Along a dark country road in Cumberland, England, a ghoulish woman in white steps from the shadows to confront a foot traveler, Walter Hartright (Andrew Lincoln), bound for Limmeridge House three miles off. She asks senseless questions: "You don't suspect me of wrong, do you, Sir? Why do you suspect me of wrong?" Hartright assures her he suspects her of no wrong, but she gibbers on. When a carriage happens by, the woman dissolves into the darkness and Hartright accepts the offer of a ride the rest of the way to Limmeridge House, a mansion where eccentric esquire Frederick Fairlie (Ian Richardson) has arranged for Hartright to tutor his nieces -- half-sisters Marian and Laura Fairlie -- in the art of drawing. Soon, Hartright falls in love with Laura, a wealthy heiress. Strangely, she is the near mirror image of the woman in white. Laura, in turn, falls in love with him. Marian, who wants only the best for Laura, approves of the romance. Unfortunately, Hartright loses his job when falsely accused of bad conduct. Before he leaves Limmeridge House, he warns Laura that she and her sister are in grave danger. Deeply disappointed in him, Laura ignores his caveat and fulfills a pledge to marry Sir Percival Gylde (James Wilby). He seems amiable and even invites Marian to live with him and Laura after the wedding. But when Laura returns from the honeymoon, she is melancholy and morose, hardly speaking a word to Marian. Glyde and a sinister visitor named Count Fosco (Simon Callow) are the reasons. Apparently, they are plotting to seize her inheritance using the tidiest of stratagems: murder. Meanwhile, dark secrets unravel involving Glyde's family background and the mysterious woman in white, and Hartright returns in an attempt to save the sisters and exorcise the evil possessing Limmeridge House.