My story will start out dark and gloomy, which may seem rather unlike the beginnings of other stories. However, my story is not a happy one. I lived no fairytale, and thus my story may not be appealing to you, my reader. Allow me to start with my background. My name is Hester Wilmont, and I am the daughter of a wealthy businessman and a middle class woman. Long ago, my father, Ezekiel Wilmont, met the woman whom he thought was his soul mate. The woman he had met was a woman named Lilian Fairfield. Lilian Fairfield was a middle class woman whose parents both worked in factories to keep their only daughter happy. She never worked a day in her life and was always dressed the best out of the young girls she had grown up with, and when the chance to marry a rich man came, she happily took it. They were married, and shortly after on grey morning in 1840, I was born. My father chose my first name, Hester, and my mother made the rest of my name 'Elizabeth Victoria', after two of England's best queens. My full name thus was Hester Elizabeth Victoria Wilmont, but only so to my mother.
In 1845, my father died in a horrible train accident. The train derailed on a bridge and fell into the water, and there were no survivors. My mother, horrified to be thrusted into widowhood, donned her black crepe with shame. Even as a five-year-old child, I could see that my mother truly had no care for my father's death. The only thing on her mind was the fact that she had an immense wealth, and barely any of it was spent on me and my education. So I took my education into my own hands and studied for myself. I studied books on physics, mathematics, languages, fine arts and cuisines, sewing and knitting, sciences and world geography for hours on end, and slowly, I became much brighter than I ought to have been had I attended school. I did have a governess named Sarah, but she was a drunkard and highly underpaid, so she could care less about whether I was taught or not.
Fast forward thirteen years, and I am eighteen years old. I stand tall and possess my father's bright blue eyes and dark hair. The year is now 1858, and ever since I was a child, I had dreamed of travelling the world. Well, perhaps now, I could do it. I proposed the idea to my mother, and in an attempt to act the motherly role, she lectured me, implying that 'proper ladies never travel on their own' and that 'if I wanted to travel the world, I had to do it married', so I decided to try and catch myself a husband. Having never even thought about nor been taught to catch a husband, I was not sure exactly what to do, so I attended more gatherings that I was invited to.
An old family friend, Mrs. Sarah Jane Hillman, was recently widowed due to her husband passing of the typhoid. She was perhaps older than sixty and even recalls being a child old enough during the French Revolution. She introduced me to her son, Jonathan Hillman, who was twenty-seven years of age. He was unmarried and took over his father's business when he was twenty-one, and above all, he was handsome. Women yearned for him, and even my mother was proud to hear that I had a meeting with Mr. Hillman at the next gathering. However, when I met him in person, things did not go as well as I had hoped. He described me as 'an ugly creature' and stated that I 'was too much of a man to be his bride'. I did not tell my mother of the events, but word got to her and she prided herself on being beautiful and stated that she 'felt sorry for herself in having birthed a hideous child'.
Perhaps a month after the incident, a woman by the name of Mrs. Emiliana Rochester introduced me to her son, Bradford Rochester. We spoke a few words, and he concluded that I was too educated to be his wife, and so my second attempt at finding a husband had also failed. Not long after, I was introduced to Henry Brady. He seemed friendly at first, but he turned out to be horribly conceited and consistently called me hideous as opposed to his 'gorgeous golden locks and handsome blue eyes'. To him, I was plain, and he exotic. I chose not to tie myself to a man who reminded me too much of my mother.
I gave it once last chance with a man that I had heard was visiting the area from out of town. He was a relative of a friend of Mrs. Emiliana Rochester's husband, and I was informed that his name was Edward Rosemont, and I was informed that he wished to travel the world with a woman he loves that loves him just as much. He seemed to fit everything that I had ever wanted, at least on paper. I met him at the gathering, and as I waited, a man with sweet earthly brown hair and handsome grey eyes bumped into me, spilling his beverage all over me.
"Oh, I do beg your pardon, Miss! I seem to have missed you there," he said to me in a handsome tone.
"Oh, dear… No, that is quite all right. I am unharmed, but only a bit damp," I told him. We both chuckled, and he gave me his handkerchief to wipe off excess liquid.
"Might I ask your name, Miss?" he said to me.
"Hester Wilmont," I told him. "I haven't seen you around. Are you visiting a friend?"
"A cousin, yes," he told me. "I was in Paris when I received word that our mutual uncle passed and the two of us had both received equal amounts of his fortune. Though neither of us met him, we both found interest in our benefactor's gift to us."
"I am terribly sorry for your loss, sir," I said to him, my gloved hand on his arm.
"As stated prior, I hadn't met him. I only knew of him through this letter, and I arrived to take part in negotiations as to who is getting what else, aside from the fortune. Pardon me, Miss Wilmont, for I am sure you have no interest in a man's business."
"Nonsense, sir, I am fascinated!" I exclaimed, then I blushed. "Do pardon my brashness…"
"No brashness to be had, Miss Wilmont," he told me with a smile. "Ah, there is my cousin. He dragged me along to this party that he was invited to and now I must speak with him. Good evening, Miss." He took my hand and pressed his handsome lips to it, then went on his way. I then took a seat, adjusting my hoops, and waited for Mr. Rochester to introduce me to Mr. Edward Rosemont. I waited perhaps ten minutes, then was informed to wait in the garden. I did as I was told and came across the man that I had met before.
"Well, good evening again," I said to him, and he turned to face me with a smile.
"Good evening, Miss Wilmont. A fine evening it is tonight, is it not? Not a cloud in the sky to conceal the glittering stars above. The moon herself, so pretty and pale, with her alabaster glow and curious blemishes upon her flawless face. So full and round tonight, is she, and she stands out gloriously against each and every twinkling star that are among her regal subjects. A curious thing, the moon… One shall begin to wonder how long she has stood there, hovering above her earthly kingdom," he said to me, his grey eyes shining silver in the moonlight.
"Forever, I thought," I said to him.
"Perhaps… Perhaps the Lord put her there long ago to light up the sky at night," said the man standing before me.
"It is possible," I said. "What brings you out here?"
"I am waiting for a beautiful woman that my cousin would like to introduce me to. I have been informed that her name is Miss Hester Wilmont." This man was Mr. Edward Rosemont, and he knew all along that I was the woman he was to be introduced to. He offered me his arm and I took it, then we strolled through the garden and talked. I learned that he wanted to travel the world and had been to places like India and China and America, and that he wanted to do the rest of his travelling with a loving companion. I myself blushed, and soon, the clock struck midnight. He told me that I ought to go to bed, and that the next morning, he would like to take me for a carriage ride.
Several weeks went by, and we found ourselves sitting on a blanket beside the Thames River. I had a lace parasol over my shoulder and a white bonnet on my head. My dress, too, was white and my hands were gloved in lace. Mr. Rosemont and I sat laughing while enjoying the summer sun, when he suddenly took my gloved hand in his. I removed my glove slowly, kissing my palm and my fingers individually. My teachings told me to pull my hand away, but my heart told me to allow him to continue. He stood and pulled me to stand, then led me to a wooden swing and instructed me to sit down. I did as I was told, my eyes never leaving his grey ones, and then he got down on one knee, took my hand in his and asked me to marry him.
I was shocked, surprised, and so joyously gay. He actually wanted me to marry him! A man who loved me and loved the same things I did actually wanted to marry me, and I knew then that I loved him more than anything. I shouted, "Yes!" and plans were made for the wedding to occur in a month's time. As my mother had my dress made and planned out all of the arrangements, I sat and daydreamed about all of the amazing adventures my bridegroom and I were to have. We could go exploring the rainforests of Brazil, see the Great Pyramids of Giza and even see the Great American Plains! I was so excited, and when Mr. Rosemont came by to check on how the arrangements were, he found me floating like a butterfly with glee.
"I see that you are quite excited to become my wife," said Mr. Rosemont, taking me into his arms and holding me.
"Only the happiest girl on the planet," I told him, and we shared a sweet and short kiss.
"A girl indeed. I never told you my age, my Hester. I hope that you are aware that you are eighteen-years-old and marrying a man of one-and-thirty years?" His age had never occurred to me before, but to me, it was only a number. Whether it be a large gap or a small one separating our ages, I honestly had no care. I wanted to marry him and become his wife, then travel the world with my loving and adoring husband by my side.
"'Tis no matter in my book, my dear Edward," I told him, taking his face in my hands. "I might be young and inexperienced, but I know for a fact that I love you." Silly me, indeed. I know you're reading this and thinking that I barely did any work to find my true happiness, but that day that Mr. Rosemont stopped by to see me was the very start of my journey to my true happiness.
As it turned out, Mr. Rosemont had promised matrimony to three other girls besides myself. Their fathers came demanding to know when Mr. Rosemont had planned on wedding their daughters, and my dear Mr. Rosemont did not know what to do. I was distraught knowing that I was not his true love, as he informed me that he was calling off his engagement to marry a wealthier girl from Wales named Ingrid Shea, and I found myself locked in my room crying for endless numbers of hours.
"Such a shame," said my mother one day as she stood in my doorway, watching me cry into my pillow. I looked up at her, half-expecting her to be sympathetic, but I was yet again silly in thinking so. "He marries the one with the most money. What a shame you are to this family! How dare I even call you my daughter?" I cried even harder as she left, her black mourning crepe trailing behind her. What was it that I had done to deserve such pain and lonesomeness? I had not a friend in the world, as they all shunned me when Mr. Rosemont – my sweet, darling Mr. Rosemont – rejected me for not being up to his standards of wealth. I should have known, but all was too late now. I had made up my mind to leave behind the world I knew for a world I didn't, and I left in the middle of the night.