Wilkie Collins (1824—1889)William Wilkie Collins was born at London in 1824. Like his friend Dickens, he was a voluminous writer of novels and tales, an editor and a dramatist. He was rather more interested in the short story form than Dickens, and a more accomplished master of it. A Terribly Strange Bed is one of the best known examples of the tale that is related for the sake of the thrill.The story is reprinted from the volume After Dark, first published in London, 1856.A Terribly Strange BedShorty after my education at college was finished, I happened to be staying at Paris with an English friend. We were both young men then, and lived, I am afraid, rather a wild life, in the delightful city of our sojourn. One night we were idling about the neighborhood of the Palais Royal, doubtful to what amusement we should next betake ourselves. My friend proposed a visit to Frascati`s; but his suggestion was not to my taste.I knew Frascati`s, as the French saying is, by heart; had lost and won plenty of five-franc pieces there, merely for amusement`s sake, until it was amusement no longer, and was thoroughly tired, in fact, of all the ghastly respectabilities of such a social anomaly as a respectable gambling-house.“For Heaven`s sake,” said I to my friend, “let us go somewhere where we can see a little genuine, blackguard, poverty-stricken gaming, with no false gingerbread glitter thrown over it at all. Let us get away from fashionable Frascati`s, to a house where they don`t mind letting in a man with a ragged coat, or a man with no coat, ragged or otherwise.”“Very well,” said my friend, “we needn`t go out of the Palais Royal to find the sort of company you want. Here`s the place just before us; as blackguard a place, by all report, as you could possibly wish to see.”In another minute we arrived at the door, and entered the house.When we got upstairs, and had left our hats and sticks with the door-keeper, we were admitted into the chief gambling-room. We did not find many people assembled there. But, few as the men were who looked up at us on our entrance, they were all types—lamentably true types—of their respective classes.
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