The Road to Exile – Part II

Ξ From the Journals of Edward Rochester – 1809-1810 Ξ

“…we must go back to those days, when the events which came to pass set the course of my entire future life…”

Carter’s eyes widened. “It must have been a fateful Christmas holiday, indeed. And so. What was this mysterious letter from Miss Fairfax, then?”

“James, truly, I believed she was expecting my proposal of marriage, and yet her letter seemed contradictory to that notion. Perhaps I should have been more discerning, but what young man of twenty is not a fool when he believes himself in love? But why she had written to me at all, I did not understand. It would never occur to me not to come home that time of year.”

“Of course,” he exclaimed. “The annual Thornfield Christmas Gala.”

“Indeed. My mother’s one indulgence every year. Everyone in the neighborhood looked forward to it. But if her sons were not there, it would wound her feelings terribly. I could never abide that.”

“You miss her still.”

“I do.”

A pang of remorse stung me. I looked away out the window. My eyes unexpectedly filled with tears, and I squeezed them shut. How I regretted my conduct the last time I saw her. That very Christmas holiday.

“Already she was ill with the ailment that took her, but we were all unaware. She concealed it from everyone. Soon, it overcame even her formidable will. Henry was so consumed by his own grief that by the time I had word of it… She died early that spring, before I could get home.”

Carter was quiet for a moment. “I was quite surprised when you left the country not long after her funeral.”

“Before the Gala, my head had been full of but one thing—Miss Catherine Fairfax. When at last the evening arrived, I had been anticipating her arrival all day. When I spied her coach in line behind the others, I ran out to meet it. What happened later that night set in motion the events which subsequently obliged me to leave England.”

                  ***

Miss Fairfax was being helped out of the carriage by her brother, Tom.

“Devilish of me to accompany her, eh, Rochester?”

I grinned. “Better you than the old man.”

He kissed his sister’s cheek. “Dearest Kate, we are now on hallowed Rochester grounds.”

He stepped out of the coach. As we shook hands, he winked. “Beware the cat’s claws, Edward.” Bowing with a flourish, he was off toward the house.

Catherine appeared quite breathtaking in her white Christmas gown, edged with silver and ermine. She took my arm without a word, and we too, made our way toward the house. The diamonds in her tiara sparkled in the light of the torches lining the drive, which flickered and hissed with the light falling snow. I pulled a letter from my coat pocket and showed it to her.

“Would you mind explaining to me why you wrote this?”

“Oh, my letter. I must be sure that you would—but never mind, Edward. May we go?”

Her reluctance to explain exasperated me, but I knew her stubbornness and it was no use pressing the point. I shrugged. “Very well, if that is what you want.”

Women. Would I ever understand them?

Exile ~ End of Part 2 ~

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

Series Navigation<< <i>The Road to Exile – Part 1</i><i>The Road to Exile – Part III</i> >>

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