Anne Bronte: The Tenant of Wildfell Hall


When all were gone, I learnt that the vile slander had indeed been circulated throughout the company, in the very presence of the victim. Rose, however, vowed she did not and would not believe it, and my mother made the same declaration, though not, I fear, with the same amount of real, unwavering incredulity. It seemed to dwell continually on her mind, and she kept irritating me from time to time by such expressions as - 'Dear, dear, who would have thought it! - Well! I always thought there was something odd about her. - You see what it is for women to affect to be different to other people.' And once it was, - 'I misdoubted that appearance of mystery from the very first - I thought there would no good come of it; but this is a sad, sad business, to be sure!'

'Why, mother, you said you didn't believe these tales,' said Fergus.

'No more I do, my dear; but then, you know, there must be some foundation.'

'The foundation is in the wickedness and falsehood of the world,' said I, 'and in the fact that Mr. Lawrence has been seen to go that way once or twice of an evening - and the village gossips say he goes to pay his addresses to the strange lady, and the scandal-mongers have greedily seized the rumour, to make it the basis of their own infernal structure.'

'Well, but, Gilbert, there must be something in her manner to countenance such reports.'

'Did you see anything in her manner?'

'No, certainly; but then, you know, I always said there was something strange about her.'

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