Miss Mina and the Groomby Wilkie Collins
Format of Original Source: Novella
Recommended Adaptation Length:
Candidate for Adaptation? Not Reviewed
I was incapable of waiting: my obstinacy was something superhuman. The bare idea that Michael might lose his place, through my fault, made me desperate, I suppose. “I won’t trouble you to send for me,” I persisted; “I will go with you at once as far as the door, and wait to hear if I may come in.” The footman was still present, holding the door open; the General gave way. I kept so close behind him that my aunt saw me as her husband entered the room. “Come in, Mina,” she said, speaking and looking like the charming Lady Claudia of everyday life. Was this the woman whom I had seen crying her heart out on the sofa hardly an hour ago?
“On second thoughts,” she continued, turning to the General, “I fear I may have been a little hasty. Pardon me for troubling you about it again–have you spoken to Michael yet? No? Then let us err on the side of kindness; let us look over his misconduct this time.”
My uncle was evidently relieved. I seized the opportunity of making my confession, and taking the whole blame on myself. Lady Claudia stopped me with the perfect grace of which she was mistress.
“My good child, don’t distress yourself! don’t make mountains out of molehills!” She patted me on the cheek with two plump white fingers which felt deadly cold. “I was not always prudent, Mina, when I was your age. Besides, your curiosity is naturally excited about a servant who is–what shall I call him?–a foundling.”
She paused and fixed her eyes on me attentively. “What did he tell you?” she asked. “Is it a very romantic story?”
The General began to fidget in his chair. If I had kept my attention on him, I should have seen in his face a warning to me to be silent. But my interest at the moment was absorbed in my aunt. Encouraged by her amiable reception, I was not merely unsuspicious of the trap that she had set for me–I was actually foolish enough to think that I could improve Michael’s position in her estimation (remember that I was in love with him!) by telling his story exactly as I have already told it in these pages. I spoke with fervor. Will you believe it?–her humor positively changed again! She flew into a passion with me for the first time in her life.
“Lies!” she cried. “Impudent lies on the face of them–invented to appeal to your interest. How dare you repeat them? General! if Mina had not brought it on herself, this man’s audacity would justify you in instantly dismissing him. Don’t you agree with me?”
The General’s sense of fair play roused him for once into openly opposing his wife.
“You are completely mistaken,” he said. “Mina and I have both had the shawl and the letter in our hands–and (what was there besides?)–ah, yes, the very linen the child was wrapped in.”
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