The wind was sweeping across the moors as little Jayne Eyre…
“Who you callin’ little?”
… sorry, as strapping Jayne Eyre, who was very big for ten, sat in the window seat of the Reed library, reading tales of strange and exotic places in one of their leather-bound books.
“Actually, it’s a copy of Playboy. Them gals is right looksum.”
Into the library came young Master Reed, who was seeking Jayne.
“You are a sneaking, rude, and ill-bred girl, Jayne,” Master Reed said, yanking back the curtains on the window seat. “You have no right to read our books!”
“I ain’t no girl!” Jayne cried out in anger. “Even though your family makes me wear these damn black dresses and wear these stupid boots!”
“Is not your name Jayne?” asked Master Reed.
“Yeah,” Jayne affirmed.
“Jayne is the name of a girl,” Master Reed said wisely.
“I ain’t no girl, and I got the man parts to prove it!” Jayne yelled vociferously as he attempted to find his way through the maze of petticoats and pantalettes that formed his costume. Eventually, he gave up. “How the go se you people ever use the damn bathroom?”
“As I was saying, Jayne,” Master Reed continued as though he had not been interupted, “you have no right to read our books. I am going to knock you down as punishment, and you shall have no recourse but to submit yourself to it, for you are but little and poor and a girl.”
“The hell I will!” yelled Jayne, launching himself across the room at a frightening rate of speed and slamming young Master Reed into a wall. “I ain’t little!” Jayne yelled as he flung his kinsman’s face into a bust of Pallas Athene, breaking it into shards that sparkled like crystal snowflakes. “I ain’t a girl!” he reitereated as he masterfully grabbed his cousin by the seat of his trousers and flung him onto the settee, where he was decorated by a swirl of fluttering anti-macassers. “And I might be poor now, but I ain’t gonna be once I become the best damn merc in Victorian England!” Jayne finished, popping his fist into his mother’s brother’s son’s nose unti the bone cracked and he bled copiously upon the Turkish carpeted floors.
“Mama!” wailed Master Reed through a veritable waterfall of blood as he ran from the room, leaving Jayne behind, twitching his skirts in satisfaction and sprawling across the settee to resume reading his ill-gotten Playboy.
Mere moments later, his lady Aunt Reed arrived in the library, along with her daughters, the beauteous Georgianna and the parsimonious Lizzie. Master Reed hid behind his mother’s voluminous skirts, his nose ensconced behind a thick wadding of floral handkerchiefs.
“Jayne,” said the terse voice of his aunt, “did you attack my son?”
“Yeah,” he said, barely looking up from his Playboy. “What of it?”
“You are the most intractable girl I have ever seen! You are evil and coarse and your soul is utterly decayed, and what is more, you are a most foul liar,” Aunt Reed said with a look of disgust on her face.
“You got most of that right, ‘cept for the part about bein’ a girl again,” Jayne said, rising to his feet. “You make me sleep in a damn crib, you ain’t givin’ me nothin’ to eat ‘cept crusts of bread and crumbs of cheese, I don’t git no exercise cause you lock me up in the gorram nursery all the time, and you took away my crossbow!”
“You had used it to threaten the chickens,” Aunt Reed said superciliously, her lip curling in unfeigned dislike.
“I was hungry!” Jayne yelled. “That’s it. I don’t care if I am ten, I’m headin’ to London or Ariel or Sihnon or some such port. Maybe I can join up with Fagin’s gang or somethin’.”
“I have decided to send you away,” Aunt Reed said imperiously. “You are going to school.”
“School?” Jayne replied as though someone had trodden upon his toes. “What you tryin’ to do? Kill me?”
“Yes, actually,” Aunt Reed muttered under her breath. “You shall repair at once to Lowood, from whence I hope I shall never have the undesirious result of seeing you more, young Jayne Eyre.”
“You people sure do like speechifying with the big words,” Jayne said, stomping up the stairs to pack his simple bag of effects, including his dresses, his pantalettes, and his doll.
“I ain’t got no doll!”
It says you do in the book.
“Hell with the book!”
Fine. No doll. The next morning, his cheek unkissed and his kinspeople still happily asleep in their finely draped beds, Jayne boarded a carriage to be transported away to Lowood school, a place renowned for its rampaging bouts of typhus, consumption, and chillblains.
“Does my coach get robbed by a gang of desperate outlaws?”
It’s not that sort of coach.
“Well, it woulda been more interestin’ if it were.”
Sorry, dearheart. Jayne’s coach sped through the misty countryside of England, off to unknown places, where he should be faced with new trials and tribulations to make him prove the goodness within his heart was paramount to all obstacles.
“Narrator, I think you’re gonna be right unhappy with the outcome of that sentence.”
When last we left young Jayne Eyre, he was being whisked away to a new life at Lowood, a cheap and unpleasant boarding school.
“And I still have to wear this dumb dress!”
Yes, but all the other students have to wear the same dress, so at least you won’t stand out. While at Lowood, Jayne realized that his Aunt Reed had told many lies about him, foremost among these being that he had a tendency towards deceit.
“That actually wernt no lie.”
At least you were honest about it not being a lie. Regardless, young Jayne was held up to scorn in front of the whole school by the wicked and self-agrandizing Mister Brocklehurst, a clergyman of unknown religious background. Poor Jayne was made to stand upon a stool for hours whilst all the girls of the school stared at him, a dreadful fate indeed.
“Really, we girls didn’t mind it all that much. We so rarely see a boy that we rather enjoyed ogling him for hours on end. I mean, truly, who would not!”
“So this is an all girl school? I’m startin’ to see very little bad in this situation.”
Pipe down, Jayne dear, for you are yet but ten years of age.
“I’m right precocious, though.”
While at Lowood, Jayne made two especially good friends: Helen Burns and Miss Temple. The first was a girl of surpassing goodness, whose penchant towards self-denial and patient endurance of hardship was deeply moving to the young Jayne.
“Is she hot?”
“What about the other one?”
Miss Temple is a bastion of kindness in the midst of Jayne’s storm of self-doubt and loneliness, a beacon to the students of her school, showing that the world had love to offer beyond the cold and cruel limits of Lowood.
“Yeah, but is she hot?”
Actually, Miss Temple is an angelically radiant being, a cross betwixt a pre-Raphealite rendering of Ophelia and a representation of the north star.
Yes, Jayne. Yes, Miss Temple is hot.
“Bout time. What’s with all these plain and scrawny gals in this story? Only one so far to be halfway attractive is my own gall-dern cousin, and who’s sick enough to think of linkin’ up with their own cousin?”
Actually, that would be St. John Rivers, but he won’t arrive for several chapters yet. Jayne spent many a year at Lowood, never once recalled home to his aunt and her children. Holidays and were spent in the dormitory of the school, working upon history, grammar, mathmatics, drawing, and, for he was talented in the subject, the French language.
“Not exactly the language I was so well known for, though I did get all A’s in the subject without ever crackin’ a book.”
Sadly, though, Jayne’s dear friend Helen died of consumption, passing with delicate joy from this dreary world to the one beyond, though her grave was unmarked by a stone. Jayne remembered the loss of his sweet little Helen all the days of his life, and the haunting memory of her who remained unforgotten stayed with him in times of trial, granting him strength of character and steadfastness of spirit.
“I’ll never forget old Hermia.”
“Whatever. Is that Temple woman still around?”
Indeed she is, though not for much longer.
“Pity’s sake, does everybody die in this thing?”
No. She gets married.
“Well, that’s plum worse! What the hell she want to go and do a fool thing like that for?”
I believe it is called falling in love, Jayne. In any case, Miss Temple married a man nearly good enough for her, and Jayne, deprived of his favorite companion, became weary of Lowood and its inhabitants, wishing to embrace a new form of servitude elsewhere. Thus, Jayne chose to put an advertisement in the paper, publishing his good accomplishements and seeking new connections.
“Single white male seeks woman. If you are into smoking, drinking, and cavorting in haylofts, we are twins, right down to the dress. I am available, no strings, just for fun. Spanking optional, though encouraged. Also good at French, wink wink, nudge nudge. Move fast, cause I’m a fine piece of property and like as not gone afore you even read this.”
That is not the sort of advertisement you sent at all! No, it spoke of your humility and your excellent grades and your experience teaching, as you are now eighteen and have been a tutor for two years due to your remarkable wit, though sadly you have remained quite plain and unattractive for a young lass.
“I ain’t no damn woman! How many times I gotta spell that out?”
Straighten your bonnet, Jayne. It’s gone askew in the wind. At any rate, a response comes to Jayne’s advertisement from a Mrs. Fairfax, requesting him to come forthwith to Thornfield Manor, where he shall become the governess for a young French girl.
“French, huh? How young?”
Jayne, has it even occurred to you to simply be the child’s governess, collect a paycheck, and lead a decent life?
“I suppose I’ve done worse for a paycheck. Fine. I’m out of Lowood.”
And, colorfully mooning Mr. Brocklehurst and the assembled teachers, our Jayne went forth once more to meet his new fate at the imposing edifice known as Thornfield. Little did he know the strange tale that would be woven for him there.
“It don’t involve nobody with blue hands, do it?”
No, Jayne, no blue hands.
“Any crazy brunette women with a penchant for outlandish violent behavior?”
Um… I shall remain mute upon that subject for now.
Jayne was once more caught up in the tides of the river of life, being swept on to his next destination like a leaf in a stream.
“You been lookin’ at that screensaver with the leaves on the water again, ain’t ya?”
Actually, yes, now that you mention it. In any case, after a long day of travel, our heroine…
…whatever, stood outside the imposing door of a large manor house named Thronfield that seemed wrapped in mystery like the mists that clung to the moor. He was quickly ushered in to see Mrs. Fairfax, who, to his disappointment, turned out to be an 80 year old widow.
“Actually, it’s been awhile. I might take a likin’ to that dish if there ain’t no other flavors available.”
Jayne, I should like to finish this chapter without needing to pour bleach in my eyes.
Yes. Moving along, Jayne was shown to a lovely little room of his own by the dowager in question, and was told he would meet his charge, Adele, the next morning. Sleeping the sleep of the well-contented, he blissfully dreamed of a life of honest servitude and gratifyingly small wages.
“Actually, I’m considerin’ fencing some of the stuff in this place. Think they’d miss the silver sugar tongs? Really, how often do people use them things?”
This is England, Jayne Eyre. People drink tea quite regularly, and you are not to be permitted to fence the platewear. Besides, Mrs. Fairfax is quite astute and would figure out at once they had been taken.
“Yeah, she does seem the sort to count the spoons before goin’ to bed.”
The next morning, Jayne awoke, put on a fresh frock of his customary black…
Yes, Jayne. Be grateful Miss Bronte did not fancy pink.
As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted, little Adele, dressed in the finest silk and laces, came tripping merrily down the hall with her lady’s maid, Sophie.
“Oh, je suis tres heureuse! J’ai besoin de lecons a Anglais. Maintenant, seulement Sophie me comprends. Alors, Monsieur Rochester pense que je suis mal a la tete!” the child babbled quickly. “Zut, alors! Vous etes un homme? Pourquoi est-ce que vous habitez une robe?”
“Huh? She talkin’ Dutch or somethin’?”
Jayne, you received full marks in French during your time at Lowood.
“Yeah, and the French teacher and I were on real good terms, if you get my drift. What about the maid? She talk regular?”
Sophie, who generally had the characterization of a hatstand in the novel, was stunned to be thus singled out by the new governess and blushed accordingly.
“Oui, Madamoiselle Jayne?” she responded.
“Oui, that means yes, don’t it?”
Yes, Jayne. You should get very far in tutoring your French-speaking student in history, geography, the use of globes, and the English language if you are able to tell that much.
“Hell, long as I can tell when she’s sayin’ yes, I don’t much care. Rest can be worked out on body language. So, Sophie?”
“Oui?” Sophie responded, still flattered by the attention.
“What say we let Addie here take the morning off while we check the strength of the desk in the new schoolroom. Get me?” Jayne communicated to her, using highly interesting sign language as an aide.
“Oooo!” Sophie said, comprehension dawning. “Bien sur! Adele, tu vas au jardin maintenant. Tres vite!”
“Huh?” Adele responded.
However, Jayne opened the door to the garden, handed the kid a knight’s helm to use as a soccer ball to keep her occupied, and booted her be-bustled butt out the door.
Several hours later, long after the antique knight’s helmet looked as though it had gone through the Battle of Agincourt repeatedly, Jayne and Sophie emerged from the schoolroom, each looking deeply relaxed and, oddly, smoking cigarettes.
“My dear Jayne, will you please take this letter into town and post it for me?” Mrs. Fairfax asked as she came around the corner.
“Sure thing,” Jayne said, taking the letter out of her hand, then giving Sophie a wink before murmuring, “Second door on the right. Anytime.”
Jayne was quickly on his way through the gathering gloaming as he wended his way towards the town, letter clasped tightly in his large, gloved hand. Very little time passed before he was returning once more to Thornfield. It was as though some portent filled the air with a sense of strange omen, signalling something important were about to happen. Jayne’s senses tingled with readiness for whatever occurrence might be coming. Unfortunately, in Jayne’s case, this meant pulling Vera out of the volumionus folds of his dress and having his finger near the trigger.
When an extremely large dog came bounding out of the gathering darkness, Jayne, startled, promptly fired a shot into the night, barely missing the dog but succeeding in spooking the horse that was following it, causing its rider to plummet to the ground sharply.
“Blast!” shouted the unknown man. “My ankle! What fiend are you that you should cause my poor horse to fright so!”
“I ain’t no fiend. It was an accident!” Jayne yelled in agitation. Still, he did help the gentleman to his feet, noting a lack of missing limbs.
“I suppose you will now dissolve into mist like the fairy that you are now that your mischief has been managed?” the man said mockingly.
“I ain’t no gall dern fairy!” Jayne said, stamping his feet.
At this point, Jayne had his first good look at the man in question. He was tall, with a broad forehead, bushy black brows and equally black hair, large dark eyes, a wide set of shoulders, and a face that was unhandsome at best, but yet still compelling. It was a startling face, yet Jayne could not help finding it strangely comforting in this place where he knew no one.
“I know Sophie pretty well.”
Jayne, dear, shut up. In any case, Jayne quickly realized that the gentleman was limping badly.
“Looks like you done hurt yourself in that fall,” he said, not unkindly. “I figure as it was my trigger finger what made your horse go skiddish, maybe I’m a mite responsible. Need some help?”
“I am afraid I must impose on you, madam,” he responded. “I cannot mount my horse in this condition, and I must journey to Thornfield. Would you lend me your shoulder as a crutch?”
“Fine, fine. I’m headin’ that way my own self,” Jayne said, passing over the reference to his gender for once since he figured it wasn’t the right time to be nit-picky.
Together the pair hobbled through the evening towards the immense house, and when they arrived, Mrs. Fairfax immediately ushered the unknown man into the drawing room, calling for the doctor to come and serving him hot tea (see, Jayne, I told you they drink a good deal of tea). Jayne was astonished to learn this was the master of Thornfield himself, the esteemed Mr. Edward Fairfax Rochester.
“So… Mrs. Fairfax don’t own the place?”
No, she is but the second cousin of the owner and the housekeeper here.
“What is it with this book and cousins? You’d think there’d be some kind of big plot point involving cousins in here or something.”
Yes, one might think that, might one? In any case, after the doctor had left, Mr. Rochester sent for his ward Adele and the person who had helped him on the road. Jayne reluctantly went before his new master, rather embarassed by the attention.
“Actually, I was reluctant cause Sophie and I were testin’ the bedsprings in my new room.”
I don’t need to know that. Jayne soon arrived at the drawing room, where Mr. Rochester proceeded to almost completely ignore the child and instead turned his attention to Jayne.
“You intrigue me,” Mr. Rochester said, sizing Jayne up with a glance. “You are from Lowood?”
“Yeah,” Jayne said.
“Do you play piano?” he asked.
“Have a basic understanding of geography and literature?”
“Then… why exactly did we hire you?” Mr. Rochester asked, preturbed.
“I lied about my qualifications,” Jayne answered helpfully. “I can shoot real good though, and I’m a great wrestler, and I can drink any man under the table.”
Mister Rochester gazed upon Jayne’s visage, astonished at the words that poured from his mouth so effortlessly. Mrs. Fairfax, being rather a busybody at heart, sat by the fire and continued to knit, her needles clicking together in a disapproving manner. After all, Jayne was not a member of the gentry, and an affair between the governess and the lord of the manner was likely to be one of ill repute and damaging to the honor of the untried and virtuous Jayne.
“Jayne,” said Mister Rochester curtly, “I do believe you speak more plainly than any other person I have ever beheld.”
“Well that ain’t hard to do. All you people talk like Simon,” Jayne said as he grabbed an apple from a display of fruit sitting on the table. He began to peel it with a large knife he had hidden in his boot, and by the time he was through, Mr. Rochester’s eyes were alight with a strange glow of… was it possessiveness? Think it not, Jayne, for you are but poor and plain!
Okay. I can’t pretend you’re plain. But you are indeed not on a social equality, and in the 1820s that is highly important. Mrs. Fairfax, for her part, had passed out entirely owing to the slow, strangely sensual image of Jayne and the denuded apple.
“It is late, Jayne,” Mr. Rochester said abruptly. “I shall have you call upon me again tomorrow evening. I, for my part, shall be in my bunk.”
“Whatever,” Jayne said, swallowing the last piece of apple. “Just be sure you got something with more kick to it than Earl Grey.”
“Of course. Gunpowder tea should suffice, or perhaps Assam,” Mr. Rochester mumbled as he watched Jayne’s skirts switch enticingly down the hallway, though of course the innocent governess could have had no idea what the effect would be on the gentleman. “And apples. Many, many apples.”
Jayne retired to his room to sleep, but that sleep was destined to be interrupted.
“Sophie comes a-knockin’, don’t she?”
Not quite, dear Jayne, not quite.
That night Jayne went to sleep with a strange hope brewing in his heart.
“I’m bettin’ Fairfax has got some good booze stashed somewheres.”
No, Jayne, although I might place a bet on that as well. What Jayne was hoping for was that at last he had found a place where he might belong forever, that his life of going from one strange place where he was unwelcome to the next might be done for good.
“Actually, I kinda like wanderin’.”
You are in denial, Mr. Eyre. As Jayne closed his eyes that night, he little thought what mortal danger he was in.
Late that night, well after midnight had tolled, Jayne heard a disturbance across the hall. At first, it sounded like something or someone scratching softly at a door, but then footsteps flitted down the hallway to the accompaniment of wild laughter, and a scent of smoke was in the air. Jayne rolled over and grabbed several guns and a few grenades from his arsenal, then slammed open the door of his room to find a lit candle burning in the hallway.
“Tarnation, that all it was?”
No, for billows of smoke came from the bedroom across the hall! Mr. Rochester’s bed was on fire, yet he slept on!
“Maybe he’s the one with the stash of booze.”
Quickly, Jayne took the contents of the water pitcher and poured it upon Mr. Rochester, followed by the contents of his own water pitcher, a glass of water near the bed, and a vase of flowers in the niche of the hallway outside.
“Gorram it! Wake up!” called Jayne in concern, and at last Mr. Rochester awoke.
“Why am I sopping wet?” asked he.
“Move your blamed English bum outta bed, you stupid pile of…” Jayne began, but Mr. Rochester was already upon his feet, having been apprised of the danger, and proceeded to beat the flames out of the draperies that kindled around his bed. In a few moments, the fire was out.
“Indeed, Mister Eyre, I do owe you my life,” Mr. Rochester said, looking with gratitude upon his lowly servant.
“I’m taller than he is, I’d like to point out, but more than that, how the hell’d that fire start in the first place?” queried Jayne.
Mr. Rochester looked uncomfortable. “Did you see anyone in the hall?”
“Naw, just a stupid candle settin’ there. I heard somebody, though, laughin’ like a loon,” Jayne said, looking none too comfortable.
“Ehm, that was me,” Mr. Rochester said.
“Lemme me get this straight. You took a candle, lit fire to your bed your own self, stuck the candle in the hallway, ran away laughing, ran back, slammed yourself into your burning bed, and fell back asleep?” Jayne said, raising an eyebrow. “My momma didn’t raise no idiots. Try again.”
Mr. Rochester sighed, then said, “It was Grace Poole. She lives on the third floor and is usually quite docile, mostly because she drinks far too much port.”
“So she’s the one with the stash. Good to know,” Jayne said. “But why have you got a crazy pyromaniac livin’ with you? She ain’t your sister or some such, is she?”
“No, she’s… just Grace Poole,” Mr. Rochester said evasively. “She simply lives here. That’s all.”
Jayne smiled widely. “Uh-huh. Got a nice rack then?”
“What?” said Mr. Rochester, appalled. “No, no, good sir, she is homely and rather dumpy. Also, I’ve always found her to smell a bit like sausage, which I find off-putting. Please, I know you are good at keeping secrets. I can see if from your discreet and maidenly ways. Please, mention this to no one.”
“Whatever,” Jayne said, going back to bed. “I’m lockin’ my door though, so if Sophie wakes you up a-hollerin’ for me to let her in, don’t blame the poor gal.”
“Good night, Mr. Eyre,” Mr. Rochester said, watching the governess as he pulled his ruffled sleeping cap down further on his forehead, and he glimpsed his manly ankles beneath the hem of his calico nightgown as the door shut and locked.
The next morning, Mr. Rochester surprised everyone on the household staff by declaring he would hold a party at Thornfield. Adele seemed quite happy at the thought, delightedly picking out new frocks to wear in hopes that she should be introduced to the fine ladies and gentlemen who were to attend. Jayne was nervous and skittish, never having been around such high society before, and he hoped he would not be called upon to go before the company.
“Actually, it just sounds boring.”
Soon, the gloriously beautiful Blanche Ingrim arrived, her mother in tow. Her black curls gleamed lusterously, piled high above her dignified forehead, and her dark eyes glimmered with life in the olive-complexioned face that smiled at Mr. Rochester and, Jayne thought, particularly at Mr. Rochester’s treasures.
“Well, lookee there. She looks like Inara’s great-great-grandmother or somethin’,” Jayne said as he watched their arrival from the top of the staircase. “Gotta see if I can get me a piece of that.”
Actually, Jayne, you looked at her and began to realize that she was much fairer than yourself, and that all your hopes of a life with Mr. Rochester were dashed to bits in the face of Miss Ingrim’s beauty. You repaired to your room and drew a picture of yourself, poor and unsophisticated, and then a beautiful painting of Blanche Ingrim on a piece of white ivory in delicate tones to remind yourself never again to presume to think yourself worthy of Mr. Rochester’s tender feelings.
“Wait, am I sly in this?”
You are wearing a dress, Jayne. That could be a clue.
Can we simply say you keep all your options open and leave it at that?
“This is plum stupid, you know that, right?”
Yes, yes, it is. However, we are moving along anyway, for I personally am a fan of ludicrous situations, and this ranks up there with making Mal do the Sound of Music in the role of Maria. Okay?
“It’s your fanfic, twisted as it is.”
Thank you. Later that evening, Jayne was surprised to find that Mr. Rochester required her company and Adele’s in the drawing room with his guests. Miss Ingrim sneered at them loftily when she saw them enter, though she also gave Jayne a quick look and seemed to find at least something about him satisfactory, though she made a point of making disparaging comments about the quality of his gown throughout the evening. Adele she ignored, even though Blanche spoke French quite well, because the child was in danger of drawing more attention than herself. The girl soon found herself punted into another room.
“Huh. Not too sure about this one no more. She seems a mite too uppity for my taste.”
I knew you had standards, Jayne.
“Not sayin’ I wouldn’t screw her, though.”
And I am once more proven wrong. This situation continued for many nights. Each evening Jayne was called down to join the company, and each night Mr. Rochester paid him no attention in favor of doting upon the lovely Blanche. He spoke with her in close confidence. He wittily conversed with her in public. His hand sought hers as they played parlor games. At one point, he paraded her around in a wedding dress.
“Gosh, you think he’s tryin’ to make a point?”
Perhaps. At any rate, one evening Mr. Rochester was conspicuously absent, but a fortune teller had happened by and wanted to tell the fortunes of all the young unmarried women at Thornfield. Miss Ingrim, being daring and lively, went first, entering a room where the strange woman was secreted away, and coming out thirty minutes later looking vexed and unhappy. Each of the ladies in the party were escorted into the room in turn, and most returned looking reasonably content. At last, the fortune teller said there was one young woman left who she had not spoken to.
“I ain’t no woman!”
Fine, one unmarried person in a dress she hadn’t spoken to, so Jayne entered the room, scoffing at the process.
“I see you do not believe in my powers,” said a voice from beneath a bonnet and scarf.
“Aw, cut it out, Rochester. I already know it’s you,” Jayne said.
“How?” asked Mr. Rochester sulkily.
“I told you before, my momma didn’t raise no idiots. That, and your scarf is slipping. You’ve got five o’clock shadow.”
“Oh,” said Mr. Rochester, a touch embarrassed. “Well then, I suppose there’s no point in telling your fortune now besides saying that I believe someone has fallen madly in love with you?”
“Really?” Jayne said, his eyes lighting up. “I knew Blanche was gettin’ into it last night. Thought we might have knocked the chandelier off in the room below us. Sophie’ll be mad as a hornet nest, though.”
Mr. Rochester huffed in frustration.
“Jayne, you fool! It is I! I am the one who loves you, and I will make you my bride!” Mr. Rochester said forcefully. “There is no force in the universe that can keep us parted, or any law, or religious doctrine, or past occurrence, or chance encounter with a weird character, or even a homocidal maniac. Say you will be mine, my elfin sprite!”
Jayne was rather taken aback with this.
“Why you been carryin’ on with Blanche then?”
“Because I wished to make you jealous,” Mr. Rochester answered.
“Hang on. For the last two weeks you’ve been makin’ googly eyes at another woman to get me riled up?” Jayne asked. “That is the stupidest courtin’ I have ever heard of, and I’ve been watching Mal and Inara circlin’ each other for nigh on two years.”
“I suppose it was a bit…odd? Perhaps… eccentrically endearing?” Mr. Rochester said hopefully.
Jayne rolled his eyes in frustration. “Fine. I’ll marry you, you big oaf.”
“Oh, Jayne! You have made me so very happy!” Mr. Rochester exclaimed, taking him to him and kissing his face ecstatically.
“Yeah. Let’s commence to me getting’ a leg over and finish up this story,” Jayne said.
“No, no! We shall preserve our physical union until our wedding night, for I know you are pure of heart and would be shocked by any lewdness,” Mr. Rochester said possesively.
Jayne, probably moved by his betrothed’s thoughtfulness, shrieked in what could have been mistaken for frustration but must have been happy anticipation.
“Narrator, are you really that dumb, or are you tryin’ to make me crazy?”
Oh, Jayne, we shall leave it up to you. We draw a curtain over another chapter as Jayne awaits his wedding day, but will that day go according to plan.
“Course not. Ain’t my brand of luck.”
You are indeed wise, Jayne.
Sweet Jayne had never before been so happy in his life, for he had the love of dear Mr. Rochester, and would soon be his wife.
“I ain’t nobody’s wife!”
Ehm… significant other?
“Still ain’t workin’.”
George W. Bush’s worst nightmare?
Let’s simply say you are about to be wed and leave it at that, shall we? Preparations for the wedding were beginning, and though Jayne wished to keep the arrangements simple and without too much ostentation, Mr. Rochester wished to clothe his bride-to-be in the best raiment his ample money could provide.
“Gorramit, Rochester! I ain't wearin' no frilly frou frou weddin' dress! It's the plain black satin or nuthin', not that I'd mind nuthin', but it might upset the preacher some. Now, if you want to pop some dough for good eats and drinks that don’t give you a headache just by lookin’ at ‘em, I’ll be fine with that. By the way, what the hell is your first name?"
“Edward, my treasure,” Mr. Rochester said sweetly, “though you usually prefer to call me Mr. Rochester or sir or perhaps master.”
Jayne Eyre’s countenance grew cloudy as the moors at this, and he spoke sternly, “I ain’t callin’ nobody master, got me, Ed?”
“Assuredly,” Mr. Rochester agreed. “If you wish it, it shall be. Oh, I am glad that I’ve never been married before. Ever. To anyone. Really.”
“Whatever,” said Jayne, shoveling more Yorkshire pudding delicately into his mouth with a serving spoon then belching melodiously.
That night, Jayne had a fearful fright. He dreamed he saw a horrifying creature enter his room, one with long dark hair and a pale face lit with an insane need for revenge.
“It ain’t River, is it? I swear I didn’t mean to turn her and her brother in on Ariel, really I didn’t, except, you know, that I did and all.”
The figure was also corpulent.
“Oh. Well that ain’t River then.”
Jayne reached for his multitude of guns and grenades that stood by his bedside only to find he had already packed all of them in preparation for his wedding trip the next day. Wait… why are you taking guns and grenades on your honeymoon, Jayne?
“We all got our little fetishes.”
I shall pretend I was unable to hear that. In any case, Jayne remained unmoving on the bed as the creature, which looked remarkably like the foul German ghoul, the vampyre…
“This a crossover now?”
No, Jayne. It’s already a crossover, but not a triple one. As I was saying, the creature tried on Jayne’s veil and looked in the mirror at its reflection.
“Hey, if it’s got a reflection, it ain’t no vampire or vampyre or what have you!”
I already assured you of that, Jayne.
“Yeah, but I don’t trust you none.”
I’m hurt. I shall try not to swoon at your insensitivity. Carrying on, the thing ripped the wedding veil in two, then wandered out of the room, laughing foully and in the same tone as the horrifying cackle Jayne had heard the night Mr. Rochester’s bed burned, not that the incident in any way suggested a symbolical or Freudian connection between the two events whatsoever. Jayne then sprang from his bed and locked the door, thinking it would have been wise to bolt it by precaution before all this.
“But Sophie mighta stopped by for a goodbye tumble, or Blanche, or Mrs. Fairfax…”
Oh, God, I can’t know that!
“Deal with it. And there’s always the chance my betrothed might take a fancy to some premarital calesthenics, so rather than wake up the whole blamed house, I figured I’d leave the latch undone, well, at least until somebody showed up. Be pretty poor form to leave the door open and then have somebody walk in. It could lead to hurt feelings or somethin’.”
If you will excuse me for a moment, I need a small cup of tea, or perhaps a large schooner of port to cleanse my brain. There. Much better.
“Are you drunk?”
“You don’t sound no different.”
It’s a narrator thing.
“Then what’s the point?”
My dear Jayne, do you really believe any of this has a point? The dawn came up on Jayne’s wedding day, and as he hurriedly dressed for the great event, he pondered what had happened the night before. He told Mr. Rochester all about it at breakfast.
“And then this lunatic woman ripped up my pretty veil. I’m gonna have to get hitched wearing some dumb thing called ‘blond’ that I made myself.”
It’s a pattern of interlocking hexagonal mesh, for your edification.
“And yet I do not care. Why the go se we got a crazy person running around Thornfield Hall?” Jayne said suspiciously.
“Ah, my love, I shall tell you all about it on our wedding trip,” Mr. Rochester said evasively. “We have to hurry to the church now.”
“Wait a tick. I thought the couple weren’t supposed to see one another before the wedding ceremony? Ain’t that bad luck?” Jayne asked.
“Oh, come now!” Mr. Rochester said, turning pale. “What could possibly happen?”
Mr. Rochester and Jayne sped out the front door quickly, taking no witnesses at all with them as they headed towards the church. The reverend looked a little aghast at the two of them, but proceeded on as though nothing out of the ordinary had happened and marrying a pair of bachelors, one happening to wear a tasteful black satin dress, was a common occurrence, and who knows, perhaps it was. One can never be too certain about the Victorians. Finally, the moment of truth came, and the reverend spoke the fateful words.
“If there is anyone here who can show just cause why these two cannot be joined in lawful matrimony, speak now or forever hold your peace,” he entoned in a bored voice.
“I can!” yelled a man in the back of the church.
The reverend stared at him. Jayne and Mr. Rochester turned and stared. An old lady who had wandered in turned and stared. Several stained glass figures pivoted their eyes towards the speaker, including a rather frighteningly inaccurate protrayal of a lion and an extremely angry-looking representation of St. Erasmus (though perhaps we can forgive the look as no one had the foggiest idea who he was and hadn’t for several centuries).
“You can?” the reverend said, paging through his prayerbook’s index in the vain hope of finding this situation listed. “Why?”
“Because he is married to my sister, who is still alive!” said the stranger.
Mr. Rochester gave him a look that suggested murder was on his mind, while Jayne simply looked confused.
“Come again?” Jayne said.
“Mr. Rochester married my sister Bertha in the Carribean many years ago. They remain married to this day, though none knows of it save myself,” the man stated.
“This true, Ed?” Jayne asked, giving him the old stink eye.
“Indeed!” Mr. Rochester said loudly. “Bertha yet lives, and we shall go see my wife now if you wish! Come along everyone!”
It was a strange party that went up the road, comprised of Jayne, Mr. Rochester, the reverend, the unknown brother, and some other guy who no one took much notice of. Mr. Rochester blew through the doors of Thornfield, told Adele to stop congratulating him as Jayne took great offense to the pink rose petals she was flinging at him, and strode purposefully to the third floor, where he pushed aside a tapestry.
“This,” he said, putting a gigantic key into an ancient lock, “is the abode of my wife. She’s a simply delightful person! Come meet her!”
The door creaked open, and there stood the same woman with long black hair who had destroyed Jayne’s wedding veil the night before! She was raving insanely, and at one look at Mr. Rochester, she upon him, strangling the life out of him and biting him savagely. The reverend knocked her over the head with his prayerbook, and she was out cold.
“My wife is out of her mind and has been since before our marriage, though that was concealed from me at the time,” Mr. Rochester said flatly.
“I think I woulda figured that out all on my own first time I set eyes on her,” Jayne said, taking in the foaming at the mouth and the way even in unsconsciousness she was flailing violently. “I mean, it ain’t too hard to diagnose she’s got a case of the loonies.”
“Regardless, I was led into a trap by my father and brother, both of whom are most convienently dead now. Who can blame me for wanting to marry the delicate creature you see before you rather than cleave to this beast of thing that bears my name,” Rochester said in an impassioned tone.
Everyone raised their hand, including Bertha.
“Oh,” Rochester said, embarrassed.
The clergyman left. The brother left. The strange other man told Jayne that his uncle had died and might be leaving him a small fortune in Madiera, and then left. Jayne and Rochester also left, leaving Bertha rubbing her head dejectedly.
Jayne said nothing as they walked back down to the dining room, and Mr. Rochester wisely didn’t push things. At last, Jayne turned to him and said, “Okay, so, that’s your wife?”
“Yes,” Mr. Rochester said.
“So you lied to me about that. I don’t take with lyin’, at least not when it’s about whether or not your married, particularly to your new fiance. Anything else I should know?” Jayne said coldly.
“Ehm,” Mr. Rochester hemmed, “well, I’ve also had three mistresses: a German, an Italian, and a Frenchwoman, who is Adele’s mother.”
“So Adele’s your kid?”
“I’m not really sure about that,” Mr. Rochester said uncertainly. “Celine was a bit… unchaste, shall we say?”
“Pot? Meet kettle,” Jayne replied, then clocked Mr. Rochester roundly in the nose.
“Ow!” cried Mr. Rochester.
What followed for the next thirty-five minutes and eighteen seconds was a one-sided grudge match that included, at various times, Mr. Rochester going face first into the fireplace, Mr. Rochester having his head used as a battering ram against old oaken panels, and Mr. Rochester being held by his ankles and swung around the room on a ceiling fan, even though those wouldn’t be invented for nigh on a century. At the end of that time, Jayne said, “Well, guess we’re even now.”
“So you’ll marry me, my dove?” Mr. Rochester said, not quite able to figure out which of the three Jaynes he was seeing was the genuine article.
“Hell no,” Jayne said, backing away. “I may be a fornicating, blaspheming, train-robbing, granny-bilking, baby-candy-stealing, lazy, good-for-nothin’ bandit, but I ain’t no bigamist! No offense, Ed, but I gotta draw the line somewheres, and that there’s it.”
“But Jayne!” Mr. Rochester said, attempting to run after him but finding his beloved governess had given him a concussion that rendered walking in a straight line rather difficult. “Jayne! Come back, Jayne!”
For a moment, a very confused Alan Ladd appeared, then left again just as abruptly.
We leave our Jayne Eyre running through the dark night in the Yorkshire countryside, friendless, penniless, homeless, and helpless.
“Helpless? Didn’t you see what I just done to Mr. Rochester back there?”
Perhaps not helpless then. But strange things were bound to come into Jayne’s path, and even he had not idea how bizarre his life was about to become.
“That don’t sound good.”
Dreadfully sorry, dear, but that’s the way Miss Bronte wrote it.
When last we left our brave Jayne, he was fleeing Mr. Rochester’s bigamously lewd suggestions on grounds of his high moral character, thereby leaving himself friendless and destitute, stranded in a strange place with no recourse for his livelihood save the kindness of strangers.
“When did this become Streetcar Named Desire?”
You read a classic drama?
“Yeah, same time Mal read a poem.”
I stand in awe of your literary pursuits. Jayne found himself in a small town in the middle of nowhere, having spent his few pennies on a coach ride that took him to a desolate location. Sadly, the few possessions Jayne had thought to bring with him were inadvertantly left in the coach and disappeared into the night.
“Gorramit! You tellin’ me I left Vera in there?”
I am sorry, Jayne dear, but yes, Vera is beyond your embrace, much like Mr. Rochester.
Jayne wept heartfelt tears over the loss of his one true love (and as to who or what that was, dear reader, I shall leave the decision in your able hands), and wandered from place to place, begging food, but there were none about to help him, and doors slammed in his face with never a kind word. Eventually, Jayne thought of selling what he could.
“Come and get it, ladies! A five pound note’ll buy you a whole lotta pleasurin’, provided you ain’t got nothin’ catchin’, of course.”
Jayne! I am… you know, I can’t even pretend to be shocked anymore at this point. You did not slip into prostitution! You attempted to sell your handkerchief and gloves, but you found no one wanted them. Jayne wandered out onto the moor and lay down on the grass, staring up into the dark, starlit night and pondered his place in the universe as a child of Nature. For three days this continued…
“And I ain’t et nothin’?”
You had some cold, congealed porridge from a pig trough at one point.
“Still probably better than re-formed protein.”
Quite possibly. At any rate, when darkness fell upon the third night, Jayne was wandering through the moors, barely able to walk, when far in the distance he beheld a light. At first Jayne assumed it was a mere will-o-the-whisp, but as there was no better place to die, he strove towards it with what little strength he had remaining. The clouds broke upon him, and he was drenched with rain to the skin, shivering pitifully as he trudged towards one last hope.
“This is downright depressin’.”
Oh, it gets worse! For you see, when Jayne reached the light, it turned out to be the window of a little cottage, and he saw three women, two young and one old, sitting by the fire and reading happily. But when he knocked upon the door, the old woman answered the door.
“Can I come in? I’m starvin’ and soaked,” Jayne said mournfully.
The woman looked at him critically.
“Ye look like unto a criminal of some sort,” spake the good old dame. “I’m sure ye’ve got the means to make money, if ye understand me. Besides, why are ye wearin’ a dress? Ye’ll not pass this door tonight!”
And, after pronouncing this quite correct summation of Jayne’s character, she slammed the door in his face and left him to freeze to death.
“So… I’m dead?”
No, for just then footsteps were heard upon the garden path, and a figure appeared, silhouetted in black against the face of the moon by a flash of lightening.
“Why are you here?” asked a decidedly prim voice.
“I’m busy dying!” Jayne yelled. “Now let me get to it, alright?”
“Would you not rather come into the house, sleep, and eat your fill?” asked the voice.
“You dumb or somethin’?” Jayne scoffed. “Yeah, but they won’t lemme in!”
“I see,” said the figure. “The house is mine, and I shall take you in as my own lost lamb to rear for… service,” he completed, though the last word was spoken oddly.
The next moment, the door of the house was thrown wide open, and the figure, now illuminated by the light within and proving to be a man of extremely perfect yet cold masculine beauty, dragged Jayne’s form into the kitchen. The old woman shrieked loudly, while the two younger girls jumped to their feet in alarm, dropping their books upon the floor with a loud clatter.
“St. John,” cried one, “who is this person?”
“A poor wanderer who has need of help,” he responded. “You do it. I am tired.”
With that, St. John left the room, leaving his sisters and the housekeeper to hoist Jayne’s unconscious body up to a bedroom, get him into a nightgown, spoon broth down his throat, and launder his clothes. It was three days more before Jayne could stand up again, and during all that time he was waited upon hand and foot by the girls, named Mary and Diana, and Hannah, the maid.
“I must be sicker than I thought,” said Jayne. “For some reason, them two girls ain’t had no effect at all on my libido. Maybe I done broke it!”
Fear not, Jayne. It would take far more than a few days of starving to cause permanent damage to a lecherous personality such as yours.
At the end of his recuperation, Jayne walked downstairs and sat across from Hannah at the kitchen table.
“You done locked me out to die,” he said bluntly.
“Yes,” she said, “I did.”
“You don’t look none bothered by that,” he continued.
“Nay,” she replied. “I’d have done it agin if I had to. St. John brought ye in, though, and that is out of my hands. But I stand by what I said: ye’ve not a virtuous face.”
Jayne smiled in a way that particularly underlined his lack of virtue. “Know what? I think I like you.”
The old woman blushed a bit.
“But lemme get this straight. Some guy named St. John rescued me?” Jayne asked.
“Aye,” she replied. “He owns this house, and Mary and Diana be his sisters.”
“What kinda loon names their kid St. John?” Jayne asked.
“Probably one what wanted a preacher as a son, and he got his wish,” Hannah said as she wiped her hands on her apron. “St. John is the soul of Christian piety.”
“Sounds boring,” Jayne said, poking the fire.
“Aye,” Hannah said very quietly with a roll of her eyes, but said no more.
A few minutes later, St. John, Diana, and Mary entered the kitchen. The latter two expressed great joy at seeing Jayne up and about, but St. John merely sat down at the table and gazed at Jayne intently.
“Who are you?” St. John said calmly.
“I’m Jayne… uh… Edwards,” Jayne invented.
“That is not your real name,” St. John countered.
“No, cause I don’t see how my name’s any of your business,” Jayne barked.
St. John raised one eyebrow imperiously. “And what are your abilities, Jayne Edwards, if that is what you wish to be called?”
“Uh…,” Jayne began, deciding not to mention drinking and shooting as his main talents, “I’m a governess.”
St. John nodded his approval. Something about him bothered Jayne tremendously.
“Yeah, I always liked Book, but this guy’s like a walkin’ mortuary advertisement.”
Nicely put, dear Jayne. As soon as Jayne was well enough, St. John installed him at the village school, teaching the little girls their ABCs and the essentials of running a home.
“I think I’d rather be back out on the moor starvin’, if that’s alright.”
Actually, you quite enjoyed this time, finding that you owed no one anything, and that your pupils, though low-born, carried within them spirits that wished to learn.
“I’d still rather be out on the moor.”
One day, St. John came to Jayne’s apartment with an odd look on his face.
“I do believe you shall leave us when I tell you my news,” St. John said as his face, as usual, betrayed no emotion at all.
“And what news is that?” asked Jayne.
“You are wealthy, Mr. Jayne Eyre,” St. John said, clearly ennunciating the long-hidden last name.
“Huh?” Jayne said intelligently.
“You see, Jayne, you had an uncle in Madeira,” said St. John.
“Yeah, that kinda got thrown in in the last chapter,” Jayne agreed.
“Well, his brother was your father, and his other brother was my father,” St. John explained.
“So… we’s cousins?” Jayne asked.
“Quite,” St. John affirmed. “And what is more, I have just received word that our uncle has left his entire fortune to you, all 20,000 pounds.”
“Twenty… thousand… pounds…,” Jayne said, then passed out.
At long last, St. John roused Jayne with a stringent application of smelling salts. In his confusion, Jayne almost drank them.
“So… when you say rich, I’m rollin’ it?” Jayne asked.
“Indeed,” said St. John icily.
Jayne, moved by generosity of spirit, at once stated that he wanted to split the inheritence four ways so that Mary, Diana, and St. John would each receive an equal share. To Jayne’s mind, the greatest gift he had received that day was the knowledge he had family somewhere in the world, that he was no longer a drifting soul, that he had roots, that he had…
“You outta your mind! The greatest gift I received was 20,000 smackers! I ain’t givin’ that livin’ sanctified gargoyle nothin’!”
Yes, Jayne, you are.
“No, I ain’t!”
Yes, you are!
“No, I ain’t!”
Jayne, to use the vernacular, put a sock in it.
“Well, leastwise I know why Mary and Diana didn’t get my engine kickin’ over,” Jayne sulked. “I’d have to be a sicko to lust after my own cousin.”
“Jayne,” said St. John promptly, “I want you to marry me.”
“I want you to marry me. It is your destiny, and you shall rot in hell if you do not do as I say, or rather as God says, and marry me so you may become a missionary with me in India, where doubtless you shall die of various diseases,” St. John said in the same tone that a normal person would order a ham sandwich.
“Think wisely, Jayne,” said St. John coldly. “To refuse me is to refuse your salvation. You will burn in the everlasting lake of fire for eternity if you do not consent to be my wife.”
“Hell with you!” Jayne yelled.
“No, it shall be hell for you,” St. John stated matter-of-factly. “Now, goodnight, cousin Jayne, for whom I bear no love at all. In fact, I find you homely and disquieting, yet you would make a goodly missionary wife. I expect to hear your acceptance in the morning, preferably at 7:25 a.m. I am a busy man and cannot afford to waste my time upon trifles.”
As St. John went up the staircase, Jayne was filled with a sense of despondancy.
“How ‘bout a sense of disgust? Where do I start? The part with us bein’ cousins, the part about his not lovin’ me at all, the part about him threatenin’ my soul with damnation if I turn him down, or the part where I gotta go to India and die cause he wants a housekeeper?”
To be fair, cousins marrying cousins wasn’t at all uncommon in the 1800s.
“Yeah, well, so was steppin’ in horse crap!”
That night Jayne slept little, but when morning came, St. John demanded his acquiesence to his proposal (or rather order) of marriage.
“Stuff it!” yelled Jayne, throwing an inkwell at him.
St. John sighed, looking put upon, then, with a martyred look, he said, “I shall ask you again tonight, Jayne. Your answer, I trust, shall be different.” With that, he left.
Mary and Diana, both of whom had heard this conversation, urged Jayne to remain steadfast in his determination to avoid matrimony with St. John, mainly because both of them thought he was a freak, but also because kindly sisterhood had blossomed amongst the three. Jayne, though, was confused as to where he should go and what he should do. He did not wish to abandon the only family he had known, and in truth, his heart still pined for Mr. Rochester.
“I miss old Ed.”
Indeed you do. That night, St. John once again confronted Jayne. Just as Jayne was about to scream with frustration, he heard a strange voice.
“Jayne!” it wailed. “Jayne!”
It was the voice of Mr. Rochester, though whence it came from Jayne could not tell. St. John heard nothing, but could tell Jayne percieved something.
“You are hearing heavenly voices telling you to marry me,” he assured him.
Jayne turned to him, then, picking up a very large coal scuttle from the kitchen, he smote St. John mightily over the head, dropping him like a highly pompous sack of potatoes.
“See, now that was fun!”
I must concur. Jayne immediately ran through the night and out to a carriage, soon being wisked away to Thornfield Hall to see if Mr. Rochester was well.
“This story is weirder than jugglin’ goslings.”
Indeed, but I believe there is but one more chapter left in its telling.
“Good. These corsets are killin’ me.”
Jayne arrived at Thornfield the next morning, but a horrible surprise awaited him.
“What the blazes happened! Looks like the place got blasted by Reavers!”
The once dignified and stately front of Thornfield Manor was reduced to ashes. Desolation met Jayne’s every look, and a growth of plants in the ruins of the main hall told him that whatever fateful incident had occurred, it had taken place some time since.
Looking for someone to tell the tale of what had happened, Jayne ran to the local tavern, and inquired of the owner what had taken place at Thornfield. The owner or the tavern, of course, had never seen him before and thus was completely in the dark as to his true identity.
“Hey, Jayne! What’s up? A pint of the usual?”
Pardon me, but am I correct in surmising that every single occupant of the wayward tavern is on a first name basis with you, Jayne?
Of course. Regardless, Jayne asked the owner to tell him news of Thornfield.
“It burned down nigh on six months ago,” he said, cleaning a glass as he spoke. “Strangest thing I e’er did see. No one knew it, but Mr. Rochester had been keeping his insane wife up in the third story. One night she got out and lit the whole place on fire.”
“Knew they shoulda installed smoke alarms,” Jayne grunted dismally. “Anybody… killed?”
“Aye,” said the tavern owner. “The wench what set the fire threw herself off the roof.”
“So Bertha’s dead?” Jayne said, brightening up. “That’s the best news I’ve heard in a long while!”
Jayne! For shame! Exulting over the death of a poor, insane creature who plunged to her doom of her own accord!
“Ed’s free, and she weren’t no prize,” Jayne replied sensitively. “Sides, not like I had anythin’ to do with her dyin’. Anythin’ else I should know?”
“Well, Mr. Rochester had climbed onto the roof to save her,” the owner said, inspecting the glass critically. “The roof pitched in and he was buried under the debris.”
“Huh? He alright?” Jayne asked.
“Lost his right arm and an eye, and went blind in the other, but none of it seems to matter to him so much as the loss of his governess. Hold on a mo’… wasn’t that you?” he asked.
“Damn straight!” Jayne yelled, jumping up. “Now where’s he at?”
“He’s gone to his other mansion, Ferndean,” the tavern owner said.
“Ed had two mansions?” Jayne said blankly. “Huh. Guess it always pays to have a spare.”
Like a lightning flash, Jayne ran out the door of the tavern, into the street, and flagged down the first coach he could find.
“To Ferndean, wherever the hell that is, and step on it!” he hollered to the driver.
In an hour’s time, Jayne was alighting in front of a somewhat smaller but rather pleasant mansion, and in a moment’s time after that, he was in the drawing room. There sat Mr. Rochester, looking glumly in the direction of the fire.
“Have you brought me my tea?” he asked, expecting to hear the housekeeper reply.
“Naw,” Jayne replied. “Never could get used to that mamby-pamby wishy-washy stuff.”
“Jayne?!” said Mr. Rochester in delight. “Is it my fairy elf, my sharp-tongued sprite, my little Jayne who forsook me once but shall not leave me again?”
“Uh… it’s me, but I ain’t no elf or fairy or sprite or whatever else you done said. So, I hear Bertha’s kicked it. Wanna get hitched?” he stated romantically.
“Indeed! At once!” Mr. Rochester cried happily.
“Just to make sure, though, there ain’t no other wives you got hid in the broom cupboard or the basement or somethin’?” Jayne asked suspiciously.
“No…,” Mr. Rochester said, looking a bit nervously in the direction of the chimney, even though he couldn’t see it. Perhaps there was a faint “help” heard, but if so, no one paid it any mind.
“Good!” Jayne said.
The next day, they married. Mr. Rochester had dumped Adele in a cheap boarding school after the fire, but Jayne moved her to a much nicer one closer to home so she could visit when she liked.
“C’est merveilleux! Je vais aller a l’ecole tres pres de M. Rochester et ma nouvelle maman, Mlle Eyre. Ou, peut-etre mon nouveau pere? Quelle est le mot correct?”
“Whatever, kid,” Jayne said. “I was just hopin’ Sophie’d come back with you, but hey, guess Ed’s enough.”
A year passed, and just when Jayne thought his cup of joy could hold no more, behold! Mr. Rochester’s remaining eye regained its sight!
“I am so very happy, Jayne,” Mr. Rochester said fondly. “Oh, I almost forgot. Yesterday, the carriage company that drove you away into the night from me so long ago came calling yesterday. It seems you left something in it, and it took them this long to track down your new address.”
“It can’t be,” Jayne said, his hands shaking mightily as he ripped apart the paper on the package. “It IS! VERA!”
And, with a final notation to inform the reader that St. John went to India and promptly died, we draw the curtain over the happy reunion.
“Do me a favor, narrator?”
“Don’t do this to me again, kay?”
I make no promises, Jayne dear, none at all.