A/N: All recognizable elements of Charlotte Bronte's novel Jane Eyre are not mine. I hope you enjoy!
St. John was quiet during breakfast while Diana and Mary chattered merrily away and hardly noticed. He was, after all, a quiet man.
A while later, the sisters have decided to visit town. "Would you have us an errand to run while we were there, St. John?" Diana asked when St. John declined to join.
"Parchment and ink, perhaps," he answered. He was deep in thought and I wondered whether he was soon to make the announcement.
"You're awfully quiet, brother, as if your thoughts are somewhere far. Is something the bother?" Mary observed.
He smiled his small smile and said, "Nothing's amiss, sweet sister. Yet there is something I wish to announce– ," he paused, staring directly across me. He seemed momentarily to forget his words…
"Oh, what is it, St. John?" said Diana impatiently. "Don't leave us hanging!"
He composed himself and looked alternately to his sisters, sitting on both his sides, then he directed his gaze at me as he declared "I have proposed to marry Jane, and she said yes."
Diana and Mary both turned to me at the same time, excitement robbing them of words. Mary squeaked ecstatically, which somehow revived Diana's articulate nature. "Oh, what splendid news!" she exclaimed as she moved to lock me in a tight embrace, and when she released me to hug St. John, Mary was there to take her place. Their sincere joy made me at a loss for words, and I could only nod and smile, but they never noticed.
When the giggling died down, Diana wondered if we, St. John and I, had decided on some details: when the wedding was to be held, should there be a gathering for the engagement, when should I be fitted for a wedding dress, was his trip to India no longer in the picture.
"We only need to acquire a license, then get married at the church, Die," St. John interjected. "A small dinner after should be enough. And later, we shall travel together to India."
His sisters were evidently disappointed to hear of his unchanged travel plans, but the idea of their brother getting married was too joyous for them to dwell on his future voyage. "But what of her dress?" complained Mary. "We should at least buy something new from the dressmaker, don't you think so, Jane?" She was looking at me expectantly, and I did not know what to say; I could only smile. To be honest, I didn't care what to wear. I had a bounty of new dresses after Mr. Rochester proposed to me, and where had it gotten me?
"Oh, there's no question about it! We are buying you a new dress, Jane!" Diana insisted, as if I had already refused. I turned to St. John imploringly, but he seemed quite distracted, and Diana had already declared, "That's it. You're coming with us."
And that was that. After breakfast, all four of us ventured through the breezy morning in a long walk to the town. St. John had offered me his arm while Diana and Mary had chosen to stroll a few paces behind us. I figured it should have looked awkward if St. John and I did not appear to talk at all, and so I decided to start a conversation. After all, the town was a good two-mile walk, and I couldn't just "admire" the scenery until we reached it.
"St. John?" I called softly. He was staring ahead, apparently lost in the mire of his own thoughts. I wondered what he was thinking. It should be a great many things, I supposed.
"Hmm?" he muttered just as gently, as he slowly turned his head to see my face. I felt the blood rush on my cheeks once again. His gaze had a way of making me uneasy, and I had to look away. St. John, however, placed his hand on my chin and turned my head to meet his eyes. "You're blushing, Jane," he observed. "I must say it becomes you." He lowered his hand and rested it on top of where my hand was twined in his arm, as if to secure my hold on him. He then smiled and stared towards the town's direction once again, and I thought I heard faint giggles lost in the breeze. "You called my name?" St. John reminded me. And I almost forgot what I wanted to say.
"I was just wondering when the wedding would be held… and when we are to leave for India." All I knew, after all, was that I was going to be married, and that we were now off to buy me a wedding dress.
"We can marry tomorrow," he said matter-of-factly. "Once we acquire a license today, we can. Does that seem too soon for you?" he added when he noticed my reaction.
I didn't know how to answer. Did it seem too soon for me? Why, yes! It wouldn't even be a two-day engagement! And yet I knew that our circumstances were far from ordinary, and so my words caught in my throat.
He merely chuckled at my silence; apparently the look on my face was amusing. "I had planned to leave for India in six weeks' time, but I can always arrange our trip on a later date, if that is what you wish."
"No," I refused. "There is no need of unnecessary delay, not for my sake." I knew he had quite some difficulty finding himself a suitable vessel, and who is to know when another ship might be. We had to board that vessel if we were to reach India before I had time to change my fickle mind.
"Tomorrow then?" he pressed, watching for my reaction. However, this time I knew he was looking, and so I had mustered enough control to show no apprehension, despite the growing anxiety eating on my stomach. And to no avail, apparently, for St. John only laughed again. "You should see the look on your face, Jane. It's as if someone knocked the wind out of you."
"I-I'm sorry, St. John. It's just… I –," I stuttered.
"You need not worry. We have six weeks." He sounded agreeable, and yet his eyes have turned blank into the horizon.