the visage and features quite distinctly in the dark oblong glass.'

'And how were they?'

'Fearful and ghastly to me- oh, sir, I never saw a face like it! It was a discoloured face- it was a savage face. I wish I could forget the roll of the red eyes and the fearful blackened inflation of the lineaments!'

'Ghosts are usually pale, Jane.'

'This, sir, was purple: the lips were swelled and dark; the brow furrowed: the black eyebrows widely raised over the bloodshot eyes.

Shall I tell you of what it reminded me?'

'You may.'

'Of the foul German spectre- the Vampyre.'

'Ah!- what did it do?'

'Sir, it removed my veil from its gaunt head, rent it in two parts, and flinging both on the floor, trampled on them.'

'Afterwards?'

'It drew aside the window-curtain and looked out; perhaps it saw dawn approaching, for, taking the candle, it retreated to the door.

Just at my bedside, the figure stopped: the fiery eyes glared upon me- she thrust up her candle close to my face, and extinguished it under my eyes. I was aware her lurid visage flamed over mine, and I lost consciousness: for the second time in my life- only the second time- I became insensible from terror.'

'Who was with you when you revived?'

'No one, sir, but the broad day. I rose, bathed my head and face in water, drank a long draught; felt that though enfeebled I was not ill, and determined that to none but you would I impart this vision. Now sir, tell me who and what that woman was?'

'The creature of an over-stimulated brain; that is certain. I must be careful of you, my treasure: nerves like yours were not made for rough handling.'

'Sir, depend on it, my nerves were not in fault; the thing was real: the transaction actually took place.'

'And your previous dreams, were they real too? Is Thornfield Hall a ruin? Am I severed from you by insuperable obstacles? Am I leaving you without a tear- without a kiss- without a word?'

'Not yet.'

'Am I about to do it? Why, the day is already commenced which is to bind us indissolubly; and when we are once united, there shall be no recurrence of these mental terrors: I guarantee that.'

'Mental terrors, sir! I wish I could believe them to be only such: I wish it more now than ever; since even you cannot explain to me the mystery of that awful visitant.'

'And since I cannot do it, Jane, it must have been unreal.'

'But, sir, when I said so to myself on rising this morning, and when I looked round the room to gather courage and comfort from the cheerful aspect of each familiar object in full daylight, there- on the carpet- I saw what gave the distinct lie to my hypothesis,- the veil, torn from top to bottom in two halves!'

I felt Mr. Rochester start and shudder; he hastily flung his arms round me. 'Thank God!' he exclaimed, 'that if anything malignant did come near you last night, it was only the veil that was harmed. Oh, to think what might have happened!'

He drew his breath short, and strained me so close to him, I could scarcely pant. After some minutes' silence, he continued, cheerily-

'Now, Janet, I'll explain to you all about it. It was half dream, half reality. A woman did, I doubt not, enter your room: and that woman was- must have been- Grace Poole. You call her a strange being yourself: from all you know, you have reason so to call her- what did she do to me? what to Mason? In a state between sleeping and waking, you noticed her entrance and her actions; but feverish, almost delirious as you were, you ascribed to her a goblin appearance different from her own: the long dishevelled hair, the swelled black face, the exaggerated stature, were figments of imagination; results of nightmare: the spiteful tearing of the veil was real: and it is like her. I see you would ask why I keep such a woman in my house:

when we have been married a year and a day, I will tell you; but not now. Are you satisfied, Jane? Do you accept my solution of the mystery?'

I reflected, and in truth it appeared to me the only possible one: satisfied I was not, but to please him I endeavoured to appear so- relieved, I certainly did feel; so I answered him with a contented smile. And now, as it was long past one, I prepared to leave him.

'Does not Sophie sleep with Adele in the nursery?' he asked, as I lit my candle.

'Yes, sir.'

'And there is room enough in Adele's little bed for you. You must share it with her to-night, Jane: it is no wonder that the incident you have related should make you nervous, and I would rather you did not sleep alone: promise me to go to the nursery.'

'I shall be very glad to do so, sir.'

'And fasten the door securely on the inside. Wake Sophie when you go upstairs, under pretence of requesting her to rouse you in good time to-morrow; for you must be dressed and have finished breakfast before eight. And now, no more sombre thoughts: chase dull care away, Janet. Don't you hear to what soft whispers the wind has fallen? and there is no more beating of rain against the window-panes: look here' (he lifted up the curtain)- 'it is a lovely night!'

It was. Half heaven was pure and stainless: the clouds, now trooping before the wind, which had shifted to the west, were filing off eastward in long, silvered columns. The moon shone peacefully.

'Well,' said Mr. Rochester, gazing inquiringly into my eyes, 'how is my Janet now?'

'The night is serene, sir; and so am I.'

'And you will not dream of separation and sorrow to-night; but of happy love and blissful union.'

This prediction was but half fulfilled: I did not indeed dream of sorrow, but as little did I dream of joy; for I never slept at all.

With little Adele in my arms, I watched the slumber of childhood- so tranquil, so passionless, so innocent- and waited for the coming day: all my life was awake and astir in my frame: and as soon as the sun rose I rose too. I remember Adele clung to me as I left her: I remember I kissed her as I loosened her little hands from my neck; and I cried over her with strange emotion, and quitted her because I feared my sobs would break her still sound repose. She seemed the emblem of my past life; and he I was now to array myself to meet, the dread, but adored, type of my unknown future day.
 

一个月的求婚期过去了,只剩下了最后几个小时。结婚的日子已经临近,不会推迟。一切准备工作也已就绪,至少我手头没有别的事儿要干了。我的箱子已收拾停当,锁好,捆好,沿小房间的墙根,一字儿摆开,明天这个时候,这些东西会早已登上去伦敦的旅程,还有我(如蒙上帝恩允)——或者不如说,不是我而是一位我目前尚不认识的,叫作简.罗切斯特的人,只有地址标签还没贴上,那四个小方块仍躺在抽屉里。罗切斯特先生亲自在每个标签上书写了:“伦敦××旅馆罗切斯特太太”这几个字。我无法让自己或者别人把它们贴上去。罗切斯特太太!她并不存在,要到明天八点钟后的某个时候才降生。我得等到完全相信她已经活生生地来到这个世界时,才把那份财产划归她。在我梳妆台对面的衣柜里,一些据说是她的衣物,已经取代了她罗沃德的黑呢上衣和草帽。这已经是足够的了,因为那套婚礼服,以及垂挂在临时占用的钩子上的珠白色长袍和簿雾似的面纱,本不属于她的。我关上了衣柜,隐去了里面幽灵似的奇装异服。在晚间九点这个时辰,这些衣著在我房间的暗影里,发出了阴森森的微光。“我要让你独个儿留着,白色的梦幻,”我说。“我兴奋难耐,我听见风在劲吹,我要出门去感受一下。”

使我兴奋的不仅是匆匆忙忙的结婚准备,也不仅是因为对巨大的变化,明天开始的新生活所怀的希望。毫无疑问,两者都起了作用,使我兴奋不安,这么晚了还匆匆来到越来越黑的庭园。但是第三个原因对我的心理影响更大。

我内心深处埋藏着一种古怪而焦急的念头。这儿发生了一件我无法理解的事情,而且除了我,既无人知道,也无人见过。那是在前一天晚上发生的。罗切斯特先生出门去了,还没有回来。他因为有事上三十英里外的两三个小农庄去了——这些事务需要他在计划离开英国之前亲自去办理。此刻我等着他回来,急于卸去心头的包袱,请他解开困惑着我的谜。我要呆到他回来,读者,我一向他倾诉我的秘密,你们也就不言自明了。

我朝果园走去了。风把我驱赶到了隐蔽的角落。强劲的南风刮了整整一天,却没有带来一滴雨。入夜,风势非但没有减弱,反而越来越强,咆哮声越来越响。树木被一个劲儿地往一边吹着,从不改向,一个小时里,树枝几乎一次都没有朝反方向倒去,树梢一直紧绷着往北弯着。云块从一头飘到另一头,接踵而来,层层叠叠,七月的这一天看不到一丝蓝天。

我被风推着往前奔跑,把心头的烦恼付诸呼啸而过、无穷无尽的气流,倒也不失为一种狂乱的喜悦。我走下月桂小径,面前是横遭洗劫的栗树,黑乎乎的已经被撕裂,却依然站立着,树干中一劈为二,可怕地张着大口。但裂开的两半并没有完全脱开,因为坚实的树基和强壮的树根使底部仍然连接着。尽管生命的整体遭到了破坏一—树汁已不再流动,每一片大树枝都已枯死,明年冬天的暴风雨一定会把裂开的一片或者两片都刮到地上,但是它们可以说合起来是一棵树一—虽已倒地,却完整无缺。

“你们这样彼此紧贴着做得很对,”我说,仿佛裂开的大树是有生命的东西,听得见我的话。“我想,尽管你看上去遍体鳞伤,焦黑一片,但你身上一定还有细微的生命,从朴实忠诚的树根的粘合处冒出来。你们再也不会吐出绿叶——再也看不到鸟儿在枝头筑巢,唱起悠闲的歌。你们欢乐的相爱时刻已经逝去,但你们不会感到孤寂,在朽败中你们彼此都有同病相怜的伙伴。”我抬头仰望树干,只见月亮瞬间出现在树干裂缝中的那一小片天空,血红的月轮被遮去了一半。她似乎向我投来困惑、忧郁的一瞥,随后又躲进了厚厚的云层。刹那之间,桑菲尔德一带的风势减弱了。但远处的树林里和水面上,却响起了狂野凄厉的哀号,听起来叫人伤心,于是我便跑开了。

我漫步穿过果园,把树根周围厚厚的青草底下的苹果捡起来,随后忙着把成熟了的苹果和其他苹果分开,带回屋里,放进储藏室。接着我上图书室去看看有没有生上火炉。因为虽是夏天,但我知道,在这祥一个阴沉的夜晚,罗切斯特先生喜欢一进门就看到令人愉快的炉火。不错,火生起来已经有一会儿了,烧得很旺。我把他的安乐椅放在炉角,把桌子推近它。我放下窗帘,让人送来蜡烛,以备点灯。

这一切都安排好以后,我很有些坐立不安,甚至连屋子里也呆不住了。房间里的小钟和厅里的老钟同时敲响了十点。

“这么晚了!”我自言自语地说:“我要跑下楼到大门口去。借着时隐时现的月光,我能看清楚很远的路。也许这会儿他就要来了,出去迎接他可以使我少担几分钟心。”

风在遮掩着大门的巨树中呼啸着。但我眼目所及,路的左右两旁都孤寂无声,只有云的阴影不时掠过。月亮探出头来时,也不过是苍白的一长条,单调得连一个移动的斑点都没有。

我仰望天空,一滴幼稚的眼泪蒙住了眼睛,那是失望和焦急之泪。我为此感到羞涩,赶紧把它抹去,但迟迟没有举步。月亮把自己整个儿关进了闺房,并拉上了厚实的云的窗帘。夜变得黑沉沉了,大风刮来了骤雨。

“但愿他会来!但愿他会来!”我大嚷着,心里产生了要发作疑病症的预感。茶点之前我就盼望他到了,而此刻天已经全黑。什么事儿耽搁了他呢?难道出了事故?我不由得想起了昨晚的一幕,我把它理解成是灾祸的预兆。我担心自己的希望过于光明而不可能实现,最近我享了那么多福,自己不免想到,我的运气已过了顶点,如今必然要走下坡路了。“是呀,我不能回屋去,”我思忖道,“我不能安坐在火炉边,而他却风风雨雨在外面闯荡。与其忧心如焚,不如脚头劳累一些,我要走上前去迎接他。”

我出发了,走得很快,但并不很远。还没到四分之一英里,我便听见了一阵马蹄声。一位骑手疾驰而来,旁边窜着一条狗。不祥的预感一扫而光!这正是他,骑着梅斯罗来了,身后跟着派洛特。他看见了我,因为月亮在空中开辟了一条蓝色的光带,在光带中飘移,晶莹透亮。他摘下帽子,在头顶挥动,我迎着他跑上去。

“瞧!”他大声叫道,一面伸出双手,从马鞍上弯下腰来。“显然你少了我不行,踩在我靴子尖上,把两只手都给我,上!”

我照他说的做了。心里一高兴身子也灵活了,我跳上马坐到他前面。他使劲吻我,表示对我的欢迎,随后又自鸣得意地吹了一番,我尽量一股脑儿都相信。得意之中他刹住话题问我:“怎么回事?珍妮特,你居然这个时候来接我?出了什么事了?”

“没有。不过我以为你永远不会回来了。我实在耐不住等在屋子里,尤其是雨下得那么大,风刮得那么紧。”

“确实是雨大风狂!是呀,看你像美人鱼一样滴着水。把我的斗篷拉过去盖住你。不过我想你有些发烧,简。你的脸颊和手都烫得厉害。我再问一句,出了什么事了吗?”

“现在没有。我既不害怕,也不难受。”

“那样的话,你刚才害怕过,难受过?”

“有一些,不过慢慢地我会告诉你的,先生。我猜想你只会讥笑我自寻烦恼。”

“明天一过,我要痛痛快快地笑你,但现在可不敢。我的宝贝还不一定到手。上个月你就像鳗鱼一样滑溜,像野蔷薇一样多刺,什么地方手指一碰就挨了刺。现在我好像己经把迷途的羔羊揣在怀里了,你溜出了羊栏来找你的牧羊人啦,简?”

“我需要你。可是别吹了,我们已经到了桑菲尔德,让我下去吧。”

他把我放到了石子路上。约翰牵走了马。他跟在我后头进了大厅,告诉我赶快换上干衣服,然后回到图书室他身边。我正向楼梯走去,他截住我,硬要我答应不要久待。我确实没有呆多久。五分钟后便回到了他身边,这时他正在用晚饭。

“坐下来陪我,简,要是上帝保佑,在很长一段时间内,这是你在桑菲尔德府吃的倒数第二顿饭了。”

我在他旁边坐下,但告诉他我吃不下了。

“难道是因为牵挂着面前的旅程,简?是不是因为想着去伦敦便弄得没有胃口了?”

“今晚我看不清自己的前景,先生。而且我几乎不知道脑子里想些什么?生活中的一切似乎都是虚幻的。”

“除了我。我是够实实在在的了——碰我一下吧。”

“你,先生,是最像幻影了,你只不过是个梦。”

他伸出手,大笑起来。“这也是个梦?”他把手放到紧挨我眼睛的地方说。他的手肌肉发达、强劲有力、十分匀称,他的胳膊又长又壮实。

“不错,我碰了它,但它是个梦,”我把他的手从面前按下说。“先生,你用完晚饭了吗?”

“吃好了,简。”

我打了铃,吩咐把托盘拿走。再次只剩下我们两人时,我拨了拔火,在我主人膝边找了个低矮的位置坐下。

“将近半夜了,”我说。

“不错,但记住,简,你答应过,在婚礼前夜同我一起守夜。”

“我的确答应过,而且我会信守诺言,至少陪你一两个小时,我不想睡觉。”

“你都收拾好了吗,”

“都好了,先生。”

“我也好了,”他说。“我什么都处理好了,明天从教堂里一回来,半小时之内我们就离开桑菲尔德。”

“很好,先生。”

“你说‘很好’两个字的时候,笑得真有些反常呀,简!你双颊上的一小块多亮!你眼睛里的闪光多怪呀!你身体好吗?”

“我相信很好。”

“相信!怎么回事?—一告诉我你觉得怎么样。”

“我没法告诉你,先生。我的感觉不是语言所能表达的。我真希望时光永远停留在此时此刻,谁知道下一个钟头的命运会怎样呢?”

“这是一种多疑症,简。这阵子你太激动了,要不太劳累了?”

个月光如水的夜晚,我漫步穿过里面杂草丛生的围场。一会儿这里绊着了大理石火炉,一会儿那里碰到了倒地的断梁。我披着头巾,仍然抱着那个不知名的孩子。尽管我的胳膊很吃力,我却不能把它随便放下—一尽管孩子拖累着我,但我必须带着它。我听见了远处路上一匹马的奔驰声。可以肯定那是你,而你离开已经多年,去了一个遥远的国家。我疯也似地不顾危险匆匆爬上那道薄薄的墙,急于从顶上看你一眼,石头从我的脚下滚落,我抓住的枝藤松开了,那孩子恐惧地紧抱住我的脖子,几乎使我窒息。最后我爬到了墙顶。我看见你在白色的路上象一个小点点,越来越小,越来越小。风刮得那么猛,我简直站都站不住。我坐在狭窄的壁架上,使膝头这个神圣婴儿安静下来。你在路上拐了一个弯,我俯下身子去看最后一眼。墙倒塌了,我抖动了一下,孩子从我膝头滚下,我失去了平衡,跌了下来,醒过来了。”

“现在,简,讲完了吧。”

“序幕完了,先生,故事还没有开场呢。醒来时一道强光弄得我眼睛发花。我想——呵,那是日光!可是我搞错了,那不过是烛光。我猜想索菲娅已经进屋了。梳妆台上有一盏灯,而衣橱门大开瓢T溧恼鸬床偶绦?迪氯ァ?br>
“昨天我忙了一整天,在无休止的忙碌中,我非常愉快。因为不像你似乎设想的那样,我并没有为新天地之类的忧虑而烦恼。我认为有希望同你一起生活是令人高兴的,因为我爱你。——不,先生,现在别来抚摸我——不要打扰我,让我说下去。昨天我笃信上苍,相信对你我来说是天助人愿。你总还记得,那是个晴朗的日子,天空那么宁静,让人毋须为你路途的平安和舒适担忧。甩完茶以后,我在石子路上走了一会,思念着你。在想象中,我看见你离我很近,几乎就在我跟前。我思忖着展现在我面前的生活——你的生活,先生——比我的更奢华,更激动人心,就像容纳了江河的大海深处,同海峡的浅滩相比,有天壤之别。我觉得奇怪,为什么道德学家称这个世界为凄凉的荒漠,对我来说,它好像盛开的玫瑰。就在夕阳西下的时候,气温转冷,天空布满阴云,我便走进屋去了。索菲娅叫我上楼去看看刚买的婚礼服,在婚礼服底下的盒子里,我看见了你的礼物——是你以王子般的阔绰,叫人从伦敦送来的面纱,我猜想你是因为我不愿要珠宝,而决计哄我接受某种昂贵的东西。我打开面纱,会心地笑了笑,算计着我怎样来嘲弄你的贵族派头,取笑你费尽心机要给你的平民新娘戴上贵族的假面。我设想自己如何把那块早已准备好遮盖自己出身卑微的脑袋,没有绣花的花边方丝巾拿下来,问问你,对一个既无法给她的丈夫提供财富、美色,也无法给他带来社会关系的女人,是不是够好的了。我清清楚楚地看到了你的表情。听到了你激烈而开明的回答;听到你高傲地否认有必要仰仗同钱袋与桂冠结亲,来增加自己的财富,或者提高自己的地位。”

“你把我看得真透,你这女巫!”罗切斯特先生插嘴道,“但除了刺绣之外,你还在面纱里发现了什么,你是见到了毒药,还是匕首,弄得现在这么神色悲哀?”

“没有,没有,先生。除了织品的精致和华丽,以及费尔法克斯.罗切斯特的傲慢,我什么也没有看到。他的傲慢可吓不倒我,因为我己见惯了魔鬼。可是,先生,天越来越黑,风也越来越大了。昨天的风不像现在的这样刮得强劲肆虐,而是响着“沉闷的低吟声,,显得分外古怪。我真希望你还在家里。我走进这个房间,一见到空空荡荡的椅子和没有生火的炉子,心便凉了半截。上床以后,我因为激动不安、忧心忡忡而久久不能入睡。风势仍在增强,在我听来,它似乎裹夹着一阵低声的哀鸣。这声音来自屋内还是户外,起初我无法辨认,但后来重又响了起来,每次间歇听上去模糊而悲哀。最后我终于弄清楚那一定是远处的狗叫声。后来叫声停了,我非常高兴。但一睡着,又继续梦见月黑风高的夜晚,继续盼着同你在一起,并且奇怪而遗憾地意识到,某种障碍把我们隔开了。刚睡着的时候,我沿着一条弯弯曲曲的陌生的路走着,四周一片模糊,雨点打在我身上,我抱着一个孩子,不堪重负。一个小不点儿,年纪太小身体又弱,不能走路,在我冰冷的怀抱里颤抖,在我耳旁哀哀地哭泣。我想,先生,你远远地走在我前面,我使出浑身劲儿要赶上你,一次次奋力叫着你的名字,央求你停下来一—但我的行动被束缚着,我的嗓音渐渐地沉下去,变得模糊不清,而你,我觉得分分秒秒离我越来越远了。”

“难道现在我在你跟前了,简,这些梦还使你心情沉重吗?神经质的小东西!忘掉梦幻中的灾祸,单想现实中的幸福吧!你说你爱我,珍妮特,不错——那我不会忘记,你也不能否认。这些话并没有在你嘴边模糊不清地消失。我听来既清晰而又温柔。也许这个想法过于严肃了一些,但却象音乐一样甜蜜:‘我想有希望同你生活在一起是令人愉快的,因为我爱你。’你爱我吗,简?再说一遍。”

“我爱你,先生一—我爱你,全身心爱你。”

“行啦,”他沉默片刻后说,“真奇怪,那句话刺痛了我的胸膛。为什么呢?我想是因为你说得那么虔敬,那么富有力量,因为你抬眼看我时,目光里透出了极度的信赖、真诚和忠心。那太难受了,仿佛在我身边的是某个精灵。摆出凶相来吧,简,你很明白该怎么摆。装出任性、腼腆、挑衅的笑容来,告诉我你恨我——戏弄我,惹怒我吧,什么都行,就是别打动我。我宁愿发疯而不愿哀伤。”

“等我把故事讲完,我会让你心满意足地戏弄你,惹怒你,听我讲完吧。”

“我想,简,你已经全都告诉我啦,我认为我已经发现你的忧郁全因为一个梦!”

我摇了摇头。

“什么!还有别的!但我不相信是什么了不起的事情。有话在先,我表示怀疑,讲下去吧。”

他神态不安,举止有些忧虑焦躁,我感到很惊奇,但我继续说下去了。

“我还做了另外一个梦,先生。梦见桑菲尔德府已是一处凄凉的废墟,成了蝙蝠和猫头鹰出没的地方。我想,那气派非凡的正壁已荡然无存,只剩下了一道贝壳般的墙,看上去很高也很单簿。在一个月光如水的夜晚,我漫步穿过里面杂草丛生的围场。一会儿这里绊着了大理石火炉,一会儿那里碰到了倒地的断梁。我披着头巾,仍然抱着那个不知名的孩子。尽管我的胳膊很吃力,我却不能把它随便放下—一尽管孩子拖累着我,但我必须带着它。我听见了远处路上一匹马的奔驰声。可以肯定那是你,而你离开已经多年,去了一个遥远的国家。我疯也似地不顾危险匆匆爬上那道薄薄的墙,急于从顶上看你一眼,石头从我的脚下滚落,我抓住的枝藤松开了,那孩子恐惧地紧抱住我的脖子,几乎使我窒息。最后我爬到了墙顶。我看见你在白色的路上象一个小点点,越来越小,越来越小。风刮得那么猛,我简直站都站不住。我坐在狭窄的壁架上,使膝头这个神圣婴儿安静下来。你在路上拐了一个弯,我俯下身子去看最后一眼。墙倒塌了,我抖动了一下,孩子从我膝头滚下,我失去了平衡,跌了下来,醒过来了。”

“现在,简,讲完了吧。”

“序幕完了,先生,故事还没有开场呢。醒来时一道强光弄得我眼睛发花。我想——呵,那是日光!可是我搞错了,那不过是烛光。我猜想索菲娅已经进屋了。梳妆台上有一盏灯,而衣橱门大开着,睡觉前我曾把我的婚礼服和面纱放进橱里。我听见了一阵悉悉粹粹的声音。我问,‘索菲娅,你在干嘛?’没有人回答。但是一个人影从橱里出来。它端着蜡烛,举得高高的,并且仔细端详着从架子上垂下来的衣服,‘索菲娅!索菲娅!’我又叫了起来,但它依然默不作声。我已在床上坐了起来,俯身向前。我先是感到吃惊,继而迷惑不解。我血管里的血也冷了。罗切斯特先生,这不是索菲娅,不是莉娅,也不是费尔法克斯太太。它不是一—不,我当时很肯定,现在也很肯定——甚至也不是那个奇怪的女人格雷斯.普尔。”

“一定是她们中间的一个,”主人打断了我的话。

“不,先生,我庄严地向你保证,跟你说的恰恰相反。站在我面前的人影,以前我从来没有在桑菲尔德府地区见过。那身高和外形对我来说都是陌生的。”

“描绘一下吧,简。”

“先生,那似乎是个女人,又高又大,背上垂着粗黑的长发,我不知道她穿了什么衣服,反正又白又整齐。但究竟是袍子,被单,还是裹尸布,我说不上来。”

“你看见她的脸了吗?”

“起先没有。但她立刻把我的面纱从原来的地方取下来,拿起来呆呆地看了很久,随后往自己头上一盖,转身朝着镜子。这一刹那,在暗淡的鸭蛋形镜子里,我清清楚楚地看到了她面容与五官的映像。”

“看上去怎么样?”

“我觉得像鬼一样吓人——呵,先生,我从来没有见过这样的面孔!没有血色,一付凶
相。但愿我忘掉那双骨碌碌转的红眼睛,那付黑乎乎五官鼓鼓的鬼相!”

“鬼魂总是苍白的,简。”

“先生,它却是紫色的。嘴唇又黑又肿,额头沟壑纵横,乌黑的眉毛怒竖着,两眼充满血丝,要我告诉你我想起了什么吗?”

“可以。”

“想起了可恶的德国幽灵——吸血鬼。”

“呵!——它干了什么啦?”

“先生,它从瘦削的头上取下面纱,撕成两半,扔在地上,踩了起来。”

“后来呢?”

“它拉开窗帘,往外张望。也许它看到已近拂晓,便拿着蜡烛朝房门退去。正好路过我床边时,鬼影停了下来。火一般的目光向我射来,她把蜡烛举起来靠近我的脸,在我眼皮底下把它吹灭了。我感到她白煞煞的脸朝我闪着光,我昏了过去。平生第二次—一只不过第二次——我吓昏了。”

“你醒过来时谁跟你在一起?”

“除了大白天,先生,谁也没有。我起身用水冲了头和脸,喝了一大口水。觉得身子虽然虚弱,却并没有生病,便决定除了你,对谁都不说这恶梦的事儿。好吧,先生,告诉我这女人是谁,干什么的?”

“无疑,那是头脑过于兴奋的产物。对你得小心翼翼,我的宝贝,象你这样的神经,生来就经不住粗暴对待的。”

“先生,毫无疑问,我的神经没有毛病,那东西是真的,事情确实发生了。”

“那么你以前的梦呢,都是真的吗?难道桑菲尔德府已化成一片废墟?难道你我被不可逾越的障碍隔开了?难道我离开了你,没有流一滴泪——没有吻一吻一—没有说一句话?”

“不,没有。”

“难道我就要这么干?一—嘿,把我们溶合在一起的日子已经到来,我们一旦结合,这种心理恐惧就再也不会发生,我敢保证。”

“心理恐惧!但愿我能相信不过如此而已!而既然连你都无法解释可怕的来访者之谜,现在我更希望只是心理恐惧了。”

“既然我无法解释,简,那就一定不会是真的。”

“不过,先生,我今天早晨起来,这么自言自语说着,在房间里东张西望,想从光天化日下每件眼熟的东西悦目的外表上,找到点勇气和慰籍——瞧,就在地毯上—一我看到了一件东西,完全否定了我原来的设想——那块从上到下被撕成两半的面纱!”

我觉得罗切斯特先生大吃一惊,打了个寒颤,急急忙忙搂住我脖子“谢天谢地!”他嚷道,“幸好昨晚你所遇到的险情,不过就是毁了面纱——哎呀,只要想一想还会出什么别的事呢?”

他喘着粗气,紧紧地搂住我,差点让我透不过气来。沉默片刻之后,他兴致十足地说下去:

“这一半是梦,一半是真。我并不怀疑确实有个女人进了你房间,那女人就是一—准是—一格雷斯.普尔。你自己把她叫作怪人,就你所知,你有理由这么叫她—一瞧她怎么对待我的?怎么对待梅森?在似睡非睡的状态下,你注意到她进了房间,看到了她的行动,但由于你兴奋得几乎发狂,你把她当成了不同于她本来面貌的鬼相:散乱的长发、黑黑的肿脸、夸大了的身材是你的臆想,恶梦的产物。恶狠狠撕毁面纱倒是真的,很象她干的事。我明白你会问,干嘛在屋里养着这样一个女人。等我们结婚一周年时,我会告诉你,而不是现在。你满意了吗,简?你同意对这个谜的解释吗?”

我想了一想,对我来说实在也只能这么解释了,说满意那倒未必,但为了使他高兴,我尽力装出这付样子来——说感到宽慰却是真的,于是我对他报之以满意的微笑。这时早过了一点钟,我准备向他告辞了。

“索菲娅不是同阿黛勒一起睡在育儿室吗?”我点起蜡烛时他问。

“是的,先生。”

“阿黛勒的小床还能睡得下你的,今晚得跟她一起睡,简。你说的事情会使你神经紧张,那也毫不奇怪。我倒情愿你不要单独睡,答应我到育儿室去。”

“我很乐意这样做,先生。”

“从里面把门拴牢。上楼的时候把索菲娅叫醒,就说请她明天及时把你叫醒,因为你得在八点前穿好衣服,吃好早饭。现在别再那么忧心忡忡了,抛开沉重的烦恼,珍妮特。你难道没有听见轻风的细语?雨点不再敲打窗户,瞧这儿——(他撩起窗帘)多么可爱的夜晚!”

确实如此。半个天空都明净如水。此刻,风已改由西面吹来,轻云在风前疾驰,朝东排列成长长的银色园柱,月亮洒下了宁静的光辉。

“好吧,”罗切斯特先生说,一边带着探询的目光窥视我。“这会儿我的珍妮特怎么样了?”

“夜晚非常平静,先生,我也一样。”

“明天除了欢乐的爱和幸福的结合,你再也不会梦见分离和悲伤了。”

这一预见只实现了一半。我的确没有梦见忧伤,但也没有梦见欢乐,因为我根本就没有睡着。我搂着阿黛勒,瞧着孩子沉沉睡去一—那么平静,那么安宁,那么天真——等待着来日,我的整个生命苏醒了,在我躯体内躁动着。太阳一出,我便起来了,我记得离开阿黛勒时她紧紧搂住我,我记得把她的小手从我脖子上松开的时候,我吻了吻她。我怀着一种莫名的情感对着她哭了起来,赶紧离开了她,生怕哭泣声会惊动她的酣睡。她似乎就是我往昔生活的标志,而他,我此刻梳装打扮前去会面的,他是既可怕而又亲切、却一无所知的未来的标志。



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