AN: Hello, all. This is my tribute to Jane Eyre, that fantastic piece of British Literature that I have read 100 times over. This fanfic is not all that lengthy, a mere 60,000 words or so, expounding on Jane's adulthood, developing romance and heartache regarding that fine fellow of a fictional man, Edward Fairfax Rochester. I have this story posted elsewhere, and perhaps one or two readers may recognize the handiwork under another pseudonym, but that "person" and I are one and the same. For those who do recognize the work, you'll find this one glossed (hopefully) of previous typos and errors and filled with more details.
May you enjoy this little story crafted with care and love and for the pure enjoyment of writing. :)
PS. First couple of chapters are on the short side.
Chapter 1: The Mystery at Thornfield
Thornfield was a pleasant enough place. I could traverse the halls for countless hours examining each painting, inspecting each woven tapestry, marveling at the beauty of its grounds. When not working with my pupil, I gave much time to scrutinizing its well-varied inmates save one – the woman who kept watch at the North Tower, Grace Poole. I would catch the flicker of light in the stillness of the evening where she kept her lonely vigil, but had yet to visit her in her rooms. As a matter of course, I was purposely denied from entering. No one had ever told me outright, but too many convenient excuses were manufactured whenever I wandered near that area. Having been restrained from a young age to calm my inner wild child, I let it be. I suppose a part of me thrilled at the hush-hushness of it all.
There was also the perplexing matter of the whereabouts of the master, Mr. Rochester. I had no idea who the gentleman was or what he looked like, so long had he been absent from his home.
My new residence proved a place of great acquaintances. I believed myself held in good esteem by the venerable Mrs. Fairfax, Thornfield's head housekeeper. Soft-spoken Leah, a younger housemaid much closer in age to myself, always had a kind word. My pupil's nurse, Sophie, clung to me as I could communicate with her in her native tongue; seldom of the other servants could, nay, none save the master. And my young charge, little Adele. She amused me greatest, and such an eager speaker! But the conversations amongst my new circle of acquaintances lacked what I sought. The topics from the aforementioned adults ranged from the weather to the particulars of their respective duties. This was to their credit, their characters incapable of uttering malicious or unwelcome gossip. But I longed to know more about things. I had lived a sheltered, almost nun-like life, and had little acquaintance and experience with the great highs of the world. (Of the lows, I had experienced more than my fair share, being orphaned, abused, abandoned, and mistreated.) Reader, I do not mean I wanted to acquaint myself with the sinful, malicious acts, I merely sought to gain greater knowledge, to hear what traversed beyond the eight long years I spent at Lowood behind its stone-cold walls. I particularly sought information regarding the master himself. I wanted to prepare myself, to know what kind of individual I was in certain measure indebted to; not that his return was expected in the foreseeable future. As it was, I had been living in Thornfield for three months and had only recently learned of his existence.
Adele was bolder in that regards, chattering away of her "ami, monsieur Rochester, qui reviendra avec son cadeau." Of that I learned that the Master bought her gifts, making him a wonderful person in her young eyes. I would smile and shake my head, but would not dare sully this perfect vision Adele had of her guardian. When not entertaining me by displaying the past purchased items (truly generous judging from the quality of the materials), her conversations took a turn in the queerest direction. Her mind seemed to liken the horrific and supernatural. She would mention "ghosts" and "mad people". My practicality could not feed on such silly horror stories, and I would gently, but firmly chastise her for these nonsensical musings.
But in the still of the night when locked in my chamber, I had to admit that there was a mystery in Thornfield. However, I seemed the only one kept from knowing what curse haunted this great mansion. None of the servants seemed concerned over the ghostly laughter, the slow ha-ha that could be heard howling in the night. Sometimes it wasn't a laugh. I often heard gurgles and snapping teeth, as if some vicious beast roamed within the home's halls. The strangest part of it all was in the light of the next morn the servants attributed the missing items, the demonic laugh, even the nightly mishaps to Mrs. Poole, the woman I was not allowed to speak to.
One time I did feel the need to approach her to ask her if she felt well, for the night prior she had given to the most sorrowful wailing. I had assumed her dying. When I went to the hallway to inquire what was the matter, she was gone. Orders forgotten, I pursued her. As I neared the prohibited haunt, I was stopped by the manservant, John, who said that Grace could not be disturbed, such was her illness. But the next morning there she stood, a rock-solid mass of health! I walked in her direction, a ready smile on my face, a practiced inquiry eager to burst forward, when I felt myself pulled clear in the other direction, Mrs. Fairfax insisting I needed to help her make up the weekly lists for the servants.
"Mrs. Fairfax, I shall only take up two minutes of her time. I mean to inquire after her well-being."
"She is well, dear. Had a bit too much of the drink, that is all. You look a bit pale. Are you quite all right?" After several strong assurances that I was, indeed, in good health, just of perplexed mind, the head housemaid released me. My window of opportunity had been purposely sabotaged, and no more was said of the affair.
Yet another thing bewildered me regarding Mrs. Poole. Though she made up a great extent of the servants' feverish whispers and was blamed for the ongoings of the night, the staff did not seem fearful of her. On the contrary, I witnessed their stares of awe. I suppose they wondered, much like I did, about her midnight saunters where she gave in to much drink and demonic laughter, though truth be told, the eerie tones did not match her person at all. She appeared more of the cackling sort were she drunk. I wondered what amazing stitch work this woman performed for Mr. Rochester to keep her on staff.
Eager was I to meet the master of the hall. Thornfield thus far had produced a vast array of colorful characters. I believed his would not disappoint.