It is the first short story I have read by Wilkie Collins. Marvelously and brilliantly written needless to say! I express my gratitude, my heartfelt and genuine praise to Wilkie Collins to enlighten me! It is written in first-person narrative all the way but with three different characters. Like Armadale and Basil, it involves a woman called Alicia Warlock with an angelic face that is too beautiful and undescriptive in words. “A fair, fine woman, with yellowish flaxen hair, and light gray eyes, with a droop in the left eyelid.” (I wonder why was she not clad and complete in red hair?) However as everyone who is familiar with Wilkie Collins’s writing, most of the time a woman with such captivating features has a hidden secret, and in spite of her infamous character that turns from virtue to vice, and every man in the story is almost enticed and bewitched with her beauty and to transform himself from a vain to a gallantry gentleman.
- “On your word of honor as a man, would YOU have let that beautiful creature wander back to the shelter of the stone quarry like a stray dog? God help the woman who is foolish enough to trust and love you, if you would have done that!”
- “I have said it already–I say it again–I was a man bewitched. Is there anything so very wonderful in that? Just remember who I was. Among the honest women in my own station in life, where could I have found the like of HER? Could THEY walk as she walked? and look as she looked? When THEY gave me a kiss, did their lips linger over it as hers did?…”
Of course, this story is not about a misfortune of an enchanted lady, or an apparition, or a ghost, or a demon, it’s about the unfathomed wonders of dream and fate that the hostler, Francis Raven, gets himself inevitably embroiled in. He was born on the 1st of March at 2 a.m., and the happenstance of a dream and the realization of his fate fallen on his birthday ten years ago has haunted him ever since when we meet him in the story. To fulfill the theme of mortal mystery named Superstition, the story has a round of poker cards prophecy and fortune-telling performed by his aunt…the details I would not state further, lest I will spoil the fun! I wonder if Wilkie Collins has done a plot on hypnosis?
I love Wilkie Collins works and I cannot put it into words too!