The Road to Exile – Part III

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

Her countenance glowed with excitement as we approached the house.

In that face I could still see traces of the mischievous little girl who had long ago been my playfellow. But all too quickly I must be sent to school. She must become a lady. All our schemes and plans carefully laid as we explored the wide world must be set aside for the responsibilities of adulthood.

I touched the delicate, gloved hand filled by slender, supple fingers, and was reminded that not long ago they were but small and stubby, digging in the fields for gophers. The magnificent silken gown hid all traces of scraped knees. She was now a young woman, and must set such whimsy aside.

We walked together but in silence, unnatural and awkward. We had spent so many days in one another’s company, more often quarreling like a brother and sister. But looking at her now, in all her glorious womanhood—by no means did I feel about her as I would a sister.

Once again, I thought of her letter. I simply must know what it meant. 

“Kit!” I whispered sharply. You absolutely must come home for Christmas. I have something I must tell you. You wrote that to me. You know I would never be anywhere else other than at Thornfield this time of year.”

“Oh, Edward…can you not wait?”

“No!” I whispered harshly. “I am here now, so what is it? What is it that compelled you to write such a letter?”

“Edward. This party…it is your mama’s annual grande affair, is it not?” said she, rather casually using the intimate reference to my mother. “It would be fitting that our announcement be made at such a festive and well-attended occasion, that is all.”

“Our announcement?” I answered, quite astonished. “Would it not be premature?”

She looked at me curiously. “No, not at all.”

“Of course,” I echoed, still puzzling over the mystery.

I should put the question to her now, but she seemed irritated, and I thought the better of it. Of course she knew I intended to ask for her hand, but not until the end of Spring term. But it was brilliant. What better place to announce our engagement than a party attended by all our family and friends?

As we approached the front door of the Hall, it flew open unexpectedly. “Ah, there you are at last, Miss Fairfax.”

My little fantasy was suddenly shattered by that well-known but despised voice. Rowland. He stood at the door of the Hall, a glass of wine in his hand, and a deuced smirk on his face.   

“You’re drunk,” I muttered.

“Not quite yet, I think…but well on my way to becoming so. What of it? It is a party, after all.” He stepped aside, offering Miss Fairfax his hand. “Quite sporting of you to bring her round, Edward. Miss Fairfax, if you would step this way.”

I tried to prevent him. “Rowland, what do you think you’re doing? Kit?”

“Ah, Kit, is it?” He smiled at her. “Is that his nickname for you? Well, then, Miss Kit.” He flashed a stupid grin, and in a quick motion, pulled her close and covered her mouth with his.

Catherine had been completely unprepared for his shameless deed. She laughed weakly and pushed him away, but I could not tell whether she was angry or amused by the liberty he had taken.

“Please, Mr. Rochester.”

Rowland only laughed. “Mr. Rochester, is it?” He drained his glass, then tossed it into the shrubbery adjacent the porch. “Yes, I suppose we must give way to these damned civilities a while longer, mustn’t we? Very well, then.” He bowed. She laid a gloved hand upon his proffered arm, and he grinned suggestively. “Now there’s a good girl. This way if you please.”

Exile ~ End of Part 3 ~

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

Series Navigation<< <i>The Road to Exile – Part II</i><i>The Road to Exile – Part IV</i> >>

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