He passed on and ascended the stairs, still holding my hand, and still beckoning the gentlemen to follow him, which they did. We mounted the first staircase, passed up the gallery, proceeded to the third storey: the low, black door, opened by Mr. Rochester’s master-key, admitted us to the tapestried room, with its great bed and its pictorial cabinet.
Mr. Reed was my uncle?my mother’s brother.
No,?I have no family.
An island thousands of miles off, where they make wine?the butler did tell me?
Approach the table, said he; and I wheeled it to his couch. Ad?le and Mrs. Fairfax drew near to see the pictures.
Laughing and talking, sir.
Take them off to the other table, Mrs. Fairfax, said he, and look at them with Ad?le;?you (glancing at me) resume your seat, and answer my questions. I perceive those pictures were done by one hand: was that hand yours?
Of my own accord I could not have stirred; I was paralysed: but the two great girls who sit on each side of me, set me on my legs and pushed me towards the dread judge, and then Miss Temple gently assisted me to his very feet, and I caught her whispered counsel?
I mean the present gentleman, Mr. Edward’s father, he explained. I breathed again: my blood resumed its flow. Fully assured by these words that Mr. Edward?my Mr. Rochester (God bless him, wherever he was!)?was at least alive: was, in short, the present gentleman. Gladdening words! It seemed I could hear all that was to come?whatever the disclosures might be?with comparative tranquillity. Since he was not in the grave, I could bear, I thought, to learn that he was at the Antipodes.
Did he teach you nothing?
Well, whatever I am, remember you are my wife; we were married an hour since, in the presence of all these witnesses. She giggled, and her colour rose.
Having descended a staircase, traversed a portion of the house below, and succeeded in opening and shutting, without noise, two doors, I reached another flight of steps; these I mounted, and then just opposite to me was Miss Temple’s room. A light shone through the keyhole and from under the door; a profound stillness pervaded the vicinity. Coming near, I found the door slightly ajar; probably to admit some fresh air into the close abode of sickness. Indisposed to hesitate, and full of impatient impulses?soul and senses quivering with keen throes?I put it back and looked in. My eye sought Helen, and feared to find death.