This story is a continuation of Jane Eyre 2006, starring Toby Stephens and Ruth Wilson. Jane has finally married her Rochester, a man scarred by what happened before. In the great fire that destroyed his ancestral home, Bertha, Rochester’s first wife had perished. Rochester is badly burned and has lost his eye sight.
Posted every Saturday by Lucia Swiers in Jane Eyre 2006.
Chapter 1 – The first day of the rest of my life
So, it was done.
This morning, my dear Edward and I were finally joined in holy matrimony.
After all the suffering we endured, after all the waiting , we were finally married before the community of the little church nearby the manor-house of Ferndean. It was the residence Edward had taken refuge to after the great fire at Thornfield Hall.
This time, nothing disrupted the ceremony of our wedding.
No messenger came barging in, shouting that there was an impediment to our marriage. How well I remembered these horrible events of the past, when Richard Mason accused Edward of bigamy.
Bertha Rochester’s brother had been in the right. Edward’s dangerously insane wife was still alive and breathing on the day Edward wanted to marry me, Jane Eyre.
However, I saw Edward blanch when it was my turn to give my answer to him as if he feared for some disruption. Only the soft pressure of my hand on his made the colour return to his features.
I was rich now. Jane Eyre, little grey mouse, forced before to making a living as a governess, had now turned into a proper gentlewoman.
The money my uncle John Eyre left me was secured in a safe trust fund and provided me with an annual income of some five thousand pounds. In our marriage contract Edward had granted me the use of this money entirely as I wished to. It was his wedding present to me.
When he told me the previous night, I had wept with happiness because I knew he had done it for me to feel free and independent, even after I had become his wife. Only Edward knew how much independence meant to me.
And speaking of independence, of course, I had not forgotten Adèle. How could I? She would need me more than ever now that she was changing from a girl into a young woman. My plans for her were not yet fully drawn up, but I was determined to take it up with Edward in the days to come.
Edward, my husband.
While I stood by his side in the great entrance hall of Ferndean about to host our wedding guests, I had a chance to study him at my leisure before people would arrive.
My heart sang with unmitigated joy, as it always did when I feasted my eyes on him.
Tall, upright and proud, Edward stood without the help of his rosewood cane, although I knew that he would not be able to maintain strength in his injured left leg long enough for the day. His left hand, maimed by the fire that had destroyed Thornfield, was covered with a white cotton glove, so that people would not be confronted with the absence of the ring finger and little finger.
Edward was very prim about that hand, he wanted nobody to see what he called his “horror”. Even I had not been permitted to see it, and he never touched me with it.
His face had also been damaged in the fire. The skin on the left cheek was shrivelled and red, and his left eye was blind while his right eye had lost all ability of sharp vision. The ugly scars, however, could not blur the beauty of those strong bones or mask the strength in the lines of his jaw. His straight nose and lush mouth were still untouched and his eyes, though blind, were still a beautiful, unusual green-blue. Since the day we had found each other again, those eyes sometimes regained a sparkle of bright pure joy but … only sometimes, and not nearly often enough.
I was determined not to let him slip away in gloom but I knew it would be difficult. Edward’s body was not the only thing damaged in the fire that killed his wife, Bertha.
As though he felt that I was watching him, Edward turned to me, his eyes almost sky blue when a ray of sunshine illuminated his face. My breath caught in my throat, and I swallowed the huge lump of emotion with considerable effort. Keep a head onto your shoulders, I admonished myself, you have got a long day ahead of you.
The love in Edward’s slightly hoarse voice overwhelmed me with a longing that burned deep within my breast. I came to stand beside him and took his right hand in mine.
“Jane, hold me close … sometimes I cannot feel you near enough and I cannot bear that, Jane!”
“I’m here, Edward, I will always be here …”
With a groan, he pulled me close, and his right arm hugged me to his chest, so forcefully that it hurt.
While I listened to the racing beat of his heart where my cheek rested again the soft skin in his neck, I heard him whisper, “Will you, my lovely little swallow, will you indeed?”
I did not answer for it was a question that came from fear settled deep inside him.
“You left me once before, remember?” he said hoarsely.
So doubt was still strong in Edward’s soul, and mere words could not ease it. Instead, I pressed harder against his chest and kissed his cheek. I already bore a stubble although it was not yet five in the afternoon. He would need a proper manservant, I reminded myself, since his valet had not been taken on again after the fire.
The next moment Mrs. Fairfax bustled in, her gentle face with its myriad of wrinkles red from excitement.
“ Jane, erm, I mean, Mrs. Rochester, ma’am, the guest have arrived, and I do not know where to begin!”
“Please, Mrs. Fairfax, do calm yourself. You and I know that everything is in the best of order to properly receive them. Make sure the staff is in attendance and all will go well.”
I straightened my shoulders and took my place in front of the table at the large window. Edward came to stand beside me.
“Here we go, Jane! Are you up to facing the hyenas?” he chuckled mischievously.
I suppressed a laugh and forced my face into dignity.
Gradually, the room was filling with Edward’s tenants and their wives, all in their Sunday best.
Although Thornfield Hall no longer existed, the Thornfield estate was still very much in business and thriving. It still boasted of eighty farms, all largely successful and providing Edward with a considerable income.
All these people came to wish us well in honour of our marriage and many had brought simple but endearing presents which a footman stowed away upon the table behind us.
Our few servants were next to pay us honour.
There was, of course, Mrs. Fairfax, our housekeeper, and Grace Pool, once a nurse to Edward’s first wife Bertha. She was now employed as lady’s maid to me and Adèle, taking care of our wardrobe.
A few footmen from Thornfield Hall had come with Edward when he took up house at Ferndean and dear old George, the old butler, had them firmly under his thumb. He was training Roberts, a young man related to Mrs. Fairfax, as the future butler in our household.
All wished us the very best of happiness in our marriage.
After that, it was time for more serious work. Our neighbours, many of them local gentry, were arriving. There was the Squire and Mrs. Withers from Waverly Court, a modest little estate north of Thornfield Hall, with their four young daughters and one son Master William, a nineteen year old youth. Mrs. Withers was a kind, homely lady and Squire Wilfred was a short rotund man of cheerful disposition.
The Vicar, Reverend Geoffrey Tovey and his wife Gwendolyne and their twin sons, Charles and Henry, fifteen years old, were next. Gwendolyne Tovey was more than twenty years younger than her husband and the three of them, young and impulsive as they were, managed to keep the Reverend on his toes. I embraced Gwendolyne as affectionately as I could for, in the few weeks that I had made her acquaintance, she had become a true friend to me.
Finally the most important of our guests entered the hall and people stepped out of their way for fear of causing offense.
Dressed in a magnificent gown of vivid blue silk, Blanche Ingram strode through the double doors like a queen entering Winchester Cathedral on Coronation Day. Her golden locks were gathered in an intricate chignon on top of her head, from where several heavy curls fell beside her heart shaped face.
She looked so perfect that my breath caught in my throat. The look in her cornflower blue eyes was challenging, to say the least.