The First Born
"...when his first-born was put into his arms, he could see that the boy had inherited his own eyes, as they once were: large, brilliant and black...."
Charlotte Bronte's 'Jane Eyre
I was up and dressed before the dawn, although there was no pressing business to be attended to that day. I tied my boots and braided my hair, then returned to stand beside our bed once more. Edward slept on, unaware that the space beside him had been vacated an hour since. I straightened the blankets I had slept in, and seated myself beside his sleeping figure.
For five weeks I had waited for this. Well, two years actually. But the last five weeks especially had kept me in state of excited uncertainty and unbearable suspense. I was not accustomed to keeping any secrets from my beloved, and on many occasions my lips had trembled with my barely withheld tidings. Yet I had resisted. I did not know for certain, and although I anticipated his delight, I could not have borne his disappointment had it turned out that my suspicions were wrong after all.
With the curtains drawn back, I watched the thin golden light of morning melt away the greyish gloom of pre-dawn. I felt an irrepressible smile steal across my face as I observed my husband's sleeping form.
He was not handsome - not even the gentle radiance of the morning light could soften his stern features. But he was part of me and I loved him far more deeply than I could have loved even the fairest Apollo. In the same way, I knew that by any other person's standards, I was small, obscure and rather plain - but to him I was beautiful, and he needed me as I needed him.
As the sun rose steadily higher and the light grew brighter, he began to stir a little. He reached sleepily toward the space where I usually lay, but his hand did not connect with the familiar form. He woke at once.
"Jane?" he called softly, raising his head and looking around him in a fruitless gesture of habit.
Edward is blind, although his sight improves slowly. And though he tries to suppress it, it troubles him when he can not touch or hear me to know where I am.
I reached out and gripped his hand at once.
"I'm here," I soothed.
He relaxed immediately, then sat up in bed.
"I can feel the warmth of the light in this room," he said presently, "but if I am any judge the sun has not long been up. What time is it, Jane?"
"It is not yet past six, sir," I replied. I was still smiling, the warmth of the sun being nothing compared with the joyous warmth of my news, or with the glorious warm glow of life which I was certain I could feel growing within me.
"Not yet past six?" Queried Edward, who was smiling himself now, "Then what in the devil are you doing up, you vexing creature? Fairy as you are, you ought only be out at dawn, dusk, or on starlit nights. Come back to bed." He opened his arms to receive me and I did not hesitate to move within their loving circle.
"Why Jane, you are dressed already," said he, feeling the texture of my day clothes. "Have you some mysterious engagement I have not been told about?"
"No sir," I answered, "My only engagement is with you."
"I can hear a smile in your voice - no, don't deny it, I can hear it very distinctly. What are you grinning about, imp? What is this mysterious behavior - rising so early, giving me such a horrible fright before the sun has even risen properly. You are up to something, and I demand to know what it is!"
"You shall know, and soon enough," I replied enigmatically, drawing this sweet moment out for as long as I could. I added mischievously, "Though I shan't tell you anything if you speak like that."
"Speak like what?"
"As you just did - 'demanding' to know what I was up to."
"Have I not a right to know what wickedness you have been doing? What spells you have been casting over my sleep?"
"There, now you are talking nonsense again! I have been sitting beside you these past three hours at least. Nothing more."
"Why do you keep this vigil?"
"For purposes of observation. I wanted to watch you, and to be there when you awoke."
"That's all very well, but why?"
"You're being demanding again."
He chuckled, amused by my evasion.
"Alright, I submit. Please will you give me the reason for your peculiarities this morning... if indeed there is a reason. I suspect you have formulated this whole affair simply to vex and confuse me."
I cried out in mock indignation, "Indeed, you wrong me sir! I would not dream of such an endeavor!"
"I would settle for a clue, then. But I can not spend the rest of the morning playing your games!" His voice became more serious, "Nothing is wrong, is it Jane? There is nothing you wish to impart for which you would like me in a more serious frame of mind?"
I pretended to consider his question, but my silence only worried him.
I calmed him with a happy laugh, saying only that "I was simply wondering what clue I might give you. I can not think of anything subtle enough. I do have something serious to impart, but the frame of mind in which you receive it is up to you."
"You frustrating changling. Speak clearly! It is too early for riddles."
"Very well. This is your one and only clue."
I paused, and looked up into his face. Impulsively, I kissed the darling face which gazed unseeingly straight ahead. He communicated with his voice and hands what he might otherwise have said with his eyes.
Then, very slowly and solemnly, I took his hand in mine and pressed it gently to my stomach.
I looked again to his face. It bore an expression of benevolent affection, which melted into a brief moment of confusion, then reformed into a look of incredulous realization.
He swallowed hard, then murmured, "Jane, I -" and stopped again.
"Yes, sir?" I asked softly, trying to hold back the thrilled laughter that bubbled to my throat.
"Jane, is... Are you - "
"Yes, sir." I managed to keep my voice soft and certain, but only for a few moments. Finally, the rapturous joy which I had been trying to conceal for over a month gave way to a wave of joyous emotion that swept us both off our feet.
We were laughing and crying and holding each other so tightly that my arms were aching, but I didn't care.
I was going to have a baby. Praise be to God, we were going to be parents.
© 1999 Copyright held by the author.
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