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20. CHAPTER XX
I had forgotten to draw my curtain, which I usually did, and also to let down my window-blind. The consequence was, that when the moon, which was full and bright (for the night was fine), came in her course to that space in the sky opposite my casement, and looked in at me through the unveiled panes, her glorious gaze roused me. Awaking in the dead of night, I opened my eyes on her disk--silver-white and crystal clear. It was beautiful, but too solemn; I half rose, and stretched my arm to draw the curtain.
Good God! What a cry!
The night--its silence--its rest, was rent in twain by a savage, a sharp, a shrilly sound that ran from end to end of Thornfield Hall.
My pulse stopped: my heart stood still; my stretched arm was paralysed. The cry died, and was not renewed. Indeed, whatever being uttered that fearful shriek could not soon repeat it: not the widest-winged condor on the Andes could, twice in succession, send out such a yell from the cloud shrouding his eyrie. The thing delivering such utterance must rest ere it could repeat the effort.
It came out of the third storey; for it passed overhead. And overhead--yes, in the room just above my chamber-ceiling--I now heard a struggle: a deadly one it seemed from the noise; and a half-smothered voice shouted -
"Help! help! help!" three times rapidly.
"Will no one come?" it cried; and then, while the staggering and stamping went on wildly, I distinguished through plank and plaster:-
"Rochester! Rochester! for God's sake, come!"
A chamber-door opened: some one ran, or rushed, along the gallery. Another step stamped on the flooring above and something fell; and there was silence.
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