III. Jeremy Rochester.

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Mid June, thirteenth, the Great Britain was down in profoundest mourning. Bells were tolling. And Dickens had said it just right…

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.

Far south, on the English Channel coast, Gad’s hill place near Winchester County, Hampshire_ That very man, the great Charles Dickens lay tranquil, exhausted out of life and eternally-in-sleep, his burial still an ambivalent future and the newspapers kept quoting his undead excerpts. The remains of an unparalleled writer. His Lucie Manette and Sydney Carton. His Christmas Carol and David Copperfield.

And an abridged legacy of incomplete Edwin Drood.

It had been three days since April arrived at Wilfred and still raining.

She had nearly forgotten what rain in the country was like.

She had forgotten the fierce green that infested the earth, when lakes and streams would suddenly be quenched to the brims and she had forgotten how grey haze blanketed the sky as heaven wallowed in soft sorrow. Forest got dotted of gardenias and weeds burst at the seams in the swamp.  Drizzles used to make Wilfred Park as picturesque as it came.

April’s mama’s garden had been blooming with the best of its peonies and the air smelt of larkspurs and Astillbe. Thistles hung aloofly along the fences, trembling whenever the thunder clapped and rippled the humid air.

Roses were everywhere. It was the season of roses.

June.

Twilight shower still cascading around like a vapid, velvet curtain; April sat in the balcony of Mildred mansion, taking slow, tactless  bites of the chocolate cake she had been so not supposed to eat before dinner. Her eyes were zeroed on the other side of the valley, through the haze and beyond the birches, where stood the grand, historic Maplebell.

That other half of her lost, elapsed world.

Her upbringing had an intricacy to that place. She had larked about with the boys for as long as she could remember. Father allowed. Mother hardly disapproved. Everybody knew of that feminist bone Lord and Lady Mildred possessed.

“You eat like a man.”

April’s spoon broke in proceeding halfway her mouth. A smile tugged her lips, her eyes came back onto the spoon and then at the balustrade door.

Jeremy Rochester was leaning coolly against the glass French door, his one hand gracefully rooted in his pocket, another playing with a square, urbane looking card. A figure of manly grace. His smile was boyish, but in search of a stronger shape.

His ivy eyes, playful.

An odd specialty, she believed. April couldn’t remember his eyes being anything but.

“Coveting me Jeremy, are you? We all know how graceful I am.”

Jeremy smirked, straightening. “We sure do, Miss Mildred. I could hear you chomping from downstairs.”

“Oh Indignations! Is that how you complement a lady, Mr. Rochester?” April licked the chocolate off the corners of her lips, duly ignoring the napkin on the table. “Caution, old friend! Mischief is not a much desired propensity in social companions.”

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