The Woman in White
The Story Continued By Walter Hartright
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.
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, in the estimation of others, are at once the dupes and the agents of a
daring imposture. We are supposed to be the accomplices of mad Anne Catherick, who
claims the name, the place, and the living personality of dead Lady Glyde.
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.