Walter Hartright, a young drawing master, encounters a ghostly woman dressed all in white on Hampstead Heath. He offers her assistance, but is later shocked to discover she had escaped from a lunatic asylum. The next day, Walter leaves London to take up a teaching post with the Fairlie family in the village of Limmeridge, Cumbria.
Walter, Marian and Laura are forced into hiding. Sir Percival is now a ghost of his former self, haunted by the possibility of his secret being revealed. Marian and Walter know they must discover it if they are to prove Sir Percival’s role in the conspiracy involving Anne and Laura.