It is a truth well known that the most highly anticipated day of a woman's life is that on which she marries. Whilst each woman marries a different man – or so she may hope – every dream and every wish is exactly the same; to be loved, cherished, and to be in a happy relationship until either of their time on this earth ends. Of course, many a time a woman will marry for the money their future husband possesses rather than love, because desperate times call for desperate measures, but society is writing new ways of life and so marriage for love is on the increase. The most important thing to be produced by a marriage is children, and she hopes that one day soon, she may have her own offspring to care for, rather than just those belonging to her friends and neighbours.
Her house is hardly what one would call homely and comfortable, and she hopes that once she is married, her dear Compeyson will take her away from this drab, bleak house. There are so many empty rooms she has not entered, her father's study being one she would not dare to even peek into, even though he is many years gone and she is now four and twenty years old. The walls are painted grey and black and other gaunt shades, and although she has her fortune to spend on cleaning the place up, she cannot bring herself to spend her father's money on something so insignificant in her life. Compeyson will soon take her away to somewhere lovely, and she can forget this place and the dreariness it cast upon her all throughout her childhood.
Of course, Matthew has been protesting day and night for the past three weeks since Compeyson expressed his wishes for her to become his wife. She honestly thinks he may just be making it up, she knows her fiancé would never marry her just for her money; he loves her, she has known it for a while now. And now the day has come where his persistent lies will finally come to a halt when her love for Compeyson is declared and made final during their wedding ceremony.
She awoke just fifty minutes ago, with the function due to take place in only one hour's time. In her room, she has been dressing for some time now, her lavish white dress spilling out across the floor as she currently perches on the edge of a chair, staring into her boudoir as her young maid Maia fixes her long locks of blonde hair. She knows she is a handsome young woman, and hardly modest in addition, but she has a humble heart and good intentions, and wishes only to give her heart to her soon-to-be husband.
'Miss Havisham,' a young girl, around the age of seventeen called, running into the room to announce the news she had been burdened with, 'Mister Pocket wishes to see you.' Aurelia, for that was Miss Havisham's first name, twisted her body around on the chair, dismissed Maia, and was quick to respond to her maid, 'Please send him in.' When the maid hesitated in the doorway for more than one moment, Miss Havisham clapped her hands together urgently, 'Don't dally girl, I have but little time!'
The girl curtsied and ran from the room, and within the minute, Aurelia's cousin Matthew Pocket entered the room, his cheeks reddened from the wretched cold outside and his teeth continuing to chatter even though the house was exceedingly warm. He placed his hat on the edge of the mantelpiece and hurriedly muttered, 'I for one do not understand why you insist on having a wedding at this time of the year.' She glared at her reflection in the mirror of her boudoir and rolled her eyes before turning to face her cousin, who was not unattractive as such, but would certainly be a male for whom a girl would marry for his fortune, though it was slight in comparison to her own.
'Matthew, I do beg you to hurry. I must be ready to leave in twenty minutes,' she murmured, and returned to her mirror once again, picking up some ivory pins from her dressing table and continuing with her preparation, with half a mind to ignore her cousin and send him on her way. She has nearly no time left, with the clock already ticking the time of twenty minutes past eight in the morning. His frustration of her ignorance was showing in his expression, his brows curved downwards the same as the corners of his lips. 'Aurelia, surely you must be able to see sense.'
She had suspected his reason for his intrusion at this time was for this, but she had rather wished he had restrained himself from doing so on the morning of her wedding. She haughtily diverted her gaze from his, and let her cobalt eyes wander around the room and promptly refused to respond. Seeing this, Matthew strode around the room to where she sat and placed a hand on the back of her chair. 'Aurelia, it worries me to see how oblivious you are to the true reason for Compeyson wishing to marry you.'
'Forgive me cousin, but I believe you to be the one impervious to his motives. He is nought but an honest gentleman who treats me with respect, like any man should,' she said harshly, her eyes snapping onto his, such anger in her statement that he almost recoiled. She had been spoilt as a child, and as a result she could be spiteful and cruel when she wished, even though from her appearance you would not guess such a thing.
'If he treats you like any man should, then why does he make scarce an appearance, and speak of nothing but the money my uncle left for you?' Matthew asked, prying against and defying all of her arguments. She had been growing tired of his incessant complaints and grudges against her fiancé, and to be this insistent at this moment was nothing but irrefutable. She stood gracefully from the chair, the long laced train of her dress trailing over the wooden floorboards as she moved to the door and impatiently motioned for him to leave.
'Matthew, I pray, be not impertinent and withdraw from my chambers. I must be departing in only ten minutes, and I have yet to be fully ready,' she stated calmly, refusing to lose her fiery temper which had many times clouded her judgement. He frowned and noticeable shook his head at her. As he walked from the room, he turned back and mentioned, 'Aurelia, I worry about how young you are. You seem to have no knowledge of how naïve your actions can be.' She dismissed him, without listening to what he evidently believed to be a message of utmost importance.
She bade him a courteous farewell and Matthew took leave from the house, looking back one final time to see his cousin standing by the window, gazing wistfully out. He knew she was making every mistake in marrying that fraudulent fellow; every man in town knew of his intentions for the propertied Miss Havisham, the delectable young orphan living in the stately manor of Satis House. The only problem was that she was too foolish in love to listen to anyone but her darling Compeyson. He headed towards his coach and ordered the driver to take him back to his commorancy. He could not bear to watch his cousin destroy the rest of her life.
Aurelia quickly rushed across the room to the large window of her room, brushing apart the curtain to watch her cousin leave her mansion. She could not help but feel offended by his pleas against her fiancé, but she knew his heart was in the right place. They had spent many years together during her younger years, when he was just becoming a gentleman and she was in the beginning stage of her transformation from an insolent child to a genteel and polite young woman. However, that did not justify his behaviour over the past three weeks.
'Maia!' she called impatiently, that last encounter having dented her even-tempered spirit, 'Come assist me with my headdress and veil!' Miss Havisham dropped back into her chair, and rapped her fingers against the mahogany desk, waiting for her serving girl to return. Before she had good opportunity to call once again, Maia appeared in her chambers, carrying the silk veil attached to the simple white headdress. Miss Havisham mustered a smile at her maid and Maia returned it, and carefully positioned the accessory on her mistress's head. With the assistance of a few pins, Aurelia finally looked ready.
She placed the memory of her latest meeting with Matthew to the back of mind, and took care to hook her earrings through the small holes in her lobes. She looked into the mirror, tilting her head to the side ever so slightly in order to stare at her appearance, being as critical as was proper. 'Maia, tell me in truthfulness, do you believe me to look pleasing?'
'You look most becoming my lady,' Maia responded dutifully, and although the response was practised and said in second nature, Aurelia smiled and kindly asked for her shoes to be brought for her. Her shoes had belonged to her mother, and though she had lived without her presence for her short twenty four years, she had deemed it necessary to have them for her wedding. She leant down to slip them on and was in the final process of tightening the silk strap around her ankle when a sudden knock came to be laid on her door.
'A letter has arrived for Miss Havisham,' the other maid girl, who had previously announced Matthew Pocket to be here, disclosed, holding out a thin crisp envelope which upon it was written A. Havisham, in delicate script lettering. Maia hurried to the door to collect the letter, and handed it to her mistress, who then banished both serving girls, having only a few minutes to prepare. She ripped the envelope open, her long nails slicing underneath the wax seal, and read the words,
My dear Aurelia,
Reasons alone have brought me to the unsatisfactory conclusion that it would be in neither your or my own best interests for this marriage to be conceived. I have deceived you beyond reason and so it would not be suitable for a union to be made. I apologize for the lateness of this news, but I wish you every happiness and success in any future endeavours you may proceed upon.
It was so cold, as if copied down from a simple book, and there was no remorse in his words, she could simply tell. What an awful, cold-hearted monster he should be to do this to her, and only forty minutes before their marriage was due to take place. The letter, written on simple and plain parchment, trembled in her weak grip, and soon fluttered from her fingers and floated swiftly to the floor. Her hands were shaking ruthlessly, and she abandoned her other shoe, choosing to stand without it. As she rose to her feet, she wobbled unsteadily, and tears began to collaborate in her eyes, merging the blue and white together in a hastened blur, and her vision began to spin, her emotional shock absorbers having gone into complete disuse.
She took a tentative step towards the door, her bare foot scraping across the floor, and her dress rustled against the wooden floorboards. A tear slipped from her eye and trawled sadly down her cheek before falling off the edge of her face and colliding onto the front of her dress. Her movements were slow and anxious, disbelieving of the news she had just been provided with. It couldn't be true. Her dear Compeyson would never do something like this; he would have not used love as pretence to gain her wealth. It might be her cousin Matthew, trying to prevent the marriage, but she could not bring herself to believe wholly in that theory.
The moment she stepped outside of her bedroom, the darkness of the mansion, even with the morning light beaming through the dusty windows, appealed to her more than daylight ever could. She quickly hastened to the great dinner hall, where the huge feast that had been cooked was lying on centre stage, and once she caught sight of the feast, the reality became all too much for her young, fragile heart to cope with. She collapsed into the nearest chair by the table, her headdress falling slightly to the side, her mouth open in shock, her brain only just taking in and relaying the information from the letter.
'Maia! George!' she roared loudly, and her two servants came a-calling so quickly that she had not time to brush away her heartbroken tears. They arrived and stood plainly in front of her, George asking what exactly they could do. 'Fix the clocks. Stop all of them, every single one.' The pair were evidently bemused by the strange behaviour emanating from their mistress, but they didn't dare bring it up for fear of being removed from post.
Aurelia didn't quite know where this request had come from, but maybe it was that if her fiancé did actually turn up, he would be there at the right time, and the wedding could go ahead as was planned. Actually, she was so sure that this was the truth that she waited in the chair, straining her ears to hear the heavy wheel turns of his coach. She waited ten minutes. Ten minutes which soon turned into twenty minutes, which defiantly travelled to become thirty. By this time, all the clocks in the house were broken at the time of eight hours and forty two minutes.
Maia and George looked in on their mistress, slumped desperately in a large armchair near the grand oaken table, and both stared at each other, astounded by how strangely Miss Havisham was acting. They all knew about the letter, the other young serving girl Emily having informed them that it had been delivered by Mister Compeyson's hand-servant, but not one member of the household had but the faintest clue of what the letter had entailed. The two gazed through the crack in the huge wooden door, and watched as the young, inexperienced in love Aurelia Havisham fall in sodden tears for near five minutes. Her body quivered and convulsed, and some of the gentle powder she has on her face wiped onto her hands.
Neither knew what, quite, to do. They waited in solitude for neither knew how long, but in the end, it was decided that it should be best to enquire as to what was wrong. George quietly pushed the door open, breaking the unimaginable silence gracing the mansion, and the two entered and calmly walked up to Miss Havisham, who was looking out of the window at the grey sky outside, a tear rolling down her cheek, reflecting off the daylight streaming through the glass pane.
'Miss Havisham, would you have us do anything else for you?' Maia asked nervously, her voice trembling with fear as to what her mistress's reaction would be. Slowly, Aurelia turned her head around to the pair, like she had done it accidentally, not noticing she had visitors. 'Pray, seal off the windows and leave me be,' she whispered, her young voice cracking with emotion and sadness.
'Ma'am, could you kindly tell us the reason for the delay of today's ceremony?' George asked quietly, bowing his head to the floor in disgrace as to the impertinence of what he was asking. But in was in a servants manner to be curious of his master of mistress's business, and sometimes, they were kind enough to tell. Aurelia glared ferociously at him, like a kind of wild bear who was hunting prey in the forest, but it was not as piercing as was usual, and it was obvious to any onlooker that she was in great distress and agony.
'Pray, seal off the windows and leave me be,' she repeated coldly, and they closed off the windows, blocking every inch of daylight, as requested and left the room. Aurelia Havisham scarcely smiled for thirty years, and did never once leave that chair, time never passing, her body ageing and weathering, the food rotting, cobwebs growing all over her, always wishing and always waiting for him to come so one day, she might finally be married.
He never came back. And she didn't accept it until the day she died.