Ξ From the Journals of Edward Rochester – 1811-1815 Ξ
After thumbing through the letters, Campbell took up another. “Here is the odd epistle, sir. It is addressed to Mr. Mason…from a Mr. Rowland Rochester.”
“Rowland? He was my elder brother, but I am sorry to say that he too, is dead.”
“Well, sir…may I offer my sincerest condolences.”
“Thank you,” I replied hastily, accepting the letter he held forth. My eye dropped immediately to the valediction. “Yes, this is Rowland’s hand.”
I returned it to him. He put it back into the bundle with the others then retied the string.
“I only thought that perhaps you might like to have these, sir.”
“Thank you, Campbell. Is there a receipt, or something I must sign?”
He smiled. “Indeed there is, sir.” He pull a thrice-folded paper from his coat pocket then laid it on the desk, smoothing the creases so it would lay flat. “Here at the bottom, sir. By signing this document you acknowledge these letters to have been written by family members, either by blood or marriage, and that on this day, you received them into your possession.”
“I am much obliged to you, Mr. Rochester,” said Campbell, taking the document after I signed it and handing me the packet. “Your letters.”
“Are you certain you will take no refreshment?”
“No, thank you again, sir. This is but one among several errands I have this afternoon. I will take my leave now, so good day to you.”
I rose and we shook hands again. “Good day, Mr. Campbell.”
I watched him go, then dropped into the chair and stared at the neatly tied bundle just sitting there. Three letters, all written by Henry Rochester to Jonas Mason. I seemed to recall my father having claimed to receive but one letter from Mason, wherein he had inquired if his old friend was aware of any suitable young men to wed his daughter. Her beauty, her eligibility as a member of one of the richest families in Jamaica was the talk of the West Indies, and her father deemed it was time to find her a husband. Henry wrote back that I was that suitable young man.
So what was in this other correspondence? And how was Rowland involved in the negotiations between two fathers arranging their children’s futures? I always suspected he had played some part. Perhaps here was proof.
Suddenly burning with a curiosity to know, I quickly untied the bundled, fumbled through them and found the oldest, which appeared to have been written five years ago, a year before ever I came to this cursed place.
Thornfield Hall, September, 18___
Though it has been several years since last we’ve seen one another, the news of your prosperous endeavors in the West Indies reaches me even here at Thornfield Hall. I congratulate you.
I understand there is a daughter for whom you are urgently seeking a husband, one who can bring good blood and a fine English name. Consider my youngest, Edward, who must have some means to secure his future. He has taken it into his head to pursue an occupation, but it is misguided ambition and will come to nothing. If your fortune is as large as you claim, send me proof. I am certain we can come to an understanding.
I could not move. Misguided ambition? Will come to nothing? Here was proof of yet further deception. It had been my own father who initiated the contact with Mason! Just who the hell did he think he was?
Damn him. Oh, damn him to Hell!
~ A World Far Away – End of Part IV ~
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