spoken of the fulfillment of the first Vision as the doctor at the Isle of Man might
have spoken of it. He had asked, as the doctor might have asked, Where was the
wonder of their seeing a pool at sunset, when they had a whole network of pools
within a few hours' drive of them? and what was there extraordinary in
discovering a woman at the Mere, when there were roads that led to it, and
villages in its neighborhood, and boats employed on it, and pleasure parties
visiting it? So again, he had waited to vindicate the firmer resolution with which
he looked to the future, until he had first revealed all that he now saw himself of
the errors of the past. The abandonment of his friend's interests, the unworthiness
of the confidence that had given him the steward's place, the forgetfulness of the
trust that Mr. Brock had reposed in him all implied in the one idea of leaving
Allan--were all pointed out. The glaring self-contradictions betrayed in accepting
the Dream as the revelation of a fatality, and in attempting to escape that fatality
by an exertion of free-will--in toiling to store up knowledge of the steward's
duties for the future, and in shrinking from letting the future find him in Allan's
house--were, in their turn, unsparingly exposed. To every error, to every
inconsistency, he resolutely confessed, before he ventured on the last simple
appeal which closed all, "Will you trust me in the future? Will you forgive and
forget the past?"
A man who could thus open his whole heart, without one lurking reserve inspired
by consideration for himself, was not a man to forget any minor act of
concealment of which his weakness might have led him to be guilty toward his
friend. It lay heavy on Midwinter's conscience that he had kept secret from Allan
a discovery which he ought in Allan's dearest interests to have revealed--the
discovery of his mother's room.
But one doubt still closed his lips--the doubt whether Mrs. Armadale's conduct in
Madeira had been kept secret on her return to England.
Careful inquiry, first among the servants, then among the tenantry, careful
consideration of the few reports current at the time, as repeated to him by the few
persons left who remembered them, convinced him at last that the family secret
had been successfully kept within the family limits. Once satisfied that whatever
inquiries the son might make would lead to no disclosure which could shake his
respect for his mother's memory, Midwinter had hesitated no longer. He had taken
Allan into the room, and had shown him the books on the shelves, and all that the
writing in the books disclosed. He had said plainly, "My one motive for not
telling you this before sprang from my dread of interesting you in the room which
I looked at with horror as the second of the scenes pointed at in the Dream.
Forgive me this also, and you will have forgiven me all."
With Allan's love for his mother's memory, but one result could follow such an
avowal as this. He had liked the little room from the first, as a pleasant contrast to
the oppressive grandeur of the other rooms at Thorpe Ambrose, and, now that he
knew what associations were connected with it, his resolution was at once taken
to make it especially his own. The same day, all his personal possessions were
collected and arranged in his mother's room--in Midwinter's presence, and with
Midwinter's assistance given to the work.