(continued from page 520)
One morning at the end of the two years, as I was writing a letter by candlelight to StJohn to persuade him to visit, the light I was using flickered as if a cold gust of wind had fallen upon the flame. I could perceive nothing out of the ordinary in my study, but within my very bones I felt that something was wrong. Wrapping my shawl about my shoulders, I had a strong sense of déjà vu from a time ago when I had once before crept darkened hallways in pursuit of something that should not be. My skirts whispered with every step as I headed towards the nursery to check that all was well. Edward would be by the fireside in our room by now, waiting for me to return from my tasks of the evening before we went to bed.
Passing the door to the dining room, my candle was extinguished with a gasp of smoke and I was left in oily darkness to feel my way – as my blind husband would do – to the window where the light of the stars aided me in gaining my bearings. My hands were shaking with fright by now, I had not been this afraid since I saw the ruin of Thornfield and had thought my old master, my beloved, dead. Trying to assure myself that the open window was the only cause of my candle going out I moved on, but I had a strong urge to call for someone, anyone; if only I wasn’t worried about who would be there to hear my cry.
I was blessed to have walked these halls so often that I knew my way even in the blackness presented before my darting eyes. Had I not known my way to the nursery I would have tumbled headfirst down the cold stone steps to the kitchens which were situated next to the door of the place I was seeking. Placing my hand on the door with the intent to push it inwards, I saw in the shadows by the light of the moon shining through the window behind me that the door was already open. Such was my shock at seeing the great wooden door ripped off its hinges and splintered by the entrance to the chamber where my children were sleeping, that I staggered backwards in terror and nearly lost consciousness.
Trembling from head to foot I crossed the threshold of the room and hurried to my son’s crib to find the sheets cold and empty. Forcing air in and out of my desperate lungs I rushed to my daughter’s bed to find it too unoccupied. Think Jane! What could have happened to them? I banished the thought of my daughter running to find me from fear of a night terror and instead tumbling down the kitchen steps from my mind, but no fantasies came to me regarding my son who was too small to leave his crib of his own will. Freezing tears trickled down my cheeks as I screamed for my children, my beautiful, sweet Helen and darling baby John, my throat burning from the pain of my loss.
I had to find Edward, he would help, he would know what to do, he would find our children. But as I turned, I came face to face with an animalistic creature, haggard and bloody, its eyes rolling and hair rugged. Bertha. My mind reeled as I took in the scene before me, trying to reason that what I was seeing could not be the truth. Bertha was dead, and yet surely even the dead had more colour in their cheeks, more familiarity in their eyes. I was drawn to the bundle she carried; John, my baby boy was fast asleep, cradled in her bony arms as a wicked smile framed with mangled teeth shone from her mask of a face.
My screaming stopped but the tears did not cease, as the knife came down, first on my son, then on myself, but the only pain I felt was that of a mother seeing her lifeless children lain side by side on the hard floor with crimson smiles. I was slain and off to my Father and Saviour along with my infants who had barely to experience the turmoil of life before they were snatched cruelly by the jaws of everlasting sleep. My dying heart was broken before I hit the floor, and as I faded I felt my body being dragged by a creature with chipped fingernails and stagnant breath back out the door and away from this life.
I had waited and waited in my dark room with Grace for years and years to have my revenge. The girl had gone, scared off by my husband no doubt. To think that she had dared try to marry my beloved, my world, my oyster, my husband, Mine!…She would pay in blood and anguish and I would get to keep him forever. My time to escape came when Grace once again succumbed to drink, the fool. My lover was at home on his own, apart from Grace and I when I found her wedding dress in a room I had not visited for a while. I set the dress on fire and watched the orange flames lick the fine material with relish as they devoured it. Leaving the dress to burn in the hall I climbed my tower prison to kill my captor. She had kept me all this time, and for that I ended her. I flung her from the battlements wearing my gown to burn on the ground below so everyone would think it was I who had perished.
After that the grounds of my regal house became my home. I found food, slept in hollows and grew strong and wild. I watched from the tree line as my house was rebuilt and my beloved and his new ‘wife’ moved in and started their life without me. Their first child was a pretty little thing, but it wailed a lot and had a horrid temper. The second was much nicer but almost boring to watch. It just sat there propped up on pillows next to its mother on a picnic blanket. They would both have to go, I couldn’t bear the thought of my Edward loving another. He would be mine, all mine. I forgave him for turning me aside when he thought I was dead, but I knew he would love me all the more for disposing of his boring little family. My chance came when the maid left the back door unlocked on her way home. I went inside and put an end the stupid girl’s brats, and then finished the job with the usurper herself. Their bodies were light with death as I pulled them into the forest where they could slumber for eternity.
Her room was much more richly furnished than when I had dragged the wedding dress along the length of the burning house. She had some pretty gowns, and my wild life had made me thin enough to fit them. I washed and combed my hair before my well trained fingers arranged the long locks into curls. My skin was shining and with a dab of her scent, a blind man would not have known me for his wife.
I walked the halls, my bare feet savouring the plush carpets lining the floors. The room was bathed in firelight when I entered and there was my beloved, seated in a chair before the fire, his unseeing eyes gazing into the light. His ears were keen for his face swivelled in my direction as I approached him. “My love?” he asked, and I replied in the voice I had practiced that it was I. He beckoned me to come to him so I perched myself on his lap and fell into his, strong loving embrace. I was revenged, I was home.