**DISCLAIMER: This post is part of a read-along, and I intend to ruin the entire plot in the most roundabout way possible.**
What I didn't talk about last week even though I was DYING to was Marian getting sick and the Fat Man INVADING her diary with his fat hands and his ho-ho-hum, you clever woman, you. And all her plans! Foiled by the curse of a delicate female constitution!
Then, FINALLY, we get to hear Mr. Fairlie's opinion on the whole matter. Why can't anyone ever leave him alone so he can polish his coins and photograph his art collection? Even the clumsy English language is set against him. And then here comes Laura's maid and her potentially squeaky shoes. IS THERE NO END TO THE IRRITATIONS HE MUST ENDURE?
And I basically underlined everything he said, because---yes, I'm really about to say this---I liked his section more than Marian's. Can we just reread his narrative out loud via group conference call? No? Fine, but I'm making you reread these two parts, because I admire his use of parenthetical statements.
"Miss Halcombe had come to say good-by, and had given her two letters, one for me, and one for a gentleman in London. (I am not the gentleman in London---hang the gentleman in London!) She had carefully put the two letters into her bosom (what have I to do with her bosom?)" (p. 419)
"(Am I responsible for any of these vulgar fluctuations, which begin with unhappiness and end with tea?)" (p. 419)Basically, what we learn from this section is that the Countess went to the inn and DRUGGED Fanny and groped under her dress to steal Marian's letter to the attorney. You know things are serious when people are being drugged and felt up. Team Percival just stepped up their game, yo.
The other thing we learn is that Mr. Fairlie is not impressed by Fosco (he is immune to the Fat Man's charms), but he does admire his seeming lack of nerves. Personally, I think Fosco HAS nerves, but all the fat is insulating them from shock. Oh, and the OTHER thing we learned from Mr. Fairlie is that Louis, his valet, is a god among men. Seriously, Louis, I salute you.
Then Mrs. Michelson describes what I like to call "The Great Chicanery," in which Fosco and Percival HIDE OUR DEAR SWEET FEVERISH MARIAN from Laura so they can convince Laura to go to London in search of her.
And I can't quite figure out Mrs. Rubelle's motives in all this, but she gives me the heebies and the jeebies.
|Much like this overzealous Ewok.|
BUT YOU GUYS, our woman in white is dead! This is what we get for demanding a ghost. Poor Anne, come face-to-face with her nemesis at last . . . and it was too much for her poor heart to bear. That makes me sad. Let's not think about that anymore. BUT because everyone thinks she's Laura, she gets her one wish, which is to be buried next to her beloved Mrs. Fairlie.
Was anyone else kind of impressed by Walter's newfound bad-assitude? He survived disease and Indians in Central America and a shipwreck in the Gulf of Mexico. But he can still weep into his mommy's bosom when he hears the news of Laura's death. That's my kind of man.
When Walter runs into Marian and Laura in the graveyard, Marian's first instinct is to protect him. She doesn't want him to see Laura's face. Maybe because she wants to spare him the pain of their situation, even though she could certainly use his help. I was so struck by the way she cried out to God to give Walter strength and to spare him. That was a powerful Marian moment.
But Walter will not be spared. He makes it his mission to support Marian and Laura and to expose Fosco and Percival's trickery.
"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." (p. 549)
Can we talk about Marian again? (As if I have to ask.) When people refer to wives as being helpmates to their husbands, I believe they are talking about what Marian is to Walter. WHY AREN'T THEY IN LOVE?
"'Don't doubt my courage, Walter,' she pleaded, 'it's my weakness that cries, not me. The house-work shall conquer it, if I can't.' . . . 'I am not quite broken down yet,' she said; 'I am worth trusting with my share of the work.' Before I could answer, she added in a whisper, 'And worth trusting with my share in the risk and the danger, too. Remember that, if the time comes!'" (p. 534)This woman is a warrior princess. Speaking of which . . . *begin tangent* Marian and Laura as Xena and Gabrielle. Discuss.
Meanwhile, not only is Laura clueless as to how she arrived in the asylum, she can't be included in current investigations because her mental state is too delicate to bear any strain. Walter even says that he has essentially stopped thinking of her romantically and compares his tenderness toward her to that of a father or brother. But maybe we're not giving Laura enough credit for her ability to assess the situation.
"You will end in liking Marian better than you like me---you will, because I am so helpless!" (p. 592)Just let it happen, Laura. It's for the best.
This is about the time when I get really sick of hearing myself type. Speed discussion! There is detectiving, and Walter learns about Anne's childhood from Mrs. Clements, and he meets her wretched mother (SUCH a wretched mother), and, most important of all, he uncovers Percival's Secret with a capital S.
Turns out, Percival's father never officially married his mother, so he has no legal claim to the title of Baronet OR to Blackwater Park. And all he had to do to execute this magnificent scam was add a marriage listing to the church register . . . because it's the olden days, and important legal matters are recorded in a Trapper Keeper.
But before we can pat Percy on the back for his clever forgery, he accidentally burns himself to death trying to destroy the evidence. Really . . . he shouldn't be allowed to leave the house without Fosco. No good ever comes of it. But what's done is done, and Percival is out of the picture. Unfortunately, so is the only evidence of the Secret.
We have just a tiny distance to go before all is known. Onward, brave travelers!