I have not had the heart to write for weeks, such sorrow has fallen on Meadow's Rest. Terrible rumors have followed James home. They say he sent a sealed confession to the Royal Geographical Society, but I have not been allowed to read it. The ladies of the Temperance Union shun me now, and whisper scandal behind closed doors. Wicked jealousy has driven them to this. Such dull creatures could not bear a joyous union as my marriage was, two perfect souls in harmonic sympathy.
It is they that must be rifling my letters, desperate to find an incrimination. They would not gossip so if my husband were whole and healthy. He could defy their invective with a single manful laugh, and drive their spying to naught. I openly display our correspondence, laced with James' noble, uncorruptable script. They point instead to the small journal found in his things, and a strangely shaped idol. The journal is not his; it's pages are filled with an indecipherable scrawl.
The idol is a queer, hooked club, very savage in shape and hewn of ivory. It was not listed in the manifest. Whatever it's purpose, the strange smooth shape holds a fascination for me, and I have taken it as a remembrance. Perhaps it was the last thing touched by my true husband, the real, sane, powerful James that I remember.
It is tied beneath my petticoats now, fastened to my stomach by its leather straps. The warmth and weight of it against my skin gives me a primitive joy. In times of grief, I fondle this remnant of James, and apply it as a widow's relief. At other moments, it is enough to simply feel its presence, a virile echo of all I have lost.
Naturally, James does not yet know about little Albert. He has not returned to a state fit to receive the shock. Oh, I grieve. I was at his bedside when my child left the world. He struggled so feebly with the soft quilt that covered him, so weak that he could not even raise it from his breast. It was intolerable that my baby, once so fat and venturesome, could have become this thin, sick dispairity of a child. On the night he left us, I could bear his wordless bleating no longer!
I was resolved to do what my strange friend refused. The cooling belladonna (or "kind mother" from the Ital.) had failed. My sin was gradual; I should not have given it drop to drop, but ocean to ocean. Now dear Albert sucked the bottle dry, and worried avidly at the nipple affixed to it. It lent his cheeks a flush they have not seen these months, and that was all.
The melancholy sight of the empty phial took moved my weak woman's heart. Resolute, I lifted Albert from the crib, and carried him out into the garden, the refuge of his absent protector. It was there that I pressed my child, quivering in the last ecstasies of life, into the English soil. With my own hands, I covered Albert, still trembling, with a dark, fertile, final blanket. Before the last moment, I turned him over, as I had so often done, and kissed his ivory cheeks for the final time.
I felt no relief. The freedom I had sought for Albert had arrived, but in fleeing this plane as ectoplasm, he had left me trapped, clothed in oppressive flesh. It was as if a terrible weight had descended, and I was crushed to the earth and the grave of my child.
Only then did I feel the hopping man's presence, within me. Delirious with sensation, as if his own strong arms wrapped my body, I was filled to bursting, his soul overflowing my own, splitting me in two. As I writhed on the earth above, I felt my son writhe in the earth below, and I released a single sobbing cry, my first since childhood, and fell upon the fetish hanging between my legs. I awoke in the garden, alone, as I must now forever be.