Wilkie Collins

 

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Civil War Harper's Weekly, March 22, 1862

This site features online versions of all the Harper's Weekly newspapers published during the Civil War. These newspapers will help you develop a more complete understanding of the Civil War.

(Scroll Down to See Entire Page, or Newspaper Thumbnails below will take you to a specific page of interest)

 

Monitor and Merrimac

Battle of the Monitor and Merrimac

Compromise

Lincoln Offers Slavery Compromise

Terror in the South

Terror in the South

Newport News Battle

Newport News

Flag Poem

Flag Poem

Merrimac and Monitor

Battle of Monitor and Merrimac

Rebel Batteries

Story on Rebel Batteries

Wilkie Collins

Wilkie Collins

Cockpit Point

Cockpit Point

Monitor and the Merrimac

Monitor and the Merrimac

Fort Donelson

interior of Fort Donelson

 

Cartoon

Cartoon

 

 

 

MARCH 22, 1862.]

HARPER'S WEEKLY.

189

a species of family connection; and she had weakly sanctioned the intrusion, solely from the dread that he would otherwise introduce himself to Mr. Vanstone's notice, and take unblushing advantage of Mr. Vanstone's generosity. Shrinking, naturally, from allowing her husband to be annoyed, and probably cheated as well, by any person who claimed, however preposterously, a family connection with herself, it had been her practice, for many years past, to assist the captain from her own purse, on the condition that he should never come near the house, and that he should not presume to make any application whatever to Mr. Vanstone.

Readily admitting the imprudence of this course, Mrs. Vanstone further explained that she had perhaps been the more inclined to adopt it, through having been always accustomed, in her early days, to see the captain living now upon one member and now upon another of her mother's family. Possessed of abilities which might have raised him to distinction in almost any career that he could have chosen, he had nevertheless, from his youth upward, been a disgrace to all his relatives. He had been expelled the militia regiment in which he once held a commission. He had tried one employment after another, and had discreditably failed in all. He had lived on his wits in the lowest and basest meaning of the phrase. He had married a poor ignorant woman, who had served as a waitress at some low eating-house, who had unexpectedly come into a little money, and whose small inheritance he had mercilessly squandered to the last farthing. In plain terms, he was an incorrigible scoundrel; and he had now added one more to the list of his many misdemeanors, by imprudently breaking the conditions on which Mrs. Vanstone had hitherto assisted him. She had written at once to the address indicated on his card, in such terms and to such purpose as would prevent him, she hoped and believed, from ever venturing near the house again. Such were the terms in which Mrs. Vanstone concluded that first part of her letter which referred exclusively to Captain Wragge.

Although the statement thus presented implied a weakness in Mrs. Vanstone's character which Miss Garth, after many years of intimate experience, had never detected, she accepted the explanation as a matter of course; receiving it all the more readily inasmuch as it might, without impropriety, be communicated in substance to appease the irritated curiosity of the two young ladies. For this reason especially, she perused the first half of the letter with an agreeable sense of relief. Far different was the impression produced on her when she advanced to the second half, and when she had read it to the end.

The second part of the letter was devoted to the subject of the journey to London.

Mrs. Vanstone began by referring to the long and intimate friendship which had existed between Miss

WILKIE COLLINS, ESQ.

IN connection with the commencement of Mr. WILKIE COLLINS'S new Tale, "NO NAME," we publish herewith a portrait of this distinguished man.

WILLIAM WILKIE COLLINS was born in London in 1824. His father was a painter, who went to Italy shortly after his son's birth, and remained there till the latter had reached manhood. Mr. Wilkie Collins's first work,

"ANTONINA," which was published in 1850, revealed his remarkable genius; but the subject was ill chosen, and the book did not meet with great success. His later Novels, and especially the "WOMAN IN WHITE," published in Harper's Weekly, have placed him in the first rank of contemporaneous Novel writers.

Mr. Collins is allied to the family of Mr. Charles Dickens.

[Entered according to Act of Congress, in the Year 1862, by Harper & Brothers, in the Clerk's Office of the District Court for the Southern District of New York.]

NO NAME.

BY WILKIE COLLINS,

AUTHOR OF THE "WOMAN IN WHITE,"
"DEAD SECRET," ETC., ETC.

ILLUSTRATED BY JOAN M'LENAN.

Printed from the Manuscript and early Proof-sheets purchased by the Proprietors of "Harper's Weekly."

CHAPTER III.

WHEN she returned to the house, Miss Garth made no attempt to conceal her unfavorable opinion of the stranger in black. His object was, no doubt, to obtain pecuniary assistance from Mrs. Vanstone. What the nature of his claim on her might be seemed less intelligible—unless it was the claim of a poor relation. Had Mrs. Vanstone ever mentioned, in the presence of her daughters, the name of Captain Wragge? Neither of them recollected to have heard it before. Had Mrs. Vanstone ever referred to any poor relations who were dependent on her? On the contrary, she had mentioned of late years that she doubted having any relations at all who were still living. And yet Captain Wragge had plainly declared that the name on his card would recall "a family matter" to Mrs. Vanstone's memory. What did it mean? A false statement, on the stranger's part, without any intelligible reason for making it? Or a second mystery, following close on the heels of the mysterious journey to London?

All the probabilities seemed to point to some hidden connection between the "family affairs" which had taken Mr. and Mrs. Vanstone so suddenly from home, and the "family matter" associated with the name of Captain Wragge. Miss Garth's doubts of the day before thronged back on her mind as she sealed her letter to Mrs. Vanstone, with the captain's card added by way of inclosure.

By return of post the answer arrived.

Always the earliest riser among the ladies of the house, Miss Garth was alone in the breakfast-room

when the letter was brought in. Her first glance at its contents convinced her of the necessity of reading it carefully through in retirement before any embarrassing questions could be put to her. Leaving a message with the servant requesting Norah to make the tea that morning, she went up stairs at once to the solitude and security of her own room.

Mrs. Vanstone's letter extended to some length. The first part of it referred to Captain Wragge, and entered unreservedly into all necessary explanations relating to the man himself and to the motive which had brought him to Combe-Raven.

It appeared from Mrs. Vanstone's statement that her mother had been twice married. Her mother's first husband had been a certain Doctor Wragge—a widower with young children; and one of those children was now the unmilitary-looking captain, whose address was " Post-office, Bristol." Mrs. Wragge had left no family by her first husband; and had afterward married Mrs. Vanstone's father. Of that second marriage Mrs. Vanstone herself was the only issue. She had lost both her parents while she was still a young woman; and, in course of years, her mother's family connections (who were then her nearest surviving relatives) had been one after another removed by death. She was left, at the present writing, without a relation in the world—excepting perhaps certain cousins whom she had never seen, and of whose existence even, at the present moment, she possessed no positive knowledge.

Under these circumstances, what family claim had Captain Wragge on Mrs. Vanstone?

None whatever. As the son of her mother's first husband, by that husband's first wife, not even the widest stretch of courtesy could have included him at any time in the list of Mrs. Vanstone's most distant relations. Well knowing this (the letter proceeded to say), he had nevertheless persisted in forcing himself upon her as

"COME, FRANK!"

Wilkie Collins
Picture
Picture

 

 

  

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