Helen Burns died in my arms on the night of the eighth of June. I cradled her frail body in Miss Temple’s room at Lowood until our beloved teacher removed her corpse from my embrace in the early hours of the morning.
On that same date, seven years later, I married Edward Rochester. I had often wondered if it was a macabre coincidence that the most devastating event of my childhood and the most joyous event of my adult life were to be celebrated on the same day. I should have felt sad, because if I didn’t, I would be betraying a dear friend’s memory. Yet I should have felt happy, because if I didn’t, I would be tarnishing my wedding day and being a disloyal wife.
Every anniversary had been hard, but this year, following my second miscarriage, it was devastating. Nightmares had been plaguing me for weeks. The latest compelled me to wander around the house and gardens, under the vigilant sliver of waning crescent moon, shining like a fading beacon in the dark sky.
Helen’s vivid image, wearing her plain white nightdress, hands joined in prayer, implored me, “Save all of us, Jane. All of us.”
When I asked, “Who am I to save, Helen?” she repeated her request like a chant, and I fell on the grass and wept.
“What is the matter, Jane?”
Edward was standing before me in his nightshirt, bearing a candle which was no longer needed. Morning had broken beyond the horizon.
“Come inside with me, Jane. You will catch cold.”
I followed him into Eyre Hall. He insisted on asking questions I could not answer. I fell into our bed and closed my eyes, hoping I might sleep, but Edward had other plans.
“Let me warm you, Jane,” he said, covering my shivering body with his. Desire was the last thing on my troubled mind, but I complied because it meant he would cease his interrogations.
The following morning, Edward and Dr Carter stood at the foot of the bed with grim faces.
“Mrs Rochester, you are behaving recklessly. You are still weak after your last miscarriage, yet you refuse to eat, and Mr Rochester tells me he found you sleeping on the lawn, chanting deliriously about saving someone.”
I sighed and closed my eyes, because I couldn’t tell them that I had been speaking to my deceased best friend from school.
“I suggest you take laudanum and rest for five days.”
“What about Sunday’s anniversary dinner? We are expecting guests.”
I didn’t care about the dinner party, but I hated taking the dreaded drops; they made me drowsy and clumsy.
“Your health is more important than a dinner party. Dr Carter and I have decided that you will rest.”
I sat up and forced myself to smile. “I had a nightmare, but I’m feeling better today.”
The doctor shook his head. I turned to Edward. “It won’t happen again. I promise.”
When the doctor left, Edward sat beside me on the bed. “Jane, what is wrong?”
He squeezed my hand and kissed the tips of my fingers. I used my free hand to drink some water, hoping to relieve the swelling in my throat.
“It saddens me that I can no longer make you happy, Jane.”
I returned the glass and covered his hand with mine. “You do, Edward. You make me very happy, but…” I hesitated.
“But what? I must know why my wife is not contented.”
I wished I had an answer that wouldn’t displease him. I couldn’t tell him Helen spoke to me in dreams, or that I despised the shallow life I was leading, or that I missed my two unborn children and felt a miserable failure for losing them.
Edward demanded an answer. “Jane?”
I responded in a way I imagined would be easier to explain and forgive. “I would like more children.”
His jaw tightened. “Well, at least one more child,” I added.
He sighed. “Jane, it may not be part of God’s plan. You should be grateful that John is a healthy boy who will honour our legacy.” He squeezed my hand and searched my troubled eyes. “It does not become you to demand more than your share of happiness, and it makes me feel lacking.”
I had no right to wish for more, especially as I knew the hardships most people had to endure. “I’m sorry, Edward. You are right.” Tears swelled up from my troubled soul. “I have been blessed with a sturdy son and the perfect husband. I should not want for more.”
“You are still upset, but you will recover and realise it was for the better.”
I returned his kiss. I wanted to believe him with all my heart, but when I closed my eyes, I saw Helen in her white chemise, her feet bare, holding out her frail hand and asking me to save all of them, and my heart shattered into a million pieces.
From the Blurb
Relive the mystery and magic of Jane Eyre
Nine years after her marriage to Edward Rochester, Jane has everything she ever wished for. She is married to the man she loves and they have a healthy eight-year-old son. They live in a grand, new house, Eyre Hall, built on the grounds of Thornfield Hall.
Jane has the family she longed for and all the comforts money can buy, and yet she is discontented.
Mrs Rochester is dissatisfied with her opulent lifestyle, and she is tormented by cryptic nightmares in which Helen, her deceased best friend from Lowood Institution for Orphans, begs Jane for help.
When another friend from Lowood, Mary Anne Wilson, appears unexpectedly at Eyre Hall with distressing news, Jane realises she will not recover her peace of mind, fortitude, and passion unless she finds a way to keep the promise she made to Helen when she was a penniless orphan.
Resurgam is a standalone novella (Twelve chapters and 21,000 words), which can be read as a prequel to The Eyre Hall Series. The events narrated take place between 1853 and 1854, eleven years before Blood Moon at Eyre Hall, Book One of The Eyre Hall Series.