To my dear Miss Rosamond Oliver,

I am both delighted and regretful to inform you that, as you are reading this, I have left for India.
I plan to live out my life performing God's work and wish only to bid you farewell, I pray you can forgive me for not saying this to you directly. I will cherish the memory of our friendship, but will, sadly, be unable to continue correspondence. I hope you can understand and pardon my discourtesy. I leave Carlo to your care, I trust you will do what is best for my old companion. I believe he always enjoyed your company better, anyway.


St. John Rivers

Rosamond lowered the letter and found herself staring into a pair of large, sad eyes. "Oh, Carlo," she bent to stroke the pointer's head "You and I share the same sorrow for your cruelly absent Master." Leaning her head against his fur, she focused on Carlo's rhythmic breathing and the tightness of her corset that held everything in. Carlo sat tall and bore the constricting hold around his chest, he would stay strong for his new mistress.

Quickly straightening, Rosamond led the way back into the house, her chin held high. Mistress and hound entered the parlour to find Mr. Oliver sat by the fire, waiting for their return. "He has left, papa," her voice wobbled as she held the letter aloft.

Her father inclined his head a little, "A truer waste of talent and strong-will, there never was."

"Yes," she seated herself opposite, Carlo laying his head in her lap.

"But, my dear. We must think of your future," Mr. Oliver watched his daughter carefully, the delicate lament in her features.

Rosamond turned her pretty head to the dark, cavernous room, "My future?" How could she think of such things when she was so thoroughly miserable?

"Your marriage," to marry her soon might lift her from her grief.

She looked to the fire, "Oh. And who have you in mind?"

Mr. Oliver sat a little straighter, "There is a fine gentleman, not far from here. He is well-respected and quite unmarried, an intellectual. A Mr. Severus Rochester, I'm sure the two of you should get along well. And," he added, seeing the unchanged misery on his daughter's face, "I am led to believe, he is quite fond of animals; he has a dog." He held his breath, waiting for her answer, fearing immediate rebuke.

But none such comment came, simply, "Very well, papa. If you think it best." Rosamond was a forsaken heroine, resigned to her fate.

"In that case, I shall tell Mr. Rochester the good news and arrange a meeting. Cheer up, my love, you are to be wed," said Mr. Oliver, falsely cheery.

"Yes. Of course, papa," she applied a brave smile.