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 …”

 

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