The Woman in White
'In one moment, every drop of blood in my body was brought to a stop ...'
'In one moment, every drop of blood in my body was brought to a stop... There, as if it had that moment sprung out of the earth, stood the figure of a solitary Woman, dressed from head to foot in white'.The woman in white is Anne Catherick who has
has escaped from a mad-house,
The first immense conception starts here, and subsequently brings to such amazing results.
Anne Catherick, is hidden in the neighborhood and she is in communication with Lady Glyde, Sir Pecival's wife. She keeps a secret, which would be the certain ruin of Percival.
Sir Percival has told Conte Fosco that he is a lost man, unless his wife is silenced, and unless Anne Catherick is found.
In the summer of eighteen hundred and fifty Ottavio, Baldassarre Conte Fosco arrives in England, charged with a delicate political mission from abroad.
He arranges to pass the preliminary period of repose, in the superb mansion of Sir Percival Glyde.
The bond of friendship which unites Percival and Fosco is strengthened, on that occasion, by a touching similarity in the pecuniary position on his side and on Fosco's side. They both want money. Immense necessity! Universal want!
Fosco and his wife are received at the mansion by the "magnificent creature who is inscribed on my heart as "Marian," who is known in the colder atmosphere of society as "Miss Halcombe." ,writes Conte Fosco on his witness.
Miss Marian Halcombe is the step sister of Laura Farlie married Glyde.
Conte Fosco's witness is one of the many we read in the novel, together with observations, legal notes and pages of diary.
We know the story form different point of views and for this reason it is not easy to establish the truth.
Conte Fosco only knows Anne Catherick by description, as presenting an extraordinary personal resemblance to Lady Glyde. They are two separate identities, they are to change names, places, and destinies, the one with the other.
'You don't remember a fine spring day at Limmeridge,' Anne Catherick says to Laura 'and your mother walking down the path that led to the school, with a little girl on each side of her? I have had nothing else to think of since, and I remember it. You were one of the little girls, and I was the other. Pretty, clever Miss Fairlie, and poor dazed Anne Catherick were nearer to each other then than they are now!'"
"What reminded you of that, Laura?" asks Marian .
"She reminded me. While I was looking at her, while she was very close to me, it came over my mind suddenly that we were like each other! Her face was pale and thin and weary but the sight of it startled me, as if it had been the sight of my own face in the glass after a long illness.
'You have not got your mother's face,' Anne says, 'or your mother's heart. Your mother's face was dark, and your mother's heart, Miss Fairlie, was the heart of an angel.'
Why do you call me Miss Fairlie?' 'Because I love the name of Fairlie and hate the name of Glyde,' she breaks out violently. I had seen nothing like madness in her before this, but I fancied I saw it now in her eyes. 'I only thought you might not know I was married,' I said, 'I am here because you are married. I am here to make atonement to you, before I meet your mother in the world beyond the grave.'
The identity of Lady Glyde as a living person is a proved fact to Miss Halcombe and Mr. Hartright, her sketch teacher and the man she loved reciprocated.
There is her aunt's testimony to prove that she came to Count Fosco's house, that she felt ill, and that she died. There is the testimony of the medical certificate to prove the death, and to show that it took place under natural circumstances. There is the fact of the funeral at Limmeridge, and there is the assertion of the inscription on the tomb. What evidence has Mr. Hartright to support the declaration on his side that the person who died and was buried was not Lady Glyde?
Miss Halcombe goes to a certain private Asylum, and there sees a certain female patient. It is known that a woman named Anne Catherick, and bearing an extraordinary personal resemblance to Lady Glyde, escaped from the Asylum; it is known that the gentleman who brings her back warns Mr. Fairlie that it is part of her insanity to be bent on personating his dead niece; and it is known that she does repeatedly declare herself in the Asylum (where no one believed her) to be Lady Glyde. These are all facts.
What has Mr. Hartright to set against them?.
Does Miss Halcombe assert her supposed sister's identity to the owner of the Asylum, and take legal means for rescuing her? No, she secretly bribes a nurse to let her escape. When the patient has been released in this doubtful manner, and is taken to Mr. Fairlie, does he recognize her? Is he staggered for one instant in his belief of his niece's death? No. Do the servants recognize her? No. Is she kept in the neighborhood to assert her own identity, and to stand the test of further proceedings? No, she is privately taken to London. In the meantime Mr. Hartright has recognized her also, but he is not a relative he is not even an old friend of the family. The servants contradict him, and Mr. Fairlie contradicts Miss Halcombe, and the supposed Lady Glyde contradicts herself. She declares she passed the night in London at a certain house.
Mr. Hartright's own evidence shows that she has never been near that house, and his own admission is that her condition of mind prevents him from producing her anywhere to submit to investigation, and to speak for herself.
So where are Mr. Hartright's proofs?"
"But is it not possible," Mr. Hartright urged, "by dint of patience and exertion, to discover additional evidence? Miss Halcombe and I have a few hundred pounds"
Questions of identity, where instances of personal resemblance are concerned, are, in themselves, the hardest of all questions to settle.
But Mr. Hartright is determined to believe that there is a case.
If he can show a discrepancy between the date of the doctor's certificate and the date of Lady Glyde's journey to London, the matter will wear a totally different aspect.
In all probability, the only persons in existence who knows the date are Sir Percival and the Count.
"There shall be no money motive, "no idea of personal advantage in the service I mean to render to Lady Glyde. Mr. Hartright says. "She has been cast out as a stranger from the house in which she was borna lie which records her death has been written on her mother's tomb and there are two men, alive and unpunished, who are responsible for it. That house shall open again to receive her in the presence of every soul who followed the false funeral to the grave that lie shall be publicly erased from the tombstone by the authority of the head of the family, and those two men shall answer for their crime to me, though the justice that sits in tribunals is powerless to pursue them. I have given my life to that purpose, and, alone as I stand, if God spares me, I will accomplish it." concludes Mr. Hartright.