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8 Getting to know Mr Rochester

 

  Thornfield Hall became quite busy the next day,now that the master had returned.People kept coming to visit him on business.I enjoyed the new,cheerful atmosphere.But I could not make Adele concentrate on her lessons because she was constantly talking about the presents Mr Rochester had promised to bring her.That evening we were invited to have tea with him. I immediately recognized the traveller I had helped,with his dark hair and skin,his square forehead and his stern look.His leg was supported on a chair,but he made no effort to greet me when I entered.In fact,he neither spoke nor moved.

  'Have you brought a present for Miss Eyre with you as well?'Adele asked him.

  'A present?Who wants a present?'he said angrily.'Did you expect a present,Miss Eyer?Do you like presents?'

  'I haven't much experience of them,sir,'I answered.'Anyway,I have no right to expect a present,as I haven't done anything to deserve one.'

  'Don't be so modest!I've been talking to Adele.She's not very clever,but you've taught her well.'

  'Sir,that is my present.That's what a teacher wants most,praise of her pupil's progress.'

  Mr Rochester drank his tea in silence After tea,he called me closer to the fire, while Adèle played with Mrs Fairfax.

  'Where were you before you came here?'he asked.

  'I was at Lowood school,sir,for eight years.'

  'Ah,yes,a charity school!Eight years!I'm surprised you lasted so long in such a place.There is something like magic in your face.When I met you on the road to Hay last night,I almost thought you had put a spell on my horse!I still wonder if you did.What about your parents?'

  'They're dead.I don't remember them.'

  'And your relations?'

  'I have none.'

  'Who recommended you to come here?'

  'I advertised,and Mrs Fairfax answered the advertise-ment.'

  'Yes,'said the old housekeeper,'and I thank God she did.She's a good teacher for Adèle,and a kind friend to me.'

  'Don't try to give her a good character,Mrs Fairfax,'said Mr Rochester sternly.'She and her magic made my horse slip on the ice last night.'

  Mrs Fairfax looked puzzled and clearly did not understand.

  'Miss Eyre,'continued Mr Rochester,'how old were you when you started at Lowood?'

  'About ten.'

  'And you stayed there eight years,so you are now eighteen?'I nodded.'I would never have been able to guess your age,'he went on.'Now,what did you learn there?Can you play the piano?'

  'A little.'

  'of course,that's what all young women say.Go and play a tune on the piano in the library.'I did as he asked.

  'That's enough!'he called after a few minutes.'Yes,you do indeed play a ittle,just like any schoolgirl, better than some perhaps.Now,bring me your sketches.'I fetched them from my room Having looked carefully at them, he chose three.

  'These are interesting,'he said.'You have only expressed the shadow of your ideas,because you aren't good enough at drawing or painting,but the ideas,where did they come from?Who taught you to draw wind,and space,and feeling?But put them away now,Miss Eyre.Do you realize it's nine o'clock? Adèle should be in bed by now. Good night to you all.'Mr Rochester's mood had suddenly changed,and he clearly wished to be alone.

  Later tha evening I talked to Mrs Fairfax. 'You said Mr Rochester was a little peculiar,'I said. 'Well, what do you think,Miss Eyre?' 'I think he is very peculiar,and quite rude.' 'He may seem like that to a stranger.I'm so used to him that I never notice it.And he has had family troubles,you know.'

  'But he has no family,'I answered.

  'Not now,that's true,but he did have an older brother,who died nine years ago.'

  'Nine years is a long time.Surely he has recovered from losing his brother by now.'

  'Well,there was a lot of bad feeling in the family.The father was very fond of money,and wanted to keep the family property together,so the elder brother inherited most of it.I don't know what happened,but I do know Mr Edward(that's the master)quarrelled with his family.That's why he's travelled so much.When his brother died,he inherited Thornfield,but I'm not surprised he doesn't come here often.'

  'Why should he stay away?'I asked,surprised.

  'Perhaps he thinks it's a sad place.I really don't know.'It was clear that Mrs Fairfax would not tell me any more.

  One evening,a few days later,I was invited to talk to Mr Rochester after dinner.At the far end of the room Adèle was delightedly telling Mrs Fairfax about the presents she had received. Mr Rochester called me closer to the fire.

  'I don't like the conversation of children or old ladies,'he murmured to me.'But they are entertaining each other at the moment,so I can amuse myself.'Tonight he did not look so stern,and there was a softness in his fine,dark eyes.As I was looking at him,he suddenly turned and caught my look.

  'Do you think I'm handsome,Miss Eyre?'he asked.

  Normally I would have taken time to think,and said something polite,but somehow I answered at once,'No,sir.'

  'Ah,you really are unusual!You are a quiet,serious little person,but you can be almost rude.'

  'Sir,I'm sorry.I should have said that beauty doesn't matter,or something like that.'

  'No,you shouldn't!I see,you criticize my appearance,and then you stab me in the back! All right,tell me. What is wrong with my appearance?'

  'Mr Rochester,I didn't intend to criticize you.'

  'Well,now you can Look at my head.Do you think I am intelligent?'He pointed to his huge,square forehead.

  'I do,sir.Is it rude to ask if you are also good?'

  'Stabbing me again!Just because I said I didn't like talking to old ladies and children!Well,young lady,I wanted to be good when I was younger,but life has been a struggle for me,and I've become as hard and tough as a rubber ball. I only have a little goodness left inside.'He was speaking rather excitedly,and I thought perhaps he had been drinking.'Miss Eyre,you look puzzled.Tonight I want conversation.It's your turn.Speak.'

  I said nothing,but smiled coldly.

  'I'm sorry if I'm rude,Miss Eyre.But I'm twenty years older,and more experienced,than you.Don't you think I have the right to command you?'

  'No,sir,not just because you're older and more experienced than me.You would have the right only if you'd made good use of your experience of life.'

  'I don't accept that,as I've made very bad use of my experience!But will you agree to obey my orders anyway?'

  I thought,'He is peculiar,he's forgotten that he's paying me £ 30 a year to obey his orders,'and I said,'Not many masters bother to ask if their servants are offended by their orders.'

  'Of course!I'd forgotten that I pay you a salary!So will you agree because of the salary?'

  'No, sir,not because of that,but because you forgot about it,and because you care whether a servant of yours is comfortable or not,I gladly agree.'

  'You have honesty and feeling.There are not many girls like you.But perhaps I go too fast.Perhaps you have awful faults to counterbalance your few good points.'

  'And perhaps you have too,'I thought.

  He seemed to read my mind,and said quickly,'Yes,you're right.I have plenty of faults.I went the wrong way when I was twenty-one,and have never found the right path again.I might have been very different.I might have been as good as you,and perhaps wiser.I am not a bad man,take my word for it,but I have done wrong.It wasn't my character,but circumstances which were to blame.Why do I tell you all this?Because you're the sort of person people tell their problems and secrets to,because you're sympathetic and give them hope.'

  'Do you think so,sir?'

  'I do.You see,when life was difficult,I became desperate,and now all I have is regret.'

  'Asking forgiveness might cure it,sir.'

  'No,it won't.What I really should do is change my character,and I still could but—it's difficult.And if I can't have happiness,I want pleasure,even if it's wrong.'

  'Pleasure may taste bitter,sir.'

  'How do you know,a pure young thing like you?You have no experience of life and its problems.But I will try to lead a better life.'

  I stood up.The conversation was becoming hard to follow.

  'I must put Adèle to bed now,'I said.

  'Don't be afraid of me,Miss Eyre.You don't relax or laugh very much,perhaps because of the effect Lowood school has had on you.But in time you will be more natural with me,and laugh,and speak freely.You're like a restless bird in a cage.When you get out of the cage,you'll fly very high.Good night.'

 

8 认识罗切斯特先生

 

  第二天,特恩费得因为主人的返回而忙碌起来,不断有人来跟他谈事情,我喜欢这种欢快的新气氛。但是我没办法让阿黛拉专心上课,因为她总是喋喋不休地说着罗切斯特答应送给她的礼物。晚上,我们被邀请去和他一起喝茶。我一眼就认出了那黑头发、黑皮肤、宽阔的前额和严肃的表情,他正是我帮助过的旅行者。他的腿搭在椅子上,但当我进门时,他根本没有打招呼的表示。实际上,他既没说话,也没动一动。

  “你也给爱小姐带礼物了吗?”阿黛拉问。

  “礼物?谁要礼物?”他生气地说。“爱小姐,你想要礼物吗?你喜欢礼物吗?”

  “先生,这东西我接触得不多。”我答道。“无论怎样,我无权想得到礼物,因为我没有做什么可以赢得礼物。”

  “别太谦虚了。我已经和阿黛拉谈过。她不是很聪明,但你教得不错。”

  “先生,这就是我的礼物。表扬学生的进步,就是老师最想得到的。”

  罗切斯特先生静静地喝着茶。茶喝完后,阿黛拉和费尔法斯太太玩着,罗切斯特先生叫我离火近些。

  “来这儿之前你在哪里?”他问。

  “先生,我在洛伍德生活了八年。”

  “啊,是的,一所慈善学校!八年!你在那种地方坚持了这么久,真让我吃惊。你的脸上有种魔力。昨天晚上我在去海依的路上碰到你时,我差点以为你对我的马念了咒!我还在琢磨你是不是念了咒。你的父母呢?”

  “他们死了,我不记得他们了。”

  “你的亲戚呢?”

  “我没有亲戚。”

  “谁让你来这儿的?”

  “我登了广告,费尔法斯太太给了回话。”

  “是的,”老管家说,“谢天谢地她登了广告。她不仅是阿黛拉的好老师,也是我的好朋友。”

  “别把她说得那么好。”罗切斯特绷着脸说。“昨天晚上她和她的魔法让我的马摔倒在冰上了。”

  费尔法斯太太看上去稀里糊涂,显然没搞清是什么意思。

  罗切斯特先生接着说:“爱小姐,你刚去洛伍德时几岁了?”

  “大约10岁。”

  “你在那儿待了八年,那么现在18了?”我点点头。他又说:“我永远猜不出你的年龄。好,你在那儿都学了些什么?会弹钢琴吗?”

  “会一点儿。”

  “当然啦,所有的年轻女人都这么说。到书房去弹个曲子。”我照他说的做了。

  “够了!”几分钟后他喊道。“是的,你的确只会一点儿,和其他女学生一模一样,可能比有的还弹得好一点儿。现在把你的素描拿来看看。”我从房间把画取来,他仔细看了看,挑出了三张。

  “很有意思。”他说。“你只是表达了你的想法的影子,因为你不善绘画,可是这些想法,都是从哪儿来的?谁教你画风、画空间、画情感的?不过,收起来吧,爱小姐。你知道已经9点钟了吗?阿黛拉该上床了。各位晚安。”罗切斯特先生的情绪忽然变了,他显然想单独待着。

  那天晚上,我后来和费尔法斯太太聊起来。

  “你说过罗切斯特先生有点怪。”我说。

  “那么,你认为呢,爱小姐?”

  “我觉得他怪,而且相当粗野。”

  “对陌生人来说他似乎是这样的。我太习惯他了,从来不觉得。你知道,他曾有过家庭问题。”

  “可是他没家呀。”我答道。

  “的确,现在是没有。但他曾有过一个哥哥,九年前去世的。”

  “九年已经很久了。现在他肯定已经从失去哥哥的痛苦中恢复过来了。”

  “唉,他家里感情不好。父亲非常贪财,希望把家族的产业守在一起,因此老大继承了大部分产业。我不知出了什么事,但我知道爱德华先生(就是主人)曾和他的家人吵过架,这就是为什么他常常出游。他哥哥死后,他继承了特恩费得,但他不常回来,我并不感到奇怪。”

  “他为什么要离开呢?”我惊讶地问。

  “也许他觉得这是个伤心的地方,我真是不清楚。”显然,费尔法斯太太不会再跟我多说了。

  几天后的一个晚上,我被邀请在晚饭后和罗切斯特先生谈话。在房间的一角,阿黛拉正兴致勃勃地向费尔法斯太太讲述她得到的礼物。罗切斯特先生让我离火近些。

  “我不喜欢小孩子和老太太的对话。”他悄悄对我说。“可是她们正互相逗趣,我自己也可以找点乐。”今晚他看上去没有那么严肃了,他漂亮的黑眼睛里透着温柔。我正看着,他突然转过身来,碰到了我的目光。

  “你认为我英俊吗,爱小姐?”他问。

  一般来说,我会稍微想一想,然后说点客气话,可是现在我却脱口而出:“不,先

  “啊,你可真不一般!你是个安静、严肃的小人儿,不过你也可以变得几乎粗鲁。”

  “先生,对不起。我应该说美丽并不重要,或是类似的话。”

  “不,你不应该!我明白了,你批评了我的外表,还要从背后再捅上一刀!好吧,告诉我,我长得有什么不妥吗?”

  “罗切斯特先生,我没有批评您的意思。”

  “好吧,现在你批评吧。看着我的头,你觉得我聪明吗?”他指着自己宽大的前额。

  “是的,先生。如果问您是不是好人,会不礼貌吗?”

  “你又捅刀子!就因为我说不喜欢跟老太太和小孩讲话!好吧,年轻的姑娘,我年轻时想做个好人,但生活对我来说是一场斗争,我已经变得和橡胶球一样坚韧了。我只在心底还存着一点好意。”他说得很激动,我想也许他喝酒了。“爱小姐,你看上去有些糊涂。今晚我要的是交谈,轮到你了,说话吧。”

  我没说什么,只是冷冷地笑着。

  “爱小姐,如果我太粗鲁了,我道歉。但我比你年长20岁,更有阅历。你不认为我有权命令你吗?”

  “不,先生。只因为您比我年长、阅历丰富不行。只有您好好利用了你的生活经历,您才有这个权力。”

  “我不接受,因为我并没有好好利用我的生活经历。不过你能同意尽管如此还是服从我的命令吗?”

  我心想:“他怪,他忘了他每年付给我30英镑就是要我服从他的命令。”于是我说:“没有那么多主人会费心询问他们的命令是否得罪了仆人。”

  “当然!我忘了我付你薪水!那么你会因为薪水服从吗?”

  “不,先生,不是因为薪水,而是因为您忘了薪水,还因为您关心您的一个仆人是否舒心,我愿欣然从命。”

  “你老实,有情感,像你这样的女孩子很少见。不过也许我结论下得太快了,也许你有讨厌的缺点来抵消你的好处。”

  “你或许也有。”我心想。

  他似乎知道我的心思,马上说:“是的,你是对的。我有很多缺点。我21岁走错了路,就再也没找到正确的道了。我可能曾经和你一样好,可能更聪明。我不是坏人,我向你保证,但我做了错事。这不是我的性格,但环境才是罪魁。我为什么要告诉你这一切?因为你是那种听别人倾诉问题和秘密的人,因为你有同情心,给人以希望。”

  “先生,您这样认为吗?”

  “是的。你知道,生活艰难时,我变得绝望了,现在我只有满腹的悔恨。”

  “请求原谅或许可以医治创伤,先生。”

  “不,不会的。我真正要做的是改变我的个性,我还能做到,不过很难。如果我没有幸福,我就寻欢,尽管那不对。”

  “寻欢可能是苦涩的,先生。”

  “你怎么知道,你这么个纯洁的姑娘?你没有生活经历,不知道生活的艰难。但是我努力过更好的生活。”

  我站了起来,交谈已难以继续下去。

  “我必须让阿黛拉上床了。”我说。

  “爱小姐,别怕我。你不放松,也很少笑,这可能是洛伍德对你的影响。但是到时候你会和我更自然地相处的,说说笑笑,自由地交谈。你像笼中不安的小鸟,一旦走出笼子,就会远走高飞。晚安。”