Ξ From the Journals of Edward Rochester – 1811-1815 Ξ
~ It was now or never. I resolved on the spot that Edward Fairfax Rochester—and no other—must be, would be, the winner of the field. ~
Carter sat in silence, pondering all I had told him. The coach rattled steadily onward.
“And now, James. Recall that I spoke to you about treachery. But I was ignorant of just how deep it ran until Jonas Mason died more than two years later. I am sure you well remember that year, heralded as it was by Catherine Fairfax’s death in the carriage accident.”
He nodded. “It was a tragedy indeed, a mere six months before her own wedding. But everyone suffered that day, Edward. Especially your brother. His own injuries were extremely serious. I feared he would never use his hand or arm again—”
“My brother,” I replied with vehemence, “was an arrogant fool whose reckless disregard for everyone but himself killed her. But I never heard about it, until that first time you wrote to me after my father died. He had commanded me to forget all about Catherine Fairfax, and I’m sure it never occurred to him to notify me of her death, banished as I had been to that world so far away.”
“You left the country so soon after your mother’s funeral. I thought you might write and let me know to where, but I never heard from you.”
“I was angry and ashamed, desperate to conceal everything about my situation. I wrote to Henry within mere weeks of my marriage, begging him to keep it a secret. I described everything in disgusting detail so he would have no choice. How he prized his stellar reputation! But the consequences of the marriage he had arranged for me were far worse than he imagined, I’m sure. If word got out, it would be a blight on the family name that could never be eradicated. Most willingly did he comply with my request.”
“Catherine, poor girl, lingered for several hours after the accident.” Carter shaded his eyes at the grim memory. “Oh, God, I’m so sorry, Edward, but there was nothing I could for her. And Rowland was yet unconscious, his arm broken and mangled…your father was beside himself.”
“No doubt,” I replied with contempt. “But did Henry tell you nothing about me? Did you even ask?”
“Of course I did. He told me you had left England to seek your fortune, but nothing more. He spoke not a word about your marriage or where you had gone. I asked him to tell me so I might write to you, but he never answered me. It wasn’t until your brother’s death almost a year later that I learned you were in the West Indies. But what is this treachery you spoke of? What fresh duplicity did Mason’s death uncover?”
I smiled grimly. “Certainly my father never intended me to know all the intimate details of the sordid arrangement he’d made. It’s almost laughable now, but it was Henry himself who’d revealed them, and in a most peculiar way. Jonas Mason had been dead perhaps a year, when one afternoon, Lucias, the old butler, informed me that a gentleman—a lawyer, in fact—had come to Alta Arboleta, and he was looking for me.”
~ A World Far Away ~ End Part II ~
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