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Page) Third Artillery on 1st July, 1840. In the following year he
distinguished himself in the war against the Florida Indians, and was brevetted
First Lieutenant for his gallantry. He accompanied General Taylor to Mexico, and
at Monterey won the brevet rank of Captain. At Buena Vista, again, he
distinguished himself nobly, and was brevetted Major. On the close of the war he
returned home, and in 1850 assumed the responsible post of Instructor of
Artillery and Cavalry at West Point. At the outbreak of the war Major Thomas was
one of the few Virginians whose honor would not suffer him to rebel against his
country's flag, and in May, 1861, he was appointed Colonel of the Fifth Cavalry.
In August of the same year he received the appointment of Brigadier-General of
Volunteers. He has since served throughout the campaign in the West.
[Entered according to Act of
Congress, in the Year 1862, by Harper & Brothers, in the Clerk's Office of the
District Court for the Southern District of New York.]
AUTHOR OF "THE WOMAN IN WHITE,"
Printed from the Manuscript and
early Proof- sheets purchased by the Proprietors of "Harper's Weekly."
BETWEEN THE SCENES.
FROM MRS. NOEL VANSTONE TO MR.
"PARK TERRACE, ST. JOHN'S WOOD,
"DEAR SIR,—I came to London
yesterday for the purpose of seeing a relative, leaving Mr. Vanstone at Baliol
Cottage, and proposing to return to him in the course of a week. I reached
London late last night, and drove to these lodgings, having written to secure
"This morning's post has brought
me a letter from my own maid, whom I left at Baliol Cottage, with instructions
to write to me if any thing extraordinary took place in my absence. You will
find the girl's letter inclosed in this. I have had some experience of her, and
I believe she is to be strictly depended on to tell the truth.
"I purposely abstain from
troubling you by any useless allusions to myself. When you have read my maid's
letter, you will understand the shock which the news contained in it has caused
me. I can only repeat that I place implicit belief in her statement. I am firmly
persuaded that my husband's former housekeeper has found him out, has practiced
on his weakness in my absence, and has prevailed on him to make another Will.
From what I know of this woman I feel no doubt that she has used her influence
over Mr. Vanstone to deprive me, if possible, of all future interest in my
"Under such circumstances as
these, it is in the last degree important — for more reasons than I need mention
here—that I should see Mr. Vanstone, and come to an explanation with him at the
earliest possible opportunity. You will find that my maid thoughtfully kept her
letter open until the last moment before post-time—without, however, having any
later news to give me than that Mrs. Lecount was to sleep at the cottage last
night, and that she and Mr. Vanstone were to leave together this morning. But
for that last piece of intelligence I should have been on my way back to
Scotland before now. As it is, I can not decide for myself what I ought to do
next. My going back to Dumfries, after Mr. Vanstone has left it, seems like
taking a journey for nothing—and my staying in London appears to be almost
"Will you kindly advise me in
this difficulty? I will come to you at Lincoln's Inn at any time this afternoon
or to-morrow, which you may appoint. My next few hours are engaged. As soon as
this letter is dispatched I am going to Kensington, with the object of
ascertaining whether certain doubts I feel about the means by which Mrs. Lecount
may have accomplished her discovery are well founded or not. If you will let me
have your answer by return of post I will not fail to get back to St. John's
Wood in time to receive it.
"Believe me, dear Sir, yours
FROM MR. LOSCOMBE TO MRS. NOEL
LINCOLN'S INN, Nov. 5.
"DEAR MADAM,—Your letter and its
inclosure have caused me great concern and surprise. Pressure of business allows
me no hope of being able to see you either to-day or to-morrow morning. But if
three o'clock to-morrow afternoon will suit you, at that hour you will find me
at your service.
"I can not pretend to offer a
positive opinion until I know more of the particulars connected with this
extraordinary business than I find communicated either in your letter or in your
maid's. But with this reserve I venture to suggest that your remaining in London
until tomorrow may possibly lead to other results besides your consultation at
my chambers. There is at least a chance that you or I may hear something further
in this strange matter by the morning's post.
"I remain, dear Madam, faithfully
FROM MRS. NOEL VANSTONE TO MISS
GARTH. "November 5, Two o' Clock.
"I have just returned from
Westmorland House—after purposely leaving it in secret, and
purposely avoiding you under your
own roof. You shall know why I came, and why I went away. It is due to my
remembrance of old times not to treat you like a stranger, although I can never
again treat you like a friend.
"I traveled yesterday from the
North to London. My only object in taking this long journey was to see Norah
once more. I had been suffering for many weary weeks past such remorse as only
miserable women like me can feel. Perhaps the suffering weakened me, perhaps it
roused some old forgotten tenderness—God knows!—I can't explain it; I can only
tell you that I began to think of Norah by day, and to dream of Norah by night,
till I was almost heart-broken. I have no better reason than this to give for
running all the risks which I ran, and coming to London to see her. I don't wish
to claim more for myself than I deserve; I don't wish to tell you I was the
reformed and repenting creature whom you might have approved. I had only one
feeling in me that I know of. I wanted to put my arms round Norah's neck, and
cry my heart out on Norah's bosom. Childish enough, I dare say. Something might
have come of it; nothing might have come of it—who knows?
"I had no means of finding Norah
without your assistance. However you might disapprove of what I had done, I
thought you would not refuse to help me to find my sister. When I lay down last
night in my strange bed I said to myself, 'I will ask Miss Garth, for my
father's sake and my mother's sake, to tell me.' You don't know what a comfort I
felt in that thought. How should you? What do good women like you know of
miserable sinners like me? All you know is that you pray for us at church.
"Well, I fell asleep happily that
night—for the first time since my marriage. When the morning came I paid the
penalty of daring to be happy, only for one night. When the morning came a
letter came with it which told me that my bitterest enemy on earth (you have
meddled sufficiently with my affairs to know what enemy I mean) had revenged
herself on me in my absence. In following the impulse which led me to my sister
I had gone to my ruin.
"The mischief was beyond all
present remedy when I received the news of it. Whatever had happened, whatever
might happen, I made up my mind to persist in my resolution of seeing Norah
before I did any thing else. I suspected you of being concerned in the disaster
which had overtaken me—because I felt positively certain at Aldborough that you
and Mrs. Lecount had written to each other. But I never suspected Norah. If I
lay on my death-bed at this moment I could say with a safe conscience I never
"So I went this morning to
Westmorland House to ask you for my sister's address, and to acknowledge plainly
that I suspected you of being again in correspondence with Mrs. Lecount.
"When I inquired for you at the
door they told me you had gone out, but that you were expected back before long.
They asked me if I would see your sister, who was then in the school-room. I
desired that your sister should on no account be disturbed: my business was not
with her but with you. I begged to be allowed to wait in a room by myself until
"They showed me into the double
room on the ground-floor, divided by curtains—as it was when I last remember it.
There was a fire in the outer division of the room but none in the inner; and
for that reason, I suppose, the curtains were drawn. The servant was very civil
and attentive to me. I have learned to be thankful for civility and attention,
and I spoke to her as cheerfully as I could. I said to her, 'I shall see Miss
Garth here as she comes up to the door, and I can beckon her in through the long
window.' The servant said I could do so, if you came that way—but that you let
yourself in sometimes with your own key by the back garden-gate; and if you did
this, she would take care to let you know of my visit. I mention these trifles
to show you that there was no premeditated deceit in my mind when I came to the
"I waited a weary time, and you
never came. I don't know whether my impatience made me think so, or whether the
large fire burning made the room really as hot as I felt it to be—I only know
that, after a while, I passed through the curtains into the inner room to try
the cooler atmosphere.
"I walked to the long window
which leads into the back-garden, to look out; and almost at the same time I
heard the door opened—the door of the room I had just left—and your voice and
the voice of some other woman, a stranger to me, talking. The stranger was one
of the parlor-boarders, I dare say. I gathered from the first words you
exchanged together that you had met in the passage—she on her way down stairs,
and you on your way in from the back-garden. Her next question and your next
answer informed me that this person was a friend of my sister's, who felt a
strong interest in her, and who knew that you had just returned from a visit to
Norah. So far I only hesitated to show myself because I shrank, in my painful
situation, from facing a stranger. But when I heard my own name immediately
afterward on your lips and on hers, then I purposely came nearer to the curtain
between us and purposely listened.
"A mean action, you will say?
Call it mean, if you like. What better can you expect from such a woman as I am?
"You were always famous for your
memory. There is no necessity for my repeating the words you spoke to your
friend, and the words your friend spoke to you hardly an hour since. When you
read these lines you will know, as well as I know, what those words told me. I
ask for no particulars; I will take all your reasons and all your excuses for
granted. It is enough for me to know that you and Mr. Pendril have been
searching for me again, and that Norah is in the
conspiracy this time, to reclaim
me in spite of myself. It is enough for me to know that my letter to my sister
has been turned into a trap to catch me, and that Mrs. Lecount's revenge has
accomplished its object by means of information received from Norah's lips.
"Shall I tell you what I suffered
when I heard these things? No: it would be only a waste of time to tell you.
Whatever I suffer, I deserve it—don't I?
"I waited in that inner
room—knowing my own violent temper, and not trusting myself to see you, after
what I had heard—I waited in that inner room, trembling lest the servant should
tell you of my visit before I could find an opportunity of leaving the house. No
such misfortune happened. The servant, no doubt, heard the voices up stairs, and
supposed that we had met each other in the passage. I don't know how long or how
short a time it was before you left the room to go and take off your bonnet—you
went, and your friend went with you. I raised the long window softly and stepped
into the back-garden. The way by which you returned to the house was the way by
which I left it. No blame attaches to the servant. As usual, where I am
concerned, nobody is to blame but me.
"Time enough has passed now to
quiet my mind a little. You know how strong I am? You remember how I used to
fight against all my illnesses when I was a child? Now I am a woman, I fight
against my miseries in the same way. Don't pity me, Miss Garth! Don't pity me!
"I have no harsh feeling against
Norah. The hope I had of seeing her is a hope taken from me; the consolation I
had in writing to her is a consolation denied me for the future. I am cut to the
heart—but I have no angry feeling toward my sister. She means well, poor soul—I
dare say she means well. It would distress her if she knew what has happened.
Don't tell her. Conceal my visit and burn my letter.
"A last word to yourself, and I
have done. "If I rightly understand my present situation, your spies are still
searching for me to just as little purpose as they searched at York. Dismiss
them—you are wasting your money to no purpose. If you discovered me to-morrow,
what could you do? My position has altered. I am no longer the poor outcast
girl, the vagabond public performer, whom you once hunted after. I have done
what I told you I would do—I have made the general sense of propriety my
accomplice this time. Do you know who I am? I am a respectable married woman,
accountable for my actions to nobody under heaven but my husband. I have got a
place in the world, and a name in the world, at last. Even the law, which is the
friend of all you respectable people, has recognized my existence, and has
become my friend too! The Archbishop of Canterbury gave me his license to be
married, and the rector of Aldborough performed the service. If I found your
spies following me in the street, and if I chose to claim protection from them,
the law would acknowledge my claim. You forget what wonders my wickedness has
done for me. It has made Nobody's Child Somebody's Wife.
"If you will give these
considerations their due weight; if you will exert your excellent common-sense,
I have no fear of being obliged to appeal to my newly-found friend and
protector—the law. You will feel by this time that you have meddled with me at
last to some purpose. I am estranged from Norah—I am discovered by my husband—I
am defeated by Mrs. Lecount. You have driven me to the last extremity; you have
strengthened me to fight the battle of my life with the resolution which only a
lost and friendless woman can feel. Badly as your schemes have prospered they
have not proved totally useless after all!
"I have no more to say. If you
ever speak about me to Norah, tell her that a day may come when she will see me
again—the day when we two sisters have recovered our natural rights; the day
when I put Norah's fortune into Norah's hand.
"Those are my last words.
Remember them the next time you feel tempted to meddle with me again. MAGDALEN
FROM MR. LOSCOMBE TO MRS. NOEL
"LINCOLN'S INN, NOV. 6.
"DEAR MADAM,—This morning's post
has doubtless brought you the same shocking news which it has brought to me. You
must know, by this time, that a terrible affliction has befallen you—the
affliction of your husband's sudden death.
"I am on the point of starting
for the North, to make all needful inquiries, and to perform whatever duties I
may with propriety undertake, as solicitor to the deceased gentleman. Let me
earnestly recommend you not to follow me to Baliol Cottage until I have had time
to write to you first, and to give you such advice as I can not, through
ignorance of all the circumstances, pretend to offer now. You may rely on my
writing after my arrival in Scotland by the first post. I remain, dear Madam,
FROM MR. PENDRIL TO MISS
"SEARLE STREET, NOV. 6.
"DEAR MISS GARTH,—I return you
Mrs. Noel Vanstone's letter. I can understand your mortification at the tone in
which it is written, and your distress at the manner in which this unhappy woman
has interpreted the conversation that she overheard at your house. I can not
honestly add that I lament what has happened. My opinion has never altered since
the Combe-Raven time. I believe Mrs. Noel Vanstone to
be one of the most reckless,
desperate, and perverted women living; and any circumstances that estrange her
from her sister are circumstances which I welcome for her sister's sake.
"There can not be a moment's
doubt on the course you ought to follow in this matter. Even Mrs. Noel Vanstone
herself acknowledges the propriety of sparing her sister additional and
unnecessary distress. By all means keep Miss Vanstone in ignorance of the visit
to Kensington, and of the letter which has followed it. It would be not only
unwise, but absolutely cruel, to enlighten her. If we had any remedy to apply,
or even any hope to offer, we might feel some hesitation in keeping our secret.
But there is no remedy and no hope. Mrs. Noel Vanstone is perfectly justified in
the view she takes of her own position. Neither you nor I can assert the
smallest right to control her.
"I have already taken the
necessary measures for putting an end to our useless inquiries. In a few days I
will write to Miss Vanstone, and will do my best to tranquilize her mind on the
subject of her sister. If I can find no sufficient excuse to satisfy her, it
will be better she should think we have discovered nothing than that she should
know the truth.
"Believe me, most truly yours,
FROM MR. LOSCOMBE TO MRS. NOEL
VANSTONE. "LINCOLN'S INN, NOV. 15. [PRIVATE.]
"DEAR MADAM,—I am concerned to
hear that the continuance of your indisposition prevents you from seeing me. In
compliance with your request, I now proceed to communicate to you, in writing,
what I should have preferred communicating by word of mouth. Be pleased to
consider this letter as strictly confidential between yourself and me.
"I inclose, at your desire, a
copy of the Will executed by your late husband on the 3d of this month. There
can be no question of the genuineness of the original document. I protested, as
a matter of form, against Admiral Bartram's solicitor assuming a position of
authority at Baliol Cottage. But he took the position nevertheless, acting as
legal representative of the sole Executor under the second Will. I am bound to
say I should have done the same myself in his place.
"The serious question
follows—What can we do for the best in your interests? The Will executed under
my professional superintendence, on the 30th of September last, is at present
superseded and revoked by the second and later Will, executed on the 3d of
November. Can we dispute this document?
"I doubt the possibility of
disputing the new Will on the face of it. It is no doubt irregularly expressed,
but it is dated, signed, and witnessed as the law directs; and the perfectly
simple and straightforward provisions that it contains are in no respect, that I
can see, technically open to attack.
"This being the case, can we
dispute the Will on the ground that it has been executed when the Testator was
not in a fit state to dispose of his own property, or when the Testator was
subjected to undue and improper influence?
"In the first of these cases the
medical evidence would put an obstacle in our way. We can not assert that
previous illness had weakened the Testator's mind. It is clear that he died
suddenly, as the doctors had all along declared he would die, of disease of the
heart. He was out walking in his garden as usual on the day of his death; he ate
a hearty dinner; none of the persons in his service noticed any change in him;
he was a little more irritable with them than usual, but that was all. It is
impossible to attack the state of his faculties. There is no case to go into
court with so far.
"Can we declare that he acted
under undue influence, or, in plainer terms, under the influence of Mrs. Lecount?
"There are serious difficulties,
again, in the way of taking this course. We can not assert, for example, that
Mrs. Lecount has assumed a place in the Will which she has no fair claim to
occupy. She has cunningly limited her own interest, not only to what is fairly
her due, but to what the late Mr. Michael Vanstone himself had the intention of
leaving her. If I were examined on the subject I should be compelled to
acknowledge that I had heard him express this intention myself. It is only the
truth to say that I have heard him express it more than once. There is no point
of attack in Mrs. Lecount's legacy, and there is no point of attack in your late
husband's choice of an executor. He has made the wise choice, and the natural
choice, of the oldest and trustiest friend he had in the world.
"One more consideration remains,
the most important which I have yet approached, and therefore the consideration
which I have reserved to the last. On the thirtieth of September the Testator
executes a will, leaving his widow sole executrix, with a legacy of eighty
thousand pounds. On the third of November following he expressly revokes this
will and leaves another in its stead, in which his widow is never once
mentioned, and in which the whole residue of his estate, after payment of one
comparatively trifling legacy, is left to a friend.
"It rests entirely with you to
say whether any valid reason can or can not be produced to explain such an
extraordinary proceeding as this. If no reason can be assigned—and I know of
none myself—I think we have a point here which deserves our careful
consideration, for it may be a point which is open to attack. Pray understand
that I am now appealing to you solely as a lawyer, who is obliged to look all
possible eventualities in the face. I have no wish to intrude on your private
affairs; I have