THE WOMAN IN WHITE.
PART THE SECOND. HARTRIGHT'S NARRATIVE.
I OPEN a new page. I advance my narrative
by one week.
The history of the interval which I thus pass
over must remain unrecorded. My heart turns
faint, my mind sinks in darkness and confusion
when I think of it. This must not be, if I, who
write, am to guide, as I ought, you who read.
This must not be, if the clue that leads through
the windings of the Story is to remain, from end
to end, untangled in my hands.
A life suddenly changed— its whole purpose
created afresh; its hopes and fears, its struggles,
its interests, and its sacrifices, all turned at once
and for ever into a new direction— this is the
prospect which now opens before me, like the
burst of view from a mountain's top. I left my
narrative in the quiet shadow of Limmeridge
church: I resume it, one week later, in the
stir and turmoil of a London street.
The street is in a populous and a poor
neighbourhood. The ground floor of one of the
houses in it is occupied by a small newsvendor's
shop; and the first floor and the second are let
as furnished lodgings of the humblest kind.
The street is in a populous and a poor
I have taken those two floors, in an assumed
name. On the upper floor I live, with a room
to work in, a room to sleep in. On the lower
floor, under the same assumed name, two women
live, who are described as my sisters. I get my
bread by drawing and engraving on wood for the
cheap periodicals. My sisters are supposed to
help me by taking in a little needlework. Our poor
place of abode, our humble calling, our assumed
relationship, and our assumed name, are all used
alike as a means of hiding us in the house-forest
of London. We are numbered no longer with the
people whose lives are open and known. I am
an obscure, unnoticed man, without patron or
friend to help me. Marian Halcombe is nothing
now, but my eldest sister, who provides for our
household wants by the toil of her own hands.
We two are at once the dupes and the agents of
a daring imposture. We are the accomplices of
mad Anne Catherick, who claims the name, the
place, and the living personality of dead Lady
That is our situation. That is the changed
aspect in which we three must appear, henceforth,
in this narrative, for many and many a
page to come.
In the eye of reason and of law, in the
estimation of relatives and friends, according to
every received formality of civilised society,
"Laura, Lady Glyde," lay buried with her
mother in Limmeridge churchyard. Torn in her
own lifetime from the list of the living, the
daughter of Philip Fairlie and the wife of
Percival Glyde, might still exist for her sister,
might still exist for me, but to all the world
besides she was dead. Dead to her uncle who
had renounced her; dead to the servants of the
house, who had failed to recognise her; dead to
the persons in authority who had transmitted
her fortune to her husband and her aunt; dead
to my mother and my sister, who believed me
to be the dupe of an adventuress and the victim
of a fraud; socially, morally, legally— dead.
And yet alive! Alive in poverty and in
hiding. Alive, with the poor drawing-master
to fight her battle, and to win the way back for
her to her place in the world of living beings.
Did no suspicion, excited by my own knowledge
of Anne Catherick's resemblance to her, cross
my mind, when her face was first revealed to
me? Not the shadow of a suspicion, from the
moment when she lifted the veil by the side of
the inscription which recorded her death.
Before the sun of that day had set, before the
last glimpse of the home which was closed against
her had passed from our view, the farewell words
I spoke, when we parted at Limmeridge House,
had been recalled by both of us; repeated by me,
recognised by her. "If ever the time comes, when
the devotion of my whole heart and soul and
strength will give you a moment's happiness, or
spare you a moment's sorrow, will you try to
remember the poor drawing-master who has
taught you?" She, who now remembered so
little of the trouble and the terror of a later
time, remembered those words, and laid her
poor head innocently and trustingly on the
bosom of the man who had spoken them. In
that moment, when she called me by my name,
when she said, " They have tried to make me
forget everything, Walter; but I remember
Marion, and I remember you"—in that moment,
I who had long since given her my love, gave
her my life, and thanked God that it was mine
to bestow on her. Yes! the time had come.
From thousands on thousands of miles away;
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