Armadale HTML version
the hurry of the moment, one or two little matters escaped me which I think I
ought to impress on your attention.' The rest of the letter is not of the slightest
importance, but the lines that I have just copied are well worthy of all the
attention you can bestow on them. They have saved me from discovery, my dear,
before I have been a week in Major Milroy's service!
"It happened no later than yesterday evening, and it began and ended in this
"There is a gentleman here, (of whom I shall have more to say presently) who is
an intimate friend of young Armadale's, and who bears the strange name of
Midwinter. He contrived yesterday to speak to me alone in the park. Almost as
soon as he opened his lips, I found that my name had been discovered in London
(no doubt by the Somersetshire clergyman); and that Mr. Midwinter had been
chosen (evidently by the same person) to identify the Miss Gwilt who had
vanished from Brompton with the Miss Gwilt who had appeared at Thorpe
Ambrose. You foresaw this danger, I remember; but you could scarcely have
imagined that the exposure would threaten me so soon.
"I spare you the details of our conversation to come to the end. Mr. Midwinter put
the matter very delicately, declaring, to my great surprise, that he felt quite certain
himself that I was not the Miss Gwilt of whom his friend was in search; and that
he only acted as he did out of regard to the anxiety of a person whose wishes he
was bound to respect. Would I assist him in setting that anxiety completely at rest,
as far as I was concerned, by kindly answering one plain question--which he had
no other right to ask me than the right my indulgence might give him? The lost
'Miss Gwilt' had been missed on Monday last, at two o'clock, in the crowd on the
platform of the North-western Railway, in Euston Square. Would I authorize him
to say that on that day, and at that hour, the Miss Gwilt who was Major Milroy's
governess had never been near the place?
"I need hardly tell you that I seized the fine opportunity he had given me of
disarming all future suspicion. I took a high tone on the spot, and met him with
the old lady's letter. He politely refused to look at it. I insisted on his looking at it.
'I don't choose to be mistaken,' I said, 'for a woman who may be a bad character,
because she happens to bear, or to have assumed, the same name as mine. I insist
on your reading the first part of this letter for my satisfaction, if not for your own.'
He was obliged to comply; and there was the proof, in the old lady's handwriting,
that, at two o'clock on Monday last, she and I were together in Kingsdown
Crescent, which any directory would tell him is a 'crescent' in Bayswater! I leave
you to imagine his apologies, and the perfect sweetness with which I received
"I might, of course, if I had not preserved the letter, have referred him to you, or
to the major's mother, with similar results. As it is, the object has been gained
without trouble or delay. I have been proved not to be myself; and one of the
many dangers that threatened me at Thorpe Ambrose is a danger blown over from
this moment. Your house-maid's face may not be a very handsome one; but there
is no denying that it has done us excellent service.