The Road to Exile – Part VI

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

“What in blazes is going on in here?” Henry Rochester demanded imperiously.

“Everyone in the house can hear your shouting from here to the front door, for God’s sake. If you think I will allow you to embarrass your mother in front of her guests, you are gravely mistaken. Keep a civil tongue, or I swear, I’ll rip them out of your heads.”

Rowland yawned. “It is the usual discussion, Father. Edward again is chafing at the lot of a second son.”

I glared at him. “Tell him the truth. We were discussing Miss Fairfax.”

“Yes, I suppose that is more accurate,” he replied coolly.

Henry interrupted again. “What has Miss Fairfax to do with this?”

“Edward believes I have usurped his place, he having doted on her since their childhood and all. Or so he says. The imminent announcement of our engagement has ruined his plans forever.”

Henry’s soft laughter cut me to the heart. “You’re not serious, Edward? You, wed Miss Fairfax?”

“And why not Miss Fairfax?”

“She’s a baronet’s daughter.”

“What should that mean to me, to her, if we love each other?”

“You cannot seriously be asking me that question.” replied Henry with irritation.

“I tried to tell him the same thing, Father,” interrupted Rowland, who was beginning to sound like the toadying fifteen year old he had once been. “He refuses to see reason. He is so besotted by love,” he sneered. “Or his desires of a more carnal nature—”

“You lecherous fiend!” I lunged toward him.

“Enough!” cried Henry, stepping between us. He turned to his eldest. “Rowland, leave us at once.  See to our guests.”

“But Father—”

“You heard me. I will not have the two of you ruin this evening. Now get out.”

Rowland glared at me. “Oh, very well. As usual, I shall miss out on all the fun. But I trust, Father, you will enlighten his understanding? About everything?”

“Go!” retorted Henry, his temper flaring again.

Rowland obeyed without another word. After his departure, we stood in silence for a time. I was hardly aware of my father’s presence as I stared at the closed door of the library, the image of Rowland’s impudent grin burned in my mind. The sounds of the party drifted down the hallway, but it seemed like a world far away, a world in which I would never have a part. 

Abruptly I asked, “What did he mean, ‘enlighten my understanding’?”

“Sit down, Edward.”

My heart went cold. “Is it true, then? They are engaged?”

“Yes.”

“But how can this be? Why was I not told?”

The phrases from Catherine’s letter echoed again in my thoughts. Edward, you must come home for Christmas…there is something I must tell you… And this evening, the words she uttered not two hours ago. I understood them now. “It is too late…”  Oh, God. Why Catherine? Why did you not tell me?

“How long?” I whispered. “How long have they been engaged?”

“Only very lately,” replied Henry. “I was not aware they were fond of each other.”

“They are not!” I exclaimed. “Kit…Miss Fairfax, has never looked at Rowland in that way. He is more than twelve years her senior. She is but sixteen. What can her father be thinking to consent to such an unequal union?”

“The wedding will not take place for another two years at least, perhaps even three,” replied Henry quietly. “I would hardly call it unequal, however. The Rochester estate is a highly coveted prize. Why should not the baronet consent to the match?”

I was becoming agitated again. “He can hardly be acquainted with her. He is so much older. They have nothing in common. She is but a girl—”

I stopped, knowing that was not true. She was no longer the merry little child who had been my playfellow, but was a young woman, fresh, mature and so very aware of the world.

“Rowland does not love her. He’s a selfish bastard and well you know it.”

“Hold your tongue,” muttered Henry ominously. “He is a Rochester, and your brother.  Show some respect.”

~ Exile – End Part 6 ~

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

Series Navigation<< <i>The Road to Exile – Part V</i><i>The Road to Exile – Part VII</i> >>

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