Jag slog på TV:n i söndags kväll för att titta på BBC:s nya serie. Inte utan vissa farhågor, hur skulle en av mina litterära älsklingar misshandlas? Men när jag stängde av var jag upprymd. Visst hade det gjorts massor av ändringar och anpassningar, men på ett intelligent och känsligt sätt. Seriens manusförfattare tycks dela min faiblesse.
Det gör nog flera av mina läsare också, så listiga som ni är förstår ni säkert vem jag pratar om. Lite svårare är kanske att gissa vilket verk nedanstående citat är hämtat från? En man avslöjar - med benäget bistånd av vår huvudperson - sin hustrus hemlighet:
It was a cosey, well-furnished apartment, with two candles burning upon the table and two upon the mantelpiece. In the corner, stooping over a desk, there sat what appeared to be a little girl. Her face was turned away as we entered, but we could see that she was dressed in a red frock, and that she had long white gloves on. As she whisked round to us, I gave a cry of surprise and horror. The face which she turned towards us was of the strangest livid tint, and the features were absolutely devoid of any expression. An instant later the mystery was explained. X, with a laugh, passed his hand behind the child's ear, a mask peeled off from her countenance, an there was a little coal black negress, with all her white teeth flashing in amusement at our amazed faces. I burst out laughing, out of sympathy with her merriment; but Grant Munro stood staring, with his hand clutching his throat.
"My God!" he cried. "What can be the meaning of this?"
"I will tell you the meaning of it," cried the lady, sweeping into the room with a proud, set face. "You have forced me, against my own judgment, to tell you, and now we must both make the best of it. My husband died at Atlanta. My child survived."
She drew a large silver locket from her bosom. "You have never seen this open."
"I understood that it did not open."
She touched a spring, and the front hinged back. There was a portrait within of a man, strikingly handsome and intelligent, but bearing unmistakable signs upon his features of his African descent.
"That is John Hebron, of Atlanta," said the lady, "and a nobler man never walked the earth. I cut myself off from my race in order to wed him; but never once while he lived did I for an instant regret it. It was our misfortune that our only child took after his people rather than mine. It is often so in such matches, and little Lucy is darker far than ever her father was. But dark or fair, she is my own dear little girlie, and her mother's pet." -------- "When I left her in America," she continued, "it was only because her health was weak, and the change might have done her harm. ------- Never for an instant did I dream of disowning her as my child. But when chance threw you in my way, Jack, and I learned to love you, I feared to tell you about my child. God forgive me, I feared that I should lose you, and I had not the courage to tell you. I had to choose between you, and in my weakness I turned away from my own little girl. ----- And now to-night you at last know all, and I ask you what is to become of us, my child and me?" She clasped her hands and waited for an answer.
It was a long two minutes before Grant Munro broke the silence, and when his answer came it was one of which I love to think. He lifted the little child, kissed her, and then, still carrying her, he held his other hand out to his wife and turned towards the door.
"We can talk it over more comfortably at home," said he. "I am not a very good man, Effie, but I think that I am a better one than you have given me credit for being."
X and I followed them down the lane, and my friend plucked at my sleeve as we came out.
"I think," said he, "that we shall be of more use in London than in Norbury."
Not another word did he say of the case until late that night, when he was turning away, with his lighted candle, for his bedroom.
----- "if it should ever strike you that I am getting a little over-confident in my powers, or giving less pains to a case than it deserves, kindly whisper 'Norbury' in my ear, and I shall be infinitely obliged to you."
Detta är en av mina favorithistorier, inte minst för det sympatiska budskapet. Betänk att ovanstående skrevs 1893!