Authors: Mark C. King
May Roland Oxley find the peace in death that he never had in life.
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The Strand Magazine
of the article:
by Charlotte Merrihail
It is happening. The decency of man has risen above ignorance and apathy to improve the care and welfare of those who are considered insane. Donations, monetary and otherwise, have been pouring in. Committees have been formed to better officiate the treatment of these poor individuals. Will the momentum continue or die out? Time will tell, but we have a starting point in which to rally around.
I would like to talk about my friend Jenaca Rose. As my original article stated, she was admitted by her husband for being sad at the loss of her new born child. The lack of love shown by a husband for his wife is staggering. Instead of being the protection and comfort she needed, he chose not to deal with her and pawned her off to Bedlam.
I am happy to report that she has been reexamined fairly and has been declared completely sane. This is of no surprise to me as I spent enough time with Jena to know that she was as normal a woman as any other in London.
To say that all was good, now that she was released, would not be appropriate. She was dreadfully nervous at meeting her husband again, not knowing exactly how she would feel or how he would react. Obviously she would be angry, but could she possibly become his wife once more?
That question will probably never be answered. Her one-time home was now occupied by strangers, her husband having moved out some years prior. Without a forwarding address, there was no way she could easily locate him, and without him, she found herself homeless.
I could not bear having Jena end up in a woman’s home, working the most menial of tasks for a pittance that would barely allow her to survive. She would almost be better off in Bedlam – almost. As a single woman, I had room for Jena to become my flat mate. Besides feeling that I owed her for the kindness she showed me, I truly have found a friend. This living arrangement has only made me angrier at her husband, for how could such a wonderful person be abandoned and thought to be insane.
With help from friends, both at the newspaper and at Scotland yard, a search was conducted to locate Jena’s husband. Between the notoriety he had garnered from my initial report along with the superlative help of all these friends, I was completely shocked that he was not located. The general consensus is that he changed his name and started a new life – likely outside of Britain. Some believe that he died, but there is no record of it to be found. In any event, he was gone. Officials, mercifully, decided quickly to declare him dead due to his prolonged absence. A bit of monthly income from his pension has given a bit of stability for my friend.
In conversation with Jena, she still has very mixed emotions about husband. A part of her missed him. This man had, at one time, been a loving and caring gentleman that she fell in love with. To remember him that way makes her sad that he was gone. Although she also recognizes, that in many ways, that man she married had died not long after her child had. I am struck by the human ability to rationalize, that can allow us to make terrible choices, but also has the ability to overcome the faults in others. Jena has proven herself far more forgiving, more generous with her love, then I think I could ever be. But, to be fair, I cannot truly imagine what she has gone through and what she feels, so I may be incorrect in my self judgement.
Coming to terms with her new situation has proven a slow process, but a mostly enjoyable one. The food alone continues to put a smile on her face that probably would not be possible in the asylum. She is interviewing for jobs now and will no doubt be hired soon. She is starting her life over, a single woman with no family, and two friends – myself and Annelise Devine.
As mentioned prior, Annelise Devine is an ongoing friend of Jena’s and of mine. This friendship is easy to continue as Anne was also appropriately released from Bedlam. Her situation of being imprisoned for being a strong-willed woman was quickly overturned. She mentioned how the doctor’s marveled at her situation, at the absurdity – and cruelty – of her ever being admitted as a patient.
Like Jena, Anne’s release was not without some difficulties. Her family was easily found, but her welcome was lukewarm at best. My initial article brought great embarrassment to the Devine family – well deserved, I might add – and to see the person that they hold responsible for it all was not a pleasant experience for any of them. Still, they had no choice but to take her in or else face even more embarrassment.
Anne does not spend much time at home, if she can avoid it. Their coldness towards her is not unexpected, but still not enjoyable to be around. However, it is not all bad news. The Devine family do seem to be slowly warming to her. It is an atrocious thought, but the time spent in Bedlam, or, more likely, just the passing of time, has made Anne a calmer person than in her youth – This has led her family to feel justified in their actions towards her. I, of course, disagree, but I cannot control their feelings. With her calmer demeanor, her family has been receptive to a gradual reconciliation. Perhaps with more time they will treat her like an actual family member and not a begrudged house guest.
Anne, Jena, and I meet regularly and enjoy each other’s company. I have no doubt that these fine women will be approached for courtship and hopefully receive in full the life they deserve.
I need to make the readers aware of the situation of one other remarkable person, Marcus Savoy, better known by his nickname of Pocket. At this time, he still lives in Bedlam with his mother. She is one of the patients that benefits from the help that Bedlam can provide.
I checked with the authorities on what would become of Pocket and they said that there are no hard and fast rules. So far they have concluded that taking him from his mother and putting him into an orphanage did not seem like the right decision to make, so they have left him. However, the question of schooling and his future needed to be answered.
On one of my weekly visits with him – in which I always provide a bag of treats – I was able to share with him and his mother some wonderful news.
The Strand Magazine
was going to pay for Pocket to go to a very nice boarding school near London. Here, he will not only be taught well for his future, but he will be with his peers. A normal, if not an above average, experience for this deserving young boy.
The thought of being away from his mum frightened him some, but when he realized that this was a normal feeling that most boys have at the thought of boarding school, he started to focus more on the positives. Classes, friends, sports – a new and wonderful world.
I will be paying close attention to his progress and am happy to now be known as his ‘Auntie Charlotte.’
This follow-up article hopefully serves the purpose of not only showing positive outcomes of some of the people you were introduced to in my initial Bedlam Asylum story, but also show that the proper attention can accomplish good things.
I congratulate you readers for taking the needed action that the information had demanded. To share with you the above accounts is just a taste of the good you have accomplished.
I questioned our goodness, our very humanity in what our response would be. I have a warm feeling in the knowledge that humanity, that goodness lives on!
I must acknowledge the help of two individuals whom I have never actually met, Annelise and Jenaca. Both can be found on Instagram (@AnneliseLeStrange and @JenacideByBibliophile) and I highly recommended following them.
They volunteered to read this story as it was being written and provided page upon page of feedback along the way. I would like to think that this story would have been good without them, but it is unquestionably better with their help.
Thank you both for your generosity and insight!
Mark King is an easy-going writer with a talent for finding enjoyment in most any situation. He’s a lifelong reader whose literary interests include science fiction, adventure, thriller, and mysteries, to name a few. He grew up in California, but now lives in upstate New York with his wife. When not working or writing, he can be found watching movies, kayaking, associating with friends, and of course reading.