Ξ From the Journals of Edward Rochester – 1811-1815 Ξ
~ “You will hear the truth!” With a swift blow I slapped him across the cheek. ~
His eyes went wide, more with fear than pain. He ceased struggling and let himself be supported by my grip.
“You will hear the truth,” I repeated, still clutching his coat. “Night after night, Mason, until I lost track of the days and weeks. Night after unending night, I would be summoned into town—whatever quarter, whatever sin-hole she had crawled into. Wherever there was drink and men willing to buy, she would find her way there, seeking appeasement for her monstrous appetites. And when she chose not to wander into wild company and partake of their bacchanals, she spent her maniac fury against those of her own household!”
I breathed fast, and when I realized I still gripped him by the coat, I let go. He fell back, stumbling into his chair, silent, still smarting from the blow across his cheek and trembling with shock. But I had more to say, and began to pace before him.
“Most every servant in this house, save Lucias and Zabeth, have fled for their lives, Mason, for she was entirely unreasonable, cruel and violent, erupting into wild rages sparked by any trivial event. One of her laundry maids she chased down the drive, threatening her with a butcher knife. When she caught the frightened thing, instead of stabbing the girl, she bit off her ear, claiming it a just punishment, for the stupid servant had disobeyed her orders. When I questioned the poor child about them, they were nothing but gibberish.”
He slumped over, covering his face in his hands, his shoulders heaving with his sobbing cries. Good God, I thought. He really had no idea of how low she had sunk.
He threw up his arms, as if to ward off another blow, and shrank into the shadow, still weeping softly.
It was useless to try and explain myself. He no longer wanted to listen. Exhausted and wrung out, I dropped into a chair, too weary to say more.
We sat a long time in a heavy, uneasy silence. A dim regret that I had given way to my temper passed through my mind. At last I said,
“Mason, I only want you to understand. In spite of her conduct, and the obvious danger she was to herself and others, I would not condemn her to the horrible fate suffered by your mother.”
He made no reply.
“Of course I loathe her behavior. Its fetid shadow has darkened my own existence, and robbed me of a future inheritance. I am mocked behind my back and their heartless pity sickens me. I am the cuckhold of the lunatic, who in her sickness abused and used herself ruthlessly. They shun me and those of my household as if it were plague-ridden or worse. But your sister…can you not understand? She is nothing to them. They think of her only as another inmate to provide fresh amusements to the keepers of Pandemonium. Whether you care to believe it or not, I do bear a conscience. Though her natural flesh and blood has abandoned her, she is my wife, and a duty by which I am bound. I could never consign her to that place.”
He sat quietly in the chair, still holding his face. He had ceased weeping, but was too overcome, or ashamed, to meet my eye.
“All the doctors agree, and believe me, there have been many of them. She is mad, and unpredictably violent. That is why she must be confined. I, of course, bear the full force of her rage and hatred, for I am the executor of the business. I hold the key to her cell as it were, and she hates me for it. Given the means and opportunity, I know she would kill me.”
~ A World Far Away – End Part X ~
© 2016 by R.Q. Bell and Imaginality Press; All rights reserved.