After I Married Mr Rochester – Part Twenty

Chapter 20 – Jane, I knew you’d do me good

Forever Jane & Edward

Prayers are good for mental support but they don’t actually help you out when you are physically in trouble. So I concentrated on trying to revive my husband. I rubbed his chest as hard as I could, and I blew into his mouth, hoping to keep him alive with my own breath. How long I kept doing this I do not recall but eventually I stopped. I was exhausted, and my spirits were very low. We would die, all three of us. However, we would not be separated in death. Determined to be as close to him as I could, I positioned myself lengthwise on top of his body. I laid my head on Edward’s chest and closed my eyes.

“Damn and blast, woman! What are you doing, you are choking me!”

A violent fit of coughing sent me sliding off Edward’s body. He sat up abruptly, I could feel it, and shook himself like a wet dog, sprinkling me with a shower of dirt.

“Stop, Edward, stop!” Then I was laughing and throwing myself against him and kissing him, I was so extremely happy!

He kissed me back and chuckled, “And I love you too, Jane, don’t worry!”

We laughed and kissed like there was no tomorrow. That’s why we didn’t hear the shouting voice above us at first.

“Sir? Sir, are you there? Mr. Rochester, sir, is that you?”

Norton! They found us! A stream of earth was raining upon us and we hastily crawled away.

“Damn it, Norton! You are busy burying us alive, would you please take care?”

“Sorry, sir!”

Light! Lovely yellow light from a lamp, no, from many lamps!

“Seems like we’re not yet in St. Peter’s book just now, my little witch! You’d probably scare the wits out of him anyway!”, my rake of a husband said and I swear I could see him smirking, even in the feeble light from above.

 

A few days later, we were all gathered in the drawing room of Ferndean Manor.

There was I, and Edward, Adèle, Edwina, Charles Mason and John Eshton, Alice, Keithley and Norton. Also present was Special Constable Jeremiah Jones, acting on behalf of Mr. Justice of the Peace Lord Brackenberry of the Newcastle Royal Court. He had a story to tell.

As soon as Edward had made a formal complaint about the attack of the Ingram women on his life, His Lordship had ordered their arrest. Edwina’s testimony provided him with sufficient ammunition to bring on a lawsuit against them. The two women, however, had made full confessions because it seemed that they were not entirely to blame for the whole miserable affair.

The present baron of Ingram Park, Geoffrey Ingram, Blanche’s brother, was Edwina’s father. Apparently, he had raped poor Adelaide Eshton during a party at her father’s estate, when she was barely sixteen years old. He had threatened the innocent, unworldly girl in keeping silent over his despicable feat, convincing her that she would never be believed if she told the truth. Later, when Adelaide and her daughter fled the Blackthorn house and came to live at Ingram Park, he again threatened the poor woman saying he would ravish her daughter if she breathed a word over what had happened. It had been Lady Adelaide’s death. She succumbed, both physically and mentally destroyed.

So, of the once so proud family Ingram, only poor young Mary remained out of His Majesty’s Prison. She was to go and live with an aunt in Hampshire for the rest of her days, as it was very unlikely she would make a suitable marriage now.

Ultimately, we had reasons enough to celebrate the outcome of all this uproar. Edward cracked several bottles of champagne, and we toasted with friends and family.

Edward took me by the hand after Mr. Jones had departed, claiming he was not feeling well enough to stay up too late. Ignoring my mild protests about the presence of our guests, he dragged me with him to our bedchamber. Closing the door firmly behind us, he scooped me up into his arms and carried me to our bed.

“Now, Jane,” he murmured, “will you be so good as to clarify something to me that I do not fully understand?”

His green-grey eyes were full of mischief, and I knew where this would lead us.

“Edward,” I answered, “if you want to have marital intercourse with me, just say so. You know I could never deny you.”

It seemed I was wrong. He cupped my face and looked into my eyes in a very serious way.

“No jesting now, Jane, I’m serious. I heard you say something, my adorable little wife, when we were buried in that cellar. Now, since I was in a state of semi-unconsciousness, I do not know if I heard you correctly. You said, and I quote: ‘Don’t leave us, Edward!’ Us, Jane, whatever did you mean by that?”

“Well, Edward, it is all your doing, you know. You have been doing things to me that will have a result in approximately seven months from now and …”

He silenced me with a kiss, and I let him.

“Oh, my precious witch, this is the best of news! I insist on you seeing Dr. Woodhouse as soon as possible. Being buried cannot be good for my son.”

Your son? Why not my daughter? The chances are equal, you know?”

Edward threw his head back and roared with laughter, which vexed me a bit. He seemed so confident! “No, Jane, you are so wrong in this! We Rochesters do not breed daughters. After all, we are a weak and degenerated lot so we only produce males. A shame, for I’m convinced a daughter of ours would be as beautiful as her mother. Now, my sweet own Jane, have I already thanked you for saving my life, again? It seems that I cannot stay alive without your rescue operations, so from now on, I’m not leaving your side anymore. It might prove fatal for me one day!”

“No,” I answered in a dignified manner, desperately trying not to laugh, “you have yet to thank me, Edward.”

My words had barely left my mouth before he pushed me onto our bed, pinning my arms above my head and shoving my skirts upwards with his powerful knee. Then, however, he checked himself. Instead he laid himself down beside me and took me in his arms.

“Jane … how long do you think I can … thank you before …”

“I don’t know for sure, my love, but I think we still have some months full of thanking ahead of us.”

That was all he needed, and he applied himself in thanking me most thoroughly.

So after a considerable period of time we lay in a close embrace, resting from our exertions and Edward’s chuckled, “Jane, I knew you’d do me good. I knew you’d make an honourable man of me, eventually.”

 

The End

Next week from Luce: The Lost Northbound Train

North and South 2004A fantasy continuation of the 2004 BBC version, starring Richard Armitage and Daniela Denby-Ashe.

What if the train John and Margaret took to go home never reached Milton?

What if some time portal was opened, and they ended up in the twenty-first century?

Would their love survive?

Read it next week on this page!

 

After I Married Mr Rochester – Part Nineteen

Chapter 19 – Our Father who art in Heaven

Walking Jane1

The words of the prayer whispered through my befuddled brain, and I kept repeating them because it gave me mental strength.

“Our Father … who art in Heaven … hallowed be Thy name …”

I could not possibly be dead, could I? My body ached with cuts and bruises. I was cold and wet and … oh Heaven, I was able to breathe again! How wonderfull.

However, it was pitch black all around me,and I was shivering. I was also still bound on hands and feet. I moaned with pain in my back and shoulders as soon as I tried to move.

“Jane … Jane?”

“Edward … is that you?”

Suddenly his mouth was on mine and, of all things, we kissed. We just kissed, and our kiss was dear to us like life itself. After a long time, we had to draw breath eventually but we lay panting against each other and laughing and kissing again.

“Where are we? What happened?”, I asked.

“We are in a cellar under the cottage, darling. I think the house has crashed above us and the floor must have collapsed. Are you alright? Can you move?”

To my astonishment I found that indeed I could move. Now that the smoke was gone, I could again breathe properly, and that seemed to have restored at least part of my strength.

“Yes, I can move, Edward. And, if my hands were free I would slap you! I thought they shot you, I thought you were dead!”

He laughed! He just laughed that infuriating laugh of his and I screamed, overcome with helpless frustration! “Shhh! Shhh, calm yourself, my little cat. I sensed all along that Beaver’s long absence meant something fishy was afoot so I used a little trick I learned in my West Indies days. I put a piece of armour around my chest under my shirt and a cow blather full of cow’s blood above it. That’s what you saw when the bullet hit it. However, I was knocked unconscious with the bullet’s impact, and it hurts like hell.”

I kissed him again, all too happy that he was alive. “We must find a way to get out of this.”

“We will, Jane, we will. Listen, the first thing to do is to free ourselves from these wretched bonds but I have no idea how we are to do that.”

“Wait a moment, Edward. I am going to try something.”

The way I was lying told me that I was facing Edward so I turned my back to him.

“There!” I said. “Now try unfastening my bonds, Edward!”

My husband’s chuckle rumbled in the darkness, but I could feel his fingers working on the rope around my hands. It took a lot of time but eventually my wrists loosened, and I was able to wriggle them free.

“Oh, how wonderful! Give me a minute, darling. I must restore the circulation.”

“Not too long, I hope!”, Edward answered. “Untie me, Jane, my hands are tingling.”

It was not long before we had freed ourselves completely. We were even able to sit upright.

“Stay where you are, sweetheart, I’m going to make a little reconnoitring  around this hellhole.”

I heard Edward moving about on hands and feet for a while. God! How tired I was! And hungry, thirsty, cold, damp, and probably very filthy too. Then I remembered my sickness, and the way I had vomited, so abruptly and so violently. I was still feeling weak and nauseated.

“Jane, come this way, please?”

When I reached Edward, he took my hand. “Here, do you feel that? It’s a draft of fresh air. We must try and dig ourselves out. Can you help me? But, my love, do be careful, I don’t want to be buried alive.”

We started digging, plunging our hands in the dirt at the spot where the draft was coming from. It was hard work. This is how we did it; Edward peeled away the earth, gave it into my hands, and I piled it up somewhere behind me. Slowly and carefully, we worked until we could feel the draft getting stronger, as the hole grew larger.

“Back away, my darling!” Edward croaked, his throat surely as dry as mine was.

“What? What are you going to do?” I asked, suddenly unsure.

“Worm myself through this hole. I want to know where this is leading to.”

Without giving me the chance to say more, I heard his grunt when he heaved himself upwards. A dull thud, followed by a cloud of dust into my face, told me my worst fear had come true; the hole had collapsed!

“Edward! Edward, where are you? Speak to me! Edward!”

There I was, groping around blindly in the absolute darkness, and encountering nothing but damp earth. It was like moving around in a grave. My husband was there, somewhere, buried alive. I had to find him. So I shook off every other thought. I probed and brushed, desperately trying to remember where I had heard his voice the last time. It looked like ages but eventually my fingers came upon his body and it was buried from the waist up! In frantic despair I began brushing away whatever dust and earth I could, mainly searching for his face. There! That was his head!

“Edward!”

I kept on screaming his name, I wanted him to answer me, to show me that he was alive!

His mouth, his nose! I hastily wiped my hands on my blouse and handkerchief as best as I could and started freeing his mouth and nose. It was the work of a madwoman; I could see nothing. It was pitch-dark. I could only feel, and all the time my prayers went up to whatever God might deign to hear them.

“Edward! Please, Edward, answer me! Please, don’t leave me, don’t leave us, please …”

Yes, there was a chance that I might be with child. Were we to perish in this hole all three of us and was Edward never to know he was to be a father?

So I prayed, more than I had ever done in my life … Our Father, who art in Heaven …”

 

After I Married Mr Rochester – Part Eighteen

Chapter 18 – Burn the witch

Fire

A choking smoke was rapidly filling the small low-ceilinged room of the cottage, and I knew I should try and get out. I did not move. My courage failed me for without Edward, lying dead beside me, nothing mattered to me anymore.

Why? Why was he taken from me? I could not understand why we were not allowed to enjoy a happy life together. Sobs were raking my chest as I realized only one thing; Edward was dead.

They had shot him through the heart, and I was left alone to die a horrible death.

Lying on my stomach and unable to move, I felt the fabric of Edward’s wet coat under my cheek. At least I was grateful for that; I would die with my head close to Edward’s heart. I closed my eyes and tried to breathe. Smoke was choking me and causing me to cough, but the coughing brought me no solace. My eyes were stinging now and a sudden impulse to fight made me move my head higher on Edward’s chest. It only made me cough harder.

The heat from the flames was reaching a dangerous level now. The fire had set the thatched roof alight and pieces of it were falling down. I was now so terrified that I crept closer to Edward as if searching for protection. I screamed and sobbed and coughed, all in the same, sheer panic.

“Damn it, Jane! Will you give me some space here? It’s hard enough to breathe in this vile smoke without you burying me with your body, no matter how lovely a prospect that may be!”

Violent coughing accompanied this outburst of Edward’s, and I lifted my head. He was alive!

“Edward … how …?” A fit of coughing cut my words.

“Not now, Jane! Move over!”

He grunted and tried to sit up and only now I noticed that he too was bound hands and feet.

All I could see just then was the ugly red stain on his chest and the next second, I was retching uncontrollably. The contempt of my stomach forced its way up into my throat; the next moment, I was violently vomiting. Water, for I had not eaten since breakfast. I gasped for breath and vomited again. Panting and heaving, I lay with my face in the dust, sick and miserable.

“Sweetheart, Jane, darling, come on, we have go get out of here …”

I wanted to move, I wanted to follow Edward’s coaxing voice, but my strength failed me. There was no air left in the room, only smothering smoke.

My husband turned his back to me and shouted between coughs, “Give me your hands, darling! Alright, that’s it. Just cling to my hands, never let go.”

He grasped my bound hands with his and squeezed them tight. With a grunt of effort, he then shoved himself forward, first thrusting his legs in the direction of the door, then pulling his buttocks towards his feet, and dragging me along with him in the process. I was a dead weight but could do nothing about it. I was so ill and weak I barely managed to stay conscious, and the coughing was raking my body even more. The fact that he had to take my weight with him with every shove was considerably and quickly draining Edward’s strength. His laboured breathing became heavier by the minute.

“Jane … sweetheart … you have to help me, we are not going to make it.”

“I … I … cannot … breathe …”

“Yes, you can! Take shallow breaths, come on, you can do it!”

I did as he asked and it helped … a little.

“Come on, my brave witch, we have to get on our feet now. Hold on to my hands. Good girl! Now put your back firmly against mine, yes, that’s it! Pull your feet up and … now push upwards!”

I failed, my legs were numb and my lungs ached from the lack of oxygen.

“Jane, will you please stop being such a weakling and do as I tell you to! Damn it, woman, I don’t want to die just yet!”

Fury rose in my chest when he spoke like that to me, and well he knew it! The next time I succeeded and we were standing on our two, tightly bound legs.

But Fate had other things planned for us. With a rumbling sound like far away thunder, the roof slowly came crashing down on us and everything went black.

After I Married Mr Rochester – Part Seventeen

Chapter 17 – Hell hath no fury

 Lady Ingarm2

My heart stopped!

I sank onto my knees, and with shaking hands, carefully turned Edward onto his back. A large bloodstain had spread right in the middle of his chest. I put a trembling hand on his cheek; how cold it was! This could not be true, surely not? He could not be dead, could he? His eyes were shut and his face was deadly pale but surely he was not dead?

Someone grabbed me, and a sack was pulled over my head. I didn’t care, I could not think, I could not feel. Edward! Edward! I screamed his name as loudly as I could.

“Please, let me take care of him! He’s hurt, he will die if I cannot tend to his wound! Please …”

Nobody listened to me. I was lifted and thrown upon someone’s shoulder and carried away from the deadly wounded body of my husband. That was when I fainted.

 

“Come on, man! Wake her up! Throw some water into her face or something.”

I knew that voice. It was … no, it could not be! A splash of ice-cold water brought me to my senses and I gasped for breath. But there she was! Lady Ingram, dressed in black, a man’s breeches, skirt, coat and boots. Next to her stood her daughter, clothed in the same way as her mother and scowling at me in a most ominous manner.

“Where is my husband?” I demanded haughtily, determined not to let them get the better of me.

Lady Ingram’s eyes smouldered with loathing contempt and she said in a low, menacing voice,

“Hold your tongue, you miserable piece of filth! You do not speak before I give you permission to!. Oh, I know what sort of creature you are, governess … you are like all the others of your wretched profession. Your type of commonplace whores just creeps into a woman’s home under the pretext of teaching her children, and then you are praying upon her husband. What business was it of yours to come and take Rochester away from my beautiful Blanche? He loved her! Before you showed up, he was in love with her. But you, with your humble, subdued ways, you lured him away from my child.”

During her monologue I recovered enough to make me look about me and find out where I was. I was, of course, in the cottage. The room was low and dark with the only light coming from two very small windows. The whole place spoke of extreme poverty but also of scrupulous cleanness and caring. The earthen floor was covered with freshly cut herbs and the few pieces of furniture were scrubbed until they shone. Where was the inhabitant of this house, Beaver’s old mother? And where was Beaver?

“Oh, pray, madam governess, do not seek for help!”

Lady Ingram laughed, and the sound of it was so eerie I felt shivers running over my spine. Blanche laughed too, and it dawned on me that they must be mad, both of them.

Blanche bent over me and grabbed my hair, pulling it out of its pins. It hurt so much that tears sprang into my eyes.

“Look, you commoner, you’re quite alone here! There are three corpses and you. We had to shoot that stupid Beaver fellow because he wouldn’t finish you off, not even when we killed his old crone of a mother!”

I followed her gaze, and my blood ran cold in my veins! She was right! Next to the body of a little old lady lay Beaver’s heavy form, his eyes staring blindly towards the ceiling. And, next to him … my poor brain could not comprehend what I saw; the tall, inert figure of Edward, sprawled on his back, with the ugly, huge, red stain of blood covering his chest like a giant flower. His eyes were closed and his face was smooth, even under the scars of the burning. Edward … was dead.

I must have screamed, for my tormenters were laughing even more now. I did not care; I wanted to be next to Edward. I wriggled and struggled as hard as I could but I was firmly bound on hands and feet and could not move an inch.

“Ah! Is this not sweet? Look, Blanche, she wants to be closer to her loving husband. Well, let’s help her!”

Lady Ingram put one booted foot in the small of my back and shoved me very hard. I rolled over the floor but not close enough so she repeated the movement until I was lying on my stomach with my face against Edward’s side. The irony smell of his blood filled my nose ,and I could not keep myself from weeping. All was lost now, Edward was dead and I would follow soon.

As if she could read my mind, Lady Ingram sneered, “Yes, governess, you have it right. You are about to die, and it will be very atrocious, I promise you.”

She went to a cupboard and retrieved a can of lamp oil from it. Floating about the room like a giant black moth, she spilled the oil onto the furniture, the cupboard, the table, the few chairs and over the bodies on the floor. Soon enough I was drenched in the sharply reeking substance.

Blanche, in the meantime, had shredded a few rags and propped them into the cupboard. Her mother, again sneering her blood-chilling madwoman laughter at me, pulled a tinderbox out of her coat pocket and set the rags on fire. The flame leapt up and grew higher  and higher until the wood of the cupboard caught fire and began to burn steadily.

“Farewell, miss governess. May your death be long and painful.”

They left and the door fell close behind them.