'THE STORY OF OUR LIVES FROM YEAR TO YEAR." SHAKESPEARE.
ALL THE YEAR ROUND.
A WEEKLY JOURNAL.
CONDUCTED BY CHARLES DICKENS.
WITH WHICH IS INCORPORATED HOUSEHOLD WORDS.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 28, 1860. [Price 2d.
THE WOMAN IN WHITE,
THE NARRATIVE OF MARIAN HALCOMBE.
TAKEN FROM HER DIARY. *
Limmeridge House, November 7th.
THIS morning, Mr. Gilmore left us.
His interview with Laura had evidently grieved
and surprised him more than he liked to confess.
I felt afraid, from his look and manner when we
parted, that she might have inadvertently be-
trayed to him the real secret of her depression
and of my anxiety. This doubt grew on me
so, after he had gone, that I declined riding
out with Sir Percival, and went up to Laura's
I have been sadly distrustful of myself, in this
difficult and lamentable matter, ever since I
found out my own ignorance of the strength of
Laura's unhappy attachment. I ought to have
known that the delicacy and forbearance and
sense of honour which drew me to poor Hart-
right, and made me so sincerely admire and
respect him, were just the qualities to appeal
most irresistibly to Laura's natural sensitiveness
and natural generosity of nature. And yet,
until she opened her heart to me of her own
accord, I had no suspicion that this new feel-
ing had taken root so deeply. I once thought
time and care might remove it. I now fear
that it will remain with her and alter her for life.
The discovery that I have committed such an
error in judgment as this, makes me hesitate
about everything else. I hesitate about Sir
Percival, in the face of the plainest proofs. I
hesitate even in speaking to Laura. On this
very morning, I doubted, with my hand on the
door, whether I should ask her the questions
I had come to put, or not.
When I went into her room, I found her
walking up and down in great impatience. She
looked flushed and excited; and she came for-
ward at once, and spoke to me before I could
open my lips.
"I wanted you," she said. " Come and sit
down on the sofa with me. Marian! I can
bear this no longer—I must and will end it."
There was too much colour in her cheeks, too
*The passages omitted, here and elsewhere, in
Miss Halcombe's Diary, are only those which bear
no reference to Miss Fairlie or to any of the persons
with, whom she is associated in these pages.
much energy in her manner, too much firmness
in her voice. The little book of Hartright's draw-
ings—the fatal book that she will dream over
whenever she is alone—was in one of her hands.
I began by gently and firmly taking it from her,
and putting it out of sight on a side-table.
"Tell me quietly, my darling, what you wish
to do," I said. "Has Mr. Gilmore been advising
She shook her head. " No, not in what I
am thinking of now. He was very kind and
good to me, Marian, and I am ashamed to say
I distressed him by crying. I am miserably
helpless; I can't control myself. For my own
sake and for all our sakes, I must have courage
enough to end it."
"Do you mean courage enough to claim your
release?" I asked.
"No," she said, simply. " Courage, dear, to
tell the truth."
She put her arms round my neck, and rested
her head quietly on my bosom. On the opposite
wall hung the miniature portrait of her father.
I bent over her, and saw that she was looking
at it while her head lay on my breast.
"I can never claim my release from my en-
gagement," she went on. " Whatever way it
ends, it must end wretchedly for me. All I can
do, Marian, is not to add the remembrance that
I have broken my promise and forgotten my
father's dying words, to make that wretchedness
"What is it you propose, then?" I asked.
"To tell Sir Percival Glyde the truth, with
my own lips," she answered, " and to let him.
release me, if he will, not because I ask him,
but because he knows all."
"What do you mean, Laura, by ' all?' Sir
Percival will know enough (he has told me so
himself) if he knows that the engagement is
opposed to your own wishes."
"Can I tell him that, when the engagement
was made for me by my father, with my own
consent? I should have kept my promise; not
happily, I am afraid; but still contentedly"
she stopped, turned her face to me, and laid her
cheek close against mine " I should have
kept my engagement, Marian, if another love
had not grown up in my heart, which was not
there when I first promised to be Sir Percival' s
"Laura! you will never lower yourself by
making a confession to him?"
VOL. II. 40
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