The Queen of Hearts, by Wilkie Collins

The Fifth Day.

STILL cloudy, but no rain to keep our young lady indoors. The paper, as usual, without interest to me.

To-day Owen actually vanquished his difficulties and finished his story. I numbered it Eight, and threw the corresponding number (as I had done the day before in Morgan’s case) into the china bowl.

Although I could discover no direct evidence against her, I strongly suspected The Queen of Hearts of tampering with the lots on the fifth evening, to irritate Morgan by making it his turn to read again, after the shortest possible interval of repose. However that might be, the number drawn was certainly Seven, and the story to be read was consequently the story which my brother had finished only two days before.

If I had not known that it was part of Morgan’s character always to do exactly the reverse of what might be expected from him, I should have been surprised at the extraordinary docility he exhibited the moment his manuscript was placed in his hands.

“My turn again?” he said. “How very satisfactory! I was anxious to escape from this absurd position of mine as soon as possible, and here is the opportunity most considerately put into my hands. Look out, all of you! I won’t waste another moment. I mean to begin instantly.”

“Do tell me,” interposed Jessie, mischievously, “shall I be very much interested to-night’?’

“Not you!” retorted Morgan. “You will be very much frightened instead. You hair is uncommonly smooth at the present moment, but it will be all standing on end before I’ve done. Don’t blame me, miss, if you are an object when you go to bed to-night!”

With this curious introductory speech he began to read. I was obliged to interrupt him to say the few words of explanation which the story needed.

“Before my brother begins,” I said, “it may be as well to mention that he is himself the doctor who is supposed to relate this narrative. The events happened at a time of his life when he had left London, and had established himself in medical practice in one of our large northern towns.”

With that brief explanation, I apologized for interrupting the reader, and Morgan began once more.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/c/collins/wilkie/queen-of-hearts/chapter9.html

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