Ξ From the Journals of Edward Rochester – 1811-1815 Ξ
I could not move. Misguided ambition? Will come to nothing? Who the hell did he think he was? Well, damn him. Oh, damn him!
Resentment burned through me as I scattered the others across the desktop, eagerly seeking the next one. When I found it, my eyes devoured these words:
Thornfield Hall December, 18___
…your wife’s affliction is unfortunate, but with respect to her daughter, it is perhaps nothing more than excitable, animal spirits. I see no undue cause for alarm, therefore let Edward remain ignorant. I have hope for reasonable success, so there must be no undue delay to thwart our purpose.
My hands were shaking as I tore open the last one:
Thornfield Hall March, 18___
I believe £30,000 is a more reasonable offer, one which I can accept. If you are as you proclaim to be, anxious for our English name and blood, let me advise you of this: Edward is sensible of recent failures and therefore will be eager to succeed. Some incentive to insure his whole-hearted participation would not be imprudent—
What deviousness was this? A red haze filled my vision. With mounting fury I snatched up the the letter from Rowland. The picture it painted, a conspiracy so absolute, so devilishly wrought, sent me reeling:
Thornfield Hall April, 18___
My Dear Sir –
As we shall soon be related by way of marriage, I trust you will see to it that the wedding takes place at once. Your son Richard has informed me that while there may be regrettable circumstances respecting the bride, he believes the match can only benefit her. My brother is young and quite naive, but lusty enough to get her with child immediately. Act with appropriate alacrity, sir, and it will be of no consequence. Your heir will be conceived, and your legacy unbroken…
* * *
Carter stared at me, pale with shock, unable to speak.
“I read the letters a dozen times over and what they revealed? It was contemptible. There is no doubt. My own father initiated the plot, James. They all knew the terrible truth of the fate awaiting me in Jamaica.”
“Rochester,” he whispered. “I don’t know what to say—”
“No words can express the outrage, the utter humiliation I felt in that moment. But worse than that, was the abject hopelessness of my situation. How Rowland must have laughed while weaving his plot. In every conceivable scenario, he would be the victor, and I, the vanquished. Should I have refused the challenge, they would simply brand me a coward, unworthy of the name of Rochester. If I brave the journey, but miserably fail as a lover, again I must return in shame. But no, Carter! I took up the challenge and won the day. But as you see, my triumph was hollow: it was a rigged game after all. And the prize? Nothing more than a fetter of servitude to madness!”
~ A World Far Away – End of Part V ~
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