For the rest of the day I was in a state of agitation. I had managed to govern my senses somewhat where Jasper was concerned, but now I completely lost control of my mind and it spun wildly in a universe of its own. All I could think was, he knows I love him, God, what is he going to do?
Maggie saw my edginess and commented, “Lord love us girl, you're out of sorts today. That's the third time I've asked you to pick basil and you've brought me back parsley. What's with you?”
I made some excuse about feeling poorly and escaped as soon as I could to my chamber late in the afternoon. I stood by the window and took some deep breaths and leaned my hot forehead against the pane. I had to leave the rectory. I couldn't continue to work here now that Jasper had this kind of control over me. I was under no illusion the feelings were returned. How could they be? There was no way I, a poor pock-marked housemaid, could compare to the kind of rich, beautiful women he would love and admire.
Feeling sick at the thought, I undressed and went to bed. I soon fell into a hot, restless sleep and my dreams followed suit. I found myself outside a closed door, which I couldn't open no matter how much I tried. Finally in desperation I kicked it angrily and yanked the handle. Inside was a bed in disarray and I started to tidy and straighten the bedclothes, but when I reached under the covers a cool hand grasped my wrist and pulled me down into the darkness. I could feel hot breath on my face and hands on my waist.
“No!” I cried as I squirmed and twisted to get away.
“Mercy, it's me”, said Jasper's voice in my ear, and I instantly stopped struggling. The darkness gave way to light and I knew rather than saw that it was him. A red sheet was draped around his body. Our faces were so close I could see each individual eyelash framing his liquid brown eyes.
When I looked down I saw that no more did I have pox scars on my arms and hands and when I touched my face it was smooth and unblemished. Tears of relief leaked out of my eyes. To be with Jasper like this and be disfigured would be unbearable.
“Mercy, you are so beautiful,” he said and traced a finger down the curve of my cheek. “This is what I want, you like this,” his hand moved down my waist and my head swum with desire.
“Isn't this what you want?” he said and pushed away the sheet covering him. I stared in horror at the deeply pitted scars scattered all over his body.
“Isn't this what you want?” he repeated, laughing mockingly and trying to press up against me. I recoiled in disgust, “No! No!” I cried “I want you to be perfect! I thought you were perfect!”
Jasper just laughed and grabbed my head and tried to kiss me with lips that were blistered with pox pustules. I screamed and woke up. I lay there in the darkness, sweaty and shaking. The dream was so upsetting to me that I cried for some time, and wondered what it could mean.
I knew one thing for sure, the next time Sebastian asked me to clean Jasper's chamber I would ask Maggie to do it.