we first met. Once again—oh me, once again!—at spare hours saved from my work, in the dull London light, in the poor London room, I sat by her side, to guide the faltering touch, to help the feeble hand. Day by day, I raised and raised the new interest till its place in the blank of her existence was at last assured—till she could think of her drawing, and talk of it, and patiently practise it by herself, with some faint reflection of the innocent pleasure in my encouragement, the growing enjoyment in her own progress, which belonged to the lost life and the lost happiness of past days.
We helped her mind slowly by this simple means; we took her out between us to walk, on fine days, in a quiet old City square, near at hand, where there was nothing to confuse or alarm her; we spared a few pounds from the fund at the banker's to get her wine, and the delicate strengthening food that she required; we amused her in the evenings with children's games at cards, with scrap-books full of prints which I borrowed from the engraver who employed me—by these, and other trifling attentions like them, we composed her and steadied her, and hoped all things, as cheerfully as we could, from time and care, and love that never neglected and never despaired of her. But to take her mercilessly from seclusion and repose; to confront her with strangers, or with acquaintances who were little better than strangers; to rouse the painful impressions of her past life which we had so carefully hushed to rest—this, even in her own interests, we dared not do. Whatever sacrifices it cost, whatever long, weary, heart-breaking delays it involved, the wrong that had been inflicted on her, if mortal means could grapple it, must be redressed without her knowledge and without her help.
This resolution settled, it was next necessary to decide how the first risk should be ventured, and what the first proceedings should be.
After consulting with Marian, I resolved to begin by gathering together as many facts as could be collected—then, to ask the advice of Mr. Kyrle (whom we knew we could trust); and to ascertain from him, in the first instance, if the legal remedy lay fairly within our reach. I owed it to Laura's interests not to stake her whole future on my own unaided exertions, so long as there was the faintest prospect of strengthening our position by obtaining reliable assistance of any kind.
The first source of information to which I applied, was the journal kept at Blackwater Park by Marian Halcombe.