The Queen of Hearts, by Wilkie Collins

The Second Day.

A CLEAR, cloudless, bracing autumn morning. I rose gayly, with the pleasant conviction on my mind that our experiment had thus far been successful beyond our hopes.

Short and slight as the first story had been, the result of it on Jessie’s mind had proved conclusive. Before I could put the question to her, she declared of her own accord, and with her customary exaggeration, that she had definitely abandoned all idea of writing to her aunt until our collection of narratives was exhausted.

“I am in a fever of curiosity about what is to come,” she said, when we all parted for the night; “and, even if I wanted to leave you, I could not possibly go away now, without hearing the stories to the end.”

So far, so good. All my anxieties from this time were for George’s return. Again to-day I searched the newspapers, and again there were no tidings of the ship.

Miss Jessie occupied the second day by a drive to our county town to make some little purchases. Owen, and Morgan, and I were all hard at work, during her absence, on the stories that still remained to be completed. Owen desponded about ever getting done; Morgan grumbled at what he called the absurd difficulty of writing nonsense. I worked on smoothly and contentedly, stimulated by the success of the first night.

We assembled as before in our guest’s sitting-room. As the clock struck eight she drew out the second card. It was Number Two. The lot had fallen on me to read next.

“Although my story is told in the first person,” I said, addressing Jessie, “you must not suppose that the events related in this particular case happened to me. They happened to a friend of mine, who naturally described them to me from his own personal point of view. In producing my narrative from the recollection of what he told me some years since, I have supposed myself to be listening to him again, and have therefore written in his character, and, w henever my memory would help me, as nearly as possible in his language also. By this means I hope I have succeeded in giving an air of reality to a story which has truth, at any rate, to recommend it. I must ask you to excuse me if I enter into no details in offering this short explanation. Although the persons concerned in my narrative have ceased to exist, it is necessary to observe all due delicacy toward their memories. Who they were, and how I became acquainted with them, are matters of no moment. The interest of the story, such as it is, stands in no need, in this instance, of any assistance from personal explanations.”

With those words I addressed myself to my task, and read as follows:

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/c/collins/wilkie/queen-of-hearts/chapter3.html

Last updated Thursday, March 13, 2014 at 21:30