Then we get one of Mary’s famous devices—a story within a story. She employed this most famously in Frankenstein—which features stories within stories within stories—and here Mary stops the progress of her narrative to allow Lady Cecil to relate the background of her family—and its mysteries.
Well, it’s a long story, Lady Cecil’s, consuming several chapters, but basically it tells how Gerard’s mother mysteriously disappeared one night, how his father believed his wife unfaithful and left him, how Gerard refused to believe this and would thereafter devote himself to find out what happened to his mother.
(Oddly, one of the key things Gerard learns is that a man named Osborne was possibly involved in her disappearance. My middle name is Osborn—simply a variant spelling. Ah! Another connection with Mary Shelley!)
Meanwhile, Falkner, hearing from Gerard’s family that he (Gerard) and Elizabeth ought to marry, is doing some research on poor Elizabeth’s family—the Rabys, a family, he discovers, that still has considerable means, but the Raby patriarch is old, bitter, still angry about his disgraced son who sired her, and he tells Falkner there is no chance he will alter his attitude. (Hmmm, does this sound like Sir Timothy Shelley? Bysshe’s father? Who never forgave Mary for what he believed until his death was the corruption his son?)
And now, returning from this fruitless mission, Falkner realizes that he must tell Elizabeth the truth—a truth that he fears (knows?) will damage—or perhaps permanently sever—their relationship.
And so begins his narrative, his confession …