Ξ From the Journals of Edward Rochester – 1811-1815 Ξ
“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.”
He said nothing. I got up and went to the other end of the room and looked out through the afternoon rain shower below to my garden. The graying mist washed out its colors of sweet rose, brilliant yellows, green and orange. How like my own existence: dull, colorless, lifeless! My head ached from too much whiskey, too much argument. I was ashamed of having lost control, if even for a moment. But in that moment, I had given vent to feelings I had long kept close, feelings I had never before confessed to anyone. I walked back to where he still sat, in silence.
“Mason?” he lifted his head. “I tell you plainly, I should have divorced her the moment I discovered her adulterous ways, your ₤30,000 be damned. But I waited too long. The doctors pronounced her mad, and it was too late.”
Still, he remained silent.
“I know how my father profited from the arrangement—may his sorry soul rot in Hell. What was your part in the conspiracy, Richard? What did you stand to gain from ruining my life?”
He turned away, in shame. “I am a coward, just as my father before me was a coward. My sister had the same seed of madness as our mother, and thus was destined to suffer the same, tragic fate. One day my father found our mother gone away into town again, and his anger was terrible to behold. He decided that day to be rid of her. But would he do the deed himself? No. I, his son, must take her to that place. I watched as they dragged her inside, screaming and shouting obscenities about my father. And then,” he stifled a sob, “she cursed me to my face. I swore I would never go there again. When Jonas showed me your father’s letter, it was as if Providence had intervened and given me a way to prevent that fate for my sister—”
“You give credit to God for all this, do you?”
“You cannot possibly know what it was like, Rochester. I watched my mother sink into madness, and then Jonas had her conveyed to that unspeakable asylum. On that day she cursed me, it was as though she had died to me. I shuddered to think my father would do the same to my sister.”
“So you all saw fit to deceive me?”
“You were as eager as any one of the others.”
I could not say I was entirely without guilt. But in reality, none of the others had been genuine contenders at all. Their presence was necessary to assure my participation, a vicious rivalry to spur a young man past the warnings of conscience.
He stood. “I am sorry, Edward. I thought to find something better than what we had given her, which was nothing. Perhaps she might have a husband who could…care for her.”
“You were simply grooming a new warden. Isn’t that so?”
He averted his gaze.
“Don’t you realize it, Mason? You were the only one of your family who ever gave the slightest damn about her. And yet knowing the dirty little secret, you could foist that upon another man? A man who thought he was taking a bride to love and honor him. A woman he might one day cherish? A man imagines a family, and sons…”
The agitation was beginning to stir again, and I knew prolonged discussion could only end badly.
“You came here full of malignant rumors and false accusations, Richard, but now you know the truth. Just take it and go.”
I did not bother to see him to the door. I just stood before the hearth, watching the fire, mulling over the events of the past, and how I how come to such an end, when a soft voice interrupted my musings.
“Señor Mason will not stay?”
“No, Lucias. He is going home. I shall dine alone again tonight.”
“Missah, you eat something now.”
I surveyed the tray and cup he brought, and remembered that I had not eaten since breakfast the day before. “I believe I shall. And Lucias,” I took a sip of the steaming beverage, which was sharp and strong. “Thank you.”
His old face wrinkled with a sad smile, showing his fine, white teeth. I lifted my cup in salute. Then he left me.
~ A World Far Away – Conclusion ~
© 2016 by R.Q. Bell and Imaginality Press; All rights reserved.