Chapter 10

Written by: Ray Stone

My dear son,

I ask your forgiveness and understanding in this, my confession. The Lord has seen fit to end my punishment and let me find peace in death. The following letter is a true account, as best I remember it, of the sin that cast our family into hell and left you alone and without parental love.

Your grandparents who took great care of you were not privy to most of what you are about to learn here. Indeed, no-one except Mr. Kirkman knows of these contents, hitherto kept close to my heart.

Two years after Mary was born I knew about the Leprosy after consulting our doctor about lesions on my skin. He was sure I would not show outward signs for several years or more. Mary would also suffer due to our closeness and oft times sleeping in each other’s arms. Being a month away from bearing you, I gave the grave news to your father. Together, we decided that the social implications would commit myself and Mary to a terrible colony outside the city and for him, if devoid of the disease, a shunning from work and a life of misery in a poorhouse. 

Our only concern was for Mary and yourself. For you, a life of ignorance until you commanded sense and understanding and for your sister a place where she would be warmed by my love in peaceful surroundings. After you were born, your grandparents took you away, and for four years we met you on each Sabbath before you were sent to boarding school. 

It was in your eighth year that my disease began to show and through my doctor, sought refuge at Harper Fields. Your father had agreed not to discuss my whereabouts, and so I started my life again, caring for the sick. It was with great concern that I learned of your father’s arrest, but he managed to send an instruction that for Mary and your sake, I remain silent. Your grandparents were swayed by wagging tongues. They lay the blame of my disappearance at your father’s feet for sinning with another woman while I was with child and that, besotted with that woman, disposed of Mary and me.

Your father went to his death a strong-willed man who showed much love and concern for his children. It is within the spiritual silence of the hospital that I have kept the biggest secret of all that has been my punishment, for it was not your father who broke the seventh commandment - it was me. It was I who lay with another. My sin was the greater for in your father’s death, his silence saved Mary much misery and you the chance to build a gentleman’s reputation. 

Forgive me, Wilber, and remember your father as a good man. May your life be blessed with good fortune and health.

I carefully placed the letter in my pocket, and with emotions overflowing, held my head high and wept.

Comments

I think this is one of your very best stories Ray. It has humanity and captures the period perfectly. It also takes the reader into a world restricted by social stigma that few of us can imagine today. But the telling itself, has movement, light and shade and the people are multi-dimensional with a shadow cast over them that slowly lifts. It is really good.
I am trying really hard to lift my standard of writing and putting a lot of pre writing thought into characters emotions as well as descriptive work. Your words are very encouraging. Thank you so much.
Beautifully crafted. I like what you've done with sentence structure to create such an authentic voice. Are we going to see a historical novel from you in the future, Ray?
Funny you should ask. Bruce and Suraya have commented on this style and I am working on a short story (writers pad) that is rough at the moment but I'll see how it goes. It could turn into a novel depending on one of those moments when the mind suddenly takes off into storyland, expanding the plot. Thanks for your comment and support.