by Jane Eyre Rochester of Ferndean Manor, author of DEATH OF A SCHOOLGIRL to be released August, 7, 2012 (Berkley Trade) with the help of Joanna Campbell Slan
My son, Ned, awakened bright-eyed and cheerful this morning, blinking in the golden summer sun. After he was fed, I thought it a perfect day for the two of us to picnic, as his father, my husband Edward Rochester, rode off early in the buggy with his manservant, John, to see to one of his tenants.
"Jane? I packed a basket for you. There is a hunk of cheese, fresh bread, a jug of water, and a bit of plum jam." Kindly Mrs. Fairfax set the wicker container down at my feet. Into it I tucked my sketch book, paints, a pencil and a brush. My hands fumbled with the ribbons of my bonnet.
"Oh, bother. Perhaps I'll forgo this tom-foolery and enjoy the sun on my face!" I said, exasperated by my awkwardness.
"You'll do no such thing. Your complexion would suffer greatly. Here." The elderly woman reached for the ties, adjusted the straw bonnet on my head and soon looped a neat bow under my chin.
The nanny brought me Ned, who cooed with pleasure as I reached for him. Over the past three months, he'd gained weight and grown an astonishing two inches. I settled my boy into his child cart, picked up the basket and away we went.
My heart nearly burst out of my chest with joy for this was my first chance to introduce my son to the world. We passed my cat, Mephisto, sitting on the stone wall and licking a paw. Earlier that morning, he'd deposited a small shrew at my feet. A triumphant offering for him, no doubt, but a rather disgusting surprise for me.
Bumping along the path, I pointed out various objects of interest to Ned, whose dark eyes were the same shade and intensity of his father's. "See the Wild Guelder Rose with its white blossoms? Goodness, the elderberry is blooming, too. I shall have to remember the location of this bush and come back to pick them when they are ripe. My! Smell that? I see you do, little man. That is honeysuckle, and when you are older, I shall teach you to suck the sweetness from a blossom. Meanwhile, you can enjoy the fragrance, here..."and I picked him a stem.
Along our way to the stream, we passed a couple of House Martins, busily collecting mud. "They are building their nests, darling. See how their feathers are so short on their legs? It rather looks as if they are wearing white stockings, doesn't it? Oh! The first wild rose! What is that poet wrote? 'All twinkling with the dewdrop's sheen/The briar-rose falls in streamer's green.' Is that not true?"
At the sound of rushing water, I tossed a blanket over one arm with the basket and picked Ned up out of his cart. A small promontory overlooked the creek, with its silver liquid splashing and hurrying along over rocks and branches. After spreading the woven wool surface, I set my son down.
There we spent a perfect couple of hours. My son and I. Enjoying the beauty--both subtle and more obvious--of the English countryside in June.