Ξ From the Journals of Edward Rochester – 1811-1815 Ξ
~ It is quite the reverse, Mason. Everyone is this house is at the mercy of her demons. She is mad, you know. Quite insane.” ~
He staggered. For a moment I thought he might faint.
“Surely, this does not surprise you? You even wrote to my brother about it.”
“What…did you say?”
“You heard me. You knew she was doomed to the same end as your mother. How could you not?”
“Rochester, please,” he almost collapsed into the chair. “It cannot be…it is…too soon for this.”
“What do you mean?”
“I had hoped…we believed that marriage might do her good—”
“You hoped? There is nothing to be done for her, I tell you. I have tried. God knows, I have tried!”
I crossed the room to where he sat in my chair and looked down at his round, smooth face.
“You would accuse me of violence against your sister? I’ll show you violence.” I drew up the sleeves of my shirt and held up my forearms. “Take a look, Richard. A good, long look, and then tell me who is guilty.”
My flesh was criss-crossed with raw, angry welts and cuts, some deep enough to have required a surgeon’s ministrations.
“Last week when I went to her room and asked if she should like to come outside and enjoy the garden, without warning she attacked me. Somehow she had secreted a hair comb and for days had been sharpening one end against the tile floor, waiting only for the right moment to strike at me with it.”
Mason shook his head. “I…I am sorry.”
“Somehow I don’t think you are. But do you now understand the necessity for confinement?”
He leapt from his chair. “You admit it, then? You are nothing more than her jailer!”
“For God’s sake, Richard, be reasonable! It’s for her own safety, as well as others. You’ve been gone a long time and don’t know the half of it.”
He clutched at my shirt sleeve almost like a child as he replied, “Rochester, we could not have known it would be…so soon.”
“You keep saying that! Spare me your feeble excuses,” I cried, pushing his slender fingers off my arm. “You knew her fate. That’s why you lied. That’s why you pretended your mother was dead, when all along she was interred in that hellhole of an asylum in Kingston.”
The bitterness and anger of four long years suddenly boiled up, choking me with its acrid taste. I wanted him to suffer as I had suffered.
“Did you ever go there, Richard? Do you know what it was like?”
He began to cry. “I…I could never bring myself to it.” He buried his face in his hands and wept softly.
I seized his hands and tore them away from his face, and forced him to look at me.
“Well, I did go there, when your pitiable mother was dead. At last she had found peace, for God knows, she must have had none in that Bedlam. They could find no one else willing to claim the mortal remains for a decent burial. Your father was quite ill, but had he been hale, he would have refused the duty nonetheless. You well know, he had washed his hands of her welfare years ago. Where were you, Richard?”
“I know…I should have come. I am a coward.”
“It was horrible. I could only take the warden’s word it was she. Filthy, emaciated, covered with running sores—”
“No more, I beg you,” he cried.
“Oh, but there is so much more, Richard, and you will hear it. Do you know they sometimes lock up men and women together? No matter the age? Whether healthy or ill? And of course, few of them are restrained. It seems their antics constitute the entertainment for those who are supposed to care for them.”
He threw his hands over his ears and cried pitieously. “Please, please, no more. Rochester…have mercy!” He whimpered like a whipped dog.
“Mercy?” I cried. I grabbed him by the lapels of his coat.
“No more, no more,” he sobbed, clawing at my fingers.
“You will hear the truth!” With a swift blow I slapped him across the cheek.
~ A World Far Away – End of Part IX ~
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