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Miss Morris and the Stranger

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Miss Morris and the Stranger

by Wilkie Collins

Genre: Romance
Setting:
Format of Original Source: Novella
Recommended Adaptation Length:

Candidate for Adaptation? Promising

EXCERPT:

“Won’t you shake hands?” he said, just as he had said it at Sandwich.

I peeped round the corner of my fan at Miss Melbury. She was looking at us. I shook hands with Mr. Sax.

“What sort of sensation is it,” he asked, “when you shake hands with a man whom you hate?”

“I really can’t tell you,” I answered innocently; “I have never done such a thing.”

“You would not lunch with me at Sandwich,” he protested; “and, after the humblest apology on my part, you won’t forgive me for what I did this morning. Do you expect me to believe that I am not the special object of your antipathy? I wish I had never met with you! At my age, a man gets angry when he is treated cruelly and doesn’t deserve it. You don’t understand that, I dare say.”

“Oh, yes, I do. I heard what you said about me to Mrs. Fosdyke, and I heard you bang the door when you got out of my way.”

He received this reply with every appearance of satisfaction. “So you listened, did you? I’m glad to hear that.”

“Why?”

“It shows you take some interest in me, after all.”

Throughout this frivolous talk (I only venture to report it because it shows that I bore no malice on my side) Miss Melbury was looking at us like the basilisk of the ancients. She owned to being on the wrong side of thirty; and she had a little money–but these were surely no reasons why she should glare at a poor governess. Had some secret understanding of the tender sort been already established between Mr. Sax and herself? She provoked me into trying to find out–especially as the last words he had said offered me the opportunity.

“I can prove that I feel a sincere interest in you,” I resumed. “I can resign you to a lady who has a far better claim to your attention than mine. You are neglecting her shamefully.”

He stared at me with an appearance of bewilderment, which seemed to imply that the attachment was on the lady’s side, so far. It was of course impossible to mention names; I merely turned my eyes in the right direction. He looked where I looked–and his shyness revealed itself, in spite of his resolution to conceal it. His face flushed; he looked mortified and surprised. Miss Melbury could endure it no longer. She rose, took a song from the music-stand, and approached us.

“I am going to sing,” she said, handing the music to him. “Please turn over for me, Mr. Sax.”

I think he hesitated–but I cannot feel sure that I observed him correctly. It matters little. With or without hesitation, he followed her to the piano.



COMMENTS:

Music as a plot device in the excerpt: that’s promising.


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