The Black Robe
The Dead Alive
A Fair Penitent
The Fallen Leaves
The Frozen Deep
The Guilty River
The Haunted Hotel
Heart and Science
Hide and Seek
I Say No
The Law and the Lady
The Legacy of Cain
Man and Wife
Miss or Mrs.?
My Lady's Money
The New Magdalen
Poor Miss Finch
The Queen of Hearts
Rambles Beyond Railways
A Rogue's Life
THE TWO DESTINIES
The Woman in White
Mr. Hethcote was the first to speak again.
BOOK THE SECOND. AMELIUS IN LONDON
BOOK THE THIRD. MRS. FARNABY'S FOOT
Amelius rose impulsively from his chair.
The young lady spoke first.
BOOK THE FOURTH. LOVE AND MONEY
BOOK THE FIFTH. THE FATAL LECTURE
BOOK THE SIXTH. FILIA DOLOROSA
The landlady of the lodgings decided what was to be done.
"Rufus! I don't quite like the way you look at me. You seem to think—"
BOOK THE SEVENTH. THE VANISHING HOPES
Two days later, Amelius moved into his cottage.
"Let me see the blister," said Amelius.
Toff returned to the cottage, with the slippers and the stockings.
BOOK THE EIGHTH. DAME NATURE DECIDES
"Where has he been found?" Amelius asked, snatching up his hat.
The last dreary days of November came to their end.
Early the next morning, Rufus rang at the cottage gate.
Toff was the first who recovered himself.
The night had come to an end. The new-born day waited for its quickening light in the silence that is never known on land—the silence before sunrise, in a calm at sea.
Not a breath came from the dead air. Not a ripple stirred on the motionless water. Nothing changed but the softly-growing light; nothing moved but the lazy mist, curling up to meet the sun, its master, on the eastward sea. By fine gradations, the airy veil of morning thinned in substance as it rose—thinned, till there dawned through it in the first rays of sunlight the tall white sails of a Schooner Yacht.
From stem to stern silence possessed the vessel—as silence possessed the sea.
But one living creature was on deck—the man at the helm, dozing peaceably with his arm over the useless tiller. Minute by minute the light grew, and the heat grew with it; and still the helmsman slumbered, the heavy sails hung noiseless, the quiet water lay sleeping against the vessel's sides. The whole orb of the sun was visible above the water-line, when the first sound pierced its way through the morning silence. From far off over the shining white ocean, the cry of a sea-bird reached the yacht on a sudden out of the last airy circles of the waning mist.
WHAT am I now about to write?
The history of little more than the events of one year, out of the twenty-four years of my life.
Why do I undertake such an employment as this?
Perhaps, because I think that my narrative may do good; because I hope that, one day, it may be put to some warning use. I am now about to relate the story of an error, innocent in its beginning, guilty in its progress, fatal in its results; and I would fain hope that my plain and true record will show that this error was not committed altogether without excuse. When these pages are found after my death, they will perhaps be calmly read and gently judged, as relics solemnized by the atoning shadows of the grave. Then, the hard sentence against me may be repented of; the children of the next generation of our house may be taught to speak charitably of my memory, and may often, of their own accord, think of me kindly in the thoughtful watches of the night.
Prompted by these motives, and by others which I feel, but cannot analyse, I now begin my self-imposed occupation. Hidden amid the far hills of the far West of England, surrounded only by the few simple inhabitants of a fishing hamlet on the Cornish coast, there is little fear that my attention will be distracted from my task; and as little chance that any indolence on my part will delay its speedy accomplishment. I live under a threat of impending hostility, which may descend and overwhelm me, I know not how soon, or in what manner. An enemy, determined and deadly, patient alike to wait days or years for his opportunity, is ever lurking after me in the dark. In entering on my new employment, I cannot say of my time, that it may be mine for another hour; of my life, that it may last till evening....
Proud as they all certainly were, it was not pride, but dread, which kept them thus apart from their neighbors. The family had suffered for generations past from the horrible affliction of hereditary insanity, and the members of it shrank from exposing their calamity to others, as they must have exposed it if they had mingled with the busy little world around them. There is a frightful story of a crime committed in past times by two of the Monktons, near relatives, from which the first appearance of the insanity was always supposed to date, but it is needless for me to shock any one by repeating it. It is enough to say that at intervals almost every form of madness appeared in the family, monomania being the most frequent manifestation of the affliction among them. I have these particulars, and one or two yet to be related, from my father.
At the period of my youth but three of the Monktons were left at the Abbey—Mr. and Mrs. Monkton and their only child Alfred, heir to the property. The one other member of this, the elder branch of the family, who was then alive, was Mr. Monkton's younger brother, Stephen. He was an unmarried man, possessing a fine estate in Scotland; but he lived almost entirely on the Continent, and bore the reputation of being a shameless profligate. The family at Wincot held almost as little communication with him as with their neighbors....
The evening shadows were beginning to gather over the quiet little German town, and the diligence was expected every minute. Before the door of the principal inn, waiting the arrival of the first visitors of the year, were assembled the three notable personages of Wildbad, accompanied by their wives—the mayor, representing the inhabitants; the doctor, representing the waters; the landlord, representing his own establishment. Beyond this select circle, grouped snugly about the trim little square in front of the inn, appeared the towns-people in general, mixed here and there with the country people, in their quaint German costume, placidly expectant of the diligence—the men in short black jackets, tight black breeches, and three-cornered beaver hats; the women with their long light hair hanging in one thickly plaited tail behind them, and the waists of their short woolen gowns inserted modestly in the region of their shoulder-blades. Round the outer edge of the assemblage thus formed, flying detachments of plump white-headed children careered in perpetual motion; while, mysteriously apart from the rest of the inhabitants, the musicians of the Baths stood collected in one lost corner, waiting the appearance of the first visitors to play the first tune of the season in the form of a serenade. The light of a May evening was still bright on the tops of the great wooded hills watching high over the town on the right hand and the left; and the cool breeze that comes before sunset came keenly fragrant here with the balsamic odor of the first of the Black Forest.
"Mr. Landlord," said the mayor's wife (giving the landlord his title), "have you any foreign guests coming on this first day of the season?"...
On leaving the steamboat, I ventured to ask our charming fellow-passenger if I could be of any service in reserving places in the London train for her mother and herself. She thanked me, and said they were going to visit some friends at Folkestone. In making this reply, she looked at Romayne. "I am afraid he is very ill," she said, in gently lowered tones. Before I could answer, her mother turned to her with an expression of surprise, and directed her attention to the friends whom she had mentioned, waiting to greet her. Her last look, as they took her away, rested tenderly and sorrowfully on Romayne. He never returned it—he was not even aware of it. As I led him to the train he leaned more and more heavily on my arm. Seated in the carriage, he sank at once into profound sleep.
We drove to the hotel at which my friend was accustomed to reside when he was in London. His long sleep on the journey seemed, in some degree, to have relieved him. We dined together in his private room. When the servants had withdrawn, I found that the unhappy result of the duel was still preying on his mind.
"The horror of having killed that man," he said, "is more than I can bear alone. For God's sake, don't leave me!"
I had received letters at Boulogne, which informed me that my wife and family had accepted an invitation to stay with some friends at the sea-side. Under these circumstances I was entirely at his service. Having quieted his anxiety on this point, I reminded him of what had passed between us on board the steamboat. He tried to change the subject. My curiosity was too strongly aroused to permit this; I persisted in helping his memory....
A LETTER OF INTRODUCTION.
A CORNISH FISHING TOWN.
HOLY WELLS AND DRUID RELICS.
THE PILCHARD FISHERY.
THE LAND'S END.
THE MODERN DRAMA IN CORNWALL.
THE ANCIENT DRAMA IN CORNWALL.
THE NUNS OF MAWGAN.
LEGENDS OF THE NORTHERN COAST.
RAMBLES BEYOND RAILWAYS.
THE CRUISE OF THE TOMTIT
The Scilly Islands.
THE CRUISE OF THE TOMTIT.
The mountains forming the range of Alps which border on the north-eastern confines of Italy, were, in the autumn of the year 408, already furrowed in numerous directions by the tracks of the invading forces of those northern nations generally comprised under the appellation of Goths.
In some places these tracks were denoted on either side by fallen trees, and occasionally assumed, when half obliterated by the ravages of storms, the appearance of desolate and irregular marshes. In other places they were less palpable. Here, the temporary path was entirely hidden by the incursions of a swollen torrent; there, it was faintly perceptible in occasional patches of soft ground, or partly traceable by fragments of abandoned armour, skeletons of horses and men, and remnants of the rude bridges which had once served for passage across a river or transit over a precipice.
Among the rocks of the topmost of the range of mountains immediately overhanging the plains of Italy, and presenting the last barrier to the exertions of a traveller or the march of an invader, there lay, at the beginning of the fifth century, a little lake. Bounded on three sides by precipices, its narrow banks barren of verdure or habitations, and its dark and stagnant waters brightened but rarely by the presence of the lively sunlight, this solitary spot—at all times mournful—presented, on the autumn of the day when our story commences, an aspect of desolation at once dismal to the eye and oppressive to the heart....
Well acquainted apparently with the way upstairs, the man thumped on a bed-room door, and shouted his message through it: "The master wants you, and mind you don't keep him waiting."
The person sending this peremptory message was Sir Giles Mountjoy of Ardoon, knight and banker. The person receiving the message was Sir Giles's head clerk. As a matter of course, Dennis Howmore dressed himself at full speed, and hastened to his employer's private house on the outskirts of the town.
He found Sir Giles in an irritable and anxious state of mind. A letter lay open on the banker's bed, his night-cap was crumpled crookedly on his head, he was in too great a hurry to remember the claims of politeness, when the clerk said "Good morning."...
The misguided young men who thus shirked their duty to the mistress from whom they had received many favours, were actuated by the low idea of making a perfectly idle trip, in any direction. They had no intention of going anywhere in particular; they wanted to see nothing, they wanted to know nothing, they wanted to learn nothing, they wanted to do nothing. They wanted only to be idle. They took to themselves (after Hogarth), the names of Mr. Thomas Idle and Mr. Francis Goodchild; but there was not a moral pin to choose between them, and they were both idle in the last degree....
CHAPTER II. THE NEW FACES.
CHAPTER III. THE MOONLIGHT MEETING.
CHAPTER IV. THE BEECHEN STICK.
CHAPTER V. THE NEWS FROM NARRABEE.
CHAPTER VI. THE LIME-KILN.
CHAPTER VII. THE MATERIALS IN THE DEFENSE.
CHAPTER VIII. THE CONFESSION.
CHAPTER IX. THE ADVERTISEMENT.
CHAPTER X. THE SHERIFF AND THE GOVERNOR.
CHAPTER XI. THE PEBBLE AND THE WINDOW.
CHAPTER XII. THE END OF IT.
IT was a dark night. The rain was pouring in torrents.
Late in the evening a skirmishing party of the French and a skirmishing party of the Germans had met, by accident, near the little village of Lagrange, close to the German frontier. In the struggle that followed, the French had (for once) got the better of the enemy. For the time, at least, a few hundreds out of the host of the invaders had been forced back over the frontier. It was a trifling affair, occurring not long after the great German victory of Weissenbourg, and the newspapers took little or no notice of it.
Captain Arnault, commanding on the French side, sat alone in one of the cottages of the village, inhabited by the miller of the district. The Captain was reading, by the light of a solitary tallow-candle, some intercepted dispatches taken from the Germans. He had suffered the wood fire, scattered over the large open grate, to burn low; the red embers only faintly illuminated a part of the room. On the floor behind him lay some of the miller's empty sacks. In a corner opposite to him was the miller's solid walnut-wood bed. On the walls all around him were the miller's colored prints, representing a happy mixture of devotional and domestic subjects. A door of communication leading into the kitchen of the cottage had been torn from its hinges, and used to carry the men wounded in the skirmish from the field. They were now comfortably laid at rest in the kitchen, under the care of the French surgeon and the English nurse attached to the ambulance. A piece of coarse canvas screened the opening between the two rooms in place of the door. A second door, leading from the bed-chamber into the yard, was locked; and the wooden shutter protecting the one window of the room was carefully barred. Sentinels, doubled in number, were placed at all the outposts. The French commander had neglected no precaution which could reasonably insure for himself and for his men a quiet and comfortable night....
CHAPTER II. TWO YOUNG HEARTS.
CHAPTER III. SWEDENBORG AND THE SIBYL.
CHAPTER IV. THE CURTAIN FALLS.
CHAPTER V. MY STORY.
CHAPTER VI. HER STORY.
CHAPTER VII. THE WOMAN ON THE BRIDGE.
MY mother looked in at the library door, and disturbed me over my books.
CHAPTER VIII. THE KINDRED SPIRITS
CHAPTER IX. NATURAL AND SUPERNATURAL.
CHAPTER X. SAINT ANTHONY'S WELL.
CHAPTER XI. THE LETTER OF INTRODUCTION.
CHAPTER XII. THE DISASTERS OF MRS. VAN BRANDT.
CHAPTER XIII. NOT CURED YET.
CHAPTER XIV. MRS. VAN BRANDT AT HOME.
CHAPTER XV. THE OBSTACLE BEATS ME.
CHAPTER XVI. MY MOTHER'S DIARY.
CHAPTER XVII. SHETLAND HOSPITALITY.
"GUIDE! Where are we?"
CHAPTER XVIII. THE DARKENED ROOM.
CHAPTER XIX. THE CATS.
CHAPTER XX. THE GREEN FLAG.
CHAPTER XXI. SHE COMES BETWEEN US.
CHAPTER XXII. SHE CLAIMS ME AGAIN.
CHAPTER XXIII. THE KISS.
CHAPTER XXIV. IN THE SHADOW OF ST. PAUL'S.
In ten days I was at home again—and my mother's arms were round me.
CHAPTER XXV. I KEEP MY APPOINTMENT.
CHAPTER XXVI. CONVERSATION WITH MY MOTHER.
CHAPTER XXVII. CONVERSATION WITH MRS. VAN BRANDT.
CHAPTER XXVIII. LOVE AND MONEY.
CHAPTER XXIX. OUR DESTINIES PART US.
CHAPTER XXX. THE PROSPECT DARKENS.
CHAPTER XXXI. THE PHYSICIAN'S OPINION.
SIX months have elapsed. Summer-time has come again.
CHAPTER XXXII. A LAST LOOK AT GREENWATER BROAD.
CHAPTER XXXIII. A VISION OF THE NIGHT.
CHAPTER XXXIV. BY LAND AND SEA.
CHAPTER XXXV. UNDER THE WINDOW.
CHAPTER XXXVI. LOVE AND PRIDE.
CHAPTER XXXVII. THE TWO DESTINIES.
THE WIFE WRITES, AND CLOSES THE STORY.
CHAPTER I. THE BRIDE'S MISTAKE.
CHAPTER II. THE BRIDE'S THOUGHTS.
CHAPTER III. RAMSGATE SANDS.
CHAPTER IV. ON THE WAY HOME.
CHAPTER V. THE LANDLADY'S DISCOVERY.
CHAPTER VI. MY OWN DISCOVERY.
CHAPTER VII. ON THE WAY TO THE MAJOR.
CHAPTER VIII. THE FRIEND OF THE WOMEN.
CHAPTER IX. THE DEFEAT OF THE MAJOR.
CHAPTER X. THE SEARCH.
CHAPTER XI. THE RETURN TO LIFE.
CHAPTER XII. THE SCOTCH VERDICT.
CHAPTER XIII. THE MAN'S DECISION.
CHAPTER XIV. THE WOMAN'S ANSWER.
PART II. PARADISE REGAINED.
CHAPTER XV. THE STORY OF THE TRIAL. THE PRELIMINARIES.
CHAPTER XVI. FIRST QUESTION—DID THE WOMAN DIE POISONED?
CHAPTER XVII. SECOND QUESTION—WHO POISONED HER?
CHAPTER XVIII. THIRD QUESTION—WHAT WAS HIS MOTIVE?
CHAPTER XIX. THE EVIDENCE FOR THE DEFENSE.
CHAPTER XX. THE END OF THE TRIAL.
CHAPTER XXI. I SEE MY WAY.
CHAPTER XXII. THE MAJOR MAKES DIFFICULTIES.
MY MOTHER-IN-LAW SURPRISES ME.
CHAPTER XXIV. MISERRIMUS DEXTER—FIRST VIEW.
CHAPTER XXV. MISERRIMUS DEXTER—SECOND VIEW
CHAPTER XXVI. MORE OF MY OBSTINACY.
CHAPTER XXVII. MR. DEXTER AT HOME.
CHAPTER XXVIII. IN THE DARK.
CHAPTER XXIX. IN THE LIGHT.
CHAPTER XXX. THE INDICTMENT OF MRS. BEAULY.
CHAPTER XXXI. THE DEFENSE OF MRS. BEAULY.
CHAPTER XXXII. A SPECIMEN OF MY WISDOM.
CHAPTER XXXIII. A SPECIMEN OF MY FOLLY.
CHAPTER XXXIV. GLENINCH.
CHAPTER XXXV. MR. PLAYMORE'S PROPHECY.
CHAPTER XXXVI. ARIEL.
I PASSED a sleepless night.
CHAPTER XXXVII. AT THE BEDSIDE.
CHAPTER XXXVIII. ON THE JOURNEY BACK.
CHAPTER XXXIX. ON THE WAY TO DEXTER.
CHAPTER XL. NEMESIS AT LAST.
CHAPTER XLI. MR. PLAYMORE IN A NEW CHARACTER.
CHAPTER XLII. MORE SURPRISES.
The same evening I received my "abstract" by the hands of a clerk.
CHAPTER XLIII. AT LAST!
CHAPTER XLIV. OUR NEW HONEYMOON.
CHAPTER XLV. THE DUST-HEAP DISTURBED.
CHAPTER XLVI. THE CRISIS DEFERRED.
CHAPTER XLVII. THE WIFE'S CONFESSION.
"GLENINCH, October 19, 18—.
CHAPTER XLVIII. WHAT ELSE COULD I DO?
CHAPTER XLIX. PAST AND FUTURE.
THE LAST OF THE STORY.
THE hands on the hall-clock pointed to half-past six in the morning. The house was a country residence in West Somersetshire, called Combe-Raven. The day was the fourth of March, and the year was eighteen hundred and forty-six.
No sounds but the steady ticking of the clock, and the lumpish snoring of a large dog stretched on a mat outside the dining-room door, disturbed the mysterious morning stillness of hall and staircase. Who were the sleepers hidden in the upper regions? Let the house reveal its own secrets; and, one by one, as they descend the stairs from their beds, let the sleepers disclose themselves.
As the clock pointed to a quarter to seven, the dog woke and shook himself. After waiting in vain for the footman, who was accustomed to let him out, the animal wandered restlessly from one closed door to another on the ground-floor; and, returning to his mat in great perplexity, appealed to the sleeping family with a long and melancholy howl.
Before the last notes of the dog's remonstrance had died away, the oaken stairs in the higher regions of the house creaked under slowly-descending footsteps. In a minute more the first of the female servants made her appearance, with a dingy woolen shawl over her shoulders—for the March morning was bleak; and rheumatism and the cook were old acquaintances.
Receiving the dog's first cordial advances with the worst possible grace, the cook slowly opened the hall door and let the animal out. It was a wild morning. Over a spacious lawn, and behind a black plantation of firs, the rising sun rent its way upward through piles of ragged gray cloud; heavy drops of rain fell few and far between; the March wind shuddered round the corners of the house, and the wet trees swayed wearily.
Seven o'clock struck; and the signs of domestic life began to show themselves in more rapid succession.
The housemaid came down—tall and slim, with the state of the spring temperature written redly on her nose. The lady's-maid followed—young, smart, plump, and sleepy. The kitchen-maid came next—afflicted with the face-ache, and making no secret of her sufferings. Last of all, the footman appeared, yawning disconsolately; the living picture of a man who felt that he had been defrauded of his fair night's rest.
The conversation of the servants, when they assembled before the slowly lighting kitchen fire, referred to a recent family event, and turned at starting on this question: Had Thomas, the footman, seen anything of the concert at Clifton, at which his master and the two young ladies had been present on the previous night? Yes; Thomas had heard the concert; he had been paid for to go in at the back; it was a loud concert; it was a hot concert; it was described at the top of the bills as Grand; whether it was worth traveling sixteen miles to hear by railway, with the additional hardship of going back nineteen miles by road, at half-past one in the morning—was a question which he would leave his master and the young ladies to decide; his own opinion, in the meantime, being unhesitatingly, No. Further inquiries, on the part of all the female servants in succession, elicited no additional information of any sort. Thomas could hum none of the songs, and could describe none of the ladies' dresses. His audience, accordingly, gave him up in despair; and the kitchen small-talk flowed back into its ordinary channels, until the clock struck eight and startled the assembled servants into separating for their morning's work....
If the machinery of the Law could be depended on to fathom every case of suspicion, and to conduct every process of inquiry, with moderate assistance only from the lubricating influences of oil of gold, the events which fill these pages might have claimed their share of the public attention in a Court of Justice.
But the Law is still, in certain inevitable cases, the pre-engaged servant of the long purse; and the story is left to be told, for the first time, in this place. As the Judge might once have heard it, so the Reader shall hear it now. No circumstance of importance, from the beginning to the end of the disclosure, shall be related on hearsay evidence. When the writer of these introductory lines (Walter Hartright by name) happens to be more closely connected than others with the incidents to be recorded, he will describe them in his own person. When his experience fails, he will retire from the position of narrator; and his task will be continued, from the point at which he has left it off, by other persons who can speak to the circumstances under notice from their own knowledge, just as clearly and positively as he has spoken before them.
Thus, the story here presented will be told by more than one pen, as the story of an offence against the laws is told in Court by more than one witness—with the same object, in both cases, to present the truth always in its most direct and most intelligible aspect; and to trace the course of one complete series of events, by making the persons who have been most closely connected with them, at each successive stage, relate their own experience, word for word.
Let Walter Hartright, teacher of drawing, aged twenty-eight years, be heard first.
In the year 1860, the reputation of Doctor Wybrow as a London physician reached its highest point. It was reported on good authority that he was in receipt of one of the largest incomes derived from the practice of medicine in modern times.
One afternoon, towards the close of the London season, the Doctor had just taken his luncheon after a specially hard morning's work in his consulting-room, and with a formidable list of visits to patients at their own houses to fill up the rest of his day—when the servant announced that a lady wished to speak to him.
'Who is she?' the Doctor asked. 'A stranger?'
'I see no strangers out of consulting-hours. Tell her what the hours are, and send her away.'
'I have told her, sir.'
'And she won't go.'
'Won't go?' The Doctor smiled as he repeated the words. He was a humourist in his way; and there was an absurd side to the situation which rather amused him. 'Has this obstinate lady given you her name?' he inquired....
Chapter I. Mrs. Presty Presents Herself.
Chapter II. The Governess Enters.
Chapter III. Mrs. Presty Changes Her Mind.
Chapter IV. Randal Receives His Correspondence.
Chapter V. Randal Writes to New York.
Chapter VI. Sydney Teaches.
Chapter VII. Sydney Suffers.
Chapter VIII. Mrs. Presty Makes a Discovery.
Chapter IX. Somebody Attends to the Door.
Chapter X. Kitty Mentions Her Birthday.
Chapter XI. Linley Asserts His Authority.
Chapter XII. Two of Them Sleep Badly.
Chapter XIII. Kitty Keeps Her Birthday.
Chapter XIV. Kitty Feels the Heartache.
Chapter XV. The Doctor.
Chapter XVI. The Child.
Chapter XVII. The Husband.
Chapter XVIII. The Nursemaid.
Chapter XIX. The Captain.
Chapter XX. The Mother-in-Law.
Chapter XXI. The Governess.
Chapter XXII. Retrospect.
Chapter XXIII. Separation.
Chapter XXIV. Hostility.
Chapter XXV. Consultation.
Chapter XXVI. Decision.
Chapter XXVII. Resolution.
Chapter XXVIII. Mr. Randal Linley.
Chapter XXIX. Mr. Sarrazin.
Chapter XXX. The Lord President.
Chapter XXXI. Mr. Herbert Linley.
Chapter XXXII. Miss Westerfield.
Chapter XXXIII. Mrs. Romsey.
Chapter XXXIV. Mrs. Presty.
Chapter XXXV. Captain Bennydeck.
Chapter XXXVI. Mr. and Mrs. Herbert.
Chapter XXXVII. Mrs. Norman.
Chapter XXXVIII. Hear the Lawyer.
Chapter XXXIX. Listen to Reason.
Chapter XL. Keep Your Temper.
Chapter XLI. Make the Best of It.
Chapter XLII. Try to Excuse Her.
Chapter XLIII. Know Your Own Mind.
Chapter XLIV. Think of Consequences.
Chapter XLV. Love Your Enemies.
Chapter XLVI. Nil Desperandum.
Chapter XLVII. Better Do It Than Wish It Done.
Chapter XLVIII. Be Careful!
Chapter XLIX. Keep the Secret.
Chapter L. Forgiveness to the Injured Doth Belong.
Chapter LI. Dum Spiro, Spero.
Chapter LII. L'homme propose, et Dieu dispose.
Chapter LIII. The Largest Nature, the Longest Love.
Chapter LIV. Let Bygones Be Bygones.
Chapter LV. Leave It to the Child.
The date is between twenty and thirty years ago. The place is an English sea-port. The time is night. And the business of the moment is—dancing.
The Mayor and Corporation of the town are giving a grand ball, in celebration of the departure of an Arctic expedition from their port. The ships of the expedition are two in number—the Wanderer and the Sea-mew. They are to sail (in search of the Northwest Passage) on the next day, with the morning tide.
Honor to the Mayor and Corporation! It is a brilliant ball. The band is complete. The room is spacious. The large conservatory opening out of it is pleasantly lighted with Chinese lanterns, and beautifully decorated with shrubs and flowers. All officers of the army and navy who are present wear their uniforms in honor of the occasion. Among the ladies, the display of dresses (a subject which the men don't understand) is bewildering—and the average of beauty (a subject which the men do understand) is the highest average attainable, in all parts of the room.
For the moment, the dance which is in progress is a quadrille. General admiration selects two of the ladies who are dancing as its favorite objects. One is a dark beauty in the prime of womanhood—the wife of First Lieutenant Crayford, of the Wanderer. The other is a young girl, pale and delicate; dressed simply in white; with no ornament on her head but her own lovely brown hair. This is Miss Clara Burnham—an orphan. She is Mrs. Crayford's dearest friend, and she is to stay with Mrs. Crayford during the lieutenant's absence in the Arctic regions. She is now dancing, with the lieutenant himself for partner, and with Mrs. Crayford and Captain Helding (commanding officer of the Wanderer) for vis-a-vis—in plain English, for opposite couple.
The conversation between Captain Helding and Mrs. Crayford, in one of the intervals of the dance, turns on Miss Burnham. The captain is greatly interested in Clara. He admires her beauty; but he thinks her manner—for a young girl—strangely serious and subdued. Is she in delicate health?
Mrs. Crayford shakes her head; sighs mysteriously; and answers,...
ON THE WAY TO THE RIVER
THE RIVER INTRODUCES US
HE SHOWS HIMSELF
HE EXPLAINS HIMSELF
HE BETRAYS HIMSELF
EXTRACTS FROM A DEAF MAN'S DIARY
THE RETURN OF THE PORTFOLIO
THE BEST SOCIETY
THE DEAF LODGER
MRS ROYLAKE'S GAME: FIRST MOVE
WARNED FOR THE LAST TIME!
THE CLARET JUG
GLOODY SETTLES THE ACCOUNT
THE MILLER'S HOSPITALITY
BRIBERY AND CORRUPTION
THE MISTRESS OF TRIMLEY DEEN
I must also gratefully acknowledge an obligation of another kind to the accomplished artist, Mr. W. S. Herrick, to whom I am indebted for the curious and interesting facts on which the tales of "The Terribly Strange Bed" and "The Yellow Mask" are founded.
Although the statement may appear somewhat superfluous to those who know me, it may not be out of place to add, in conclusion, that these stories are entirely of my own imagining, constructing, and writing. The fact that the events of some of my tales occur on foreign ground, and are acted out by foreign personages, appears to have suggested in some quarters the inference that the stories themselves might be of foreign origin. Let me, once for all, assure any readers who may honor me with their attention, that in this, and in all other cases, they may depend on the genuineness of my literary offspring. The little children of my brain may be weakly enough, and may be sadly in want of a helping hand to aid them in their first attempts at walking on the stage of this great world; but, at any rate, they are not borrowed children. The members of my own literary family are indeed increasing so fast as to render the very idea of borrowing quite out of the question, and to suggest serious apprehension that I may not have done adding to the large book-population, on my own sole responsibility, even yet....
In a court-yard in the City of London, which was No Thoroughfare either for vehicles or foot-passengers; a court-yard diverging from a steep, a slippery, and a winding street connecting Tower Street with the Middlesex shore of the Thames; stood the place of business of Wilding & Co., Wine Merchants. Probably as a jocose acknowledgment of the obstructive character of this main approach, the point nearest to its base at which one could take the river (if so inodorously minded) bore the appellation Break-Neck-Stairs. The court-yard itself had likewise been descriptively entitled in old time, Cripple Corner.
Years before the year one thousand eight hundred and sixty-one, people had left off taking boat at Break-Neck-Stairs, and watermen had ceased to ply there. The slimy little causeway had dropped into the river by a slow process of suicide, and two or three stumps of piles and a rusty iron mooring-ring were all that remained of the departed Break-Neck glories. Sometimes, indeed, a laden coal barge would bump itself into the place, and certain laborious heavers, seemingly mud-engendered, would arise, deliver the cargo in the neighbourhood, shove off, and vanish; but at most times the only commerce of Break-Neck-Stairs arose out of the conveyance of casks and bottles, both full and empty, both to and from the cellars of Wilding & Co., Wine Merchants. Even that commerce was but occasional, and through three-fourths of its rising tides the dirty indecorous drab of a river would come solitarily oozing and lapping at the rusty ring, as if it had heard of the Doge and the Adriatic, and wanted to be married to the great conserver of its filthiness, the Right Honourable the Lord Mayor.
The weary old nineteenth century had advanced into the last twenty years of its life.
Towards two o'clock in the afternoon, Ovid Vere (of the Royal College of Surgeons) stood at the window of his consulting-room in London, looking out at the summer sunshine, and the quiet dusty street.
He had received a warning, familiar to the busy men of our time—the warning from overwrought Nature, which counsels rest after excessive work. With a prosperous career before him, he had been compelled (at only thirty-one years of age) to ask a colleague to take charge of his practice, and to give the brain which he had cruelly wearied a rest of some months to come. On the next day he had arranged to embark for the Mediterranean in a friend's yacht.
An active man, devoted heart and soul to his profession, is not a man who can learn the happy knack of being idle at a moment's notice. Ovid found the mere act of looking out of window, and wondering what he should do next, more than he had patience to endure.
He turned to his study table. If he had possessed a wife to look after him, he would have been reminded that he and his study table had nothing in common, under present circumstances. Being deprived of conjugal superintendence, he broke though his own rules. His restless hand unlocked a drawer, and took out a manuscript work on medicine of his own writing. "Surely," he thought, "I may finish a chapter, before I go to sea to-morrow?"
THE events happened soon after the first thirty years of the present century had come to an end.
On a fine morning, early in the month of April, a gentleman of middle age (named Rayburn) took his little daughter Lucy out for a walk in the woodland pleasure-ground of Western London, called Kensington Gardens.
The few friends whom he possessed reported of Mr. Rayburn (not unkindly) that he was a reserved and solitary man. He might have been more accurately described as a widower devoted to his only surviving child. Although he was not more than forty years of age, the one pleasure which made life enjoyable to Lucy's father was offered by Lucy herself.
Playing with her ball, the child ran on to the southern limit of the Gardens, at that part of it which still remains nearest to the old Palace of Kensington. Observing close at hand one of those spacious covered seats, called in England "alcoves," Mr. Rayburn was reminded that he had the morning's newspaper in his pocket, and that he might do well to rest and read. At that early hour the place was a solitude.
"Go on playing, my dear," he said; "but take care to keep where I can see you."
Lucy tossed up her ball; and Lucy's father opened his newspaper. He had not been reading for more than ten minutes, when he felt a familiar little hand laid on his knee.
"Tired of playing?" he inquired—with his eyes still on the newspaper.
"I'm frightened, papa."...
Time had discolored the paper, and had turned the ink to a brownish hue. The letters were all addressed to the same person—"THE RT. HON. LORD LYDIARD"—and were all signed in the same way—"Your affectionate cousin, James Tollmidge." Judged by these specimens of his correspondence, Mr. Tollmidge must have possessed one great merit as a letter-writer—the merit of brevity. He will weary nobody's patience, if he is allowed to have a hearing. Let him, therefore, be permitted, in his own high-flown way, to speak for himself.First Letter.—"My statement, as your Lordship requests, shall be short and to the point. I was doing very well as a portrait-painter in the country; and I had a wife and children to consider. Under the circumstances, if I had been left to decide for myself, I should certainly have waited until I had saved a little money before I ventured on the serious expense of taking a house and studio at the west end of London. Your Lordship, I positively declare, encouraged me to try the experiment without waiting. And here I am, unknown and unemployed, a helpless artist lost in London—with a sick wife and hungry children, and bankruptcy staring me in the face. On whose shoulders does this dreadful responsibility rest? On your Lordship's!" Second Letter.—"After a week's delay, you favor me, my Lord, with a curt reply. I can be equally curt on my side. I indignantly deny that I or my wife ever presumed to see your Lordship's name as a means of recommendation to sitters without your permission. Some enemy has slandered us. I claim as my right to know the name of that enemy."Third (and last) Letter.—"Another week has passed—and not a word of answer has reached me from your Lordship. It matters little. I have employed the interval in making inquiries, and I have at last discovered the hostile influence which has estranged you from me. I have been, it seems, so unfortunate as to offend Lady Lydiard (how, I cannot imagine); and the all-powerful influence of this noble lady is now used against the struggling artist who is united to you by the sacred ties of kindred. Be it so. I can fight my way upwards, my Lord, as other men have done before me. A day may yet come when the throng of carriages waiting at the door of the fashionable portrait-painter will include her Ladyship's vehicle, and bring me the tardy expression of her Ladyship's regret. I refer you, my Lord Lydiard, to that day!"
Madame Pratolungo presents Herself
CHAPTER THE SECOND
Madame Pratolungo makes a Voyage on Land
CHAPTER THE THIRD
Poor Miss Finch
CHAPTER THE FOURTH
Twilight View of the Man
CHAPTER THE FIFTH
Candlelight View of the Man
CHAPTER THE SIXTH
A Cage of Finches
CHAPTER THE SEVENTH
Daylight View of the Man
CHAPTER THE EIGHTH
The Perjury of the Clock
CHAPTER THE NINTH
The Hero of the Trial
CHAPTER THE TENTH
First Appearance of Jicks
CHAPTER THE ELEVENTH
CHAPTER THE TWELFTH
Mr. Finch smells Money
CHAPTER THE THIRTEENTH
Second Appearance of Jicks
CHAPTER THE FOURTEENTH
Discoveries at Browndown
CHAPTER THE FIFTEENTH
Events at the Bedside
CHAPTER THE SIXTEENTH
First Result of the Robbery
CHAPTER THE SEVENTEENTH
The Doctor's Opinion
CHAPTER THE EIGHTEENTH
CHAPTER THE NINETEENTH
Second Result of the Robbery
CHAPTER THE TWENTIETH
Good Papa again!
CHAPTER THE TWENTY-FIRST
Madame Pratolungo Returns to Dimchurch
CHAPTER THE TWENTY-SECOND
The Twin-Brother's Letter
CHAPTER THE TWENTY-THIRD
He sets us All Right
CHAPTER THE TWENTY-FOURTH
He sees Lucilla
CHAPTER THE TWENTY-FIFTH
Nugent puzzles Madame Pratolungo
CHAPTER THE TWENTY-SIXTH
He proves Equal to the Occasion
CHAPTER THE TWENTY-SEVENTH
He finds a Way out of it
CHAPTER THE TWENTY-EIGHTH
He crosses the Rubicon
CHAPTER THE TWENTY-NINTH
CHAPTER THE THIRTIETH
CHAPTER THE THIRTY-FIRST
"Who Shall Decide when Doctors disagree?"
CHAPTER THE THIRTY-SECOND
Alas for the Marriage!
CHAPTER THE THIRTY-THIRD
The Day Between
THE END OF THE FIRST PART
PART THE SECOND
CHAPTER THE THIRTY-FOURTH
Nugent shows his Hand
CHAPTER THE THIRTY-FIFTH
Lucilla tries her Sight
CHAPTER THE THIRTY-SIXTH
The Brothers Meet
CHAPTER THE THIRTY-SEVENTH
The Brothers change Places
CHAPTER THE THIRTY-EIGHTH
Is there no Excuse for Him?
CHAPTER THE THIRTY-NINTH
She Learns to See
CHAPTER THE FORTIETH
Traces of Nugent
CHAPTER THE FORTY-FIRST
A Hard Time for Madame Pratolungo
CHAPTER THE FORTY-SECOND
The Story of Lucilla: told by Herself
CHAPTER THE FORTY-THIRD
Lucilla's Journal, continued
CHAPTER THE FORTY-FOURTH
Lucilla's Journal, continued
CHAPTER THE FORTY-FIFTH
Lucilla's Journal, concluded
CHAPTER THE FORTY-SIXTH
The Italian Steamer
CHAPTER THE FORTY-SEVENTH
On the Way to the End. First Stage
CHAPTER THE FORTY-EIGHTH
On the Way to the End. Second Stage
CHAPTER THE FORTY-NINTH
On the Way to the End. Third Stage
CHAPTER THE FIFTIETH
The End of the Journey
Madame Pratolungo's Last Words
At the period when the episode just related occurred in the life of Mr. Zachary Thorpe the younger—that is to say, in the year 1837—Baregrove Square was the farthest square from the city, and the nearest to the country, of any then existing in the north-western suburb of London. But, by the time fourteen years more had elapsed—that is to say, in the year 1851—Baregrove Square had lost its distinctive character altogether; other squares had filched from it those last remnants of healthy rustic flavor from which its good name had been derived; other streets, crescents, rows, and villa-residences had forced themselves pitilessly between the old suburb and the country, and had suspended for ever the once neighborly relations between the pavement of Baregrove Square and the pathways of the pleasant fields.
Alexander's armies were great makers of conquests; and Napoleon's armies were great makers of conquests; but the modern Guerilla regiments of the hod, the trowel, and the brick-kiln, are the greatest conquerors of all; for they hold the longest the soil that they have once possessed. How mighty the devastation which follows in the wake of these tremendous aggressors, as they march through the kingdom of nature, triumphantly bricklaying beauty wherever they go! What dismantled castle, with the enemy's flag flying over its crumbling walls, ever looked so utterly forlorn as a poor field-fortress of nature, imprisoned on all sides by the walled camp of the enemy, and degraded by a hostile banner of pole and board, with the conqueror's device inscribed on it—"THIS GROUND TO BE LET ON BUILDING LEASES?" What is the historical spectacle of Marius sitting among the ruins of Carthage, but a trumpery theatrical set-scene, compared with the mournful modern sight of the last tree left standing, on the last few feet of grass left growing, amid the greenly-festering stucco of a ...
Viewing my task by the light which later experience casts on it, I think I shall act wisely by exercising some control over the freedom of my pen.
I propose to pass over in silence the name of the town in which is situated the prison once confided to my care. I shall observe a similar discretion in alluding to individuals—some dead, some living, at the present time.
Being obliged to write of a woman who deservedly suffered the extreme penalty of the law, I think she will be sufficiently identified if I call her The Prisoner. Of the four persons present on the evening before her execution three may be distinguished one from the other by allusion to their vocations in life. I here introduce them as The Chaplain, The Minister, and The Doctor. The fourth was a young woman. She has no claim on my consideration; and, when she is mentioned, her name may appear. If these reserves excite suspicion, I declare beforehand that they influence in no way the sense of responsibility which commands an honest man to speak the truth....