The story so far: Sir Jasper De Jasper has vowed to close down the St Justus Home, sending the Headless Orphans to the workhouse, due to massive rent arrears. However, he has promised to spare the home if young Cordelia Bright will agree to be his wife…
As the time approached for Sir Jasper to arrive for Cordelia’s answer, Matron Blessed invited her into her office.
“I know that this is a difficult time for you dear, it is not a decision that I would like to have to make. Be sure that I will give you my full support whichever way you choose. I have found in my life that all men are more or less beastly. It is in their nature. In many ways, there is little to choose between them. But not all men have power over the future of poor defenceless orphan children without any heads. I shall leave you here in the office so that you may ponder on that, before speaking to Sir Jasper privately. May The Lord bless you child, and lead you to do what is right.”
With that, the matron was gone, and Cordelia’s was left to sit and wait with only the ticking of the old grandfather clock for company. But was she quite alone.? A silent figure stepped forth from the alcove in the corner of the room and placed a hand upon her shoulder. Startled, she turned to see the headless figure of little Matthew. She smiled and placed her hand on his. He seemed like a friend in an hour of need. Could she be the same to him?
Suddenly the door to the office opened again, and In strode Sir Jasper De Jasper, resplendent in his jet black cloak, with his top hat and cane held deftly under his arm whilst he pulled off his gloves.
Both Cordelia and Matthew stiffened as he spoke.
“Well my dear! Have you come to a decision? Are you going to make me a happy man and be my darling wife? Till death do us part?” He licked his lips, and Cordelia noticed that his chin was glistening and moist, whether with drool or sweat, she could not determine.
“Well, little lady. I have come for an answer, and an answer I shall have!”
Cordelia opened her mouth but no sound came out. She was finding it difficult to find the words.
“Sir… She stammered “I cannot….”
“Speak child… You cannot what?” There was sweat all over his face, she could see fresh beads forming on his brow as she tried to look into his eyes.
“I cannot… I cannot come to a decision so soon!” She blurted out.
“Ohh, you cannot, can you?” sneered Sir Jasper. “Then allow me to assist you in making up your mind. He softly placed his accessories on the table and made a sudden grab for young Matthew’s shoulder, pulling the lad towards him. Then, pinning the boy to his chest with a strong arm, he jammed his thumb into the blowhole atop his neck, and a finger into his food hole. The boy tried to struggle, but could not escape SirJasper’s wicked grip.
“You see, if you decide not to marry me, things will get considerably worse for your headless orphan friends.” He tightened his grip, Matthew’s flesh was getting pale. “Without someone such as yourself to look out for them, all manner of misfortunes might befall the little darlings.”
Matthew’s skin was turning a delicate blue.
“Stop” shrieked Cordelia, “Stop, stop please, spare him, I beseech you. I’ll do anything! I’ll marry you.
At these words, Sir Jasper released the boy and pushed him roughly towards Cordelia. She held him tightly as he breathed heavily, his heart beating against her thigh.
“Good” drawled Sir Jasper. “That’s decided then” he picked up his things and turned for the door. “Shall we say this Saturday?”
As there was no reply, he answered his own question as he left.
“I rather fancy we shall”
Tomorrow, Sister Odium intervenes with a plan of her own!