Daily prompt · Short story

Obsessed? I think not…

Obsessed
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Obsessed?? My dear fellow, a lady of my social standing simply does not become ‘obsessed‘…  One might say that I am prideful of my heritage, of the legacy that my ancestors have worked hard to provide. As sole successor of my family dynasty, it is my responsibility to ensure that the respect which my family name demands is kept intact, and this is a responsibility which I would lay down my life for…

Until I am blessed with an heir, I will be the only guardian of this fate. Yes, my husband is here to be my support, my confidante, isn’t that what a husband is meant to be? However, my dear husband does not understand the importance of reputation, of social standing…

I blame myself… Having tragically lost both parents in an accident just five years ago, I had no-one to warn me of the dangers of marrying for love. Had I known then what I know now, I’m quite certain that I would have been happy enough to have wed an equal, a member of another successful, wealthy family, even if there was no love. At least he would understand…

The flash of his smile, the excitement which a backward glance from him would evoke in me, made me giddy. I lost all sensibility, and was immersed in a whirlwind romance which saw us wed just three months after we met. I never suspected that he might have been with me for anything other than love… We were happy. We still are happy. But something has changed…

It was eight weeks after our wedding when we were travelling to Richmond to visit some friends. It had been a tiring journey, made no better by the extremities of the weather. We stopped to rest the horses, and I was immediately struck by the squalor of our surroundings. If I were alone I would never have left the safety of my carriage, but, having my new husband by my side, I felt brave, daring…

Although my husband is not my social equivalent, he is  easily able to give the impression that we are equals. Nobody would question his authority – he exudes confidence and stature…

While we were seated in a tavern, awaiting the horses and partaking in some refreshments, she had the audacity to approach us. I had seen her looking at us from across the room, but the way she swayed over, with a smile playing on her lips, I could feel my alarm growing. The fact that she had so much gall, such confidence, when it was painfully obvious that she was an unfortunate woman, an insignificant. I had come across toffers in my time, but this woman was of a different breed.  She was dirty, stank to high heaven, and lewd. And unfortunately, she wasn’t the only of her kind in there…

My disdain was obviously apparent when she spoke to my new husband, calling him by his name! Why on earth would my dear husband know a person such as this? From the way that she spoke to him, with a twinkle in her eye as she glanced at me and my apparent finery, she could hardly keep the glee from her voice… My husband, grabbing her roughly by the wrist, tried to evade the ensuing situation by steering her outside. I felt so alone at that point. I could not create a scene, follow them outside demanding an explanation (although every fibre of my being screamed out at me to). I sat, uncomfortably, with my hands folded in my lap until my husband returned for me.

I needn’t have waited long for this, as after a couple of minutes my husband returned, looking flustered and agitated. He spoke to me gently, trying to calm my worry with soothing words and promises of explainations. Of course I needed no explainations. I knew from the outset that my husband knew this woman. I knew that he was very familiar with her, and from the glances which passed between one or two others in the tavern, I guess that it was very possible that he knew others just as intimately. Call it my female intuition if you will, but I knew…

The ensuing journey was spent deep in thought, interrupted with soothing words from my husband to pacify my worry. However, he had it wrong, so very wrong. He thought that I felt betrayed, that I would be heartbroken to learn that he had once used the services of these women (quite frequently I learned, as he’d had lodgings with a cousin in the locality of the area a year before). However, I am not stupid. I am not so weak that it breaks my heart to find these discoveries. However, what does fill me with despair is the worry of what irreparable damage this may do to our reputation. That I would allow a scandal such as this to tear apart what my father, and his father before him, had worked so hard to give me…

And so, here I stand, not proud of my actions, but they were a necessary evil. I mentioned before that I would lay down my life to keep the honour of my family name, and I stand by that statement. My husband needs not know what I have done, he was never aware of the danger he had placed us in. I could not leave things to chance or circumstance however…

I know about the danger of blackmail, the feelings of shame, of scandal. Not because I have experienced it myself – no,  as God is my witness I would never let that happen…

The first time was the hardest. I never meant it to become so violent. However, remembering the look in her eye as she spoke to my husband, MY HUSBAND!!  It filled me with a rage which I never knew I possessed. A haze settled around me as I doled out my revenge, as if it were being distributed by somebody else. The sight of blood has never bothered me. Being the daughter of a surgeon, the grand-daughter of a surgeon, means that I am quite anesthetized by such sights…

Over the last two years I have had to exact this punishment a number of times to ensure that I had eradicated the risk to my family. I still stumble across new names in my pursuit for the facts, which means that my work is ongoing…

So, my learned friend, I admonish you for thinking me ‘obsessed’. I simply refuse to let anything tarnish me and mine. As God is my witness, I will ensure that our family name, Jacques, will be upheld with the honour and respect it deserves…
 

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