Ah me, the tyranny of one's own creations - it seemed that Jane had not finished telling her story after the last chapter. So, here she is one more time, before she and Edward go off to the Land of HEA.
Jenny Chapter 49
Our wedding was a quiet occasion – just our dear friends, the Darcys and the extended Bennet/Bingley family. Cara and Eloise Bingley were among the Bridesmaids as were their younger cousins, the Darcy daughters. Mr. Darcy walked me down the aisle and graciously gave my hand into Edward's keeping. The vows were said, the ring was on my finger, the bells were pealing, and I suddenly had a new name—I was now Jane Rochester. I knew myself to be the same person—yet I was now someone else. It was very strange—we came out of the Church doors into a perfect storm of rose petals and congratulations. I was glad that my feet knew what to do, for my head was somewhere else. Edward, with that uncanny inner understanding of his, seemed to know how I was feeling, for he gave me a look of concern when we were finally installed in our carriage for the return to the House and the Wedding Breakfast.
"Jane," he said, "What's the matter? You look rather pale and your hands are cold—you are not faint, are you?"
"Edward," I replied, my voice rather constricted, "I scarcely know how I feel—suddenly I'm somebody else—I'm Mrs. Rochester, and it seems so strange—I don't understand this new person at all." I was aware that my eyes were filling with tears, my chin was trembling, and my hands were twisting together in my lap.
"Hush, hush," he murmured as he smoothed back my wedding veil to caress my cheek and wipe my tears away. He slipped his arm around me and drew me close to the warmth of his big strong body, "Just rest awhile, my darling, we'll get through this part of the day soon enough."
"I'm just worried that I'll fall short of expectation, that I'll disappoint you, that when it's too late—you'll be sorry that you chose me!"
"But Janet, how could I ever think that way about you? So much anxiety—I had no idea that you were so wrought up. I love you—very deeply—soon I'll be able to demonstrate it to you in such a way that you will never doubt it again, I hope. Now then, look about you—it's a beautiful day, and our friends are happy for us—I am very happy and I want you to be happy too. Could you smile for me? Just a small smile? That's better, now try it again, my darling—yes, that's more like it. Come now, we're at the House; one more ordeal to be gotten through with the Wedding Breakfast and the toasts to the Bride and Groom, and we'll make our escape." He kissed my hand, and then helped me out of the carriage into the House, still shedding rose petals from the barrage at the Church.
I got through the rest of it somehow—but I don't know if my feet were on the ground or floating in the air. My 'Aunt' Elizabeth Darcy was at my side as I went upstairs to change my Wedding dress for something more practical for travel. She had noticed my dazed looks and showed her concern for me, "Jane, are you certain that you are well? You look so odd—your color comes and goes—you seem to be trembling all over, and yes—your hands are cold. Whatever can be the trouble?"
"I think I will be better soon—it's just the realization that my whole life has changed now—forever. From this day forward I am now someone else—I am Mrs. Rochester—and I don't know who she is!"
"My dear child, for I love you as though you were my own Daughter, all will be well. Have faith in yourself—you have taken a great step today—I believe you have chosen well. Yesterday you were still a young girl—today you will be a woman. The doorway ahead of you leads into the Future—your Future, which you will now share with your Husband—he will be your best friend, your support, and your strength in time of need. I have seen enough of him over the last few years to be certain that this will be so. You are very fortunate, this I know, for at least one of my Sisters chose poorly and so did a dear Friend of mine. All will be well—if you will only share your feelings and thoughts with each other—there should not be all those little secrets and mysteries which can only lead to unfortunate misunderstandings and eventual estrangements. Confide in him when you have a problem—he will help you through it."
I threw my arms around her and hugged her tightly, "Thank you for all your care of me since my Grandfather's death left me in your keeping—thank you and thank my 'Uncle' Darcy and Lord Richard and Lady Catherine too. All of you have been so good to me!"
"My dear, it was no more than you deserved—you have been all that I might wish my own Daughters to be—obedient to our guidance, yet wise in your learning, and generous in your actions. I could not have asked for a better example to set before them of what a young lady should be. Go now, my dear, your Husband and your new life are waiting for you to begin."
I stepped out to the top of the stairway—my Bridal posy in my hands—I smiled at all the upturned faces—I cried out, "Maidens to the front—who will be the next to wed?" A stir went through the group as my Bridesmaids and others of the guests came forward, my Cousin Eliza among them, (since her Wedding was not scheduled for another month when she would wed Lord Ingram). I turned about three times and tossed my flowers to the eager mass of outstretched hands. There was a stir and a scramble, and a cry of dismay as one of the hounds ran away out the door, my posy firmly gripped in its mouth.
A general wave of merriment swept through the Wedding guests as some of the Gentlemen were heard speculating as to whether the hound was a bitch or a dog, and if it were a bitch, whether she was 'in season' or not. The last was answered when we observed that she had a train of howling admirers pursuing her, flowers and all. I was shaking with laughter when Edward came up the stairs to escort me to the Carriage.
"My Darling, you have been in an odd humor today," he said. "You are shaking like a leaf—you find me very concerned for you."
"It was just—oh, did you ever?" I managed to sputter out, "Of all the things to have happen! How my sides hurt from laughing!"
"You are amused by the fate of your bouquet? I should have known it would be so—no doubt you are even now composing a sketch to do it justice."
"That I am—perhaps I shall title it "The End of a Perfect Day".
"But my Darling Janet, this is only the beginning!"
And so it proved to be.
My thanks to my faithful reviewers - I'm just sorry that there were so many shy people among my readers - I always enjoy hearing from you, whether I agree with you or not.