THE WOMAN IN WHITE.
PART THE SECOND. HARTRIGHT'S NARRATIVE.
MRS. CATHERICK'S LETTER CONCLUDED.
"I MUST begin this fresh page, Mr. Hartright,
by expressing my surprise at the interest which
you appear to have felt in my late daughter— it
is quite unaccountable to me. If that interest
makes you anxious for any particulars of her
early life, I must refer you to Mrs. Clements,
who knows more of the subject than I do. Pray
understand that I do not profess to have been
at all over-fond of my late daughter. She was
a worry and an incumbrance to me from first to
last, with the additional disadvantage of being
always weak in the head.
"There is no need to trouble you with many
personal particulars relating to those past times.
It will be enough to say that I observed the
terms of the bargain on my side, and that I
enjoyed my comfortable income, in return, paid
quarterly. Now and then I got away, and
changed the scene for a short time; always
asking leave of my lord and master first, and
generally getting it. He was not, as I have
already told you, fool enough to drive me too
hard; and he could reasonably rely on my holding
my tongue, for my own sake, if not for his.
One of my longest trips away from home was
the trip I took to Limmeridge, to nurse a half-sister
there, who was dying. She was reported
to have saved money; and I thought it as well
(in case any accident happened to stop my
allowance) to look after my own interests in
that direction. As things turned out, however,
my pains were all thrown away; and I got
nothing, because nothing was to be had.
"There is no need to trouble you with many
"I had taken Anne to the north with me;
having my whims and fancies, occasionally,
about my child, and getting, at such times,
jealous of Mrs. Clements's influence over her.
I never liked Mrs. Clements. She was a poor,
empty-headed, spiritless woman— what you call
a bom drudge and I was, now and then, not
averse to plaguing her by taking Anne away.
Not knowing what else to do with my girl,
while I was nursing in Cumberland, I put her to
school at Limmeridge. The lady of the manor,
Mrs. Fairlie (a remarkably plain-looking woman,
who had entrapped one of the handsomest
men in England into marrying her), amused
me wonderfully, by taking a violent fancy to
my girl. The consequence was, she learnt
nothing at school, and was petted and spoilt at
Limmeridge House. Among other whims and
fancies which they taught her there, they put
some nonsense into her head about always
wearing white. Hating white and liking colours
myself, I determined to take the nonsense out
of her head as soon as we got home again.
"Strange to say, my daughter resolutely
resisted me. When she had got a notion once
fixed in her mind, she was, like other half-witted
people, as obstinate as a mule in keeping it.
We quarrelled finely; and Mrs. Clements, not
liking to see it, I suppose, offered to take Anne
away to live in London with her. I should
have said, Yes, if Mrs. Clements had not sided
with my daughter about her dressing herself in
white. But, being determined she should not
dress herself in white, and disliking Mrs.
Clements more than ever for taking part against
me, I said No, and meant No, and stuck to
No. The consequence was, my daughter
remained with me; and the consequence of that,
in its turn, was the first serious quarrel that
happened about the Secret.
"The circumstance took place long after the
time I have just been writing of. I had been
settled for years in the new town; and was
steadily living down my bad character, and
slowly gaining ground among the respectable
inhabitants. It helped me forward greatly
towards this object, to have my daughter with
me. Her harmlessness, and her fancy for dressing
in white, excited a certain amount of
sympathy. I left off opposing her favourite whim,
on that account, because some of the sympathy
was sure, in course of time, to fall to my share.
Some of it did fall. I date my getting a choice
of the two best sittings to let in the church,
from that time; and I date the clergyman's first
bow from my getting the sittings.
"Well, being settled in this way, I received
a letter one morning from that highly-born
gentleman (now deceased), whom you and I know
of, in answer to one of mine, warning him,
according to agreement, of my wishing to leave
the town, for a little change of air and scene.
The ruffianly side of him must have been uppermost,
I suppose, when he got my letter for he
wrote back, refusing me. in such abominably
insolent language, that I lost all command over
myself; and abused him, in my daughter's
presence, as 'a low impostor, whom I could ruin
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