Wilkie Collins: A Terribly Strange Bed

May 13, 2009

Have you ever spent a sleepless night in a hotel room in a seedy part of a notorious town? Whether yes or not, you must read this story.

This is an old story – a straightforward narration but at the same time holding your attention till the end.

The narrator is an Englishman staying in Paris. He goes to a gambling house with his friend. There he rakes in profits in game after game. He does not listen to his friend to be content with his winnings and return home. So the friend departs. The narrator, who is the lone client now, is plied with drinks by the staff and soon he becomes insensate. He is persuaded to sleep overnight in a bedroom in the house as it would be unsafe to go out in the dark streets with a lot of money on his person. Thus begins a terrifying night for the narrator.




“I tossed and rolled, and tried every kind of position, and perseveringly sought out the cold corners of the bed, and all to no purpose. Now I thrust my arms over the clothes; now I poked them under the clothes; now I violently shot my legs straight out down to the bottom of the bed; now I convulsively coiled them up as near my chin as they would go; now I shook out my crumpled pillow, changed it to the cool side, patted it flat, and lay down quietly on my back; now I fiercely doubled it in two, set it up on end, thrust it against the board of the bed, and tried a sitting posture. Every effort was in vain; I groaned with vexation as I felt that I was in for a sleepless night.”