“It’s no trouble,” Ms Jane chuckled, shrugging. “It is a well-known fact that while Mrs Evie is very kind and approachable, she is also intent on leaving no man or woman single.”
I laughed at her words.
“It seems Ms Jane was a victim as well?”
“Of course. It would be unnatural for the opposite to happen.”
“…I’ll apologize in Mrs Evie’s stead. She is not my mother, but we’ve been close since childhood, so I feel a sense of responsibility.”
At that, Ms Jane smiled pleasantly and reached out her hand in greeting.
As I unintentionally grabbed the hand and shook it, I remembered belatedly that this was a rare greeting for women of this age.
I put my hand down and took a step back and introduced myself to her.
“My name is Emily Carter.”
“I’ve heard the lady’s name often! I eagerly follow your novels.”
“It’s an honour, so please feel free to call me by my name.”
“Likewise, Ms Emily. Please call me Jane as well.”
Jane spoke with a smile on her face. “You said something interesting to Mrs Blount earlier.”
‘Is she referring to the woman who passed out earlier?’
As I acknowledged her, Ms Jane continued.
“Is the lady really capable of talking to the souls of the dead?”
At that, I laughed heartily.
“I was just trying to scare her. Why, is Ms Jane interested in that?”
Jane nodded lightly.
“Actually, it’s a matter of professional interest.”
“I am a medium.”
I opened my eyes wide at her words.
‘Mediums… it’s a popular occult ritual in these times.’
A necromancer or a medium was a sorcerer that could summon the spirits of the dead to converse with them. It was very popular in London’s social circles.
With people holding hands and sitting around a table, the magician summons a soul with the lights off.
A popular ritual these days was the ‘talking board’.
Mediums talked to spirits using the board, which had the alphabet written on it.
In my last life, that ‘talking board’ would be called the Ouija board.
Due to its popularity, there were a lot of accidents. Some necromancers performed these dangerous rituals without adequate preparation.
Some say that they were possessed by the spirits they summoned and were placed in mental hospitals.
Others said that they went insane due to the summoned spirit’s presence.
‘But there are some famous necromancers these days.’
Lately, the Fox Sisters and Madame Talbot were the most famous, but since the woman in front of me introduced herself as ‘Jane’, she was probably not either of them.
My mind wandered, making me wonder what Jane’s last name would be.
“Since the lady is a necromancer, may I ask for a ritual?”
Out of courtesy, Ms Jane nodded her head casually and handed me something.
“Please drop by sometime,” Jane replied with a smile.
What she handed was a business card with her office address and phone number on it.
The moment I looked into it, thinking it was too plain a design for a necromancer’s business card, I was in shock.
『 Invitation to Jane’s conference.
Don’t miss out on the rare chance to converse with the spirits of the dead.
455 Congress Street, Clap Block. 』
Apart from the mediocre promotional text and the address that seemed to be somewhere in a middle-class residential area, what startled me was the full name of Miss Jane, written below it.
“Are you really…”
“Yes?” Miss Jane looked at me questioningly.
She tilted her head and then gave a friendly smile.
“Ah yes. People I’m not familiar with call me that, but… Emily, please call me Jane.”
Still, I couldn’t take my eyes off the name on the card.
In the end, I ended up repeating the same thing over and over again.
“So you really are…Miss Eyre?”
Published in 1847 by the British novelist Charlotte Bronte, it was one of the greatest literary works of fiction with a female protagonist.
‘Jane Eyre’, the main character, was a woman admired and loved by many women in the future.
…So why the hell was she here?
‘And as a necromancer, of all things!’
As I stared blankly at Jane Eyre’s face, still dazed, a familiar voice resounded in my head.
‘The signs of mysterious powers are visible in her.’
… …Yes, boss.
As someone who had seen the life of a 21st-century person first-hand, the words came naturally,
‘This time, you shall investigate Jane Eyre’s circumstances.’
Even if the King in Yellow hadn’t ordered me.
There were still many reasons to approach her.
* * *
Last night, I kept Jane occupied for a long time without letting her leave.
‘Perhaps it was a fan’s earnest heart.’
Miss Jane kindly answered all my questions.
After talking for quite a while, I came to the conclusion that ‘Jane Eyre’ I met was different only in the setting, as her personality itself was not very different from the original.
‘That’s why I’m more excited.’
And the next morning, at Lestrade’s dinner with the family.
I hummed as I cut the meat on the plate with a knife.
“Emily, did something good happen?”
At the words of Mrs Evie, I smiled and nodded.
“Ah yes. I got along very well with the person I met at the party yesterday.”
“Oh, really? Could that be…”
A moment when you want Mrs Lee’s eyes to shine like those of a wild beast.
After that, Chris chimed in cheerfully.
“Emily really hasn’t changed since before.”
I stopped slicing the steak and looked at him for a moment.
The mischievous boy who used to wander around with messy hair in his childhood had disappeared. Instead of him, a dignified young man was in front of me. It was both unfamiliar and welcome.
“Chris, you look like a different person.”
“The last time we saw each other was almost 10 years ago, so growing up in the meantime was inevitable, right?”
Shortly after getting married to Randolph, I was invited by the Lestrades to the very house I was currently in for a meal.
Chris was only in his early teens at the time.
“After that, I lived in the university dormitory, so we hardly saw each other.”
I chatted with Chris for some more time.
Aunt Evie, who was watching our conversation happily, intervened.
“By the way, Emily.”
“The one you talked about at yesterday’s party was the person you got along well with…”
Aunt Evie’s voice sounded strangely passionate.
Seeing her blushing on her cheeks and her expectant voice, I understood the situation at once.
‘You must have misunderstood.’
I held back my laughter and answered her.
“Unfortunately, Aunt Evie, the person I was talking about was a woman, not a man.”
“Miss Jane, the person who came to inform you yesterday.”
“…Oh, you mean Miss Jane?”
When Jane Eyre’s name came out, Chris’ eyes, sitting next to him, seemed to widen for a moment.
He listened quietly without interrupting my conversation with Aunt Evie.
“Yeah, even though we met for the first time yesterday, we got along very well. It’s like we’ve known each other for a long time.”
In fact, it was not a lie to say that I had known her for a long time, since she was someone I greatly admired in my previous life.
Aunt Evie’s reaction was lukewarm.
“I see. Miss Jane is intelligent, everyone knows that…”
After a moment’s hesitation, she continued.
“It is a pity that her relationship with Mr Rochester ended like that.”
My eyes widened at the familiar name.
‘I assumed that Jane was still single because she was called Miss.’
I didn’t know how different the setting here was from the original, and I didn’t ask Jane at all because her love life was a private matter.
But I never imagined that I would hear the name ‘Rochester’ from Aunt Evie’s lips.
“Why, the young owner of the Thornfield mansion, where Miss Jane worked as a tutor.”
…Oh my goodness.
Not only Jane Eyre but Rochester as well.
While holding back the exclamation that was about to burst, Evie continued.
“Thornfield’s residents often searched for young and well-groomed tutors for little children. However, for some reason, they always seemed to change tutors.”
By ‘child’, they meant Adele, the illegitimate daughter of Rochester, right?
“Anyway, Mr Rochester proposed to Miss Jane only three months after she was hired there. That was already a couple of months ago, triggering large chatter among the London women.”
Ho-oh, I pricked my ears.
Chris, who was as focused on this story as I was, came into view.
‘Is Christ an acquaintance of Miss Jane?’
Soon, shocking information poured out of Aunt Evie’s mouth.
“But Miss Jane turned it down. Even though I told her that it would greatly benefit her… ”
I thought of Jane who was talking to me yesterday.
The image of us vigorously shaking hands, and her handing me a business card nonchalantly, telling me that she works as a medium filled my head.
‘Basically, she is the Jane from the original but much more daring and outspoken.’
Considering that, it was understandable that Rochester’s proposal was rejected.
I smiled bitterly as I recalled the plot of Jane Eyre.
‘When I was young, the story felt so romantic.’
As I got older, those feelings faded.
Moreover, my hatred for Rochester who enticed a woman 20 years younger than him while already having a wife grew.
‘You kept your mad wife secretly locked up in the mansion.’
I was immersed in the thought that it was a story that was more like a horror than a romance.
“Wasn’t it a little foolish of Ms Eyre? It’s impossible to find a better husband. Of course, there are rumours that Mr Rochester is a flirt, but his annual income is over £10,000 and he’s still unmarried.”
…Rochester is a flirt?
I was momentarily surprised by the different setting from the original, but I kept my mouth shut and let her speak.
— — —
TL Note: And thus starts the new arc~ I hope you enjoy!