The Queen of Hearts
Brother Griffith's Story Of Mad Monkton
THE Monktons of Wincot Abbey bore a sad character for want of sociability in our
county. They never went to other people's houses, and, excepting my father, and a lady
and her daughter living near them, never received anybody under their own roof.
Proud as they all certainly were, it was not pride, but dread, which kept them thus apart
from their neighbors. The family had suffered for generations past from the horrible
affliction of hereditary insanity, and the members of it shrank from exposing their
calamity to others, as they must have exposed it if they had mingled with the busy little
world around them. There is a frightful story of a crime committed in past times by two
of the Monktons, near relatives, from which the first appearance of the insanity was
always supposed to date, but it is needless for me to shock any one by repeating it. It is
enough to say that at intervals almost every form of madness appeared in the family,
monomania being the most frequent manifestation of the affliction among them. I have
these particulars, and one or two yet to be related, from my father.
At the period of my youth but three of the Monktons were left at the Abbey--Mr. and
Mrs. Monkton and their only child Alfred, heir to the prope rty. The one other member of
this, the elder branch of the family, who was then alive, was Mr. Monkton's younger
brother, Stephen. He was an unmarried man, possessing a fine estate in Scotland; but he
lived almost entirely on the Continent, and bore the reputation of being a shameless
profligate. The family at Wincot held almost as little communication with him as with
I have already mentioned my father, and a lady and her daughter, as the only privileged
people who were admitted into Wincot Abbey.
My father had been an old school and college friend of Mr. Monkton, and accident had
brought them so much together in later life that their continued intimacy at Wincot was
quite intelligible. I am not so well able to account for the friendly terms on which Mrs.
Elmslie (the lady to whom I have alluded) lived with the Monktons. Her late husband had
been distantly related to Mrs. Monkton, and my father was her daughter's guardian. But
even these claims to friendship and regard never seemed to me strong enough to explain
the intimacy between Mrs. Elmslie and the inhabitants of the Abbey. Intimate, however,
they certainly were, and one result of the constant interchange of visits between the two
families in due time declared itself: Mr. Monkton's son and Mrs. Elmslie's daughter
became attached to each other.
I had no opportunities of seeing much of the young lady; I only remember her at that time
as a delicate, gentle, lovable girl, the very opposite in appearance, and apparently in
character also, to Alfred Monkton. But perhaps that was one reason why they fell in love
with each other. The attachment was soon discovered, and was far from being