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Condemned by Victorian critics as immoral, but regarded today as a novel of outstanding social insight, No Name shows William Wilkie Collins at the height of his literary powers. It is the story of two sisters, Magdalen and Norah, who discover after the deaths of their dearly beloved parents that their parents were not married at the time of their births. Disinherited and ousted from their estate, they must fend for themselves and either resign themselves to their fate or determine to recover their wealth by whatever means.
THE hands on the hall–clock pointed to half–past six in the morning. The house was a country residence in West Somersetshire, called Combe–Raven. The day was the fourth of March, and the year was eighteen hundred and forty–six.
No sounds but the steady ticking of the clock, and the lumpish snoring of a large dog stretched on a mat outside the dining–room door, disturbed the mysterious morning stillness of hall and staircase. Who were the sleepers hidden in the upper regions? Let the house reveal its own secrets; and, one by one, as they descend the stairs from their beds, let the sleepers disclose themselves.
As the clock pointed to a quarter to seven, the dog woke and shook himself. After waiting in vain for the footman, who was accustomed to let him out, the animal wandered restlessly from one closed door to another on the ground–floor; and, returning to his mat in great perplexity, appealed to the sleeping family with a long and melancholy howl.