The Queen of Hearts HTML version

2. Our Dilemma
WHO is the young lady? And how did she find her way into The Glen Tower?
Her name (in relation to which I shall have something more to say a little further on) is
Jessie Yelverton. She is an orphan and an only child. Her mother died while she was an
infant; her father was my dear and valued friend, Major Yelverton. He lived long enough
to celebrate his darling's seventh birthday. When he died he intrusted his authority over
her and his responsibility toward her to his brother and to me.
When I was summoned to the reading of the major's will, I knew perfectly well that I
should hear myself appointed guardian and executor with his brother; and I had been also
made acquainted with my lost friend's wishes as to his daughter's education, and with his
intentions as to the disposal of all his property in her favor. My own idea, therefore, was,
that the reading of the will would inform me of nothing which I had not known in the
testator's lifetime. When the day came for hearing it, however, I found that I had been
over hasty in arriving at this conclusion. Toward the end of the document there was a
clause inserted which took me entirely by surprise.
After providing for the education of Miss Yelverton under the direction of her guardians,
and for her residence, under ordinary circumstances, with the major's sister, Lady
Westwick, the clause concluded by saddling the child's future inheritance with this
curious condition:
From the period of her leaving school to the period of her reaching the age of twenty-one
years, Miss Yelverton was to pass not less than six consecutive weeks out of every year
under the roof of one of her two guardians. During the lives of both of them, it was left to
her own choice to say which of the two she would prefer to live with. In all other respects
the condition was imperative. If she forfeited it, excepting, of course, the case of the
deaths of both her guardians, she was only to have a life-interest in the property; if she
obeyed it, the money itself was to become her own possession on the day when she
completed her twenty-first year.
This clause in the will, as I have said, took me at first by surprise. I remembered how
devotedly Lady Westwick had soothed her sister-in-law's death-bed sufferings, and how
tenderly she had afterward watched over the welfare of the little motherless child--I
remembered the innumerable claims she had established in this way on her brother's
confidence in her affection for his orphan daughter, and I was, therefore, naturally
amazed at the appearance of a condition in his will which seemed to show a positive
distrust of Lady Westwick's undivided influence over the character and conduct of her
A few words from my fellow-guardian, Mr. Richard Yelverton, and a little after-
consideration of some of my deceased friend's peculiarities of disposition and feeling, to
which I had not hitherto attached sufficient importance, were enough to make me