The four weeks are almost over, and now it’s the night before Jane and Rochester’s wedding. Jane is looking at the name and address on her honeymoon luggage, and she can’t believe in this new "Jane Rochester" person just yet.
Jane goes outside for an evening walk; she’s upset about something she saw the night before, and she’s waiting for Rochester to come home so she can tell him about it.
SYMBOLISM ALERT: The wind is blowing wildly outside, and Jane runs through it to look at the splintered chestnut tree. (Remember that it was struck by lightning at the end of Volume II, Chapter Eight.) Jane tells the tree – yes, she’s talking to a tree, folks – that it was right for the two halves to cling together, even though they’re dying and the tree won’t live much longer. Hmm, who might the two halves of the tree represent?
Jane starts doing chores to keep herself busy while waiting for Rochester. She gathers the windfall apples off the ground in the orchard, sorts them, and brings them into the storeroom. She makes sure there’s a fire in Rochester’s study.
She still can’t sit still waiting for him, so she runs down to the gate to meet him there. She can’t wait patiently, and she starts walking along the road toward the town, hoping to meet him halfway.
After about a quarter-mile, Jane meets Rochester on the road. He helps her up onto his horse and they keep riding toward Thornfield. Jane is soaked (it’s raining) and a bit feverish, and Rochester’s worried that she’s been upset about something.
They reach Thornfield; Jane changes out of her wet clothes, and Rochester eats dinner. Jane sits with Rochester, but won’t eat with him, and then they sit together talking, even though it’s midnight. Jane keeps telling Rochester that her whole life seems like a dream right now, and he’s the most unreal part of it.
Rochester tries to get Jane to explain what she’s upset about; she’s not nervous about what kind of husband he’ll be, or about becoming a "lady," or anything else you might expect. She’s upset about the weird thing that happened last night, and so she tells Rochester the story:
The previous evening, Jane was happy and busy, and spent some time walking in the garden just before sunset, feeling grateful that everything was going so well in her life.
At sunset, she went inside, and found that Rochester had sent a package from London with an expensive wedding veil for her to wear. She decided that she would wear the much simpler one she had prepared anyway, and that she would tease him about trying to deck her out in stuff that’s too fancy for her.
Jane went to bed, but couldn’t sleep. She thought she could hear a weird howling sound in the wind.
Jane fell asleep and started dreaming, but in her dream she missed Rochester and felt separated from him – not just because they were a long distance apart, but in some other, strange way.
Jane dreamed that she was walking along a road carrying a small child, and Rochester was somewhere ahead of her on the road, but she couldn’t catch up with him because she had to carry the child.
Rochester comforts Jane, saying that the dream was just a dream, but their love for one another is real. Jane affirms that she loves him completely, and for some reason this makes him sad. He asks her to tease him instead of being so sincere.
Jane tells Rochester that her story isn’t finished, and continues:
Next, Jane dreamed that Thornfield hall was a ruin, and she was walking around in the ruin carrying the same child. She heard a horse and knew that Mr. Rochester was riding up to the house, and she climbed a wall to get a glimpse of him, but the wall crumbled and she fell and dropped the child. Then she woke up.
When Jane woke up, there was a burning candle on the table in her room. She thought that maybe Adèle’s nursemaid Sophie was in the room and called her name.
Then Jane noticed that her closet door was open and someone was messing with her wedding dress and veil. Someone came out of the closet, took the candle, and used the light from the candle to examine Jane’s trousseau and honeymoon luggage.
Jane sat up in bed, shocked: the woman wasn’t anyone she knew at Thornfield, but someone else, a stranger.
The stranger was a tall woman with long, dark hair dressed in white; her face was disturbing, with bloodshot red eyes, swollen, dark lips, and thick black eye-brows. It looked like a vampire!
SYMBOLISM ALERT: The strange woman was wearing Jane’s wedding veil, and, as Jane watched, the woman pulled it off, tore it in half, and trampled on it.
The figure leaned close to Jane, who was sitting up in bed, held the candle close to her face, and then snuffed it. Jane fainted. (Remember that Jane has only fainted from fear once before – see Volume I, Chapter 2.)
Jane woke up in her room alone in the morning and decided not to tell anyone what happened except for Mr. Rochester.
Jane asks Mr. Rochester who the woman is. Rochester says that she imagined this nightmarish creature, and Jane insists that it all really happened.
Rochester tries to convince her that the appearance of the strange woman was just one more dream – but it can’t have been a dream, because Jane found her wedding veil on the floor in two pieces. Rochester is glad she wasn’t harmed.
Next, Rochester tells Jane that it must have been Grace Poole who did this, even though Jane said earlier that it definitely wasn’t Grace. He says that Jane imagined the woman as looking like a vampire or goblin because she was half-dreaming.
Jane’s not really satisfied with this explanation, but she pretends to be to make Rochester feel better.
Rochester insists that Jane sleep in Adèle’s bed tonight so that she will have Sophie and Adèle for company. Jane obeys him and tells him she’s calm, but she doesn’t sleep a wink. She lies awake a night holding the sleeping Adèle in her arms and waiting.
In the morning, Jane has to pull Adèle off of her so that she can leave. She cries and cries as she puts Adèle down and leaves the room; she feels like Adèle represents her past, and now she’s going out to meet the future without knowing what’s going to happen.