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Wilkie Collins. Book 1: 1. Basil; 2. Hide and Seek; 3. The Dead Secret.
Basil (1852) is the second novel written by British author Wilkie Collins, after Antonina.
Basil, son of a father who values the family pedigree and who would not let him marry below his station, falls in love at first sight with a girl he sees on a bus. He follows her and discovers she is Margaret Sherwin, only daughter of a linen draper.
He persuades her father to let him marry her secretly.
He agrees on the condition, that, as his daughter is only seventeen, they live apart for the first year. At first the secret works, but then the mysterious Mannion, whose emotions cannot be read in his face, returns from abroad. On the last night of the year Basil follows Margaret and Mannion and discovers them in flagrante delicto.
2. Hide and Seek
It is the first of his novels involving the solution of a mystery, the elements of which are clearer to the reader than to the novel's characters. Suspense is created from the reader's uncertainty as to which characters will find out the truth, when and how.
The girl named Mary -- they called her Madonna, and she was deaf and dumb and beautiful as a painting by Raphael -- was a mystery. The Blyths adopted her from a kindly old woman connected to a traveling circus, but everyone knew she wasn't from circus folk. All they DID know about her identity was that she'd lost her hearing in an accident, and the proprietor of the circus had treated her horribly, and, and . . . and in her cache of secret personal private things, she owned one thing as precious to her as life itself: a bracelet made of brown human hair with the initials MG tied into it. The Blyths kept it locked in a bureau for fear that Mary's unknown family might one day claim her. . .
3. The Dead Secret
The first full length novel by Collins specifically written for serialisation. Dedicated to Edward Pigott. Collins's introduction reveals he wrote the story to show 'the influence of a heavy responsibility on a naturally timid woman, whose mind was neither strong enough to bear it, nor bold enough to drop it altogether.' The tragic servant figure reappears as Rosanna Spearman in The Moonstone. A blind character is used again, to greater effect, in Poor Miss Finch, and Mr Phippen, the hypochondriac friend of Dr Chennery, foreshadows Mr Fairlie in The Woman in White (1860).
The Dead Secret begins with the death bed confession of Mrs Treverton that will take her family by storm. The maid, Sarah Leeson, against the dying wish of Mrs Treverton, hides the letter, and thus the disaster is delayed but not averted. Rosamond, her daughter, who is married to a blind man, gives birth prematurely and is doomed to be the worst hit by the dying confession, which details buried secrets and the relationship of a fallen woman with her illegitimate daughter.