Death of a Schoolgirl: The Jane Eyre Chronicles

Death of a Schoolgirl: The Jane Eyre Chronicles Read Online Free PDF Page A

Book: Death of a Schoolgirl: The Jane Eyre Chronicles Read Online Free PDF
Author: Joanna Campbell Slan
over—it suited me to have been married in that way. Afterward, Edward and I sent out notice of our marriage. We received back several polite letters of congratulations from his business associates, a letter expressing happy surprise from my cousins Diana and Mary Rivers—and an exuberant missive from Lucy Brayton petitioning us newlyweds to come to London to visit her “for the whole of the Season.”
    We took extra care with our letter to Adèle, explaining our new situation and assuring her of Edward’s affection and mine. We planned to visit her as soon as possible.
    We also sent a letter to the school’s superintendent, Mrs. Webster, and that kind soul replied that she wished us many long years of happiness.
    Although it had been our intention to visit Adèle immediately after our wedding, I became enceinte within days. Complications of my condition, punctuated by frequent upheavals in the basin, rendered travel impossible, at least in those early months. Before we knew it, a brutal winter was upon us. Snowdrifts piled high against our doorway. The road to Ferndean, always a challenge, became impassible. We were housebound for the duration of the winter, spending the long, dark days huddled in front of the fire. In the uncertain light of the coals, I would read to Edward and sometimes to Mrs. Fairfax while her knitting needles provided a steady clicking accompaniment to my voice. The tangy smoke from the logson the hearth hallowed our evenings with a pleasant haze, putting me in mind of incense at church.
    This period of enforced solitude proved a blessing, as Edward still suffered the aftermath of the conflagration, his damaged but noble presence reminding me of that majestic oak tree at Thornfield that had been rendered nearly in two by a bolt of lightning. Despite the damage, the tree survived, tentatively putting out one sprout and then the next as if testing its vitality, until finally it succeeded in producing a verdant canopy of sheltering leaves, a wholly pleasing result. The oak was never the same, but its new form still struck me with admiration at its tenacity and virility.
    Through the long winter nights, my belly grew, and Edward’s spirit flourished, imbued with expectation and anticipation. Slowly, his maimed stump healed, as did his remaining eye, but his vision never quite recovered.
    Thankfully, the last of the winter’s snow melted and the lane was passable in time for the midwife to attend me when I delivered Ned. He arrived hale and pink with plump and perfect little limbs, but the birth was arduous, and afterward, I was slow to regain my former vitality. Still, the months passed with Ned growing and thriving, and over the summer the color came back to my cheeks. By the first chill of autumn, my clothes no longer hung loosely on me and a shine returned to my hair. In my husband’s presence, Mr. Carter pronounced me fit, but the good doctor warned me in private that I needed to gain back several pounds. “You are far too thin, ma’am,” he said as he shook his finger at me. “You need to eat more and take meals with regularity.”
    Throughout my convalescence, I sent letters to Adèle, signing them with my name and guiding Edward to sign his. But since Ned’s birth, her responses have proved confounding! She made no mention of congratulations, nor did she seem excited about the arrival of our baby.
    “I fear the girl has mastered the fine art of a Gallic pout.She learned it at her mother’s knee,” was Edward’s summation. Although we pretended otherwise, we were both hurt.
    Many weeks had passed since her last letter. All of her correspondence left us disappointed. We wanted news of how she was getting along, letters that evoked her sense of gaiety and drama. Instead, we received nothing more than a scribbled sentence or two, usually a weather report and a bland recitation of what she was studying. It lacked every evidence of Adèle’s usual ebullience. In fact, each letter so
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