I Arrive in Dover – Part I

 Ξ  From the Journal of Edward F. Rochester ~ 1825  Ξ

“It’s good to see you again, Rochester,” exclaimed James Carter, as my trunk was hoisted onto the top rack of the coach preparing to leave Dover.

We shook hands. “I am glad you are come to meet me, James.”

My dog Pilot jumped in before ahead of us, then pushed his nose forward as we climbed in after. I scratched his ear, while Carter patted his head.

“Aye, dog. I am glad to see you as well.”

The coach soon settled into a rattling rhythm as we headed north along the Dover Road towards London.

Early January was damned cold, even bundled as we were from head to foot against the weather. The morning mist was gathering, but the road was yet dry, and Carter and I were the only passengers. After we had bumped along in silence for awhile, he suddenly observed, “Your dog at least looks hale and well-fed, Rochester.”

“That is well. And I?”

“To all outward appearances, you are very hearty…”

“…outward appearances?”

“You are quite distracted by something, Edward. You forget how well I know you, in spite of your attempts to conceal everything.”

“James, the death of your son–can you forgive my cold heart?

I deliberately avoided seeing you when last I was in England, and truly, I rue the decision. My head was so full of other things.

Well, it’s a damn sorry excuse is all, and I heartily regret it.”

“Thank you, Edward. It is strange. As a doctor, I have attended the deathbed of many a still-born infant, and seen the grief of so many mothers and fathers. I cannot deny that I felt their sorrows, and grieved for their losses, but when it is your own flesh and blood…”

“…it is a very different thing, indeed. But no apology is necessary, James. You cannot be expected to grieve for every child as you grieve the death of your own son. No man has that much mercy in his soul.”

Carter nodded. Mutely he gazed at me a moment, unable to reply. He turned his face to the window, and watched the barren, frost-laden meadows roll by. “I could not know him, Edward. He died without a name, and yet the pain was…so much greater than I could have imagined,” his eyes glistening with tears. “What should it be like to lose a child who has lived in the world? Whom you have seen smile, and laugh, and cry and call you ‘Father’?”

I shook my head. “It is something no man can fathom until he must walk through that valley. But take heart. Emily is young, is she not? She will yet be able to bear children, I trust?”

He smiled at hearing his wife’s name. “She speaks of it already. But now,” he continued more cheerfully, “while I am grateful for your condolences, belatedly though you offer them, you shall not evade my concern for you. Late last summer when you came to Thornfield, you took every precaution to prevent any encounter between us. Why?”

I laughed. “How can you ask me that? You wrote to me in November, as I recall, informing me in rather a disapproving tone, that you had discovered a child was living there. I knew you would have such objections, so, I simply told you nothing about her.”

“But why should I not have made such an attempt, Edward? For besides the child and her nurse, there is now a governess for her.”

~ I Arrive in Dover – End Part I ~

© 2016 by R.Q. Bell and Imaginality Press; All rights reserved.

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