Meet Bella Wilfer: bride grieving for a fiançée murdered on his way home to her.
Judge: We can only imagine how the poor girl feels, her hopes so cruelly dashed... The woman who waited patiently and silently.
Bella: How long must I wear this insufferable dress?
Bella: We never could have pretended to harbour any true affection. I was hardly likely to like this John Harmon — how could I? [She gets up to answer the door] ... And all this for a man I never saw and I should have hated if I had.
Meet Mr John Rokesmith — mysterious, brooding stranger who is eager to rent the Wilfers' apartment.
John: I'm very much obliged to you Miss Wilfer.
Bella: Obliged? And why should Mr — [looks at his signature] — John Rokesmith be obliged to me?
John: I've given you so much trouble.
Bella: By signing my name?
Bella: Mark my words, between Mr Rokesmith and myself there is an antipathy and a deep distrust. I don't know what will come of it.
A sweet moment between father and daughter. Mr Wilfer tells the story of how Mr Harmon met Bella. "That's a promising girl — a most promising girl."
Bella could live with the Boffins! And how do they know Mr Rokesmith?
Rokesmith knows these dust heaps well. But no matter, he can pull off the secretary disguise perfectly and Mr Boffin is very pleased to employ him. Yay!
Oh, the brooding!
John: The loss of your fiançée, John Harmon, may one day be repaired. Of course I speak merely of wealth. The loss of a perfect stranger whose worth you could not possibly have estimated beyond the inconvenience of their death is another matter...
You must have been absorbed by your book. Is it a love story—
Bella: Certainly not. It's more about money than anything.
John: And does it say that money is better than anything?
Bella: [She sighs] I really cannot tell you. Find out for yourself for all I care.
Both Bella and John take up their roles with fervour. She, the beautiful socialite, and he, the loving (albeit a little creepy) stalker.
John: She is so trivial, so capricious, so mercenary. And yet —
—she is so beautiful.
Bella: His attentions were fitting — amusing even — in Holloway, but here... they are hardly appropriate.
John: And so, my dilemma — I have worked my way into a position of power in this house so that I may watch her every move, follow her every step. And yet she barely notices me.
Bella: There is something strange about Mr Rokesmith. He shadows me day and night.
Bella: Oh come, Mr Rokesmith. Surely you can cast off your mysterious disguise and join us.
John: I cannot keep my secret any longer. I must tell her my story.
If I were to come back to life, I would inherit that fortune, and with it, sordidly buy a beautiful creature who has little regard for me. I would buy her...
It is a dilemma of my own making, but I cannot keep silent. I cannot stay stranded in this limbo between life and death.
John: I'm sorry. I had something to tell you, but it can wait. It can wait until tomorrow.
John: She has me under her spell. She has made me powerless. I am nobody. If I tell her my secret now, I may lose everything.
Bella: You even play the mysterious stranger in private, Mr Rokesmith. No family likenesses or personal possessions. It's a very good pretense.And the battle continues! They can push each other's buttons. Sound familiar?
John: Speaking of family, Miss Wilfer — you do not charge me with any commissions for home. ... I should be happy to be the bearer of them.
So Bella visits her father. I love how this was brought on by John — as if, they really do bring out the best in each other. And Bella really does love her father. She even gets him a new jacket and hat.
So cute! It's not Bella, the widow who has lost her fortune, or the socialite who wants everything — for a little while, she is daddy's little girl. (Though her mercenary self does peek through a little.)
Bella: Pa, I do have a confession to make. I'm the most mercenary wretch that ever lived.
Mr Wilfer: I should hardly have thought that of you, my dear.
Bella: I've made up my mind that I must have money. And as I can't beg, borrow, or steal it, I must marry it!
John: Are you not well, Miss Wilfer?John is so disappointed that all Bella wants is money and superficialities! Yet he knows there's more.
Bella: I'm quite well, thank you.
John: Perhaps you'd better stay indoors tonight...
Bella: I'm not a child. I think an evening's marauding and attracting is just the thing to raise my spirits.
Bella: I shall choose my husband carefully and am prepared to wait, to find an equal match.
Mrs Lammle: [to her husband] For a stupid young girl, she has uncommon...
Mr Lammle: Good sense?
Bella: You must stop watching me. Stop... judging me.Take heart, Mr Rokesmith/Harmon — all the great romances need the obligatory rejection.
John: Miss Wilfer, I — I think I must tell you... that I think I'm becoming... That is, I fear... that I'm becoming profoundly interested in you... I truly felt devotion. Forgive me, but I cannot— I-I will not retract my feelings—
Bella: I reject them, sir! ....You know every line of the Harmon will. Now knowing every penny of my worth, you feel yourself bold enough to speculate on me? Am I forever to be the property of strangers?!
John: You are wonderfully mistaken! Goodbye, Miss Wilfer.
John: Ah, well, John Harmon. You would find out. And now you know it absolutely. She has consigned you to the grave once more and now you'll stay buried forever for you have no chance of happiness in this life.
- Caps by tempest_icons (here) and wikidwitch (here).
Conclusion? Bella + John = love — they're very sweet with enough angst to compete with the more popular couples!
And because this is my journal this picspam would not be complete without:
Go see this if you haven't already!
(More to come — Bella & John, Part II and Lizzie & Eugene)