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Jane settles down to a calm, uneventful life teaching Adèle, who makes reasonable progress under Jane. Nevertheless, Jane still longs to interact with people of her own kind. While pacing along the corridor of the third floor, she hears Grace Poole's laughter. She sometimes sees her and attempts to engage her in conversation, but Grace does not respond.
One afternoon in January, Adèle is given a half-holiday as she has a cold. Jane sets out on a walk to the village of Hay to post a letter for Mrs. Fairfax. While climbing the hill, Jane sees a dog and a rider on horseback. The horse slips on a sheet of ice, and Jane draws near to assist the rider. He is about thirty-five and not very handsome. She tells him that she is the governess at Thornfield. He asks her about Mr. Rochester and with her help, limps to his horse. After they are gone, Jane hurries to the post office.
When she returns to Thornfield, she sees the same black dog that she had met with the stranger. Then she is told that Mr. Rochester has arrived home. He has sprained his ankle during an accidental fall from his horse.
In this chapter, the reader notices that Mrs. Fairfax and Jane delight in each other's company. Jane finds Mrs. Fairfax to be "a placid- tempered, kind-natured woman, of competent education and average intelligence." Mrs. Fairfax, too, has kind feelings for Jane.
Jane also realizes Adèle's worth. She is a lively child who has been spoiled and indulged, and Jane discovers this to be the root of Adèle's waywardness. Although not endowed with great talents, she makes reasonable progress under Jane's supervision. Jane's professional attitude to the student-teacher relationship is far from sentimental. Eventually, Adèle becomes remarkably obedient and teachable.
Jane herself is comfortably settled in this new place, but she is not free from restlessness. She is consumed by a desire to do something more vigorous and inspiring. She is convinced that women, like men, need action and fulfillment. She states her views on women's rights and is of the opinion that women should not "confine themselves to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing on the piano and embroidering bags."
Jane's exploration of the third floor of the house continues in this chapter. Frequently she hears laughter there. Often she climbs the three staircases, raises the trap door of the attic and looks out over the field and hill.
Jane's walk to the post office is an attempt to distance herself, at least for the time being, from her passive life at Thornfield. The lane she passes is noted for roses, nuts and berries in autumn, but is now in a state of "utter solitude and leafless repose." It reflects the state of Jane's mind at that time. She sits on a stile (a set of steps for passing over a wall) to enjoy a moment of repose. At that time, the belief in the world of fairies, which has been dormant in Jane, is revived. The approaching horse reminds her of the folktales Bessie has told her. The accompanying human form, however, clears her suspicions and brings her back to her senses. The rider is "dark, strong and stern." His unconventional looks appeal to Jane. She would not have been able to relate to him if he had been handsome. On returning, she resents re-entering the monotony of Thornfield life. Her eyes and spirit are drawn to the "sky expanded before her" which reflects her inward elation. A pleasant surprise awaits her when she enters the house. She learns the identity of the traveler, who is none other than Mr. Rochester himself.
At the time of the accident, Jane appeals to Mr. Rochester's imagination. She comes unexpectedly and quietly out of the winter evening. She seems to belong to another world, one of peace and calm.
Few readers notice the physical likeness between the appearance of the square-faced Rochester and Thornfield itself. Both are of modest dimensions with little pretension to physical beauty. Both are characterized by apparent solidity and grimness.