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Synopsis

At a time when French readers were altogether unaware of the

existence of any books of my writing, a critical examination of

my novels appeared under your signature in the _Revue des Deux

Moudes_. I read that article, at the time of its appearance, with

sincere pleasure and sincere gratitude to the writer, and I have

honestly done my best to profit by it ever since.

 

At a later period, when arrangements were made for the

publication of my novels in Paris, you kindly undertook, at some

sacrifice of your own convenience, to give the first of the

series--"The Dead Secret"--the great advantage of being rendered

into French by your pen. Your excellent translation of "The

Lighthouse" had already taught me how to appreciate the value of

your assistance; and when "The Dead Secret" appeared in its

French form, although I was sensibly gratified, I was by no means

surprised to find my fortunate work of fiction, not translated,

in the mechanical sense of the word, but transformed from a novel

that I had written in my language to a novel that you might have

written in yours.

 

I am now about to ask you to confer one more literary obligation

on me by accepting the dedication of this book, as the earliest

acknowledgment which it has been in my power to make of the debt

I owe to my critic, to my translator, and to my friend.

 

The stories which form the principal contents of the following

pages are all, more or less, exercises in that art which I have

now studied anxiously for some years, and which I still hope to

cultivate, to better and better purpose, for many more. Allow me,

by inscribing the collection to you, to secure one reader for it

at the outset of its progress through the world of letters whose

capacity for seeing all a writer's defects may be matched by many

other critics, but whose rarer faculty of seeing all a writer's

merits is equaled by very few.

 

 

 

CHAPTER I.

 

OURSELVES.

 

WE were three quiet, lonely old men, and SHE was a lively,

handsome young woman, and we were at our wits' end what to do

with her.

 

A word about ourselves, first of all--a necessary word, to

explain the singular situation of our fair young guest.

 

We are three brothers; and we live in a barbarous, dismal old

house called The Glen Tower. Our place of abode stands in a

hilly, lonesome district of South Wales. No such thing as a line

of railway runs anywhere near us. No gentleman's seat is within

an easy drive of us. We are at an unspeakably inconvenient

distance from a town, and the village to which we send for our

letters is three miles off.

 

My eldest brother, Owen, was brought up to the Church. All the

prime of his life was passed in a populous London parish. For

more years than I now like to reckon up, he worked unremittingly,

in defiance of failing health and adverse fortune, amid the

multitudinous misery of the London poor; and he would, in all

probability, have sacrificed his life to his duty long before the

present time if The Glen Tower had not come into his possession

through two unexpected deaths in the elder and richer branch of

our family. This opening to him of a place of rest and refuge

saved his life. No man ever drew breath who better deserved the

gifts of fortune; for no man, I sincerely believe, more tender of

others, more diffident of himself, more gentle, more generous,

and more simple-hearted than Owen, ever walked this earth.

 

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    A big disappointment

    This ebook is taken from the Project Gutenberg Australia website, and comes complete with the PGA logo. The original was a text file, which is reflected by the formatting which is so poor as to make the ebook unreadable. The cover on the downloaded ebook is a 19th century cover for 'The Moonstone', also by Wilkie Collins but a very different book. The 'The Queen of Hearts' is a collection of short stories, but there is no table of contents whatever to show what stories are included and how to get to them.

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