f a handsome fortune made by his father and his grandfather in trade. Mayor, twice elected, of a thriving provincial town. Officially privileged, while holding that dignity, to hand a silver trowel to a royal personage condescending to lay a first stone of a charitable edifice. Knighted, accordingly, in honor of the occasion. Worthy of the honor and worthy of the occasion. A type of his eminently respectable class. Possessed of an amiable, rosy face, and soft, silky white hair. Sound in his principles; tidy in his dress; blessed with moderate politics and a good digestion--a harmless, healthy, spruce, speckless, weak-minded old man.
Secondly, Miss Lavinia Graybrooke, Sir Joseph's maiden sister. Personally, Sir Joseph in petticoats. If you knew one you knew the other.
Thirdly, Miss Natalie Graybrooke--Sir Joseph's only child.
She had inherited the personal appearance and the temperament of her mother--dead many years since. There had been a mixture of Negro blood and French blood in the late Lady Gray
You could be forgiven for thinking this the first novel Collins wrote, so amateurish it is in premise, plot and characters. But no, it came three years after the excellent Man and Wife.
Then again, publication date isn't necessarily the same as date of authorship. Perhaps this was a schoolboy effort, dug out of the files after his reputation had been made. Mildly amusing, though.