The Woman in White HTML version
The Story Continued By Eliza Michelson
I am asked to state plainly what I know of the progress of Miss Halcombe's illness and of
the circumstances under which Lady Glyde left Blackwater Park for London.
The reason given for making this demand on me is, that my testimony is wanted in the
interests of truth. As the widow of a clergyman of the Church of England (reduced by
misfortune to the necessity of accepting a situation), I have been taught to place the
claims of truth above all other considerations. I therefore comply with a request which I
might otherwise, through reluctance to connect myself with distressing family affairs,
have hesitated to grant.
I made no memorandum at the time, and I cannot therefore be sure to a day of the date,
but I believe I am correct in stating that Miss Halcombe's serious illness began during the
last fortnight or ten days in June. The breakfast hour was late at Blackwater Park--
sometimes as late as ten, never earlier than half-past nine. On the morning to which I am
now referring, Miss Halcombe (who was usually the first to come down) did not make
her appearance at the table. After the family had waited a quarter of an hour, the upper
housemaid was sent to see after her, and came running out of the room dreadfully
frightened. I met the servant on the stairs, and went at once to Miss Halcombe to see what
was the matter. The poor lady was incapable of telling me. She was walking about her
room with a pen in her hand, quite light-headed, in a state of burning fever.
Lady Glyde (being no longer in Sir Percival's service, I may, without impropriety,
mention my former mistress by her name, instead of calling her my lady) was the first to
come in from her own bedroom. She was so dreadfully alarmed and distressed that she
was quite useless. The Count Fosco, and his lady, who came upstairs immediately
afterwards, were both most serviceable and kind. Her ladyship assisted me to get Miss
Halcombe to her bed. His lordship the Count remained in the sitting-room, and having
sent for my medicine-chest, made a mixture for Miss Halcombe, and a cooling lotion to
be applied to her head, so as to lose no time before the doctor came. We applied the
lotion, but we could not get her to take the mixture. Sir Percival undertook to send for the
doctor. He despatched a groom, on horseback, for the nearest medical man, Mr. Dawson,
of Oak Lodge.
Mr. Dawson arrived in less than an hour's time. He was a respectable elderly man, well
known all round the country, and we were much alarmed when we found that he
considered the case to be a very serious one.
His lordship the Count affably entered into conversation with Mr. Dawson, and gave his
opinions with a judicious freedom. Mr. Dawson, not over-courteously, inquired if his
lordship's advice was the advice of a doctor, and being informed that it was the advice of
one who had studied medicine unprofessionally, replied that he was not accustomed to
consult with amateur physicians. The Count, with truly Christian meekness of temper,