Jane Eyre: Novel Summary: Chapters 11-12
Chapter 11: Jane arrives at George Inn at Millcote, and when she sees John, the coachman who is to take her to Thornfield Hall, she thinks by the plainness of the carriage that Mrs. Fairfax is not so very dashing. When they arrive at Thornfield, Jane is happy to see how kind Mrs. Fairfax is. Jane is surprised to see how much attention her employer is giving her, and Mrs. Fairfax says that she is so happy that Jane has arrived, as now she will have company besides the servants. Jane asks when she will meet Miss Fairfax, and Mrs. Fairfax seems surprised and says that Jane's student's name is Miss Varens, and that she herself has no family. Mrs. Fairfax shows Jane to her room and bids her goodnight.
The next morning Jane rises and dresses plainly, wishing that she were handsomer than she is. She walks around the stately and grand house and grounds and meets Mrs. Fairfax. Mrs. Fairfax says that she wishes Mr. Rochester would reside there more. She is surprised when Jane asks who Mr. Rochester is, explaining that he is the owner of Thornfield. When Jane tells her that she thought she was the owner, Mrs. Fairfax says "What an idea," and explains that she is the housekeeper - the manager. Miss Varens is explained to be Mr. Rochester's ward, and when Adela Varens comes up, Jane sees she is about seven or eight years old. Adela has a French nurse and was born in France, so she speaks French, but Jane has no problem understanding her as she often spoke with the French teacher at Lowood. At first Adela is quiet, but soon she starts chattering on to Jane.
After breakfast, Adela and Jane go to the library to use it as a schoolroom. Later Mrs. Fairfax gives Jane a tour of the house, explaining that she keeps everything clean and ready, for although Mr. Rochester does not stay there much, his visits are sudden and unexpected. The tour of the house moves into the third story, and Jane finds it spooky, asking if there are any ghosts at Thornfield Hall or any ghost stories. Mrs. Fairfax says no, but as they leave the attic, Jane hears a curious, mirthless laugh. Mrs. Fairfax states that it must be one of the servants, and calls out Grace Poole and tells her to be quiet, explaining to Jane that Grace is there to do some housemaid's work. Adele comes running to meet them, and they have dinner in Mrs. Fairfax's room.
Chapter 12: Jane has been at Thornfield for a little while now, and still believes that she will have a smooth career there. She feels that she is making reasonable progress with Adele although the girl has no great talents. After working with her one day, Jane takes a walk alone up to the third story. There she looks out at the view and thinks about the world, wishing she could have more interactions with it, although she does enjoy the simple life at Thornfield. When she comes up to the third story such as this, she often hears Grace Poole's laugh, but when she actually sees her, her appearance acts as a damper to the curiosity raised by her laughing.
October, November and December pass, and one day when Adele has a cold, Jane offers to walk to Hay, two miles a way, to post a letter for Mrs. Fairfax. It is a cold day, and when Jane sits down to rest, she hears a horse coming. A dog runs by her, and soon a man on a horse follows. The man passes her, and she looks when she hears a noise to see that the man and the horse have slipped on the ice. Jane offers her help, and the man her where she lives. She explains she is from Thornfield, and when he asks about her master, replies that she has never met him. She helps him onto the horse, and he continues on and she goes on to Hay. When Jane returns to Thornfield, she is surprised to see the dog in Mrs. Fairfax's room. She asks a servant where it came from, and she says that it came with Mr. Rochester, who had just arrived with a sprained ankle.