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The Woman in White, Page 55

Wilkie Collins

  "Impelled by honourable admiration--honourable to myself, honourable toyou--I write, magnificent Marian, in the interests of yourtranquillity, to say two consoling words--

  "Fear nothing!

  "Exercise your fine natural sense and remain in retirement. Dear andadmirable woman, invite no dangerous publicity. Resignation issublime--adopt it. The modest repose of home is eternally fresh--enjoyit. The storms of life pass harmless over the valley ofSeclusion--dwell, dear lady, in the valley.

  "Do this and I authorise you to fear nothing. No new calamity shalllacerate your sensibilities--sensibilities precious to me as my own.You shall not be molested, the fair companion of your retreat shall notbe pursued. She has found a new asylum in your heart. Pricelessasylum!--I envy her and leave her there.

  "One last word of affectionate warning, of paternal caution, and I tearmyself from the charm of addressing you--I close these fervent lines.

  "Advance no farther than you have gone already, compromise no seriousinterests, threaten nobody. Do not, I implore you, force me intoaction--ME, the Man of Action--when it is the cherished object of myambition to be passive, to restrict the vast reach of my energies andmy combinations for your sake. If you have rash friends, moderatetheir deplorable ardour. If Mr. Hartright returns to England, hold nocommunication with him. I walk on a path of my own, and Percivalfollows at my heels. On the day when Mr. Hartright crosses that path,he is a lost man."