Friday, 23 August 2013

Letters from the Windward Islands

[The dressing-room] "seemed crowded after the emptiness of the rest of the house.  There was a carpet, the only one I had seen, a press made of some beautiful wood I did not recognize.  Under the open window a small writing-desk with paper, pens, and ink. "A refuge" I was thinking when someone said, 'This was Mr. Mason's room, sir, but he did not come here often.  He did not like the place.'  ...

.... I sat on the soft narrow bed and listened.  Not  a sound except the river. I might have been alone in the house.  There was a crude bookshelf made of three shingles strung together over the desk and I looked at the books, Byron's poems, novels by Sir Walter Scott, Confessions of an Opium Eater, some shabby brown volumes, and on the last shelf,  Life and Letters of...   The rest was eaten away.

  Dear Father, we have arrived from Jamaica after an uncomfortable few days.  This little estate in the Windward Islands is part of the family property and Antoinette is much attached to it.  She wished to get here as soon as possible.   All is well and has gone according to your plans and wishes.  I dealt of course with Richard Mason. ..... This place is very beautiful but my illness has left me too exhausted to appreciate it fully.  I will write again in a few days' time.

I reread this letter and added a postscript:
 
   I feel that I have left you too long without news for the bare announcement of my marriage was barely news.  I was down with fever for two weeks after I got to Spanish Town.  Nothing serious but I felt wretched enough.  I stayed with the Frasers, friends of the Masons.... It was difficult to think or write coherently.  In this cool and remote place it is called Granbois (the High Woods I suppose) I feel better already and my next letter will be longer and more explicit.

A cool and remote place...  And I wondered how they got their letters posted.  I folded mine and put it into a drawer of the desk.
As for my confused impressions they will never be written.  There are blanks in my mind that cannot be filled up."

Wide Sargasso Sea  Jean Rhys


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