The Queen of Hearts HTML version

1. Ourselves
WE were three quiet, lonely old men, and SHE was a lively, handsome young woman,
and we were at our wits' end what to do with her.
A word about ourselves, first of all--a necessary word, to explain the singular situation of
our fair young guest.
We are three brothers; and we live in a barbarous, dismal old house called The Glen
Tower. Our place of abode stands in a hilly, lonesome district of South Wales. No such
thing as a line of railway runs anywhere near us. No gentleman's seat is within an easy
drive of us. We are at an unspeakably inconvenient distance from a town, and the village
to which we send for our letters is three miles off.
My eldest brother, Owen, was brought up to the Church. All the prime of his life was
passed in a populous London parish. For more years than I now like to reckon up, he
worked unremittingly, in defiance of failing health and adverse fortune, amid the
multitudinous misery of the London poor; and he would, in all probability, have
sacrificed his life to his duty long before the present time if The Glen Tower had not
come into his possession through two unexpected deaths in the elder and richer branch of
our family. This opening to him of a place of rest and refuge saved his life. No man ever
drew breath who better deserved the gifts of fortune; for no man, I sincerely believe,
more tender of others, more diffident of himself, more gentle, more generous, and more
simple-hearted than Owen, ever walked this earth.
My second brother, Morgan, started in life as a doctor, and learned all that his profession
could teach him at home and abroad. He realized a moderate independence by his
practice, beginning in one of our large northern towns and ending as a physician in
London; but, although he was well known and appreciated among his brethren, he failed
to gain that sort of reputation with the public which elevates a man into the position of a
great doctor. The ladies never liked him. In the first place, he was ugly (Morgan will
excuse me for mentioning this); in the second place, he was an inveterate smoker, and he
smelled of tobacco when he felt languid pulses in elegant bedrooms; in the third place, he
was the most formidably outspoken teller of the truth as regarded himself, his profession,
and his patients, that ever imperiled the social standing of the science of medicine. For
these reasons, and for others which it is not necessary to mention, he never pushed his
way, as a doctor, into the front ranks, and he never cared to do so. About a year after
Owen came into possession of The Glen Tower, Morgan discovered that he had saved as
much money for his old age as a sensible man could want; that he was tired of the active
pursuit--or, as he termed it, of the dignified quackery of his profession; and that it was
only common charity to give his invalid brother a companion who could physic him for
nothing, and so prevent him from getting rid of his money in the worst of all possible