By Israel Drazin
“My Lady’s Money,” by Wilkie Collins (1824-1889, a friend and oft-collaborator with Charles Dickens, is another book that readers can acquire for free from sources such as amazon because its copyright has expired. It is a good book, not as good as his “Moonstone” and “Lady in White,” or even “The Hunted Hotel,” all of which are superb dramas that begin with unusual episodes, but it is still good and an enjoyment to read. It is more of an investigative drama. It starts slow but we are drawn into trying to figure out who stole Lady Lydiard’s large denomination bill very soon.
Lady Lydiard adopted Isabel Miller, a young, beautiful, charming, and nice, but poor woman. Two radically different men vie for her hand in marriage: The Honorable Alfred Hardyman, a wealthy nobleman, and Robert Moody, of a once rich noble family, who is impoverished, and who works for Lady Lydiard as her steward. Isabel is charmed by Hardyman and is inclined to accept his proposal, but Lady Lydiard warns her that a match with him is impossible because Isabel is descendant of a poorer class and Hardyman’s family and friends would never accept her into the family.
Lady Lydiard decides to give a 500 pound note to charity, a huge sum in mid-1800s, puts it into an envelope, but is called away before she can seal the envelop. She sends Isabel to seal the envelope, which she does. It is soon discovered that the 500 pound note was taken from the envelope before it was delivered. Isabel, the last person to handle the envelope, is suspected.
Lady Lydiard asks Mr. Troy, a very smart lawyer to investigate. He, in turn, asks a disbarred lawyer Old Sharon for his advice, but is dissatisfied with what he is told. Robert Moody decides to undertake his own investigation. Did Isabel, Moody, Hardyman, or Lady Lydiard’s nephew steal the money, and who will Isabel marry, if anyone?